Thursday, January 02, 2020

LiK's Favorite Games of 2019

I haven't been able to play a ton of games that came out in 2019. I was sucked into a couple of GaaS games and I wanted to play some games that came out in 2018 (which are included in this list). It's been a pretty mixed year for me personally so my need to play certain titles were based on my mood. I still played a good amount of games and I wanted to discuss them in this list.

If a game wasn't listed here, I probably didn't play it because I simply didn't put enough time into a lot of games this year. I barely touched my Switch and PC. 2020 is gonna be stacked but I'm gonna keep pecking away at my backlog.

GOTY: Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers (Ongoing) -

I actually started playing FFXIV for the first time this year and marathoned all expansions in about 2 months. Loved it from beginning to end. ARR was a bit rough but I persevered and was rewarded with a lot of amazing twists and moments. Heavensward was a true highlight with lots of amazing characters and character development. Stormblood continued this with even more development for other characters in my party which were really sweet emotional moments. Shadowbringers brought everything together in a beautiful way and added a lot of new epic revelations to the story. You get rewarded for following this journey closely and reading all the dialogue and learning the lore. Nothing is wasted and even minor characters you didn't think about would return as major ones. Such a neat thing to see.

I love everyone in the main cast and I loved all the allies and enemies. It’s so well written and the voice acting is superb. I also liked some of the changes to certain gameplay mechanics as you progressed to each expansion like the Trusts which allow more players to solo story-related stuff. The devs truly care about this massive world they've created and I’m glad we’ll continue to get more content as this epic story continues. This game also has the best soundtracks of all time across every installment in this series. Insane tracks especially during the raids. One of the greatest games of all time and one of the top five in the entire FF franchise.

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne (Completed Story/Endgame Ongoing) -

A massive expansion that improves the game in every way. Wonderful QoL improvements and new moves. I also love the new gear, weapons and collectibles like Pendants. The new monsters and events are fun af. All the new gear looks way better than the base game stuff. I play a female character and one of my biggest gripes is the armor designs for them and Iceborne has improved them. While I don’t like them all, it’s a step in the right direction. This is one of those games where I decide to play a session and end up losing 3-4 hours unexpectedly. The gameplay loop is just too fun and making new builds never gets old. A wonderful game that just keeps getting better with every update.

Control (Completed Story) -

I was always into all the Remedy games since the original Max Payne so I was looking forward to this. Control did not disappoint whatsoever. Solid gunplay and powers that make each and every encounter fun. They really let you experiment and allow you to customize the way you want to play. Great story with lots of humor and a snazzy presentation. The world they created was fun to explore even if the entire setting was inside this strange office building. I really liked some of the characters and their dialogue. Very good performances across the board. The destruction physics and art direction were great.

I loved Remedy's take on the SCP universe and the Souls-like level design and mechanics were really fun. The objects of powers were a bit referential to actual SCPs but with Remedy's own twist which I enjoyed. I considered some of them homages. Some bosses were truly brutal and a few puzzles really made my head hurt. But they were well integrated into this world. My only gripe were the technical performance and visual glitches which they've patched a few times since launch. I was engaged from beginning to end. Looking forward to the story DLCs.

A Plague Tale: Innocence (Completed Story) -

Wonderful cast of characters with a good story. I was surprised by this game and felt it had so much heart. I truly cared about the characters’ plight and they grew on me so much over the course of the game. Very well written. I also found the cutscenes and performances to be AAA-tier for a lower budget game like this. Very well directed and added so much gravitas to the moments. The puzzles and levels were intuitive and fun. The stealth gameplay was well done and wasn't frustrating. The way the rats were animated was just intimidating and creepy. If you have a rat phobia of any kind, you might not be able to finish it. Hah! Looking forward to a sequel whenever that comes out. I need more.

Death Stranding (Completed Story) -

Love him or hate him, Kojima is a visionary with a unique ideas. I was immediately intrigued with the world and story when the teasers and trailers were released over the years. I have to say that the game lives up to the weirdness really well. It’s so different and unlike any other type of post-apocalyptic world I’ve experienced in a game. I also found myself enjoying the various character interactions with the main cast. Their performances really sold it. But some of the side characters were pretty terrible though. Two in particular were pretty bad and just made their scenes look cringey af. I was also super impressed with the visuals and audio. The faces were insanely good and looked photorealistic at times. KojiPro definitely did a great job with the Decima engine. The audio was also so subtle and sounded so amazing in surround. It’s one of the best sounding games I ever played. The balance across all channels was so smooth and natural. It never had any issues at all. Perfection.

The gameplay loop took me some time to warm up but after I upgraded Sam a few times and the world opened up, it became pretty addictive. The traversal was challenging and fun. I also liked the asymmetrical coop with other players where everyone can help each other with structures and items. It made me love other players in this game. Something that is very hard to do for any game with some online aspects. I really enjoyed my time with it. The seriousness mixed with some goofiness was a nice mix that made it quite a memorable experience. I also enjoyed the soundtrack a lot. Some really great licensed and original songs. I hope Kojima continues to make games he wants to make.

Outer Worlds (Completed Story) -

Terrific writing for the dialogue and lore. I absolutely loved my time playing through all the various situations. The entire game gave me vibe for Fallout and Mass Effect during their peak. Combat was serviceable but I haven't played a game in a while where I just wanted to talk to people so much. Lots of humor and unexpected tangents kept me engaged for an entire dialogue sequence. The voice acting was superb through out and everyone fit their roles.

The story started off really well and I was intrigued with where it was going. I really enjoyed the QoL improvements over previous games of this type. Way less busywork than expected especially since the size and scope of this game is smaller as well. But it's a double edged sword. I found some quests to be too short or resolved too quickly. Some companion quests in particular were either rushed or simply ended before they even began. Something tells me the devs had way more planned but weren't able to implement them fully into the game. They just felt unfinished. The main quest itself had some good moments but also felt a bit rushed especially towards the end. But I liked how it ended overall from my choices.

I look forward to any DLCs or expansions they come up with. This world has so much potential to grow and expand and I hope we get to see more sooner than later.

Sekiro (Completed Story/Platinum) -

Another FROM/Miyazaki masterpiece. Excellent combat with balls hard difficulty that will test even the most diehard Souls veterans. There were a lot of challenging enemies and bosses that will kick your ass as you learn to figure out their patterns. Some really drove me nuts. Level design was excellent as expected and flowed really well. It was truly satisfying to overcome each and every part of the game. The story was intriguing enough to keep me going and I liked the characters. It's not as memorable as the previous Soulsborne games because there wasn't a lot of hidden lore or things to find. The story is pretty direct with very little mystery. The game also doesn't allow you to make different builds or experiment much like with their previous titles which doesn't offer much replayability unless you make up your own challenges.

Not my favorite game from the Soulsbornekiro series, but it’s definitely a worthy successor. I had lots of fun and really enjoyed it.

Devil May Cry V (Completed Story) -

Insanely fun with a bangin' soundtrack and great characters. The cheese and humor is the best in the series and the combat is the most refined in the entire series for the franchise. There were so many options and you can tailor the game to how you want to play. If you check out the skill trees, it's absolutely brimming with moves and powers. Having three distinct characters to play kept it fresh during the story campaign. They all had their own style which made it really fun to experiment with. The only weak point to this game was probably some of the level designs. A bit plain for the most part and some later areas in the demon world was just bland and not fun to explore. Certainly the best in the series and a nice revival.

Sayonara Wild Hearts (Completed Story) -

Short and sweet. Slick and stylish art and animations with a fantastic soundtrack that matches the visuals so well. I liked the concept and themes that explore a simple story of love and heartbreak in a wildly creative vision. Very simple gameplay but it works. I played on an OLED with surround and the visuals and audio was incredible. I recommend the console version over mobile for sure. My only gripe with the game was probably the controls. There was a slight delay which screwed me up constantly in some levels. I wish there was a sensitivity setting. But I enjoyed the overall experience.

My favorite games from 2018 I played in 2019:

Red Dead Redemption 2 (Completed) -

I really fell in love with this game. The slow burn worked for me during a time when I needed to chill. I enjoyed the atmosphere and locations and the story was well told. I also liked all the characters that popped up. They were fully realized including Morgan who was a true standout. He was pretty sympathetic if you played him as good guy. All the other characters were equally fantastic and were more down to earth than expected. The Stranger quests in particular were nice lil short stories which added humor and heart and helped flesh out this world. The game was simply gorgeous and fun to explore. I roamed around so much just absorbing the ambient sounds and enjoying the view.

I haven’t really enjoyed a Rockstar game as much as this since RDR1. I always liked the previous Rockstar titles but the GTA series looks downright juvenile and crass compared to this. RDR2 has lots of similar idioacy like GTA if you played it that way but I found it more mature and complex with its characters. While the game did drag a bit post-credits, it certainly did an excellent job setting up for RDR1 in terms of the timeline. A real bonus. It’s certainly the most ambitious title in their catalog and I think it deserves all the accolades it got.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Completed Story/Platinum) -

Heard nothing but great things ever since it came out but I didn’t touch it until this year. The game is absolutely gorgeous and does a fantastic job with the audio. It utilizes the surround very well for storytelling purposes. While the combat and puzzles were fairly simple and not all that fun, I found myself intrigued by the story and lore. It still shocks me that the woman who played Senua was just someone who worked at Ninja Theory. She was amazing.

GRIS (Completed Story) -

A very simple platformer with some simple puzzles and GODLIKE art. I adored the designs and animations. The story is a bit vague but you sorta figure it out as you progress. I really loved the atmosphere and flow of the level designs. It was pretty well done and super smooth. I hope to see more games from this developer.

Celeste (Completed Story/Cheated) -

This is a weird one I have on my list. While I appreciated the gameplay, I’m not a fan of super brutal platformers anymore. I’ve lost my patience for the majority of them. I enjoyed the characters and story so much that I ended up just turning on all the cheats available in the game to get through it as quickly as possible. Loved the writing and dialogue. Very cute and sweet story with a cute art style as well. I also liked the soundtrack a lot. Probably one of the best games I didn’t really “play”. LOL

Deliver Us The Moon (Completed Story) -

I backed this game years ago and didn’t bother playing it until now. What a fantastic experience. Really good story with some interesting characters. The environmental puzzles were super intuitive and fun to figure out. I didn’t need to check a guide to complete it which is saying a lot because most puzzles usually frustrated me enough to check guides these days. But these were very well made and made sense. I also enjoyed how none of it felt too long. There were more gameplay mechanics than I expected and it constantly wowed me all the way to the end. Very satisfying.

Florence (Completed Story) -

I bought this in 2018 and never got around to checking it out until this year. In fact, I popped it in on the very last day of 2019 just to play something in bed. I loved the story and the presentation. Very short and sweet. Loved the sketchy art style and music. It's nothing fancy but had many great moments mixed with the gameplay.

Game I love to hate:

Destiny 2: Shadowkeep + Seasons (Ongoing) -

I dunno why I keep playing this but I'm still into it. I've fallen a bit but the chase for titles continue to keep me invested. Some changes have been better but I'm still frustrated by other aspects. The next season is the very last chance I give to this game before I completely move on. If it weren't for the Discord community I'm in, I would've given up sooner. Bungie, lower the grind and add more content. kthxbai