FALCON'S 2019 GAME OF THE YEAR!
This game is great. It drips with atmosphere from the very beginning, and throws you into such a well realised world that you get swept up in it. Unlocking powers feels really cool, I recall people saying that if the telekinesis in the next Star Wars game didn't feel this good, they done fucked up. It feels responsive and the combat was mostly enjoyable, especially as you get more and more powers to combine.
Then there's the story, everything from the lore they establish about the building and Bureau, to the descriptions of Altered Items and Objects of Power, to the tie ins to Alan Wake (and potentially all Remedy's previous games), to the Finnish Janitor who may be Thor? The lore is so dense but so interesting you just want to know more about it. The setting is so beautiful and they do such creative stuff with the space, the characters are great... there's not much that I can't recommend about this game.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
I believed in Igarashi. I watched his dumb
great Kickstarter pitch video where he leaned hard into Symphony of the Night. I wanted so badly for him to capture that lightning once again! I'm confident to say that he did.
Some of the most iconic/enduring aspects of SotN (terrrri-great voice acting) are largely missing, but it has the ridiculous diversity in weapons and play style and intelligent new systems, and dumb jokes and references to SotN, and the faces and cats and dogs of Kickstarter backers right in the game... It's great. I love playing it, I love watching others play it, I will definitely play this game again. And probably again. And probably again.
This game seriously fought with Bloodstained for #2 on my list. It's so pretty, and bursting with life and energy, and full of great characters. The screenshot above shows Baozhai the Pirate Queen who is very much immediately in gay panic for Thorani (goddess of water). I really enjoyed all of the characters, including Ajna the protagonist who is hot-headed and not very smart, but in a way you can totally get behind.
The Valkyrie Profile style combat was a huge draw for me to this game, though the parry system (timing blocks perfectly = no damage) is something I suck at. Fortunately it wasn't super necessary till the very end so it didn't hurt my experience too much. In the end the thing that pushed this down for me is that I'm not sure I want to play again, at least not as soon as I do Bloodstained. The combat just got a bit much.
Life is Strange 2
Technically this hasn't fully released yet, so if anything this game could rise the ranks here if it sticks the landing. It's been really interesting to follow Sean and Daniel's journey. Personally I wasn't super into Episode 2 with the grandparents, LiS always feels best to me when it's exploring relationships and complex characters. Episode 3 for me was a huge return to form, all the folks on that weed farm were engaging and I got to kiss Finn while on the same breath agreeing to his harebrained scheme.. because I knew Daniel was going to either way. That is the power of these games, it forces you into a situation where you can't make a good decision. I just did what Sean would have done to best protect his little bro. The character who appeared in Ep 4 was a welcome surprise, and I appreciated that she wasn't as complex as Sean wanted her to be. I was disappointed too, buddy.
The Sims 4: Strangetown, Island Living, Realm of Magic, Discover University
The Sims has had a fucking banner year for me. I love beach/island life, I'm well into witches, and University is always one of the most fun expansions. This year ticked all the boxes for me. Pictured above is my witchy orphan who had serious complaints about her foster family's lack of privacy. You may remember my stories earlier this year about her exploits in trying to kill all the other sims in the house, she's certainly fed up in the image since this is I think the third time this old lady walked in on her while she was in the bath with two other empty bathrooms in the house. These kinds of stories give me life, and also it's never not fun to create two characters and make them kiss.
The Outer Worlds
Admittedly I haven't finished this, but from what I've played I'm having a blast. In classic Oblivion style, I'm really engaged by pretty much all the companion characters, from the ace mechanic (pictured) who is trying to navigate clumsy advances from an NPC, to the Vicar who has a huge crisis of faith and goes on the warpath against those who caused him to 'waste his life', to the Medic who fronts a badass pirate persona in order to get jobs on pirate ships to be where the action is. People have said "It's Fallout New Vegas in Space" and that's pretty much accurate, but the combat feels a lot more modern and it hasn't crashed on me once. Yet.
This was an interesting game, you wandered around a bunch of small planetoids, uncovering artifacts and translating an ancient language. Each time you found a phrase it would use context to put potential words to sequences of symbols, and you could drag them onto the phrase to test out different sentences. It would never confirm a word right off, so you needed to find another phrase or two with the same symbols and the same meaning in order to 'lock in' a word as correct. I love that it's impossible to fully translate most of the writings (at least to my knowledge), the incompleteness feels right for the subject matter.
The characters are interesting too, your protagonist is apparently not gentle with her robot companions, something your current robot companion is not too fond of. Navigating their relationship is also part of the interest of the game, which all leads into an interesting final decision.
The walking simulator of the bunch. You row out to a small town to discover what happened there, accompanied by your plucky young companion. For much of the game it's not quite clear what your relationship is with this character, but there are other mysteries to be solving and so you do. It's very pretty and lonely and sad (villages don't abandon themselves), but that's kind of how the genre goes. It's a good one of those.
Untitled Goose Game
You're a goose. You're an arsehole. Go forth and wreak havoc! This game is dumb fun, the objectives are just tricky enough to give you that good feeling of accomplishment when you steal a man's hat, or terrorise a child, or set two neighbours against each other. It's so silly and hit so wide that pretty much everyone played it, and it was the perfect length with a great ending. I watched I think two or three playthroughs after finishing it, just because I wanted to see other people embrace the chaos and learn the goosey tricks of the trade.
I really should finish this. It's a cool concept, playing a taxi driver but with the focus being on the passengers and their conversations and how that affects your mood. The pressure to make enough money, and keep your uber rating high, while managing your emotions... it's an interesting game.
Also there are some great characters you get as passengers, the lady pictured above is a quantum physicist, she is a scientist of the multiverse. She tells you that you are at a time where timelines are reconverging and that's why things are getting weird. There's also a couple of German tourists who are convinced that you are a robot, so they start asking questions to try to Turing test you, which very quickly become Freudian. At the end of their first ride they are apparently still pretty sure you're a robot, and depending on how your mood has been through this conversation you get different reactions and exit moods.
MISSED THE CUT
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