My Games Of The Year list (that is, every 2019 game I've played, ranked).
The ones I missed (sorry): https://www.backloggd.com/u/PedroPBO/list/2019-wishlist
The list in video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGMX67AxQ9Y
In an ideal (and impossible) world this is what every system in No Man's Sky would be, a place full of history and personality, unique and misterious locations, bursting at the seams with creativity, in a way I don't think I've ever seem in any other work that tries to imagine alien planets, and simulates all of that in a human, planetary and solar system scale, somehow making it work, and doing it with such grace you will almost think it's based on a real place. This is hands down the best exploration game I have ever played.
The amount of freedom to twist and turn the media that the developers allow themselves here is incredibly refreshing. It plays with visual, mechanic and story conventions so naturally as if this is what everyone else is doing. And with that framing tells a beautiful story about breaking free from the many prisons imposed by others, through the strength of healthy communities.
A game that can be unbelievably tacky, too self-explanatory, present bad gender politics and a simple overall message, at the same time that it touches on a myriad of different subjects, has occasional poignant scenes lead by great performances, an always present concern with iconography that creates beautiful imagery and, most important, uses game design to work on it's themes. And all of that complex mess of ideas are wrapped around a gameplay that creates a whole system out of walking that is more engaging than most action games you will find (even if sometimes it too gets a little too interested in action for it's own good).
An incredibly well written, and well acted, game that tackles the complexity of the mental health industry while navigating through the rough waters of our current capitalist society, and it does that with a sharpness you don't often see in video games.
A pocket version of Breath of the Wild that is more walking simulator than action game, but is just as well designed. In its one hour of run time you will encounter the most charming and funny characters of the year, that often also bear a surprisingly touching story.
My first game from the studio, and yeah, ok, I admit it, you were right. From Software has seem the matrix, Miyazaki will single-handedly save humanity from extinction and Sekiro propelled me into the next evolution of man.
But for all the souls-like aspects people already know to expect and love, the combat alone changes the game completely, rewarding aggression and transforming a fight in this exhilarating rhythmic dance that never gets stale.
People should replace the perfect crystal sphere of silicom made to define what a kilogram is with a copy of Sayonara Wild Hearts, because this is the actual roundest object on earth. It is the perfect realization of an idea, with no edges and no seams, and this idea being a never seen before combination of Sonic with Warioware, dressed up as if neon was a big thing in the 50s and sounding like Carly Rae Jepsen joined La Roux.
Her Story is probably the best detective game we have, and was a revelatory way to tell stories through video games when it launched. Telling Lies' biggest detractor is in being almost the exact same thing, except that now Sam Barlow is more interested in surveillance politics than fun mysteries. It is a very good story, and the mechanics are strong enough to sustain a second instalment.
A prime example of the strand genre.
An above average action game (the combat feels like DOOM and Uncharted had a baby), IMMENSELY elevated by its setting. Remedy wears its references on its sleeves, but creates a unique video game world, with scenarios ranging from cosmic horrors to mundane comedy, and in its best moments, a combination of the two.
Another Michael Frei and Mario von Rickenbach joint, again with the minimalistic interactive short film thing, but this time exploring an individual's relation to a collective – where one ends and the other begins – using beautifully hypnotic crowd movements.
Very few games can manage to make me play them four times in a row as is if it was nothing. Except for the not so great boss battles, it's very hard to poke holes in this. It's a work from a team with perfect understanding of its material, at the height of their craft. Its only crime is to be just a resurgence of decades old concepts today.
A (light) puzzle game that has more in common with magic shows than puzzle games. Tricks with perspective will never stop being captivating.
Reminds me a bit of Miitomo. This forced/anonymous interaction because anxiety won't let you get real with people close to you really works for me (unfortunately?). Won't cure anyone's depression (and it's not trying to), but kind words can make you feel better, even if only for a moment.
Doesn't play much different from other Fire Emblem games, even with the Persona-like structure. But framing is everything, putting you in the role of a professor – something I don't think I've been in any other game, and it does a great job simulating that – works perfectly with the heavy responsibility of handling permadeath mechanics. It also helps that these characters have never been more charismatic (despite being anime archetypes).
Tetris Friends for the battle royale age. A game that blew away any limitations of the genre.
Hotline Jazz. Great use of visuals and music to accentuate action. Overflowing with style.
A tragedy about the lies we tell ourselves to cope with wrong decisions. It tries the hardest it can to convey that through simple puzzles, and moderately succeeds.
Move aside, Outer Worlds, the funniest capitalist critique of 2019 is right here.
A charming throwback to old adventures that retains the trial and error aspect but simplifies and translates it to modern sensibilities. I wouldn't mind if it was a little longer.
A story that, living up to its name, opens its heart to you in an exceptionally genuine and powerful way, managing to traverse the great distance created by a game design focused on the superficial, a narrative voice that gets lost in its target audience and poor attempts to tackle big ideas.
An aesthetic experience first and foremost, this game comes to fill the Scott Pilgrim shape hole in our hearts, if only lacking in the writing department, that confuses being a little snarky with antipathy.
A simple but admirable portrayal of loneliness in the old age. The virtually infinite empty landscape and the slow movement of everything emphasizes a world that has not entirely forgotten you, but has only routine interactions to offer now.
The Papers Please of comedy. A simple game about mundane work clashing with wacky characters.
A few years too late to be visually, narratively or mechanically enticing, but it's competent enough to get you through the whole thing.
It's technologically impressive and relatively well acted, but the story feels rushed and the resolution doesn't correspond to it's early build up. Not bad enough to be good like The Quiet Man, but not good enough to be like Telling Lies.
Well... it's... Contra. Through and through. It's some good Contra! But, still, just Contra. You know exactly what you're getting into.
Doesn't do much to evolve on its clear source of inspiration. Didn't hold me for much long.
A very good One of Those™, with some innovative ideas for the genre. Not really my jam.
A great topic to approach, and it gets its point across, but it might be a little too short and simple to be much impactful.
A masterpiece in 2015, old news in 2019.
Basically a calming screensaver. Very, very small scope, but fulfills its role.
A charming, yet simple, visual novel that treats its subject matter in a very humane and genuine manner.
It boasts a very particular aesthetic, taking inspiration from Mike Mignola's alluringly deep blacks and strong basic colors, but it's a game that sounds way more interesting than it actually is. The pinball battle mechanics are very simplistic, and the many rooms presented all feel too similar.
A neat exercise on combining genres that delivers on its basic premise, but doesn't go any step beyond it.
If Breath of The Wild bears that name because the world feels so alive that you could almost feel it breathe, this is the antithesis of that. This world is not a sprawling landmass of wonders, it is a (bad) theme park. You follow a strict path through mock cities comprised of a few rooms, where you interact with a small number of NPCs who have no life or purpose outside of passing information to you and encounter stiff looking animatronics with simple walking patterns trying to pass as real creatures. It's infuriating how this franchise's idea of iteration is on putting different graphics on the exact same template they made for a portable machine in the 90s.
It's cute and it's free. And there's nothing more to it.
After navigating through a messy UI and slimy microtransactions, your reward is a racing game that tries its best to work in the most constrained control scheme possible, but obviously fails.