As 2019 comes to a close, it’s time to look back on a fantastic year filled to the brim with excellent game releases. Whether you’re a role-playing fan or gravitate more toward shooters, there are titles to satisfy any hunger for prime, unadulterated gaming.
Unfortunately, that makes it extremely difficult to choose favorites out of the veritable onslaught of epic, amazing games that made their way to store shelves in 2019. Having played what felt like hundreds of different titles this year, I was finally able to sift out the ones that felt the most important and exciting to me, and the results are a mishmash of different genres and creators.
If you’re looking for a list of the best of the best this year, or just need some inspiration on what to play the next time you’ve got some time to spend perched by your console or PC, be sure to check out some of my favorites pulled from the entirety of 2019, truly one of the best years in gaming we’ve had in some time.
1. Death Stranding ($34.99; amazon.com)
Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima returned this year with his newest opus, Death Stranding, and it’s a sight to behold for PlayStation 4 fans. It’s a triumph of narrative design, coupled with jaw-dropping animation, celebrity cameos and gameplay mechanics unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Players must aid Sam Porter Bridges (Norman Reedus) as he works to reunite a fractured United Cities of America following a harrowing “extinction event” known as the Death Stranding. Often emotional and occasionally terrifying, it’s the most incredible game you’ll play on any console this year, and potentially well into the next.
2. Resident Evil 2 ($32.99; amazon.com)
How do you improve on a cult classic video game that debuted years ago on the original PlayStation? You make it better in just about every conceivable way by updating the graphics, adding new content, and making sure it’s an exciting remix of the original tale that both new and old fans can enjoy. Resident Evil 2 is a masterclass in taking a stalwart part of the survival horror genre and improving it. It allows players to explore the game through the eyes of both Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield, changing up both original paths in considerable ways. Its success has paved the way for a similarly refined remake of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, which is set to debut next year.
3. Devil May Cry 5 ($35.95; amazon.com)
Few action games are more satisfying than the hack-and-slash series Devil May Cry, and the fifth core entry is the best yet. Taking cues from the fantastic Ninja Theory reboot DmC, it’s heavy on the style, but doesn’t sacrifice any character development or juicy plot for those who have been invested in the series over the years. You get to play as three different characters over the course of the game: Nero, Dante, and newcomer V, each of whom has his own unique play style. It’s rock-and-roll in video game form, with witty dialogue, impressive showdowns, and some answers for fans who have had burning questions on their minds since the last game. This is DmC at its best, and hopefully whatever the next entry is will follow suit.
4. Trover Saves the Universe ($19.55; amazon.com)
What’s more ridiculous than an episode of “Rick and Morty”? Squanch Games’ Trover Saves the Universe, from the same folks that brought you the side-splitting Adult Swim animated series. It’s a lot raunchier than “Rick and Morty” in several ways, but that just adds to its charm. You play a “Chairorpian,” an alien that floats around in a chair and remote controls an
“eyehole monster” named Trover. A maniacal villain named Glorkon has stolen Trover’s dogs and has plugged them into his own eyeholes and plans on destroying the universe. What are you gonna do? Tell plenty of off-color jokes, chase Glorkon down, and find “power babies” to power Trover up, of course. Trust me, it all makes sense in-game.
5. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare ($53.99; amazon.com)
Call of Duty is a more realistic affair in 2019 than it’s ever been, and this soft reboot of the massively popular shooter series is absolutely fantastic. With a gritty, cinematic campaign and addictive multiplayer missions to boot, Infinity Ward knocked it out of the park this year. You’d be hard-pressed to find another quality blockbuster this year with so many pulse-pounding single-player moments or similarly satisfying gunfights. It’s an entertaining journey from start to finish, and well worth investing in, especially since it doubles as a harrowing single-player journey and quickly reinvents itself when you’re ready to take said gunplay on the road.
6. Control ($29.88, originally $59.99; amazon.com)
Jesse Faden is a woman in search of her brother, and she’ll stop at nothing to find him. When she happens upon the Federal Bureau of Control, a shadowy organization hidden in plain sight, she suddenly finds herself the new Director. The Bureau is located within the shifting, ever-evolving Oldest House, which hosts an insidious organism known as the Hiss, which may end up holding the key to the disappearance of Jesse’s brother as well as a host of other anomalies in the world. This trippy third-person shooter is one of Remedy’s greatest accomplishments, and a delightfully surreal yarn that deserves to be thoroughly explored.
7. Super Mario Maker 2 ($49.94; amazon.com)
Mario games are some of the most exciting platformers out there, because they’re also the best. Everything looks and feels “right” when it comes to Mario. So what if you could make your own stages with the same physics and building blocks as a typical Mario game? That’s what this Switch sequel to the Wii U’s Super Mario Maker lets you do. You have tons of different building blocks, backgrounds, characters, sound effects and more at your disposal to create the perfect Mario level. All you need is creativity and the drive to make something awesome. There’s a story mode with plenty of levels to finish on your own as well, but there’s nothing greater than the joy of creating — except maybe sharing with the world.
8. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order ($44.99; amazon.com)
Who hasn’t lived a Star Wars fantasy from time to time? Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is the newest single-player adventure set in the Star Wars universe. It features an all-new cast of characters, including newcomer Cal Kestis. Kestis is one of the last remaining Jedi in the world, and he’s on a mission to rebuild the Jedi Order. Equal parts Uncharted and Souls-like, Fallen Order is the Star Wars video game series in rare form, and the absolute best it’s been in years.
9. Wattam ($19.99; playstation.com)
Wattam is pure, sunshiny happiness in video game form. There’s no real rhyme or reason to why you’re befriending colorful poop or disembodied lips and teeth. The game begins in something of a void, where you play a small green cube man named Mayor, and as you unlock secrets by interacting with other inhabitants, you continue to welcome additional characters as the game presses on. It’s innocent, hilarious fun in the vein of creator Keita Takahashi’s well-loved Katamari Damacy series, and it only gets better as you invite more “friends” into the fold. If you’re looking for a good way to de-stress with games or need a title that’s appropriate for kids and adults, Wattam is an excellent choice.
10. Disco Elysium ($31.99; steam.com)
There’s little in the video game industry to rival the expert writing and characterization of Disco Elysium. It’s a roller coaster ride from start to finish that has you standing in the shoes of a drunkard detective who’s lost all of his memories. He’s tasked with getting to the bottom of a particularly grisly murder and naming a culprit, all the while wrestling with self-loathing, delusions of grandeur, and pining for his lost love. The amazing thing? You have complete control over how your “hobo cop” turns out, as you choose from a series of responses while interacting with a vast cast of colorful characters. It’s as much of a psychoanalysis of yourself as it is of Harry DuBois, and it’s all the better for it. Where Death Stranding took chances with its unique mechanics, Disco Elysium takes established adventure game and RPG convention and flips it on its head. It’s an unforgettable experience through and through that you can make your own at every turn.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.