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access_time December 29, 2019 at 6:00 AM in Features by David Poole

David’s Top 10 Games of 2019

2019 was an interesting year for gaming, and it had plenty of variety throughout. While we definitely had a great list of games from our Epic Win Awards, there were some I felt deserved some recognition. Here is my top 10 list of games in 2019 that I personally enjoyed the most.

10. Pokémon Sword

I didn’t expect to enjoy Pokémon Sword as much as I did. The last Pokémon game I had finished was Pokémon X, which I enjoyed. After that, I played Alpha Sapphire and fell off around Mauville City where it just felt like a hassle. Then I picked up Pokémon Moon. The heavy hand-holding and the implementation of unnecessary new features made it so I never left the second island. Despite seeing Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon on sale several times, I knew ultimately, I wouldn’t play them. With this in mind, one could see why I would be apprehensive with the new Pokémon games.

I’m really glad I was wrong. Upon starting Pokémon Sword, I felt like I was really starting a grand adventure again. Partnering up with by Sobble, I enjoyed my journey across the Galar region. The Gym Challenge was incredibly epic and kept me entertained much more than previous entries. Perhaps what I enjoyed the most was the incredible music in the game, truly keeping me pumped. I had no trouble finishing the game and I continue to hunt for Gigantamax Pokémon in the Wild Area. It had tough competition, but it ranks among my top 10 games of 2019.

9. Days Gone

There’s something a bit relaxing about Bend Studios’ Oregonian zombie title. Yea, there’s tons of Freakers roaming the vast open world, but Days Gone is more than that. It’s a large mass of land to roam across on your bike, taking in the beautiful sights. I’ve spent far more time in Days Gone than I expected, and I still have a lot to do in the game.

The game may not have been perfect, but I loved how relatable Deacon was. He was a protagonist I could fully get behind when it came to judging right from wrong. The fact that he was an undead killing machine with a variety of weapons and tools was just icing on the cake. The story dragged on a little too long, but I respect Bend Studios for filling the game with content. I questioned adding this to my top 10 list, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt it deserved to join the list.

8. Sayonara Wild Hearts

I picked up Sayonara Wild Hearts pretty late in the year, and I feel so late to the party. The game was eye-catching when I first heard of it, and the music had a great sound to it. Finally having the chance to play it, I can’t believe I was missing out on such a gem. For a rhythm game, the gameplay has tons of variety, which caught me off guard. Riding motorcycles, drifting cars, surfing through a virtual world and more, the game keeps things interesting for sure.

The perfect blend of stunningly stylish visuals with entrancing music creates such a treat to play. After getting to the first transition in “Begin Again”, I knew this game was something special. While the game can be completed fairly quickly, the game has added challenge with its Zodiac Riddles. I’ve spent a lot of frustrating hours trying to complete some of these challenges, but I’m determined. We plan on having a review of the game shortly too, so stay tuned for that.

7. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

I may be a little biased, but I loved the original X-Men Legends and Marvel Ultimate Alliance games. When Nintendo made the surprise announcement of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 at last years Game Awards, my hype level was already at 11. Seeing one of my favorite franchises returning in such glory was almost a dream come true. Bringing heroes from The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and even the X-Men made this game an amazing triumph. Being a Nintendo Switch exclusive didn’t bother me, and I’ve already spent many hours playing with friends.

Honestly, just seeing the X-Men return to console games was enough of a win for me. Being able to build a team that includes the likes of Deadpool, Spider-Man, Ghost Rider and more felt truly unbelievable. That it happened the same year as Avengers: Endgame, it felt almost like it was fate. It was one of my most played games this year, and I plan on putting many more hours into it.

6. Life is Strange 2

The journey of Life is Strange 2 may have started in 2018, but the bulk of it was in 2019. Watching Sean and Daniel travel south toward Mexico was as emotional as it was riveting. Expertly handling complex characters, social issues and morality, DONTNOD Entertainment does it with ease. While not every moment was a winner, the overall narrative is fantastic.

Of course, this narrative is made even better thanks to the player decisions throughout the game. Plenty of choices will determine how Daniel will grow as a person. How it ends is ultimately based on how good of an older brother you are. If you’re able to stick around through the episodic journey, then the payoff is likely worth it all.

5. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

It’s very rare for me to get time to play an expansion to a game. When Capcom revealed Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, I remember my excitement on having a reason to jump back into the New World. I honestly can’t remember the last expansion I was this excited for, but Capcom certainly delivered. New monsters, new strategies, and an all new land made Iceborne a perfect continuation of the original game.

While the game introduced new monsters, including the new Elder Dragon, Velkhana, it brought back some old favorites. Tigrex, Glavenus, Brachydios, Barioth and more give the game an even larger ecosystem. With clutch-claw in hand, and a few new tricks, hunting is more fun than ever. Add the new content that the game continues to get, and you have a fantastic never-ending experience. It’s easily worthy of joining the ranks of my top 10 list.

4. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Ever since its reveal, I was fascinated with Respawn’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Seeing it firsthand at E3 and even getting time with the combat, I knew it was a match made in heaven. Giving a focus on defensive combat and exploration, it was sure to be a return to form for Star Wars games. The adventure taking place in a prime era, between the prequel and original trilogies, Respawn was free to create an epic story.

I took my time exploring the various planets in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, not wanting to miss a beat. While the game has some bugs to work out, the overall experience was incredibly enjoyable for me. It was so enjoyable, I ended up getting the Platinum trophy in the game on PlayStation 4. I would really love to see more from this saga, especially after spending time with a fun cast of characters.

3. Judgment

Judgment was simply peak insanity to me. It combined all the perfect elements to gain my interest. Detective work from games like L.A. Noire and Ace Attorney meet with the infamous action of the Yakuza series. Despite being set to a very mature and serious plot, the game still mixes it up with the wacky antics of Yakuza. Add the over-the-top fighting moves and you have a game that is so ridiculous, you just have to play it.

The city of Kamurocho is always entertaining, and between street thugs to fight are tons of activities to enjoy. Perhaps you’ll settle for a game of Mahjong or Shogi? Or maybe you’d rather spend time in the arcade. Maybe even spending time with a pretty girl, or four if you so choose. It’s a perfect spin-off from the Yakuza series and I would really love to see more in the future. I couldn’t let this one go without being in my top 10.

2. Devil May Cry 5

During the Xbox E3 2018 Briefing, fans were given a real treat with the return of one of Capcom’s most stylish franchises. Devil May Cry was coming back, and it was back much faster than expected. Coming out as an early 2019 release, Devil May Cry 5 was a fantastic way to get in the groove at the start of the year. Using the stunning RE Engine, it really made the game mix realism with gorgeous effects. The action was non-stop and the adrenaline rush from the game kept my spirits high.

Bringing Nero into the spotlight once again, Devil May Cry 5 was a perfect evolution for the series. It brought familiar gameplay as well as new elements to freshen things up for veterans. Nero’s Devil Breaker was a literal game-changer and the inclusion of V helped to give the game variety. Some of the veterans may have wanted a bit more out of the combat mechanics, but I feel the game is still fantastic for this generation. On top of that, I’m still singing “Devil Trigger” in my head months later. It was my personal game of the year until…

1. Death Stranding

Death Stranding for me was a bit conflicting when it came to my enjoyment of the game. The game has dozens of hours of story content, on top of dozens more for side missions. I’ve probably only scratched the surface, but I yearn to continue connecting the UCA to the chiral network. As weird as the game was, the story still resonated with me. Yes, the themes are beaten into your brain constantly, but there’s a reason for it. It’s a heavy-handed presentation that surprisingly works. Throughout the insane and almost fantastical story, I developed a connection myself.

That connection surprisingly, was with BB. The Bridge Baby in the game that stays with Sam throughout the majority of the journey is a big part of the adventure. I ended up bonding with BB, just as Sam does, and it really hit home during the final chapter. This connection, paired with Ludvig Forrsell and Jenny Plant’s “BB’s Theme”, really stuck with me. I’m still thinking about this game. The performances, the time spent, the music, even the frustrating moments… everything is still sticking with me. It was tough to make this decision, but Death Stranding is my personal Game of the Year.

Honorable Mentions:

Kingdom Hearts III

It may not have been the perfect cap to the trilogy, but I enjoyed my time with Kingdom Hearts III. I searched high and low for Lucky Emblems, conquered every foe, and even earned the Platinum trophy. While it’s not in my top 10 of the year, it was still a worthy installment. I’m looking forward to the Re:Mind DLC.

Catherine: Full Body

The folks at P Studio are simply masters of their craft. They’ve made enhanced ports of many of their games, and they do it so naturally. When I played Catherine: Full Body, I didn’t expect to fall in love with the game all over again. The seamless incorporation of Rin into the overall experience was perfectly done. The gameplay is as tried and true as ever, and the visual upgrade was very appreciated. It was even better that the localization team managed to get the original cast back to reprise their roles (including our Epic Win Award winner, Troy Baker).

Resident Evil 2

Resident Evil 2 was a fan favorite for decades, and Capcom brought it back in style in 2019. Using their patented RE Engine, they managed to breathe new life into this zombie romping game. With incredible graphics and horrific action, Capcom has set the new standard for a proper remake. Add to it the haunting sound design to truly send chills down your spine, and you have a fantastic revival.

If I had more time on my hands, this list could be very different. While I did start Luigi’s Mansion 3, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Sekiro and more, I didn’t have time to invest in them. I do want to and I do plan on going back to them soon. Either way, this top 10 list embodies a lot of my enjoyment of gaming in 2019, and I look forward to a brilliant year of gaming in 2020.

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