By Steve Baltimore / January 7th, 2020
2019 for me was a strange year for gaming. Things I thought would stand out instead fell flat, and I ended up finding greatness in some more obscure titles. This is perfectly fine, and even an old dog like me can find something unexpected every now and then. Anyways, without further rambling here are my top five favorite games of 2019 in no particular order.
Until this year I hadn’t really played any Souls type games. I spent just a little while with Demon Souls back in the day, but I had a hard time getting into it. I like stories with character narratives much more than ones that just focus on lore, so this was a always a sticking point for me getting into these types of games. I was very unsure about Code Vein when it was first revealed, but I decided to give it a chance on release and I’m glad I did. The combat is fantastic with a good mix of tactics and skill. The game had a great story and some wonderful characters you learn all about along the way. I can’t wait to see what kinda of new adventures Bandai Namco brings us with the Season Pass content this year!
I’ve always been a huge fan of the Fate franchise and Musou style games, so it’s a given I would love this series. I felt the previous entry, Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star, was a decent game, but there was some room for improvement. Fate/EXTELLA: LINK addressed pretty much every issue I had, improved the gameplay in various ways and gave me an even better story. The music in this game was much improved as well, with “My Fleeting Glory” being one of my favorite tracks of all time. Charlie was quite the King!
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I decided to check out CRYSTAR earlier this year. I have mixed feelings about FuRyu games, some of them have been great while others I’ve haven’t had a very good time with. Luckily CRYSTAR turned out to be amazing. It is by far my favorite game they have ever produced. The story is one hell of an emotional ride with some of the best character writing I’ve seen years. The music is haunting and dark which fits this game’s tone perfectly. The gameplay can be a little repetitive and it doesn’t do anything fancy for an Action RPG, but the story and characters more than make up for any shortcoming that game has in that area.
Idea Factory is mostly known for their more humorous titles such as the Neptunia series. Death end re;Quest is a great departure from this. This game has some very dark themes and even some occult overtones. The story follows a young woman named Shina that disappeared while developing a new game for her company. The game she was working on was supposedly shut down. Later the game’s programmer Arata discovers the game is still running and that a girl that appears to be Shina is trapped inside! This leads to a wild tale with tons of twists and turns. The combat here is pretty fun, with the hacking system that allows players to use different genres of mini games to inflict damage on their foe and change various battle conditions. This one may be a lot different from Idea Factory’s other releases, but it’s a very solid title.
VenusBlood Frontier International
This is one of those rare times when I saw something, got hyped for it and it exceeded my expectations. I remember when I first saw the PreFundia for Venus Blood Frontier. I thought this game looked a little wild, but I really loved the Norse setting and the gameplay looked great. When I finally got my hands on it, I was blown away by how much fun the combat in this game actually is. The story is great as well with multiple endings and side paths to explore. The H-Scenes basically tell their own story and the Goddesses will obtain different combat moves depending on whether you dominate or befriend them. While this one may not be to everyone’s tastes. if you like Eroge titles with great gameplay and interesting characters, you should check this out as soon as possible.
While 2019 wasn’t the best year for gaming there were some shiny spots to be sure. I think Crystar was my biggest surprise of last year. I’m looking forward to what 2020 has in store to see if there are more surprises in store for me this year.
Code VeinCrystarDeath end re;QuestFate EXTELLA LINKVenusBlood Frontier