It’s time for another portion of my 2019 games rankings! I’m trying to write these as quickly as I can, as it’s kind of difficult to discuss what I’m playing in 2020 too much while I’m still trying to process my feelings about my 2019 games. As usual, because I switched laptops halfway through the year, my screenshots are a lot more limited than they usually would be for a list like this. Check out the first part of my list if you would like to look at my choices from the beginning. Let’s get started!
40. The First Tree
The First Tree is an exploration-based game where the player controls a small fox and runs around the world, trying to find hidden collectibles. While I actually found myself pretty invested in the story, which follows a man trying to make sense of his relationship with his father, the gameplay left a lot to be desired. There were definitely times where I was just aimlessly wandering around the world, hoping I would eventually figure out what I needed to do to progress. When I finally understood what was necessary, the world was large enough that it sometimes meant several minutes of tedious backtracking had to occur. I would be interested in seeing what the developer does next, however, even if this wasn’t quite for me.
39. There’s This Girl
There’s This Girl is another visual novel by Angela He that I found on itch.io. This is a sweet story about a romance blooming between two young women and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Ultimately, a running theme from 2019 is that I played a lot of titles that I thought were great, but I just wanted more from them. This was a fifteen minute experience, and it felt like it could have been so much more with even an hour’s worth of content, instead.
Evolution is another itch.io game, this time from Blackthornprod. For those who don’t know, Blackthornprod makes awesome videos about game development on YouTube that I love watching, so I wanted to try his games. For whatever reason, Evolution caught my eye, and I had a lot of fun playing it. It’s a short resource management game where the player is tasked with putting down buildings to keep people happy, while also trying to avoid harming the planet that said buildings are being placed upon. It’s a weird title, for sure, but I had a lot of fun for the fifteen or so minutes that it took to finish the experience.
37. Glass Masquerade
I love puzzle games. When I say puzzles, however, I literally mean that I love to put together virtual puzzles. Unfortunately, the interfaces of these sorts of experiences usually leave a lot to be desired. Thankfully, Glass Masquerade is here to save the day. This is a puzzle title that tasks the player with putting together gorgeous stained-glass windows and the user interface is perfect for a virtual puzzle game. My only real complaint is that I found the title to be a bit on the buggy side. I had to start a few puzzles over because a piece got stuck in the menu and I couldn’t pick it up. Regardless, I hope that more virtual puzzle games learn something from Glass Masquerade and I get some awesome puzzling action in the future.
I really don’t state enough just how much I adore Xbox Game Pass. It gives me freedom to try some really strange titles that I might not have picked up at full price and I end up enjoying. Riverbond is a great example of this, as a voxel-based, top-down hybrid between an arcade shooter and a hack-and-slash game doesn’t necessarily sound like my kind of experience, but it was a ton of fun to play through. The combat got a little stale over time and I was pretty happy by the time I had rolled credits because I just wanted to move on and play something else, but I still don’t regret giving it a try just because of the adorable characters and vibrant world.
35. Religious Idle
If this wasn’t already incredibly clear, I love idle games and seek them out as much as possible. They often don’t make my end of the year lists because they usually don’t have any sort of ending or conclusion, which makes them difficult to rank against titles where I can roll credits. With that said, Religious Idle was a pretty fun experience. This is a menu-based idle title where the player controls a religion and tries to become the dominant force in the world. It’s weird, doesn’t take more than an hour or two to wrap up, and is quite a bit of fun, though I would have preferred a little more depth to the strategy aspect of the game. Given that it’s free on sites like Kongregate, I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot.
I didn’t expect to subscribe to Apple Arcade, but when the service launched and had some titles I was highly anticipating, I knew I had to give it a try. Possessions wasn’t necessarily the game I intended to play first from the service, but once I started playing, I knew I needed to see the end. This is a perspective-shifting game where the player is rotating a diorama to make pieces fit together properly. The gameplay was fun, although the game is shorter than I would have liked. I didn’t personally care much for the story, as it felt heavy-handed, like it was trying too hard to be emotional, but I enjoyed the gameplay enough that I would recommend giving it a shot.
33. Crackdown 3
Crackdown 3 is a really difficult game to talk about because I have some enormously mixed feelings towards it. Conquering the city by doing side activities, collecting orbs to level up my abilities, and generally causing mayhem everywhere I go is one of the gaming highlights of my year. Unfortunately, this was an incredibly buggy experience. I had crashes, stutters, freezes, bad collision detection that sent me straight through solid walls, and so much more. In addition to this, some of the boss fights were incredibly irritating and hurt the pacing of the experience. Overall, I had a lot of fun with this game, but I’m also not sure if I would recommend it because I struggled so much with actually playing it.
Sproggiwood may be my biggest surprise of the year. I made a list of roguelikes that I wanted to give a try in order to see how I felt about the genre as a whole. Overall, I didn’t expect to enjoy any of them because I don’t like the live, die, get better mentality that comes with the genre. What’s nice about Sproggiwood, however, is that it’s the kindest and most forgiving roguelike that I have ever played. For one thing, it’s set up into levels, so instead of having to clear one eighty level dungeon, you have to clear a series of ten three or four level dungeons. In a lot of respects, it’s barely a roguelike, but it did still give me that feeling of going into the dungeon, leveling up, dying, and then starting over with a slightly adjusted strategy. It was shorter than I would have preferred, but overall, I loved this game.
31. Digital: A Love Story
As Sproggiwood may have made obvious, this is the point in the list where I don’t have a lot of negative things to say about these titles anymore. It’s definitely a good feeling to have thirty games that I enjoyed this year, so I’m hardly going to complain. Digital: A Love Story is a free visual novel that’s pretty difficult to properly explain. The player is basically on a computer in the early days of the internet, gaining access to different servers in order to learn more about some strange events that have been occurring through reading chat forums and emails. It’s strange and unlike anything I have ever played, but I was absolutely glued to my screen while playing it. My one criticism is minor, but I found there were times where I didn’t know what I was supposed to do next, so I just loaded up every single forum I had access to in order to see if one of them had changed. This was pretty tedious and took a lot of time, since I had to log into every server manually. Still, I would recommend it to fans of visual novels, especially given that it’s free.
There’s another group of games done! In 2020, I’m wondering if I should keep a separate list of itch.io games. I’m torn on this, because on the one hand, I don’t think games on itch.io are inherently worse than titles on Steam just because of the way the developer chose to distribute the title, so putting them on a list together makes sense. On the other hand, however, the itch.io games tend to be smaller, so comparing a ten minute visual novel seems a little unfair when I also played The Witcher 3 in the same year. The good news is, I have the entire year to think about it!
What did you play in 2019? Let me know in the comments below!