This last year has been an incredibly interesting year for games. It hasn’t quite been as busy as 2017, which saw the release of some huge, critically acclaimed titles like Super Mario Odyssey, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but 2019 has seen quite a few releases both big and small. We’ve also been given our first glimpse of the new consoles and some of the features they’re supposed to offer. That being said, I think what’s made this year so interesting is the fact that Sony dropped out of E3, both Google and Apple announced gaming services, and everybody, except for Nintendo Switch was pushing as much last-gen content out as they could. With so much going on, and very little time to play games this year, what did I play? Here’s my list of things played in 2019.
Necrosphere (Nintendo Switch)
This game is literally everything the poster above says it is. You’re a cop trapped in the afterlife, trying to escape the Necrosphere, and you can only use two buttons. A game like this has no right to be as much fun as it is. As it rips off ’80s television and puts you through your paces with its more-often-than-not frustrating platforming. It is one of the most satisfying games I’ve ever played. You can play through it in a few hours, but I wouldn’t count on it. Practice makes perfect, and you will need practice to conquer this quirky and frustrating, yet entertaining game.
2) Jack Quest (Nintendo Switch)
I’ll be honest, I was sent a review code for this one, and you can read my review at http://www.popculturecosmos.com. I didn’t finish the game. It was fun, but unlike Necrosphere, whose frustration was worth enduring, Jack Quest is a game for the most hardcore of gamers. That’s not me. I love video games, but I don’t like games that pride themselves in being punishing. Jack Quest is visually pleasing, but if you’re not a hardcore gamer who loves crushing platformers, this probably isn’t the best game for you.
3) Resident Evil 2 (Xbox One)
While this wasn’t quite my top game of the year, it came pretty close. As a kid, I had to borrow Resident Evil 2 from my friends and play it late at night after my parents went to bed, so I wouldn’t get in trouble. So getting to go back to this game as an adult with stunning new graphics was incredibly enjoyable, especially because I didn’t have to hide while I played it. This game is perfect in almost every way. All of the mechanics and memorable things about the old Playstation game have been restored in the most beautiful and and anxiety-ridden ways. You will run out of ammo just as quickly as before and spend just as much time running through the maps, hoping not to get attacked, but it’s a run that I could do over and over again.
4) Devil May Cry 5
Cool might be a subjective concept, but Devil May Cry 5 is objectively cool, and it’s my favorite game of 2019. As somebody who loved Ninja Theory’s reboot of the series with DmC: Devil May Cry back in 2013, I was hoping for a sequel to that, but I was more eager for a sequel to 2008’s Devil May Cry 4, and they certainly delivered. All of the threads that the franchise has been weaving since the original Devil May Cry released have come together in one action-packed and visually pleasing rock opera of a video game. Dante, Nero, and all of the usual faces are back, including a few fan favorites who we thought were gone. The greatest thing about this game is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and is completely aware of what it is. Because of that, it goes places that few other games can go, and they go there beautifully.
5) Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles (Nintendo Switch)
Every once in a while, you find an indie game amidst the endless waves of indie games that get released every year, and it completely takes your breath away. Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles puts you in the shoes of a young hero in search of his past. Yes, I know that sounds like a familiar storyline, but it’s done in a way that makes it feel like a breath of fresh air. The gameplay is simple, and there’s no combat, but where those mechanics have been removed there are so many other amazing things in its place. Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles feels like a hike through a forest filled with magic and mystery. It’s a calming adventure and a stunning escape from reality that can be played in less than ten hours.
6) Battlloon (Nintendo Switch)
This is another one I was sent to review. It was fun for about five minutes, but I didn’t play much more than that. Battlloon is a game where you control a giant balloon with a face and play against others via local co-op or online. You play in a rectangle the size of your screen, usually filled with spikes and traps. The goal is to knock the opposing balloons into the edges of the screen, thus popping them. There’s really not anything else to it. Play it, don’t play it. You’re not missing out on much.
7) Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: Legacy of the First Blade – Episode 2 (Xbox One)
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was a masterpiece. There, I said it. I know people love to hate on this franchise, saying it’s repetitive and going nowhere. Then those same people complain when they change things, saying it’s too RPG for an Assassin’s Creed game or they don’t like the change. Forget them. Forget the haters. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a masterpiece. End of story. So when Legacy of the First Blade was released, I couldn’t wait to dive back into it. While there wasn’t exactly new places to explore, they continued the story of – in my opinion – the franchise’s most interesting characters and storyline. Legacy of the First Blade Episode 2 picks up where the last episode left off. Our protagonist is in love, but will it last?
8) Final Fantasy X – Remaster (Nintendo Switch)
Final Fantasy X is one of the most controversial games in the Final Fantasy series, not because of the story, but because of how to pronounce the protagonist’s name. Whether you’re team Tidus or team Teetus, it’s hard to deny that Final Fantasy X is an amazing game. Mostly voiced by actors from Saturday morning cartoons, Final Fantasy X is a game that almost reinvents the franchise, taking it from a more pixeled look to something that looks like it could stand with the best of games made in the 2000s. This remaster makes everything feel crisp and and new again. If you feel like returning to the world of Spira, this remaster is well worth your money. It also comes with Final Fantasy X-2, which I have never played.
9) Borderlands Game of the Year Remastered (Xbox One)
What can I say about Borderlands that hasn’t been said before? Not a whole lot, but it does hold up. As the game that launched the most loved (or hated?) franchise on modern consoles, Borderlands Game of the Year Edition was a fun return to the game that started it all. While nothing will ever replace this beloved classic, the franchise does live on, and it was fun to go back to before the release of Borderlands 3.
10) Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: Legacy of the First Blade Episode 3
It’s all come down to this one. Does the first expansion for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey live up the legacy of the original game? No . . . not really. The story is predictable, and it makes the previous two episodes feel like a waste of time. Using a love story for your protagonist was a move that had a predictable ending and very few emotional consequences. I was hoping for more. I did enjoy returning to this world, but in the end, the Legacy of the First Blade fell flat in a vibrant world.
11) Cat Quest (Nintendo Switch)
For a game called Cat Quest, this game is far more fun than it has any right to be. Taking traditional RPG mechanics and gearing them towards kids, this knocks Pokemon off of the podium of “baby’s first RPG” and offers something far more mature for a far younger audience. It’s fun, and you play as cats. Why wouldn’t you want to pick this game up?
12) Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: The Fate of Atlantis Episode 1 (Xbox One)
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: The Fate of Atlantis succeeds is every place The Legacy of the First Blade didn’t. For an expansion to a AAA game, it is truly breath-taking. The color palette used for Elysium is like opening the window on a warm, spring day. This expansion puts you in the realm of the gods as you solve mysteries, explore new areas and open up mythology for the Assassin’s Creed franchise that makes ten years finally make sense.
13) Gears 5 (Xbox One)
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this one. As a lifelong fan of the Gears of War franchise, I was thrilled to return to this world, but ended my time in it with a mixture of a love, hate, and plenty of wtf questions. This is the first Gears of War game that forces you into making a decision that will affect that the way the franchise is played going forward, and I can’t help but ask . . . why? And the way it was done felt unnecessary and unneeded. On top of that, while the world itself is quite beautiful and I did enjoy the open world aspects, it felt empty and repetitive. All of those things aside, my anticipation for the next entry is now at an all-time high.
14) Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: The Fate of Atlantis Episode 2 (Xbox One)
The second entry in The Fate of Atlantis isn’t nearly as beautiful as the first one, but where this chapter lacks in aesthetics, it more than makes up for in content and character development. In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: The Fate of Atlantis Episode 2, you dive into the Underworld and do favors for Hades. This episode takes plot-lines from the original story and brings them to an end. Whether or not these were plot-lines you cared about is up to the person playing, but I ended my time with it feeling satisfied.
15) Borderlands 3 (Xbox One)
Borderlands 3 has had a long journey since first being announced. It’s faced more controversy than a quiet week at Blizzard. Apparently their decision to be an Epic Store exclusive for three months upset a lot of people . . . even though both the Epic Store and Steam are free programs. As for the game itself, I loved it. I also hated it. I’ll explain. Where Borderlands 1, 2, and the Pre-Sequel were friendly towards casual gamers such as myself, Borderlands 3 relies heavily on its skill tree, strategizing and experience hunting for success in the game. I’ll be honest, I had to ask friends to help me beat this. Borderlands 3 is fun, but it is not friendly towards the casual gamer.
16) Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: The Fate of Atlantis Episode 3 (Xbox One)
After two decent episode in this add-on, you finally make it to Atlantis. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: The Fate of Atlantis Episode 3 places you in the fabled city of Atlantis, where Poseidon employs you to do some detective work that requires some slightly difficult decisions, which will affect how the game goes. This is the pinnacle of The Fate of Atlantis. The city itself is vibrant and beautiful, the characters are dynamic, and every inch of the map is worth exploring. It also sheds some light on years of Assassin’s Creed mythology that made absolutely no sense. My only dislike is how they ended the modern part of the game. They’ve never been good at developing those characters.
17) Children of Morta (Xbox One)
I didn’t think I would like this game as much as I did. Children of Morta puts a more captivating spin on the old dungeon crawlers. The gameplay is all top-down and pixeled, bringing you that rogue-like nostalgia of yesteryear, but it still manages to feel new and fresh, and dare I say, even exciting. Children of Morta‘s strength lies in its storytelling and death mechanics. Instead of making you start over when you die, they tie your death into the story and allow you to keep all of the experience and items you might have gained. Instead of giving you a game over, they introduce you to a new part of the story and start you at the entrance of the dungeon you died in. It could take several tries to get through the entire thing, but dying in this game is not frustrating at all, and for that, I am a fan.
18) Assassin’s Creed III Remastered (Xbox One)
Assassin’s Creed III is the greatest game in the franchise . . . said nobody ever. Let’s be honest, this one isn’t as bad as everybody says it is. I think people just got frustrated at the fact that it takes an hour to start. You begin in a building, then you end up on a ship, then you’re in another city, and then you’re a young Native American doing some things, and then the title graphic shows up. The game starts out slow. Nobody will deny that, but it has some things that were new to the series and still feel good today. As for the remastered quality of the game, there isn’t a lot that stands out, except it freezes less. It’s an okay game, not really worth playing twice.
19) Pokemon: Sword (Nintendo Switch)
So the main-line Pokemon games made their debut in the world of adult gaming this year. And when I say adult gaming, I mean it can be played in a way that’s not handheld and it feels like a more grown up RPG . . . kind of. My biggest complaint with this game is that, while it does feel very grown up, it lacks a lot of the things that made the original Pokemon games so much fun. That mainly being the run-ins with Team Rocket. Pokemon Sword and Shield have a new group of nuisances that go by the name of Team Yell, but they don’t exactly offer you any side quests or challenges, which means that the only real progression in the game is getting pokemon badges. It’s fun, but it’s also repetitive.
20) Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
This is it. This is the game that made me care about Star Wars once again. This is all the proof we need that a good Star Wars game is capable of being made. EA might be the company that sucks the life out of everything that is video games, but letting Respawn take the wheel on this project was the greatest decision they’ve ever made. Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order is a masterpiece. I loved every minute of it, which is saying a lot, considering after Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker I was ready to be done with Star Wars forever. Play this game . . . please.
Back Catalogue Games
21) Final Fantasy XV Royal Edition (Xbox One)
22) Final Fantasy XV – Episode Gladious (Xbox One)
23) Final Fantasy XV – Battle for Terra (Xbox One)
24) Final Fantasy XV – Final Fantasy XIV Quests (Xbox One)
25) Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: Legacy of the First Blade Episode One (Xbox One)
26) Overcooked 2 (Nintendo Switch)
27) Forza Horizon 4 – Fortune Island (Xbox One)
28) We Happy Few (Xbox One)
29) Super Smash Bros: Ultimate (Nintendo Switch)
30) Halo Reach (Xbox 360)
31) Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox)
32) Crash Bandicoot (Nintendo Switch)
33) Mass Effect (Xbox 360)
34) Gears of War: Judgement (Xbox 360)
35) Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories (Playstation 4)
36) God of War: Ascension (Playstation 3)
37) God of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP)
38) God of War (Playstation 2)
39) God of War: The Ghost of Sparta (Playstation 3)
40) God of War II (Playstation 2)
41) God of War III (Playstation 4)
42) Borderlands 2/The Handsome Jack Collection (Xbox One)
43) Forza Motorsports 6 (Xbox One)