Even though most of us are struggling now because of the pandemic, back in 2019 things were going pretty well. This is especially true in the world of gaming. So even though we won’t be able to host a grand physical ceremony this year, we wanted to take the time to celebrate the Games of the Year for 2019. Thanks to everyone who voted for their favorites. If you are still quarantined or under lockdown, these games would all be good choices to keep you happy and safe at home.
Top Arcade Game: Cuboid Keeper
Cuboid Keeper is a shoot-em up (sometimes called a Shump) that has players taking on the role of a guardian for a mysterious cube. This cube contains a great secret of the universe that many want to know. As such, several different races try to enter the cube to gain this knowledge for themselves. Cuboid Keeper features really good visuals, great arcade action, and the ability to build your own ships out of a cube-like inventory of parts. It has a classic arcade feel with a ton of modern touches, and is perfect for whiling away the hours defending your square-centered universe.
Best Adventure Game: Knights and Bikes
The adventure game category is typically the most broad, with the most competition. And Knights and Bikes easily topped the list this year. There’s a moment in the game when every element suddenly clicks, and it goes from being a whimsical adventure game to something much deeper. Without spoiling any of the story, there’s a part early on when it becomes clear that Knights and Bikes isn’t a childish fantasy come to life, but something far more poignant, exploring themes of what it means to find your place in the world and to learn some of life’s most powerful lessons. Play this game if you want to really treat yourself.
Best RPG: Disco Elysium
There were a lot of amazing role-playing games this year, from typical ones like Pathfinder: Kingmaker to family oriented titles like Cat Quest. But the one that captured your hearts, and the most votes for RPG of the year, is the decidedly oddball and amazingly wonderful Disco Elysium. Make no mistake, Disco Elysium is its own thing and like nothing else you have probably ever played. Trying to describe it is difficult, but know that your pitiful main character is borderline crazy, to the point that he stands out in a very messed up sci-fi type of world. You even struggle with an internal dialog that is sometimes trying to kill you. And critically failing a skill check can actually be better than passing various tests. It’s a strange world. Prepare to have your mind blown.
Family Friendly Game: Cat Quest II
The Cat Quest II game is a wonderful title where you play as two cats on a noble quest to save their land. It’s obviously aimed at kids, though adults can have a lot of fun with it as well. In fact, Cat Quest II is so good, it was a strong contender for RPG of the year. This action-RPG features drop in co-op, with the computer taking over the second cat character if your partner goes out to get some catnip. The fact that you can play together makes it a purrfect (we had to do that) title for parents to play alongside their kids. It’s rare when a videogame lets a parent become the hero, or at least the hero’s helper, in an epic story that is worthy of either RPG or Family Friendly awards. Cat Quest II can scratch both of those itches.
Best Shooter: The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds might be the sleeper hit of the year. It didn’t get a lot of hype or pre-promotion compared to a lot of games that came out in 2019, but boy did Obsidian Entertainment do a fantastic job with this one. Technically, The Outer Worlds is a sci-fi RPG played in first person. So you will be doing a lot of shooting throughout the game. Of course since its actually an RPG, you can avoid combat sometimes by talking with people, sneaking around them or just stealing whatever you want. But eventually, the bullets and lasers are going to fly, and The Outer Worlds does a great job of providing different weapons, modifications and companion abilities to get the job done in this 1950’s looking sci-fi universe.
Sports Game of the Year: NASCAR Heat 4
NASCAR developer 704Games continues its winning streak with its racing series again this year, providing players with one of the most realistic, white-knuckle driving simulations ever made. Hands down, NASCAR Heat 4 is visually amazing and is easily the most polished version of NASCAR we’ve seen to date. Car models are scaled to near perfection, just like you see on TV, and decked out with great attention to detail ranging from paint schemes to tire treads. The addition of day and nighttime transitions for some of the tracks adds to what is easily the definitive NASCAR experience, and the game that takes the checkered flag for sports titles this year.
Top Strategy Title: Wargroove
Heavily influenced by the classic Advance Wars game series from the early 2000s, Wargroove is a relatively light-hearted wargame where comical units and bright and buoyant pixel visuals disguise an extremely deep strategic underpinning. Players will need to defend their home fortress (which is a do or die requirement) while expanding outward to conquer new towns and territories to feed your growing armies. Strategically, certain units are stronger or weaker against others, so you must not only overwhelm your opposition, but also make sure that you are fighting in a smart way the maximizes every advantage. Wargroove is great game that is both relaxing and challenging at the same time, and fights its way to the top strategy title for 2019.
Most Immersive Environment: STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen Order
If you have played or even watched some of the trailers or gameplay movies from Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, then you probably know that there was almost no contest for the immersive game of the year crown this year. It really doesn’t matter if you are playing the game on an Xbox One, PlayStation 4 or a PC (with great hardware), Fallen Order is going to look absolutely, ridiculously good. It’s so good that someone who came into the GiN testing lab thought at first that our reviewer was watching a Star Wars movie. It’s easily that amazing. And because visual pop is only one part of the experience, Jedi: Fallen Order adds both amazing sound effects and of course an unforgettable Star Wars soundtrack. Fallen Order is as close to being a Jedi as you will probably ever get.
Best Mobile Title: Chuzzle 2
Chuzzle 2 is the sequel to the amazing Chuzzle mobile game from about ten years ago. The new game, which is available for both iOS and Android devices, keeps the old flavor while adding in a lot of new gameplay elements. In fact, the large variety of different game types in Chuzzle 2 helps keep the game a lot more fresh than most mobile titles. This includes the classic goal of filling a beaker with the essence of the popped chuzzles, as well as new goals like popping chuzzles to change the background gold, popping chuzzles to hatch eggs of varying colors, only popping chuzzles of a single color to rapture them (strange but true) and a lot more. Chuzzle 2 has many of fans, and for good reason. It puts a lot of fun gameplay in the palm of your hand.
Overall Best Game of the Year: The Outer Worlds
The sleeper hit of 2019 scores again, as readers voted The Outer Worlds sci-fi role-playing game as the best overall Game of the Year. And no wonder. It’s rare when we get to play a totally new game that isn’t a direct sequel or a copy of something else. And when it’s as good as The Outer Worlds, then there is reason to celebrate.
It’s true that The Outer Worlds, which was essentially developed as an indie title by Obsidian Entertainment without major publisher support, might not have quite as much content as a so-called triple A title would, it somehow still managed to provide one of the most fun experiences for gamers to play in 2019. It’s also presented us with a very unique world, so we don’t think anyone will mind if it spawns a bigger and better sequel. As the 2019 Game of the Year, The Outer Worlds has earned that right. Give us more of this, please!