It’s that time of the year again — it’s time to look back at the games I’ve played this year and see what I enjoyed the most. Let’s take a look at my top three picks! Because that's just my favourites, also included is a list of additional honourable mentions.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Played on Nintendo Switch. Released in 2019.
Ever since the Nintendo Switch was announced, this was the game I was most anticipating. I absolutely love the Fire Emblem franchise, and Fire Emblem: Three Houses finally released this year, after multiple delays.
This time, the franchise is taken in a fresh new direction, which has brought many people to the series. (I saw plenty of streamers playing the game, for example!)
Your protagonist takes on the role as teacher at Garreg Mach Monastery, where you get to choose one of three houses and teach their students. Each house is led by a region’s royal — a future empress of Adrestia, a future king from Faerghus, and a future leader of the Alliance. It’s up to you to pick who you want to tutor; a choice which will have implications later on in the story. Along the way, you’ll find that external forces threaten the world of Fódlan, and it’s up to you (and your students) to make sure Fódlan’s inhabitants stay safe.
Fire Emblem’s tactical battles have returned, and there’s been plenty of quality of life changes that make the game less daunting for newer players, while still retaining some of the challenge of the former titles. It’s also got really good music, and a ton of replayability.
The Outer Worlds
Played on PC. Released in 2019.
Imagine a world run by corporations. Like reality, yes — but worse. Imagine corporations had a say about everything. That’s this game. In the Halcyon cluster, the corporate Board calls the shots.
You were actually frozen and put on a colony ship, but only now, many years later, you’ve been thawed by a scientist who’s wanted all over the cluster. You arrive on the ground of Terra II, and before you know it, you’ll have a ship at your disposal, and you’re ready to pursue your destiny (whatever that may be) out there in The Outer Worlds.
I honestly believe that Obsidian has some of the most talented writers in the video game business working for them — or at least that’s what it seems like.
Many have compared The Outer Worlds to Fallout, and it’s understandable why: Obsidian was responsible for the widely acclaimed Fallout: New Vegas, which I consider to have some of the best story in its genre.
This RPG is not quite as big as a Fallout game is, but it is more focused in some of its systems. What truly stands out here is the writing of all the characters, especially so your companions. I think in other aspects this game is quite basic, but I’m putting this as pick #2 this year because of the writing.
Persona 4 Golden
Played on PlayStation Vita. Released in 2013.
What would a top three on this website be without at least the mention of a Persona game? This year, I tackled the missing link after having played Persona 3 and Persona 5 earlier. That’s right — I finally tackled Persona 4 Golden on the PS Vita.
In this game, your protagonist — Yu Narukami — has just moved to a rural town when all of a sudden, people start getting murdered in this otherwise quiet and rustic place. You’ll make friends along the way, and while doing so, you’ll form an investigative team. The protagonist and his friends are determined to get to the bottom of the murders — after they get access to their Personas, and confront their real selves, of course.
There’s a strong cast present, and the soundtrack is top notch as usual. If you enjoyed Persona 3, you’ll enjoy this one. You’ll clearly notice how many elements of the previous game were polished and improved. This is the definitive version of the game, being an enhanced version of the original, which released on the PS2.
I don’t have many negative things to say about this game. My only qualm is that it is only available on the PlayStation Vita or PlayStation TV. It’s a shame you can’t play this on the PS4. Lots of people are missing out.
(But hey, go play Persona 5 if you haven’t given the series a shot yet. It’s not expensive; or you can wait for Persona 5: Royal, which releases at the end of March next year. Your call. It’s a better game than this year’s Pokémon, that’s for sure — and both are JRPGs.)
The Witcher: Enhanced Edition
Played on PC. Released in 2008.
If this was a top four, this would be number four.
The Witcher — the first one. I was wondering whether to play all of the games or just the last one; I eventually decided to just jump into the game, and I only started at the end of November. This game really gave me a Dragon Age: Origins vibes in terms of tech, which is no surprise since this game uses BioWare’s engine, in fact.
You’re Geralt of Rivia, a witcher — a hunter of monsters, really. You’re one of the last few witchers, and after barely surviving a near-death situation, your protagonist suffers from amnesia. This means the game can ease you into the setting, without making Geralt too strong initially. The keep where the witchers train, Kaer Morhen, is suddenly attacked by a group called Salamandra. They’ve also stolen important Witcher secrets! It’s up to you to bring the people behind this group to justice — while also dealing with monster threats along the way. As you’ll find out throughout the game, it isn’t just the beasts, it’s also people who can be monsters…
There are various elements of the game that I did really like — the atmosphere, the music, the preparation required before certain battles, some of the quests, and such. I did not like some of the fetch quests, but that’s a given for me. I also like that the game was neatly divided by multiple chapters; including a prologue, five chapters, and an epilogue.
In the end, this is a wonderful start to the trilogy, and while dated, I still enjoyed it quite a lot. I’ve moved on to the second game now, and expect to start The Witcher 3 during the first few months of 2020.
Played on Nintendo Switch. Released in 2018.
It’s kind of hard to describe GRIS, other than as a platformer, but that does the game a bit of a disservice, in my opinion. It’s as much as piece of art as it is a game. With an absolutely gorgeous art style, a delightful soundtrack and thought-provoking gameplay, this game is more of an experience than most other games I’ve played this year.
VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender
Played on Nintendo Switch. Released in 2016.
In VA-11 HALL-A (or VALHALLA) you’re taking on the role of a bartender in the cyberpunk future of 2069. This is an enjoyable visual novel that handles various futuristic themes (nano-machines, human-cat hybrids and talking corgis included!) and makes you the helpful listener in Glitch City’s special bar. As the bartender, it’s up to you to serve drinks — and change lives. Oh, and this game has a killer soundtrack. You get to pick which songs you’d like to play on the jukebox while you’re bartending, so you can pick your favourites.
Played on PC. Released in 2019.
Apex Legends was a bit of a surprise. Early in the year, it released out of nowhere, and as a competitor to Fortnite — it’s a battle royale game in squads with 3 members each. This free-to-play game did receive a lot of accolades for its innovations (like the ping system), and I played it extensively with friends during its first few weeks. After that, I did move on — which is why this isn’t in the top 3.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Played on PC. Released in 2017.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a sequel to one of my favourite shooters of the past few years. Its predecessor, Wolfenstein: The New Order provided a vision of an alternate universe where the nazis won World War 2 and you are a member of the resistance. The sequel moves the setting to the Nazi-occupied America. It’s a continuation of a great story — I did feel it wasn’t as strong as its predecessor, which is why this is only an honourable mention.
There’s a few games I still haven’t played that I wanted to play this year. I also wasn’t able to play Forza Horizon 4 or Assassin’s Creed Origins, both of which I wanted to get to this year. That being said, I’m just happy I was finally able to start my run of The Witcher trilogy — and even complete the first game.
Next year is absolutely stacked with various major titles, with titles like The Last of Us II, the Final Fantasy VII remake, and — let’s not forget — Cyberpunk 2077. I look forward what 2020 will bring to the world of video games.