According to my steam account, over the past year I’ve played 720 different games. In lieu of a traditional top 10, I’ve decided to pick one game from each month in 2019 that you owe it to yourself to spend some time with.
January – Resident Evil 2
No surprise here – Resident Evil 2 is a masterpiece of survival horror. Capcom took the fan-favorite entry in the franchise and rebuilt it from the ground up using every bit of development knowhow they’d earned over the past 20 years. Perhaps the ultimate remake, it manages to completely capture the feeling of playing the original, while improving on it in every way possible.
February – Reventure
My personal game of the year, Reventure is a love letter to video games wrapped up in a brilliant puzzle adventure. It’s an open-world adventure that is every bit as clever as it is hilarious – a game that asks players to beat it 101 times before they’re finished, and features such simply addictive gameplay that they’ll actually want to do it.
March – Hypnospace Outlaw
A mind-bending browser simulator, Hypnospace Outlaw casts players as content moderators for an imaginary webhost in the 90s. It’s subversive, brilliant, and emotionally wrenching, but I can’t offer any details without giving away some of the game’s best twists. It’s like nothing else I played this year, in the best possible way.
April – Bugs Must Die
An 80s Arcade throwback in the best possible way, Bugs Must Die offers the tight controls and rainbow-hued violence of its best inspirations along with a robust story mode and unlock structure. This is the kind of game that would have eaten a hundred dollars worth of your quarters back in the day, so being able to buy it for a fraction of that price is a heck of a deal.
May – A Plague Tale: Innocence
One of the best stealth games ever made, Plague Tale makes the most out of its bleak setting, turning a short journey across the French countryside into a harrowing ordeal. In another game scenes of wading through fields of corpses could seem exploitative and crass, but here they serve as a deeply visceral reminder of the human cost of war.
June – The Myth Seekers 2: The Sunken City
Of course there was going to be one Hidden Object Game on the list! This takes game takes players on a hunt for a lost city so that they can battle an immortal warlock – but the plot details are incidental. What makes it special are the stellar puzzles and gorgeously-drawn hidden object screens.
July – Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets
Close to the definition of an acquired taste, the game demands players have both a love for cute animals that turn into bloodthirsty monsters and a tolerance for the most brutal kind of try-and-die gameplay. A puzzle game about using bloody experimentation to solve problems, Professor Lupo charmed me with its devilish puzzles and well-written story.
August – Anodyne 2: Return to Dust
This design experiment challenges players to navigate a PS1 overworld to find GBA dungeons, but it justifies its style-jumping so effectively that the end result comes off as more brilliant than pretentious. It’s a sci-fi adventure on its surface, but at the core it’s a story about how old wounds continue to poison the hearts of people years after the hurt has supposedly passed – I’ve rarely seen a more effective metaphor for the power of therapy to improve lives.
September – Dark Pictures: Man of Medan
No shock here. I loved Until Dawn, The Inpatient, and Rush of Blood, so I was down for whatever Supermassive was going to do next in its quest to redefine the interactive movie genre. Little did I suspect that they’d manage to crack the co-op narrative adventure in ways that no one else has ever approached. This is the starting point of one of the most promising franchises in videogames, and I can’t wait for the next game in the series.
October – Dune Sea
2019 was, in many ways, the year of the goose, so how could I overlook the best Goose Game of the year: Dune Sea? When a goose is separated from his flock by the arrival of alien meteors containing tentacle beasts, he’ll have to embark on terrifying journey to make it all the way home. Offering beautifully minimalist art, a chill soundtrack, and the opportunity to befriend birds and battle space aliens, this is – by far – the goosiest game ever made.
November – Terminator: Resistance
A game that came out of nowhere to redeem a franchise, Terminator: Resistance is the best licensed videogame not to have Star Wars in the title. What it lacks in gameplay innovation – it’s a straightforward shooter with RPG-lite elements – it more than makes up for with the best-ever representation of one of the most compelling fictional worlds of the past half-century.
December – Boiling Steel
The lone VR title on this list, Boiling Steel impresses with some of the best mechanics of any VR shooter around. Smooth locomotion, great combat, a solid story – yes, if this were 2D it would be a fairly workmanlike entry, but shifted into VR, it’s one of the most thrilling shooters I’ve played in ages.
So that’s 2019, month-by-month – who knows what gems I’ll come across in 2020!