Before we get our big Pure PlayStation Game of the Year list out, we’re doing our personal picks. We each pick our top ten games that we played this year, regardless of platform, and stuff them into a lovely list for you to read. Every day for the next week we’ll have a new list from a member of our wonderful team, so check them out and maybe you’ll find inspiration to play something a little different.
Some big-name titles are missing off this list that I haven’t played yet, but been meaning to. Games like Borderlands 3, Control or Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order are all near the top of that list. However, I do split my time and flirt with the Nintendo Switch a lot so while I’m missing some here, I make up for it with titles over on ‘the other side’.
I think last year was a tough year to beat, what with Red Dead Redemption 2, Insomniac’s Spider-Man and God of War to name just a few, but I personally haven’t been disappointed with the quality on offer for 2019. Even if some of them are remastered/re-releases. Without further ado, and in no particular order…
Shenmue, one of my all-time favourite games got the third title in the series. While not a Kickstarter aficionado, I was very much looking forward to this game and wasn’t disappointed either.
As you will have seen in both the pre-review and final review, Shenmue 3 is one for the fans. Despite the wait, it was worth it, but the game does seem to be set in the past both figuratively and literally. Shenmue has been left behind in what was once a real pioneer for the open-world game.
My score in the review was for the masses an intended rating for people taking into account that this is a fan game. While it isn’t as good as the first one, it will be making it’s pilgrimage up the mighty steps to my all-time favourites through name association alone.
It had to make the list even if I haven’t finished it yet. As you’ll have seen in our Pure PlayStation Plays each week, I make an attempt to fit it into what time I have, and each time I love it.
I totally get how Death Stranding splits people and why it’s been deemed a walking simulator on a model that could train Fed-Ex employees come armageddon. However, I love the premise, the physics, ambiguity and the fact that Hideo Kojima is wholly self-indulgent and doesn’t care what people think. As dramatic as this sounds, I see this as a further step to when video games become the interactive movie. In an age where Brexit finally happens or doesn’t. A post-apocalyptic future…
Full Body Catherine
So this isn’t exactly a completely new title, but it’s more than a remastered edition for the PS4. Originally released on the PS3, Full Body Catherine introduces a new character and tweaked levels to offer a complementary story to the original.
You play Vincent, due to get married to Katherine but starting to have second thoughts about a life-long commitment. He has a chance encounter with Catherine (note the spelling) and starts to question his loyalties. The gameplay is a puzzle game where you play Vincent in a third-person view supposedly set in the dream world and have to climb a series of blocks to escape the nightmare that is killing off many bachelors in real-life. Full Body Catherine is much like the original, only there’s an additional person of interest named Rin.
I’m not a big anime fan, but the animated cutscenes between each level really builds the story. However, the actual gameplay is fantastic. I love everything about it; the graphics, sound and most importantly, the level design. This is by far one of my favourite games ‘of all-time’.
When I first saw Forager, I wasn’t that fussed. It appeared to be a Stardew Valley/Minecraft clone that didn’t really appeal to me. Nevertheless, I bought this for the kids, and upon ‘testing’ it became hooked for longer than anticipated.
It’s relatively unique in that you can take any path you want and grind out materials to buy new buildings, land and skills, or you can explore, grind and encounter enemies and a few dungeons much like the original Zelda series. One of the aspects that appealed to me was the added features and ‘behind-the-scenes’ story on how the game was made by one person. It added that human touch to it and I’ve been playing it on and off since it was released.
Ok, I’m still in the early stages of Judgment, but I have to say that already I love it and this quickly makes my top 10 for the year. As a big Yakuza fan, I was split whether this was going to be a good game or not. First of all, you take on the role of a private detective/lawyer combo, and unlike the Yakuza series, while the fighting style remains very much the same, the idea of tailing people put me off. However, in practice, this was a good approach, and I like the variety.
On a personal note, I can’t stand the actor who plays the main character, Takuya Kimura. He’s well known in Japan as a former boy band member and seems to advertise any product and appear on any game show. While he’s ‘acting’ in Judgment, I thought I’d find it hard as he’s the main character. Imagine my surprise when it’s another home run for the Yakuza series, albeit a spin-off that is a quality exploration on the right side of the law.
Technically, this isn’t a new release for 2019 either, but when the game was released physically on the 6th December, it was my first experience of this mess of a game. It seems a bit of a contradiction to use such negative terms to define a fighting game so ludicrous and a game of chance, only to list it in my GOTY for 2019. Equally, I didn’t give this a top score as the single-player mode is almost redundant.
The game-changer for me was the local multiplayer. Since I wrote the review, I’ve been playing this every time there’s someone else up for a game. Not once have I resorted to the single-player, and it’s only when we don’t have many players that I switch to the online mode, but as a local game, it’s such a fun game. Nobody really knows what they’re doing, and it’s such a laugh to see even non-gamers getting into full swing. Gang Beasts is plagued with too many loading screens, a severe lack of features and unpredictable gameplay, but it’s just so much fun, and I anticipate this will be the go-to game over the holidays.
Without a doubt, I love driving – both in real life and when it’s pushing pixels through a series of chicanes of dirt. Rally driving has probably been the closest to my preferred style of driving (in gaming!) and always found that the rally sections in the Gran Turismo series to be some of my favourite courses.
Regrettably, there hasn’t been any stand out rally games, in my opinion, or experienced them for some time, so when I got around to playing WRC 8, I was really pleased. It’s not the best driving game out there, and maybe it’s not the best rally game either (looking at you Sega Rally). Still, the experience of throwing a Focus full speed around the corner in snowy conditions gave me the biggest butt-clenching workout I’ve had since Game of Thrones. When it was good.
As a metalhead, hearing the soundtrack of Valfaris got me moist. In a manly way. I was mildly surprised by how enjoyable the game is too. It’s a bit of a throwback title; you play a chap named Therion who lands on his home planet of Valfaris to blast away all the nasties.
This guy doesn’t take any nonsense, and the heavy guitar riffs and thundering drums got me waving my non-existing mane to all the rotting corpses I was leaving behind. If you have a bit of vintage in you, it’s like a reworking of the Turrican series or Contra, only this is far from a clone and hands down one of the best shooters I’ve played in ages. Not only a thumbs up, but a hand gesture in the sign of the beast.
Narcos: Rise of the Cartels
Do you know what? Since I wrote my review on Narcos: Rise of the Cartels, I’ve seen quite a lot of other comments that it was a little lacklustre and mediocre in its approach. A review is theoretically a buying guide based on someone else’s opinion and always relative. I say that as you already know this, but there a lot of people who will challenge it based on their own experiences and tastes.
Well, I’m not going to compare their scores to mine, but what I do know is that I still very much enjoy playing Narcos: Rise of the Cartels when I have a bit of downtime. I find that you can’t have a quick game, as you’ll end up dying, but when I do sit down to play this XCOM inspired game, I find it offers everything I would expect from a turn-based game. Though I’m still a bit peeved that I keep losing my best men. In the game, not my love-life.
Now that I’ve popped my VR cherry, it’s only fair that I bring up a PSVR title too. At the time of writing, it’s early days for me in the PSVR world, and I’ve been stocking up on recommendations from the PP team and going through older reviews.
The problem is, most of the games I’m picking up came out before this year; Doom VFR, Astrobot and a game that I received while writing this, Trover Saves the Universe – I simply haven’t played it yet. Instead, the newest game I have that isn’t a demo is Concrete Genie. Again, it’s early stages for me, but I was blown away with the visuals and concept. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll recommend you read the review that PP’s Max wrote that prompted me to get the game in the first place.