2019 marked the final year for Playstation 4 and Xbox One as the dominant consoles. For one, the Nintendo Switch sold more consoles and released more games. Second, both brands will see new consoles before the end of 2020. That didn’t mean it was a bad year for games, however. If anything, the game landscape has grown more diverse with a wider variety of original titles for niche audiences. While I don’t play everything, below are my ten favorites of what I did play. But first, some honorable mentions: The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan, Ape Out, Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer featuring The Legend of Zelda, What the Golf, Tetris 99, Heave Ho, and Grindstone.

Untitled Goose Game

Untitled Goose Game

10. Untitled Goose Game (PS4, XONE, Switch, PC)
When it first showcased with the placeholder title “Untitled Goose Game,” I assumed it was just a funny goof. Then it was announced as the final title and I kind of laughed thinking, “What else were they going to call it?” Finally, I played it and realized the unconventional title was the least interesting aspect of the game. Goose is a puzzle game at its most basic level, but the absurdity of playing it as a goose as you try to outsmart farmers and shopkeepers adds a certain something that can’t be explained except as joy inducing.

Telling Lies

Telling Lies

9. Telling Lies (iOS, PC)
From the developer of Her Story (another favorite of mine from recent years), Telling Lies is basically watching a series of video clips as you slowly piece together a mystery. What makes it something special is the excellent writing and the fact that by never giving you the full clip, it forces you to figure out how to access the missing parts. The result is a real sense of detective work. Telling Lies isn’t the only game about discovery on my list this year, but it may be the most accessible for many.

Baba Is You

Baba Is You

8. Baba Is You (Switch, PC)
Baba is You. Baba is Key. Baba is Everything! Baba is a puzzle game that shares more in common with an introduction to computer programming than Minesweeper. Each level rewrites the rules of the game as it asks you to change simple properties such as whether or not you can walk through walls in order to solve the level’s puzzle. Simple enough at first, but it ratchets up the difficultly quite quickly. The result is a game that gave me a headache, but I loved Baba for it.

Assemble with Care

Assemble with Care

7. Assemble with Care (iOS, PC)
There were a lot of great mobile games this year. Particularly, there were many standouts that launched alongside Apple Arcade (Apple’s new game subscription plan). Titles like What the Golf, Sayonara Wild Hearts, and Grindstone were all fun for me, but Assemble with Care resonated the longest. It’s a simple premise of repairing small items like record players and portable game systems, but there’s a tactile feel to the controls on mobile. It feels like a title that could make the jump to VR easily in some ways. However, the narration and story really put it over the top. Breezy but sincere, you’ll feel genuine emotion. Not many console or PC games can claim that.

Resident Evil 2 (2019)

Resident Evil 2 (2019)

6. Resident Evil 2 (2019) (PS4, XONE, PC)
I’m not one for including remasters on a top ten list, but this one is a full remake. It’s not the original The Lion King compared to the CGI version, it’s John Carpenter’s The Thing compared to the original The Thing from Another World. While most of the story beats and settings are the same as the PlayStation classic, this update feels like a brand-new game from this year in everything from its graphics to gameplay. So, while I find it difficult to go back and play those original Resident Evil games now, this one was a delight.

Ring Fit Adventure

Ring Fit Adventure

5. Ring Fit Adventure (Switch)
Wii Fit was a genuinely innovative product when it released, but it required dedication to stick with. It might have given you a fine workout, but it wasn’t exactly a joy to play. Ring Fit Adventure is different. It feels like a game first and foremost—that also happens to be working you out at the same time. The biggest struggle of any exercise is motivation and Nintendo has come closer than anyone has before of making that feel organic and fun. I can’t promise you’ll lose fifty pounds playing it, but you’ll definitely feel the burn and love it.

Outer Wilds

Outer Wilds

4. Outer Wilds (PS4, XONE, PC)
Not to be confused with The Outer Worlds (also a game this year), Outer Wilds is about space travel. And time. And discovery. And that’s probably all I should say for fear of giving away too much. Some of the best video games have that Zelda effect of making you at one moment feel like a complete idiot, and the next like the smartest person ever. I had that feeling at times, but more often I felt genuine delight as I saw something new. The ability to create unique worlds we can explore on our own is a unique quality of games that few embrace as well as Outer Wilds.

Luigi's Mansion 3

Luigi’s Mansion 3

3. Luigi’s Mansion 3 (Switch)
Nintendo has had a series of exceptional Switch titles from Mario Odyssey to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. So, while their track record has been solid, I can’t say I was expecting much from a new Luigi’s Mansion. The GameCube original was fun as a launch title, but it was slight and quickly forgotten. This new one, however, is more akin to a visit to an amusement park. Even when I was fairly certain I’d seen the best the game had to offer, it constantly surprised with each new theme. It was the purest “fun” I had playing a game all year.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

2. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (PS4, XONE, Switch, PC)
How do you follow-up what many consider to be one of the greatest games of all-time in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night? Developers have been trying to answer that for the past twenty years, and wouldn’t you know it took a team of many of the original development team to answer? Most people look back on that Castlevania classic for all the surprise touches from the big (inverted castle) to the small (woman crying in confessional). Those same sort of touches are here, and I have to admit the first time I sat down to play the piano with my fairy familiar equipped I knew I was playing something special.

Control

Control

1. Control (PS4, XONE, PC)
It was hard for me picking a number one this year. While I think Control is an amazing experience, the truth is any of my top four could have taken this spot. What eventually tipped the scale in its favor was the complete package. No, it isn’t the best shooter of the year or even the best graphics (though both are great). However, taken in tandem with its stellar story, great voice acting, and overall moodiness it’s The X-Files game I always wanted. Control is a prime example that while video games shouldn’t aspire to simply be interactive films, they can benefit greatly from the production values of movies. In a list heavily populated with smaller indie titles, Control is a reminder that AAA games still have a place in this industry.

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