The year 2019 is over. And with the end of a decade, every gaming platform is announcing their own Game of the Year winners. But you've heard them all before. You don't need another site telling you how much they enjoyed playing Sekiro or Death Stranding. What about all the hidden gems?
2019 was full of unique and interesting games. Games that we spent countless hours playing, getting immersed in fascinating narratives and engaging game mechanics. But no one is talking about them anymore. Well we haven't forgotten! Here are five of the best games we played this year that aren't getting the attention they deserve.
Most Overlooked Indie Game
Risk of Rain 2
The original Risk of Rain, developed by Hopoo Games, was a sci-fi rogue-like born in a time when the genre was at an all-time indie high. Despite the ocean of competition, the game managed to break free from the norm and establish itself as an indie favorite.
When Risk of Rain 2 released, it had taken everything that made the original game a blast to play and reinvented it for a 3D format. It retained all of the creative monster, characters, items, and weapons while introducing the fast-paced excitement of a 3D shooter. The extra dimension gave the game even more uniqueness. It had immediately become something new.
Risk of Rain 2 is just as enjoyable as the original, if not a bit more. If you're looking for a fun, co-operative indie rogue-like, we recommend it.
Most Overlooked AAA Title
It's easy to overlook gamed developed by indies and second-party developers. There are countless indie games released annually. But what about the big boys? They have the skills, resources, and clout to make any game mainstream, but some still fall in the cracks. In this case, we're talking about SEGA and their action RPG, Judgement.
In Judgement, you play as Takayuki Yagami, a lawyer recently turned detective. The game centers around investigating a series of deaths where the victims' eyes were removed. The player explores Kamurocho, a fictional area of Tokyo, fighting thugs, chasing suspects, and searching for clues.
The game was produced by the same team that makes the Yakuza games. It was, however, designed to contrast the Yakuza series, acting as a more serious game that newcomers can easily get into.
Maybe that's why it didn't take off as much as they hoped. People wanted silly, fun, Japanese RPGs from the studio.
The high-quality writing, interesting characters, and worthwhile combat systems that the studio is known for are clearly present in Judgement. Not to mention the amazing world design. If you're looking for an action RPG to get sucked into, this is a great choice.
Technically, Judgement released in 2018, but since the game didn't release globally until 2019, it still counts.
Most Overlooked Strategy Game
Age of Wonders: Planetfall
Some of the biggest games of all time are strategy games. Games like Age of Empires, Starcraft, and Command and Conquer are historical. So it's easy to see why any other game might be overlooked. And unfortunately, that seems to have been the case with Age of Wonders: Planetfall.
Planetfall is a sci-fi take on the Age of Wonders series of 4X strategy games. It took an already successful format and gave it a refreshing change in visual design. The game is full of interesting mechanics, a fun story campaign, and an enjoyable level of customization.It's a great option for anyone looking for strategy but also something different.
strategy games aren't exactly the popular thing in the game industry right now, which is a shame. Planetfall is a fun and unique take on a classic genre and we only wish more people know about it.
Most Overlooked Horror Game
Layers of Fear 2
Video games have done fantastic things for the horror genre. When you can actually move and interact with the terrifying world presented to you, everything becomes much more terrifying. While fear is what drives this game, it was also its own downfall. We're talking about Bloober Team's Layers of Fear 2.
The original Layers of Fear was unanimously praised for being one of the scariest horror games ever released. All the while, it told a fascinating story of a mentally ill artist and how he reacted with tragedy.
In Layers of Fear 2, the theme had moved away from art and into film. Now you played as an acclaimed actor, as you experienced mind-boggling terrors while aboard a sea cruise. But for every inch fright, there were two more inches of homages and references to classic pieces of film. The game told an engaging story about developing oneself as an actor while calling back to everything from Se7en to Le voyage Dans la Lune. This resulted in a game that was not only scary but absolutely rich in culture.
As amazing as it was, that aspect was likely the cause of its overlooking. Everyone who knew or cared about the game was looking for a sequel to the scariest game they ever played. They didn't want a less-scary game full of film references. As good as it may have been, it wasn't what people were expecting. And so, it was buried to time.
We actually wrote a full review of Layers of Fear 2. You can read that here.
The Most Overlooked Game of 2019
Oxygen Not Included
Every best-of list has to have a winner. And if we had to decide, it would be Klei Entertainment's Oxygen Not Included.
Oxygen Not Included is a sci-fi colony management game. The player issues a series of various commands, and their collection of "duplicated workers" or Dupes, will perform these tasks when they can. Since the base is located on a random chunk of space rock, they have to scramble to develop sustainable resources for the colony, including oxygen.
What makes the game so good, however, is how absolutely deep every aspect of the game is. The player has to consider a wide variety of environmental aspects. This includes air pressure, heat retention, disease, mental health, food, wildlife, and so on. You can spend hours upon hours focusing on creating an effective oxygen generation and air ventilation system. And then when that's done, you spend just as much time developing water sanitation and reclamation. We've spent more nights than we care to admit staying up until the wee hours of the morning, just because we were having so much fun playing. Progression feels natural and there are setting for more casual players. It has everything we could want in a colony management game.
That's why it baffles us that the game isn't bigger than it is. Klei Entertainment already has an impressive following thanks to the success of their other game, Don't Starve. They have the publicity, they have one of the most fun games we've ever played, so why isn't everyone and their mother playing it? We don't know. But to us, it's definitely our 2019 Most Overlooked Game of the Year.
To be fair, the game release in early access as far back as 2017. It wasn't until mid-2019 did the game leave early access and formally release.
Was there a game you thought deserves recognition in 2019 but no one talked about? Let us know in the comment section.