Happy 2020, y’all! With the start of a whole new year with lots of twos and zeroes, it seems more than appropriate to bridge this moment between the end of Listmas and the beginning of a new year in gaming with a festive not-Listmas list post. And that list, the one that is right here, features my top five favorite games that I played and finished, or finally finished, or are still working through, in 2019. So they aren’t all games that were released this year. Rather, they are the new, new-ish, and new-to-me games that proved to be my gaming highlights of last year. It feels weird saying that, what with the “old year” only a day behind us, but onward with all the listing!
Of the 2019 games I completed this year, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is far and away my favorite. Having lived for several years in a gaming world populated (by choice) with large, narrative, and character-driven games that force the questioning of one’s moral compass, Link’s Awakening was exactly the game I needed to remind me of the fact that not all games need to be 60-hour epics. With a perfect combination of charm, beauty, nostalgia, and intensely solid gameplay, Link’s Awakening is one of the best games the Switch has going.
Of the 2019 games that I’m still working through, The Outer Worlds – and yes, I’m still sloooowly making my way through – is far and away my favorite. While I’d call The Outer Worlds‘ story a little bland, there’s still so much gaming goodness packed into Obsidian’s latest outing. From exploration to conversations to combative situations, it’s a game deserving of its many accolades. I’m already hoping that we’ll see more of its universe in future games.
Though my time with RDRII was fraught with doubt and droughts, upon finishing the game earlier this year, I…well, um, I can’t take back everything I said about its frustrating controls and unhelpfully realistic mechanics, but I can take back some of the negative things I said about its story, which turned out to be roundly fantastic and emotionally satisfying. I miss Arthur Morgan, Dutch Van der Linde’s gruff band of outlaws, and exploring the majestic and wild west. I can’t say that I’m in a hurry to get back to it, but I do miss it, so I’m sure I’ll return someday.
Most of you already know the expansive universe that ESO has become. It’s thanks to the likes of Neverwinter, in which I was completely engrossed both last year and earlier this year, that I found myself able to jump into ESO without feeling completely out of place. And I can’t overstate the brilliant time I’ve been having in this title. It’s not without a good bit of quirkiness, but the experiences within the game feel endless. And it makes me understand why so many people have, frankly, devoted their lives to the game for so long. Its lore runs deep and new discoveries are absolutely everywhere. Plus, it’s just whole lots of fun.
Circling back around to the Switch, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the gorgeous and creative Yoshi’s Crafted World. Upon first getting the Switch last year, this was the very first game I played on it, and honestly, I’m still playing it! Well, not regularly. But with its host of little side quests, and the fact that each level can be run backwards (like literally, so you can see the reverse side of each levels’ scenery), there remains more than plenty crafty things for me to complete. While I don’t know that Yoshi’s Crafted World has the punchy charisma of its predecessor, Yoshi’s Woolly World, it’s still an excellent addition to the Yoshi series, and one worth playing if only for its inventive level designs.
What were some of the best games you played in 2019?
Lede image (© Obsidian Entertainment) taken by author during gameplay on the PlayStation 4.