Let’s face it, 2019 was a fantastic year for gaming. After the powerhouse release year of 2018, a lot of people were curious to see if the following year would hold up. And you know what, it did. From AAA titles to thrilling Indie Games, there were a ton of fantastic games to play throughout the year! Here is a collection of the titles and characters that the GGA Video Games team loved in 2019.
Favorite Game of the Year: The Outer Worlds
My favorite game of the year has got to be The Outer Worlds. As a huge fan of Fallout: New Vegas, I had anxiously awaited the return of another Obsidian Entertainment first-person RPG. And this year, we finally got it. The Outer Worlds masterfully blends world-building, storytelling, and adventure into an RPG masterpiece. What especially stood out to me in this game is how fleshed out the companions are, and how their quests help flesh out the Halcyon Colony. Likewise, each mission has numerous choices and options that make each player’s experience unique. For instance, when an NPC hires you to take out the head of a factory, you can either go in guns blazing, negotiate a truce, sabotage the factory, and so much more. I’ve had such a blast exploring the choices and planets of The Outer Worlds, and I can’t wait to play it again and again!
Game that Surprised you this Year: Fire Emblem: Three Houses
I had always wanted to get into the Fire Emblem series, but just never took the time until 2019. I remember hearing about Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but it wasn’t until I wrote about it for GGA (in our July 2019’s Most Anticipated Games article) that I became interested in this title. And since it’s release, it has become my favorite 2019 Nintendo Switch game. The combat, RPG elements, and story combined create an exciting gameplay experience. All of the characters are complex and have diverse relationships with one another. And the fun DLC that has come out this year has only added to my love of the game. Each playthrough promises a new experience, and I’m so glad I finally got into Fire Emblem!
Favorite Character from 2019: Jess and Soph Blazkowicz
My favorite character of 2019 is a pair of characters: sisters in fact. I fell in love with Jess & Soph Blazkowicz at E3 2019 when I played Wolfenstein: Youngblood for the first time. Jess and Soph are two southern teenage girls living in a dystopian 1980, who try to balance being a teenager and also saving their father from the Nazis. Their banter and demeanor throughout the game range from playful siblings to serious fighters. Likewise, the co-op gameplay highlights their relationship as well, as the two must work together to achieve their goals. Ultimately, it’s really fun seeing TWO female leads in the Wolfenstein series. I love Jess and Soph, and I hope to see them more in future titles!
Favorite Game of the Year: Exorcise the Demons
My favorite game this year has been a small indie game titled Exorcise the Demons from Midnight Games EIRL. It is a multiplayer puzzle game, but not in the way many seem to think. One player is in control of the character, moving about in an unknown realm with random puzzles. The other player(s) are in control of the tome, with all of the answers needed to solve the puzzles. Now comes the hard part: working together to describe what the character is seeing and the interactions that are happening in order to complete the puzzle correctly. This level of cooperation combined with a time limit led to countless hours of fun with friends.
Game that Surprised you this Year: The Blackout Club
Developer and publisher Question released their multiplayer survival game The Blackout Club this past summer, and after much speculation, I fell in love with it. The randomly generated missions led to hours of continuous play with friends and strangers alike. Additionally, the lore is what really took me by surprise. With a seemingly fully fleshed out pantheon of Gods that answer the players’ questions in rhymes, riddles, and songs, people are still trying to get to the bottom of what is really going on in the town of Redacre. I hope with the new year that Question continues to step up there game and add more content to The Blackout Club.
Favorite Character from 2019: Amicia and Hugo
My favorite character from a video game this year is actually a pair of characters. In A Plague Tale: Innocence you play as Amicia, a young girl forced into the role of caretaker to her younger brother Hugo after they are sent on the run. Amicia and Hugo had no real relationship prior to the beginning of the game, and the story watches as their relationship progress on their journey. This game will pull at your heartstrings in so many ways and keep you invested in the fates of the two young siblings.
Favorite Game of the Year: Untitled Goose Game
In a year of Jedis, Porters, Vault Hunters, and mysterious world travelers, a game like Untitled Goose Game could have possibly been overlooked. But it is impossible to ignore this game and its immediate impact when it was released in September. Developer House House created a game where we live the life of an antagonistic goose in a peaceful English village. By stealing items, manipulating objects, chasing kids, and honking at every passerby, we are the sole creators of chaos. In all this is a ridiculous game that has spurred countless memes because we can’t help but fall in love with a mischievous goose.
Game that Surprised you this Year: The World Next Door
The World Next Door was an unexpected game for me. As Jun, you earn passage to a world that is inhabited by magical creatures called Emrys. You can assemble a team of high school aged friends to discover the secrets of the new world you’re in and battle enemies you encounter in the ruins. What I really enjoy about this game is the battle system. Battles are puzzle-based reminiscent of games like Candy Crush and Puzzle Quest. By connecting three tiles of the same icon, you unleash different kinds of magic. It’s an interesting story with fascinating characters and I hope to see more from developer Rose City Games in the future.
Favorite Character from 2019: Strife
While Darksiders Genesis was just released this month, Strife has been a part of the Darksiders lore since the first game was released in 2010. As one of the four Horseman of the Apocalypse, Strife is the more nonchalant, sarcastic, and egotistical of the group. His mannerisms are very much like Cayde-6 from the Destiny series and it is refreshing to see as a counterbalance to the seriousness of War, Death, and Fury.
Favorite Game of the Year: The Outer Worlds
From the moment it was first announced, The Outer Worlds presented players with a fun and funny Fallout vibe. The game’s humor is clever and thought-out. What I hadn’t anticipated was how much this game would make me think. It is so tempting to go full murder-hobo in The Outer Worlds (and that is a legitimate option), but you also can’t help but wonder what is the best path forward for these factions and characters. Speaking of characters, they’re all so gosh-darned likable! Parvati Holcomb (voiced by Ashly Burch) will always be my sweet and whip-smart favorite, but really any of your companion characters provide intriguing insight and enjoyable conversation as you fight, sneak, pay, or talk your way into saving the Halcyon system.
Game that Surprised you this Year: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
The first trailer for the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot kind of blew me away. The graphics were so photorealistic that at times I mistook scenes for live-action or actual combat. However, what really surprised me was the level design. For example, one of the earliest story missions takes place during a terror attack on Piccadilly in London. The terrorists are in plainclothes, so you have no idea if a civilian is running toward you, or an enemy combatant. There’s no mini-map or nameplates to confirm who is friend or foe. The story itself isn’t revolutionary for the Call of Duty series, but the casting is outstanding. A lot of hardcore Call of Duty fans were nervous or even outraged when the role of fan-favorite Captain John Price was recast with English actor Barry Sloane (ABC’s Revenge). But Sloane voices and moves Price in such a believable way that his Price is someone the player can genuinely look up to for advice or protection.
Favorite Character from 2019: Lola Woolfe
I feel like most people who get sent to Hell would wonder why they were sent there. Some might even desperately try to atone for their sins. Lola from Afterparty is not one of those people. Lola Woolfe, one of the game’s two protagonists and voiced by the ever-talented Janina Gavankar, takes a surprisingly pragmatic approach to Hell: “How do I get out of this mess?” It’s not even “I don’t deserve to be here”, Lola refuses to ask those questions. She might be in denial, but (literally) “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.” Lola’s dry wit adds to the game’s chorus of already hilarious dialogue, and she has a good, strong sibling-like relationship with her friend Milo. Hey, if I was stuck in Hell, having Lola as a drinking buddy would be pretty awesome company.
What were your favorite games of 2019? Let us know in the comments below, or on social media! And stay tuned for our Most Anticipated Games of 2020!
Originally published December 29, 2019.