In 2018, I challenged myself to keep a running list of all the movies I watched in the year. I also accounted for all the days on which I didn’t watch any. I’m not exactly sure why I did it; for the sake of posterity, it would’ve been better to start a Letterboxd account, and I didn’t turn my self-imposed data collection effort into a blog post or some other form of web “content.” At the end of the year, though, I was able to look back and see a visual representation of all the times I was feeling too busy to relax with a movie, as well as all the times I made a point of watching several in a single day just for the hell of it.
If I had done a similar exercise for the video games I played in 2019, the name that you’d see the most often (perhaps on most days of the year) would be Apex Legends. When I sat down to make this list, it might’ve been at the very top had I been in a different mood. Instead, I followed my gut and went with something else. I think I’m making the right call, but maybe I’ll have a particularly good round on World’s Edge tonight and end up having to correct my own list.
But first: a quick nod to the games I haven’t played yet but that would almost certainly end up on this list if I had! Everything I’ve seen and heard about Disco Elysium, Outer Wilds, and Wattam suggest that they’d all blow this list to hell. Okay, onto the list:
- Untitled Goose Game
- Apex Legends
- Tetris 99
- Baba Is You
- Super Mario Maker 2
- Heave Ho
- Nothing Good Can Come of This
- Neo Cab
- Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Honk honk honk. [Translation: The goose wins.] Honk honk honk honk honk honk honk! [Translation: Read on for some quick thoughts on each entry in my list!]
- Kudos to Respawn Entertainment for getting two games on my list this year. I have a feeling that I’m going to walk away from The Mandalorian and Rise of the Skywalker feeling like Fallen Order told the best Star Wars story of the year. It doesn’t do anything revolutionary in terms of gameplay or Star Wars storytelling, but I found myself warming up to every aspect of the game as I played—and after a genuinely exciting ending, I was glad it didn’t overstay its welcome, either.
- Neo Cab’s last hour left me bummed out in a perfect way. If I say more here I think I’ll go straight to spoiler territory, so best to leave you with my hearty recommendation and a link to the postmortem interview I did with Patrick Ewing, Neo Cab’s creative director.
- Nothing Good Can Come of This is my “old game of the year” for 2019, and I’ve only ever played it in an arcade. Created by Michael Consoli in 2014, Nothing Good’s a two player game where all your blocky avatars can do is jump, punch, throw a gun, or shoot it. There’s only one gun and one bullet in play at a time: get both, shoot your opponent, and the round’s over. Rounds can be over in the blink of an eye or last for several gun tossing, bullet whiffing volleys. It’s so, so good.
- If I was only limiting myself to one local multiplayer game on my list, it’d be Heave Ho. I only played it for a single evening, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t one of the best times I’ve spent farting around with friends in a while.
- I missed out on experiencing the original first-hand since I didn’t have a Wii U, so I’ll never really know how Super Mario Maker 2 stacks up to the first game in terms of novelty and the community’s vibrancy. All I know is that I’ve lost hours and hours to playing and creating levels in it, and I hope to lose more if Nintendo adds other cool items like the Master Sword.
- Baba Is You is one of those terrific games that I’m perfectly fine knowing I’ll probably never complete. I stopped playing at the point I did for two reasons: First, I was already absolutely certain that it was one of the best puzzle games I’ve ever played, and I also knew how disappointed I’d be in myself if I caved and looked up hints. I have to add: Keke > Baba.
- Winning a game in Tetris 99 makes me feel like I could really take a stab at competitive Tetris. Looking at how many games I’ve won in Tetris 99 makes me realize I probably can’t… but I keep picking it up every few weeks anyway. Enough said.
- Control is to Alan Wake and Alan Wake’s American Nightmare as Twin Peaks: The Return is to the original series. I mean that in pretty much every possible way, including that I’m still not quite sure what to make of the ending! I loved my time with it, so I’m glad Remedy’s giving it some story DLC. Whether that stuff ties up loose ends or leaves me wanting more, I’ll be happy.
- Apex Legends is the first battle royale that really clicked with me (sorry, Tetris 99, you came out a week later). This TikTok more-or-less sums up the way I felt about Apex upon release. I haven’t fallen for an online shooter like this since I was a teen, and for a while it was just nice to indulge that feeling. With two completed battle passes under my belt and a new job where I’m always hearing about new games I should be playing, Apex has relaxed its hold on me, which is part of why…
- Untitled Goose Game is my game of the year. Yes, it’s a short and simple experience, but House House really made something special. Untitled Goose Game is the title I’ve been asked about the most since starting this job, even by my friends who don’t play games. A few people haven’t believed me when I told them that it’s genuinely good—and on one evening without much else to do, I watched as one pal who rarely plays games made his way through the village (mostly) unassisted, honking up a storm and creating chaos in a way that was distinctly different from my own goose rampage. I love how expressive Untitled Goose Game lets you be, I love the way it looks and sounds, and I won’t hear any ill words against the goose.
That’s all, folks. Catch you in 2020, where it looks like there’ll only be approximately 126,742 games vying for our attention. Should be fun!