There are a lot of games I didn’t manage to get to that are still on my “to play” list — frankly, there’s never enough time to get to them all. For every ‘big’ one I still want to get to, there’s an indie or two that are just as interesting and that same diversity of interest is reflected in the games I did pick for my 2019 list.
10 – AI: The Somnium Files
If someone told me that a visual novel would make my top ten list, I would have been a bit skeptical… but part of me would be excited, though. With visual novels being mostly storytelling, there’s promise for things like a well-thought out and intriguing plot, good art, and well-defined characters. AI: The Somnium Files has all of that and more. Sure, it’s a bit rough around the edges with too many crass jokes, but the price of admission is well worth the fantastic storytelling, interesting puzzles, and the best twist to a visual novel I’ve seen in a long time.
9 – Sayonara Wild Hearts
Lasers, motorcycles, sword fights, and love — these are just a few things that Sayonara Wild Hearts offers. When a young woman’s heart breaks and throws the universe out of balance, a diamond butterfly appears in her dreams to lead her through a journey to find harmony. It’s a short arcade-style score-chase game set to the beat of a pop soundtrack with stylized tarot-inspired art. There always at least one game that I want to go back to again and again every year, and Sayonara was it for me in 2019.
8 – Dicey Dungeons
Dicey Dungeons hooked me immediately with its tongue-in-cheek humor and solid roguelike mechanics. Each character has a unique quirk that makes their class stand out, and they differ just enough to give options. However, none of this gives the player complete control since the dice rolling element has enough random chance to keep things interesting.
7 – Slay the Spire
Speaking of roguelikes, there’s something great about building a strategy from scratch and seeing it come together in the end. That’s where Slay the Spire shines in its perfectly-crafted flow of starting a new a run and building a deck, hoping that it works out. The more I play, the more cards I unlock. The more I unlock, the more strategies that start to appear and the different ways I can play.
6 – Kingdom Hearts 3
There was a lot riding on this one. Kingdom Hearts has a legacy of storytelling spanning multiple consoles and generations, and as an action RPG, it evolved to be the most bombastic in the series with setpieces and spectacle featuring classic Disney attractions to defeat enemies. I was afraid that marathoning all of the KH games before this installment came out would make me loathe the final one, but I enjoyed every minute of it, even when it gets a bit heavy-handed with its themes about friendship and love.
5 – YIIK
This game stuck with me ever since I reviewed it in February. YIIK is a coming-of-age RPG where Alex, back from college, is trying to find his place in the world. He’s not a great guy. He’s arrogant and thinks he knows so much more than he does about the world, and I kind of hate him for that. That said, I also saw myself in him when I was his age. Further, I lived in a similar small town, and the NPCs reminded me of people I knew. It was a strange experience for me in every way possible, and I loved it for that.
4 – Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled
Ever since its release, Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled has been a game I play almost daily. Sure, it’s a remake of a racer that didn’t add a lot new to the 1999 original — at least, not at first. Now, it has frequent updates similar to Destiny or Final Fantasy XIV. There are multiple new tracks, new characters and karts to unlock, and new challenges. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the amount of support and free additional content, and everything can be earned with in-game currency. There’s a lot to enjoy!
3 – Devil May Cry 5
There are some times when I want to play a game that makes me feel like a badass, and Devil May Cry offers that in spades. This character action game doesn’t want the player to simply be a stylish demon slayer, but instead asks “What kind of stylish demon slayer do you want to be?” Rev up a flame sword and fire a rocket fist into the belly of a insectoid demon? Great. Be a half-demon gunslinger with twin pistols and sword from a demonic father? Have at it. Crush demons with a spectral panther and bird while reading poetry in black leather? Love it. Combat is smooth and responsive, allowing players to fight in the way that suits them best. For those new to DMC, it gives players the option to have auto-combos to a lot of the heavy lifting for them, but it isn’t judgmental — it just wants everyone to have a good time kicking ass.
2 – Pokemon Sword and Shield
I’ve grown up playing Pokemon, and I was excited to see where the latest installment would take me. With the new wild area, the new way to handle gyms and some unique Pokemon designs, I didn’t expect to put 50+ hours in the week after it launched — but I did. It’s not all sunshine though. I understand some of the criticism for things like locking settings behind random NPCs and not giving players the option to turn off other settings. It’s not perfect, but I’ve always been a hardcore Pokemon player, and this one gave me exactly what I wanted from a new title.
1 – Indivisible
Indivisible follows main character Ajna in her quest for revenge after her father’s death, only to eventually realize that revenge isn’t the answer. It was fascinating to see the writing make the main character reconcile with their choices and force them to fix their mistakes. The combat blends turn-based action with the combo creation of a fighting game, and the two blend better than I would expect. The characters are also colorful and some of the most diverse I’ve seen this year. Indivisible is also an RPG that values the player’s time and doesn’t require them to grind forever. Indivisible was fantastic from start to finish, and I would urge everyone reading this list to seek it out and give it a try.