End of Year 2019: Favorite Game

Favorite Game

It has been said by some that 2019 was a relatively weak year for video games. And that may be true if you focus primarily on mainstream AAA games. A few heavy hitters got delayed until next year, and others are biding their time waiting for next gen consoles. The impulse to simultaneously have the “best of the decade” conversation further shifts the spotlight away from this year’s games in favor of well-tread ground from prior years.

And yet, when talking with various folks from all around the Waypoint community, this year in games has felt anything but weak. It was a year full of creative and experimental games, and a year to finally return to some old favorites. This year had such an incredible breadth of experiences, and it would be hard to even make a top 50 without leaving something important out; there is truly something for everyone. And if none of this year’s games sparked your fancy, maybe you finally decided to get into an ongoing game, or played a game from your backlog and ended up loving it.

So without further ado, please tell us about your favorite games that you played in 2019!


Discussion Thread

This thread is all about discussing your favorites! The end of the year is always a great opportunity to look back and reflect on what we loved, but it’s also a great time to remind ourselves of what we missed and want to come back to next year. So give a recommendation, get a recommendation, and above all please be respectful and have a good time!

Be sure to check the Q&A section below if you have questions, otherwise feel free to reach out to one of us! We hope you enjoy this event and we’re excited to see what sorts of discussion each category inspires!

Please Note: We’re planning to write-up a summary thread at the end of the event and include various members’ quotes from the discussion threads, just like last year. The quotes that we select will be attributed to their authors and only posted on this forum (forum.waypoint.vice.com). If you would prefer to not be quoted in the summary thread, please indicate this in your posts.


Q&A

Q: End of Year? What's that?

A: I’m glad you asked! Just head over to our pinned topic if you need a catch up! You can also find details on the process for the event here.

Q: What can I discuss in this thread?

A: Anything that you think fits the topic! Feel free to share your favorite experiences of 2019, whether they occurred in media that released in 2019 or media from a previous year.

Q: Where are the nominations?

A: This year we’re structuring things a little differently: we’ll be posting discussion threads over the second half of December, and nominations won’t begin until January. This will give you a few more weeks to play more games before you’ll need to lock in your votes. We also hope that by focusing on open discussion threads, the event will be more inclusive of folks who haven’t been able to play many games from this year.

Credits

Some caveats: I’m still working through 2019’s games and probably won’t have a real answer until late next month. I’m not done with Outer Wilds, I need to play AI Somnium Files, and Life is Strange 2. Still working through Pokemon… Unsure if I’ll ever get to Star Wars. About 100% sure I won’t get to Sekiro. Increasingly sure I need to play River City Girls.

But really I had this answer at the beginning of the year even before I played my GOTY. I’ve been hyped on this game for over a year now, and it was exactly I expected, but even weirder.

And that’s Control. It is a game built almost entirely on style and tone. And that rocks. As an action game it’s a fairly solid third person shooter, throwing things never gets boring, but the final fights are trash. I like to fly. In terms of world and game design, this is exactly what I want out of a future BioShock game. It’s just good enough combat to justify a creepy tone and world. There’s something ridiculous about this place, and that makes it all the more terrifying.

Control scared the shit out of me. Especially when you could fall down a shaft in the lobby and suddenly find yourself fighting seemingly invincible moss zombies. The hallways were always chanting with floating people. There’s a Motel that’s it’s own Reality Marble. The janitor might actually be God.

As somebody who loves the SCP wiki, Welcome to Nightvale, and the Southern Reach trilogy, this game was exactly what I wanted from a horror story. Maybe the story could be better your brother just sucks as a villain, what a lame loser. Very excited for the DLC. Not excited for that combat trial stuff.

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Who knows, maybe Disco Elysium isn’t the greatest game I have ever played in my 25 years of life.

But, what I do know, is that the theoretical “BEST GAME EVER” looks pretty much just like it.

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The more i sit on it, the more i think Sekiro is just Fromsoft’s best work yet. Its the souls forumla sharpened down to a razor’s edge, allowing for a level of animation and smoothness in the combat that brings it to another level. Couple that with killer level design and the smoothness in how you move through a level, plus an engaging story in all its From-ness. Its just an incredible achievement.

6 Likes

I treated Jesse’s brother like a Samantha Mulder in X-Files. The reason Jesse is there is her brother but it’s not the story being told, Dylan is caught in the machinations of Control’s world and much like X-Files, the world is the story. Once it’s framed that way for me Control has the best story of the year for me and my favorite game of the year.

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And just like Samantha Mulder in the X-Files, the actual answer is really dumb and we were better off not knowing, really.

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For a game to function, let alone be worthwhile, you need so many crafts to agree and operate in tandem. It’s honestly ridiculous that any of these things work ever, in a technical sense or otherwise.

With this in mind, it’s hard to imagine games much greater than Outer Wilds, which moves with a grace and wholeness that games just… don’t do. It is a jawdropping weave of moments and ideas that never seem done with leaving an impression on you. I still haven’t gotten over it.

It’s a game, for me at least, about learning and integrating what you’ve learned into life. You’re tasked with accepting some hard truths as the curtains close, but the construction of the game itself is proof that it’s all for something. As you descend into a perilous cave system colonized by a race of your mirthful ancestors, you are witnessing everything, and it’s beautiful. The art is the UI is the story is the systems, all holding hands as the Sun explodes.

4 Likes

I didn’t buy a lot of (?) or any AAA games in 2019 b/c I moved to Canada and didn’t want to ask anyone helping to support me to drop $80 CAD on any title. Granted, my ability to conceptualize time is absolutely hosed and the entire first half of 2019 feels like 2018 now, so I might be wrong. I did play a fair amount of indies, since that wasn’t a huge ask, and old AAA titles that were no longer full price. Of all the games I played that came out in 2019, it’s Untitled Goose Game. Not a single doubt in my mind. I’m planning on getting Pokemon Shield in a while and that might overtake it, but I seriously have my doubts. It’s a simple premise with straight-forward mechanics that delivers exactly what it promised. In some ways, it reminds me of Portal, which did the same.

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I didn’t play enough new games this year to have an exhaustive list - I only really remember playing Dicey Dungeons, Noita, Bloodstained and Magic The Gathering: Arena this year, although I am sure I played some other stuff [and this isn’t including the Sigil maps for Doom, or some other older games I replayed bits of this year].

Since Noita is the only one I didn’t just sort of “stop playing”, either before reaching the end (Dicey Dungeons and Bloodstained - in the latter’s case, before beating the first boss), or because the monetisation model became obnoxious (I’m looking at you, MTG:A), I guess it wins by default, despite being Early Access and in need of balance improvements and some better parallelisation work on the simulation layer.

It’s not the best game that came out in 2019 but Jedi: Fallen Order was my favourite. I’m a lapsed Star Wars fan and Fallen Order manages to be the extremely traditional space-magic and ancient aliens story in the vein of KOTOR that I’m extremely familiar with while also being a human story about trauma and healing. A lot of people just want The Mandalorian in place of all the laser sword shit, but Fallen Order reminded me that the problem with new Star Wars in the year of our lord 2019 is the telling and the execution. Fallen Order’s writing is sharp and its classical level-based construction is (mostly) excellent.

Respawn have somehow made the only good Tomb Raider of this generation as well as a great Star Wars game. At this point, I’d rather another Respawn Star Wars game than for BioWare to take another crack at it.

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Disco Elysium is the best game I’ve played this year, but my favourite game was Untitled Goose Game. I liked being a goose and mildly inconveniencing the nice townspeople.

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TETRIS 99 baybeee

It’s Tetris with 99 players! Your grandmother knows how to play this thing! What else do you want?

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I just bought AI: The Somnium Files and I’m hoping that’s going to eventually be my #1, but right now, I guess it would be Samurai Shodown?

I played very few 2019 games.

Favorite game released this year: Fire Emblem: Three Houses. While it didn’t have the challenge and interesting maps that made me fall in love with the series, the story/world is incredible and I loved getting to know each and every character (even if replaying the game four times was a bit much).

Favorite game re-released this year: Dragon’s Dogma on the Switch. Nintendo, from the very bottom of my heart, thank you for giving me the opportunity to replay this and so many other “seminal” games on a handheld. It is so cool. This game gave me a sense of awe and wonder in exploring the world and encountering foes that I do not think I have felt in years.

Slay the Spire by MegaCrit games. Procedurally generated card deck game with some board game elements.
Somehow they’ve made a strategy game with A LOT of randomness in the equation feel extremely well balanced. When you think about all the detail and polish MegaCrit has put into this game, especially when you get into the custom games and see just how many variables can go into it, it’s staggering.
But beyond all that it’s a blast to play and easily the game I’ve put the most hours of 2019 into.
Still haven’t beaten the heart !

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Since I’m sure that folks will be singing hosannahs in the name of Control all over this thread, <grabs chair, turns it around backwards, sits> let me tell you about a little game called Judgment.

You play as a dude named Takayuki Yagami (English voice by Mr. Kaji [in the Netflix dub] himself, Greg Chun), a lawyer who managed to get his client, a murder suspect, acquitted. That client was then almost immediately implicated in another murder and was convicted, causing Yagami to lose faith in his legal skill and turn to being a private detective instead.

The story follows Yagami and his friend/partner(/love interest, in the headcanon of Steve Gaynor’s Twitch chat) Keito through a twisty tale of government shenanigans and yakuza turf wars. If you’re familiar at all with the Yakuza games, I’ve been told that this game is basically one of those, but it was a new experience for me. The localization is top-notch, the fighting rock-solid, and it was honestly the most fun I had in a really “big” (in hours) game this year.

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Not playing Judgment is my biggest video game regret this year. After two Kiwami’s and a 6 I was very burnt out on Kamurocho though.

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It’ll be there for you when you’re ready to come back, but definitely make sure you come back.

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I’m sure It would have been disco Elysium if I played it, but my game of year this year was The Outer Wilds. Control was the best video game ass video game, but outer wilds is such an incredible holistic experience. From the weird akward movement and flight, I’ve never felt gravity in a game the same way I felt it felt it in Outer Wilds. It’s one of the few games that gets environmental story telling right in a way that’s not just skeleton toilet. And the story it tells is good! It’s great please play it.

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To me, games in 2019 seemed to be consistently grappling with a certain theme—continuing on and searching for hope after a cataclysm. Death Stranding was maybe the highest profile example of this, and took a stab at that theme on a massive scale. Sekiro approached it from a different direction, on the scale of a kingdom rather than the entire globe (and FromSoft’s games have, in some ways, always circled around that theme). There are definitely more examples, but those (along with Control) were my runners-up for GOTY, and I wanted to give them an honorable mention.

Outer Wilds was the best game I played this year, and I think it’s settled in at #2 on my all-time list, just behind Breath of the Wild. It’s at once beautiful, awe-inspiring, terrifying, and incredibly, paradoxically hopeful. I wrote a whole long thing about it over on the Narrative Thread that I’ll just link here in lieu of restating it all. But it was a singular, transcendent experience—from being overwhelmed by the size and scale of the solar system to just sharing some marshmallows at the end of the universe.

1 Like