Gamer Escape's Top 5 Reviewed Games of 2019

31 Dec 2019

It’s almost here folks…the end of the decade. The time to flip another number in the year and suddenly find ourselves reliving the 20s. The past few months have seen endless social media trends about looking back at the past decade, reliving on what one has accomplished, and what they’re looking forward to in the new decade.

Looking back at my corner of the Gamer Escape empire, we have definitely come a long way. A glance back at our very first Top 5 from 2015 list shows that we only reviewed 23 games back then. That’s not a surprise – reviews were a relatively new focus for our Final Fantasy MMO-focused site back then.

Five years later, on the cusp of the new decade, where are we now? Well, we have a dedicated review team, have greatly expanded the scope of games we cover, and we came really damn close to breaking into the triple digits of games reviewed. We had a pool of nearly 90 reviews that we had to dig through and pick just five that we could call the best of the year.

With so many to choose from, we decided to make one major change to this year’s list: to give each of our choices a specific rank. So, after an all-out brawl amongst the Gamer Escape staff, we finally settled on five games…well, six, actually, as we found ourselves in an unbreakable tie for one of the spots.

As in the past few years, we roped in the original reviewer of each of the winning titles to give their final thoughts of the year. Again, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading through our team’s reviews as much as we’ve enjoyed writing them for you, and we are looking forward to continuing our adventures into the new decade! Until then, we pull away the veil of suspense and present to you, dear Gamer Escape readers…

Gamer Escape’s Top 5 Games of 2019!

5 (Tie): Control

Reviewed by: Andrew “Fusionx” Copeland
Release Date: August 27th, 2019
Systems: PC, PS4, XB1
Reviewed Version: PS4
Gamer Escape Score: 8/10

As a kid, I can remember tuning in every week to watch the latest episode of The X-Files. There was something about the weird tales of science fiction that always drew in my attention. The team at Remedy also has an incredible love for that same amount of weird and, with Control, they executed their vision beautifully. Going through the bizarre headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Control while gaining abilities that could come from super heroes and Jedi was an experience that kept pulling me in. I found myself constantly wanting to know more and to explore every nook and cranny in order to collect every bit of information I could about the world.

The game does a great job standing on its own two legs, while also dropping some information that helps connect to other Remedy titles, specifically Alan Wake — a game that fans are always wanting to see more of. This month, Control received a free update and, with more DLC on the way, fans of this game have a lot to look forward too. I personally can’t wait to jump back into the weird world of Control.

5 (Tie): The Outer Worlds

Reviewed by: Mike “Bags” Thomas
Release Date: October 25th, 2019
Systems: PC, PS4, XB1
Reviewed Version: PS4
Gamer Escape Score: 9/10

I never doubted Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds would be a good game, but what I wasn’t ready for how much fun I was going to have in a genre that was growing stale. While The Outer Worlds didn’t do anything new or particularly innovative, it did remind me of how much depth we used to experience in RPGs. The simple act of removing the voice over for the player character and going back to simple text options made the game come alive. When so many RPGs started to focus on full voice over and good vs evil choices, The Outer Worlds dared the player to make decisions that didn’t always have apparent consequences.

With its massive success and Microsoft’s recent purchase of Obsidian, I am excited to see them bring us to a new RPG golden age.

4: Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers

Reviewed by: Gamer Escape Staff and Avalonstar
Release Date: July 2nd, 2019
Systems: PC, PS4, Mac
Reviewed Version: PC
Gamer Escape Score: 92/100 (9/10)

It’s no secret that we here at Gamer Escape love Final Fantasy XIV. With the latest expansion that dropped this summer, none of us realized just how much more we could come to love this MMO from Square Enix.

In addition to the usual job adjustments, new jobs, and quality of life improvements that came with Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers, the game also delivered an absolutely incredible story. Some have even gone as far as to say that Shadowbringers isn’t just a great FFXIV story, but a great Final Fantasy story in general, and one of the best at that. That by itself is a huge accomplishment, but because this is an MMO with years of service behind it, what they were able to craft here feels almost like an Avengers: Endgame level narrative that helps connects the dots between their years of storytelling.

Since launch, we’ve seen updates that added additional story, a NieR: Automata-inspired collaboration raid, beast tribe quests, new content for crafters and gatherers, and a myriad of other improvements. Final Fantasy XIV has never been in a better place.

3: Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

Reviewed by: Timothy “Urthdigger” Hyldahl
Release Date: September 6th, 2019
Systems: PS4
Reviewed Version: PS4
Gamer Escape Score: 10/10

I’m normally pretty wary to list things like expansions on a “Best of the Year” list. One has to consider, does this truly deserve being listed among brand new games that came out this year, or is it simply just a bit more content for last year’s Game of the Year?

In Iceborne‘s case, yeah, it deserves it. Monster Hunter World made our Top 5 list last year, but I’d be lying if I said it was starting to get a little stale after nearly two years (early last year to late this year). All the new additions, especially the new moves for every weapon, made it feel like I was playing a new entry in the series. I was running around with the same weapon I was using before, but hunting in drastically new ways on new monsters. My only complaint is that while we got a host of new monsters and the weapons feel fresh, we only really got the one new zone to play around in.

I’m primarily a PC player, so unfortunately it won’t be until just a little past the new year that I play through on my main account with my friends…but it just goes to show how much I enjoy the game that I’m willing to play through it a second time on another console.

2: Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition

Reviewed by: Josh “FireMarth” McGrath
Release Date: January 11th, 2019
Systems: PS4, XB1, Switch, PC
Reviewed Version: PS4
Gamer Escape Score: 8/10

While the Tales franchise is still relatively niche nowadays, it was even more obscure amongst the general gaming public back when the original Tales of Vesperia launched in the US in 2008. The game was an Xbox 360 exclusive in the US, but Japan received a PS3 port a year later…one that included new story, mechanics, and playable characters.

Thus began a decade of begging from the Tales community to bring over the “true” version of Vesperia to the west. It reached the point where it nearly became a meme, with even Namco Bandai themselves getting in on it with some snarky Twitter posts.

So imagine my surprise when, during the 2018 Microsoft E3 conference, the opening theme for Vesperia began playing. I proceeded to nearly soil myself as Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition was announced, finally bringing the “full” version of the game to the west on modern platforms.

Already long held up as one of the best games in the Tales franchise, having the opportunity to play the game on modern hardware and finally experience the story threads I’d long waited for was a highlight of the year for me. Not only is the game a love letter to fans long clamoring for it, it also acts a great entry point for newcomers wanting to experience a more “classic” Tales game – something that I highly recommend doing during the wait for the upcoming Tales of Arise in 2020.

1: Resident Evil 2

Reviewed by: Andrew “Fusionx” Copeland
Release Date: January 25th, 2019
Systems: PS4, XB1, PC
Reviewed Version: PS4
Gamer Escape Score: 10/10

Resident Evil 2 is a classic among gamers. When Capcom announced in 2015 that it would be remaking one of their most popular survival horror titles, fans the world over couldn’t stop talking about what the game could be.

What we ended up with was a game that will go down in the history books as a shining example of what a remake can be. Resident Evil 2 kept enough of the old, while introducing the right amount of new elements to create a game that could cater to longtime fans and newcomers alike. The remake’s version of Mr. X also served to take an already creepy and unsettling atmosphere and added an incredible amount of tension as you hear the stalking tyrant looking for you and, ultimately, chasing you around the Raccoon City Police Department. Even almost a year later, I often find myself contemplating a run through of the game, before being filled with that dread that comes from hearing those footsteps, and seeing that fedora-equipped behemoth coming down a dark corridor.

After seeing Capcom’s previous take on a remake with the original Resident Evil, and now seeing what they’ve accomplished with Resident Evil 2, the bar is set very, very high for the upcoming Resident Evil 3 remake set to release on April 3, 2020.