Now that The Game Awards has announced its nominees, it’s that most wonderful time of the year to share our favorite games of 2019. As usual, I’m behind schedule and still playing about a bazillion games at once. But despite my backlog and not having all the endings tied up yet, I’d like to share the games that have been the most fun and fascinating for me this year… so far, at least.
This game is top of my list in terms of sheer creativity. Made by Remedy, the developers behind other amazing titles like Alan Wake and Quantum Break, Control reminds me most of the latter in how it plays — which makes sense, as the two games use the same engine.
As protagonist Jesse Farden, you explore the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Control, a New York City skyscraper known as the Oldest House, looking for Objects of Power.
What I love about this world is just how weird it is. The Oldest House is filled with the supernatural, the mystical mixed in with the everyday — yet there’s a sinister quality to it all too. You’re fighting a mysterious paranatural resonance force called the Hiss; you encounter bodies hanging in mid-air and rooms that seem torn-up and only half there; and in some rooms you can watch strange informational videos, which remind me of the Dharma Initiative videos from the show Lost. This is one of the few games where I had to stop and actually read, line for line, every single codex entry I came across. I wanted to know everything about this world.
In terms of gameplay, Jesse uses a Service Weapon as well as supernatural abilities, which let her manipulate the world around her. I loved latching onto boxes and crates with that ability, whipping them around to hit enemies. The gameplay can be challenging at times, but it’s exciting to learn and really makes you feel a part of this mysterious world.
I loved Apex Legends when it first released early this year. For those first few weeks, I played it obsessively. I hadn’t played Fortnite and didn’t know much about battle royale games, but the cartoon art style reminded me of Borderlands and it was a game I could play with my husband, so I was down.
At the start of each match, you join a team of three, and each of you gets a turn to pick your character. Right away, I fell in love with the healer Lifeline, a badass girl with a drone that heals her companions. Since I wasn’t great at shooting, I spent more time focused on healing my teammates and racking up revives to keep my squad in the fight.
At some point, players started getting really good from playing even more than I was. My kill stats, compared to the rest of the community’s, started feeling pretty pathetic. I had a few bad games with players I didn’t like on my team, and that was it. My whirlwind romance with Apex Legends was over.
Now it’s one of those happy gaming memories for me: a new game that hooked me to the point of obsession for a spell, and made me feel like a giddy kid again.
Resident Evil 2
Since I didn’t play the original Resident Evil 2 when it came out, this remake was the perfect opportunity to experience what I missed. The game looks incredible. I watched my husband play through it first as Claire, which was fun because he had played the original game and remembered a lot. He could tell me what was different, what he remembered, and what felt like an improvement. Meanwhile, I played as Leon — we swapped the controller back and forth between our games, with my husband going ahead of me.
When you launch the game, you can play as either Claire or Leon. You can also choose the classic music or the new soundtrack; my husband chose new, I went with classic, so we could compare as we took turns playing. Though the beginning of the game is roughly the same for both characters, there are a few differences in where keys and other items are located. Later in the story, paths diverge depending on which character you’re playing, which I loved.
From what I’ve heard, a lot of people who loved the original game thought this remake was fantastic. As a new player, it felt really unique — the game is primarily a puzzle game, where you have to look for items that unlock doors and remember the layout of buildings as you explore so you can come back to things later. Personally, this is the first game I’ve played like this, and I really enjoyed it.
A Plague Tale: Innocence
A Plague Tale: Innocence is a beautiful game set in medieval France, where you play as a teenage girl taking care of her little brother. Although I only played part of the game, the story by Asobo Studio is intriguing from the start.
The gameplay is primarily stealth, but your character also gains a slingshot that comes in handy when you face a fight. Boss battles are scripted in, while the rest of the time you have to hide, distract, outrun, and outsmart enemies who will kill you instantly if they catch you. This makes it a high-stress game, which is part of why I put it down before finishing. But based on how gorgeous the game is and the unique story, I would love to dig back into it soon.
The Outer Worlds
This is my current game — one of a few, but the main one I’m playing — and so far, I love it. To me, it’s everything an RPG should be: you pick your character perks at the beginning of the game, invest in attributes, create your character’s appearance, and then explore a vast world with tons of NPCs to talk to, side quests to pick up, and companion characters to befriend.
The world Obsidian has created here is essentially a corporate-run colony, where everyone works for the company. Even suicide is regarded as troubling only in regards to it costing the company labor. The world is filled with unique aspects to investigate, including a “scientist” religion that keeps everyone in their place and a mysterious plague ravaging the colony (because everyone lives solely on canned tuna).
The game has plenty of action, based primarily around firing little guns and clobbering people with shocksticks. It’s clunky. But I enjoy the main special ability your character has, which slows down time for a few seconds so you can aim at specific weak points on enemies. I’m playing on the easiest difficulty so I don’t have to spend a ton of time in combat.
What I enjoy most about the game are the exploration and dialogue. I’d say at least three-quarters of my time is spent in non-violent interaction with the world, which is just how I like it. I love running around my spaceship talking to my crew, asking locals about the new planets I land on, and getting to know the details of this original world.
What are your favorite games this year so far?