Game of the Year 2019

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With The Game Awards approaching, the writers at Rapid Reviews UK have decided to share our personal Game of the Year. In a year that doesn’t have a clear frontrunner, we’re sure that we will see many outlets having a difference of opinion when it comes to deciding on their game of 2019. 

Tim – @PressPaws17

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Despite some minor performance issues, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice sits amongst Bloodborne and Dark Souls in terms of overall quality. The new approach to combat and traversal is spectacular and Ashina provides a dramatic and beautiful setting for the title. Sekiro is a challenging, and at times daunting, mountain to climb but for those who are able to reach the summit, the sense of achievement is second to none. FromSoftware has created, in my eyes, yet another masterpiece.

Honourable Mentions:

Death Stranding, Resident Evil 2 and A Plague Tale: Innocence.

Andre – @coolsl4w

Resident Evil 2 

Despite what some people might have you think, 2019 has been a solid year for gaming. And even though there is no shortage of amazing games this year, the answer to “what’s your game of the year” comes to me almost instantaneously without any consideration needed. The Resident Evil 2 remake is, far and away, the best thing I played this year. It captures the heart and soul of the original from 1998 while making it wholly modern and redesigning it so it feels fresh.

The few criticisms I have for the game ultimately surface because I’ve played through it roughly 20 times at this point this year. I love watching speedruns of the Resident Evil games, and since this one is so fun to play, I decided to take the dive myself and give it a go. I got my time down to somewhere around an hour. It’s not easy, but it is very satisfying to learn the ins and outs of a game like that.

I even bought the game a second time on PC so I could mess around with mods, and get my times down even more. Capcom continues knocking it out of the park. And the RE Engine makes wet fleshy blobs an absolutely disgusting treat for the eyes. Here’s hoping that we see Resident Evil 3 announced at The Game Awards and released in the opening months of 2020. A guy can dream… alright?! 

Honourable Mention:

The Outer Wilds (The Must-Play Game of the Year)

Mike – @2DMike3D

Timespinner

My choice is one that has flown under many a radar. Timespinner is a 2014 Kickstarter success story. Released on Steam in 2018, the 2019 Switch release caught me by surprise. Fresh off the back of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, I was on a Metroidvania bender and needed another fix. Enter this little gem from Seattle-based Lunar Ray Games. Timespinner has an engaging story, a strong lead character, flowing movement, rewarding secrets, clever bosses, great soundtrack, solid performance and classic Metroidvania exploration.

But that’s just the on-paper description. Timespinner manages to capture that ‘one-more-hour’ engagement where others greats of the genre had me taking breaks. The game had me firmly invested by virtue of its one claim to perfection; the pacing. For all the wonderful gaming experiences I’ve had this year, nothing had me as constantly satisfied and gripped as Timespinner, needing no forced downtime. Lunais’ time manipulating adventure stuck with me and, while didn’t provide anything particularly new in gameplay ideas, the sublime execution of all its moving parts and removal of any bloat was innovative in itself in what has been a great year for a crowded genre.

Honourable Mentions:

The Outer Worlds, Sayonara Wild Hearts, Shenmue III (only just started), Astral Chain, Atelier Ryza, Atelier Lulua, Dauntless, Yakuza Kiwami (PC port).

Pat – @PJCPlays 

Outer Wilds

This year my game of the year is the Outer Wilds. I first heard about this game years ago when it was an IGF finalist. I played the alpha, and while it was a much less visually impressive title at the time, the atmosphere and world design were completely enthralling. I love the game’s clockwork nature, and the way the gameplay and story progresses, by arming you with knowledge rather than an increase in power, is so exciting to me.

Beyond all of this though, is how deeply touched I was by the themes present in the game. Topics of divinity, climate change, death, rebirth, atrophy, and life shook me to my core, and I cannot recall a more profound gaming experience than when I finally put all of the pieces together to complete the puzzle that lies at the heart of the game. This is a title that is fundamentally important to game development as an art form, and I feel it is academically important to experience it. 

Honourable Mentions:

Control and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

Chloe – @WriteBluesAway

Planet Zoo

This is a close one for me, but for my Game of the Year, I have to go with Planet Zoo. Simulation games like Zoo Tycoon and Roller-Coaster Tycoon were a huge part of my childhood; I can specifically remember sitting on our spinny chair at our box monitor, spending hours at a time designing the perfect habitats or coasters! The Zoo Tycoon game for console just didn’t have the same feel. However, upon playing Planet Zoo, the memories immediately came flooding back.

It’s everything I’ve ever hoped for the perfect zoo simulator; complete customisation, realistic animals, great graphics and a variety of game modes. I’m having a whale of a time with it and I can see myself returning to it for years to come! My particular favourite things to do are take screenshots of all the baby animals and create the ultimate zoo in Sandbox mode. The team at Frontier are also excellent at communicating with us players so we know when updates are being rolled out. 

Honourable Mentions:

Untitled Goose Game (honk!) 

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (even though I haven’t finished as of writing this, it’s already a contender!) 

Gary – @Cartergaz 

Astral Chain 

This year belongs to Astral Chain for me, a stunningly conceptual cyberpunk metropolis, littered with inter-dimensional beasts. The folk who brought Nier: Automata to the world have shown that you can bring console exclusivity to the world of the Nintendo Switch without attaching it to Nintendo Classics such as Mario and Zelda. It’s sold incredibly well, and to this day has the most genius and intuitive fighting mechanic I’ve used, coupled with beautiful art design, puzzles and detective vibes it’s unlike anything else I’ve played this year. 

Honourable Mentions:

Sayonara Wildhearts which absolutely delivered on the musical hype and Luigi’s Mansion 3 which for a first timer blew me away with its ghoulish puzzling adventures. 

Pete – @petebeckett1

Tetris 99

My Game of the Year for 2019 would have to be Tetris 99. A game that came completely out of nowhere during a Nintendo Direct back in February, with the release a few hours later. Developed by Arika, the minds behind Fighting EX Layer, it is the perfect blend of classic Tetris puzzle action, with the added craziness of 98 other players, all dumping garbage onto each other. Whilst Battle Royale games have become popular over the last few years, Tetris 99 is one of the more unique versions of the genre. The added bonus, it’s free (so long as you have a Nintendo Switch Online account).

Honourable Mentions: 

  • Pokemon Sword & Shield 
  • Untitled Goose Game 

Stephen – @sdwarcop

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order 

While I may have not yet beat the game as of writing this, I can say for certain that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is my Game of the Year. Yes, an EA game as a GotY is shocking news, however, we can thank Respawn for this game. The game has a mix of Dark Souls, Uncharted, Metroid Prime and its Star Wars charm; what we get is a game with great gameplay mechanics, story and world design. Mind you this game needs another couple of months polishing, to make it a masterpiece, but no matter what this game is a joy to play and I can’t wait to finish it.

Alex – @GamerDadJournal 

GRIS

There were a lot of games released this year. A lot of AAA games and even more indie titles. It should be hard to pick just one, yet, sitting here, there is only one title that jumps to the front of my mind. 

GRIS, from Nomada Studios. I had heard so many good things about this game around this time last year, but nothing could prepare me for the journey that lay ahead. The game is art, pure and simple. There is no dialogue and only minimal explanation as to what you need to do, yet every puzzle, every scene is simply stunning. The story tells itself through the environment, the movements your character has, and the wonderful soundtrack. 

I have never played a game that pulled me in so deep. GRIS was an emotional rollercoaster that left me feeling exhausted and exhilarated more than any other game I can remember. 

Honourable Mentions:

  • Untitled Goose Game
  • Sagebrush 
  • River City Girls

What is your game of the year?

Share your personal Game of the Year with us over on Twitter – @rapidreviewsuk.

About Tim Reid

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