Best of my 2019 reviews – There’s still great games being made.

The following a script from the youtube video below.  Enjoy either the script or the video itself.   Thanks for watching.

Welcome back. I’m Kinglink and this is the second video of the Kinglink Reviews awards.

If you haven’t seen it, I already gave the worst of the year awards out. If you want them, I’ll link them at the end of this video. But with bad we need to also praise the good. And my 2019 reviews had some amazing games.

Some quick ground rules. This isn’t about score. While I did give a perfect score out to a few games this year, not all have made this list. This is a personal opinion, whereas my scores are about recommending the games to others. I didn’t like Hearts of Iron but it’s such a good game that it deserved a 4/5 last year. Personally, I didn’t like it.

Second, and more important. This isn’t limited to games from 2019. It’s the games I’ve reviewed in 2019. The simple fact is I don’t rush to review games for several reasons, and so I’m limiting this to the 60 or so games I’ve reviewed this year. I’m only counting my full reviews, of course.

With that said. Let’s start with a couple of honorable mentions.

First honorable mention, a perfect example of why I try to give games a little time to release. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Now this game is great. I think it’s worthy of a lot of applause. There’s really not anything that bad about this game, but it’s really made for Symphony of the Night fans, of which I’m one, but there just was better games this year. While it doesn’t matter to this list, it did take them a long time to get that Switch patch out, which it sounds like they finally have.

Our second honorable mention… Sonic Mania. This is an absolutely fantastic game, and one of my perfect scores. But I struggled with this list this year. I totally could put Sonic almost anywhere on this list, but I also could leave him off. Truthfully if you like Sonic, you’ve played this. And if you don’t like Sonic, you still should play this, it might surprise you.

With those out of the way, let’s talk about the best of the year. I do want to say one thing. The worst list is firm, it’s in the order I like and the number I like, but my top games of the year are fluid. Both of the honorable mentions have been on this list and I reshuffled them off. My fourth and fifth games have shifted more times than I would imagine, so just being on this list or even the honorable mentions are praise. With that said though, here’s the list as of now.

Number five. The Messenger

I grew up with the NES and Super NES. I played a lot of Ninja Gaiden, I played many games about Ninja and warriors, and Turtles who ninjas and mutant. But The Messenger is probably the best game of that style I’ve played in a long while. It has a great retro feel but also an amazing style and design.

I tried to remove the Messenger from my list, and I couldn’t find a reason. It’s just one of the best games I’ve played in a long time, completely rock solid. The controls feel great. The gameplay feels fantastic and the graphics look amazing. There’s nothing substandard here.

But then the story. The story of the messenger is probably why it’s on this list in the first place. The writing is well done but not overbearing. The side conversations with the shopkeeper are something I hate in most games, but I couldn’t wait to see more here. It’s a fresh style where most narratives feel like they have to remove something from the game to exist, here the story is extremely well-executed. Oh, and it’s funny too, something most games don’t do well. Awesome

Number 4. Slay the Spire

It’s a card base rogue-lite. I don’t know how I wouldn’t enjoy this game. The deck-building aspects alone are amazing, and remind me of playing Dominion with family and friends. The feeling that I want to keep playing one more game, rather than getting discouraged quickly is great, and the feeling that each game is filled with different possibilities is amazing.

Slay the Spire is pure fun to me, and I couldn’t stop playing it. I have actively stopped playing it as a finisher for a night because I wound up staying up late to get just one more game done. It’s addictive, and as a rogue-lite that’s important.

Each character also plays extremely different, and that’s an interesting twist. Most games promise that but Slay the Spire delivers on it and it’s an impressive feat. They even have a fourth character now available on the beta for free. I can’t tell you how much my heart warms. If you want a Labor of Love, ignore Steam’s list and look at Slay the Spire. If you don’t have this one. Get it. Fantastic.

Number 3. Celeste

Celeste is a simple platformer that has been quite common since that Italian plumber has dreams of royalty back on the NES. But Celeste is something else. It has a girl who can air dash one time in mid-air and seems pretty simple.

But what is done with this character and simple abilities is amazing. Every level is impressive and unique and so many interesting concepts are provided. It’s a wonderful game and worthy of praise for just the art style or gameplay alone. But there’s more.

The story of the game is another example of a developer having a good story while staying out of the way, but it’s worth understanding and quite well done. I won’t talk much about it, but it is extremely satisfying.

The assist mode alone is something every developer needs to understand. Giving the player a cheat or a way to beat the hard parts of the game doesn’t make the game worse or remove the challenge. I’ve never heard anyone say that this game is bad because of assist mode (though a small indicator showing any use wouldn’t be hated). But instead, you’re allowed to play this game your way and that allows the developer to make harder levels even if they’re going to be impossible for the average gamer.

This was one of my perfect scores of the year and this was well deserved when I reviewed it. But similar to Slay the Spire the developer has released another chapter since my review and I can’t even get past the first room yet, but kudos, we need more developers like this. Matt Makes Games keep making games. Wonderful.

Number 2. Again this is my list. And honestly, this could have been the game of the year: Baba is You.

If you like puzzle games, you need to play this. This is one of the most unique puzzle games I’ve ever seen. It’s fun, interesting and constantly surprising. Puzzle games are hard to make. If you don’t do enough new things, players will just be repeating actions over and over. Whereas if you constantly change up the formula, players will struggle to keep with you.

Baba is You finds the perfect cadence. Each area is a new and unique twist, and each level is something you haven’t seen before, but there are so many clever ways to do a lot of this game. Not every puzzle is perfect, but at least 75 percent or more is amazing. Even puzzles you can solve fast are well crafted and fun to play with, and there are so many puzzles in this game, over 200 and they’re consistently interesting and challenging.

Baba is You is just fresh. This is beyond a novel concept in puzzle games, it’s a novel concept in gaming, and I love the idea of how Baba is You can not only change the rules of the game in every level but instead gives the player the ability to change the rules. Not even just an ability but a necessity to change the rules to be able to win the level, and I won’t even talk about an end game surprise, but if you don’t know what I’m talking about… there’s probably more for you to discover. Incredible.

Alright, it’s time for my Game of the Year. I’m just going to say I struggled with this one, but I love this game. Here it is. Yakuza Kiwami 2

Last year I award Yakuza 0 game of the year, and it deserved it, but Yakuza Kiwami 2 is everything Yakuza 0 is but better. It has a great storyline, amazing graphics, huge improvements to series giving a fluid transition between indoors and outdoors, great gameplay and of course Kiryu is so great.

But there’s more, it has one of the best villains in gaming, both believable and larger than life, a storyline that kept me going, and more side quests than ever before. I loved this game so much I made a montage of some of my favorite moments because I had too much footage for the game, that doesn’t normally happen for me.

There are so many interesting moments, there are so many pieces of the story that combine and form a better experience, and there are also many points where the player will not be able to guess what happens next. It fixes the problems of Yakuza Kiwami’s boss battles, it gives the player more space to roam. It adds new mechanics that are fun and inventive, and it ties it all back to dealing with the same type of Yakuza situations the series has always had.

When I played Yakuza Kiwami, at the beginning of the year I worried that I might have to award the same franchise a game of the year. Luckily Celeste came out and I knew Yakuza Kiwami wouldn’t win it. But Yakuza Kiwami 2 presented the same issue. And I’m going to be honest, I tried not to make this the game of the year. I just love this specific game, as well as the Yakuza series to a point where I felt that I would be lying to give it to anything less than the award.

So it’s a yearly request from me. Sega, give us more Yakuza, especially if it’s somehow like Yakuza Kiwami 2 and I’ll be a very happy customer forever. But at least I hope we can see Yakuza 3 next year, or Yakuza 6, Judgement, just something. For my fans, This isn’t going to be a yearly ritual, at least I hope not. But dear god Yakuza Kiwami 2 deserved the crown this year. And if you’re angry, just pretend I gave it Baba is You. It also deserves it, and almost got it.

If you want to know the deciding factor, it was hours played. I put 200 hours into the yakuza series, with over 70 in Yakuza Kiwami 2 and with many more available. I put closer to 30 into Baba is You. Both games were a hair away but that made my decision for me.

That’s my list. Feel free to tell me down below what you think I’m right about, wrong about or what game you loved this year, even if I haven’t played it. I’ll take any suggestions and try to review it in the next year.

I have talked about doing a new series and I guess I’ll drop that information now. I’ve decided to do a series over the next twelve months. I’m going to review a series and look at a game a month to see how it’s held up, we’ll call them retrospective reviews.

For the first year, we’ll be doing… Sonic. Yeah, that blue blur is coming out with a movie. Let’s find out how his games are. I will be limiting it to PC games, as much as I want to talk about Sonic 06… who knows we might slip that in, I’ll have my first review out early in January as well as get a schedule for the entire year.

If you’re interested in that or just want to see which games become eligible for next year’s reviews. Hit that subscribe button, and ring the bell for notifications.

I’m going to pop up the worst of 2019’s list, and my awards from last year. I wonder who got number 1 then.

Until next time I’m Kinglink and thanks for watching.