The Dread Game Of The Year List 2019 – Month By Month
MAY – A Plague Tale: Innocence
I’d also list this as one of my most surprising if that were a category this year. The developer Asobo Studios was previously best known for being one of those mercenary studios that helped bigger publishers get their titles ported to new systems. It also features child leads and is about evil plague rats, two things that don’t exactly jump off the page as being the recipe for a great time. And yet, the game worked splendidly. The story of Amicia, Hugo, and their ragtag band of orphans was touching and poignant. The little moments of mirth were shining glimpses of humanity in an otherwise bleak and hopeless world. The rats managed to be terrifying, closer to a primal force than any kind of animal. And it all built into a climax and conclusion that had me feeling sorrow, excitement, and satisfaction all at once. It’s not a game you should miss.
JUNE – BLOODSTAINED: RITUAL OF THE NIGHT
Do you like Castlevania? More specifically, do you like the post-Symphony of the Night Castlevania games we commonly refer to as “Metroidvania?” Well, then chances are you already backed/bought/beat Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Developed by the man behind those classic Castlevanias, Koji Igarashi would prefer you use the term “Igavania.” Whatever, the man invented a genre, he gets to call it whatever he wants. So, what makes Bloodstained so great? It’s everything that makes those classically designed games so compelling, updated with modern graphics and tech. There are tons of times while playing that I had to remind myself that modern games have made me weak, that the solution could be something so specific or obtuse. Get ready to kill certain monsters over and over just to get a specific drop that lets you access an entire area of the game. If that sounds like your kind of masochistic challenge, then Bloodstained is dozens of hours of fun just for you.
JULY – OXYGEN NOT INCLUDED
What do you get when you mix sci-fi, Dwarf Fortress, and Don’t Starve? Well, an exceptionally robust wiki and a daunting learning curve, for starters. But you also get one of the most cartoonishly enjoyable survival simulators to date. I fucking love myself some survival management games, far preferring to whittle away the hours taking care of the needs of my digital dependants than my own ailing body. Oxygen Not Included wraps this constant need to survive in a layer of whimsy not commonly seen in such robust and complicated micromanagement simulators. It’s not a game that just slaps a layer of cute on and expects it to carry the whole package. It’s one of the best survival management games out there.
AUGUST – CONTROL
Remedy Entertainment is a company best known for creating games that have compelling worlds and lackluster gameplay. With Control, they outdid themselves in both categories. A game as fun to play as it is to explore, I could spend hours delving into the SCP style text logs or flinging rocks at enemies with equal enjoyment. It featured one of the most epic setpieces in modern gaming with the Ashtray Maze, and even functioned as a secret Alan Wake universe expander. It was everything I wanted, and several things I didn’t even know I wanted.