DualShockers’ Favorite Games of 2019 — Rachael’s Top 10
There were plenty of games of 2019 that I enjoyed immensely, but if I had to pick just 10, here were my favorites of the year.
As 2019 comes to a close, DualShockers and our staff are reflecting on this year’s batch of games and what were their personal highlights within the last year. Unlike the official Game of the Year 2019 awards for DualShockers, there are little-to-no-rules on our individual Top 10 posts. For instance, any game — not just 2019 releases — can be considered.
Here we are again at the end of another great gaming year. Even though we didn’t see as many huge titles like Red Dead Redemption 2, Marvel’s Spider-Man, or God of War as seen in 2018, my year has been packed full of some amazing titles regardless. Thankfully, I didn’t have to solely rely on AAA games to have a great gaming experience, as this year we saw many fantastic indies that included Untitled Goose Game, Outer Wilds, Lost Ember, My Friend Pedro, to name a few. This only goes to prove how far independent studios have come along, and how they have firmly made their mark within the gaming industry.
As a gamer, I’m very open to what I will play – which is probably a good thing in this business. As you’ll tell from my diverse list, I’m not afraid to jump into whatever piques my interest. That may be from the adorable and cutesy, to the dark and twisted underbelly of the video games universe. As much as I love experiencing all areas of gaming, there’s one factor that always calls me home, and that’s immersive storytelling. I don’t think there’s a feeling in the world like sitting back and getting completely lost within a world interwoven in an amazingly captivating narrative. Since the start of time, humans have used storytelling as a way to connect to others, to bring people closer together and how the world is right now, there couldn’t be a more apt time to continue this tradition in the games we play.
As we slide into 2020, I’m excited to uncover what’s in store for me – especially with my most anticipated game mere months away, The Last of Us Part II. But until then, allow me to share with you what has been my Top 10 games of 2019. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to narrow it down to just 10!
10. Sayonara Wild Hearts
Sayonara Wild Hearts is a beautifully crafted piece of kit. It oozes bags of appeal and a refreshing, upbeat soundtrack that accompanied the game’s style perfectly. Other than its eye-popping visuals, the underlying story of heartbreak made this short, heart-pumping title really stand out.
I played it all in one go from start to finish and since then, I’ve been recommending gamers to give this unique and worthwhile title a try. On a side note: Queen Latifah’s voice is the epitome of ASMR.
9. Divinity: Original Sin II
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to play this game when it first released back in 2017 but when I saw that it was releasing on the Nintendo Switch, I knew that I had to play it. Divinity: Original Sin II is acclaimed to be one of the best western-style RPGs ever made, with stellar writing, voice acting, and brilliantly crafted tactical combat, and I couldn’t agree more.
The Switch’s small screen in handheld mode is perfect to get up close and personal with the bucket loads of action and endless, compelling dialogue. Divinity: Original Sin II’s emotion-wrought fantasy world really does make it one of the finest RPG games of recent years.
Over the past few years, I’ve seen a rise in talking about mental health in video games. I love that we are now more open and free to discuss these issues that affect so many of us, and that developers are willing to take this on and adapt it to their games.
Mosaic offers a painstakingly realistic look under the heavy covers of depression and burnout in the workplace. I applaud that Krillbite Studio made no apologizes as they dove head-on in tackling these difficult subjects in Mosaic. Its cruelly dark and, at times, hard to play because of how authentic the main character plays out his troubles. But this is, in my opinion, when you know you’ve made a great game; when the player feels what you’re portraying.
Check out DualShockers‘ review for Mosaic (by me!).
7. Planet Zoo
When it comes to management sims, I tend to get a little overwhelmed with how much you have to do. You almost have to divide yourself into a million pieces to just stay afloat, but thankfully Planet Zoo offered much more manageable gameplay that I thoroughly enjoyed.
With its plentiful tutorials and smart UI, I spent hours taking care of all the zoo’s creatures, and who doesn’t want to care for a baby lion cub? Frontier Developments also tackled important educational and conservation topics throughout, which gave me bags of insight into each species. If you’re looking for a management sim that won’t take hours just to know what you’re supposed to be doing or kill every brain cell due to an overload of tasks, Planet Zoo may be the one for you.
6. My Friend Pedro
My Friend Pedro made me feel like I was actually really good at games. It made me feel like Neo from The Matrix with its slow-motion gunplay and super crazy stunts that offered one hell of an adrenaline-filled ride.
From barrel riding to swinging off chains to achieve the ultimate stunt-shot, My Friend Pedro provided me hours of entertainment. I was a bad-ass ninja on a skateboard with a talking banana; what’s not to love?
5. Life is Strange 2
This tale of brotherly love between Sean and Daniel Diaz begins as they try and flee America to start a new life in Mexico, and it hooked me from the get-go. Sure, it was a little slow in the beginning but it soon picked up steam and turned into a goldmine of storytelling.
What I appreciated most about Life is Strange 2 is how deeply it resonated with me in how well it addressed a lot of the current political and social issues we see in America today. Dontnod Entertainment obviously went to great lengths to make the player feel and care about what happened to these brothers, and for that, they have my respect. I’m really looking forward to knowing more about their next game, Tell Me Why – my guess is that it will be another emotionally hard-hitting adventure, and I’m totally here for that.
4. Concrete Genie
What can I say about this wholesome and charming game? I feel like it would be better to take my heart out and let it tell you, because that’s where I’ve stored everything that has touched me from this beautiful title. Concrete Genie throws you into the shoes of Ash, a young sensitive boy you loves to paint. When his town gets consumed by a dark, negative force coupled with some bullies set to make his life harder, Ash goes on an adventure where he meets the most adorable genies and together, they right so many wrongs.
Just before playing this game, I was going through a rough patch in life, so jumping into this adorably endearing title made that period much more bearable – I honestly couldn’t stop smiling throughout my entire time playing it. If you’re looking for something that will lift your spirits throughout these winter months, consider Concrete Genie. I dare you not to fall in love with Luna.
3. Luigi’s Mansion 3
I sometimes tend to lean towards games that are pretty dark and sinister, but as you can start to tell from this list – I’m trying to change that. In freshening up my game playing habits more, I found myself wanting to give Luigi’s Mansion 3 on the Nintendo Switch a shot and boy, am I thankful that I gave this game a chance.
There’s so much to love in the third installment of the adventure series that lets Mario’s chicken-livered twin Luigi take control. The graphics in Luigi’s Mansion 3 are a kaleidoscope of beauty that pops straight from the beginning, and in my opinion, the best graphics currently on the Nintendo Switch. Coupled with impressive animation, fun levels, and acute attention to detail, this game was an absolute pleasure to play. I honestly have never had so much fun hoovering in all my life – just ask Chrissy Teigen.
2. A Plague Tale: Innocence
In case you didn’t know this about me, I love games where I must fight to stay alive, so here I am again getting sucked into a world where I have to go head-to-head with forces that wants me dead – sounds charming doesn’t it? This time I’m running from rats in this deeply somber tale of the evil that scurries in the dark, and it’s not just the rats, FYI.
What I loved most about A Plague Tale is the narrative between the two siblings, Amicia and Hugo de Rune, who are thrown into a dangerous world where all they have are each other to rely on. Amicia, who constantly has to reassure her little brother Hugo, and Hugo constantly asking a barrage of questions is so life-like that you almost forget you’re playing a video game due to how well Asobo Studio cultivated the relationship between them both. A Plague Tale: Innocence will propel you into a broken and terrifying world, but also remind you that beneath the cruelty of its environment, a deeply set unconditional love story between a brother and sister waits to be uncovered.
1. Days Gone
From its very first reveal at Sony’s E3 2016 panel, Days Gone had me hook, line and sinker. As I’ve already stated, there’s something immediately appealing to me about apocalyptic survival games, (hello, The Last of Us). Whether it’s a metaphor from my own internal struggles, I’m not sure, but what I do know is that trying to stay alive in a world that wants to swallow you whole captivates me on a whole other level.
Days Gone has a meaningful and varied narrative with just the right amount of pain, hope, and unexpected surprises to keep you glued to your seat the entire ride. Bend Studio crafted something personal and unique to them where they invited players to enter this world with an open heart and a little patience, where only then would your gaming experience really pay off in this stellar title.
The story is rich and meaty with a wide array of diverse characters you meet on your journey around Oregon’s beautiful landscapes, with countless areas you can interact with and explore. I’ve even found myself mindlessly riding my drifter bike for hours from one end of the map to the other, merely to soak in the scenery – the lakes, mountains, and forests are breathtakingly beautiful that I’ve already filled up a lot of space on my PS4 with the games built-in photo mode. Hats off to Bend Studio on this epic adventure; I can’t wait to experience what’s next from the studio.
Before you leave, I’d like to share some Honorable Mentions that didn’t quite make my top 10:
Untitled Goose Game – What a cute little asshole.
Disco Elysium – I haven’t yet finished this game but so far, I’m finding it really enjoyable with a cracking narrative.
Hearthstone – I finally dove into this online digital collectible card game at the start of 2019 and in my opinion, it’s the best card game out there.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare multiplayer: this is where I go to release some pent up frustration. There’s nothing quite like finding unique ways to kill strangers online.
Death Stranding – I’m still peeing and pooping my way around this strange world. It may or may not fall into my Top 10 in 2020, but as of right now, it’s unsettling and addictive for reasons that are beyond my comprehension at present.
Check out the rest of the DualShockers staff Top 10 lists and our official Game of the Year Awards:
December 23: DualShockers Game of the Year Awards 2019
December 25: Lou Contaldi, Editor-in-Chief // Logan Moore, Managing Editor
December 26: Tomas Franzese, News Editor // Ryan Meitzler, Features Editor
December 27: Mike Long, Community Manager // Scott White, Staff Writer
December 28: Chris Compendio, Contributor // Mario Rivera, Video Manager // Kris Cornelisse, Staff Writer
December 29: Scott Meaney, Community Director // Allisa James, Senior Staff Writer // Ben Bayliss, Senior Staff Writer
December 30: Cameron Hawkins, Staff Writer // David Gill, Senior Staff Writer // Portia Lightfoot, Contributor
December 31: Iyane Agossah, Senior Staff Writer // Michael Ruiz, Senior Staff Writer // Rachael Fiddis, Contributor
January 1: Ricky Frech, Senior Staff Writer // Tanner Pierce, Staff Writer // Laddie Simco, Staff Writer