Untitled Goose Game won’t win many Game of the Year awards, but in my mind it was the best thing to come out of 2019. In a year with few consensus favorites, the goose was the hero we needed. It was everywhere: in memes, starring alongside the Muppets, in The New Yorker. It was a magnet for fanart—when Death Stranding released in November, one of the first images was of the goose carrying Norman Reedus’ pack.
It resonated the way it did because it was such a beautifully well-realized concept. The way that the goose animated; the way that it would suddenly emerge onto the screen when starting for the first time; the fact that there was a “honk” button—Goose Game embodied its protagonist better than any game that came out in 2019.
I’ve seen plenty of people dismiss it as “just a meme game,” or just “Hitman with a goose.” But one of the beautiful things about gaming is that it can offer up an array of unusual perspectives, and I can’t think of a more unusual and interesting perspective than that of a chaotic goose. Untitled Goose Game was a brilliant, original, and altogether hilarious game, and it was my personal Game of the Year for 2019.
- Untitled Goose Game
- Outer Wilds
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses
- Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
- Pokemon Sword
- Shovel Knight Showdown
- Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
- Ring Fit Adventure
- Tetris 99
- MLB The Show 19
Outside of Goose Game, 2019 was a surprisingly packed year for great games, though it didn’t really seem it. Outer Wilds probably deserves to be Game of the Year just on the strength of its brilliant design. Fire Emblem: Three Houses brought the series to Switch in a way that made it feel bigger than it has in years. Shovel Knight Showdown has an argument for being the sneaky best party game of 2019, and Ring Fit Adventure proved itself a surprisingly robust workout.
With few major blockbusters, this year became kind of a Rorschach test. Role-playing fans embraced Fire Emblem; the “games as art” crowd fell in love with Death Stranding and Outer Wilds, and fans of more traditional blockbusters rallied around Apex Legends. It’s been the kind of year where everyone has a different favorite.
Still, 2019 hasn’t been too bad for what was expected to be a tweener year while we all waited for the next round of consoles to be released. But of course, 2020 will be the main event… even if it will suffer for the lack of a goose.