My Top 5 Games of 2019

The year 2020 is just around the corner and we get that much closer to Skynet’s inevitable rise to power. Before that happens though, we can all be actively entertained by its precursor. 2019 was a good year for gaming, no matter what the naysayers preach. Some of my new favorite games were released this year and I am waiting in anticipation for 2020 to knock it out of the park. That being said, it’s good to sometimes take a look back, ignoring what’s ahead, in celebration of all that has transpired in this short year. The following is a list of MY top 5 games of 2019. I have only included the games that I have actually played and am intentionally ignoring many of the great games that I know are contenders for game of the year. It is only because I have not played them and thus cannot speak to their worth, but that does not mean they do not belong on a top 5 list. They just don’t belong on (again) MY top 5 list.

5. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

This is one of the two games featured on this list that I have yet to publish a review on. The colorful, anime-style graphics were enticing, and after playing Curse of the Moon I couldn’t turn this one down. The sheer scale of the boss fights alone make it feel larger than life. The controls were very responsive as well, providing ample maneuvers to slay enemies in style. This Metroidvania is far from my favorite of all time, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a great time with it. While it may not be game of the year worthy, Bloodstained excels in more than one area of interest and I would love to see more games within this franchise. It holds the final slot in my top 5 if for no other reason than the steep challenge it presented. The difficulty common of games from the early 90’s has been lost in more modern titles, but if you’re searching for a 2D sidescroller in the style of old Castlevania games, look no further than Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.

4. Control

I was going back and forth on whether this game belongs at the number 4 position, wrestling with Bloodstained. Both games are incredible, but this one ends up winning out by a fraction. The gameplay was engaging, the story was fantastically weird, and the game was littered with atmospheric tension throughout. It was fun going back and completing all the sidequests long after the main story was completed, and the gameplay never became stale. This is in part due to the abilities you acquire in the game. You can levitate, create shields out of rubble, and just throw your enemies around like you’re on the dark side of the force. This may be controversial and will probably not make a lot of people’s top 5 lists, but it made mine. It would have scored better on the list if it wasn’t plagued with slow-down bugs every time you closed the menu and made for a blurry mess sometimes. For more information about the game and why I liked it so much, you can read my full review HERE.

3. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

I bought this game with the full intention of writing a review for it to be featured on this blog, however I simply never got around to it as life consumed my free time. The Impossible Lair took the characters from the first adventure and reworked the entire gameplay style. No longer is it a 3D collectathon, but a 2D platformer not unlike the Donkey Kong Country games. It plays out very much like those Super Nintendo titles while adding a fun and engaging hub world to tie all the levels together in a top-down adventure. It has quickly become one of my favorite platformers to grace the Xbox One in many years. If you haven’t already picked this game up, do it. You will not regret this purchase.

2. Monster Hunter: World (Iceborne)

While I acknowledge the newest iteration of Monster Hunter released in 2018, I still consider that Iceborne could very well be a game on its own. To view my full review of this expansion you can click HERE. This new DLC takes Monster Hunter: World and really ups the ante on what’s to be expected from Capcom and this franchise. With a whole new area to explore and many new monsters to hunt, this game resides at the very top of the iceberg. The added difficulty provides a greater experience for veteran hunters, and the prerequisite of having to beat the base game before jumping in assures that the player will be ready for it. While I understand it is not technically a game that was released this year, Iceborne adds enough new stuff to maintain a spot on this list. It is truly an incredible experience.

1. Resident Evil 2

I played the hell out of this game and my full review can be found HERE. This is one of the few games of 2019 that I actually got around to reviewing. The reason it holds the number 1 spot on my list is because of one key video game component. Atmosphere. Resident Evil 2 was spine-chilling, from it’s updated, realistic visuals, to its soundtrack, to Mr. X busting down doors; this is probably the most scared I have been while playing a video game. As I mentioned in my review, the constant pursuit from the Titan is incredibly scary, giving me a gut-wrenching feeling of terror whenever I heard his footsteps in the distance. This feeling never left me, only becoming tolerable as the game progressed. The gameplay is fantastic, the puzzles are fun, and the characters come to life (quite literally, after death) throughout this 8 hour battle with the undead. A nominee for Game of the Year, in my experience it’s deserving of that title.

So, that was my top 5 games of 2019. What do you guys think? I know there are a lot of great games omitted due to not having played every release this year, but from what I have played, I think the quality of each game is reflected above. What is your top 5 games of 2019? Agree with something on this list? Disagree with my horrible opinions? Let me know in the comment section below.

Control Review

On occasion, a video game comes along and turns logic on its head. Control does exactly that through the supernatural and incomprehensible themes littered throughout Remedy’s latest action game. It is a journey best experienced at a slow pace, leaving no stone unturned as the multitude of collectibles are discovered. Patience is key as you stumble your way through narrow corridors with the hope that you’re on the right track; and if you are, this game will inevitably derail you.

You are Jesse Faden, a woman on a mission to find her missing brother Dylan, leading her to the Federal Bureau of Control’s doorstep. The entire game takes place within the walls of the FBC, but these walls are not always static. As you progress through the game, some walls will take shape to open passages for further exploration. This happens by cleansing control points. The FBC has been overrun by the Hiss, interdimensional beings with no sense of physical boundaries. They invade the minds of Bureau agents, turning them into scary, alien-zombies all while distorting the building itself. By cleansing certain Hiss-infested areas, order is restored to the world around you. Gaining this power to fight the Hiss through her promotion as Director of the Bureau, Jesse wields an otherworldly weapon that is crucial toward her survival against all manner of enemies she may face. While the main story unfolds in a manner that is sure to confuse even the most out-of-the-box thinkers, the true narrative is revealed through hidden files that remain scattered throughout the building. It is in reading these files that clarity is shed on the issue at hand, so skipping these details is not recommended.

Control rewards exploration, sharing elements with what some may call a Metroidvania. Meaning you will be traversing some areas multiple times with new abilities to help you progress in a different direction. While it may prove to be tedious to some, the controls and movement make traversing these landscapes a pleasure. I am always elated whenever a game is so responsive as to completely immerse me. And Control truly controls like a charm. There is fluidity to the movement, and it feels so responsive that it emulates a one to one response from the button input to the on-screen character’s reaction. Add the character’s supernatural abilities to the fray and you have yourself one bad ass, immersive experience. The game truly makes the player feel like a superhero. The glaring issue that I combated during my playthrough of this game was the consistent drops in framerate whenever a menu was closed. And here is where I say there is no game without its flaws. The immersion created by a precise control scheme was counteracted by these framerate drops, reminding me that I was in fact playing a video game, and not actually throwing concrete with my mind. With some minor graphical issues compounding this, it was hard not to notice these flaws.

Don’t get me wrong, this game is pretty. It’s impressive how the facial expressions and all-around graphical mastery of emotive responses elevate this game. It is for this reason it actually seems to be a pleasure to interact with the Bureau’s occupants. That is, if they are in focus. And that is my biggest complaint about Control’s visuals. It was too often that I ran ahead of the game’s ability to speedily render the world around me, making things out of focus, and in fact leaving some characters looking like someone trying to create a snow angel in midair. This occurred multiple times in the same area, and I found myself purposely triggering it because it was just that ridiculous. This game takes itself very seriously, so when there’s something as laughable as this, it really changes the mood and atmosphere the developers have tried to create.

Speaking of atmosphere, the FBC is an incredibly ominous and creepy place. From the floating bodies, to the creepy orientation videos, to the musical ambiance, I was deeply unsettled. And the music plays well into this unsettling feeling. Not only was I terrified when I first heard the ambient tunes around me, but the use of silence is just as terrifying. I’m in a cafeteria, there’s no noise but my footsteps. Suddenly I come across a radio and I turn it on. The music spewing from the radio’s speakers catches me off guard and I immediately want it to stop, in fear that the Hiss may hear it too and come to devour me. These moments truly make Control shine and there are enough of them throughout the progression of the main missions to satisfy. Most creepy of all however, definitely goes to the mumbles and “hissing” in the distance as incantations are being recited with no real discernable sense to them. It is within this lack of comprehension of what is being uttered that is profoundly disturbing. That unsettling feeling is what separates Control from other games, and it persists long after the final mission is completed. It is rare to witness such an incredible use of sound in a video game, and for that, my hat’s off.

While not giving me much of an urge to replay this game from the beginning, the experience I had with Control was very enjoyable. The game is not without its flaws, but they can mostly be looked passed when judging the game as a whole. From the sound and convoluted story, to the incredible voice acting, this game should not be passed up.

Sound: 5/5

Gameplay: 5/5

Story: 4/5

Graphics: 4/5

Replay Value: 3/5

Total: 21/25 or 84/100