As I detailed in a previous article, the majority of my time in 2019 was spent playing through my backlog. So my list may seem mostly worthless since games like Control, Disco Elysium, and Death Stranding never crossed my path.

That’s not to say I didn’t play any though! The ones I did play were pretty good and still deserve some recognition. So with that in mind, here are my top 5 games of 2019.

5. Mario Maker 2

The first Mario Maker game was one of the best titles on the Wii U. It showcased creativity from the community and the same applies to the sequel. While I really wanted them to go a bit further in terms of content, there’s no denying that the Mario fans show up again to make Mario Maker 2 a worthy successor. The levels range from sadistic to cakewalk and everything in between and with a little searching, there are plenty of levels for any kind of player.

However, if community levels aren’t your thing, Nintendo provided their own levels as well. These act more like a tutorial on how the items work for when you choose to make your own level, but there’s still fun to be had there as you fix up Princess Peach’s castle. If you’re a fan of 2D Mario, Mario Maker 2 should be your go-to game unless you’re a slave to nostalgia.

4. Kind Words

Kind Words is hands down one of the most peaceful and hopeful pieces of gaming I’ve ever experienced. In a medium that’s so rife with disgusting interactions; Kind Words completely subverts that mood and is strictly a positive game to play. Sure the art design is cutesy and the mood is really chill and relaxing, the true magic of what this game is comes to sending out and responding to letters from real world people.

Those moments are why it’s on this list. While there are plenty of games that touch people due to the story; Kind Words is about real people with real problems looking for real answers. There is a sincerity and honesty in everything and the act of trying to help people get a grasp on their lives (or just comment something reaffirming) is so simple yet so powerful. I encourage everyone to try this out because it’s a complete 180 to what you expect from a gaming community.

3. Days Gone

I’m one of those people who never get tired of zombies. So hearing Days Gone described as Sons of Anarchy in a zombie apocalypse was totally fine by me. The societal Freaker aspect of it along with the hordes make them more interesting than most zombie games and the world does a great job in keeping them hidden to keep the tension high even in the daytime. The Marauders and Rippers don’t help matters either and give enough flavor to make Days Gone stand out in a market full of open-world games.

As a whole, Days Gone has a lot going for it. The story may not hit you in the feels the same way The Last of Us did, but that’s not to dismiss good character moments with people like Rikki or the brotherhood between Deacon and Boozer. Despite the middling release among critics, plenty of normal players really like the game. It’s not perfect by any means, but I never found myself with diminishing returns every time I returned to the world.

2. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III

Every year needs to have a Japanese role-playing game worth playing. If you are someone like me who needs a game like that, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III will satisfy you. It has a classic JRPG feel while using a turn-based combat system that still feels different and immersive enough to be engaged in. And although it is the third game in the series, I jumped in for review without having played the prior two and I still found it worth it.

I can’t speak on whether or not long-time Trails of Cold Steel fans will think it’s a sequel worth playing, but as a newbie, it absolutely is. The characters are great, the game looks good, the combat is amazing, and the story is interesting although paced in a way that could lose some people. At the very least, you will come out having played a wonderful JRPG and can stir enough interest to maybe make you want to check out the prior titles. I know I want to.

1. Tetris 99

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Apex Legends. Fortnite. All battle royale games I immediately bounced off of. Tetris 99 though? So addicting. I know that it’s still Tetris….one of the greatest games of all time….but I didn’t realize the battle royale aspect could be added to it and in such a fantastic way. However, it’s also a great indicator of how terrible you are at Tetris, though I did pull out a Tetris Maximus a total of ONE times!

I don’t know what to say about Tetris that people don’t already know. It’s Tetris. An amazing take on Tetris. Feeding garbage to other players and the surprising amount of tactic that goes into whom to attack keeping the player on their toes and gets worse as the game speeds up. There is so much here that is an absolute blast, even if you lose relatively early. It’s easy enough to pick up and play a quick match or two and I can see myself doing that for a long time.

There we go. My 2019 tied into a little bow and cast into the Internet ether. Now comes 2020, which could be one of the best years in video games. Between games like Cyberpunk 2077, Final Fantasy VII Remake, The Last of Us 2, and even the next generation of consoles; this time next year could be a very difficult time for people to figure out their games of the year.

Check out the other staff member 2019 picks! They played more 2019 games than I did, so I’m sure they are pretty drastically different than mine. Also we will also have a site comprehensive list as well! Check that out too.

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