As another year comes to a close, it’s time for us to look back over the truly amazing year of gaming we’ve had. From massive open world games to smaller, delicate indies. 2019 is the final full year of the PS4 and XBOX cycle, and what a year it’s been, so sit back while we walk you through some of our highlights from the past 12 months.
Rebecca Nicol – Days Gone
2019 has been an astounding year for games, and as gamers, we’ve been well and truly spoiled for choice. So, when it came down to my selection, it was like a mother choosing her favourite child. Do I pick the whimsical indie Concrete Genie? Or does Jesse Faden and the ominous Oldest House get my vote? While the other two are certainly some of the best gaming experiences I’ve been lucky enough to experience in the last year. My vote has to go to SONY BEND’s epic open world zombie experience Days Gone.
During my first few hours with Days Gone, I almost gave up and called it a day (no pun intended). It was slow paced, Deacon was annoying and the bike handled weird. I know what you’re thinking, Baka, this isn’t a very good game of the year pitch, you’re telling us why you didn’t like the game! I know, but here’s the thing, after a couple of hours, I started to fall in love with the world, with Deacon, even with upgrading the bloody bike. Days Gone is both terrifying and beautiful, the story kept me guessing until the very end, the experience of taking on a horde is unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced in a game. When I finally got the platinum I actually felt sad, my time with Deacon St. John was over and even though I’d been playing it for a week and a half straight, I really didn’t want it to be.
Josh Shoup -Death Stranding
Death Stranding was a game that I figured I would enjoy, but I was caught surprised by how much I fell in love with the game. I’ve seen many people jokingly call it “Mailman Simulator” or some variant of that, and while there is truth in that you deliver parcels to people, it is so so SO much more than that. There is not one aspect of Death Stranding that I feel was subpar in any way. Everything from the soothing music while on a lengthy delivery, to the beautiful graphics, to the acting by Norman and Mads -amongst many others – is pristine in every way. The story takes you places that you didn’t think you would go, but once you’re there, it may seem odd but it all makes perfect sense (even if it makes no sense when you say it out loud!) As I said in my review, Death Stranding is not only my Game of the Year, but I will take it a step further and say that is my Game of this Console Generation. Do NOT pass up on this incredible game!
Dan Goad – The Outer Wilds
Outer Wilds seem like a cartoonish game about exploring the galaxy as a funny alien astronaut, like a first person Kerbal Space Program. But behind this childish veneer is something much deeper. You’ll set off on your mission to locate some missing astronauts, but 22 minutes into your space odyssey the galaxy explodes and you restart from the beginning, retaining all the knowledge you gained on your previous outing. In a series of 22 minute chunks you’ll continue to explore the mysteries of the missing astronauts, the extinct precursor civilisation of the Nomai, and, of course, the end of the world. By utilising the tired cliche of the time loop, Outer Wilds prompted me to think about the nature of life and death, and of friendship and loss. Your journey leads you to a surprise conclusion that is one of the most poignant game finales in recent memory, simultaneously a gut punch and life-affirming. I said in my article on the game that “every so often a game comes along that does something you never expected a game could or should be able to do, and Outer Wilds is one of those games for me” and I stand by that statement. The game is a truly unique experience that I won’t ever forget.
Jordan D – Control
I came away from Control wanting to return back to The Oldest House, to find more secrets and to see how Jesse and her team were coping after the events of the game. Remedy crafted a truly original experience, filled with mystery, intriguing lore and cool powers to play with. Coupled with some great performances all round, especially from Dr Casper Darling, it meant I was kept enthralled throughout. Its meticulously designed Brutalist setting amplified the weirdness of the game, the physics added an extra layer of fun that I’ve not had in a long while. They’re still many untold stories to be told inside this Place of Power, which hopefully the upcoming DLC touches upon. I’ll be waiting for The Board to contact me.
Joe Wotta – Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
Choosing a game of the year is pretty easy for me this time around. Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order. I’ve been waiting for years for a great Star Wars game and now we have one. Sure it’s not perfect with technical issues, far too much respawning of enemies and also the most annoying skating sections you’ll ever witness. But there is still something about this game which has me wanting more. The main characters are perfect, with the right balance of backstory, telling us all we need to know about them as the story progresses. The action is also fantastic and allows you to live the dream of being a Jedi Master, wielding your lightsaber and cutting through all manner of enemies from the Star Wars universe. The longer you play, the better your character gets and the longer you want to stay in this wonderful world, although from the ending it is hard to tell if we will be treated to more. I sure hope so.