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Etch Play's Games of the Year 2019

23 Dec 20196 minutes read

Etch's Play team look back at the games that made 2019. Did your favourite make the cut? Let's find out.

2019 has been another brilliant year for videogames. So before we all drive home for Christmas and emerge next year in a new decade, we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the most excellent things we've played this year. Like the industry itself, we've got varied taste, and our picks represent the diverse range of interests we have in the team. Our choices surprised us, so we have a feeling they might surprise you too!

Let's get into it, shall we? In no particular order...

Hypnospace Outlaw

We live in a golden age of idiosyncratic indie games, and one of the strangest this year was Hypnospace Outlaw — a game about trying to moderate an alternate-reality version of the internet that can only be accessed via a headset you wear while you're sleeping. This peculiar framing device lets creator Jay Tholen (plus a few collaborators) unleash creativity in a huge variety of ways as you browse the titular Hypnospace, tapping into nostalgia for ugly AOL-era websites, the usergroups that used to define the internet, lawless file-sharing, spooky retro viruses, Y2K fear-mongering and much more besides.

The game delivers, not just in terms of nostalgia but as a biting satire of tech hubris, a vehicle for musical comedy (including some by the likes of artists like Hot Dad), and a satisfying puzzle game with a surprisingly affecting story. Don't sleep on this one, it deserves to be played. — Adam Burt

Gears 5

While I have to give special mention to Super Mario Maker 2 and Untitled Goose Game (and make apologies — I've seemingly been really bad at playing new stuff this year, fuelled largely by having only just got on the PS4 wagon) my Game of the Year is Gears 5. It held my attention and delivered a sufficient punch of alien bashing, strong narrative and corny quips. What more could I ask for?

A promotional image from Gears 5

I intend to spend a significant proportion of my festive break playing catch-up on some other great games, so maybe I'll have changed my mind by the time the new year fireworks are lit, but if you're looking for a dose of polished, violent action, look no further. — Dan Thomas

FIFA 20

The latest yearly edition of FIFA came out in September this year in the form of FIFA 20, and as I am a big fan of football... Well, you see where this is going.

An example celebration from FIFA 20

Annual sports games get a lot of criticism for releasing similar games year on year, but this edition was totally worth the wait. In addition to an improved core game (which I'm still enjoying), this version introduced the new Volta mode and Mystery Ball house rules, which make the latest game the best one we've seen in a long time. — Mobin Zadeh Kochak

Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu!

This year I had a real nostalgia hit in the form of a Pokémon game — but maybe not the one you're thinking of. My brother bought me a copy of "Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu!" (quite a mouthful) for my birthday and it was awesome to dive back into my childhood and essentially re-play Pokémon Yellow all over again, but on an updated console with modern graphics and a variety of nifty improvements.

Footage from Let's Go: Eevee, a game twinned with Let's Go: Pikachu

Some of those improvements have made the game more approachable to newcomers, while others are just plain fun. And where this years banner release from the franchise hit some controversial stumbling blocks, Let's Go proved that sometimes, there's nothing better than bringing a classic to the Switch so we can pump a lot of hours into them all over again. — Ben Joy

Slay the Spire

Since I was first introduced to a deck building physical card game I loved the idea. I really enjoy the moment to moment decisions that affect the rest of your game, and those moments of excitement when your deck starts humming, or that rare card shows up that pulls it all together. Slay the Spire excels at capturing this feeling while also taking the experience further in ways that are only possible in a digital card game. For that reason, it is my choice for Game of the Year.

Gameplay from Slay the Spire

Beyond those moments, it has a lovely progression curve which unlocks more cards and characters that give you access to whole new mechanics as you play. All in all, it's just a fantastic game that keeps me coming back again and again for just one more run. And, as it continues to be developed, I imagine it'll keep me coming back right through 2020 too. — Lawrence Dine

An image showing characters from some of our favourite games this year

Of course, there are many (many) games our team didn't get a chance to play this year, as there were a huge number of great games to play on every platform. Did your favourite make the list? Are there things we need to play during the holidays? Let us know on Twitter!

That wraps up our blog for 2019, but we'll be back in 2020, when the release of two new flagship consoles and a variety of highly anticipated games should make things very interesting indeed. Until next time! 

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