At first glance it doesn’t seem like there were many heavy hitters in 2019, especially given how seemingly spoiled we’ve all been since 2016. However, a deeper look makes it clear that, while not quite living up to the standards set in recent years, 2019 still brought a lot to the table, with high quality games from a broad spectrum of genres . While we understandably look forward to 2020 with great anticipation, 2019 wasn’t anything to laugh at.
We came up with a list of potentials for the coveted Game of the Year. After some voting and a bit of debate, we here at PSX Extreme chose one game out of a fairly big list. First, let’s take a look at the competitors.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
FromSoftware made their “hardcore” presence known once again with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, with this year’s offering set in Japan during the 16th century. Sekiro managed to differentiate itself from the fabled developer’s previous works while still keeping that FromSoftware flavor that a large and vocal subset of fans have come to adore.
Despite releasing in a genre that is full of competition and dominated by the juggernaut that is (was?) Fortnite, Respawn Entertainment managed to make its mark with their free-to-play battle royale, Apex Legends. From the moment it was launched to the world in a shocking surprise announcement, Apex proved that Respawn has neither lost their gift for high-mobility FPS gunplay, nor failed to adapt to the marketplace and deliver something both familiar and unique, creating a bonafide competitor in the battle royale scene, especially among older players who’d long since lost interest in Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
The Outer Worlds
Obsidian is no stranger to the role-playing genre, with some of the most beloved Western/Computer RPGs ever created under their belt, such as Fallout New Vegas and Pillars of Eternity, and they landed another big hit in The Outer Worlds. Traveling to different worlds, recruiting new members for your ship, and interacting with unique, goofy and sometimes dangerous characters all played a part in creating a large but intimate universe that is both interesting and entertaining. There is a lot of talent behind this game and it paid off in a pretty big way.
Everyone knows the story of Hideo Kojima splitting from Konami and what a mess that was. Death Stranding serves as the first game from the newly re-branded and independent Kojima Productions. And as we’ve all come to expect from Kojima, the game managed to both make a pretty big splash and divide the gaming community at the same time.
Kingdom Hearts 3
It’s been about 17 years since the first game came out on PlayStation 2, and despite some ups and downs the Kingdom Hearts franchise often tops the list of many RPG fans’ favorite series. A mix of Disney and Final Fantasy spawned a franchise spanning 13 games over several consoles. Kingdom Hearts 3 brought this mass of (what was considered by many) a confusing story to a satisfying conclusion in a welcome return to form. Both for the hardcore fans and those that weren’t able to keep up for the entire run, Kingdom Hearts 3 proved to be a winner.
Brought to us by Remedy and 505 Games, Control is a mind-bending adventure with some excellent gameplay. You’ve suddenly become the director of a government operation that takes care of objects that can twist reality as we know it. A solid experience that is pretty memorable in its weirdness, combining the best (and arguably worst) of The X-Files, Twin Peaks and fan-favorite thriller Alan Wake.
A Plague Tale: Innocence
A Plague Tale came as a pleasant surprise to many, presenting a strong story full of complex characters in a horrific, medieval world. A tense, stealth survival-horror title that has you avoiding both people and swarms of rats. Lots and lots of rats. So many rats.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty has been around for a long time, and for good reason; the franchise that ultimately dethroned Halo as the King of Shooters, the franchise has been nigh-unstoppable for the past 12 years, becoming a hallmark of modern gaming culture. 2019’s soft reboot of the Modern Warfare line of games is the latest addition to the series, expanding on what made previous entries great. Some might even say it’s the best in the series.
It took a long time but the popular shooter looter finally got a follow up to 2012’s smash hit, Borderlands 2. With all new characters, powers and, of course, a gazillion different guns to find, Borderlands 3 was mostly just more Borderlands. And that is exactly what most people wanted.
The Tropico series does management simulation better than most, with interesting systems and a healthy dose of satirical socio-political humor. After a long stretch in development, Tropico 6 improved on these features and added some new twists along the way. Sure to please any would-be Caribbean dictators!
The Surge 2
Although a sequel to the first game from 2017, The Surge 2 takes place in a slightly different setting. The game drops players in a futuristic city and sports a hugely satisfying battle and character progression system. It’s a refined experience that left a mark on many people.
After many, many years, a Kickstarter, and then more backing from Deep Silver, and more than a little bit of controversy, Shenmue 3 finally managed to make it into the wild this year. Fans of the series were super excited and, thankfully, the game did quite well, keeping faith with the original series.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Whether you are a fan or not, the commercial and cultural success of Star Wars cannot be denied. Licensed Star Wars games have been pretty hit or miss over the years, with highs such as Knights of the Old Republic and lows like Battlefront II’s horrendous obsession with microtransactions. Respawn Entertainment (Titanfall, Apex Legends) took the reigns for Fallen Order and created a game that’s pleasing for single player campaigners and Star Wars fans alike, providing a Dark Souls-esque flair to a solid hack-and-slash galactic romp.
Aaannd the winner is….
Sure to be a divisive choice among our readers (if comments on our review are any indication), Death Stranding was also a closely-contested choice for 2019’s Game of the Year. While definitely atypical in terms of premise, content and execution, Kojima once again proved that his status as a visionary is well warranted. Creating something singular in style and focus while innovating on established game mechanics, Kojima Productions somehow managed to make something as seemingly mundane as package delivery compelling, challenging and incredibly rewarding. The wonderful asynchronous co-operative gameplay mechanics developed for Death Stranding will no doubt be copied by several other developers in the following years as the industry once again takes its lead from the man who has arguably done more to shape the way we play games than anyone else.
Ambitious to a fault, Death Stranding is not a game for everyone, but both it and director Hideo Kojima deserve recognition for once again raising the bar and pushing the envelope in terms of what games can be.
Is it crazy, weird, sometimes frustrating and often confusing? Yes. Is it all all of those in the best possible way? Oh hell yes.
So there ya go, Game of the Year for 2019 here at PSX Extreme. What do you think? Do you agree? Which game would you choose? Here’s to 2020 being another great year for gaming.