DualShockers’ Favorite Games of 2019 — Tomas’ Top 10
Astral Chain, Death Stranding, Super Mario Maker 2, and Erica were some of my favorite games from 2019, with plenty of others in the running.
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.
2019 has been a very odd year for games. While we didn’t have any heavy hitters like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, God of War, or Red Dead Redemption 2, everyone had their niche catered to, so I think DualShockers‘ personal GOTY lists will be quite varied this year. I have rounded up the 10 games that stood out to me the most in 2019, and they are all quite different from each other.
Of course, I did not have the time nor the patience to get through every single game that came out this year. That means some notable releases like Resident Evil 2, Gears 5, and DualShockers‘ Game of the Year Judgment did not make my list. Some great games were also just barely beat out, but I’d still recommend Ape Out, Baba is You, Samurai Shodown and Mortal Kombat 11 if you are looking for a good time. Without further ado, here are my 10 favorite games of 2019:
While this live-action interactive game is very short and definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, it is an experience that has certainly stuck with me this year. Unlike most FMV heavy games, Erica doesn’t try to justify its use of live-action through its premise, it’s just how Flavourworks wanted to tell this story. That was an incredibly risky move, but the experience is held up by good writing and a great performance by Holly Earl.
I always love trying games that are innovative, weird, and unorthodox and Erica was able to check all of those boxes. For that reason, it’s still on my mind at the end of 2019 despite a couple of problems. If you’re done with Telling Lies and are looking for another intriguing FMV game, Erica should be on your radar. The game, not the person. That’d be quite creepy.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Erica.
9. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
After Star Wars Battlefront 2 got struck down, EA’s Star Wars games have become even more powerful than you could possibly imagine. While the discourse surrounding Star Wars is hitting an apex of toxicity following the release of The Rise of Skywalker, fans should still remember that the franchise received two great additions this year: The Mandalorian and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
Capping off a great year for Respawn Entertainment, this game finally provided the engaging single-player focused Star Wars experience that players have been yearning for ever since EA and Disney struck their Star Wars game deal all those years ago. In fact, the only reason this game isn’t higher on this list is that I haven’t beaten it yet, and I’m sure my love for it will only grow as I play it more.
8. Lonely Mountains: Downhill
I initially slept on this game upon its October release, even though I enjoyed my time trying it at E3. When I recently got an Xbox One and Game Pass, I decided to download this game and have been hooked on it ever since. Lonely Mountains: Downhill is a great podcast game, and I have now played it while listening to everything from stand up comedy to podcasts to the last democratic debate. Still, even if I wasn’t listening to anything, the game remained enjoyable.
Just like the Trials series, half of the fun is in mastering the course, and a few unique objectives across the game’s sixteen tracks and four mountains add to its replayability. Lonely Mountains: Downhill can still be quite difficult and somewhat irritating at points when you just can’t get a part of the course down, but overall Lonely Mountains: Downhill is a soothing and relaxing game to play if you aren’t doing anything else or want to do something more than just listen to John Mulaney, Ben Hanson, or Andrew Yang.
7. Super Mario Maker 2
I’m not much of a creator, but I’ve had a ton of fun seeing what everyone’s made in Super Mario Maker 2. Whether I’m rating levels for StephenPlays’ Morning Mario, getting random grab bags of levels in multiplayer or endless mode, or just browsing for myself, I am always surprised by the masterpieces and monstrosities that people can come up with if you give them the right tools.
On top of all of that, the story mode provides a meaty and varied single-player 2D Mario experience, which is something that the series has needed for years. It is my favorite platformer of 2019, and the first of many indicators on this list that 2019 has been an amazing year for Nintendo Switch. Also, Super Mario Maker 2’s multiplayer is terrible, but I love it.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Super Mario Maker 2.
6. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate also made my top 10 list last year. In that article, I said it could make the list this year if the game added Geno. While they weren’t added to the game, we still got exciting characters like Joker, Hero, Terry Bogard, and most surprisingly Banjo.
Thanks to its hefty post-launch support and just being a damn good game in general, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is one of my most played Nintendo Switch games of the year and has managed to make my top 10 once again. Even though it didn’t work last time, I will say it again: now just add Geno, Sakurai, and we’ll talk about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate making it onto my 2020 GOTY list as well.
5. Tetris 99
I was simply addicted to Tetris 99 earlier this year. I played it every day non-stop and had to actively draw myself away from playing it when I had other things to take care of. While battle royale and puzzle games don’t seem like they would mix, boy howdy they certainly do. While Fortnite remains the king and Apex Legends brought a lot of innovation to the genre, Tetris 99 proved that the mechanics of battle royale aren’t limited to just shooters.
Tetris was already great on its own–just look at last year’s Tetris Effect–and splicing battle royale mechanics in there only embellished the whole multiplayer experience. As the game has received some single-player and local multiplayer modes since launch, Arika and Nintendo’s game has cemented itself as one of the best Tetris titles of all time. It’s becoming a mobile game too. That’s always a good sign, right?
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Tetris 99.
4. Death Stranding
I really like Death Stranding, but for the opposite reasons of most people. Many despise the traversal mechanics and adore Kojima’s writing. I can barely stand many of Kojima’s cringey scenes, but love the melancholic but tense and engaging delivery mechanics. Death Stranding tends to struggle anytime other than when it does do that. While the writing can be bad and the shooting sucks, I was still totally engrossed by Death Stranding and couldn’t put it down until I finished it. Its “Strand Genre” mechanics are also very innovative, showing how multiplayer elements can be combined with a single-player experience for maximum impact.
We’ll be seeing this game’s influence on the industry over the next couple of years, whether that be via making traversal interesting alongside the online mechanics. We need more games like Death Stranding. Still, I don’t think I can ever hear another line as terrible as “Like Mario and Princess Beach.”
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Death Stranding.
3. Dicey Dungeons
PLAY THIS GAME!!! Dicey Dungeons is dice-based in both a mechanical and literal sense, and is by far the most underrated title on this list. It turns standard roguelike and deck-building mechanics on their heads with its dice-based actions and differing playstyles between its six characters. I tend to be very lukewarm on deck-building or card games, and while games like Slay the Spire are fun, that still served as a roadblock for me.
Dicey Dungeons made deck-building interesting by turning genre conventions on their head in its various playstyles. It is a game that everyone should give a whirl, even if they don’t typically like roguelikes or deck-based games. Dicey Dungeons never stops being fun and is far and away the best indie game I played this year. I don’t have a joke for this one, but I think the jokes have been on a good roll thus far.
2. The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds was everything people wanted it to be and more. While studios like BioWare and Bethesda have seemed to abandon their roots in recent years, The Outer Worlds revels in its old-school RPG design. It isn’t the largest or most grandiose game out there, but it is certainly one of the most well-written and replayable RPGs in a long time.
I’d rather play a 30-hour RPG 4 times than a 120 hour RPG one time. The Outer Worlds seems to understand that mentality and delivered an experience that can be quite diverse depending on one’s character build and choices. It was just barely edged out of being my game of the year and is certainly a must-play for those who have ever remotely enjoyed an RPG at some point in their lives. On that positive note, Parvati is my daughter and if any of you hurt her, you’ll be hearing from my lawyers.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of The Outer Worlds.
1. Astral Chain
I don’t really have any problems with Astral Chain and it’s super innovative, which is why I gave it a 10 earlier this year. Astral Chain features the tight and rewarding action PlatinumGames is known for but is quite accessible at the same time. Its detective case-solving portions feel like better versions of similar segments in the Batman: Arkham games. Astral Chain is one of the best-looking games on Nintendo Switch. And finally, the Legion is the most innovative thing to happen to action games since Bayonetta’s Witch Time. Creating a unique weapon-user relationship I’ve never seen in a game before, Astral Chain remains fun and manageable while still tasking players with controlling two things at once.
Just like many of the other games on this list, Astral Chain is a trailblazer within its genre and will push the industry forward. While 2019 didn’t have one or two truly groundbreaking games like previous years, games like Astral Chain show that the game industry is at an all-time high when it comes to creativity and quality. I don’t have a joke this time either, seriously.
Check out DualShockers‘ review of Astral Chain.
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