I’ve played a handful of great games over the last few months, but 2019 hasn’t felt like a big year for the medium yet. In fact, it’s been somewhat disappointing. Perhaps we’ve just been spoiled over the last few years with juggernauts like Overwatch, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and God of War, but 2019 hasn’t had that one game that truly stands out from the pack. Apex Legends is damn good. I’m also having a blast with Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Kingdom Hearts III, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Devil May Cry 5, and Resident Evil 2 also deserve nods for living up to the hype. That said, I don’t know which one of these games I would label as my Game of the Year. One doesn’t jump out from the pack.
Looking ahead to the remainder of the year, I’m hoping Death Stranding becomes another Hideo Kojima classic, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is everything I want it to be as a Star Wars dork, and The Outer Worlds is more Fallout than Fallout 76 was. One of those games could define the year. Let’s not forget about the sequels either. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare looks awesome, as does Borderlands 3. I also can’t wait to get my hands on Pokémon Sword and Shield and Doom Eternal.
Those are the games that I’ve circled on my calendar as “must plays,” but I’ve also marked two days in August for five games. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m fascinated by five games releasing later this month. Here they are in order of release:
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Remedy Entertainment probably wanted Alan Wake and Quantum Break to become gargantuan hits that led to numerous sequels for each, but I love seeing this developer take chances with new ideas, especially since we usually get something we’ve never seen before. Control follows suit and puts the laws of reality on notice. Players are taken into the world of the paranormal, and see just how a government covers up and handles forces that can shatter reality. This journey unfolds within the Bureau of Control, a government skyscraper with an interior that is magnitudes larger than its exterior. How does that work? We’ll have to play the game to find out. Remedy says Control is nonlinear in design, and uses ideas similar to Metroid to open up new paths in previously visited areas. And what kind of firepower do you have in this puzzling world? How about supernatural abilities to fight the supernatural threats. They include levitation, telekinesis, and mind control. Sounding equally as delightful as it is twisted, Control is the game I am looking forward to playing most of this month.
Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey
Knowing that one false move could either lead to my ape falling out of a tree and breaking a bone or stepping into a swamp where he gets eaten by a snake is terrifying … and also exhilarating. These slight missteps could spell disaster for your ape clan. Taking risks could also reap benefits that extend lifelines, improve intelligence, and more. The goal of Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is to survive and evolve. If everyone in the clan dies, it’s game over. If you do well, your clan will become stronger, smarter, and will be better suited to explore the sprawling open world. I’m absolutely fascinated by these concepts, and have been waiting to see what director Patrice Désilets did after his run on Assassin’s Creed. On that note, the apes bound through trees similarly to assassins scaling buildings. Now that bad news: Ancestors is only launching on PC in August, but if the game turns out well, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players don’t have to wait long, as it’s slated for release on console in December.
Platinum Games has been hit or miss as of late, but I’m getting a strong Nier: Automata vibe from Astral Chain, a Switch exclusive that is designed by Takahisa Taura, a game designer for Automata. To make it more exciting, Hideki Kamiya, the creator of Bayonetta, is also overseeing the direction of this project, which appropriately features what Platinum calls “stylish combos.” The unique hook of this experience is the player controls both their character and a weapon that acts like a second character (called a Legion) at the same time. Depending on what Legion you have, you can swing it around like a sword, ride on it, shoot it like a gun – the ideas and variety on display for this battlefield duet looks impressive and fun. To top it off, it takes place in a futuristic megacity yet is also supposedly post apocalyptic. I’m in.
Xbox One, PC
When Blair Witch debuted during Microsoft’s E3 press conference a couple of months ago, no one knew what they were looking at until the logo appeared at the end of the trailer. I thought it might be Resident Evil VIII or a new Silent Hill. I didn’t think for a second that it would be another Blair Witch game, and it looks creepy as all get-out. This journey unfolds through a forest that distorts both in time and space, and also focuses on a character who is losing his mind. Okay, so maybe it sounds like a stress-inducing nightmare, but I just gotta see how this one turns out. The more horror games the better.
The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
I can confidently say Supermassive Games’ Until Dawn is one of the best horror games of this generation. I can also say it’s one of the best choice-driven games ever made. That’s right. Most player decisions are handled in meaningful ways. I’m hoping The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan is just as good. The gameplay design is similar, it takes place on a ghost ship, and is all about choice. What more do you want?