Last year around this time (on this day to be precise), I did a full year review of the all the video games I played. I composed tiny reviews for 23 games. This year it looks like the magic number 23 again. Sounds like a trend.
So, these are the games I completed in 2019. Some of which may not have been released in 2019. And when I say complete, I mean either I 100%’d it, finished the main campaign story if it is open-ended or has end-game content, or I consider it done enough that I won’t be revisiting it. Also the order below is roughly Jan through Dec, for when I completed the game, and not necessarily when I started the game. You’ll get the idea as you read the list.
Red Dead Redemption II (2018): I technically beat this game January 1st 2019, but mostly played it in December, and did a little blurb in last year’s review, so we’ll just start with this:
“[…] this game is a technical marvel, from game-play to visuals. Rockstar Games has always paid incredible attention to the most mundane of details. It means their games take 5-6 years to make, but the time pays off.”
Astroneer (2017-2019): Astroneer started out as an early access game that Wayne and I played in 2017. The 1.0 version came out early 2019, with achievements and an actual end game. The game is a fun mining/crafting game. You start on a planet and have to mine and gather materials to build a spaceship to travel to other planets. There’s a very deep crafting system that allows you to refine the raw materials into alloys and then build buggies, and trailers, and solar panels, and air-purifiers. Each thing to help make the primary task easier. I never fully completed this game, but do jump in every once in a while. It has terrible lag when playing in co-op and I’m not sure if that’s been resolved yet/ever.
Horizon: Zero Dawn (2017): Horizon Zero Dawn would be the sole Playstation game for 2019, and I actually started this game in 2017, but just never got around to completing it. After completing Spiderman and God of War last year, I figured it was finally time to wrap up Horizon Zero Dawn. Game takes place in a post apocalyptic lust world, where machine-like dinosaurs rule. You play as Aloy, trying to find out what hapened to the world. Again, this was another game that just didn’t grab me initially. I would play here and there for a bit but couldn’t stay interested. Primarily due to the difficulty curve, as it just felt like a grind to play. I dropped the difficulty down to Story mode and had an absolute blast for the rest of the game. I haven’t tried the DLC, but I really should. 2020 will be a big year for me in the Playstation realm, with Death Stranding out now, and The Last of Us II release mid-2020. I also want to play Uncharted 4 and Uncharted Lost Legacy which are in the queue (aka: shelf).
Planet Alpha (2018): Planet Alpha is a fun side-scroller platformer game, similar to Inside or Limbo. You wake up on an alien planet and must try to escape. There are more puzzle elements at play as you can adjust the day and night cycles which will use to navigate each level. You’ll notice that side scrolling walking puzzle games are my go-to this year. I just appreciate their pace.
Assassin’s Creed Origins (2017): Origins was the first major leap for the AC series into the next gen, with 4k visuals on the Xbox One X. And it is a pretty game. I even posted a large photo album of in-game screen shots. I’ve always liked the AC games and this was no different. They modernized the RPG elements with leveling, and gear pickups which is a nice adjustment. 2020 I’ll be getting in Odyssey, and then I should be fully caught up, until Vikings comes out I guess.
DOOM (2016): 2.5 years after I started playing this game I finally pushed myself to finish it. There was nothing wrong with the game that caused me to take so long, it’s just very intense. Very in-your-face, loud metal music playing, gore and nonstop frantic combat. After each level I was just left very white-knuckled, a little jumpy and short of breath. So I would have to put the controller down for a few months at a time before getting back into it. This year I decided to just play it consistently and push through to the end. Very solid game, lots of fun, and gorgeous on the Xbox One X.
Crackdown 3 (2019): This game is exactly like Crackdown 1 and 2. Disappointed that it took so freaking long to make, and the waiting for the cloud-based destruction wasn’t even in the campaign, but attached as a multiplayer component. Verdict: not worth the wait.
The Gardens Between (2018): This was a fun little puzzle game. Game starts as two young friends are about to be separated as one is moving away, and the game is told from the perspective of their memories together. Each one, its own little island, from the perspective of the child’s imagination. You control the two players simultaneously, and you do so by moving time forward and backwards, as the characters walk their path. Very simple mechanic, and a fun little heartfelt game as a result.
39 Days to Mars (2019): Another little fun 2-D puzzle game that I played in co-op with Nichole. The concept is you and your friend are going to fly the most unreliable spaceship to Mars. Everything at some point will break down during the trip, and you’ll come across space squids that will ink your ship and you’ll need to catch with a fishing net and eventually a space kraken. The in-between times when your ship is not falling apart, you’ll need to make tea and sandwiches. The game is made with co-op in mind and the co-op puzzles are all paper-craft types which can be both funny and frustrating to pull off. This game did not end up in divorce.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (2017): I have very much enjoyed the Wolfenstein reboot games. They are very polished and have solid dual wielding gunplay mechanics. Difficult at times, but I felt this had a shorter, but tighter story than the previous two. Only issue I had was when I was about halfway through, I accidentally wiped my game save. And had to start from the beginning. But that was my fault.
Anthem (2019): Alright, first of 4 big 2019 AAA titles I played this year. EA/BioWare’s big new IP. A lot of complaints got thrown at this game on launch as it made a lot of weird decisions in its design, and didn’t have any satisfactory end-game content. For me, I don’t care about end-game content. That’s a weird term. The campaign is over, the game is over. Move on. Why do you need more? They have made a lot of changes to the design and added more content over the past year, but gameplay remains relatively the same. Big positive ease-of-use improvement is you can changes your weapons mid-mission now. Which, why that was a limitation on launch, I’ll never know. This game wanted to be the next Destiny, so why didn’t they make it more like Destiny, instead of handcuffing the player at every opportunity? Because EA? I enjoyed the story and gameplay a lot. I actually wrote an “in progress” review for this game back in March.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018): Third and maybe final (?) in the Tomb Raider reboot series. A very solid conclusion to the series if it does end. A tighter story than the last one, but with more tombs which is nice. Gorgeous as always. Gameplay hasn’t really changed since the 2015 reboot, they just keep adding more and more outfits.
FAR: Lone Sails (2019): Another side-scrolling puzzle type game, similar to Limbo, Inside, and Planet Alpha. This time you play a little dude controlling what can be best described as a desert sailboat? A large machine with wheels, and a sail. You start off with very little, but as you progress, your ship gets upgraded with better wheels and a sail. You need to pick up fuel as your progress, and you need to repair your ship as the story moves along. The sail helps conserve fuel, but if you are not paying attention, you can crash into walls or checkpoints if you don’t stop in time. A quiet, somber game with an enjoyable soundtrack.
Celeste (2018): This game won Best Independent Game, and Games for Impact in last year’s Game Awards which inspired the purchase. The game is a 2-D platformer with speedrunning in mind. All about speed and finesse. Retro look and feel. The game gets very difficult near. Each level also has a few collectibles and a b-side to encourage replayability. The story is about a girl who is suffering from depression and anxiety, and her goal is to climb this mountain and reach the peak. The subject matter touches on struggling with anger and doubt, and defeat, and overcoming those emotions.
Submerged (2015): 3rd person combat-free game in which you explore a flooded city in a boat, and must scale the buildings to find the medical parcels to help your brother. Easy achievements, can be completed in a day. Nothing exciting worth writing about.
Gears 5 (2019): 2nd big AAA title for 2019. Follow up to Gears 4, following the events of the Gears team, with the focus on Kait Diaz as she discovers the origins of the Locust and her family. Good looking, a little buggy with the robot, Jack, as a playable character. Story was pretty routine, but the large open level segments where you surf around on the skiff really took me out of the game, as these segments were just large and void of anything. Close quarters, narrow alleys and crumbling buildings is where Gears thrived. Back when it was dark and scary. Now it’s bright and open and I don’t like it. Also you end up fighting robots a lot now. Two thumbs neither up nor down. Just sideways. Meh. They put a lot of emphasis on all the different multiplayer modes, and escape modes which I was not interested in.
What Remains of Edith Finch (2017): In the 2nd half of 2019 I started playing a lot more, smaller, indie games. Games that I could run through in a short time. I had a very specific goal for Extra Life 2019 to reach 250K Xbox Gamerscore. When I started this in July I needed 14k to reach my goal. Indie games are usually pretty quick, and easy to 100% for 1000G. WRoEF was one of these game with an interesting story about a large family, where all the family members die. The daughter/narrator returns home to this weird house as the last remaining member of this sad family, and reads/plays through the family journal to tell the story of each family member, and their unfortunate death. One story was of a boy who was on a swing-set and believed he could do a full 360 loop around the tree branch. He succeeded, and subsequently flew off the swing and cliff and died. This story told in first person view actually caused me motion sickness and had to stop playing for a day. Another story was of a baby drowning in a bathtub. That one kinda messed me up for a bit, as a new dad.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (2016): At any given time, Activision has 3 different teams working on Call of Duty titles. This iteration primary took place in space, in the future, and had you flying a space ship for a chunk of levels. This game won the award for having the most down-voted announcement trailer. Good game though. Pushed the bar for visuals for a COD title and was fun to play with the futuristic weapons. With COD titles you pretty much know what you’re getting into, which is why I don’t buy them new.
Guns, Gore, and Cannoli 2: Sequel to Guns, Gore and Cannoli 1 – go figure. 2-D side scrolling shooter game, like the old Metal Slug games. Played in co-op on Extra Life night (supports up to 4 players), completed in 1 sitting. Fun, humourous and a cartoony art-style.
Diablo 3: Nichole and I started this game in 2017, and it took us 2 years to finish it. Top down dungeon crawler game with lots of loot and fun gameplay combat. Equally fun in co-op except when you’re waiting for the other person to manage their loot and gear, and attacks, and spells, and, and, and…
Far Cry 5 (2018): Fry Cry games really became fun to play around Far Cry 3. 3 had a good story. 4 was fun. Primal had a good story and no guns (which was different). 5 was tedious. When 4 was introduced, they introduced Co-op in the most broken way. You could join a friend’s game, gain xp, and help unlock outposts, but you’ll make no progress in the single player campaign. So you don’t unlock achievements or any story progress. So why bother playing in co-op at all? Wayne and I beat the game begrudgingly. We beat “HIS” game that is.
STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen Order (2019): 3rd big AAA title of the year. And probably my top game of the year (without counting the next game). a fun Star Wars story about a unknown Jedi, taking place after Revenge of the Sith and Palpatine’s Order 66 which turned the clone army on the Jedi Council. Force powered individuals are in hiding and this story is about finding a codex of force enabled children before the Republic does. Fun platforming and light-saber wielding gameplay with force push and pull powers. Made by the Titanfall developer. In a time where EA has the exclusive rights to make Star Wars games, and so far they’ve only turned out Battlefront multiplayer crap, having a Single Player focused game, that doesn’t get cancelled, and its actually GOOD, is a relief.
CONTROL (2019): I’m currently in the middle of this game, so it can’t be officially included in this list. But its a neat one. kinda like Psi-Ops / Second Sight. You play a female agent who arrives at a large building that deals with strange anomalies. All the staff have been taken over by this strange force, and you use a gun that is alive(?) to fight your way out of problems. You also have telekinetic powers, and can throw objects around and create a shield made of concrete. Made by the develops of Alan Wake and Quantum Break. Also the main character has internal dialogue with herself/you the play. Its bizarre, and cool. And will likely win Game of the Year at this year’s Game of the Year Awards (which take place tomorrow, Dec 12).
SW Jedi Fallen Order
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Horizon: Zero Dawn
The Gardens Between
Bonus: I also plan to do a “My Top Games of the Decade” list before the end of the month. Pray for me as I enter that rabbit hole.