It’s that time of the year again. The Game Awards just happened and they announced that Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice won Game of the Year for 2019. However, now it’s time for us here at Gaming Access Weekly to look back at the long and often strange year that was 2019, then ask ourselves that same simple question: “What game really stood out for us this year?” We went around and asked everyone what their Game of the Year was and here are their replies! Did they agree with the Games Awards? Find out below! Also, just for fun, we also asked them what their runner up was. Allen Saunders Editorials and Reviews Manager/ Horror Enthusiast There were a bunch of absolute juggernauts released this year both on the indie and the main front. Games like My Friend Pedro and Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden were top shelf indies that pushed their genres to new heights. Games like Modern Warfare gave old characters new life. The Resident Evil 2 remake filled old fans with nostalgia while welcoming in first-timers like myself and showing us an amazing world. My game of the year however is Gears 5. It continued the story of the soldiers we know and love while also presenting new, outstanding ideas and concepts. It was the Gears universe first foray into the open-world style and it paid off immensely. Having Kait take the center stage as the main character was the right move and allowed the continuation of the story to pay off in a big way. The choices in the campaign were heavy and felt meaningful. I can’t wait to see what lays ahead for Delta Squad. My runner up should shock absolutely no one. Apex Legends brought new life to the battle royal genre. The battle royale genre has long felt stagnant. Many players like myself don’t like Fornite, and PUBG’s drawn-out matches can get a little humdrum fast. What made Apex Legends stand out was it’s almost Overwatch-style gameplay. What I mean is the primary mode is typically formed with teams of three. Each person picking their own Legend with unique abilities and huge personalities. It definitely freshened up the genre and despite its flaws, I am so happy to see this game flourishing and growing. I am beyond eager to see what year 2 brings to the table. Adam Siddiqui Senior Staff Writer 2019 was a strong year. With many acclaimed titles such as Control, Luigi’s Mansion 3, Death Stranding, The Outer Worlds, Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, and so many others. However, 2019 belongs to Capcom. They delivered not one, not two, but three Game of the Year titles. Devil May Cry V, Resident Evil 2 2019, and Monster Hunter World Iceborne. Monster Hunter World Iceborne maybe DLC but this expansion so generous in content that it deserves to be considered a full game. But my Game of the Year has to go to Resident Evil 2 2019. This remake for one of the best survival-horror games ever made was not only loyal to the original vision but provided ample reasons to keep coming back. With 2 versions of 2 campaigns, multiple bonus modes, and dozens of unlocks you were constantly encouraged to come back for better runs. Not to mention the game’s take on survival-horror shows why Capcom is the king of horror. With incredibly tense moments against deadly infected creatures and constantly having to manage your inventory ensured that you never felt safe. Capcom delivered in 2019 and the studio has quickly risen above other developers and publishers. Giving gamers what they want. And with more publishers attempting to nickel and dime players with subscription services like Fallout 1st or time saver microtransactions Capcom gave gamers complete experiences. John Donadio Chief Operating Officer/Bought Too Many Statues & Figures This Year While the AAA scene kept rolling out the hits this year, including The Division 2, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and many of the ones that Adam mentioned above, my heart belonged to the indie crowd this year. Two games that captured both my innocent love for games and my childhood memories were both distributed by 505 Games this year. For my runner up pick, I want to bring some light to Indivisible. Indivisible is an action RPG platformer featuring stunning hand-drawn art combined with unique real-time combat mechanics. The story of Ajna and the adventure she begins is fantastic. She is a strong female character that you will instantly love. If she doesn’t steal your heart, then Razmi is sure to. The artwork is fantastic, the music is beautiful, and the fighting scenes are something completely new for a turn-based RPG. I had a blast playing it. My Game of the Year pick also has a strong female lead and it was Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. I might have been biased when picking this since Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was one of my top games of all time, however, I still had a blast playing this game. Having Koji Igarashi back to make a spiritual successor was a dream come true. This exploration-focused, side-scrolling platformer featuring RPG and crafting elements game filled with monsters that I can beat up is everything I ever wanted. I know the Nintendo Switch port has had some trouble at launch but that didn’t affect my pick at all. I know this answer might fall flat compared to many picks this year, in fact, both these games seemed to have flown under the radar a bit. However, they both gave me a wonderful feeling of how great single-player stories can be written and made even if they don’t have the big studios behind them. I stand behind my picks! Noah Dominguez Junior Staff Writer/Resident Christmas Ghost Every Zelda fan looks back fondly on the game that introduced them to the franchise; their first foray into the wide world of adventure Nintendo first crafted over three decades ago. My first Zelda game was the 1993 Game Boy title The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. As such, I was fairly excited when Nintendo announced an HD remake of the game this past February – even though I didn’t even own a Switch at the time. Having now bought a Switch and played through the newest version of Link’s Awakening, I can safely call it my favorite game of 2019. Link’s Awakening is something that has something for all Zelda players, be them longtime fans or newcomers to the franchise. Established fans will love how lovingly this remake recreates the whimsical Koholint Island and it’s incredibly likable cast of characters. Those unfamiliar with Koholint, meanwhile, can jump right in, experiencing its quirky, bizarre and ultimately heartbreaking story for the very first time. While the visuals aren’t exactly as extravagant as those in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (which I am currently playing for the first time and loving), seeing Koholint, its characters and our hero, Link, himself make the jump from simple Game Boy sprites to polished 3D models is something that feels rather special in its own right. The Switch version of Link’s Awakening also makes great use of the updated hardware by giving certain items and abilities dedicated buttons — that way you no longer have to waste button slots on them. While some old school Zelda fans may take issue with this making the game “too easy,” I firmly believe making the dungeons and overworld less of a hassle to explore was a fantastic move. Link’s Awakening was, above all, a journey of personal fulfillment. Though the original version was my first Zelda game, I never managed to finish it. The same goes for the DX re-release for the Game Boy Color (which I played on the 3DS Virtual Console). By completing my adventure on Koholint from beginning to end this time around, I not only got to experience this wonderful game in its entirety, but also put a years-long gaming hangup of mine to rest. For those reasons, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening on the Nintendo Switch is, without a doubt, my 2019 Game of the Year. Marc Watson Junior Staff Writer/Always Putting Off Something More Important There was so much innovation in the world of games this year. Players had a lot to enjoy with new ideas and concepts in some of my runners-up such as the beauty and elegance of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the run-and-gun exhilaration of Control, or everyone waiting with excitement to finally see what Kojima-san had in store for us with Death Stranding, only for us to get our hands on it… and still have no idea what was going on. The baby does what now? Whatever, I still love it. But we gamers are creatures of habit. We want our sequels and re-imaginings. Gears 5 was intense and the story made us hold our breath. Link’s Awakening took us back to a place as dark as it was beautiful, and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night was a shot in the arm to the Metroidvania genre that had started to become stale. And I couldn’t be happier about it all! So it’s in this spirit that I say Resident Evil 2 is my 1998 Game of the Year. Wait, I mean 2019. I admit to a bias here because Resident Evil 2 was already on my list of top-5 favorite games of all time, but that’s what made the 2019 remake so special. They could have just upped the graphic polish and ditched the tank-style controls of the original and I’d have been happy, but the team at Capcom went all-in when they recreated a classic, adding just enough fresh content to keep the old guard like me happy (which I can’t really say about Zelda), and making everything that I loved about the original better. It’s re-playable and nerve-wracking, while also being familiar in a very good way. Now the wait begins for Resident Evil 3 Remake. Since Capcom has shown what they can do, I’ll start drafting my 2020 GotY article contribution on that shortly. Robin Ghosh Senior Editorial Writer / My backlog of games officially have a backlog (I’m so sorry The Witcher 3) This has been quite a wild year for games. No matter what tickles your fancy, there was a game for almost every single type of gamer. Whether you enjoyed scrounging for loot in a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C. in The Division 2, stealing people’s hats in Untitled Goose Game or climbing up mountains delivering packages (while carrying a baby on your chest) in Death Stranding, this has been a year of excellent video games. But there are two games that really stood out for me this year, one that claims the title of runner-up and the other, my game of the year. It’s hard to pick two games to stand out from the rest, and even harder deciding which one “wins” because, let’s face it, we all win at the end of the day playing these astounding games. But for the sake of this article, my runner-up for a Game of the Year is Metro: Exodus. The third entry in the series took us away from the underground metros of Moscow on a cross-country road (but actually a train) trip across Russia. My concern for the open-world structure of the game diluting the narrative was completely wiped away with how masterful the developers at 4A Games handled the transition. The game is a visual masterpiece showcasing some of the most atmospheric worlds I’ve seen in a very long time. I also loved how little this game held your hand and allowed you to experience the world rather be told how to. But beyond any of this, it was the small moments of reflection and conversation between characters that helped cement this bleak yet hopeful world. Just talking about it makes me want to do another run-through of the game. Throughout the year, I honestly thought nothing would beat Metro Exodus for me. It was then a complete shock to the system when I finished a little game known as Control. From the creators of the Max Payne series, Alan Wake, and Quantum Break, Remedy set out to build a brand-new world that would grow to become their greatest game. Control is a very special game. Much like the brilliant Prey (2017), Control takes players into a deeply complex world filled with mystery and horrors and giving players the tools to discover its secrets. The game combines some of the most incredible visuals and art design, paired with the most empowering third-person combat (possibly ever) to create a thrilling, complex experience. Beyond the visuals and gameplay, it’s the games rich attention to detail and world-building that sets it apart from anything this year. Roaming the halls of the Oldest House is as thrilling as getting into a firefight. There are so many secrets, paths and things to do tucked away in this game that at some point, I’ll be diving back in. In my review for the game, I had said: “Mid-way through a busy year of games, Control is an easy contender for the years best.” As this year closes, that sentiment hasn’t changed one bit. Now if you excuse me, I have to go play all the other god knows how many fantastic games from this year. Nick Tricome Junior Staff Writer / Still hoping Mega Man Legends 3 comes back (please, Capcom) This felt like a year where everyone got what they wanted in one way or another. Capcom put out Resident Evil 2 and Devil May Cry 5, and both were exactly what fans were looking for out of each series and then some. Death Stranding came out after three and a half years of build-up, and we finally got to see what a Hideo Kojima game looks like when it’s creatively unrestrained (turns out it’s pretty polarizing…that makes sense). Nintendo released Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Luigi’s Mansion 3, Super Mario Maker 2, and Pokemon Sword and Shield, with each setting a new and exciting standard for their respective franchises (complete Pokedex or not in Pokemon’s case) now that they’re at home on the Switch. And Kingdom Hearts III and Shenmue III finally launched, putting an end to two of the longest waits in video games. This isn’t even to mention all of the other fantastic titles that released throughout the year. The Link’s Awakening remake and Cadence of Hyrule, Sekiro, Ace Combat 7, Trover Saves the Universe, Control, Untitled Goose Game, and so on. There were a lot of great games to play in 2019, each remarkable in their own way. But If I had to pick my absolute favorite, it would be Judgment. Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s 2019 effort isn’t radically different from the Yakuza series it spun off from. You still beat up waves and waves of thugs with incredibly satisfying and creative combat moves, and the tone still bounces back and forth between the serious drama of the main story and the outright wackiness of the substories/side cases. The game even keeps Yakuza’s primary setting of Kamurocho, this time using it as the backdrop for private investigator Takayuki Yagami’s journey, rather than long-time protagonist Kiryu Kazuma. But if anything, Judgment proved two things: That director Toshihiro Nagoshi and his team aren’t afraid to mix up the formula, and that there are plenty of stories to tell in the city of Kamurocho that don’t involve the Dragon of Dojima. What starts as a case to track down a serial killer became a mission to expose a much bigger conspiracy in a story that’s just as much about revealing the truth as it is Yagami trying to redeem himself for his greatest failure. The plot kept me on my toes until the very end, while the game’s cast of characters had me wishing it wouldn’t just so I could get more time with them. Some of the gameplay features introduced (tailing and chasing suspects and Active Search Mode) felt underdeveloped, but those aren’t anything more polish can’t fix for a potential sequel and are ultimately minor complaints about a game well worth playing. Also, a huge shoutout to Sega’s localization team for its work on the Western release. The inclusion of an English dub (a first since the original Yakuza on the PlayStation 2), I believe, went a long way in letting myself and many others appreciate Judgment’s story so much more. And the English voice cast, Greg Chun as Yagami especially, turned in stellar performances. Christopher Taylor Staff Writer / Hold’s a grudge against Rudolph The beginning and end of 2019 have been exceptional for the release of fun and interesting games. Unfortunately, time constraints meant I couldn’t enjoy as many of the great games released this year. Luckily my top two games of the year have been praised, not only by the staff here at GAW but also by the players all throughout the world. It was difficult to pick between my top two, however, the runner up award goes to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Sekiro offers a setting, Shogun era Japan, which I feel has fallen off the radar to players in the last decade. It was fun to revisit a locale that games such as Tenchu and Onimusha made popular and enjoyable. Sekiro also offers a difficulty that is entertaining while being punishing but fair. While Sekiro is a top contender, it still fell just shy of being my top pick. Resident Evil 2 takes the crown of Game of the Year for me. Capcom was able to take the essence of the original and suitably update it for modern times. Resident Evil 2 has by far some of the best graphics, gameplay and overall sound design of any game released this year. I haven’t had this much fun playing a game since Mass Effect 2, my favorite game created to date. Resident Evil 2 has a decent difficulty in all its game modes, especially when trying to get an S+ rank upon completion, that it might even give Sekiro a run for its money at times. I’ve sunk well over 130 hours into Resident Evil 2 trying to achieve the S+ rank in all modes which, who am I kidding, Sekiro was my runner up, so I will put myself through the torturous task of achieving the elusive rank. Resident Evil 2 is one of the greatest survival horror games of a generation and the most superb game to release this year. Well, Everyone, there you have it! Looks like after we tally up those votes that Gaming Access Weekly staff picked… Our Game of the Year is… RESIDENT EVIL 2! Yes, it would seem that 1998 has come back to take the year 2019 over again and that is fine with us! Resident Evil 2 was a classic that was brought back from the dead and scared us all over again! Thank you Capcom for making our memories so beautiful. What was your pick for Game of the Year? Tell us in the comments below!