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NeoGAF Game of the Year 2019 |OT| Voting thread (mobile friendly) [Up: CLOSED]

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Got my votes in.

RE2Remake is my game of the year, I was really impressed with the game. The original Remake is one of my favourite games and I'd be lying if I said I didn't sigh upon hearing they were making RE2R. I didnt think that Capcom had the potential to make the game as well as they did. Capcom really went up in my estimations this year and it seems as though they may have hit a hot streak in terms of the quality of their recent releases.


We ain't outta here in ten minutes, we won't need no rocket to fly through space
Thanks cormack. Superliminal is missing and deserves a listing.

Between a handful of very cool games it's actually been a pretty weak year - says the man who spent the back end of it playing the remake of a 2004 MMO.


Voted. DMC5 is my GOTY (of the gen even) by a long shot and that's saying a lot considering how much I adore RE2 and Iceborne .


Gold Member
Thanks cormack. Superliminal is missing and deserves a listing.

Between a handful of very cool games it's actually been a pretty weak year - says the man who spent the back end of it playing the remake of a 2004 MMO.

Added - give it an hour to refresh :)


Damn... I wanted to vote for Sekiro but you need to vote for 3 games and I seriously couldn't find ANY other game I liked this year from that entire list :messenger_sad_relieved: Dead year for me.
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Devil May Cry 5
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

Was a pretty down year in games this year.


Gold Member
Why was FFXIV: Shadowbringers excluded from the best RPG listing and WoW Classic was added?

Honestly it just pulls from the data load with the catalogued genre. I can add it if you want? Or just change your cote backend in the tables if you tell me a few items you voted for?
The tag cloud instead quotes is a very cool idea. I hadn't thought of making a goty list, but that makes me want to contribute. Doing it now.


Voted !
The form is a great way of voting.

Tons of good games last year.

The harder question was the game I am waiting the most in 2020.
Too much great games are coming!


Death Stranding is my round of the year, The Death Stranding is one of my preferred games. It truly went up in my estimations as far as the nature of their ongoing discharges.


The Tribe Has Spoken
Have the results been published yet? I remember a year or two ago the results were published in a new thread and I completely missed it for weeks.

When a new thread is made, can someone please post a link in this thread in case anyone misses it? Thanks.


Days Gone
A Plague Tale: Innocence
Crash Team Racing

Damn you making me choose between Last of Us: Part 2 and Deadly Premonition 2 😭😭
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1. The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt Complete Edition
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Main Campaign)
3. Resident Evil 2 Remake
4. Dragon Quest XI S
5. Fire Emblem Three Houses

Honorable mentions are Star Wars Fallen Jedi, Borderlands 3, Nioh, Mario Odyssey, Pokemon Let's Go Eevee and Mario Mansion 3 in no particular order.
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Judd Nelson

Neo Member
  1. Death Stranding - Kojima's masterpiece. It starts slow, but after a short while it's getting really good.
  2. Days Gone -
  3. Knights and Bikes -


>Resident Evil 2 isn't in best action/adventure game



My top 3 were

1) A Plague Tale: Innocence.
2) Days Gone
3) Resident Evil 2 Remake

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In order:

Devil May Cry 5
Days Gone
Gears 5

Sekiro at top was somewhat of a surprise to me because I quit the game after sinking 23 hrs into it and running into the wall called Genichiro. Manned up, restarted a few weeks back and 30 hours later have now made it up to the Owl fight. The game is so much more manageable when you actually play it the way From wants you to play it. Still think the homing air attacks are bullshit and the camera does get wonky in tight areas. DMC5 easily has better combat but as a whole package, Sekiro is much better.
Well 2019 was pretty good. Not as strong as some of the amazing years we've had recently, but that's fine, the hardware generation is winding down. I had a great time playing old games if I'm honest, Xenoblade Chronicles X being my favourite game this year. But I also replayed Diablo 1 on GoG, and I replayed Divinity OS1 yet again, for a change of pace from constantly replaying Divinity OS2. And I played even more Dark Souls because that's what I do. But let's get on with the list. I'll try and restrain myself from writing any Isabelle x Solid Snake fan fiction this time around but I can't make any promises.

1. Sekiro Shadows Die Twice - [PS4] Well, I went and did it again. Every year I give game of the year to the "Soulsborne supremacy." I gush over whatever Fromsoft masterpiece happened to come out that year and declare it to be GotY, bing-bang-boom. It's a really easy decision because they...usually make the best game each year and I guess 2019 is no exception, or I wouldn't be writing this paragraph. But when I played (and enjoyed) Sekiro early on in 2019 I came away thinking I would probably be giving the GotY to some other game I would end up playing later on, like Outer Worlds or Fire Emblem. I know, I know... Blasphemy. But let me take a moment to explain why.

I'm a soul man. Each night I lay down in the bed of chaos, and wake up with a praise the sun gesture before downing my morning estus. I go about my business collecting pyromancy tomes or whatever, listening to the cryptic dialogue of the various spooky npcs in my vicinity. "My final warning... What could that mean?" I ponder, as I walk past a bunch of cool gothic stuff that was probably copied from Beserk, and so on. The point I'm getting at is that I'm really into souls. Souls is love. Souls is life. So a few out there who are just as hollow as me will appreciate what I'm about to say, and a lot who like souls but don't quite live it probably won't, but I'll just say it anyways: The multiplayer is the soul of souls.

Whether it's helping newbs out in an epic boss fight, hanging out with your bros as you put together an interesting new build, or straight up invading and murderizing others in pvp, the multiplayer of souls keeps the games engrossing and exciting for years after you've fought every enemy and found every secret. And that's how it's always been since Demon's Souls - that game opens with an epic cutscene full of knights and dragons and skellingtons, but which also shows phantoms of players entering one another's worlds to team up against the demonic hordes. I've embraced the unique multiplayer experience that only these Fromsoft style titles can provide and been rewarded with games where there's never a dull moment. I can still remember the giddy terror I felt the first time I got invaded in Demon's Souls 10 years ago like it was yesterday!

So when word of this cool Fromsoft ninja game emerged, my initial excitement quickly gave way to disappointment over the absence of invading or summoning. A game with souls quality combat and level design is always a pleasure, but if I can neither protec nor attac the other people playing the game, I can replay it a few times to try different strats and see different endings I guess, but the fun stops there. There's just no getting around that my entertainment dollar value can't reach the levels of games like Dark Souls III or Bloodborne because Sekiro has no multiplayer.

Nor should it, as it happens. Multiplayer in Sekiro could never work. The game has stealth gameplay, a grappling hook arm, skill trees and complex combat mechanics even less suited to internet latency than parrying and backstabs. When you fight an opponent in Sekiro, you're often performing numerous parries, or deflections as they're called, one after another, trying to match the varying rhythms of their incoming strikes. It's thrilling and intense, and the exhilaration you feel as you turn back each wound-up whirl or blazing fast thrust of their blade is what Sekiro is all about. Every one of these perfect parries rewards you with another flash of orange sparks and the resonating clang of steel repelling steel, culminating in the moment when you overwhelm your enemy and break their posture before you brutally execute them. It's game-of-the-year caliber combat that will have you enthralled.

And yet the combat isn't carrying this game all on its own. While that is indeed what sets Sekiro apart, the other great stuff Fromsoft is famous for is all here. This is a game set in a magical version of medieval Japan, with amazing level design showcasing glorious castles, run-down temples, snowy valleys and mystical villages. You'll be swept away by this combination of the historical and fantastical, and probing deeper will reward you with secrets, treasure, or just the pleasure of seeing the attention to detail From puts into every little thing. The npcs are really well designed. Intriguing and mysterious, they all have their goals and secrets that are often hinted at or implied in the usual From style, instead of being told plainly. To complete their arcs, you'll sometimes have to read the meaning behind their words or investigate the surrounding area for clues. Or you could go ahead and spy on their conversations, just like a real ninja would do many hundreds of years ago. All this adds up to an immersive world populated by great characters, along with enemy and boss designs that are sure to impress.

Forget bionic commando, I'm a bionic shinobi!

But Sekiro is not for the faint of heart. People like to say the Fromsoft souls style games are hard and I think they tend to exaggerate. I feel like a bit more precaution and careful observation goes a long way in reducing the woes many experience when they struggle through Fromsoft's games. What's more: many of the skills you learn in Dark Souls mostly transfer over to Bloodborne and vice versa. This is not the case in Sekiro. While the underlying mechanics are basically identical, once elements like the posture system are added, you're actually left wanting to "unlearn" the habits you've built playing souls, throwing caution to the wind and adapting to your enemy's rhythm and moveset up close and personal as the sparks fly. It's a game that demands much from the player, including ninja level reflexes and the willpower to stare death in the face without flinching as you wait for just the right moment. But when you do exactly that, and see the look of shock on a boss's face as you STOMP his lightning-fast lunge into the ground with a perfectly timed Mikiri Counter, it's incredibly satisfying.

Sekiro is hard all right, and it also gave me my biggest scare in a game for most of the year, until I played the RE2 Remake. After a grueling battle against a giant ape boss who pewped in his hands and threw it at me, I felt immensely relieved after cutting off his head in a victory animation, giving me a sense of accomplishment and finality that made me relax completely. A few seconds later, Bubbles got up off the ground, picked up his head in one hand and a sword in the other, and started lurching towards me all weird and zombie-like, slashing away with the sword. I believe I said something along the lines of "get fucked" as I ran hard in the other direction, terrified.

I want to congratulate From. They've made another amazing game that I think is the best game of the year, AGAIN. But it's the least enjoyment I've squeezed out of any of the soulsborne style games, except of course for Namco Bandai's torch lighting simulator. As incredibly stylish and cool as Sekiro's world is, as straight up epic as it is to hear steel clang loudly against steel over and over as you deflect your enemy's relentless onslaught of attacks... I just can't love it the way I do Souls and Bloodborne. But hey - that's fine. Sekiro is Sekiro. And for guys like me, Elden Ring is right around the corner.

2. Fire Emblem Three Houses - [Switch] I've loved Fire Emblem since the gba games, so I was super pumped for our first Fire Emblem on a home console since 2007. But I've had some growing concerns, since things have been getting very character focused and fan-servicey in recent games ever since Awakening was a smash hit. I enjoy a bit of fan service but I've also felt like Fire Emblem was starting to lose its way, and it might be good to go back to a simpler, more traditional Fire Emblem in the classic style. Well, too bad. It's just like you've heard: Three Houses merges Fire Emblem combat with a Persona style life simulator at a Harry Potter style school for learning magic and what have you.

So everything is ruined and the game is awful now that the strategy gameplay has taken a backseat to having tea parties with cliche anime characters, right? Right? .....well....thing is....The characters are really, really well done you guys. Like, really well done. They don't look like much to start with, but each of them is an individual with their own personal story to unravel, funny or interesting traits, and well written dialogue. Even characters you hate are well crafted versions of someone you hate, rather than some half-assed character with no impact. You will love these characters, and if you doubt it, just take a look at the insane meme culture that has sprung up around this game. People are absolutely infatuated with the cast of Three Houses. My house, the Black Eagles, had the comically evil schemer Hubert, a traumatized hikikomori in Bernadetta, and a motivationally challenged nap-time loving genius in Linhardt, just to name a few.

Just what are we even doing anymore, Fire Emblem?

As for the actual strategy gameplay: it's totally awesome. I've only played through once on hard difficulty, classic mode so far, as I'm waiting for all the DLC before I play through the other routes, but it's been a blast. Many tweaks and additions have been made that make everything feel fresh while the combat still feels like good old Fire Emblem at its core. I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of huge boss monsters that require multiple characters working together to take down. Couple the engrossing combat with the upgrading and re-classing you can do with these characters you so adore, and you've got one of those games where you plan to go to bed after doing 1 more mission and next thing you know you've done 3 missions and you look up and it's 3am. Some people have complained that the game is too easy, but I thought it was fine on hard mode classic, and there is now a "maddening" difficulty setting you can try as well. Just know that the epic final missions greatly increase the challenge and will really test you. On that subject, if a mission doesn't tell you a turn limit, that means the turn limit is 100 turns! I found out the hard way as I struggled through the game's ultimate mission, having to make a mad dash for the final boss when I got a '10 turns left' warning, barely edging out the victory at the last possible moment.

With these fun characters and such great gameplay this is all sounding like a game of the year contender. Add to that what can only be described as incredible music and Three Houses is looking very strong indeed. But it has flaws holding it back. The visuals for one, are not that impressive. More importantly though, there's a problem with Three Houses that greatly hurt my enjoyment. I guess we'll call it an issue with story tone. To explain, I will have to go into spoilers for my team, Edelgard and the Black Eagle Strike Force. Or as I came to know them, Evilgard and the Black Asshole Strike Fascists.

The early part of the game sees you teaching all the students about warfare under the supervision of the church, and pits you against an obviously evil crew of spooky necro-bros, but the late game sees you serve the political interests of your chosen house leader. Edelgard's dream is to build a crestless meritocracy. What's a crest? Royal Descendants of legendary heroes of ancient yore can bear a sort of birthmark tattoo that gives them combat bonuses and the ability to wield holy super weapons. But this also can turn them into political pawns of the church and lead to them being assassinated or creepily experimented on, and Edelgard is herself a victim of such torture at the hands of an evil duke from her empire. She has been hardened by her traumatic past, and subsequently her goal is to bring down the entire structure of society and establish her own regime where she replaces lords and the church with a crestless meritocracy. So I guess a kind of capitalist system that values ability and performance over birthright. I can see some obvious problems, like in a meritocracy, won't the people born with crests still be advantaged and outperform others because of their innate abilities, so evildoers would still experiment on little kids with crests for power? But overall, her goal and her motivation are understandable. So how do you go about fulfilling her vision?

Spoilers spoilers spoilers you kill everyone. Two whole thirds of the charming kids you know from school die brutally by your hand, and you watch the light fade from their eyes and hear their heart wrenching final words of regret as sad music plays in the background. Uhh, okay? These are nice people who just don't agree with you, many of them your friends, some of them even remarkably virtuous, but there's no negotiation or compromise, and no mercy. If you dare to oppose Edelgard's utopian vision of overthrowing the church and installing a crestless meritocracy, yousa gonna die.

At this point, I'm super bothered but I'm still on board. This has become like a very mature story with some heavy shit, but if you do everything right and pull it off, it'll be really bold and impressive. But they don't. For this to work, The Black Eagles would have to be a kind of "Slytherin" house with more people like Hubert, a ruthless, ambitious killer. Basically the game would need to acknowledge that what you're doing is bad and what that must make you. Instead, when you're not murdering your pals from school, you're the happy super best friends club, still having tea parties, cooking meals together and maxing out your support levels with funny or tender moments between your quirky, charming house members. The tone is all wrong. It's as if conquering the world in a sea of blood is just another different but equally valid perspective. Although I've yet to play the game from the other house's perspectives, I imagine I still have to kill all my friends in those as well. I'm hoping in self-defense at least?

Now I get that Rhea, the leader of the church, is evil and she's done some nasty stuff. It's not foreshadowed especially well, but once Edelgard starts invading and killing everyone, Rhea suddenly becomes cartoonishly over-the-top evil, as if she was trying to out-evil Edelgard so Edelgard can look good in comparison. But Rhea being evil too doesn't erase what Edelgard has done to those school kids. And the world was more or less peaceful and orderly under Rhea's system... am I supposed to trust Edelgard will do better than the current status quo? Her plan doesn't even seem that thought out! After she abolishes the current royalty system, people born with crests are still going to perform above regular people in a merit-based system, the same way intelligent or athletic people out-perform average people. What's she gonna do then? Kill everyone with a crest to make everything "fair?" There's no reason to believe she wouldn't go that far, after what she's already done. Even...the little babies with crests? And you yourself bear a crest, Edelgard von Hresvelg. Are you gonna off yourself to make a perfect society? Funny how uncompromising totalitarians never think their rules should ever be applied to them. I know Rhea is evil because I saw her turn into a giant dragon monster. But in a way, I saw Edelgard turn into a tyrannical dragon too, if only figuratively. Edelgard is just the new Rhea. People with different ideas and beliefs to you are always gonna exist. It isn't her vision of a crestless meritocracy that makes Edelgard evil, it's what she's willing to do to achieve it. To Dimitri and Annette and Leonie and Ignatz and Mercedes and everyone else.

Don't worry Petra. Sensei will teach you the language of love.

So yeah....Great game! I wish the tone of Edelgard's arc was more suited to the weight of its events. Or, you know, that she didn't kill everybody. Maybe Nintendo needs to go back to stories with blue haired sword guys fighting necromancers and demons for a while. Or maybe I'm the one that needs to chill. What do I care if the world's burning when my ESL assassin waifu babe Petra is bringing all dat juicy thiccness to our afternoon tea parties?

3. Astral Chain - [Switch] If "Platinum action game starring anime future cops" sounds like a home run, that's because it is. If that doesn't sell you right away, you may not be aware just how much Platinum continues to perfect their patented pure platinum player experience, and how much they've improved at enhancing that experience with additional gameplay types and other things that compliment their much praised battle mechanics.

The hectic combat gameplay is top tier. All that good stuff Platinum is known for is there, like a "witch time" style mechanic where a perfect dodge buys you a moment of slow-mo to do a cool countermove. Remember all the slicing stuff from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance? That's here too, plus a bunch of other crazy mechanics. But the latest addition is really cool. You control your legion, a monster buddy, by moving him around using a chain. An Astral chain, if you will. With this chain you aim your legion's attacks, wrap up enemies and trap them, and even catch charging enemies by stretching it out, so you can throw them on their ass. It feels great and adds a memorable signature mechanic to Astral Chain, which is welcome, even if the plethora of combat options available to you in the game is already somewhat dizzying even without it.

Beyond the core action gameplay, there is a surprising amount of game here to sink your teeth into. This is not a case of great action and half-assed filler in-between to stretch the length of the game out. Platinum have put in a lot of effort to build a cool future anime world, complete with Japanese flavoured cyberpunk cityscapes and run-down residential areas. And you're a cop, so you gotta solve crimes in this cool bladerunner-like setting. Since this is a video game, you know what that means: using your tech to generate holograms that recreate crimes so you can hunt for clues. While lots of games do some version of this, I felt like it worked pretty well here. It might just be done better, or it could also be that when you have such strong foundational battle set pieces as the core of your gameplay, supplementing that with a variety of detective clue hunting stuff doesn't feel like you're scrambling to give the player something worthwhile to do, it just feels like a nice change of pace. They're letting things cool down so they can build up to the next epileptic seizure inducing display of lasers and explosions properly.

And there's gameplay variety even in your detective work. You'll track scents with your dog-legion, take notes to compare with other detectives as you try to crack cases together, chase down perps doing a runner so you can wrap them up in your chain, and so on. All of this 'beat cop' stuff in these cyberpunk alleyways is set to cool music that's super chill and moody, while the music that scores your battles is blood-pumping and intense. Outside of the cop stuff, Astral chain also has puzzles, minigames, achievements with rewards, costumes to unlock, stealth sections, a photo index, you name it. You can even build a shelter for the cats you find during your adventures in a dusty high-rise apartment building, and just hang out with them there listening to emo beats while you stare off into what might be the last sunset ever in this post-apocalyptic dystopia because we anime now, baby!

The game really is anime tho. I mean that in both the good and the bad way, and mostly the good but there's no denying the main plot is the usual end-of-the-world-anime fare, with every scientist and guy in a suit double crossing everybody and transforming themselves into bigger and bigger monsters because something something Evangelion. If that doesn't deter you, go for it. Like I said, it's anime in a good way too, so you'll be treated to insane battle cutscenes, goofy labrador police dog mascots and tsundere vending machines. Platinum gets an S+ from me with this one.

4. The Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening - [Switch] I just don't have it in me to be objective or reasonable about this game. Link's Awakening on the Gameboy in 1993 was my first Zelda. And unless your first Zelda was the Wand of friggin' Gamelon you know what that means: it's a cherished memory that's stuck with me all these years because it showed me just how amazing games could be. I was a particularly lucky boy, to have such a great Zelda game as my first, and I can easily recall memories of being stuck wandering around for ages before being thrilled when I finally figured out a puzzle that opened new paths, or playing in bed late at night with a torch to illuminate the Gameboy's dim screen. One has not yet lived until they've pushed a block into just the right place to be rewarded with that famous Zelda chime.

If you weren't as fortunate as me, I'll explain: Link's Awakening was a Gameboy game that is somewhat similar to A Link to the Past on the Super Nintendo. It's a story where Link gets shipwrecked on the mysterious Koholint island and must figure out how to wake the mythical wind fish if he wants to escape. But therein lies the conundrum. Spoiler alert and all that, but throughout your journey it gradually becomes apparent that the island, and everyone on it are all the windfish's dream. So once you wake him, yeah you can return to your world, but everyone you've met along the way will cease to exist. Sweet little Marin singing her songs in the village. Those crazy kids playing catch that give you tips. Your pal the owl. All the friends you've made will become nothing more than a sweet memory of someone who never even existed in the first place. There was an extra layer of meta stuff going on here for me as a boy, because I never wanted the game to end. I was completely enchanted by my first Zelda, and as it became clear I was nearing the final dungeon, I would stall the experience by wandering off collecting seashells and rupees and the like. I guess your first Zelda being akin to a sweet dream that has to end at some point is an apt comparison.

The "claymation" art style is a great choice. There's something so quintessential about the original's iconic sprites, their perfect pixels convey so much so purely, but if the game is to be updated, this cute, cartoony style suits Link's Awakening well. After all, it's a game that doesn't take itself too seriously - you walk Chain Chomp from Mario around like a doggy on a leash, and learn to play the mambo from a fish. Most amusing of all for me was the moment you convince the female lead, Marin, to accompany you. Every treasure or weapon Link finds he hoists above his head in a moment of thrilling discovery. "You got the Hook Shot! You got the Boomerang!" Well, when Marin decides to journey with you to Animal Village, Link holds her up to the heavens in the exact same way as that triumphant jingle plays, and then the classic Zelda overworld theme kicks in. "You got Marin! Is this your big chance?" It's a moment that delighted me with how silly it was when I was a kid, and it made me smile ear to ear this time around too.

I smiled a lot playing this remake. It's really well done. But no game can recapture the magic of your first Zelda. The first time you spend hours lost in a dungeon before finding some cool new weapon that changes everything. The first time you volley a boss's energy blasts back and forth with him in a high stakes tennis deathmatch. The first time you find yourself trapped in a room and notice one of the torches isn't lit and decide to try igniting it...You'll do these kinds of things in future Zeldas, they'll be fun, but it can never be like that first time. At some point, we all gotta wake the windfish. And then there you are, in the middle of the ocean, free to move in any direction except backwards. You have to let the island, and the past, go. This saltiness...Is it the seawater, or am I choking back tears?

I won't, Marin. Never, ever, ever...I promise.

5. Resident Evil 2 Remake - [PS4] Hearing the high praise the resi 2 remake was getting, and seeing how great it looked in videos, I picked up a copy, waited until dark, and settled in to enjoy some zombie killing action with muh boi Leon. There's only one thing I forgot: I don't like survival horror! Whoops. I guess because I kept hearing how updated it was, and since it starred Leon, who makes me think of Resi 4, an action horror game, my dumb brain just didn't click that obviously this was still a survival horror game. I respect that the original Resi 2 is regarded as a masterpiece, But I'm just not a survival horror guy. When I tried to play RE2 back in the day, I dropped it after a few hours because I just can't enjoy the "2 bullets, 5 enemies" situations survival horror games put you in. And tank controls are the worst!

Well, tank controls are gone, baby. We 21st century now. In the remake, You can both move and aim your gun with reasonable efficiency. But that doesn't translate into you being a badass killing machine. These reanimated raccoon residents lurch and bob and sway so bizarrely that even if your aim is true, they can suddenly dodge your shots like a drunken master. It's a great way for Capcom to recapture that old feeling of being overwhelmed by zombies without making it seem like the controls are to blame for the frustration you're feeling. Once I wasted enough bullets and finally excepted that I'm just not going to be able to kill everyone, I settled for a good maiming. The zombies in this game can have their arms and legs blown off, and at that point is it really worth the precious bullets needed to finish them off? It's better to backtrack through the copshop and be greeted by the same zombie for the 4th time, eagerly challenging you to a duel despite having no limbs, as if he was the Black Knight from Monty Python. Again, survival horror is not my type of gameplay. I'm the type of guy who "enjoyed" The Last of Us the way one might "enjoy" Schindler's List, not for the gameplay but as a kind of important story, but even I can see how well executed the survival horror gameplay is here. And everything else is executed brilliantly too.

"I used to be a cop myself...only for a day though." "And I thought I was bad."

The visuals and atmosphere of this game need to be praised. Everything is so tight. Leon and Claire don't just look cool, they look exactly like the kind of young American kids you see star in horror movies. The old art gallery turned police station has all the charm and character of a historic building. The dim torchlight as you walk through its gloomy corridors is just right. The rain on the windows is just right. So many little things feel just right. Even stuff like how, when you turn the combination lock on a safe, the little lines don't quite sync up exactly, just like in real life. And what about the old car key that's been bent beyond use, but its button can still open the boot of the cop car? That's a lot of lore and character to pack into a mere key! This is a game where keys feel valuable and important again, and that's something you can rarely say. Such polish, such attention to detail in every little thing, even safe locks and car keys, adds together to make not some disaster remaster, but rather to unlock the master of remakes. You'll understand what I mean when a zombie you already wasted too many bullets on stands up for the 3rd time and you're like "fuck!" and then Leon says "fuck!" in the exact same tone you did.

Marvin Branagh: Employee of the Month

The game also gets credit for my biggest scare of the year. Right when I started to feel comfortable handling zombies, this buff monster-man called Mr. X showed up and ruined everything. He's basically a terminator. He patrols the police station relentlessly hunting you, and he can't be killed, only slowed down. I was having trouble dealing with him so I shamelessly looked up a guide about him and skimmed through it. It said he won't follow you into certain rooms like save rooms with typewriters. I tested this out and sure enough, when I went into a save room he resumed patrolling and left me be. So later when I made it back to the main hall of the police station, I was chilling there planning my next move. The main hall is a hub room connecting all of the rooms and it has a typewriter at its front desk, which made me feel safe. Then as I was casually heading for a door Mr. X came out of it and got right up in my face, chasing me through the main hall. I was messed up. My brain had locked in the rule that typewriter = safe, I'd come to trust that rule and now that it was proven false I didn't know what to think about anything anymore! I guess the main hall is an exception because it's a large hub room, but I freaked out and maintained reasonably high stress levels for the rest of the game, thinking that Mr. X could show up anywhere. Mr. X really is brilliantly implemented in this game, by which I mean I hate him and he makes me never want to play another survival horror game because he's so scary.

As excellent as this game is, there are plenty of criticisms I could make. I won't go into most of them because it would just be a guy who's not into survival horror complaining about survival horror being survival horror. But I will say that I wish Leon and Claire's scenarios were a little more different. As it is, they are different enough for it to be worth playing through both, but not by much. In my perfect version of this game, Leon and Claire's 2 scenarios would each have more unique content, and fit together as 2 separate but interwoven stories that add up to tell the whole tale of what happened in Racoon City that night. As it stands, when you play as one character you kind of have to erase what you did while you were playing as the other character, and relegate them to a supporting role in your story instead.

Everything about this game is just so frikkin cool

But putting that aside, What Capcom have done here is nothing short of amazing. And while they're all systems go remaking Resi 3, I'm looking past that and licking my chops anticipating the amount love and care that went into this remake being put into a "REm4ke" of my beloved Resident Evil 4. Can't. wait.

6. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age - [Switch] To me, Final Fantasy XII feels like the last real final fantasy game. That might be a controversial statement, because the battle system is unlike classic FF games, or people might feel like I'm saying the MMOs are bad games when I say that. That's not what I mean. I'm just saying this the last of the grandiose, single player mega-adventures that is character and narrative focused yet also feels like you have the freedom to just drop everything and run off to explore the huge, enchanting world you find yourself in, building your characters how you please as you enjoy addictive combat. That used to be what Square was known for when they were the jrpg masters: making the best looking, best sounding games, wowing you with all the careful little details, but then somehow also making the biggest games, too. I'm not saying every FF game up to this point had a great story or allowed character customization, just that they all ticked boxes next to enough of these "square-isms" to feel like they were part of this once momentous franchise.

But that's all ancient history now. Final Fantasy is dead, killed by Square's own hand. And the murder weapon appears to be an actual entry in the franchise: FFXIII. Ironic, really. Or maybe not. But it's certainly ironic if you expand your definition of irony to encompass Alanis Morissette's oft contested observations.

FFXIII, I will admit, reached the high standard of what you would expect from the first HD final fantasy game in terms of visuals and music, which were polished until they sparkled. Those weird monster redesigns were just amazing. The battle system, while certainly not good, was passable enough that if they really nailed all the other stuff that Final Fantasy had been known for up to that point, the game could still be remembered fondly as having carried on the FF legacy. Spoiler alert: they didn't. Story and characters were so appallingly cringe that they defied human comprehension, and the levelling system was a prettier version of the shallow sphere grid that tried to mask how linear FFX's levelling system was. Exploring an amazing world? Ha! More like rotting in a gilded cage, as there was no exploration at all until late in the game, after you had already been driven to the brink of insanity by the suffocating company of detestable d-bags like Vanille, Hope and Snow.

As far as story and characters, FFXII contrasts with FFXIII quite starkly. While FXIII has a complicated and confusing story delivered through excruciatingly dumb dialogue, FFXII has a relatively straightforward story of war and politics delivered with dialogue that might actually be excruciatingly smart. Highborn British Intellectuals called the Archadian Empire have conquered your kingdom and are establishing their dominance. Every conversation they have is so posh it almost sounds like they're rehearsing a Shakespeare play. I remember players complained that the story was boring back then, but I liked it just fine at the time and I love it now. Since this wasn't localized current year, there's no hidden agenda of exaggerating or downplaying the results of British imperialism, or holding them to different standards than any other conquerors. Instead, while your party is running around on adventures, we get to see a fair bit from the perspective of these limey antagonists, like their internal power struggles, their own moral codes and their different factions that want to help or hurt your people. These are the kind of adversaries who have no problem conquering and ruling over you, but they're completely aghast that they forgot to offer you tea when their guards brought you before them...great villans. And all their exposition is spoken right over your head in fancy pants highborn English. To go from this to Numa's "Moms are tough" cringe moment in FFXIII is like flicking channels from Frasier to Here comes Honey Boo Boo.

A Final Fantasy game where I don't hate all the characters? What is this, 2006?

And I'm happy to report I don't hate any of the 6 playable characters in FFXII. The wittiness and sarcasm of Balthier is greatly appreciated, and Basch is the admirable portrait of a stoic warrior. Even Vaan I can understand now. In the PS2 days I viewed him as an annoying weiner, but now I see what Square was going for: he's just a kid, trying to figure things out, but his youngness and dumbness gets in the way. Compared to Hope he seems like an absolute mad lad. So yeah, story and characters are good, but how does it actually feel, playing the "final" final fantasy, 13 years after it came out?

It feels awesome. Visually, I'm delighted, but your mileage may vary. It's like Seeing the pinnacle of what could be squeezed out of the PS2 on an emulator with a high-res texture pack. That's fascinating to me, but I also really feel like the master artistry of Square's finest people is shining through the limitations imposed by that ancient hardware. There are some lovely spell or reflection effects that are gorgeous in any context and extra impressive when you think "man, they really did that on the PS2?" The audio is bliss too. FFXII is remembered as having one of the weaker FF soundtracks. Yeah, that's true, but that's still setting a pretty high bar. This is still a soundtrack that "can hang" with the amazing soundtracks the series is known for. Certainly, hearing the overworld music energetically soar as you quest your way through Giza Plains is a joy: the song captures the feeling of freedom and exploration I love about the series perfectly.

Pictured: Not Giza Plains

I'm pro-gambit
. By which I don't just mean that I get in a lot of fist fights trying to explain that a certain Cajun ninja who wears a trench coat over purple body armour was actually much cooler in the old comics than he seems if you know him from the cartoon - I also like the gambit system in FFXII. With gambits, you basically program how you want your character to behave in any given situation. You can take over them at a moment's notice when a battle requires more intricate strategy, but until you do your characters run on auto-pilot. The "license board," the ability levelling system of FFXII, is greatly improved in Zodiac age, revamped with more flexibility, allowing you to customize your characters much better with a second board for each of them so they can be dual-class. Truly Excellent. Another thing I'm fond of with FFXII's gameplay is marks. These are superbosses that just wander around the world, and you're free to try your luck with them when you're under-leveled. Figuring out what element or status effect they're weak to and devising a strategy to take them down feels very satisfying and can yield rewards like great loot or cool weapons you otherwise wouldn't find until much later.

If you've never played it, surely now's the time? Think of it as playing a little bit like Xenoblade and tonally feeling a little bit like Star Wars, if the empire from Star Wars were posh, highborn Brits. If you did play it back in 2006, I think it's aged really well. Squeenix have released a great remaster with some very nice gameplay improvements. Best of all, it feels like a Final Fantasy game to me.

7. Luigi's Mansion 3 - [Switch] Despite being a Gamecube aficionado, I never played Luigi's Mansion, but I enjoyed Luigi's Mansion 2 on the 3DS quite a bit. Well, Luigi's Mansion 3 has come along to surpass it in every way. These ghostbusting games are a hybrid of puzzle and action gameplay, with the bulk of your time spent exploring the mansion interacting with objects like furniture or art as you hunt for ghosts, clues, and sweet sweet cash. Maybe Mario is content to chase after mere coins like a chump, but Luigi is all about the colour green. He's stacking dat paper, using his overclocked vacuum cleaner to suck up not just coins and gold bars, but thousands of crisp benjamins as well. Some treasure will be tantalizingly within view, yet confoundingly beyond reach: collectable gems often require more advanced puzzle solving to obtain. It's very rewarding to get a new tool or get a deeper understanding of just how much one of your tools can do, and then go back and claim the treasure that had previously eluded you.

I found the combat more satisfying this time around too. It just feels so great to whip those ghosts around and SLAM them mercilessly into your surroundings, revelling gleefully in the absolutely devastating property destruction that ensues. You're like a demolitionist with a ghost tethered to a vacuum cleaner as your wrecking ball, and when the night is over the mansion will be just a smoking crater. Boss fights add a layer of puzzle solving to these battles, as you must figure out how to remove their armour or otherwise expose them before the inevitable sucking, slamming and bamming.

If there's something Luigi isn't scared of, they didn't put it in this game

You would think they'd be running out of ideas for this ghost stuff by now but it's the opposite - the game is bursting with new takes. You and your ectoplasmic clone, Gooigi will be tussling with a mall cop, go rubber ducky rafting in a sewer and even star in a Godzilla movie! I guess the Switch's stronger hardware opened the developer's minds to more than just new ways to destroy different furniture. And each new area, new boss, new objective, new anything is conveyed though numerous visually pleasing cutscenes. Playing Luigi's Mansion 3 is a bit like watching a Luigi cartoon, and I mean that in a good way. Fun and different.

8. Persona Q2 New Cinema Labyrinth - [3DS] Well 3DS, we had some great times. PQ2 is maybe the final 3DS gem, and it's not a bad way to go out. It's another hybrid of Persona and Etrian Odyssey's turn based combat and Dungeon doodling gameplay, with challenging, strategic boss fights. The story centers around a girl called Hikari, a movie buff who finds meaning and escapism at the cinema. The P3, P4 and P5 crew are all sucked into a magic lobby where each dungeon is the screening of a different genre of movie. These films all reflect some part of what Hikari is dealing with in her life and gradually unfold her tragic tale. For example, a Jurassic Park style dinosaur movie sheds some light on Hikari's school situation, where popular girls have bullied the girls who would otherwise spend time with Hikari into expelling her from their group. These girls think in a "herd" mentality and are as such represented by a herd of herbivorous dinosaurs who live in fear of carnivorous popular girls, acting only to preserve the group at large, suppressing individuality and expression. I found the story a bit more interesting and moving than I was expecting from this type of game, and the night-at-the-movies setup felt fresh and tied everything together well.

The high standard of presentation the Persona games are known for is here: music and cutscenes are great, and even menus have a lot of style and charm. There's plenty of humorous little sketches acted out by the characters in the background while you're in the lobby deciding your next move, like Koromaru chasing Teddy all over the place, Kanji trying to pet Morgana, or Ryuji holding people at gunpoint with Junpei's evoker. As you would expect, the lovable crew of characters you know from the Persona series are a lot of the game's appeal, but there's a few problems with them as well. Just like in Persona Q, these amazing characters may seem a bit more "one note" than you would like. This is an even larger cast than that game had, with everyone including the female main character from P3P in it, so there's really not much "screen time" to go around. I don't want to exaggerate this, but it is noticeable. Think of it this way, these adorable little chibi versions of the Persona crew are cartoon-ier not just in appearance but their personalities are something of a caricature as well. And so now, instead of talking about meat 50% of the time like she normally does, Chie will be talking about meat 80% of the time. You've been warned.

Worse still is that their voices are in Japanese. We're lucky the game was localized at all, but we've known some of these characters by their English voices for more than 10 years! And then there's something I find particularly bothersome: character's in-battle banter is not subbed. so when Yosuke gets hit by an attack, or Akihiko manages a critical hit on a boss, or Joker gets poisoned, whatever they say about it isn't translated. This may seem like a mere quibble to some people, but I feel this kind of banter adds a lot of flavour to these games and helps each party member's personality shine. Assuming you can get past these problems, this is a great little dungeon crawler with the colour, humour and fun that Persona games are known for.

9. Yoshi's Crafted World - [Switch] It should be obvious from my name, but I'm a fan of Mario's dinosaur pal. I played Yoshi's Woolly World in a very chill way, enjoying the scenery at beach levels while dodging woolly crabs, and admiring the design of the world's cutest spiders while I hunted for flowers, ate shy guys, threw eggs at everything, you know... Yoshi stuff. Yoshi's Crafted World is mostly more of the same, but with a different aesthetic. Instead of everything pretty much being made of wool, everything is 'crafted' out of paper, cardboard and various household objects like plastic cups, milk cartons and marbles. I was a bit underwhelmed at first, but as you progress further through the game they really do start to nail this new style, and create some very visually pleasing sets out of various pieces of junk, using the secret ingredient of I guess love.

There's a colourful jungle where shiny blue tinfoil paper provides a cascading waterfall in the background as you attempt to reunite an angry rhino with its adorable calf. There's a forest full of acorn puzzles where you ride on a bus with cutesy paper animal passengers stuck on the side. There are cleverly designed levels based on a haunted house, a Japanese castle, even space. There's also a dark alley themed level where I got what I guess we'll call my third biggest scare of the year from the game as well. I did not expect a pyscho killer clown wielding an axe to come for me at night in this cutesy family friendly game, but I guess I don't expect a lot of things. Not all the game's surprises are so unsettling, though. Right when you're thinking the gameplay needs more variety, they shake things up a bit by having a safari themed shooting level, or a racing level where you drive a plastic bottle car with solar panels on it, trying to stay in the sun so you don't lose power and decelerate. There's also a timer challenge mode where you run through each level backwards collecting super cute poochy pups. This has the added benefit of showing the reverse side of the crafted sets Yoshi runs through, so you can see newspaper articles or product logos on the backs of objects that were painted over the first time you saw them - a nice touch.

10. Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden Deluxe Edition - [Switch] Whatever you do, don't play this game on the Switch. The small Swedish team that made it obviously struggled to port the game, or whoever they hired to port it struggled. Its grass effects look blurrier than Kokiri Forest on the N64 and it crashes more and more frequently as you get closer to the final boss. It's frustrating to watch the Switch struggle to run such a relatively straight forward game after seeing an action packed explosion fest like Astral Chain run so smoothly, but whatever. Just know that this would be best played on the PC where I imagine its developers are more experienced and comfortable. Putting technical failings aside, Mutant Year Zero is a very enjoyable X-Com style game where you control mutated animal monsters trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic setting.

While in many ways the game seems like a straight clone of X-Com, it does have its own character and flair. Your mutants have skill trees that give them cool new abilities as you progress and there is a good sense of humour throughout the adventure. But the main thing that differentiates Mutant Year Zero from the admittedly superior X-Com is an extreme focus on stealth. There are stealth mechanics in X-Com 2 but in Mutant Year Zero, Stealth is kind of the whole point. A successful engagement usually means scouting an enemy encampment and then picking off bad guys patrolling its perimeters as silently as possible, trying to whittle down your opponent's numbers as much as you can before the alarm is sounded and they all come after you. With this game being so like X-Com in so many ways, this twist in the way you approach each encounter gives it a much needed distinction from the strategy masterpiece that is X-Com and helps Mutant Year Zero stand on its own feet.

In summary, if you love X-Com and want more X-Com, and would be willing to play a game that is extremely similar but ultimately inferior as long is does just enough different with its gameplay to form its own identity, Mutant Year Zero is the game for you! But the Switch port of it isn't!

Wow, I somehow finished the list. Some honourable mentions:

x. The Outer Worlds - [PS4] I made the mistake of getting it in my head that this would be just like fallout but with better writing. The writing is better, but not amazing, and all the other fallout stuff like exploration and loot and perks and such is worse than fallout. Lower your expectations, or if you really want Obsidian to give you a game that is just like modern fallout but with better writing, reinstall Fallout: New Vegas.

x. Super Mario Maker 2 - [Switch] I had some fun with this game but ultimately I can't put it in the top 10. I just don't dig other people's levels compared to Nintendo's levels. They tend to be as hard as possible, which I'm over, or they take the tools of Mario and make something that is very unmario-like with them. I respect the creativity of that, but...I love Mario. I want the most Mario-ass levels possible! And the thought of making the huge commitment to try and create such epic levels myself is super intimidating...

x. Tetris 99 - [Switch] An absolutely hectic multiplayer bloodbath that's super addictive. So why aren't I putting it in the top 10 then? Certainly not because I myself could never crack the game's top 10. Absolutely not. I wouldn't be so petty as that.

Well, that's everything. Thanks for reading. If you've made it this far, a winner is you. Enjoy the roaring twenties.

My 2018 Neogaf GotY Voting Thread Post
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Deleted member 17706

Unconfirmed Member
Finally got a chance to get my votes in! Here was my top 10 for the year:

1. Death Stranding

An incredibly unique and fascinating experience throughout. I spent well over 50 hours playing this game and I was totally engrossed the entire time. Kojima and his team proved to me that they don't need the Metal Gear IP to do incredible stuff.

2. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

While I wish it had more RPG elements like the Souls games and that final boss fight definitely left a sour taste in my mouth, I think this is probably one of the best action combat games I've ever played. I loved the world they created and had a great time playing this.

3. Resident Evil 2 Remake

By far the most well-done remake of a game I have ever seen. I loved RE2 when I was a kid and this game completely captured the feel of it while also bringing it up to modern standards in gameplay and visuals. I played through it 4 times and had an absolutely blast the entire time.

4. Days Gone

Open-world The Last of Us. I really enjoyed playing through this game. The story did drag a bit in the latter half, but they created a really immersive open-world with great gameplay and interesting characters. Very memorable experience.

5. A Plague Tale: Innocence

This was a very pleasant surprise. Beautiful visuals and I really enjoyed the gameplay and story. The pacing and how you steadily gained new abilities and were introduced to new gameplay scenarios was really well done.

6. Disco Elysium

While I sort of feel more like I read a novel than played a game at the end of this, the writing was fantastic enough to keep me interested throughout the entire game. Great world-building and characters. I hope we get more games in this setting.

7. Metro Exodus

Initially just booted this up to check out the RTX lighting, but ended up getting engrossed in it after reaching the open world. Great visuals and fun stealth gameplay wrapped in a very interesting setting. Too bad the voice acting really detracted from any emotional impact with the characters.

8. Pokémon Shield

Not the most ambitious title in the series, but I like the changes Game Freak introduced to make the game a lot easier to play and enjoy. I played alongside my son and really had a great time.

9. Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Haven't actually finished this yet, so it may end up being higher, but I'm really enjoying the story and characters. My only complaint is that the battles are a bit long and too easy on the standard difficulty so far.

10. A Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Excellent remake of a classic that I never had a chance to play. Still feels fresh and engaging even in 2020 and the visual style is great (although the frame rate not so much).

Notable games that I want to play but haven't had the chance yet:
  • Control
  • Judgment
  • Astral Chain
  • Gears 5
  • Outer Wilds
  • Luigi's Mansion 3


Got mine in, my top 3 for the year RE2, Ace Combat 7 and Dragon Quest Builders 2. Luigis Mansion is numero 4.
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