With 2019 officially at the halfway point, the DualShockers convened to share our favorite games that have defined the year for us so far.
Somehow, we’ve made it through the first half of 2019, even though it felt like the year has only just started. While there’s still a whole other six months of the year to go, 2019 has already proven itself to be a pretty great year for games, especially in what is seeming like the last year before we enter the next-generation of consoles in late 2020.
With the first half of the year behind us, the DualShockers staff came together to look back at the last six months of 2019 to highlight some of our favorite titles of the year so far. While our selections may not cover all of the incredible games that have come out so far this year (and may include some older favorites from beyond 2019), these are just a few of the titles that have made 2019 stand out for us in video games, so far.
Iyane Agossah, Staff Writer
Collection of Mana
Revisiting Seiken Densetsu 3, now officially known as Trials of Mana, was pretty great. The game is much shorter and easier than what I remembered, or maybe I simply didn’t manage to grasp all the gameplay subtleties when I was in grade school. Though I remembered certain enemies like the werewolves being ultra annoying and dangerous, and I sure remembered right. The save states also make the endgame much less tedious. Overall it took me only around 15 hours and less than a week to reach the final part of the game, while it probably took me over a month in the past.
I wish Square Enix altered the game to have three player multiplayer like Secret of Mana does, as fans online long ago released a patch enabling it on the original SENS version of Trials of Mana. An online multiplayer mode to play both Secret of Mana and Trials of Mana with your friends would have been awesome too. In any case, to me the Trials of Mana remake is the game I’m looking forward to the most in 2020 and the true best game of E3 2019. I hope it’ll at least have two player local multiplayer like the original.
Super Robot Wars T
This is the first entry of the mecha anime crossover series on Nintendo Switch. It has a really big, really cool cast with stuff like Gunbuster, G Gundam and Gun x Sword. The game so far (I’m around 1/3 through) also has a really great story, one of the best I’ve seen in an SRW game. It also marks the debut of Captain Harlock and Magic Knight Rayearth in SRW. Captain Harlock is this episode’s “let’s add a battleship-only series” and Rayearth is like one of the biggest wanted series in SRW since forever.
And then you’ve got Cowboy Bebop debuting too, as the SRW series doesn’t limit itself to pure mecha anime. It’s a good present for Cowboy Bebop fans, as the series is celebrating its 20th anniversary (watch Cowboy Bebop if you haven’t yet). Play Super Robot Wars; it’ll make your life better (SRW T is in English, on PS4 and Switch). The game will definitely be in a high spot in my top 10 list of 2019, if not the top spot.
Ys: Memories of Celceta
I’m currently trying to play all the Ys games I haven’t tried yet before the next game, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox, releases this September in Japan. Memories of Celceta gets a lot of flak but it was actually really great, with the story setting up tons of things seen in previous or future games of the series. I played it in early 2019 and particularly enjoyed it.
Rachael Fiddis, Staff Writer
I had my eye on this apocalyptic survival game by Bend Studios for quite some time before its release. The entire concept of learning how to cope and overcome difficulties while still encapsulating a substantial narrative is something I mindfully look out for when choosing a game – thankfully, Days Gone scratched that itch and didn’t disappoint.
I remember looking forward to playing more and more of it each day; finding new ways to survive in its inhospitable world and following to the beat of its emotionally-charged storyline that just kept on unraveling the deeper you dove into it. I’m eagerly awaiting to see what the studio comes up with next.
My Friend Pedro
There’s really only one word that sums up this game, and that’s fun! I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that made me feel like I have some freaking amazing shooting skills – I felt like Neo from The Matrix all the way through my gameplay as I kicked some serious arse. One of the best features is at the end of each level, you get to see a clip of your best moment which adds to that delusion of grandeur.
If you’re looking for a really fun and clever game, you can’t really go wrong with this one: plus, it’s great for your self-esteem.
A Plague Tale: Innocence
Yet again, another title about survival (I think we have a theme going on here) but this time, instead of zombies, there’s rampant rats. Cloaked by a stellar storyline, intriguing mechanics, and a lovely touch of the plague, this game was a lot of fun to play. Crawling along the underbelly of such a horrific time in history has never been more enjoyable.
The fact that you play out the entire game as innocent children who have to suddenly face a world full of pain and loss was a brilliant move by Asosbo Studios due to the emotional impact that making decisions has on the player. It’s definitely a game that everyone should check out.
Tomas Franzese, News Editor
Baba is You
Baba is You may be a small indie game for PC and Nintendo Switch, but it is, by far, the best game of 2019. In a year where several major titles have come along and disappointed, Baba is You presents a puzzle concept that is new and thought-provoking. Messing with the properties of any object in a given level has a lot more mileage than it initially seems, and leads to some truly meta levels and puzzles that will leave most players scratching their heads for minutes on end. Baba is You is the best and most creative puzzle game since The Witness, and is a must-own for anyone who loves a good mind-bending puzzle game (and especially if you have a Nintendo Switch).
Super Mario Maker 2
While I’ve only been playing the game for less than a week at the time of writing this, Super Mario Maker 2 has skyrocketed to become one of my favorite titles of 2019. Its creation suite is more robust than ever before and it features a lot of great tools, like the story mode and its tutorials, to ease players into elements of game design. That being said, I enjoy playing community-made stuff even more, and many of the levels are super well-designed and creative just days into the game’s lifespan. The community is what will make Super Mario Maker 2 a greater package than what it already is, and the game fortunately seems to still be on that path.
Here we are. A Tetris battle royale game is my most-played title of 2019. For how medicore Nintendo Switch Online is and how simple and one-note the concept sounds, this is an excellently-designed multiplayer game. It is also an interesting case study in how the battle royale formula can be adapted for genres other than the first or third-person shooter. It’s so good that The Tetris Company is making a mobile game with a similar concept, which should be telling for how fun and gripping the game is. Tetris 99 remains one of the brightest spots within Nintendo Switch Online’s offerings, and will likely be my most played game of 2019.
Ricky Frech, Staff Writer
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Koji Igarashi still has it. In a sea of disappointing games funded through Kickstarter, Bloodstained stands out as an example of the magic that can happen when a great developer is given a bunch of money and a relatively blank slate. Bloodstained isn’t perfect (especially technically); however, it is an excellent throwback to classic Castlevania games, namely Symphony of the Night. The moment-to-moment gameplay is tight, and Iga’s team gives the ability to augment your playstyle via Shards: the exploration is even better. I was constantly telling myself “one more screen” as the hours quickly evaporated around me.
The Outer Wilds
There hasn’t been a game since maybe The Witness that just bore into my head and took up most of my brain space for a week like The Outer Wilds did this past May. The game mixes the exploration of something like Metroid Prime with the clockwork nature of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. You play as a fledgling astronaut, taking the skies to solve a galactic mystery. Unfortunately, you also exist in a time loop that resets everything every 22 minutes. It’s an accomplishment of design, world-building, and storytelling. And it will stick with you long after the end credits roll.
Resident Evil 2
Given the success of the original Resident Evil remake, it’s kind of wild that it took 17 years for Capcom to remake RE2. Thankfully, the wait was well worth it: the RE2 remake is a stunning video game. The police station section is arguably one of the greatest examples of what exceptional survival-horror gameplay and atmosphere should be. Mr. X’s near-omniscient presence drives the game forward and forces you to constantly stay on your toes. Sure, the back half of the game drops off a bit, but even still, this is my favorite Resident Evil experience and easily one of the best games of the year, thus far.
Cameron Hawkins, Staff Writer
Final Fantasy VII
Knowing that Final Fantasy VII Remake is on the horizon, I decided to jump back into the original. Being one of my favorite games of all time, I surprisingly haven’t played the game in a long while. Immediately booting it back up on my Nintendo Switch, I remembered just how great the game is. It is just continuous fun from beginning to end with a spectacular and diverse cast of characters. Everything just holds up with being an original PlayStation game, and I couldn’t stop smiling while playing it.
Even if you plan on getting the Remake when it comes out next year, you should still play Final Fantasy VII if you have yet to. They are going to be two different games with two different experiences, and you will be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t.
Kingdom Hearts III
While admittedly underwhelming to some, Kingdom Hearts III was a blast to play from beginning to end. The game may have been balanced to be too easy, but that didn’t make every Keyblade strike any less satisfying. The game looks and plays absolutely gorgeous; in the moments when the game cut to a CGI scene, I wouldn’t notice it until part way through because of how great the game looked. Going to Andy’s Room in Toy Story, teaming up with Woody and Buzz: it was all a dream come true for me.
While I didn’t love Kingdom Hearts III to the same degree as Kingdom Hearts II (my favorite game of all time), I still think about the game consistently about playing through the game again and again. Partly because of the disbelief inside me that it exists and I have played it. Another part is because I still love the game, flaws and all. I can’t wait for the upcoming DLC and what the series will bring myself and fans next.
The Walking Dead: The Final Season
Seeing Clementine’s growth throughout the series of The Walking Dead has been such an emotional experience, from the moment you meet her in the first season to the end of her story in the final season. Seeing her come full circle teaching AJ the ways to survive in the world of walkers was captivating from the very first scene. Seeing a boy who was born in the apocalypse being shaped based on the decisions you make compelled me to think about being a parent. What would I tell my kid in this scenario? What will be the repercussions of telling them what is right and what is wrong in this hellish world?
This is only a small taste of the shocking, compelling, and solemn moments that you will absorb within yourself as you play through The Walking Dead: The Final Season. Melissa Hutchison is a triumph in her final bout as Clementine, and even writing this brings me to tears that the story for one of my favorite video game characters has finally come to an end.
Reinhold Hoffman, Community Manager
Borderlands 2 is a game I bought at launch back in September 2012 for the PlayStation 3, and now in July 2019 I am still having fun with this excellent game thanks to the recently-released Commander Lilith & the Fight for Sanctuary DLC. I beat it with all 6 characters multiple times on PS3, PS4, and since 2 years ago also on PC, and I am still finding out new secrets about the game…and am trying to hit level 80 now. Can’t wait for Borderlands 3!
Mortal Kombat 11
This is one of my top three Mortal Kombat games now, and I love how the developers were able to mix the old school 2D gameplay with features we know from 3D fighting games like Tekken and Virtua Fighter. The characters are very fun for the most part, the story was nice, and unlocking more and more skins while you get better and have both the online matches as well as the tons of different single-player challenges is a great idea. Just the decision to have specific online variations AND offline variations was…weird. Playing as Shang Tsung, however, with his look from the awesome old MK movie is super fun, and I can’t wait for Spawn now!
The TakeOver is a Streets of Rage style beat’em up that is currently still in Early Access and scheduled to get released on Steam, but also for consoles. It plays very similar to the old SoR games and even has music by Yuzo Koshiro. I am a fan of the genre since I played games like Final Fight and Rival Turf on the SNES back in the early ’90s, so it is just great to see some devs creating games that are similar to the old ones but have modern graphics. The TakeOver also features a fun story, badass characters and is a blast to play in two player co-op!
Ryan Meitzler, Features Editor
Devil May Cry 5
As much as I will continue to ardently defend Ninja Theory’s DmC: Devil May Cry as a solid game in its own right, I have to say that it does still feel pretty good to have Dante, Nero, and the rest of the crew back (along with the new faces they’ve brought along for the ride). After waiting 11 years for the return of the mainline DMC series, Devil May Cry 5 delivered just about everything that I could have hoped for as a fan of the series, from its gorgeous visuals, to its more-complex-than-ever combat, to Dante doing the moonwalk. DMC5 is pretty bats**t crazy, but I loved every second of it.
The Metro series has deserved a lot more love than it often gets, as I think both Metro 2033 and its sequel, Last Light, are still two shooters that hold up pretty well today and are worth playing. But if you’re unfamiliar with the series, Metro Exodus is still a great entry to jump in with, as it manages to build on all of the series’ core foundations–survival, stealth, and shooting–while expanding it into bigger environments than ever. While its open-world may not compete with other games in terms of scale or depth, Metro Exodus still manages to create an even more immersive experience than before and a brilliant entry in an underrated series.
Resident Evil 2
While I never actually played through the original RE2, I still nonetheless had a lot of excitement leading up to the release of its highly-anticipated remake, and Resident Evil 2 did not disappoint in any way. While harkening back to the days of classic Resident Evil games by focusing the experience on true survival-horror, Resident Evil 2 also imbued enough modern touches and advancements to bring a classic horror to life for a new generation of players.
Logan Moore, Reviews Editor
After I finish reviewing a game here at DualShockers, I rarely continue going back to it afterward. More often than not, I think this is just because I’m burnt out from having to play so much of a single game in such a short period of time. With Judgment though, it’s a game I will continue to spend time with quite frequently. As my first foray into this world of Yakuza, Judgment proved to be the perfect mix of drama and silliness that I was looking for this summer. And with so much that I still have left to do in the city of Kamurocho, it’s a game I’ll likely continue chipping away at as the months go on. I like Judgment a lot. Go play Judgment.
League of Legends
Yes, I’m still playing this freaking game. No, I haven’t escaped Bronze yet. But I will soon. I feel it.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
As a Soulsborne fanboy, Sekiro is still likely my favorite game I’ve played so far this year. Sekiro builds upon so much of what made past Souls games so great to begin with, but also adds a variety of new mechanics that all work incredibly well. Months after setting it aside, Sekiro still likely contains most of my favorite moments from any game I’ve played in 2019. I still can’t get over that Guardian Ape boss fight. Even though I basically completed everything that Sekiro had to offer in my first playthrough, I very well might dive into it again before the year is over.
Now that you know what our favorite games have been from the first half of the year, what have your favorite games of 2019 (so far) been? What titles are you looking forward to for the rest of the year? Sound off and let us know in the comments down below!