Every year, as I begin looking forward to the next year’s most anticipated games, I like to reflect back on all the truly great adventures I went on this past year. After tallying everything up, I thought it would be fun to rundown my personal 2019 year of gaming, that includes every title I played this year (with more than 10 hours invested). There’s a fair mix that released this year and many that released prior, which I finally got to play in 2019. I’ll be including those as well, as this encompasses “MY” 2019 year of gaming. Not just the new releases.
As far as stats go, I racked up a grand total of 1,266 hours of game time. 840 of which were on the PS4 and 426 on the Nintendo Switch. I tried out a grand total of 62 games across both consoles. 37 games on the PS4 and 25 on the Nintendo Switch. 30 of these games I committed serious time to and/or completed throughout my 2019 year of gaming. Shall we?
Super Mario Odyssey
Ok, so I didn’t get a Switch at launch. I already had a Wii U and knew I could play Breath of The Wild on that. Gaming heavily on my PS4 and already having a way to play the hottest new Zelda, I decided to wait. It wasn’t until Christmas 2018 that I got the Nintendo Switch and Super Mario Odyssey. Better late than never, I finally got to experience Mario’s newest outing. Cappy, tons of secrets, and more unlockable outfits than I’d ever need, made Super Mario Odyssey a sheer joy to play. The level of creativity and pure fun was as present here as in any Mario game before it.
How’s that for a polar opposite game in the same month! In this brutal Action/RPG in the vein of Dark Souls, Nioh scratches the itch for tense and challenging combat. I remember playing the demo ahead of the full release and being so excited to finally be getting my hands on it. With multi-tiered rarity gear that dropped like candy from a piñata, crazy and frustrating boss fights, the blacksmith system, and Revenants. Each element complimented one another and made this game truly excellent!
Games I missed out on in January: Kingdom Hearts III
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Released back in April of 2017 on the Switch and WAY BACK in 2014 for the Wii U, (non-deluxe version) this is another one of the games I played quite late. Still, it’s a wonderful Mario Kart racer and it’s something I enjoyed for the first time, in 2019. Got into some pretty heated matches with the family. If my youngest didn’t take 1st place every time, then she wasn’t having fun. Daddy may have had to let off the gas, or “accidentally” run into the wall to keep the children from storming off.
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
Now of course I’m talking about the Switch version here. While no where near as graphically impressive as it’s PC counterpart, I seriously loved conquering the world on my couch…or in my bed…or at a family members house while they discussed politics. If memory serves me, this game was a big reason why I didn’t play as many new games in the coming month of March. I was still fully enthralled in world domination and playing Civ6.
Games I missed out on in February: Anthem
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Being late to join the Nintendo Switch console meant that I had plenty of back titles I could pick up and play whenever. There must have been a sale because there were so many games in March that I didn’t play, but I did play this one. I’ve always enjoyed a real-time strategy game and Ubisoft nailed it. Unlockables, power-ups, over-world maps, and bosses all in the vein of a Mario/Rabbids mashup. This game is gorgeous to look at and tactical to boot. I split my time in March bouncing back and forth between this and the previous games mentioned in Jan/Feb.
Games I missed out on in March: Devil May Cry 5, One Piece: World Seeker, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Yoshi’s Crafted World
Path of Exile
I played PoE back when it was first in beta on the PC. When I started hearing rumors that Griding Gear Games would bring it to PS4 in 2019, I hopped back onto the PC to wet my appetite while I waited. Reminiscent of Diablo with its isometric perspective and never-ending enemy/loot action, PoE captured my gaming attention with a twist on skill acquisition and merging via the gem socketing system. The freedom and flexibility allowed you to literally make any build you want. And who doesn’t love that massive skill tree! Best of all, it’s FREE TO PLAY!!!
An absolute gem. Mostly overlooked by the world until it was given away as April’s free PS+ game of the month. Even then people either didn’t touch it, or didn’t give it a fair shake. While lacking a decent story, or much polish, this sci-fi action/RPG is Deck13s’ outstanding follow up to Lords of the Fallen and delivers a souls-inspired robot romp. Densely packed environments, a variety of weapon choices, customizable modular upgrade system, and unique limb targeting/dismembering combat gave this game an identity all its own. I loved it, and later in the year, I’d be treated to its even better sequel.
Games I missed out on in April: My Time at Portia, Mortal Kombat 11, Days Gone (played in July)
I remember my time with Monster Slayers as a mixed bag. Making progress felt great, until it abruptly didn’t. It’s a rogue-like deck-building game and I think the premise is what drew me in. I’m such a sucker for anything card or deck-building based, even if it’s bad, which this isn’t by the way. The perks and progress were paced out well enough, but there’s an insane difficulty spike that comes and it simply wrecked me every time. It didn’t matter how perfectly a run would go until that point. I think that was ultimately what caused me to set this one down. Fun, until it wasn’t.
I simply could not get enough of this one. I remember seeing the release in 2018 and thinking ‘yea it looks ok, but…pass.” Boy was I wrong. What initially sounded like a dull tedious task, being a shopkeeper by day, turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the game. Collecting items from my nightly dungeon excursions allowed me to sell them in my shop the next day. The better I sold, the more money I had for gear upgrades and outfitting more shops. A true incentive! Each facet of the dungeon crawling and shop keeping has perfectly layered game mechanics and incentives that kept me fully engaged and addicted. This game had it all for me. Shopkeeper by day, dungeon explorer by night. Inventory management throughout. There’s even a New Game+ mode!
I was pretty intrigued by this game when it released in late 2018, but for whatever reason, waited for a sale mid 2019 to snag it up on the Switch. A rouge-like metoridvania with a great aesthetic, tight combat, challenging bosses, and TONS of replayability. I went back many times over the year to take another stab or two. So easy to jump in and play, addictively hard to set down.
An open-world fantasy RPG that reminded me of games like Risen, Gothic, Two Worlds and the like. Not killin’ it graphically. Doesn’t handle especially well. The story lacks any real meaning or depth, and yet, the game is just plain fun to play. You can be an archer, swordsman, spellcaster, or any hybrid you can come up with. Pure freedom with tons of quests, exploration, and leveling up. Just what a game should be. Not a game you’ll remember or care about down the road, but sure is fun at the time.
What Remains of Edith Finch
Here’s a game I had no intention of playing. Not really my cup of tea, but it was free through PlayStation Plus and I gave it a go one day. To my surprise, I really got sucked in. Both to the world and the story. At only about 2 hours long, I was able to play through it in one setting and remember liking the journey it took me on. Games like this are so far removed from my normal gaming habits, but are welcomed palette cleansers when given the chance, with superb pacing and storytelling.
Slay the Spire
This sneaky little rouge-like card-based game almost few under the radar for me. Working my way from the bottom to the top of the Spire via an over-world map with path choices, I created various decks to “slay the spire”. The Spire changes every time, so no two journeys are alike. And with several characters to choose from, each with their own unique play style, I probably spent more time on this one than I should have.
A free-to-play action RPG eerily similar to Monster Hunter. I’d followed the game during development, but only played it when it came to console. I’m a fan of Monster Hunter, so rather enjoyed Dauntless…for a time. Slaying monsters was fun, both solo and online, but the game loop eventually got stale. Each new gear set required dozens of material drops from previously beaten monsters. While finally being strong enough to take on new monsters was thrilling, you really didn’t stand a chance unless you grinded out the previous several monsters until you were sick of them, for higher level gear. Each new group of monsters required the same cycle. This rather quickly turned me off from playing Dauntless any further. Cool concept though.
Games I missed out on in May: None
Super Mario Party
I bought this game with the hopes and intention of getting my wife and kids to play with me. They sat down and played with me once or twice maybe, and that was it. And to be clear, Super Mario Party is really only “fun” because you’re playing with friends. Playing solo against the computer feels more like going through the motions instead of over-the-top zany action . The mini-games were good and the additional modes were enjoyable, but few really measured up to earlier Mario Party games, though I did play enough to get several Gems.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Famed Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi’s spiritual successor to the series suffered many ups and downs. A Kickstarter game that got its own trailer that trashed the original visuals for an upgraded look due to fan backlash. If that wasn’t a rocky enough start, the game was plagued with bugs, especially on the Nintendo Switch version (the one I purchased) long after release. Despite that, the game was well received and I personally invested a ton of time into it. A worthy successor to the Castlevania franchise that’s definitely worth your time.
Games I missed out on in June: Judgment, Super Mario Maker 2
Or should we say, Insomniac’s Spider-Man! What a marvelous game. I expected Insomniac to do an excellent job with Spider-Man, but I was simply blown away at just how well they nailed the feeling of being Spider-Man, not to mention how gorgeous the game looks. Swinging from buildings and zipping across the city was easy, fun, and exhilarating for the entirety of the game. It just never got old or tiresome. Couple that with the fact that the combat is solid in the same way as Batman Arkham games. It was a little overwhelming at first, but within a few hours, the complexity was appreciated. Insomniac also delivers everything from a meaningful skill-tree, to upgrades, and unloackables. This was one of my most favorite games to play this year.
Here’s one of those prime examples, of an insanely good game getting overlooked because it launched with an onslaught of bugs, both graphically and technically. Fortunately for me, I didn’t play Days Gone until several months later, after it’s April release. By this time most, if not all, bugs had been patched. Open world and beautiful, Days Gone has a strong story with excellent voice-acting and strong script-writing. Freaker hordes were truly terrifying to encounter and worse yet to have to fight! I played and loved this game so much that in the days that followed, if I saw a real-life motorcycle on the road while I was driving, I would get all warm and fuzzy, reflecting back on my time with Days Gone. For more, see my Days Gone Review.
Games I missed out on in July: FFXIV: Shadowbringers (expansion)
Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales
Not sure why I originally skipped this game. Maybe it was the timing of it’s release, or the price tag. Either way, I picked this one up during a sale, and loved the hell out of it, giving it a 9/10. I was a big fan of the art direction and the over-world mechanic, gathering resources and encountering enemies. The writing is unparalleled and engaging, and the card battles/deck building were done so well, even if I did have to look up the answers to a few of the Puzzle Battles. Check out Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales Review for more.
Dragon Quest Builders 2
Now I remember where I lost most of my August to! What a perfect sequel. DQB2 takes everything you love about the first game; The creation, the blueprints, the battles, the town-building, the resource gathering, the exploring, and gives you more of it, but with tons of quality of life improvements. I spent so much time making each room just the way I wanted and assigning townspeople to their tasks. Just a truly fun game to sit back and build to your heart’s content. See my Dragon Quest Builders 2 Review for the deep dive.
Games I missed out on in August: Remnant: From the Ashes, Control
I played this game back on the PC when it first released, then played it on Switch as one of the first games I reviewed for VGChartz.com as a staff writer. Known for it’s Diablo-like gameplay loop and mechanics, I played the crap out of Torchlight 2. Both on the Switch and PS4. My first play-through I rolled with an Embermage. Flame-based, glass-cannon build of course. After wrecking with that guy, my second play-through was an Engineer. I loved every minute I played of this game, constantly leveling up, and getting gear upgrades from loot drops. My one gripe, was the Transmuter NPC not being available. He just has the simple text bubble stating “I’m sorry I have a hole in my pants and can’t transmute anything until I get a Patch.” Torchlight 2 Nintendo Switch Review.
Later in the month of September I got to play and review Northgard for the Nintendo Switch. Another game that had been out prior to this on the PC, Northgard is a strategy game based on Norse mythology and I mostly enjoyed my time with it. Going through the campaign I was able to play as all the different clans, each with their own perks and play style. This added a lot of variety to each scenario and extended my enjoyment while playing other modes. I did have a hard time getting over tiny UI elements and minimal graphics, but I still rather enjoyed being able to engage in tactical strategy while in bed or on an airplane.
I saw the writing on the wall with this game way back when it was first announced. It looked like a lack-luster effort to complete a trilogy, and I wasn’t having it. I postponed my purchase after seeing it received mixed reviews, all but confirming my suspicions. I finally played this game for a short while when it was given out as the free monthly PS+ September game. It played about how I expected. Mediocre. I continued begrudgingly for about 6-10 hours. Fully expecting to plow through and write a sorry review for it, but something else came up, and I never had the desire to go back. What a sorry way for this franchise to end.
Games I missed out on in September: Monster Hunter World: Iceborn, Greedfall, Code Vein, The Legend of Zeld: Links Awakening
Stranded Sails: Explorers of the Cursed Islands
A simple farming, gathering, exploring, and resource gathering game that I probably would have quit sooner, if I wasn’t assigned to review it. There was some fun to be had, as dumbed-down and simplistic as it was. I enjoyed gardening and crafting food, but each had serious drawbacks. And the more I played, the more I got the feeling that it wasn’t so much a console game, as it was a mobile game that had been ported. I’d later figure out, that’s exactly what it was, and why it was so disappointing. Stranded Sails Nintendo Switch Review
The Surge 2
Having gotten the chance to play the original Surge game earlier in the year and loving it, I was pretty pumped for the sequel. For me, it didn’t disappoint. Upgraded graphics and a wider variety of environments to explore was a huge boon. The souls-like action/rpg employs a unique limb-severing mechanic that aids in your upgraded armor. Like all the best sequels, The Surge 2 keeps what works while improving upon its best ideas to make them better. For an exhaustive look at the game, read The Surge 2 Review.
I’ll be the first to admit, it was the Animated Opening video by Studio TRIGGER and Titmouse that initially reeled me into this one, and boy am I glad it did. Everything in this game exudes charm and personality from the art style to the music selection. Probably one of the most unique and creative games I played this year. A mashup of turn-based RPG combat, Metroidvania exploration, and complex platforming only begins to explain what Indivisible is. Do yourself a favor, watch the Animated Opening and read my Indivisible Review. Then go play this game.
Frostpunk: Console Edition
A city-building survival game set in the blistering cold of snow-covered winter. I’m not the biggest fan of these type of games, but I enjoy the genre from time to time. I found most of the game mechanics to be deep and rewarding. Heat is your friend and no matter what you do, you’ll be faced with TOUGH choices on who lives or dies, and how. There’s also a fun expedition aspect of the game, where you can send scouts out to possibly better your situation, which added more depth and complexity to the overall game. I found it to be more stressful than I care for, but clearly it’s a well designed game. My Frostpunk: Console Edition Review.
Games I missed out on in October: Ring Fit Adventure, Luigi’s Mansion 3
This little gem, measured right up there with the likes of Moonlighter for me. An indie game with charm and heart, that captured mine. An action-adventure game drawing inspiration from the Zelda franchise. Combat is simple yet fun, while tools and game mechanics felt varied and interesting. There were 4-5 procedurally generated zones to traverse, each with different themes and enemy types. Standout elements for me were the multi-tool board (used to upgrade your character), and the fact that both your wrench and hammer weapons were mapped to the same button (accessed via button press or hold). Upgrading your town and making steady meaningful progress made this rouge-lite worth coming back to again and again. My Sparklite Review.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Ok. Okay, Okay. OKAY OKAY OKAY! That’s what this game was for me. Just ok. I know flashy graphics and wielding a lightsaber in the first, semi-decent Star Wars game in more than a decade, should be a slam-dunk, but it’s not. Not for me anyway. I thought the game felt devoid of its own personality. Nothing about it made it stand out to me as special, other than its rarity as a Star Wars video game. The main character was blah. The combat was trying to be something it wasn’t. The story was blah. It had some decent opening moments, and a strong ending portion, but the entire middle was just a giant let down. It’s too much to get into here, but read the full Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order review to see why I wasn’t won over by this game that cloned itself from so many other great games.
Games I missed out on in November: Death Stranding (Played in Dec)
Disclaimer:I played Death Stranding months after the initial release. By this point the world building and player item sharing/liking had plenty of time to develop. I’m guessing the initial release lacked a great deal of this, and left many reviewers/early adopters with an incomplete picture of the game.
What a relaxing, enjoyable, journey of a game. While it definitely could have benefited from some serious editing, I really enjoyed my time in Death Stranding, which clocked in around 50 hours. The game has a natural rhythm to it, which can be very peaceful and evocative of many moods. Sure, some areas wore thin my patience, but mostly it was an interesting and impactful adventure, which I delighted in taking. Did I mention it’s also one of the best-looking games I’ve ever seen? The way the faces in this game articulate precisely like real humans, with furrowing brows, creasing foreheads, and pursed lips, were damn near perfect. As for complaints about it being a walking simulator…that’s merely a negative way to look at it. The social aspect actually made me care about other people, knowing that with every bit I assisted them, they would likewise help me. Truly an inventive game mechanic, which not only makes a point, but also offers an alternative task when you desire a change of pace from making your delivers.
Games I missed out on in December: None
And there you have it. My 2019 year of gaming. 2020 is just around the corner and the list of games I’m looking forward to is a mile long already! Along with all the great games already announced, there’s a new console generation upon us. The PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X will be in our hands this time next year. I can’t wait! Happy Holidays, and Happy Gaming!!
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