It’s time to make another segment of my gaming wrap-up from 2019! Check out the start of the list here for more information on this list. From here, I mostly enjoyed all of the games I played, so I have a lot of awesome experiences to share. As with the previous entries of this list, I switched laptops halfway through the year and lost a lot of screenshots, so I don’t have as many pictures as I would like for a huge wrap-up like this.
30. YOU LEFT ME
YOU LEFT ME is yet another game by developer Angela He. Since He’s games are incredibly short and mostly free on itch.io, I ended up playing a ton of titles one afternoon, and this is one of my favorites. It’s a short and relatively creepy visual novel that I would highly recommend picking up and giving a try (though this title does handle some pretty mature subject matter, so be aware of that before starting it).
A weirdly specific sub-genre of games that I enjoy are titles that allow me to fly around as a bird. Capoka allows players to live life as a bird in the middle of an oppressive government regime. While flying around to collect items and build the perfect nest, there are people walking around and living their lives, having discussions about the fate of their nation. Getting a literal birds-eye view of the country gives the opportunity for a unique storytelling style. No one pauses their conversation for a bird walking around, so it allows players to eavesdrop on important conversations and piece together a compelling narrative. This is one of the most unique titles I played this year and it’s definitely worth a quick playthrough.
28. Kyle is Famous
With the amount of free games that I played in 2019, I’m definitely going to have to make some recommendation lists in 2020 to share the best experiences in a separate post. Kyle is Famous is a short, but fun visual novel where the titular protagonist, Kyle, is preparing for an interview. In the final hours leading up to his big moment, players get to control his actions, which changes the ending. The endings vary wildly and can be absolutely hilarious, so it’s worth playing a few times to see the variety, especially given that a single playthrough is only a few minutes long.
27. One Night Stand
One Night Stand isn’t a free visual novel, but it is only three dollars, so it’s not a bad pickup for fans of the genre. This game can basically be summed up with its title: The protagonist wakes up after a fun night and is trying to piece together what actually happened. It’s not an action-packed or plot twist-driven game by any means, and I do wish is was a little bit longer, but it’s still a quiet, slice-of-life title that is a perfect break between larger experiences.
26. Bury Me, My Love
Bury Me, My Love is a hard game to play through, but it’s an important one. This is a visual novel about a Syrian refugee trying to reach safety. A lot of endings are dark, so I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone unless they’re in the right head-space for it. The subject matter is intense, but it’s still an interesting title that aims to spread awareness around a tough topic in modern society.
25. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem: Three Houses was a hard game to place in this list. I loved the characters and overall story. There was a plot twist halfway through that is one of the best twists I have ever seen in a title and it still makes me drop my jaw when I think about it. That said, however, I just found that there was a bit of a pacing issue for this game. I got really bored towards the end and just wanted the credits to roll. Overall, I still loved it enough to put it in a respectable position on my list and I hope to go back and play another route later on, but it wasn’t as great of an experience as I had hoped.
24. Monster Prom
I’m not sure that I would have believed a visual novel could be mixed with a competitive multiplayer aspect effectively, but Monster Prom is something special. Each player starts improving stats and flirting with the monster of their choice, hoping to score a prom date before the big day. It’s frantic and hilarious, with tons of crazy dialogue that kept me laughing from start to finish. It’s a great experience in both solo and multiplayer modes.
23. Darkside Detective
While visual novels were probably the single genre that I explored the most in 2019, I also spent a lot of time dipping my toes into the world of point-and-click adventures. I don’t like every game I play from the genre, but Darkside Detective has a charm and sense of humor to it that a lot of other titles can’t match. Right from the start, pop culture references and fourth wall breaks are abundant, while still telling a genuinely compelling story. The puzzles are also manageable, without too many that left me reaching for a guide out of frustration. I hope the sequel is coming out soon, because I need more from this world as soon as possible.
22. Kathy Rain
Speaking of point-and-click adventure titles, Kathy Rain is also a fantastic detective title, but has a drastically different tone and style from Darkside Detective. Instead of being humor-filled, this is a much darker tale that explores family dynamics in a small town. Personally, I found the protagonist, Kathy, to be the highlight of this game, as I kept playing in order to learn more about her and how she fits into the larger narrative. Again, the puzzles are generally manageable, and I love the purposefully nineties-style graphics. This is a hidden gem from my 2019 gaming year that I hope more people pick up soon.
The last game on my list is Evoland. Here’s the thing: I don’t necessarily believe that Evoland is a perfect title. It’s kind of buggy and has iffy controls. When I think back on my time with this game, however, I can’t help but have a huge smile on my face. It’s a satire and homage to older RPGs, with sections that play like The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, and quite a few others that I don’t want to spoil. It only took me a few hours to play and I was absolutely hooked on it. Players who are okay with a slightly clunky experience should absolutely check this out, as this game is probably responsible for the most pure joy I felt playing anything all year.
Well, that’s it for this part of the list! I’m super excited that I can start discussing my absolute favorites of the year with the final two parts that are upcoming. What did you play in 2019? Let me know in the comments below!