GAMINGbible's 25 Greatest Video Games Of 2019
2019, am I right? That was quite a ride we all had. Stuff happened around the world and to you personally, I'm sure. We've laughed, we've cried, but most importantly, we've played some lovely video games. Here at GAMINGbible HQ, hidden away in deepest Peru, we've spent the past few weeks arguing over the best 25 games of the past year.
Using an incredibly complicated algorithm (we all compiled our own list of 15 and assigned a score to each game) we've come up with a DEFINITIVE list of 25 video games, from worst to best. I say worst... number 25 is still the 25th best game this year so, you know, it's still pretty damn great. I'm sure you get what I mean, though.
Let's not waste anymore time though, eh? Read on for GAMINGbible's Top 25 Games Of 2019, and be sure to tell us how wrong we got it when you're done.
Dragon Quest Builders 2
(Square Enix/Omega Force)
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a perfect sequel. One that builds (heh) on the original Minecraft-flavoured RPG spinoff with a bigger story, more content, and way more freedom. It's cute as a button, wonderfully accessible, and so terrifyingly deep that you'll lose hours in the blink of an eye. Read our full review here.
In Judgment, players take on on the role of Takayuki Yagami, a lawyer-turned-detective following a series of grisly murders. While the game shares a lot of similarities with its parent franchise Yakuza, it still has a bold identity all of its own. Darker, moodier, and altogether more serious than Yakuza, Judgment is a game that shows just how good interactive detective adventures can be when done right. Check out our full review here.
Concrete Genie might not be the longest game... but we're all busy people, and the idea of being able to actually finish a game in under ten hours is quite an appealing one, frankly. Luckily, what Concrete Genie lacks in length, it more than makes up for in charm. A delightfully stirring puzzle adventure packed with ideas and plenty of heart. Check out our review here.
Katana ZERO is quite possibly one of the coolest video games I've played in years. A slick, tightly-designed 2D action game that offers multiple ways to hack and slash through scores of unsuspecting goons with exacting precision. You'll die. A lot. One-hit kills see to that. But there's nothing quite as empowering as cutting a bloody swathe through a successful run, combining parries, dodges, and brutal attacks that make you feel truly unstoppable. Until the next level, that is. The story *goes places*, too. Read our impressions here.
Cadence of Hyrule
(Brace Yourself Games)
Never in my dizziest dreams did I think that Nintendo would give an indie studio the keys to the Zelda franchise, let alone allow that same indie studio to make a rhythm-based Zelda game. And I once had a dream where myself and Kermit the Frog were given two weeks to remake the original Star Wars trilogy using nothing but an old piece of cardboard and a bit of string - so I've had some pretty dizzy dreams.
Regardless, a rhythm-based Zelda game is exactly what we got from Brace Yourself Games. Cadence of Hryule is an absolute delight. One that combines the puzzles and exploration of a traditional Zelda, with the intense rhythm-action combat of Crypt of the Necrodancer. Oh, and the soundtrack slaps. Hard. More information here.
River City Girls
(WayForward/Arc System Works)
If you're craving some arcade-flavoured beat 'em up action with a decidedly modern twist, River City Girls is the game for you, my friends. Playing as one of two... well, river city girls, you'll bash, crash, and brawl your way through various gorgeous levels, taking on bosses and upgrading your stats as you go.
Devilishly challenging, but deeply rewarding, River City Girls hits just right for fans of old-school gaming. Oh, and the ending is brilliant. Trust me.
Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth
Who'd have thunk that one of the best games of 2019 would be a 3DS game? Nothing against the 3DS to be clear - I love it - I just assumed we were done with the handheld. Instead, Atlus released the brilliantly named Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth for the ageing console. The whimsical adventure impressed my esteemed colleague James so much that it secured a spot on this most hallowed of lists. You can read our review of the game right here.
I've seen more than a few people suggest that Disco Elysium is more than *a* game of the year. They're saying it's *the* game of the year. Honestly, I feel confident saying that the only reason it doesn't rank higher on our list is that not that many of the team have had the chance to play it. We're busy, okay?
Those of us who have played it can attest that Disco Elysium is something special. A staggeringly impressive piece of work, and one of the most original RPGs in years. Check out our review here.
Catherine: Full Body
Even eight years after release, Catherine remains one of the strangest, most difficult video games I've ever played. Hell, I'd almost managed to forget about the time with the original, like some kind of hazy dream. Then 2019 saw the arrival of Catherine: Full Body and it all came flooding back. The bad and the good.
Everything you loved (or hated) about the original is present and correct. But that's not all - there are also new endings, new modes, and an entirely new character, making Full Body and essential experience for all Catherine lovers out there. More information, here.
Sayonara Wild Hearts
Sayanora Wild Hearts is just... the most stylish, wonderfully unique rhythm-action game I think I've ever played. It's so stylish in fact, that it probably works part-time modelling for a vintage clothing store and bakes its own gluten-free bread on weekends. Is baking gluten-free bread stylish? I don't know. Sayanora Wild Hearts probably knows though, because it's so damn stylish. You can read our full review here. It sums up the game a lot better than I did. Honest.
From the creator of the incredible, award-winning Her Story comes Telling Lies. A fantastically smart interactive thriller, Sam Barlow's latest work is a tangled web that invites players to pull back its many layers as they sift through surveillance tapes and video calls between characters in an effort to work out the "truth". Whatever that may be (spoiler: it ain't pretty).
Beautifully acted, and written with painstaking care and attention to detail, Telling Lies was one of our indie picks of E3. It is perhaps the most unique title of 2019, and one deserves all the praised heaped upon it.
Just when you thought you could count the Gears of War franchise out for good, The Coalition comes back swinging with Gears 5. The legendary Xbox franchise was reborn in style in the latest instalment, driving the story forward in unexpected new ways while making a number of smart tweaks to the established formula.
With more modes, the best campaign in years, and even a light sprinkling of open-world and RPG elements, Gears 5 is bigger and better than its predecessor in every way. A much-needed return to form. You can read our full review here.
Super Mario Maker 2
What if I told you there was a game that offered the chance to play UNLIMITED SUPER MARIO BROS? Like, more Super Mario than you could ever reasonably play in your entire life? You'd probably tell me I was crazy and ask me to get out of your house because I'm scaring your kids.
That wouldn't change the fact that Super Mario Maker 2 exists though, and offers an endless stream of platforming fun. There's just so much STUFF in this beautifully accessible level creator. You can build classic Mario levels, Zelda-style puzzles, hellish gauntlets, speed runs, rhythm-based levels, working calculators, musical instruments, and so much more.
When you're done making, you can head online and drown in a deep sea of Mario. Not all of the user-created content is good. A lot of it is really rubbish, actually. But at least once a day you'll come across a level so wonderfully inventive or brilliantly challenging that you'll be inspired to do better yourself and create your own masterpiece. And thus the endless cycle of Maro Making continues. Forever. Read more here.
The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds (not to be confused with Outer Wilds, which you might find a little further down) is a good-old fashioned RPG, and proof that developer Obsidian never needed Bethesda to be great. Hell, if you're at all familiar with the development of Fallout: New Vegas, it was always kind of obvious that the studio was being held back by Bethesda, if anything.
If I may be so bold, The Outer Worlds is basically the Fallout game I wanted Fallout 4 to be. It has a wicked sense of humour, sharp writing, great characters, and a fascinating world to explore. And, most importantly, game-breaking bugs don't haunt the player at every turn. Read our full review here.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Star Wars fans hungry for a genuinely great video game adaptation have spent the last few years starved. Thanks to EA's decision to make the most of its exclusive Star Wars license by publishing two multiplayer shooters and cancelling anything that sounded even remotely promising, I'd long given up hope. But I was wrong. There was another.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order isn't perfect, but it is exactly what we'd been after for years: an exciting story-driven single-player adventure set in cinema's most famous universe.
Developer Respawn (who we spoke to, here) let players live out the Jedi fantasy in spectacular fashion. Combining Force powers and lightsaber action to cut down hordes of panicked Stormtroopers was nothing short of sublime. Deflecting a blaster bolt straight back at an enemy literally never got old. And the game's final encounter? Ooh boy, no spoilers - but it still gives me chills just thinking about it. Our full review is right here.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Earlier this year, FromSoftware took us on a journey through Sengoku-period Japan that we'll likely never forget. One packed with gorgeous locations, terrifying beasts, and epic encounters. While similar to the Souls games in many respects, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is very much in a league of its own.
Most of us learned pretty early on that we'd have to combine stealth, perfectly timed parries, dodges, and every gadget at our disposal to make it to the end of Sekiro. It's fair to say that it isn't a game for everyone. It demands everything you've got, and doesn't let up for even a second - but when it just clicks and you finally "get" it? Well, there's nothing else quite like it. Read our full review here.
Pokémon Sword & Shield
An awful lot has been said for and against Pokémon Sword & Shield in the past few months, so I'll just say this: there's undoubtedly a lot to love about this latest generation. In fact, it would be fair to consider them the best in the series in some respects - even if they fall short in certain other areas.
The open-world Wild Area, for example, is a real sight to behold the first time you set foot there. Coming across monsters old and new as you explore the forests, fields and lakes was also a treat for this long-time fan of the franchise. The games really do look great, and that trademark Pokémon charm is there in spades.
All in all, a cracking pair (of Pokémon games), and a promising step in the right direction for the franchise. Also, I would die for Sobble. Read our full review here.
The Legend Of Zelda: Link's Awakening
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening was a delightful handheld adventure when it released for the Game Boy back in 1993. But time and technology have moved on since then, and if you ask a modern gamer to play a black and white game on a murky LCD screen they'll probably spit in your face.
What luck, then, that Nintendo delivered a masterful remake of the '93 classic for Switch this very year. All of the oddball charm of the original remains, and the overhauled toybox aesthetic is a joy that brings Koholint Island to life like never before. Aside from a few smart tweaks, gameplay is much the same as it ever was, making for a faithful recreation of one of most-loved Zelda games ever. A must-play for fans old and new. Read our full review right here.
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare
Infinity Ward talked a big game in the build-up to the release of Modern Warfare - not least of all to us, during its previews - and the studio didn't disappoint. The game's campaign has some undoubtedly divisive moments, but it also has some of the most imaginative and engaging levels we've seen from the Call of Duty franchise in years.
Couple this with the best Call Of Duty multiplayer in years and you've got an iconic franchise very much back at the top of its game. With a suite of multiplayer options that combines brilliant new modes like Gunfight and Ground War with various returning fan-favourites, and you've got a shooter that caters to players of every level. You can trust me on that, because I really am hopeless at Call of Duty, and even I enjoyed this one. Read our full review of the multiplayer and campaign modes here.
Luigi's Mansion 3
One of my favourite things about Luigi's Mansion 3 is the way that it manages to constantly surprise and delight. Every floor of The Last Resort Hotel offers something genuinely different. Whether it's a constantly shifting labyrinth of rooms, an ancient pyramid, or a movie studio where Luigi moves around through TV sets in true Poltergeist fashion, you're rarely doing the same thing twice.
With plenty of secrets to find, and hundreds of ghosts to bust, Luigi's Mansion 3 is an utter joy from start to finish. A gorgeously animated, wonderfully detailed piece of work that's brimming with invention and humour, this one deserves a place in every Switch owner's library. Read our full review here.
The battle royale genre was already starting to stagnate as we kicked off 2019. As far as most gamers were concerned, anything that wasn't Fortnite or PUBG wasn't really worth anyone's time. And yet, into this arena stepped Respawn Entertainment's Apex Legends.
A breath of fresh air in an increasingly crowded genre, the EA-published free-to-play battle royale introduced more than enough fantastic new ideas and smart tweaks to the established battle royale formula to ensure that it stood well apart from its more established rivals. As we move into 2020, I'm excited to see where Respawn takes this one next. Check out all we have on the game, here.
Untitled Goose Game
I could tell you all about why I think Untitled Goose Game is one of the best indie games of the decade (and yes, we have a list for that), but I think this poem - delivered to me straight from the beak of a mischievous bird - sums it up best:
No goose is an island, entire of itself; every goose is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a honk be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any goose's death diminishes me, because I am involved in geesekind, and therefore never send to know for whom the goose honks; it honks for thee. Read our full review here. Honk.
To try and properly describe the space exploration mystery that is Outer Wilds would kind of be to go against the very point of the thing. This is a game that relies on just two things from those who play it: their innate curiosity, and their drive to quest.
You're given no reason to jump into your rickety ship and explore the planets spinning above your head, and you're not told where to go or what to do once you do. There are no bad guys to fight, or worlds to conquer. It's your own desire to explore the stars that constantly drives you forward in Outer Wilds. That's it.
As you hop from planet to planet, uncovering ancient tombs and deadly secrets, you begin to unravel a much larger mystery all on your own. Piecing together this galaxy-sized puzzle using nothing but the knowledge you've collected as a result of your own unique journey through the stars is thrilling, rewarding, and often terrifying all at once. Outer Wilds is a truly a video game experience quite unlike any other. You can read more of our thoughts on the game here.
Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 2 represents a franchise back to its very best. Capcom had clearly been struggling with the survival horror series for years, after all. Resident Evil 5 and 6 put way too much emphasis on action, while Resident Evil 7 - admittedly a marked improvement - was still a relatively mixed bag.
Fortunately, Capcom had a stroke of inspiration and looked back to move forward. A ground-up remake of the 1998 classic, Resident Evil 2 is a stunning, tense experience that represents the very best of Resi. Unstoppable monsters stalk you through dimly lit corridors, rotting corpses lurk around every corner, and needlessly convoluted puzzles inhabit every government building you visit. Seriously, who designed that police station?
The ammo is scarce, and the zombies many. This is survival horror at its finest. This is Resident Evil as is should be in 2019 - and it's never been better. Our full review can be found here.
In Control, players are thrown headfirst into the Oldest House, the HQ of the clandestine US organisation known as The Federal Bureau of... um, Control. Tasked with uncovering its many secrets and containing the threat within, our hero Jesse Faden guides us through a series of ingeniously designed set-pieces, thrilling firefights, and fiendish puzzles.
It's a game that knows exactly what it wants to be, and realises its ambitions perfectly. Combat is challenging and constantly changing, thanks to the bevy of unlockable telekinetic abilities. Meanwhile, a beautifully written script, stellar performances, and tons of genuinely intriguing pieces of optional lore scattered around the world help to further draw you into Control's richly detailed world.
The team at Remedy Entertainment (who we spoke to in the summer) quite clearly poured their hearts and souls into Control. Their belief and passion in the game shines through every hidden report, every boss battle, and every fascinating room of the Oldest House. It's a game that begs you to fully immerse yourself, and handsomely rewards those that do. It is, in short, just a truly stunning piece of work that everyone should experience.
If you still aren't convinced that Control is more than worthy to be considered our Game Of The Year for 2019, I have two words for you. Ashtray. Maze. Read our full review here.