This year, I found that I played less games than I did in 2018. Part of this was a lack of time and funds, but the bigger factor was a lack of games that really grabbed me. The games that did, though, I ended up spending a lot of time with.
I nominated more than five games for our staff top list, but I deided to stick to five for my article to avoid an article with a weird number. So, let’s get into them. Some of these might surprise you.
5. Mortal Kombat 11 – PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
The latest installment of the Mortal Kombat franchise was a really enjoyable one for me. That is, when it wasn’t hammering me of the head with lootboxes, currencies, gear, challenges, and other nonsense. Playing MK11 is a real joy, but that’s followed by a sense of dread as the game loads back to the menu and makes it very obvious that it’s fallen prey to AAA-itis. A game that relies so heavily on these mechanics is meant to draw players in and keep them, but more and more, I find myself being pushed away from them.
4. Death Stranding – PS4
If you don’t like games that have a message, this isn’t for you. Death Stranding is all about making connections, cooperating, and surviving in a world that’s gone completely south. It’s also not afraid to tell you that not all situations are best solved by thick-necked military goons with guns. The game is also unique in how it handles balance and encumberment, making these things real gameplay elements. Beyond that, though, Death Stranding is a goreous game, visually and conceptually.
3. Samurai Shodown – PS4, Xbox One, PC
It was refreshing to play Samurai Shodown after Mortal Kombat 11. Here is a game with a very different philosophy. While there was a Season Pass offered, SNK gave that Season Pass away early on. There are no loot drops, status items, or any of the things that pushed me away from MK11. Samurai Shodown feels absolutely brilliant to play, with unique characters, lovely backgrounds, and weapons that do real damage. While technique and execution will always be a part of fighting games to some degree, Samurai Shodown makes a good case for a fighter that plays by instinct.
2. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
This was not a good year for Koji Igarashi’s Kickstarted gem. It came out in a state that caused it to be broken for some players. Updates were fast and frequent, but on some platforms like the PS4 were few and far between. Despite this, the game is very enjoyable. The controls are tight, the visuals look really nice, and the soundtrack headed up by Castlevania veteran Michiru Yamane is top-notch. It’s not Castlevania, but it’s as close as we’ve had in years. If you’ve been pining for an IGA-directed Castlevania game, look no further.
1. PC Building Simulator – PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Of all the games I’ve played this year, this was easily the number-one timesink. It was a game that I didn’t know I needed until I had it. For a hardware nerd like me, this was, and still is, a fun little sandbox where I can just relax and enjoy playing with PC parts. If running your own PC repair shop sounds like a fun idea for a game, try this one out. If you want fast updates, though, be sure to get it on the PC and not the consoles.
That’s it for me in 2019. Looking ahead to 2020 I can already tell it will be a banner year. We’re on the cusp of a new console generation, plus we’re going to get landmark titles in the current generation. With the list of titles on the horizon for 2020, I don’t think I’ll have trouble finding something to play next year, that’s for sure.
All the best, and happy holidays!