Saturday, December 21, 2019

Lyneriaa's Game(s) of The Year 2019

This was, relatively speaking, a good year for video games.

In fact, this is probably the hardest year to choose from what have been the best of the best. So much so that while there is one overall game of the year, I can't not talk about the other kickass games I got to play this year, so there will also be other, let's say, lesser games of the year? They're all good, trust me.

Disclaimer: This list is an opinion, and opinions are subjective. Do you disagree? Good for you! Tell me about your favorites this year.

Devil May Cry 5

Here's a hot take for those interested; DMC5 was the most satisfying conclusion to a recently revitalized series this year. Despite the warm, fuzzy feelings Kingdom Hearts 3 gave me, Devil May Cry 5 was the demon rock opera I'd been waiting for since Devil May Cry 4. It embraced the crazy in ways only DMC could offer- Ride your own robotic arm around the battlefield! Beat a giant, mythical dog to death with a motorcycle that turns into chainsaws! Do...this? Whatever this is? I really don't know how to describe that, but it was so cool and I'm glad I got to see it.

Devil May Cry 5 isn't on this list because the unique combat styles between each character are fun to experiment with(They are!) or because it wrapped up the narrative neatly after five games of ass kicking(it does!). It's on this list because it is fun as hell, pun absolutely intended. And because Devil Trigger is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the best battle theme this year.

Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers

My favorite games are the ones that ask you something.

Metal Gear Solid 3 asked, 'Can love bloom on the battlefield?'  Nier: Automata inquires about what exactly makes us human. Shadowbringers asks what the limits of good and evil are, and if, sometimes, they are one and the same. It asks you those questions with the most tightly written MMO story I've ever seen, with a soundtrack that is Masayoshi Soken's finest work, and with, honestly, one of the best written antagonists in video game history.

There's a lot to love about Shadowbringers, more than I can fit in this blurb. What I think I love the most is what it means for any other game that started off on its backfoot. Any game can begin as a bad game, but no game has to end that way. This is more than just a great video game. It's a great lesson in believing in what you love.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

It's so odd to me that so many video games are afraid to have their main characters have fun.

I knew I was in love with this game as soon as I saw the elevator loading screen. Typically it's your characters standing around until the next floor opens. In Wolfenstein: Youngblood, it cuts to a security feed of the Blazkowicz sisters being dorks. Sometimes they dance to the elevator music, sometimes they're playing pranks on each other. Clearly, they're having fun. Even though they're trying to solve the mystery of their Dad's disappearance and kill as many Nazis as they can along the way, they're both, unashamedly, having fun.

The sheer personality of the both of them made it one of the most memorable games I played this year. Yes, it helped that the gunplay was super tight and encouraged you to use as much of your obscenely customizable arsenal as possible, but my friend and I kept coming back because I loved hearing Jes and Soph chat with each over. They were so happily having fun, and that's what this year needed: More fun.

Sayonara Wild Hearts

If you play any game on this list that isn't the Game of the Year below this one, let it be Sayonara Wild Hearts. It's less a video game and more of a visual pop album, and that is not a sleight in any way. The visual and audio appeal of this game is so mesmerizing that I'm being careful of how I describe it to not spoil any of the experience.

 Underneath that polished pop experience is a lesson about love and the life that follows when it ends, and I nearly teared up as the credits  played. Whenever I explain to people why video games are art, it is because games like Sayonara Wild Hearts can take you on experiences that no other medium could ever replicate. It's something unique, something wonderful, and most of all, something fun.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.

I knew. I knew as soon as I saw the credits to this game, as soon as I killed the final boss, that this was my Game of the Year.

I'm not going to mince words with you; this game was everything I wanted it to be, and then some. Every game on this list made me happy in some manner, but Bloodstained was the most fun I've had with any game this year, full stop. I was smiling the entire time I was playing this game: when I was playing dress-up with the various outfits and items; when I was trying out as many weapons and spells as I could because the choices were nearly endless; even when I was making food for a sweet old woman and helping make graves for fallen villagers, I was never dissatisfied.

It's rare that you play a game and can actually feel the love and care the developer took to make it work. Koji Igarashi delivered nothing less than a masterpiece- from beginning to end, the attention to details small and large shines through with each boss, with each piece of music, with each moment spent inside Gebel's castle was made to feel like a warm blanket for any Castlevania fan, and maybe even for those who aren't.

When I reviewed it, I said it gave me a feeling similar to what other people felt when they played Symphony of the Night for the first time. I still have that feeling, and I hope it never goes away. Objectively and arguably, Bloodstained is now the gold standard for Metroidvania games, and definitively my favorite game this year.


When not mapping out her vacation for the rest of the year, Noelle 'Lyneriaa' Raine can be found being a cute girl(science says so) on Twitter @Lyneriaa.

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