Welcome to the end of the decade; the end of the 2010s; Al at Decade’s End. This is a miniseries where I celebrate the past ten years in video games, starting by talking about my favourite games from each year, and ending with the end-of-year extravaganza for 2019! The games I talk about here might not necessarily be the best of the decade, but they sure left the best impressions on me for one reason or another. Now we’re moving onto lists! And so, without any more delay, we begin our look at the 5 games I wish I had played last year but didn’t, my top 5 missed opportunities of 2019!
5. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
I’d be lying to myself and everyone else if I didn’t include Bloodstained on this list. This was a game I helped fund on Kickstarter so many years ago and that I was very excited since I love metroidvania games. The fact that it was being produced by Koji Igarashi, one of the fathers of the modern metroidvania genre, also helped with the appeal. There’s also the minor detail that I’m currently playing this game as my first new playthrough of the decade, but who’s counting? The game itself is a spiritual successor to the Castlevania series from Symphony of the Night onwards, with circumstances that very closely parallel those of the near-universally panned Mighty No. 9. Igarashi had recently left Konami, the owner of the Castlevania IP, and opened up his own studio in order to start production of his own Castlevania game. With blackjack. And hookers. Bloodstained went on raise over ten times the asked amount on Kickstarter in 2015, ending at about $5.5 million! This is one game I’m sad I didn’t get to play in 2019, especially since I have the Switch version given to me as a backer reward, but I’m fixing that in 2020.
4. Disco Elysium
Disco Elysium is a game that I barely paid attention to despite all of the good press surrounding it, and for the life of me I can’t even tell you why. The one thing that drew my attention was a headline that read something along the lines of “Disco Elysium is the Best Character Building RPG I Have Ever Played”. For some reason the game didn’t strike me as an RPG just because of the name alone. Talk about judging a book by its cover. The more I read into the game, the more interested I became, and I came to find out that Disco Elysium is a detective RPG in which everything is handled through skill checks and dialogue challenges, as opposed to combat. However, it wasn’t until I read that skills have both in-game benefits and in-character drawbacks, and that both skills and inventory involve internal conversations with the player character, when I had a feeling I might be looking at something truly unique and special. Sadly, this was one game that wasn’t within my budget to pick up in 2019. I plan on fixing that in 2020.
3. Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
Fighting games always work their way in somehow, eh? Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid kind of came out of nowhere, but it also is quite a bit different from the other games on this list. What sets Power Rangers apart from the rest here is that the game was in fact pretty terrible on launch. Regardless of if the game had good mechanics or not (it’s a 3v3 tag versus game, so probably good), the footage I saw of the game made it look very boring and unsatisfying. The sound and visual design of Battle for the Grid at launch was the game’s biggest downfall, as it just gave the fighting a significant lack of impact and a sense of lifelessness. It later went on to fix all of those issues, and combined with some really cool looking DLC characters suddenly started looking amazing. It’s crazy how much some improved visual and sound effects will change one’s perception of a game. Battle for the Grid went from “meh”, to “I gotta pick this up” in less than a year.
Another crowdfunded game, the release of Indivisible is something that completely snuck up on me, and I’m kicking myself for not helping fund the campaign that launched in 2015. Indivisible is an interesting hybrid of the action RPG and platformer genres developed by Lab Zero Games, who previously did the phenomenal fighting game Skullgirls. The game has a unique looking blend of real-time, combo based action combat, and metroidvania style platforming. I just happen to love both those things, along with Lab Zero’s amazing visual style. Hopefully that means that Indivisible is a perfect fit for me, right? I’ll find out this year because this is one game I’m definitely going to be playing in 2020.
1. Devil May Cry 5
Devil May Cry 5 is one of the games I had on my most anticipated for 2019 list, and I can’t believe I never got around to playing it. Granted 2019 was a fairly busy year for me, but now I have no excuses to avoid playing it since it’s on the Xbox Game Pass. I’ve always had a love for spectacle action games, and the Devil May Cry series is one of the grandaddys of the entire subgenre. Devil May Cry 5 marks a triumphant return to form for the series after a somewhat questionable and controversial reboot of the series in DmC: Devil May Cry. That means I have an obligation to play it, right? Devil May Cry 5 is my biggest missed opportunity of 2019.
Stay tuned until next time, where I cap off Al at Decade’s End by leaving the last decade behind and talking about my 5 most anticipated games of 2020!