It’s that time of year again where every single person, alien and dog creates an end of the year style list. Contributing to an ever-growing pile of lists that will slowly but surely dilute the increasing pool of game of the year awards, while progressively draining away the significance of the term until it will eventually become a meaningless concept.
Then it will join the growing cemetery of dead things that will somehow be blamed on young people despite the fact that the age of the average gamer is 35!
Will I, owner, and writer of Gideon’s Gaming take a stand? A lone beacon of light against the raging flood of normalization? That sounds a lot like work, so no. Let’s talk about awesome games instead!
In case you missed the point of my overdramatic intro. My list effectively means nothing. If a game does not receive a Gideon Globe, it does not mean that game is bad. It certainly isn’t an attack on you because you enjoy said game.
Games that receive my awards are not objectively better than ones that don’t. Even games on my own list aren’t always better than other games on the same list, regardless of the review scores that I gave them. A gigaton of metrics go into a score and most games don’t compare well to each other. I have written about the very concept more than once.
The way you should take this list and any other game of the year award list, as a celebration of the medium and our love for games. It saddens me that I needed to write so many words just to say that. Now let’s get started.
The following games are my top 5 games of the year.
Number 5: Days Gone
Surprised? Me too. Days Gone is a game that fell to my back burner and I picked it up on sale fairly recently. Since it was a game I bought personally. I had no obligation to review it and nearly quit playing early on.
The first several hours are painfully slow as I noted in my review. Yet once the game picked up, I became more and more attached to both its story and game-play. It isn’t the most innovative game ever made, but it accomplishes its game-play concepts very well. I enjoyed the grounded dialogue and its attempts to explain the freaks. The cover system worked better than almost any other game I’ve played that features one.
It has my coveted difficulty settings and on the higher ones, you really feel threatened when outnumbered. This implores you to use the dynamic open world to your advantage. Days Gone also has a ton of content. If you stick with it, you have a lot of playtime to dig into.
Number 4: Remnant: From The Ashes
Remnant From The Ashes is a souls-like cooperative third-person shooter. It captured my heart with its very reactive and fun gunplay and high replay value. The combat is weighty and the enemies are animated beautifully and react to being struck. This is an important aspect of how combat feels in a game that is often ignored
The boss fights are epic and the game has a procedural nature to it that even goes as far as to change the bosses you fight and the loot you obtain making it worthwhile to replay.
The loot itself feels meaningful and really impacts how you play. There was never a moment of downtime in Remnant where I wasn’t having fun. Even when I was frustrated from getting my butt kicked. The third-person shooting was a nice refreshing twist on the souls-like genre. I enjoyed being able to play through its entirety with my partner. You can read my review of it here.
Number 3: Worbital
Take the concept of Worms and turn them into Death Stars spiraling through space on an orbital line and you have Worbital. I can’t understate how much pure joy the game provides without compromising depth and strategy.
Worbital is a physics-based game and I could sit here all day and name all the fun stuff you can do in it. Reflect projectiles back at your enemies’ planets? Yup. Reroute asteroids into your enemy? Also yes. Change orbital lanes to swat them with a planetary laser sword? You bet! Send your own planet careening through the vacuum of space to ram another planet? That is in fact, a valid strategy.
It is the only game this year that I have given a 10 out of 10. That’s because the only negative thing I can say about Worbital is the fact that so few people actually play it. Seriously, since my inception into this gig, Worbital is by far the game I have had the most difficult time actually getting people to look at. That is an absolute travesty. Luckily you can also play the game locally with friends and against the very solid AI.
Number 2: Age Of Wonders: Planetfall
Age Of Wonders: Planetfall has raised the bar for strategic 4X games, for me personally at least. It’s dual-layered gameplay between an overworld strategy layer and the turn-based tactical layer is expertly done and feels awesome to play.
There is a significant amount of variance and customization you can use between the ability to mix and match factions, secret techs, and unit mods. Plus the ability to assimilate units and tech from a completely separate category of NPC faction is just fantastic.
Planetfall is a great example of a fluid easy to learn, yet very deep strategy game and I adore both the base game and its first expansion. Planetfall was very nearly my top game of the year.
Number 1: Death Stranding
This choice won’t sit well with everyone and that’s okay. Yet, I need you to understand that I didn’t go into Death Stranding as a Kojima super fan, I went in very concerned that I wasted money. I had no idea if I would like the game or not and it is not a game I received a review copy of.
Much like Days Gone, Death Stranding starts slow, but unlike Days Gone. Its style of gameplay captured me immediately. The entire concept of making the world and its traversal real polished gameplay is something I will miss in other open-world games. I very much got addicted to making deliverys and it is one of few games I ever bothered to platinum.
The gameplay is incredibly polished and I loved the need to plan and manage my expeditions to make deliveries through a detailed and gorgeous environment. Death Stranding featured plenty of action and even epic boss fights, but it was more spaced out than in most games which made me appriecate them more when they occured.
I don’t believe that Death Strandings’ story is some super complex vision with deeper decipherable meaning. But I do think it was an absolutely crazy, yet enthralling and entertaining wild ride and I cared about most the characters in it.
The online component was very cleverly placed and added a great deal to the games enjoyment and even the music was stellar. I take issue with its lack of challenge, even on the hardest difficulty and I sincerely hope that it is addressed because even though I’ve platinumed it, I’m eager to return.
Death Stranding certainly isn’t for everyone. Yet it stands as one of the most unique AAA titles released in recent memory and it sure as heck is for me. Death Stranding is easily my game of the year 2019. If you want to read more about why, check out my review of it.
That about wraps it up, it’s the slow season so a lot of my content over the next few months will be reviews of already released games with a few upcoming releases. I think new reviews for old games are important too. Gaming isn’t static anymore and they change over time. At the same time, many indie titles simply slip under the radar, never to be seen.
So as always, thanks for reading, happy gaming and have some happy holidays!