SmashPad's Top 10 Games of 2019

2019 was a hell of a year for games.

2019 might not be a big year for having one or two games that stand above all others like in the past few years, but it makes up for that with a wide variety of big and small games that are great and found their own niches of audiences that were wowed by them. Three of the games that topped our individual staffers lists didn’t make the overall top 10 because of that variety and depth of quality titles and more games like that unfortunately didn’t make the list below because there was too much for all of us to be able to play every game to its maximum. That just means you should check out everybody’s lists to see what didn’t make the cut that are still worth your time. Scoring wise, the top game this year would’ve been 6th on last year’s list, which is not speaking to its quality but how wide the list of games picked by our staffers is compared to just last year’s lineup that was more of a pyramid than wide hill that is 2019’s games.

Here are Top 10 Games of 2019 as chosen by the SmashPad Staff:

10. Death Stranding – PS4

” Kojima Productions produced a game that can genuinely be considered art and manage to create a brand new genre in the process. Call it pretentious if you wish, but in this day and age any game that heavily bases its design around altruism is something to celebrate.” – Brandon Perkins – Editor, Let’s Weekend Host

9. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – PC, PS4, Xbox One

” Quality Star Wars games over the past 20 years have been fairly rare and over the past ten it’s been even more rare, so giving the director of God of War III and the team at Respawn a chance to make a Star Wars paid off big time despite the rush to get it out before Episode IX, leading to it being unpolished enough to lower my enjoyment just a little bit. The best part of the game is that as you get more abilities and unlock more skills, the action just keeps getting better and the enjoyment increases so much in a way I’ve never seen out of a Star Wars action game before and that’s a special thing to experience here in 2019. ” – Chris Selogy, Managing Editor

8. Super Mario Maker 2 – Switch

“Super Mario Maker is one of my favorite games of all time, and the sequel builds on what the first got right in every way. The novelty has worn off a bit, however, so I spent less time with this game than I thought I would. Honestly, there are just too many good games that keep pulling me away from it. Luckily, it’s the type of game that I can return to whenever I find myself in a gaming lull, make a couple levels, and still have a blast.” – Jordan Elek, Editor

T-6. Astral Chain – Switch

“With Bayonetta and Nier: Automata in their recent hit list, Platinum Games continue to bring heat with Astral Chain. While the main aspect of the game will leave you with plenty to do, you can count on signature style of combat and action to really draw you in. There’s not a lot known about this series prior to playing it, but given Platinum Games’ track record, it’s easy to understand why this game is so good.” – Christian Paraguya, Editor

T-6. Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers – PC, PS4

“I still haven’t done this FFXIV expansion justice, but it’s fantastic already! Just when I thought there was no way the story could get any better, it did, and it sunk its claws in me and pulled me right into the thick of things. It’s been great to guess at what’s happening next, share my predictions with fellow Smashpad writer and podcaster, Pat, and see if I was completely off the mark or somewhat close. This game is pure heaven story-wise, and any huge MMO fan should be running to give it a try if they haven’t already.” – Theresa Samons, Copy Chief, Commentary

5. Katana ZERO – PC, Switch

“Katana ZERO is an action side scroller that lets you slow down time to slash through your enemies to get to the next screen. The game has absolutely gorgeous pixel art, is extremely well animated and has a killer soundtrack (use headphones!). It even has interludes between each area back at your apartment, where you can drink tea and watch TV. If you die, resetting and starting over takes less than a second, and upon completion of each area you can watch a tape of yourself cutting down your foes.” – Leigh Lamb, Commentary

4. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III – PC, PS4

“This is my paragraph where I gush about Nihon Falcom’s epic Kiseki saga rolls on with Trails of Cold Steel III, and this installment sees a changing of the localization guard, with duties being taken over from Xseed Games by NIS America. Fortunately, due respect was paid to the previous work, and the nigh-seamless transition from Xseed to NISA is a testament to NISA’s efforts. Being the eighth installment of an ongoing story, Cold Steel III isn’t as approachable as some other titles in the series, but that doesn’t make it any less engaging or enjoyable to players who have made the investment. (ProTip: You should make the investment.)” – Patrick Mifflin, Commentary

3. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice – PC, PS4, Xbox One

“From Software is not slowing down it seems as Sekiro arrived in 2019 and quickly became a household name. Punishingly difficult with a similar style to their previous Souls games, Sekiro is worth the frustrations for its brilliant combat and setting.” – Josh Schwartzman, Editor

2. The Outer Worlds – PC, PS4, Xbox One

“I went into The Outer Worlds trying to be as good of a person as I could. In other decision-based games, that’s not really all that hard of a goal. In The Outer Worlds, however, the line between what is a good or bad choice is blurred constantly, resulting in every situation being a moral conundrum. Sometimes I felt great about my choices, sometimes I didn’t feel so strongly, and sometimes I felt good at first only to feel awful later when I discovered the underlying implications of my choice. The Outer Worlds is a role playing game in the truest sense; you’re not just choosing how you want to play, but why you play. With a blank slate of a player character, you’re invited to project your own feelings and motivations onto them, and when you consider just how many ways there are to play here, The Outer Worlds is sure to give each player a unique experience that feels true to them.” – Jon Yelenic, Editor

1. Fire Emblem: Three Houses – Switch

“It’s pretty typical of Fire Emblem to come off as imposing, especially with reports of the game being over 240 hours long thanks to multiple angles of the game’s overarching plot.  Not only was it approachable, but the storytelling at meta did enough to make me want to play all the quests immediately after finishing the previous playthroughs.  Fire Emblem has always been great, but the amount of time I spent thinking about this game has given it its GOTY potential.” – Danreb Victorio, Executive Editor

Thanks to everybody that checked out our Game of the Year coverage this year and stay tuned for a great 2020 ahead with two new consoles on the horizon and tons of big games to keep us busy until then.