This year was filled with new IPs and even newer surprises. The only way something more unexpected could happen is if Horizon Zero Dawn 2 was just suddenly announced and Chris changed his ways on the best PS4 RPG. Hell, there are only three sequels on my 2019 GOTY list and are mostly where they’re at because there wasn’t something better for me. Point being Horizon Zero Dawn yay and Chris Harding boo. Here are the ten best games of the year from your most definitely favorite, and not at all exaggerated or facetious, Pure PlayStation writer.
As I told fellow team member, Jason, the only day one purchase Remedy Entertainment will see from me is Alan Wake 2. That doesn’t mean I won’t pick up their titles later on a sale though. Maybe a buy two get one free at Target perhaps? Regardless, Control was an interesting one in terms of story and lore. Most didn’t have a clue what was going on with the plot, but we know we loved its intrigue and mystery. There are so many possibilities where the story can go given the alternate dimensions aspect constantly hounding you even on side missions. This was perfectly paired with Control’s level design and gameplay. The most mundane of objects could inspire terror and thrills and the possibility of unique scenarios never let up. Plus, being able to utilize psychic powers by throwing things with telekinesis and basically fly made Kyle plenty giddy.
Man, did this one cause a stir when we were the first review out on the interwebs. The normal embargo nannies came out to play, but they were joined by others who told me how to properly score my opinions and video game tastes. I stand by my 8 out of 10 as the gameplay is still remembered plenty fondly. It was over-the-top, gruesome, and did what video games are great at: make one feel like a badass. The open-world was alright and mission structure was ok, let’s just not bring up the campaign’s story. It’s lack of depth, appeal, and length still remind me how amazing Rage 2 could have been. Today I still wonder what would have happened if id Software developed the entirely of this title. Instead of co-creating with Avalanche Studios. If you’re a first-person shooting fan with a knack for post-apocalypse settings Rage 2 will be one to catch on sale.
KINGDOM HEARTS 3
I’ll be honest here and admit my writing for this entry was just going to be “why?” over and over and over again. That, however, wouldn’t explain why it was number eight on my 2019 GOTY list and people would once again tell me how to express my own opinions. For all intents and purposes, Kingdom Hearts 3 was a massive disappointment. The story barely made sense and Tetsuya Nomura did what he does best by solving the plot issues with more nonsensical crap. No part of me enjoyed saying that yet here we are. For the full details on this be sure to check out my article on why the story sucked. Did I mention that the super-smart, maniacal, pure evil, ruthless, murderer that was the series main antagonist just doing everything he did to save everyone from themselves? Jesus f**king christ, Nomura.
Still with all that off my chest once more, I’m glad the game finally released. The gameplay and feeling of just playing Kingdom Hearts 3 were a long time coming. Attacks, magic spells, summons, combos, amusement park rides materializations, and keyblade transformations were very fun to utilize in the easy combat. To the point that it was able to bump up my review to a 7 out of 10 and that’s with my seething resentment at the story. We also got to see what the Kingdom Hearts series would look like with a serious attempt at graphics thanks to the Pirates of the Carribean world this time around. Still some of the best this year.
BLOOD & TRUTH
Boy, oh boy did I want to play this one again after I finished it. That’s when I realized doing so would ruin the amazing experience SIE London had somehow created for the PSVR. A truly alive shooter that made one feel like John Wick with an emotional and gripping tale to boot. I truly didn’t think a virtual reality game could be this seamless, intuitive, and realistic with its setup and mechanics. Having what felt like 1:1 tracking as I was hurriedly reloading during a high-octane action set-piece will forever set Blood & Truth away from its peers. There’s very little I can find wrong with this title and it should be the benchmark for all future PSVR experiences.
A PLAGUE TALE INNOCENCE
This entry gave me some terrible whiplash when it came out. I heard nothing about A Plague Tale: Innocence and then come release day it starts getting all these great reviews. Unfortunately, I was booked solid for my gaming availability but promised myself I would play this one before the year’s end. It did not disappoint being a remarkable piece of gothic storytelling. It had amazing characters and dialogue, a wonderful script, and a game mechanic that made rats feel, genuinely, monstrous. Asobo Studios should feel extremely proud of what they managed to create and is easily the best game under twelve hours this year.
Borderlands gameplay is why we played, right? I hope so because the story to this third entry was nowhere near the level of its predecessor. Still the bazillions of guns, overt and zany humor, and four-player co-op all return. Again, just not as well as Borderlands 2. However, what kind of gaming journalist would I be if I docked major points to a title for simply not being AS good as what came before. There’s not much to say here as Gearbox’s baby is plenty well known by now and those playing the latest iteration know what to expect. BANDIT LIFE!
THE OUTER WORLDS
I wanted this Fallout-esque experience to be amazing and for the first ten hours, The Outer Worlds really was. So much so that it overtook my finalized game of the year’s position. Then the last third of the game crashed and burned compared to what was built up. The experience felt incomplete and the ending couldn’t have been more rushed. It ranks at number four due to those first ten-ish hours and the memories it stirred inside an older Kyle. It was a proper New Vegas spiritual sequel with all the somewhat open worlds, gun combat, and ways to proceed throughout the journey. There was never a time where I felt stuck and some playstyle at some level could always progress with moderate ease. Least of all choose The Outer Worlds over Fallout 76.
Remember the writer and site that published the first Days Gone review and gave it an 8.7 out of 10? Then remember when the majority of reviews published later were lower, but gamers played it for themselves and got angry at the low scores? Well hey if you’re looking for a new reliable review guy, I was the one to give Days Gone that rating up above. Self-promotion aside, the story Bend Studio crafted was completely unexpected and produced one of the finest dramatic thrillers I’ve experienced. The gritty and down to earth combat only complimented the proceedings. Especially the ways you could actually take down literal zombie hordes. Interesting characters, notable dialogue, plenty of enjoyable plot twists, and entertaining replayability make Days Gone another great, first-party, PlayStation exclusive.
People thought Days Gone was polarizing had no idea about Death Stranding later the same year. Hideo Kojima’s latest mind-bender was either hailed as a masterpiece or a boring slog of self-indulgence that had no right being a video game. I’m sure you can assume where I stood on that battlefield given the number two ranking. Death Stranding is wholly unique and crafted expertly from the bottom up by a man who deserves our trust. Due to the story and game mechanics, I didn’t mind walking or driving vast distances. The entire affair was just engrossing as I lost myself in Sam and BB’s journey. However, when such a premise exists you need to make sure every single aspect is polished to a T and some landscapes were not. There’s no putting this into proper words though. Death Stranding still sticks with me a month later and I urge any self-respecting gamer to support such an impressive and endearing work of art.
REMNANT: FROM THE ASHES
I could go on about Remnant: From the Ashes‘ brilliant, simplistic, sci-fi mind-bender of a story or the amazingly crafted and diverse worlds. I could even go on about its endless replayability that I could not stop playing for weeks at a time. Brass tax though is it made someone like me enjoy a similar gameplay style to the Soulsborne games. This is no small feat by any stretch of many imaginations I assure you. Third-person, run and gun shooting has rarely been this fun these past few years and Remnant: From the Ashes nails every aspect of it. I couldn’t stop myself from playing playthrough after playthrough to experience everything this game has to offer. Oh, yea I forgot to mention not everything will be in one playthrough and yet I still cherish this title. There’s a reason this small-time, digital-only game has sold over a million copies in four months. Please, please, please find out why yourself.
Honorable mention: Fractured Minds
A short, less is more, artistic experience than anything. Fractured Minds won’t last the average gamer longer than fifteen minutes. But the subtle ways in which it describes and imagines mental illness in a digital landscape was beautiful. I can’t say much more since I’d probably spoil the entire journey so I’ll, of course, recommend you go play it yourself. It’s only $1.49 on the PlayStation Store so definitely make time for it.