We’ve covered a lot of games for Play NYC 2019, and now it’s time to do one last thing: select our favorite games from the show. It’s never easy to pick a favorite, especially when New York City’s premier gaming convention has so many wonderful developers showing off excellent video games, mobile games, and tabletop games. Nonetheless, we did our best to select a handful of games which we felt were the best of Play NYC 2019.
Without any further ado, here are our picks for the best games shown at Play NYC 2019!
Groove Catcher — Vizmoo
by Robert N. Adams
Holy hell, did I love Groove Catcher. This game is akin to Beat Saber with much different mechanics. Rather than swing an energy sword to break blocks, you instead have to follow lines in the air with your controllers and smack glowing white orbs at certain points. It makes the game more about longer, smoother moves with the occasional shake.
I am a recovering Rock Band addict. When the game first came out, I basically moved my Xbox 360 into my best friend’s living room since we were playing literally every day for hours on end. We hit the point where our band was starting to climb the leaderboard, although I doubt we could have ever hit the point where we got close to the top. We had a ton of fun anyway.
Groove Catcher encapsulates that same compelling score-attack gameplay with wonderful built-in songs and the opportunity to create your own tracks. It has a lot of potential to be something really great, and I think it will be really interesting to see what it’s like on release. In the meantime, I’ll be lamenting my lack of a VR headset at home and mentally calculating how best to save up for buying one.
Find out more about Groove Catcher at the game’s official website.
Blinks — Move38
by Courtney Ehrenhofler
I was impressed with a lot of the games I saw at Play NYC this year, both the ones that I had the time to play and the ones I just walked past while going “Oooh, shiny!” But for best in show, there was a clear cut winner for me: Blinks.
Blinks is an example of one of the amazing applications of technology to gaming, beyond what people normally think of. Pretty graphics? That’s nice. HD sound? Good for you. Tiny, magnetic connecting hexagons that each contain their own programming and can teach their games to each other to be switched out for play? Now you’re talking!
It offered so many different game possibilities, and I can’t deny that I love the aesthetic of Blinks as well. The bright lights, the cute hexagons and the incredibly tactile covering on them was amazing. The games were easy to learn and fun to play, and the basic design of the game setup allows it to be easily portable. But the bottom line is I had fun playing Blinks, and I think it’s the type of game that many people would find fun once they got a chance to try it.
Find out more about Blinks at the game’s official website.
Hero: Tales of the Tomes — Jimmy Ellerth Entertainment
by Robert Grosso
Hero: Tales of the Tomes is a recently released Kickstarter project by Jim Ellerth. A simple card game where wizards battle each other, Ellerth purposefully invokes some of the mechanics found in popular collectible card game Magic: The Gathering to a more intimate, engaging level. Played with two to five players, Hero has you level up as the game progresses, giving you more magical power, defense, and even special abilities that allow you to summon creatures, equip weapons and armor, and use magical spells to incapacitate your opponent.
Despite the similarities to Magic: The Gathering, the real twist in Hero is that everyone shares a single deck of cards instead of building their own themed deck. This offers a more frantic use of tactics, allowing players to make up combos and mount offenses on the fly instead of relying on specific builds to cripple your opponents. While not as competitive as Magic, Hero is certainly engaging in its own way, providing some chaotic tactical play over in-depth strategy.
Find out more about Hero: Tales of the Tomes at the game’s official website.
Zer0 Inbox — Macho Zero Productions
by Robert N. Adams
Anyone who has worked in a corporate office knows the horror of email. Forwards, CCs, replies, and the terrifying reply all have haunted many folks who sit behind a desk. Zer0 Inbox by Macho Zero Productions takes one of the worst parts of working in an office and makes it delightfully fun.
Billed as “a board game designed by committee to ensure mandatory corporate fun,” Zer0 Inbox relentlessly mocks the soul-draining corporate culture. That mockery extends to the gameplay as well; your objective is, simply put, to clear out your inbox before anyone else. You’ll start off by discarding emails as you land on the appropriate spaces on the game board, but the mid-to-late game will be much like a corporate job after lunch: You’re going to foist as much work onto your co-workers as you can before the day is up.
One of the more interesting bits is the element of deception. Action cards and email cards look the same on the back, but you only have to get rid of your email cards. There’s a sense of balance with your hand, much like Munchkin — building up to a massive, one-shot move is a good strategy, but you also have to be careful of your opponents doing the same before you.
Zer0 Inbox is a delightfully simple game with scathing humor that I (and the rest of the TechRaptor team at Play NYC 2019) really enjoyed playing. I hope I’ll be able to get my hands on this game sooner rather than later.
Find out more about Zer0 Inbox at the game’s official website.
Spywatch Lex — Scholarcade
by Robert N. Adams
I grew up in an era when my elementary school had just made the transition from Apple ][ computers to more modern PCs running Windows 98. I didn’t own my own PC until the late ’90s, and I consequently missed out on a lot of the “edutainment” games out there. Spywatch Lex seems, at its face, the sort of game I would have loved to have in my high school Spanish class.
Educational games are often more about education than they are about entertainment, and they don’t always teach you a useful skill, either. Spywatch Lex takes the theme of espionage and uses it to drive players to learn how to speak and read either Spanish or Mandarin.
This is one of the few games I saw at Play NYC 2019 that made me think, “I wish I had this when I was a kid.” If I did, I’d probably have done a better job of remembering how to speak Spanish. It’s definitely something worth checking out to teach your little ones a new language!
Find out more about Spywatch Lex at the game’s official website.
And that’s a wrap on our coverage of Play NYC 2019! We saw more than a hundred games of all stripes, ranging from AAA publishers to indie devs showing off their very first game, and nearly every single one of them had something special to show off.
We look forward to next year’s show, and we hope to see you at Play NYC 2020!
What do you think of our picks for the best games we saw at Play NYC 2019? Is there anything else you saw at the show that you thought was really cool? Check out what else we saw at Play NYC by going to our Play NYC 2019 Coverage Hub.