2020 is here at last and I would say it’s going to be an interesting year for gaming, with the next generation of console gaming drawing closer every day, and some great titles due for release across the year.
But what about 2019? We had some good games right? Here is my personal pick of the best 2019 releases that I have managed to get my hands on.
Without a doubt the best free game that I have come across, Dauntless is just a lot of fun to play with your friends, hunting large, hulking behemoths together. I have talked a number of friends into playing it and we always have a great time going on hunts together! It’s the one free game that has me coming back for more and more, so it certainly has some staying power.
I talked about Dauntless earlier in the year in my review post, which you can find here.
Wargroove was a spontaneous little purchase on the Switch which I absolutely did not regret. It’s the kind of game that you can sink a couple of yours of amusement into, put it down, then return months later and still have just as much fun.
For any that played Advance Wars on the good old Gameboy Advance, you will immediately recognise the format of the game. It’s a simple turn-based tactical base-capturing game. The idea is to either destroy the enemy base or wipe out the commander.
It features a fantasy setting, which is always a quick way into my good books. Multiple races, lots of units, a campaign to tackle, a fun arcade mode, and even the opportunity to make your own campaign missions.
Wargroove is simple, easy to pick up, surprisingly challenging in places, and always fun.
Cadence Of Hyrule
I never played Crypt Of The Necrodancer, but when I saw that they were releasing a game that crossed over with The Legend Of Zelda, I knew I would have to give it a go!
It certainly proves challenging at times, but it’s always fun to play, especially with the fantastic disco/Zelda soundtrack! Sometimes I enjoy a track so much, I actually struggle to move on to a new area.
It’s only a short game, but full of fun, and extra mayhem available if you try your hand at co-op mode!
Greedfall was a great pick up this year, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. With a fantasy setting focused on colonising a recently discovered island, it certainly provides unique gameplay! I have enjoyed what I have seen so far of the environment, story elements and characters, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the game has to offer.
There is plenty more fun for me to have with this however, as I am no where near completing it – Greedfall is just one of the games that I must get back to soon.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Of course Luigi was going to make it to this list! This was one of the games I was most looking forward to getting this year. Even though it was only released on Halloween, I have already sunk a lot of hours into exploring the haunted hotel that Luigi finds himself and his friends trapped in.
It just doesn’t get old – vacuuming up ghosts, slamming them around the room, sucking up anything that isn’t nailed down!
If you want to read my thoughts on Luigi’s Mansion 3, you can check out my post here.
The Outer Worlds
This is one that actually slipped under my radar, and I only heard about it about a week before it was due for release. The first thing I heard was that it was made by the team who are responsible for bringing us Fallout New Vegas. So naturally I then immediately read any article I could find about this game, and the decision was made.
I had to buy it.
The Outer Worlds is just fun to play, no question about it. It has everything – great humour, fun characters, a wacky world, weird weapons … I love this game, is what I’m trying to say.
To see my in-depth thoughts, check out my review post here.
Pokémon Sword And Shield
I’m sure no one is surprised to see this here, especially given my recent Nuzlocke entries.
Pokémon Shield was my choice of the two (it’s all about those exclusives!), and I have a lot of good things to say about it.
Pokémon is a franchise that is very close to my heart, so I’m always going to give the new games a go. There may have been backlash from some, but you’ll find none from me. It’s everything I wanted from a new Pokémon game – well, almost everything.
And of course we have now had the announcement of incoming DLC for these titles, a Poké-first as far as I am aware! I’m sure the idea of DLC in a Pokémon game will also bring mixed reviews to long time fans, but I will reserve judgement until I have played it myself.
If you want to read my full review, have a look at the post here.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Without a doubt, I would place Three Houses as my Game Of The Year. I have put the most time into it by a total landslide, I never get bored of it, and I just love everything about it!
The game features so many unique characters, and I have enjoyed getting to know all of them, and it’s great to see how they react to each other in special cut scenes that you unlock as their relationships improve throughout the game.
There have been lots of tactic based games that I have enjoyed over the years, but it’s easy for me to say that this is my favourite out of any of them.
I still haven’t completed the game as there are still two different story lines for me to experience, but I can’t wait to do so and see the differences between each one!
If you want to read my original review post, you can see it here.
One of the key aspects of story-based games is of course the antagonists! They can take many forms, whether they’re just annoying people who turn up occasionally to get in your way, or an evil overlord who wants nothing short of world domination.
Here are my 10 favourite antagonists, the ones who you just love to hate!
10. Micah Bell
Red Dead Redemption 2 was my first foray in the Rockstar’s classic cowboy franchise, which means that I did not have any insight of events that existing fans of the series had already. For me, the gang’s downfall was a gradual observation, rather than an inevitable conclusion.
As the game progressed I became more and more suspicious of Micah, disliking him more every time he opened his mouth. He seemed to be too much of a loose cannon, and it felt as though his presence would end up being detrimental to the gang’s well-being.
Micah also appears to have a huge chip on his shoulder when it comes to Arthur – as Arthur’s health gets worse, Micah frequently refers to him as “Black Lung” – but even more baffling is how no other gang members ever challenge him on his disrespect towards one of the key members of the gang.
There are few games that force you to spend so much time with the main antagonist – the usual format being occasional meetings and battles. It is always refreshing to see a game that challenges the usual formats.
9. Scott Shelby
Heavy Rain featured three playable characters that the game would switch up from time to time, so players get to know all three at roughly the same pace. Scott Shelby is a Private Investigator who appears to be looking into the deaths caused by the Origami Killer.
Early on Scott meets Lauren Winter, the mother of one of the killer’s victims, and she accompanies him on his investigations. The pair develop a very close relationship as the game progresses. But then a major plot twist reveals that Scott Shelby is in fact the Origami Killer! For first time players (or at least, for me) it was a huge shock to find out that you had in fact been controlling the killer all along.
This impressive twist is what makes Scott one of the most memorable antagonists for me.
8. Seifer Almasy
The rivalry between Final fantasy VIII’s Squall Leonhart and Seifer Almasy is one that I have always loved. They both grew up in Balamb Garden, and have frequently come to blows.
Seifer is eventually recuited by Sorceress Edea to be her knight, taking a completely different path to Squall who is given the mission to assassinate Edea. Seifer appears a number of times throughout the game to hinder the party’s progress .
My favourite battle with him triggers the appearance of Odin, a powerful GF (assuming you have recruited him). Odin has a small chance at the beginning of every battle to use his powerful Zantetsuken skill, which will cut all enemies in half, instantly winning the battle. But when Odin goes up against Seifer, the skilled swordsman in fact manages to strike the GF down, putting him out of commission for good!
Seifer as an antagonist isn’t inherently bad, but rather he is a skilled and ambitious young adult who doesn’t quite fit in thanks to his rash and rebellious nature, until he was manipulated by the Sorceress.
Another entry from the Final Fantasy franchise – Sin of Final Fantasy X.
Sin is a gigantic monster who is best described as a calamitous force in the world of Spira. When the settlements of the world get too large, or start to rely too heavily on Machina, Sin will appear and destroy whatever it can find.
Final Fantasy X has a huge religious theme, and as you might have guessed, Sin is portrayed as the “divine punishment” to the people, and the reason why they must try so hard to atone. Each encounter with Sin is full of tension and intense pressure, as the possibility of destruction is so real once it turns up.
For those unfamiliar with the story, summoners will travel to temples across Spira to complete a pilgrimage, and at the end of this pilgrimage the summoner will call the Final Aeon, which will fight Sin. The hope is that it defeats Sin for good, but that will never happen as there is much more to be told about the origin of Sin.
Sin also has a very bizarre design – one which you don’t get to fully appreciate until much later in the game, as in the early stages of the story it appears in the water most of the time. And as for the actual creation of Sin, there is a very elaborate backstory behind how it came to be, and how it keeps coming back after being defeated.
I think Sin makes for an incredible antagonist. As you travel through Spira, you will see a lot of destruction caused by Sin, and you will meet people who have been affected by it, and the journey to destroy Sin feels like a truly epic tale – one that won’t be forgotten by me any time soon.
6. Zachary Hale Comstock
You’ve all played Bioshock Infinite right? You all know what the deal is with Comstock right? If this information has some how passed you by and you want to play Bioshock Infinite to discover what happens for yourself, MOVE ON.
So, we’ve had the guy who was in our gang, who we spent time with, who then turned on us.
We’ve had the guy who we played as who then turns out to be the killer.
And what do we have now? The guy, who is you but from a different universe!
I don’t think my mind has ever been blown as much as it was when I played this game, and the penny dropped the Comstock was in fact Booker Dewitt, and that Elizabeth was in fact Booker’s daughter, Anna Dewitt.
Again, this is an antagonist with religious overtones, but instead of divine punishment, we have a prophet – you will hear a lot of his prophecies and beliefs as you play the game. The story-crafting here really is phenomenal, with countless tiny details all adding up to make an elaborate backstory.
The uniqueness of Comstock’s backstory and identity truly make him one of the most unforgettable antagonists out there.
5. Skull Kid
This is in fact two separate characters; Skull Kid and the spirit of Majora.
Skull Kid, much like Seifer, is a troubled character, who is corrupted and manipulated by a powerful force. He steals Majora’s Mask from the Happy Mask Salesman, but the spirit sealed within starts to control Skull Kid, causing him to wreak havoc across Termina, the world that Majora’s Mask is set in. This ranges from poisoning the swamp, freezing the home of the Goron’s, blocking paths with boulders, to forcing the moon to fall from the sky.
I first played Majora’s Mask when it was released in 2000, when I was 7 years old … at such an age, this game felt a lot scarier than it actually is. The themes throughout the game are much darker than what is usually expected of a Zelda game, and Skull Kid felt particularly menacing. I wasn’t actually able to complete the game as a child because there were some parts of the game that I just found too frightening to tackle! (Of course, now I can breeze through with ease)
As you get closer to the end of the game, you learn that Skull Kid is just a kid who misses his friends, and that he isn’t actually an evil character. By the time I reached the end of the game, I actually found him to be quite endearing.
The spirit within Majora’s Mask eventually abandons Skull Kid, leading to a very surreal final boss battle.
Skull Kid will always be memorable to me, partly for how disturbing and creepy he was when I was younger, and partly because of how I feel about his character now that I have seen his story.
Demise is the final boss of The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and what a boss he is.
You will not see Demise’s true form until the very end of the game, as the main antagonist that you face throughout the game is in fact Ghirahim, but he only acts as a servant to Demise.
I really like Demise’s design, he truly emanates an aura of pure evil and malice. The final battle with him is quite simply … epic. Phenomenal battle music, a breathtaking battlefield, and a genuinely tricky but enjoyable battle against him.
But most importantly, Demise gives us answers.
The main villain of the Legend Of Zelda series is Ganon, and it was never incredibly clear to fans of the series why Ganon keeps appearing across the various titles … until Demise is defeated in Skyward Sword! It is at this point where Demise leaves his curse behind, claiming that his hatred will be reborn over and over to haunt Link and Zelda’s descendants in a never ending cycle – and this is the explanation for Ganon.
As a long time Zelda fan, I will always remember experiencing that battle for the first time, to then have that bomb-shell dropped.
3. Frau Engel
Wolfenstein’s Frau Engel is simply put … evil. She is a devoted Nazi, so devoted in fact that she states the Nazi agenda is more important to her than her own daughter.
You will bear witness to her evil personality a number of times throughout Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein: The New Colossus.
The New Order features a disturbing cutscene where Engel’s face has been horribly disfigured, and she gets right into Blazcowicz’s face to taunt him, before being flung aside by B.J.’s companion controlling a robot mech.
In The New Colossus, she relentlessly hunts down the protagonist B.J. Blazcowicz, even going so far as to get his father to lure him into a trap, where she then captures him and beheads him on national TV.
There are probably few characters who you will find yourself hating more than this Nazi (which really is a testament to the character’s design), and so I would say that Frau Engel is one of the greatest video game antagonists out there.
Now, if you haven’t played Portal, chances are you’ve at least heard of Portal.
GLaDOS is the main antagonist of the game, and wow, is she a good one. She hates you. She really hates you. She does not have a problem showing you how much she hates you. Never has there been a more sadistic, sarcastic, sassy character. She is always ready and prepared to chastise you for whatever action you’re about to make.
But everything she does is in the name of science, and if you cooperate you get cake. Right?
One more thing – Still Alive. Once you complete Portal and the credits roll, GLaDOS starts to sing. And as it turns out, GLaDOS can sing!
Ganondorf of The Legend Of Zelda series, the third Zelda entry on this list … I wonder if that might be one of my favourite franchises?
Ganondorf is just one half of the character though, as he can transform into Ganon, which is his beast form. He appears across a number of Zelda games, and in each instance there is a powerfully unique design.
My first encounter with Ganondorf was in Ocarina Of Time, and I was instantly taken by him as an antagonist! He has such an obvious air of evil and power, which is fitting for the bearer of the Triforce of Power.Ganondorf feels like a truly epic force to overcome in this game, especially by the time you reach the second part of the game – seven years after he steals the Triforce and reshapes Hyrule as he sees fit.
In Wind Waker he is actually referred to as Ganon, even though he is still in his Gerudo form. His appearance in Wind Waker is a stark contrast to the bright, bubbly setting that is the Great Sea. Such a strong design, and an excellent final boss battle to boot – he absolutely left his mark on this game.
Twilight Princess didn’t reveal Ganondorf until later in the game, with the main antagonist appearing to be Zant – but Zant was in fact acting in service of Ganondorf, who he reveres as a God. Once again Ganondorf has an excellent design, but what truly stands out for me is the spectacular multi-stage final boss battle. First he possesses Zelda’s body and attacks through her, and then transforms into his massive beast form … the next stage is a heart-pounding horseback battle on a huge open field, until finally Link and Ganondorf face off in a one-on-one sword fight.
Ganondorf makes more appearances across the series, but for me these are the stand-out appearances that make him my all time favourite antagonist of all gaming franchises.
Protagonist’s are pretty important. More often than not they will be the one on a game’s box art, and they’re the ones who you will be spending most of your time with in-game. Getting a protagonist right is a pretty crucial part of designing a video game – who wants to play a game where they hate the main character?
So I thought why not share some of my favourite protagonists, and the reasons why I love them!
10. Jonathon Reid
Vampyr’s Jonathon Reid is an intriguing character. Besides his devilishly suave fashion sense that puts my wardrobe to shame, and his cheek bones that are sharp enough to be used as a weapon, he has an internal struggle that he must come to terms with as you progress through the game.
As a doctor, he is sworn to cure the sick. But as a vampyr, he is thirsty for human blood. This rather different plot point means that you have the option to decide what the good doctor will do, and how he will react to the various opportunities that are presented to him.
In general, I just really like Dr Reid’s character design, and he would probably be among my top picks for potential cosplay ideas … if I could actually grow a beard as slick and suave as that!
9. Max Caulfield
I find Max Caulfield way too relatable. Awkward? Yep. Geeky? Yep. Takes too many selfies? Yep.
Because of this, I feel like I developed a quick connection with Max as I played through Life Is Strange. I found myself feeling incredibly sympathetic towards her choices and problems, making the gameplay all the more impactful for me.
In particular, there is one scene which destroyed me, the end of Episode 3. It was so heartbreaking, because I knew that I would want to do the same thing for my friends, as she did for Chloe. Seeing the consequences of these actions was devastating, and it was enough to make me cry (a rare occurence – kudos to you, Life Is Strange).
So the main reason why Max finds herself on this list is for using her relatable personality to build up our connection, only to tear me apart with phenomenal story-telling.
The Villager. He/she doesn’t have much to say (or anything … at all), and yet they’re full of personality!
In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the villager is in fact the mayor of the village! And what a good mayor they are! Pulling weeds, planting flower bed, bringing in new and exotic fruits, investing in the development of the town, donating bugs, fish, fossils and artworks to the museum, and still finding the time to wander about the village, greeting the residents and checking in on them, doing the occasional favour for them and forming lasting friendships… what? That doesn’t sound familiar to you?
That might be because you know the villager from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate! The villager has brought a lot of tools to the fight, like an umbrella, a watering can, a pot, balloons, and even an axe!
Even when the villager is brawling with enemies, they still manage to maintain their sweet disposition!
7. Squall Leonhart
Squall Leonhart of Final Fantasy VIII is my favourite protagonist from the franchise.
He is cold and unfeeling on the outside, but inside he is surprisingly insightful, and even somewhat sensitive. His voice is trapped in his head as he struggles to express himself, so he remains silent and stoic.
As the game progresses, Rinoa Heartilly and others eventually manage to pull him out of his head, and we get to see Squall finally express himself and grow as a person.
On top of this I really enjoy Squall’s design. His appearance meets what you would expect when you think of a “cold, uncaring mercenary”, and his weapon of choice was quite unique for the time of the game’s release – the gunblade!
6. Commander Shepard
Well, why wouldn’t you love Mass Effect’s Commander Shepard?
First, thanks to the Renegade/Paragon system, Shepard can actually be portrayed as two very different characters, who make very different choices through their space journey.
I’m a goody-two-shoes, so Paragon is my preferred option, but I have played a Renegade Shep, and that can be just as fun.
Shepard is also quite the romancer, but then I suppose if you were trapped with the same people on a spaceship for so long, it might be difficult to not want to jump into bed with the person in the next cabin.
With all the different paramour options, it leads to lots of different cutscenes and romance plots which help build Shepard’s character even further.
A galactic hero who is known across the galaxy for his deeds, and can pretty much have whoever he wants. As a certain Cerberus agent once said, “Shepard is a hero, a bloody icon”.
Aloy, the protagonist of Horizon: Zero Dawn, is another character where I don’t have anything bad to say about her.
She has a spectacular design, with stunning details to her player model. She has a good heart and always wants to help the people in need who she comes across without so much as a second thought.
She is strong and intelligent, and empathetic, with a quiet dignity – she truly is a remarkable character.
4. Peter Parker
Anyone who has read my Spiderman post will know how I feel about this rendition of Peter Parker – I love him.
He looks good with an excellent character design, he has access to a whole wardrobe of Spidey suits (once you unlock them), and he has the goofy sense of humour and awkward social skills that we all expect to see!
I have honestly never enjoyed Spiderman as much as I have whilst I have been playing this game, and that is really saying something.
3. Arthur Morgan
Red Dead Redemption 2’s Arthur Morgan is another character that can be played in a number of different ways.
His appearance can differ so much thanks to the huge variety of customisation options that we have been given, so you can dress him up as a roguish cowboy, or a suave gunslinger, or however you want him to look!
Arthur will be presented with a great deal of moral choices as he progresses in his journey through the West. Sometimes it can be difficult to see exactly what is on Arthur’s mind as he makes these choices … or rather, as you make these choices. Thankfully, Mr Morgan keeps a rather detailed journal, where he writes about all the people he meets and what he gets up to, and even jots down a quick sketch of wildlife and flora as he finds them in the world!
The journal is what truly bonds you with the character, as you read his innermost thoughts about what is going on around him. My first play through I ignored the journal, my second play through I read it as I progressed. The difference in how you perceive Arthur as a result of reading the journal is huge.
By the time you reach the final mission, you know there’s only one way that it’s going to end, and you find yourself not wanting to start the mission. That’s how I felt anyway!
2. The Inquisitor
Again, we have a character that is shaped however you see fit.
With intense character customisation, and things like your race and class affecting the story in various different ways, there are lots of different ways to play as the Inquisitor.
Once again you will have many opportunities to show what kind of character you are through dialogue options and important quest decisions.
I have had several play throughs of Dragon Age: Inquisition, and each one feels so vastly different based on the choices I make, it really makes it feel like each decision you make is important.
Much like Commander Shepard, the Inquisitor has a number of different romance options, and I feel very much the same way about how these pan out – excellent character building, and not just for the inquisitor, but for the romanced characters too!
Also if you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time crafting the best armour and weapons for the Inquisitor, and tinting them as well so that you truly look the part!
Link … which Link?
Link from Ocarina Of Time was the one who got me into the Zelda franchise in the first place, and by extension video games in general. In my eyes, this Link made the famous green tunic truly iconic across the franchise, as he was the first Link to have such a strong character design in game.
Link from Breath Of The Wild has to take top spot though. The Zelda team outdid themselves when designing him! With a huge assortment of clothing options to choose from, including classic green tunics for those who are lucky enough to own the matching Link amiibo, Link can truly look however you want him to look!
This version of the hero also has a lot of skills that have not been seen so far in a Zelda game! He’s a strong climber, able to scale sheer cliffs! And put him in the right clothes, he’ll even swim up a waterfall for you! He can even surf his shield down slopes! If you want a less intense way down, why not just jump and paraglide down?
Link even takes on cooking in this adventure, and he must love it if his little hum is anything to go by! And he loves his food too, with a satisfying tummy pat whenever you eat a meal!
Make sure to watching his temperature though, he’ll need to wear special clothes or drink elixirs to survive in some of Hyrule’s more harsh climates. But the clothes and elixirs won’t stop Link from having rosy red cheeks as he traverses through the extreme temperatures!
One skill he still has not picked up, is one of the most basic skills of all. Speech! I know that Link is mute to allow you as the player to better assimilate yourself as the protagonist in your head, and I guess it works because I have no problem imagining that!