I did have a few games that didn’t make the cut for the main list – some because they just got eked out, others because they were on a previous list.
These are some of the other games I played and enjoyed a lot this year.
Honorable Mention #1: Death Stranding
This one just missed out on being on the list purely because it was on my Top 10 Games of the Decade list for 2019.
At the time of writing that list, I hadn’t yet fully finished the game but was fairly close to the end.
I love Kojima Productions’ games. If I were to narrow down my all-time favorite games to a Top 10 – at least 5 of them would be the entire Metal Gear Solid series, with another 2 spaces going to Zone of the Enders 1 & 2.
I’m not kidding about that.
Death Stranding, however, had my curiosity early on. I was obviously going to be interested in it, purely because of the team involved – but this was something entirely new and unlike anything they’ve really done before.
I was cautiously optimistic. As time went on, and more and more of the game was revealed…while still somehow not actually revealing much.
I still don’t know how that was possible – but here we are.
I became more interested. Once I finally saw proper gameplay – I knew I at least wanted to check the game out.
I can’t say the game is an entirely new genre. Maybe it’s the same as how Metal Gear was “new”. A new take on a genre that already exists. A take that does weird stuff with the genre that was never really seen in it.
It’s also the epitome of a “slow burn”. A lot of players will likely fall off within the first hour or so. It doesn’t explain itself very well (Which is weird, because it explains a lot about itself all the time.), and you just don’t have a lot of fun toys to play with for the first few hours.
It’s not until you start being able to build gear and vehicles that the game really starts to shine – and pretty much anyone who’s played it past that point will say so.
A lot of stuff Death Stranding does isn’t exactly new – it’s just not common in the genre. Some of it is just taking things that other games have done – like the Soulsborne message system – and greatly expanding on it.
Building structures to help yourself and other players cross treacherous terrain is a great addition to simply leaving a message that says “hole ahead”.
Having it so that not only you, but other players can maintain those structures is also great and works to build a sense of camaraderie among the community.
No invading other people. No PVP. Just you and a network of other players all working together to reconnect the country.
It’s also eerie how parts of its story parallel this year’s goings on. An invisible threat that kills a good portion of humanity and can only be survived by sheltering in home.
The rest of the story is standard weird-ass Kojima, full of heavy-handed metaphors and analogies with silly wordplay that borders on too much at times.
But that’s what I love about their games.
What sealed this game’s place in my heart, though – was one moment. The very first moment at the end of a long delivery. You’ve crossed hard, deadly terrain. Got through MULES and BTs and come to the top of the mountain.
You look to the distance and can see your destination just ahead – and then the sound drops out as you start to make your (much easier that the climb) descent. It becomes much softer and all you can really hear now is “Asylums for the feeling” by Silent Poets.
It’s a sense of relief. And it was one of the most perfectly timed, well executed rewards I have ever gotten in a game. It wasn’t even material.
And it’s something the game does repeatedly – yet it never manages to become boring or repetitive.
I love this game – and it made getting through this year just that little bit easier.