It’s that time of year again, where we look back at the year that was, and pick our top three games across a host of categories! As with years past we’ll reveal one award winner per day, and this year we’ve got a massive 17 different awards to share out. It was a difficult process to choose the winners this year! While 2019 might not have had quite as many spectacularly big blockbuster releases as years past, the quality of games that were released with far less fanfare than they deserves is truly incredible.
Microsoft’s focus with the Xbox this generation has always been a little at odds with DDNet, as we’re much bigger fans of Japanese and independent games, and Microsoft pitches its console as one for the big blockbusters. Nonetheless there have been plenty of great games released on the console and games that, thanks to the controller and overall tone of the console, do feel like they fit better on Xbox than anything else.
Dark Souls developer, FromSoftware, has been consistently one of the most impressive and creative Japanese developers, working at the higher end of town. It would be easy for the company to rest on the success of Dark Souls, but instead, FromSoftware this year released Sekiro, which upped the ante as far as the pace of action goes, and beyond the infamous challenge of a FromSoftware game, the developer also took the opportunity provided by a new franchise to try some new things with storytelling and narrative. Was it “as good as” the Souls series? That depends on who you are. What is undeniable is the sheer quality of the game, though. Get into this one and it will claim your soul.
For many years, Metal Wolf Chaos was the epitome of a cult classic: a game that most certainly wasn’t for everyone, was not that easy to find, and relished in being very B-grade. This year the game finally got a widespread release, and it’s manic. It’s delightful, wildly satirical, silly and bad, but in the best possible way. It’s one of those games that you really owe it to yourself to play. Not because there’s a guarantee that you’ll love it, because there isn’t that guarantee at all. Rather, you need to play it because if you do love it, you are going to find it absolutely glorious. The best art challenges. The best art subverts. The best art will only be loved by a percentage of the population. That all means that Metal Wolf Chaos XD is the best art.
The Outer Worlds is a very Xbox kind of game. It presents itself as an overtly western creative work, within the context of an open world shooter. And yet it also does enough to transcend that overly familiar scope. The Outer Worlds has a strong socio-cultural message, and while asking for a game like this to be subtle is asking a bit much, it does pull off its messaging with panache and wit. Most importantly of all, though, is its characters. The Outer Worlds might not have Garrus from the original Mass Effect trilogy, but its roster of eccentric “heroes” is second only to a roster with Garrus in it. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a soap opera sci-fi title in the vein of Mass Effect, and The Outer Worlds did a truly remarkable effort in washing the taste of Mass Effect Andromeda away.
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