It’s time for part two of my 2019 games rankings! I’m super excited to get these first few parts out of the way because I want to gush about everything I loved this year, instead. Once again, since I got a new laptop midway through the year, I have less screenshots than usual for these titles, but I’m trying to put in as many as I can find. Let’s get started!
When games get openly described as “weird” or “a unique experience”, I’m always intrigued. These titles aren’t always hits for me, but some games with out-there premises have won my heart over the years. In the case of Bernband, while I didn’t hate it, it was probably a little too strange for my tastes. This is effectively an exploration-based game where the player wanders around this strange, alien city and takes in the sights. There isn’t really a story to get invested in, which I really need when it comes to the walking simulation genre.
49. Grow Your Own Ghoul Girl
I’m pretty generous with what I consider finishing a game to mean sometimes, simply because I like to be able to look back at anything I loaded up on my computer when I make lists like this. Grow Your Own Ghoul Girl is a clicker-style game from itch.io that got infused with a small dose of virtual pet mechanics. It was a really fun time, but there was one major issue: The developers stopped working on the project and it’s incomplete. It was a really fun fifteen or so minutes, and it made me hope that this style of game is fully realized in the future.
48. The Gardens Between
The Gardens Between was one of my biggest disappointments of 2019 because I had exceptionally high expectations for it. I have been following the development of it for a while, so I couldn’t wait to give it a try. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the trial-and-error puzzles and the story didn’t grip me emotionally as much as I had hoped. It’s still worth giving a try to anyone who is intrigued by the time loop mechanics, but it wasn’t for me.
47. Cake Clicker
Cake Clicker is another itch.io game that I picked up because I was trying to get a feel for the sorts of games that can be created as a solo game developer. I’ve been learning how to code, slowly but surely, so playing a few projects made by newer developers is helping me wrap my head around what I could create on my own one day. This is a simple clicker-style title based around baking cakes that I believe was made for a game jam. I had a pretty fun time with it, but given the limited development time, it was too short to really dive into the game’s mechanics in any meaningful way.
Passage is a weird game, but as I’ve said before, that’s not a bad thing. In fact, I found Passage to be a really unique experience. It may seem weird for a title that I enjoyed to be so low on my list, but the main issue is that it’s only about five minutes for a full playthrough, and gameplay consists of just holding down one button for that time. It’s interesting and I highly recommend that anyone interested in strange indie experiences pick it up, but its length, or lack thereof, makes it hard to put any higher on my list.
45. The Islander
While I have alluded to the fact that 2019 wasn’t my best year for gaming, it’s more because I played a lot of titles that I liked, but not a lot that feel like they are new favorites. The Islander really marks the turning point in this list where I got a decent amount of enjoyment out of each game. This is an idle game, but because it’s a paid title, it can be played a lot more actively than the average microtransaction-heavy clicker experience. While there isn’t anything super complex about the mechanics and I have played better titles in the genre, I had some amount of fun here and don’t regret my purchase. In fact, I keep meaning to pick up the sequel that came out recently, so that may show up in my 2020 rankings.
Rainswept is a weird game that I feel conflicted about. I love the background art and the story kept me playing with my eyes glued to the screen. That said, I felt like the writing could use a little polish and I struggled a little with the controls (although I think the issues I had with the controls were fixed with patches after I had already beaten the game). Since I received a copy of this title from the developer, I actually have a full review of Rainswept that I would recommend checking out for more details. While it isn’t my favorite point-and-click adventure, I think it’s definitely a hidden gem that more people should try.
43. Marie’s Room
After playing Life is Strange, I really wanted to try some more games featuring complicated friendships and real-life drama. Marie’s Room fit the bill and had the bonus of being free, so I gave it a try. While it wasn’t anything mind-blowing and felt more than a little bit similar to Gone Home, I did enjoy this reasonably well. It wasn’t long enough to fully immerse myself in the story, but I still had a fun time uncovering the mysterious reason that the two main characters in this story were no longer friends.
42. Kind Words (lo fi chill beats to write to)
Kind Words is the reason that I like to try unique games out. This is basically just an anonymous advice box that got turned into a video game, but there’s something so charming about the experience. Honestly, I love this, but the reason it ranks on the lower end of this list is simply that it isn’t particularly “fun”. I can go onto the title, send a few words of encouragement and maybe collect a sticker from responses to my own messages, but there just isn’t a ton to do on any given day, making the overall experience feel a little lacking at times. Still, any gamer looking for a positive and uplifting experience should give this a try.
41. Hidden Folks
Finally, rounding out this section of my ranking is Hidden Folks. This is a hidden object game similar to Where’s Waldo and I enjoyed the first half of this title immensely, when the maps were still a reasonable size. In the later levels, however, there was just so much going on and it was getting absurdly difficult to pick out these tiny black-and-white specks in this entirely monochromatic world. I would still like to see what the developers come up with next, as I thought this was a well-made game, but I hope it involves less blinding white burning out my eyes as I squint for where the sausage is hidden in the factory level.
That’s the end of part two! I love writing these mini-reviews, so I’m hoping that, once I catch up on my 2019 list, I can do these sorts of small game wrap-ups a few times a year. It can be difficult to remember how I felt about a game I played in January when I try to wrap it up a year later, so I hope I will be able to keep up with what I have been playing in real-time this year.
What all did you love and hate from your gaming year in 2019? Let me know in the comments below!