Working on the next level, the follow-up to the one seen in the trailer. It's been a bit slow process to start with, as I need to create some additional characters to populate it with. I'm currently balancing out the last of those – which is a vehicle. This is the first ground vehicle to have a visible driver – that is, the first one in this version of the engine.
And I don't mean that in 'everything needs to be re-built' kind of way this time, more in the way of 'let's take this opportunity to experiment if we can use our new engine features' kind of way. Some things worked out better than I dared to hope – like our new automated hand animation system intended for helicopter controller sticks. To my surprise, it worked as-is for animating hands on a driving wheel, too!
But that's it for now, time for our feature presentation!
A bit late, perhaps, but then again, it is never too late to celebrate some good games. So let's do that, by going through some of our favourite games from 2019!
Not that I didn't expect Control to be good – Remedy Entertainment has yet to fail to deliver. No, the game just was not at all what I expected, but all in a good way. Knowing Remedy's games being very story focused, I wanted to go in almost blind, thus avoiding most of the pre-release hype. This means I missed plenty of intriguing details – like the game being a Metroidvania in structure and it taking place in the same universe as Alan Wake! Combine all this with the cinematic action Remedy is known for and we have a winner.
If I had an award for 'the most promising foundation for an amazing franchise', that would go to Control. I can't wait to see what the future holds for this universe, both in the teased DLC and – hopefully – a sequel or two.
This was a hard choice between two absolutely amazing soundtracks – Michiru Yamane's Bloodstained and Curt Victor Bryant's Valfaris. After banging my head into a wall trying to make the decision, I think I have to go with Valfaris. It is the most metal soundtrack I've heard in video games since the days the original Carmageddon – which used instrumental version of Fear Factory's 'Demanufacture' as its music.
And it's not metal for sake of metal – it's because Valfaris as a game demands just that kind of music. The game is brutal, punchy and dipped in gore – and headbanging riffs of electric guitars is the only way to go with something like that. It's a perfect match.
The unique theme in games I played this year seemed to be out-of-the-box elements infused with familiar gameplay experiences. Whether we're talking about the clever horror-focused level design of Sigil or the completely out of left field gameplay of Death Stranding, the games I played kept surprising me with unorthodox choices.
The most irresistible of them all is a small platformer about a small Birb – Songbird Symphony by Joysteak Studios. It may look like a simple and adorable Metroidvania-esque platformer – and it is. And then you enter a Boss Encounter and the game turns into a musical! The combination is absolutely brilliant. It also helps that the characters are so adorable you'll want to reach out to the screen and give 'em a hug!
I have to confess, I'm not the biggest space flight game player. I do remember playing the heck out of Descent: Freespace back in the day, but that's about it. However, Everspace is something I got utterly hooked into. It's basically what you'd get if you took a highly-detailed space sim and removed all the dull parts – leaving the high-intensity space combat and space exploration, driven by resource management and a sci-fi survival loop.
That, plus the game has a darned good story – one that is the only case I've seen where the rogue-lite elements add to story immersion instead of detracting from it. Good stuff – I'm now really looking forward to the just-recently-Kickstarted sequel.
Right about the only game from 2019 I've played, but it is worthy of being a GOTY. It's nice to be able to finally play Pokémon on a big screen.
Believable characters and a simple but well-told story give Days Gone a solid backbone. The gameplay remains fresh all the way through as well. There has been some really weird and unjustified criticism thrown at the game, but don't let that stop you.
As someone who grew with the classic First Person Shooters of the 90s, this recent Boomer Shooter Renaissance has been exhilaratingly awesome. From DOOM returning to its roots and Shadow Warrior making a comeback, all the way to new players like Dusk, it's good times to be a C-FPS fan. However, one game that stands as the most intriguing of the bunch is Ion Fury from Voidpoint and 3D Realms. To sum it short, it's basically the 'fourth lost game' of the Holy Build Engine Trinity – consisting of Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior and Blood.
It's pretty much everything you'd want from a Build shooter, amped up to the highest heavens thanks to modern computers having less hardware limitations. You play as a wise-cracking hero traversing and shooting their way through a detailed and highly interactive environments filled to the brim with secrets and gags.
There's also the nostalgia factor, as I started my game development with Duke Nukem 3D and Build in the 90s – with some of those influences being visible in TAGAP and its editor to this day! Whilst I know Build really well, seeing it bent backwards to whole new creative heights is a joy to behold.
If you love classic FPS games, Ion Fury is something you don't want to miss!
As always, there were so many great games yet so few prizes to give away! These games may have missed an award, but are every bit as worthy as those mentioned above;
Rage 2 (id Software / Avalanche / Zenimax)
Rage 2 is a blast, bordering on an adrenaline shot to the heart. Imagine playing DOOM '16 in a Mad Max setting with super-powers and twice the speed and you start to get the idea. It might get a bit repetitive towards the end, but experiencing the insanely fast post-apocalyptic combat of Rage 2 is well worth giving it a spin.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (ArtPlay / 505 Games)
One of the best games of all year that sadly was left without an award, but with so many good games to choose from, it sadly ended up this way. It is exactly what the Kickstarter pitched way-back-when – a new Igarashi-designed 'Igavania', complete with a new gothic setting and a soundtrack from Michiru Yamane. A brilliant combination of level design, adventure game puzzling and fantastical action in 2D – can't go wrong with that. Thank you, Team Iga, you made me a Happy Backer!
Sigil (Romero Games)
Sigil, or more commonly DOOM Episode 5 by John Romero himself, was a real treat. Romero puts the 'horror' back in the O.G. DOOM using nothing but clever level design and 'vanilla' assets – and to my complete shock it's darned effective. I've seen many folks criticizing the WAD for being too punishing, but that's kind of the idea – it's less a slaughter-WAD and more survival horror in 2.5D. It's good stuff and I really hope Romero is up for making a new DOOM II megawad down the line!
Valfaris (Steel Mantis Games / Big Sugar Games)
I already praised the soundtrack, but the game, too, is marvellous! It's buttery smooth, audiovisually striking and darned brutal. Seriously, if you're into 2D platformer-shooters – and because you are on the TAGAP website, you likely are – you really need to check it out. And considering the soundtrack is so good you'll end up wishing to get your hands on it, you might as well just order the Signature Edition version. It's worth every cent.
Death Stranding (Kojima Productions / Sony)
Another game that almost got an award but just missed it is Death Stranding. A fascinating combination of a simple game set in a fascinating world, both carrying a complex narrative. I found the game utterly mesmerizing, but I can see that it certainly isn't for everyone. For example, while I like slow build-up in a story, I can see the reserved pace of the opening driving some gamers off the wall.
Who would I recommend it to? If you love to have your games taking place in unique settings and love magnificent world building, then the game is a must try.
These games released in 2019 are still in my (Jouni's) to-be-played pile. Yes, I have an actual pile of games I go to every time I complete one! I just didn't get to these yet and thus can't valuate them for our GOTY awards.
This new year is pretty darn huge for video games. Not only are we getting great titles, we will also witness a change of the console generation, with both of the Big Boys releasing their new systems on holidays. Here are a selection of titles we're looking forward to;
DOOM Eternal (id Software / Zenimax)
Maneater (Tripwire Interactive)
The premise; open-world single player RPG where you play as a killer shark, from the developers of Killing Floor. SOLD!
Last of Us Part II (Naughty Dog / Sony)
For Petja this is what DOOM Eternal is for me – one of the most anticipated games of all time.
Darksiders Genesis (Airship Syndicate / THQ Nordic)
Already out on PC, I'm waiting for the console launch of this prequel to one of my favourite franchises. This could end up being our new couch co-op go-to.
Cyberpunk 2077 (CD Project Red)
A game all of us are hyped for! I absolutely love the original RPG setting, but as someone stuck in PlayStation land at the moment, I'm really worried how badly this one will end up being censored.
And that is our GOTY bonanza for this year! How badly will I fanboy over DOOM Eternal in the next GOTY post? Stay tuned!