Another year has come and gone, and once again our gaming backlogs have ballooned in size. Will we ever shovel our way out from beneath it? Do we really miss anything by not being up on the hype?
The answers are no and yes, respectively. We’re suffering from a serious case of year-end gaming FOMO, so, naturally, we’ve packaged our sorrow for your casual consumption. Enjoy our list of the best games of 2019 we never found time to play!
So many people told me I would love this game. Alas, we may never know.
It took seeing actual footage and spoilers of this game to truly comprehend how artistic and legitimately fun it really is. I initially believed it was a full-on horror game, but it’s not! It has all the wacky elements of exciting, creative level design and utterly hammy, FMV-fueled chaos, so I look forward to eventually playing it properly.
This game seems completely perfect for me, as it’s been described to me as Myst in space. But alas, I don’t have a powerful enough PC to run it right now, nor any of its compatible consoles. But a PS4 is on my Christmas wish list… so if anyone blows away my wildest expectations and gets me one… I look forward to playing it in 2020.
I kept confusing this game with The Outer Worlds, which I also have not played, for the longest time. Outer Wilds sounds extremely my jam, but I skipped it because I don’t play much on PC. Maybe now that it’s out on PS4… we’ll see.
I also got Outer Wilds mixed up with The Outer Worlds all year. Myst in space sounds extremely good; why did I tune out whenever this game was mentioned?
Wait… Myst but with alien stuff? …………… how many weeks of 2019 are left??? There’s still time…
The Outer Worlds
But honestly, this game too.
— Emily D.
I loved Her Story. I love mysteries. I played the demo at PAX and enjoyed it. Why haven’t I played this game yet? Time makes fools of us all, particularly me, who hates Twitter and yet continues to use it even though I could be, I don’t know, playing games that sound like my jam?
Baba is You
Truth be told, I thought Baba is You came out literal years ago. Like, 2017 or something. I thought I was so behind that I would be excused for not having played a game that sounds like I would absolutely adore. No, it came out in March. I have no excuse! None!
The moment I heard Death Stranding is roughly around 60+ hours of playing time even just for the main story content alone, I knew I wasn’t going to survive attempting to rush this before 2020. Really proud of Hideo Kojima and his boyfriends, though.
I have experienced about three hours of Death Stranding, but I feel like I never got to the point where I was playing it. I like the environment, and I don’t even mind taking care of a digital baby! But there are just so. many. cutscenes.
When How Long To Beat tells me a game is about 60 hours, I know it’s going to take me 90 or more, and I don’t have that time to give to Death Stranding right now. I’ll get there eventually; it just probably won’t be this year.
I don’t actually even want to play Death Stranding. I just want all of its weirdness directly injected into my brain, please and thanks.
Pokémon Sword and Shield
I honestly have not played a Pokémon title from the main game series for a long while, so I really shouldn’t have expected anything different this time! The games still have such a solid place in my heart as some of the first games I played on the Game Boy way back when. Unfortunately, they take a lot of time and investment, especially when you enter the post-game. I would like to get into playing Pokémon again, but I just haven’t seen anything personally compelling enough for me to experience what the more recent games have to offer. It also doesn’t help that Sword and Shield were clouded by pre-release drama and have some legitimate issues that turned me off. I am not reluctant to say that my attraction to Pokémon comes out of purely aesthetic and nostalgic reasons. I just want to collect and play with all these cute creatures, but not have to put in all that extra work to do so, y’know?
I think I got this one mixed up with Quadrilateral Cowboy, which I also haven’t played yet despite it coming out in 2016. A cowboy and an outlaw are similar, in my defense. Anyway, this game looks extremely cool and maybe I’ll play it someday.
Life is Strange 2
I’ve adored the new Life is Strange game, despite some early misgivings. I planned on reviewing each episode as it came out but didn’t get around to playing episode three until it felt like it was too late to bother with a review, and episode four came out at the end of August, also known as PAX season, and then I forgot about it until episode five came out a couple of weeks ago. Soon, I will play the ones I haven’t played and write an article on it. Until then, Life is Strange 2 belongs in the pile of the best games I didn’t actually play this year.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
I’ve been enjoying Fire Emblem: Three Houses fanart for several months, but I’m not actually sure I’d enjoy the gameplay. I put 48 hours into Bravely Default before I realized I had to play it three more times, and this realization almost broke me. I also definitely do not have time to do that in order to get the different FE3H endings. I did once read the Wikipedia summary, though. It was much more depressing than fanart would have you believe.
“I should review this!” I said, seeing coverage of Kind Words. “Oh, right, I need to review that!” I said, seeing Kind Words later that month. “Oh, right, I wanted to play that!” I said, hearing mention of it at GeekGirlCon. “Oh, right… I really wanted to check that out,” I said, checking year-end lists and being reminded that I hadn’t yet done so. Anyway, here’s to 2020, when I will finally experience the pure joy of lo-fi hip-hop beats and exchanging nice letters with strangers.
Final Fantasy VIII Remastered
I started Final Fantasy VIII on my PS3, played a few hours, and set it aside. Then they announced the remaster, which I bought for the Switch because I have grand aspirations for my commute (mobile gaming on the train!) that never actually happen. Needless to say, I still have not gotten past the intro in the remastered version. (I’m sorry, Nola.)
JRPGs are just… so long. I don’t think I have ever completed one soon after its original release date, nor completed one within the span of what the expected playing time should actually be. You go on dates with your friends. You kill gods. Family drama. And even worse, awkward romance. That’s exhausting, and a person needs constant breaks.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
The new Luigi’s Mansion looks so awesome, and the only reason I haven’t played it yet is because I’m an adult with responsibilities and it sucks! It looks fun and spooky, and there’s a ghost dog, and I’m so into it. Hopefully I’ll find the time to play it in 2020.
I’ve been watching a playthrough of this game, and it looks beautiful in every way that I didn’t expect it to. It’s indirect marketing at its finest, since I now have a real incentive to actually know what happens next by playing the actual game myself. I, of course, stopped watching said playthrough, so hopefully it was right before some dramatic story turn. Probably right before Luigi dies or something.
Kingdom Hearts III
I have never played a Kingdom Hearts game, nor am I going to, but I did receive a literally 45-minute in-person presentation spanning three 15-minute sessions over two years on the lore of KH from Xander O. for my birthday (it’s a long story), so I think I get it? (I don’t get it.)
— Emily D.
I was sold on this game when I read a review calling it “the best unofficial Twin Peaks game ever made.” Unfortunately, it’s not out for a console I own yet, so I can’t play it. Maybe someday.
I have heard that this is the best anti-capitalist game of the year, which is very very much my jam.
And yet I would need to participate in capitalism to purchase it. (I could very easily do that because I have the funds and buying things is not inherently bad, and people who argue that it is might have some more thinking to do. I just have so many unplayed games!)
Resident Evil 2 (2019 Remake)
It’s a pretty badass looking game and everyone is lovingly rendered as hotly as they should be, but I am not a huge horror game fan, so it just wasn’t on my priority list.
This is another cool text narrative game that tackles heavy social themes like Neo Cab and Disco Elysium do. Although less heavy as those former titles, Eliza addresses crunch culture, mental health, and the pervasiveness of automation in our lives. It’s pretty timely what with the recent increased promotion of therapy apps of late, which is what it covers. This was, unfortunately, another game that flew under the radar, and I discovered it a little too late in the year because it simply wasn’t a heavily covered title.
I FORGOT ABOUT THIS ONE TOO. LIKE I ONLY REMEMBERED BECAUSE ELVIE PUT IT ON THIS LIST. DID 2019 EVEN HAPPEN???
Did I play anything this year? One single game, even? Thanks for reminding me about this one too, Elvie—I loved the demo I played at PAX 2018, eagerly awaited its release, and then utterly failed to pick it up.
Anodyne 2: Return to Dust
I only heard of this by accident, and it looks fun and cute! I think the look really is an accurate throwback to older Playstation games. And it does that style particularly well, especially compared to other games that only achieve the look in a very superficial way. Should probably play the first one first, though.
As I understand it, this game is Russian Doll but with Hamlet. The art is charming. I’m pretty sure I know one of the game developers? And yet, here I am, endlessly watching TikToks instead of engaging in this clever melding of classic literature, intriguing time loops, and probably gayer updates to the source material…
In my defense, I did play a demo of this at PAX West. Does that count. Am I absolved?
Melissa Brinks is Sidequest’s editor in chief, co-creator of the Fake Geek Girls podcast, author of The Compendium of Magical Beasts, and an aspiring beekeeper. She once won an argument on the internet, and tweets at @MelissaBrinks.