Holy cow, 2019 was an incredible year for games. Here are my favorites:
The only board game on this list, but it’s fucking incredible, so I had to list it here. When we heard that DUNE was created by the same designers as Cosmic Encounter, we knew we had to play it. CE is one of our favorite games, but I think Dune is even better. Definitely more strategic, but I think it has a higher replay value as well.
The art on this game is what got me hooked. I liked it so much, in fact, that it inspired me to learn how to create ASCII art. Luckily the game play is just as interesting as the graphics. It’s a bit hard to explain, but the game sort of plays itself. I mean, you make big decisions and you can micro-manage if you want, but really it’s a “lets see what happens if I do this” kind of game.
Bad North is a beautiful game in form and function. The art is a unique low-poly style combined with generative islands for you to protect from viking hordes. You can create 3 types of warriors that can be used to defeat your foes. There’s an interesting rock-paper-scissor mechanic here were archers defeat pikemen, pikemen defeat shieldsmen, shieldsman defeat arches, etc. Every time you play this game, you’ll have a different experience in terms of generative landscapes, but what really makes the game pop for me is the tiny actions each and everyone of your warriors takes during gameplay. Sometimes someone chickens out or goes mad with rage. It makes it feel so organic and fun.
TABS is the most ridiculous game I’ve ever played. It combines a very real physics simulator with totally absurd character animations and ends up just silly and fun. It’s a strategic game through and through, but with the most ridiculous physics and logic.
OMG return of the OBRA DINNNNNNN! This is one of those games you buy for the art, but luck out on the game play. This is a who-done-it style game, where you play an insurance adjuster trying to determine how everyone on the Obra Dinn meet their cursed fate. Christine and I loved playing this game together. There were several times when she saw a clue I totally missed and vice versa. I shared a SPOILER FREE write up about the game’s art style here.
You are an elder god that’s pissed off at the mortal “leader” of your church, so you wage war against him. Rather than playing as some giant space monster, you posses smaller things like hordes of cultists or plagues of rats. It’s quite strategic and unlike any other game I’ve played.
An adorable exploration game with a fun flight mechanic. People say it feels like an improved version of Animal Crossing, but I have no idea what that game is.
Easily the shortest game on the list, Ape Out feels like playing your favorite 1960s jazz album. I mean “playing it”, as in playing it like a video game. Every move, every villain, and every action triggers changes in the music or scenery that make this an experience like non-other.