Well here we are once again. The end of another stellar year of video game greatness is behind us and whilst we await next years onslaught of generation-ending megatons from the likes of CD Projekt Red and Naughty Dog, we at Finger Guns have decreed the below games to be the very best of what 2019 had to offer. There’s a nice mixture of genres along with some possible surprises, and no game will be duplicated so we don’t run into the same issues we did back in 2017 (Super Mario Odyssey was the GOTY and don’t let Sean ever tell you otherwise). We’ve each chosen three games that we loved more than any others, along with some honourable mentions.
Have a nose below and see what you think. Disagree? Of course you do. Let us know what your top picks are in the comments below.
Would you like to hear us discuss our Game of the Year picks in more depth? Head here for our GOTY Podcast, alternatively you can right-click here to download the episode directly to your device or head to your favourite Podcast provider. The GOTY discussion begins exactly 40 minutes in, but listen to the rest also, eh?
A Plague Tale came out of nowhere and completely blew me away back in the middle of May this year. Developed on a AA budget but looking like a billion dollars around every corner, this utterly gorgeous adventure puts you in the shoes of Amica and her little brother Hugo, looking for safety through the plague-ravaged streets of Aquitaine after her family home was ravaged by the British army. From the very beginning of the game – I won’t spoil it here but what occurs would normally have been enough to put my controller down and never touch it again – the stakes are enormously high, and your determination to save these siblings overwhelms,
I haven’t played anything like it in years and it hit me like a train. It was the first game of the year I beat 100% and I’d happily go back to it again and again. Thank goodness a sequel is on the way, eh?
The Outer Worlds is a video game. That’s the highest compliment I can pay it, to be honest. Throughout the playthrough you’re never bogged down with microtransactions, there isn’t a giant season pass you have to buy on top to see half the content and there were no pre-order incentives. There was one option – buy the game. And the game you bought, which incredibly had a beginning, a middle and an end, was absolutely stellar.
Developed by Fallout New Vegas alum, the games blueprints are naturally all over this thing. Whilst Bethesda continue to piledrive the franchise into the ground with the force of a thousand thunders, Obsidian decided to make a video game that took what made New Vegas so damn exciting and drop it into a living, breathing, bustling, broken world, full of rich characterisation and high stakes. There’s a hundred ways you can play through The Outer Worlds and you’ll feel a tremendous amount of guilt whenever you misstep, such is your dedication to the cause. Of course, you can just go through the world killing everyone in your path and causing the ultimate decimation of the worlds economies but hey, that’s up to you.
I fell in love with the characters and the story, and I hope we can visit this fantastic world all over again. If only to hang out with Parvati some more.
As ever, I find myself falling for video games that on the surface I probably shouldn’t really enjoy. Erica is one of those games. Announced and dropped at the exact same time, Flavourworks have taken the FMV-story led genre and catapulated it into revolutionary territory with Erica, a game that I’ve played through now so many times I could probably perform a one-man show of the game without ever looking at a script.
What made Erica feel like such a revolution? Well, with respect to other games in this genre, the acting is really bloody good. Led by a stellar performance from the brilliant Holly Earl, it really feels throughout like you’re watching a television series that you have complete creative control over. Each interaction with the game feels genuine and real, and the technology used to transition from video to interactive is brilliantly well crafted. It feels seamless and you never feel like you’re getting in the way or holding up the pace of the story. It gets dark, twisted and genuinely creepy at times, and these particular traits of a video game never mix all too well with me, but Erica transcends the fear by being a gorgeously crafted tale that takes mere hours to finish. You’ll not regret visiting Erica. Though you may have some nightmares.
YOOKA-LAYLEE AND THE IMPOSSIBLE LAIR
Coming fresh off a highly anticipated original that was ultimately somewhat lacklustre, the pressure was on for Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair to deliver the goods. Thankfully, developers Playtonic realised that the franchise probably belongs in the 2D space and as such, created a sequel that was leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor.
Featuring plenty of content, humour, heart and charming visuals, The Impossible Lair is a cracking experience that should be checked out by anyone who still has a retro platformer shaped hole in their adult heart.
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: LINK’S AWAKENING
Narrowly missing out in my GOTY choices, Link’s Awakening arrived on Switch this year to massive acclaim, thanks to its tremendous visual style and essentially nigh-on perfect recreation of the 1993 Game Boy classic.
I’m gonna be honest, I had never played the original and so this shiny new remake was a brand new experience for me, and what an adventure it was. Tearing through the island of dreams with Link was an absolute delight, and is one of only four Zelda games I’ve actually beaten in my lifetime, despite having played most of them. I had a smile on my face pretty much the entire time, which when you’re looking for a video game to play is all you can really ask for, isn’t it?
Well, this is clearly a surprise to no one, is it? To say “I like Resident Evil 2” is an understatement, with it being not only my game of the year but one of the best of this generation too. A graphical and technical accomplishment, it blew my little mind when it launched near the start of the year.
I’ll admit, I had my doubts when they said the remake was going over-the-shoulder, feeling it would devolve into the deplorable mess that was RE6. But no, they’ve faithfully paid tribute to the twenty one year old original, whilst carving its own path as a suitably scary third person action-horror title.
They’ve steered clear of trying to imitate the cheesy dialogue and ham-fistedness of the original, instead taking the source material and making a modernised adaptation for fans and newcomers alike. For those like me at the time of the original, it’s a great tribute. For newcomers, it’s a brilliant entry point, yet also a time capsule of the decade RE2 was made in.
That Capcom have supported it well, with free DLC mission packs, as well as some minor cosmetic content to unlock, shows the heart put into such a faithful remake. It’s done well enough that they’re remaking Resident Evil 3 off the back of it, so it’s well worth checking out.
“But Greg, why? This game makes you angry, why would it be a game of the year”?
Precisely that reason: it makes me angry through compulsion to see it through. If it were a terrible game that made me angry, it could be ignored. But Sekiro, FromSoftware’s latest controller-breaking offering, isn’t a terrible game.
It’s a fantastic game, mixing the difficulty and challenge of their Soulsborne games with some elements gleemed from the Tenchu games years ago. Combat had more verticality to it, as well as a more focused parry/counter system.
You couldn’t defend as much as Dark Souls’ builds, nor could you recklessly charge in like in Bloodborne, but a balance between the two had to be struck. Stealth has a small part too, but it is in every other essence a Souls-like offering. It’s also bastard hard, and that’s why I love it, or hate that I love it.
The fact that it’s a great but difficult game is the draw, that made me want to finish it. It’s got an interesting story, with a few endings to encourage you to explore all avenues the game has to offer.
But yeah, don’t expect an easy ride.
I love bullet time, almost as much as I love most Devolver games. My Friend Pedro is beautiful mix of those two elements: a crazy, over the top platformer/shooter featuring bullet time, bullet dodging action and a killer soundtrack.
Based on a Flash game from 2014, MFP was a passion project that finally saw the light of day this year. Regular listeners will know how keen I was for this, and now it’s been ported to Xbox this month, I couldn’t be happier. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely.
It’s typical Devolver: it’s got some lateral thinking puzzles in there, but the majority of the gameplay is pure frenetic action. You’re ranked on how many people you kill, and how quickly you do it. So the onus is on non-stop run and gun, for maximum points.
But what makes it extra fun is the use of the environment: you can utilise frying pans and signs for ricochet kills, skateboards and barrels for some extra kill points, all for added craziness. Dodging bullets with balletic moves whilst slowing time down, to dive through a window all to a banging synthwave soundtrack. It’s Devolver down to a tee, which is always great.
Oh, and the titular Pedro is a talking banana guiding you through levels, in case you were wondering.
I really wanted to enjoy Days Gone after I’d finished it, but I couldn’t. Given that my initial expectation of it was low, expecting it to be generic horde shooter. Gleaming ideas from Left 4 Dead, I was surprised when it turned out to be quite a well written and engaging adventure. Progressing with Deacon and his mission was fun, as were some of the character developments, and building more of his bike had a certain appeal.
But much like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Death Stranding, below, it ran into that trap of just dragging on the endgame. If you look the spark towards the end, it doesn’t make you want to go back to it.
My money was on this to be my GOTY for a long time, given how much I was looking forward to it. Yet now that I’ve finished it, and can step back from a subjective point of you, it’s not as great as Kojima’s retweets will tell you. It’s definitely divisive, but as far as an experience in something new goes, full credit to Kojima Productions. But the ending just took me out of the immersion completely. I doubt I’ll ever play through it again.
There can’t be a game of the year without mentioning one of the finest gaming experiences I have had the pleasure to try. I say experience because a game like this IS an experience, and one I’ll not forget soon.
Made by the same people who blew my mind with the London Heist. This time, with B&T we have a fully fleshed out game and SIE have nailed VR from the shooting mechanics, lock picking, climbing scaffolding or jumping out a top floor window that makes you feel all weird.
The story and the accents may be a bit of a cliche but to experience a proper gangster story in VR, with some of the best graphics for the PSVR is mind blowing! If you’ve not played it, the ending alone is worth the asking price. I thought Resident Evil 7 was the pinnacle of VR, but now Blood & Truth has raised the bar and is the game to beat for all VR games moving forward.
This is possibly the last game I thought would be in my game of the year list. A little mobile game that only lasts you a couple of hours if you play straight through. Assemble With Care is a thing of beauty and has left me still thinking about the world the characters and the intricate gameplay even now it now.
A game in which you listen to a woman’s travel story to a fictitious European city. The main character is tasked with fixing things. Little keepsakes from the local residents as they prepare for a town show. The story is told via narration (and features the wonderful Cissy Jones which really does make the world believable).
The real gameplay however comes when you have to fix various objects that are brought to you. Each can be taken apart down to it’s smallest screw or wire. Carefully place them to one side as you turn the 3D object on screen and try to figure out how to fix the camera, or projector, or other cooky little item the residents bring to you
Fixing things is never frustrating, the puzzling is simple and you do feel a sense of achievement once you have put something back together and it’s working. Hearing the gratitude from the customer, and their back story really hooks you in to this world. Assemble with Care is utterly satisfying, it’s charming, it’s relaxing and it’s beautiful, and I really hope there is a Chapter 2.
Here is another game that I didn’t expect to be in my game of the year choices, Blazing Chrome is a love letter to bygone days and everyone needs to play it.
If you have ever played any of the Contra games then you’ll know what to expect. Rock-hard gameplay, beautiful artwork and perfect chip tune sound track. It’s all been done with so much love and attention that you can’t help but be sucked into that just one more go gameplay.
And the gameplay is just sublime, pixel-perfect platforming and thumping gunplay pushes this shooter to levels you never thought possible. The extra oomph of the PS4 provides gamers with graphical sprite fun-times that just make you grin from ear to ear as you reminisce about sticky floored arcades from your youth.
It’s not completely original, and it’s so hard you might even cry but boy when playing it you just don’t care.
STAR WARS JEDI: FALLEN ORDER
It’s a good time in gaming when you can finally put a Star Wars game into the game of the year article. It almost never happens. Just the very fact there is a new single player Star Wars game is cause for celebration.
Although a game like this has been done better elsewhere, Respawn have really managed capture what it feels like to be in the Star Wars world. With some fantastic force moves and lightsaber combat that makes you feel like a Jedi, even if the main protagonist doesn’t walk like one.
Last year I had Tetris Effect as my overall game of the year. I mean how could Tetris in VR not be good? Not only was it just good it was flipping amazing!
Following close behind this puzzling VR behemoth is Tetris 99: a free to play Tetris game where you pit your cramped fingers against 98 other players.
If you have ever played Tetris on the Gameboy via the link cable you’ll know that getting rid of lines on your game will make them appear in your opponents game. now imagine that against 98 other players!
It pleases me that I get to name Tetris in my game of the year selection, even if it is just a honourable mention, It’s nice that this age-old game is still has plenty of life in it and keeps on reinventing itself to appeal to new audiences. Bravo.
It’s really quite beautiful when a game feels like the product of an entire team pulling towards the same creative vision. Control is one such product. It’s a game that has it all. A lead that’s the antithesis to the protagonists she might get compared too, Jesse Faden is one of the most fully realised and intricate characters I’ve had the pleasure to play as in quite some years. A plot that’s far deeper that it first appears and knows when to dump a load of lore on you to keep you informed or to leave things entirely mysterious. World class art and sound direction that oozes style and builds an atmosphere like nothing else out there in 2019. When I reviewed Control back in October, I gave it a 9/10. If I’d have reviewed it after the patches that have been released, It’d have likely got higher. It’s a masterpiece.
Before the arrival of Apex Legends, the Battle Royale scene was a 2 horse race. Sure, there were a lot of companies trying to get a piece of the pie but in reality, it was all PUBG or Fortnite. With Apex Legends though, Respawn and EA managed to deliver something revolutionary to the genre. Many of its innovations showed that there could be depth to this genre beyond hiding in bushes or transforming yourself into a 4 story building at the first sign of trouble. It was the first game in the genre to include respawns which has now become a standard, pings and contextual character chat which almost every competitor has copied and group drops which are still better than what’s on offer elsewhere. Combining the fluidity in movement and tight gun play of Titanfall with a cast of characters that offer a depth of personality as well as tactical choice, Apex Legends forged its own path to the top spot in streaming hours watched and popularity for a few months. Between this and Jedi: Fallen Order, Respawn have been 2019’s best studio in my estimation.
“All killer and no filler” is a term often used about music albums that are filled with absolute bangers from start to finish. For a game based around music, it’s an apt description for Sayonara Wild Hearts too. Clocking in at just a few hours longs, it’s a thrill ride for the ears, eyes and finger tips from “press any button to start” to the role of the credits. It’s constantly inventive, causing me to use more than the occasional expletive at how damned impressed I was with the game. The message the game carries is heart felt and deceptively powerful too. Sayonara Wild Hearts is the game I’ve gone back to time and time again if I needed a little pick me up and I imagine it will continue to be a tonic for life’s trials and tribulations for many months to come.
I can count the number of times a video game has made me physically laugh out loud on my hands. At least half of those times (so, like, 5 fingers worth) were while I was playing Astrologaster. Presented like a branching pop up book, you play as the real life amorous astrologer Simon Forman as he attempts to gain a physicians licence by curing people based on their star signs. It’s tightly written, masterfully voiced and has some of the driest humour I’ve ever witnessed in a game.
CHILDREN OF MORTA
I thought I was done with rogue-like’s for good. Having reviewed a number of them over the past 12 months, the formula they usually employ was boring the life out of me. Children of Morta is a rogue-like that divorces itself from the tried and oh so tested rules this genre usually employs to tell a story that’s quite incredible and is mostly divorced from your actual in-game progress. I described it as “the rogue-like to end all rogue-like’s” in my review and it has given me hope that a genre I thought was beyond stale still has some thrills to give.
You can see the love that developers Paul Helman and Sean Scaplehorn poured into making Horace. It’s a one of a kind experience, giving a pixel platformer a cinematic feel and doing a huge amount with it. The story it tells is heartwarming and it’s persistently surprising and inventive. It’s one of my favourite games of 2019, warts and all.
So those are our choices for Game of the Year 2019. Phew, it’s been one heck of a gaming year and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down the first few months of 2020.
Hold on tight. We’ll see you there.