Dec 31, 2019
Justin Celani’s Top 10 Games of 2019
Another year and another great batch of games to come along. When the end of the year rolls around, it’s always hard to encapsulate just how many games made their way into my rotation. Those that left a lasting impact. Luckily for me, it’s been time to sit down and finalize the list for 2019.
There are always a few titles that either slip thru the cracks or barely get edged out of a top 10. Here are a few that followed in the shadows.
- Metro Exodus – This was a game that totally took the tried and true Metro gameplay and opened it up just a bit more. Striking in both a dark and beautiful way, it’s a game that was truly enjoyable from beginning to end. Finally getting to see the world outside the Metro and a story about pushing to survive really worked for me.
- Kingdom Hearts 3 – I’m a huge fan of Kingdom Hearts. Call it silly, convoluted, or worse, it’s a game that just makes me smile. So it’s unfortunate I never got more than a handful of hours into the game. I was immediately captivated by its opening chapters and I’m still sitting here pondering just when I’ll get back to it. A casualty of being a reviewer and sometimes having to push things to the side. Forgive me Mickey!
- Gears 5 – The Gears franchise returned this year and with a huge bang. Offering a killer new campaign, new MP, and new modes. The scope of the game even got just a bit grander in the scheme of things. Overall it’s still a really awesome game franchise and one that mixed things up just a bit more than it usually has in the last few entries. Maybe the franchise is experiencing a bit of a burnout for some but never the less, a high quality octane experience awaits.
What would happen if you combined heavy metal, killer Contra like action, and amazing variety? This is Valfaris in a nutshell. A challenging, surprising, and downright addicting experience that just came out of nowhere to hit my top 10. For those that love retro side scrolling shooters, this is a must play. Like right now. Don’t forget it! Else you might displease the heavy metal action gods.
I’m not a fan of most rogue-like experiences. The idea of starting over on a new run every time just doesn’t gel with me usually. So when Children of Morta released and I finally got a chance to check it out, I left mighty impressed. Featuring a fantastic narrated story about family in a world now surrounded by evil, call me hooked. Its fun gameplay loop, abilities, and experience players get to keep and progress hit me in all the right areas of satisfaction. The quality is everywhere in the game and it won me over.
We haven’t really had a game that felt like the older RPGs like Dragons Age or Mass Effect in a while. Greedfall offered a very similar experience with a ton of quality and aesthetics that just shined, especially coming from Spiders, a studio that is known for its smaller budget titles. Featuring a story about pioneering a new land, creatures, and diplomatic conflicts, I couldn’t put it down. The hub areas to explore, the story elements that transpired. I wanted more when I finished it. This is one for fans of those other games that have been missing that classic “Bioware” feel that so many of their more modern titles have lacked these last few years.
7) Jedi Fallen Order
This one just barely got on the list but I should have expected it to be there. I’m a huge Star Wars nerd even if I don’t act like it. I adore the franchise and have played almost all the games since Nintendo. When hearing Respawn was creating a game based around the IP and it was single player, my eyes light up. Now that it’s out, I can safely say its overall pretty fantastic. Featuring a whole new canon story and cast, it was exciting to see just what would happen next. It feels a little rough around the edges at times but it has such an amazing opening and closing I won’t soon forget. The core gameplay of combat and exploration is fun and exciting, leaving me to wonder where this franchise will go next.
6) Luigi’s Mansion 3
I’ve been a fan of Luigi’s since I was a kid and always felt he never got his dues. When he finally landed his own series about ghost busting, consider me a fan for life. So with the release of the third entry in the series and on the Nintendo Switch, I was in love. The quality of animations, the way Luigi’s comes to life, and the variety of exploration, bosses, and puzzle solving elevated Luigi’s Mansion 3 as the best yet in the franchise. Sign me up for more as this one always put a smile on my face.
5) A Plague Tale Innocence
This was a title I had only heard rumblings about. A game about the plague and killer rats. That’s about all I knew going in. If that’s all you know about it and you like cinematic story driven games…. Stop what you’re doing, read nothing more on it, and dive in blind. This game is the BIGGEST surprise for me this year. Coming out of nowhere, from a developer that is fairly new. Featuring fantastic pacing, brooding atmosphere, graphics, and story. It is linear and while it’s mostly a onetime through experience, it’s definitely one not to miss.
I have had an obsession with Remedy games since Alan Wake. I’m still waiting for that sequel to happen. Yet in the meantime they have launched Control which is part Alan Wake, part Quantum Break, and overall a game dripping with so much mystery, world building, and awe that I couldn’t put the controller down as I explored this crazy building. Featuring fun shooting mechanics and powers and a premises that just reeks of sequel potential, this is one I couldn’t resist putting on my list. Take Control if you haven’t already.
3) Resident Evil 2
Yes a remake of a game that I adore is on my top 10 list and it’s no surprise why. Resident Evil 2 truly brought an old classic and put it into a modern spin. With brutal zombies, intense action, scares, inventory and bullet management. The camera angles may be gone but the horror isn’t. Resident Evil 2 was a trip down memory lane in all the right ways along with lots of new surprises. One I’ll be replaying just as long as the original.
2) Days Gone
When Sony first showcased off Days Gone I was sold right from the get go. A story about a zombie like apocalypse in a beautiful open world setting. What wasn’t there to love knowing my tastes? Yet when it launched, there was so much more to appreciate. The way riding your bike felt. The character development, the combat, it all shined together. While the story might not have done anything completely original sans a reveal moment in the epilogue of the game, it was aboutjust how well the characters and the story got me involved. It turned into one of my all-time favorite games in the process. A game so beautiful in setting and atmosphere, yet also dark and deadly. The perfect contrast.
1) Death Stranding
If you had told me a game about delivering packages would be my GOTY, I’d have laughed. Much like years ago if you had told me a game about farming would become special to me (looking at you Harvest Moon 64) I’d have not believed you, but as history repeats itself, here we are. Death Stranding takes the open world format and totally just goes a completely different direction with it. A game about connection in all facets. From the storyline, the characters, and even the online aspect of the game. It’s all there. For some, this will be the most boring game they have ever played, for others it will become an obsession, a passion, a need to help and connect others. All while experiencing a story that’s tragic, sad, weird, exciting, and hopeful. It might not have lived up to everyone’s expectations, but there is no doubt this is from the mind of Hideo Kojima 100% and it’s quite unlike anything I’ve experienced. This was why it was truly the best fit for my GOTY #1.