Since we have all survived the first half of the year, it seems appropriate to do a mid-year wrap-up! Today, I will be ranking everything that I have played so far, as well as giving my thoughts on each title. Later, I will be writing a more generalized review of the first half of the year, as well as any goals I may have for my gaming in the remainder of 2019. I have quite a list of titles to discuss, so I had better get started!
16. Ticket to Ride: First Journey
If Ticket to Ride: First Journey is my least favorite game of the year so far, then I can’t complain too much. There is nothing wrong with this title, as it does exactly what it sets out to do, which is to act as a children’s introduction to the famous board game. I have been dipping my toes into board games a tiny bit and trying to find something I could play with my husband, but since we are both new to the genre, I thought a kid’s game might be a good place to start. Ultimately, however, this is just a little too simplistic for my tastes. On top of that, a lengthy animation plays every time a ticket is completed, which I suspect children would find adorable, but I found aggravating because it lengthened the gameplay sessions. There’s nothing wrong with this title, but I would definitely recommend picking up the original Ticket to Ride, instead. Speaking of which…
15. Ticket to Ride
I had a reasonable amount of fun with Ticket to Ride, mostly because the mechanics are easy to pick up and understand. In fact, I’m not certain why a children’s version of this game exists, as it isn’t significantly simpler than playing the “grown-up” version. Overall, This was good for a couple of hours, but I don’t see myself going back to it again and it didn’t inspire me to continue searching for a virtual board game to play. The genre may not be for me, which is totally fine.
14. The Gardens Between
The Gardens Between is my biggest gaming disappointment of the year, but that doesn’t mean that I hated it. In fact, I quite enjoyed the art style and simple story that tugged on the heartstrings. Unfortunately, however, I found that the game’s mechanics wore thin quickly. I usually love time-based mechanics, which is what drove me to download this off of my Game Pass subscription. The problem is that the puzzles get repetitive quickly and lack in complexity, meaning that moving back and forth in time just makes everything take three times longer than it should without ever really activating my brain all that much. There is a great premise at the heart of the gameplay, but the execution left a lot to be desired
From the second that I was approached to play Rainswept for review, I knew that I had something special here. The art style is unique and the story is spectacular. Ultimately, I have a lot of love for this game, but it’s also far from perfect. The controls are strange, although a patch has gone through that significantly improves this aspect for players in the future, and for as much as I enjoy the backgrounds, the actual character models lacked in detail to the point that they sometimes distracted from the main story. For more details, check out my review.
12. Marie’s Room
I played Marie’s Room because I had heard comparisons to Life is Strange. Since it’s free on Steam, I figured that I had nothing to lose by giving it a try. An hour later, I had seen all there was to see and was pretty satisfied. This is a slightly mysterious walking simulator title that follows a falling out between two friends. Since it is so short, I don’t want to say much more than that, but fans of Gone Home should definitely give this one a play.
11. The First Tree
My never-ending endeavor to clear out my extensive Steam backlog led me to play The First Tree for no reason other than knowing it was short. Given that I went in with no expectations, I was astonished at how much it resonated with me. This is a beautiful game where the player controls a small fox and wanders around the landscape collecting various trinkets that trigger some story narration. While probably about half an hour longer than I would have liked, this is a great walking simulator with light platforming elements that can be polished off in an afternoon.
10. Glass Masquerade
In all the years that I have been a gamer, Glass Masquerade is the first game I have ever seen do jigsaw puzzles right. Many others have tried, but they either use too many pieces to ever work properly on a screen, or their user interface is too cluttered, making it difficult to see which piece is which. Well, the team at Onyx Lute figured out a way around these obstacles and made something truly special. This was the perfect game to start my day with, as I could do puzzles with one hand while holding my breakfast or tea with the other. There is a sequel out that I hope to get to in the near future, as I need more stained glass puzzles in my life.
Sproggiwood is a pleasant surprise that came out of experimenting with some roguelikes in my Steam library to see if I actually enjoy any of them. The exceedingly cute art style and approachable difficulty curve allowed me to finish the game with a smile on my face. Since then, I have actually gone through and attempted many of the levels as different classes and on higher difficulty levels because I just can’t get enough of the combat system. This is a really fun roguelike with a lot of replayability and I would highly recommend it as an entry point to the genre.
8. Darkside Detective
After playing Danganronpa last year, I wanted to play as many mystery titles as I could get my hands on. Darkside Detective is a game I picked up just for that reason, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with my decision. As this is a point-and-click adventure, I found that the puzzle logic was a bit of a stretch sometimes, but as someone who is not above looking up a guide when I get stumped, it wasn’t enough to ruin the witty dialogue and intriguing story unfolding throughout the title. Unfortunately, it ends on a huge cliffhanger and the sequel is still a long way from release, but that’s not enough to hurt what is otherwise an enjoyable detective adventure.
7. Kathy Rain
Speaking of detective titles, I picked up Kathy Rain in a Humble Bundle a long time ago and got around to playing it recently. I can’t believe that I just let this game collect dust in my virtual library for so long because it is phenomenal. The puzzle logic is at just the right level that I didn’t need to consult a guide, the story had me on the edge of my seat, and the retro 1990’s aesthetic was a great touch to make this experience something special. Hopefully, I can get around to the developer’s new game, Whispers of a Machine, later this year.
I started playing Evoland years ago and got stuck in a dungeon. When the remastered version of the game magically appeared in my library earlier this year, I decided to give it another go and I was just blown away. The sheer number of famous franchises that get parodied throughout the story is just mind-boggling and I loved every second of it. The combat could get repetitive at times, but honestly, nothing could have wiped the smile off my face as I played through and tried to catch every reference and joke made about my favorite series.
My thoughts on Forager can’t be adequately summed up into a single post. As one of my most anticipated games of 2019, I love so many aspects of it, but there are also a lot of shortcomings that I would like to address in a future post. For now, I will just say that this is best described as a mix of The Legend of Zelda, Cookie Clicker, and Stardew Valley. If that combination of titles sounds appealing, then this is definitely worth playing. Otherwise, I would either wait for more updates or give it a pass.
4. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
I can’t even begin to explain how amazing it feels to finally be able to put The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on a list of games I have played. As a huge fan of fantasy RPGs, this was one that was on the backlog for so long that I was afraid to play it because it might not live up to the massive expectations that I had for it. After roughly one-hundred hours in the universe, I can say that I truly enjoyed it. The story definitely had some trouble getting me hooked in the start, but by halfway through, I was playing late into the night because I needed to know what the end of a given questline would hold for my story progression. While Geralt’s journey may be a few years old now, it still holds up graphically and has me constantly taking screenshots. It’s not a perfect game and I still don’t think I loved it quite the way that a lot of others do, but I understand the appeal and I’m glad that I got to play it and form an opinion for myself. I will still be making a longer wrap-up post on this title in the future because I could talk at great length about my Witcher opinions.
3. Ori and the Blind Forest
Ori and the Blind Forest may be at number three on this list, but since the remaining games are replays, this is my favorite new (to me) title of 2019 so far. I don’t even know what to say about Ori, as it may be one of my new favorites. Everything on display is nearly flawless: The music, graphics, story, and gameplay all work together to create something that is unlike anything I have ever played before. It’s a tough game at times, but my husband is better at platformers than I am and together, we persevered through even the toughest of challenges thrown at us. A sequel is coming out early next year, so now is the perfect time to give this a play, as it’s even on Xbox Game Pass!
Borderlands 3 is coming out later this year, so I would be shocked if I don’t end up playing every other game in the franchise at some point in anticipation of the next entry. I know this is controversial, but I have always had a soft spot for the first Borderlands that the second game couldn’t quite replicate. The environments are less varied, but that adds to the Mad Max vibe that the series gives me. While the characters may not be as interesting, I found that the class abilities are more fun than in its sequel. I will be playing through the second game again and the Pre-Sequel for the first time before the year is over, so I will reassess my opinions during my year-end rankings.
1. Mass Effect
Finally, I have been playing through the Mass Effect series on insanity difficulty and I am loving it far more than I thought I would. The higher difficulty forces me to learn what my characters can do and use their abilities flawlessly, giving a level of tactical play to the game that was previously absent in favor of brute force shooting my way through obstacles. While the age of the first entry certainly shows more and more with each playthrough over the years, I can’t help but adore it. In fact, Mass Effect 2 is going to have to step up its game upon my replay in the coming months, as it may not be my favorite entry in the series anymore.
There’s my list of the games I have played so far in 2019! As I stated earlier, I will do more of a thorough analysis of my first half of the gaming year soon, as I have some thoughts that I would like to express and goals that I should set. What are your favorite games of the year so far? Let me know in the comments below!
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