20(19) Games You Should Have Played

Ah yes, it’s that time of the year once
again, where content creators gather around a warm digital fire to tell tales of the best
games of the year, stuff like Sekiro or Apex Legends or perhaps even pretentious postman
simulator. Problem is though, with so many good games having come out in 2019, a bunch
of smaller titles that really deserve their moment in the spotlight have been lost in
the shuffle or have simply been overshadowed by titles with multi-million dollar marketing
budgets. That… is where I come in. Every single year,
I compile a list of 20 games that you might’ve missed over the last 10 months, but really
should have played. I’m not necessarily going to be showcasing the best games of 2019,
but instead the most interesting and unique experiences that I could find. Usually smaller,
weirder indie games that take risks and do cool stuff rather than boring blockbusters.
I’ll also show you in the corner where you can pick these games up,and the cheapest price
I could find for them on various holiday sales. Right, without any further ado, let’s get
started with…. Katana zero, which has been a standout stylish
hit ever since it came out in April of this year, and it won’t surprise me if it tops
some people’s game of the year lists. Katana Zero has you playing as a drug addicted army
vet ninja in a psychedelic and disturbing futuristic noir dystopia. When you’re not
using time-rewinding powers to kill baddies to the rhythm of grimy cyberpunk beats, you’re
wondering what the hell is going on as the story rewrites the rules of chronology around
you, leading to some incredibly unnerving story vignettes that stuck with me long after
I finished playing. Katana zero is intense, disturbing and just the right kind of brutal
to be both fascinating and shiver inducing at the same time. There’s a followup slash
sequel DLC on the way at some point as well so keep an eye out for that. Geese are horrible demonic creatures birthed
from the pits of hell to torment mankind with their honking, terrifying wings and general
aura of chaos, and for the first time ever this paranormal phenomenon has been captured
in video game form in Untitled goose game, a game where you play as a horrible goose
tormenting a picturesque and a little too orderly english village. UGG is essentially
a stealth game, and most of your objectives relate to stealing objects or interacting
with them in fun ways like chasing a child into a phonebooth or putting on a little show
for these ladies. It’s quaint, harmless fun with just enough of an edge to stop the
whole package from being boring. The entire game is distilled mischief and it’s no wonder
why the game has become so heavily memed over the past few months. Give it a look to see
what all the fuss is about.. Steamworld quest is a fusion of JRPGs and
collectible card games that is significantly better than it has any right to be- it’s
an image and form game so of course you’re playing as robots, but this time it’s in
a fantasy setting. Combat here isn’t about just using the best ability over and over
but all about assembling strategies on the fly from your hand of cards like creating
combo effects or synergising abilities between characters. There are a lot of potential strategies
and builds to explore here between the surprising variety of cards and character combinations,
and whilst the game never gets to magic the gathering levels of complexity, it’s a great
example of how to fuse genres as well as add some new charm to a tired gameplay format.
Please give it a shot if you’ve ever bounced off of the genre and are looking for a fresh
take. Ape out is a minimalist experimental percussion
jazz music experience inspired by the art of Saul Bass – wait no, don’t go! What if
I told you that you play as a gorilla? No? Well then you’d be missing out on one of
the best feeling games of the year. Ape out is a testament to base fight or flight adrenaline.
With every symbol crash or beat of the drums you’re running and punching and grabbing
your way across a bunch of different hostile levels killing humans until you can eventually
escape captivity. The simplistic mechanics and level design give way to a surprising
amount of tactical depth and ensure that the core fun of smashing humans to a procedurally
generated beat never gets old, great stuff. What’s the best thing about lego? Is it
assembling premade kits where you can only make one specific kind of model, of course
not- the best bit about lego is the infinite creativity offered to you by those pile of
bricks and the ability to create whatever you imagination can dream up, only to realise
it’s a bit shit. Trailmakers is a game trying to capture that emotion, you play as a crashed
spaceman and it’s your job to collect scattered legally distinct from lego bricks to build
a car, explore the world and get home. The game is almost a metroidvania, and it was
great fun designing new vehicles to cope with muddy terrain, water, big obstacles using
the parts I gathered up, and the way they all fall to bits when you inevitably crash
is a lovely little touch. Forget death stranding, Pathologic 2 is the
real bonkers impenetrable artpiece of 2019, to spoil even the mechanics would give the
game away so trust me here. The game is all about playing as a doctor in a spooky russian
steppe town haunted by bird-headed cultists and a massive floating structure called the
polyhedron, amongst other things, and it’s your job to save it from a mysterious plague.
Like the russian poetry from which it takes heavy inspiration, Pathologic 2 is bleak,
confusing, depressing and yet strangely beautiful. It is a step away from fun and empowerment
as a central driving force and whilst I have my issues with the game and its predecessor,
even I can’t deny that it’s utterly groundbreaking and needs to be supported. I wish I could
be less vague and show non trailer footage but I guess that means you’re going to have
to buy it for yourself. You will regret it, and that’s kind of the point. On the complete other end of the bleakness
spectrum is A short hike, a very fun light platformer focused around, well, going on
a short hike up a mountain. There’s really not much more to it than that, and it’s
in this simplicity that the game really shines. The platforming mechanics of climbing and
flapping around are very responsive, and gliding, particularly off of very high places to get
a birds eye view of the entire mountain is both loads of fun and also brilliantly peaceful.
This is all coupled with a lovely lo-fi art style that takes heavy influence from animal
crossing and a nice story about de stressing and disconnecting for a little bit. If you’re
looking for a game that can be played to completion in a single sitting and serves as a great
breather for when you’re stressed out, I can’t recommend a short hike more highly. Many years ago, a game called DreamQuest got
released, and it was a groundbreaking fusion of deckbuilders like dominion and roguelikes,
it was also kind of imbalanced, and looked like arse. It wasn’t until much later that
dicey dungeons came out and finally did the concept justice. You thought I was going to
say Slay the spire, right? Well sorry, but Terry Cavanaghs Divey Dungeons is they true
successor to Dreamquest’s crown. It’s got an expertly paced difficulty curve, a
fantastic art design and makes brilliant use of it’s dicey gimmick. It’s amazing just
how many cool mechanics Dicey dungeons squeezes out of a comparatively simple concept, with
spatulas that flip dice over, flinging die at enemies and even several different classes,
each with their own unique rulesets and challenges. Dicey dungeons is awesome, and it even accidentally
stole my likeness so that’s just another reason to love it. Oooh, now, crying suns. Thiiiis is an interesting
one because incase you can’t guess from the UI or the general premise of a roguelike
about space exploration, the game is trying to be FTL. Now, a bunch of games have travelled
a similar path, but none have iterated upon faster than light quite like crying suns,
which has a fascinating apocalyptic setting and a brilliantly fleshed out system for cinematic
yet tactical space battles. This isn’t to say that crying suns can’t stand on its
own, I love the way the game has you balance the lives of your commandos and leaders against
big resource payouts and the increased focus on the story to create a game that’s familiar
in all the right ways, but is also more than capable of striking out on its own. My Friend Pedro is a love-letter to insane
high-octane John Wu style action movies where you play as a random dude in a mask who’s
really into bananas for some reason. The game focuses on making you feel as cool as possible,
you’ll dive through windows in slow motion, shoot two guns in different directions and
just generally become a tornado of destruction. Beneath the over-the top visuals, though,
is some really compelling gunplay and a scoring system that emphasises style over efficiency
really well. You’ll get bonuses for doing dumb stunts like backflips during a kill,
punting an enemy’s severed head at his mate or exploding obligatory action movie explosive
barrels to get multikills – manipulating all of these stylish techniques to maximise your
score lends the game significantly more depth than I thought it would and so whilst Pedro
isn’t the longest game, there’s a lot of mastery here to explore. Sayonara Wild Hearts is an interactive music
album that sees you motorbiking, sword fighting and riding a deer, to the beat of an entire
album of electronic fem pop bangers as queen latifah herself tells you a story about how
to re-find yourself after heartbreak. If that’s not enough to sell you on the game, it’s
probably not for you. However, I’d advise giving it a look anyway, as there are some
really clever ways that the game creates a variety of different playstyles using a very
simple control scheme, with each chapter of the story being focused on a few mechanical
gimmicks that only stick around for a song or two and never outstay their welcome. To
be honest, Sayonara wild hearts is worth it for the music alone, think of it like there’s
also a neon-filled arcade game attached as a bonus, nice. Now, there aren’t any spooky games on the
list this year, and that’s actually okay, because any of 2019s horror games would’ve
been blown out of the water by the sheer gut wrenching horror that is Descenders. You’ll
spend most of your time in the game mountain biking down a series of progressively steeper
procedurally generated hills and mountains, performing tricks, fulfilling objectives and
most importantly trying not to die. The game is brutally hard in places, but there is nothing
quite like the feeling of careening down a mountain at 100kmph desperately trying to
regain control of your bike. That’s not even mentioning the first person mode, which
is complete jank, but is even scarier. Descenders brilliantly captures the mix of fear and excitement
that comes from extreme sports, and has a great pulse-pounding soundtrack too, well
worth a look. What if I told you that there existed a game
that somehow embodied Portal, Zelda and Metroid all at the same time, you’d probably call
me insane, but god damn does Supraland pretty much pull it off. It’s from the same mind
behind notpron, the hardest and smartest riddle on the internet, and manages to deftly weave
open world exploring, flexible, expressive puzzle mechanics and a great sense of discovery
into a single package. The game has this brilliant sense of cohesiveness, with your initial ability,
that being to create a single purple block remaining relevant all the way through the
game, and cleverly working alongside new gimmicks as they get introduced to create some very
clever puzzles later on. If that weren’t enough, the game is gorgeous as well. I very
nearly wrote supraland off thinking it was a generic metroidvania but I was very wrong,
it is in fact brilliant. Heaven’s Vault is a game that speaks to
me on an instinctive level, it’s a story about language, history and solving mysteries
plus, it’s got a funny robot, which is always good. The game’s central mechanic is the
ability to decode fragments of ancient text based on clues in the environment and your
previous understanding, for example, this statue on a swamp planet already has the word
holy on it, so the next two might be water and goddess. There’s a load of lateral thinking
puzzles like this, and the game lets you explore planets in whatever order you like, allowing
each player to build up their own lexicon of what they think each word means and thusly,
their own picture of what they think happened to this fascinating world thousands of years
ago. Hypnospace outlaw is a love letter to late
90s and early 2000s internet culture, we’re talking the stuff like pre-facebook social
media, web 1.0 interfaces and horrible image artifacting galore. You play as a volunteer
moderator helping to enforce the rules of hypnospace… which is an internet browser
you use in your sleep… for reasons, and you get to trawl a bunch of satirical web
pages like old conspiracy sites, personal blogs, religious nutjobs and scams looking
for rule-breakers to apprehend, it’s great. The moment that completely sold me on the
game was in realising that edgy teen user ZANE_ROCKS_14 was in fact pretending to be
his own fake girlfriend on a different page, the game is spot on tonally and if you remember
the early wild-west days of the internet and like poking your nose in where it doesn’t
belong then this is absolutely worth a go. There are few pleasures in video gaming quite
as compelling as watching small numbers turn into big numbers, and Forager is a game all
about that feeling. You start off as a little dude on a little island, and are tasked with
mining rocks and chopping trees to get exp, easy enough. Slowly but surely, however, you’ll
level up, unlock new things, buy new islands to explore and before you know it you’ll
be a part of an exponential growth loop that sees you stripmining entire islands to progress
the next milestone. The game is loaded with so many feel-good progression systems that
I lost five hours to it in one sitting. Forager is a great game to zonk out with over christmas
and just play forever, plus, it’s still getting updated, so the slightly iffy combat
I had to suffer through earlier this year has now been improved, which is great. Okay, I’ll level with you, grace bruxners
frog detective games are not exactly robust mystery stories, you’re always dealing with
low-stakes, boring non-crimes, all the characters are very helpful and tell you everything they
know after you give them a random household objects and there’s never really any challenge
or sense of danger, but you know what? I don’t care. True to form, Frog Detective 2: The
Case of The Invisible wizard is just lovely. The writing is feel-good and wholesome, but
with just enough self awareness to be laugh out loud funny, and the entire experience
is a testament to the fact that games don’t always have to be high budget, complicated
or intense to be worthwhile experiences, can’t wait for episode 3. Phew, that’s 17 games down, and normally
in these videos the final three are ranked as my top 3 recommendations for games you
should of played the year, but I actually can’t decide between them. That’s just
how good these next three games are. Consider them a universal recommendation so if you’re
only going to play one of the games I’ve mentioned in this video, it should probably
be one of these three, okay? Let’s start with the chronological first release for maximum
fairness and that is Baba is you. When you get right down to it, puzzle games
are all about manipulating rules, and baba is you is what you get when you take this
idea to its logical extreme. Starting out life as a humble lundum dare entry, in baba
is you, you push words and names around sokoban style to form simple sentences. These sentences
then become the rules of the game. BABA is YOU means that you control baba, ROCK is PUSH
means that you can push rocks. When you combine a bunch of different configurations of objects
and rules, the game quickly balloons into truly mind bending levels of complexity as
you attempt to code the game to fit your ever changing needs. BABA is YOU somehow manages to make you feel
like a complete idiot for not being able to beat what appear to be simple puzzles, then
a total genius as you figure out a way to cheat your way around them, before bringing
you right back to idiotdom as you realise that your cheat was the intended solution
all along and you’ve just learned a new rule to use in the NEXT puzzle. Baba is both
the purest essence of the puzzle genre and utter unclassifiable insanity, to the point
that it makes surreal brain teasers like Antichamber look positively boring by comparison. Baba
is you will shape the genre for years to come, don’t miss out. Next up we have Outer wilds. Outer wilds is
a difficult game to describe in such a short space and time, double pun intended. This
is because in outer wilds, the universe is stuck in a time loop, you have 22 minutes
to pootle around a mini solar system and try to save it before everything gets blown up
and you’re sent back to your home planet groundhog day style. It’s in this repeated
schedule of events that Outer Wilds creates its best moments of discovery, each of the
planets will collapse or change over time, a comet that orbits around the solar system
will briefly reveal hidden mysteries, and you’ll even have to plot journeys between
the planets carefully as they’re all orbiting around the central star. Without giving too much away, the game is
all about that childlike sense of wonder towards the mysteries of the cosmos, there’s so
much to do and so little time to do it in that the game pushes you into making suicidal
trips into the unknown to discover more secrets and knowledge about how this strange little
system works, as well as the surprisingly in depth history that caused it to come to
be in the first place. As the game gets on, this sense of scientific wonder only gets
more pronounced as you start dealing with quantum puzzles that I won’t spoil and big,
universe spanning questions that make you feel like a very small part of a very big
system indeed. If you’re even a little bit interested in space and science, this is a
game you will not be able to put down, because I certainly couldn’t. And finally, we’ve got Disco Elysium, which
snuck into the top three at the very last minute and boy does it deserve the spot. Disco
Elysium is an explicitly politicised nonviolent story-based RPG set in a world that’s a
fusion between david lynchian surrealism and neo-european realism, and if that doesn’t
sound like a games critics wet dream I don’t know what does. Disco Elysium sees you playing
as a washed up amnesiac detective tasked with solving who’s behind a lynching alongside
his companion Lt. Bestboy Kim and the collection of yammering voices inside his head that represent
his skills. What follows is, essentially, a lot of reading
interspersed with a few dice rolls – but what really sets Disco Elysium apart is in just
how many permutations the story has whilst still dealing with a central mystery. Different
character builds can engage with the story in a totally different way, and the game puts
a lot of effort into making even failure interesting, and there will be a lot of failure. Disco
Elysium doesn’t so much as tread the line between comedy and trajectory as veer drunkenly
between either extreme, and the end result is some of the most gut wrenchingly depressing
writing in the digital medium, as well as some of the biggest laughs a video game has
ever squeezed out of me. Disco Elysium truly has something for everyone, and chances are
you’ll get a totally different perspective on crime, politics, and the nature of humanity
from playing than I did, whilst still being gripped just as hard by the whodunnit mystery
at the core of the game. And if that isn’t the mark of a truly great game, than I dunno
what is. Well, that’s it, twenty games from 2019
you should have played. This year has been a fantastic one for weird games that break
the mould and challenge our conceptions about the medium. Hopefully you found at least one
game in there you’d like to give a go, hope you enjoy it. And this wouldn’t be an architect of games
video without a big thank you to my patreon supporters, if you want to help finance the
fact I had to buy some of these games before the sales started like an idiot, then consider
chipping in a few bucks a month to help these videos get made. An extra special thank you goes out to my
top tier patreon supporters who are: Alex Deloach
Aseran Auno94
Baxter Heal Brian Notarianni
Big Chess Calvin Han
Chill Daniel Mettjes
Derk-Jan Karrenbeld Evie
Ibbathon Jessie Rine
Jonathan Kristensen Joshua Binswanger
Lee Berman Lucas Slack
LunarEagle1996 Macewindow54
Max Phillippov Patrick Rhomberg
PhilbytheBilby Phoneyhomeless
Pr05p3ro ReysDad
Sam Myers Samuel VanDer Plaats
Strategia in Ultima MrTWithSomeTea
Yaron Miron Zach Schuster
Chao Thank you to all those people, thank you for
watching the video and go and buy some of these games, because they’re good. See you
next year, Bye!

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