My Top 10 Most Wanted Games In 2019
10 – Kingdom Hearts III – It’s been a longtime coming, but Kingdom Hearts III is finally releasing on January 25, 2019. I played the first game back in 2002 to completion and enjoyed it for what it was worth, but I’m not as crazy about the series as others appear to be and I’ve only finished a spinoff or two. I was a Square-Soft kid growing-up and as someone who’s always enjoyed action-RPGs (and soundtracks composed by the legendary Yoko Shimomura), that has been more than enough reason for me to throw myself into the franchise’s warm yet convoluted embrace. Kingdom Hearts is essentially for all of the weird high school goth kids who would rather play PC games and program C++ during their lunch break instead of fraternizing with their classmates in the lunchroom (this was me). Oh, and Winnie the Pooh is kind of cool, too.
9 – Left Alive – Left Alive has potential to be 2019’s “How Did This Get Made?”, but in a good way, quite unlike 2018’s The Quiet Man. Set in the Front Mission universe (yes, the very same mech-based strategy RPG series that Square-Enix has since abandoned) and with art/illustrations by Yoji Shinkawa (of Metal Gear Solid fame), this 3rd-person, sci-fi shooter is looking to take shots at all the major Q1 titles in 2019 when it releases on March 5. From what I’ve seen, Left Alive encapsulates a time when publishers/developers released mid-tier titles with not-so-desirable combat engines and moderate production values. We need more games that bridge the gaps between indie and “AAA” and Left Alive looks like one such game that will accomplish this task.
8 – Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – Not one, but two Kickstarter games have found their way onto my most wanted list for 2019. Koji Igarashi’s Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has been in production for awhile now, but it’s finally set to release next year after numerous delays. As someone who grew-up with Castelvania and who adores Symphony of the Night (who doesn’t?), this spiritual successor has the makings of becoming a classic. Like many others in the community, I’ve been burned by a Kickstarter campaign or two (Mighty No. 9 and Yooka Laylee, to some degree), so my expectations are in-check. With Michiru Yamane at the composer’s helm, regardless of the end-product’s quality, I’m sure I’ll find something to like about this project. Here’s hoping the developers stick to their 2019 release date so we can put Dracula-adjacent to rest one last time!
7 – Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice – It’s interesting to see From Software and Activision come full circle with the announcement of Sekiro. In an interview with From Software community manager Yasuhiro Kitao, Sekiro apparently started as a successor to Tenchu (a franchise which has been both developed by From Software and published by Activision in the past), but quickly developed into its own thing. Directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki (known for the Souls games and Bloodborne), Sekiro is set to appease the hardcore with its challenging difficulty while simultaneously toning down on traditional leveling systems, gear and stats in an attempt to capture a broader audience. Whether this combination will work is yet to be seen, but considering From Software’s track record (and as someone who’s been a fan of their work for nearly two decades), I’m fairly certain this is one game I’m going to put many hours into come March 22, 2019.
6 – Yoshi’s Crafted World – Good-Feel, known for Wario Land: Shake It! and Kirby’s Epic Yarn, is set to release their next feel-good platformer next year. Crafted World is the follow-up to Nintendo Wii U/3DS’s Yoshi’s Woolly World. For those that may not be familiar with Good-Feel, the company was formed by an ex-Konami employee and have since carved their niche making adorably competent platformers for Nintendo. Besides its unique, hand-crafted aesthetics, Crafted World utilizes its 2.5D platforming in a new interesting way by allowing players to flip the stage to see the level from a different perspective. While the developer’s previous efforts were never the most challenging affairs, their games have always been comforting in a way few others have captured. Yoshi’s Crafted World does not currently have a release date, but it’s slated for 2019 nonetheless and you can be certain I’ll be there day-one!
5 – The Good Life – Co-developed by SWERY (known for Deadly Premonition and D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die) and Yukio Futatsugi (famous for Panzer Dragoon) along with their teams at White Owls and G-rounding, The Good Life is set to release sometime next year. It’s difficult to describe why I’m so excited for this project, especially if you’re not familiar with the creators’ works. The staff responsible for this game has an amazing pedigree, so I personally have huge expectations. Having also just completed SWERY’s The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories (one of my personal favorite games of the year), I am fairly certain my expectations will be met, however. Perhaps it’s just best to read their statement on Kickstarter to get a better idea because their pitch is something else!
“The Good Life is a debt repayment daily life RPG co-developed by SWERY’s White Owls Inc. and a development team led by Yukio Futatsugi, the creator of Panzer Dragoon and Phantom Dust. The Good Life is a Daily Life Simulator x SWERISM. You like bizarre and mysterious things? You like unique and memorable characters?
You want to enjoy a game that offers a lot of freedom, but you also want to enjoy a good story? Think that’s too much to ask for? Not in The Good Life! This game is made for you!”
4 – Judgment – From Sega and the studio behind the Yakuza franchise comes Judgment, a “courtroom thriller” crime-drama where you play as a private detective who gets wrapped-up in a serial murder case in modern-day Tokyo. For those familiar with the Yakuza games, players will find themselves putting the beat-down on those who get in the way of your investigation as well as partake in the occasional mini-game or wacky side-activity, of course. What’s interesting about this game, however, is how quickly a western localization was announced. Judgment will also ship with a dual audio track, which is the first time a game from this studio will have shipped with an English dub since the original Yakuza game back in 2006. I still have a lot of Yakuza to catch-up on (I’ve yet to play both Kiwami titles, Yakuza 5 and Yakuza 6), but despite its similarities to their other flagship franchise, it’s exciting to see the studio tread new grounds.
3 – Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown – Ace Combat is another long-running franchise that’s had it’s ups & downs over the years. First released as “Air Combat” back on the original PlayStation in 1995, the series has seemingly evolved into its very own genre. Ace Combat, at its core, is a flight-sim where you fly planes and shoot down enemy fighters. What differentiates the series from its competitors (aside from just being super competent dog-fighting games) is its fictional world, anime-like characters and melodramatic stories. Franchise composer(s) Keiki Kobayashi and company have always contributed amazing scores which pitch and yaw the experience to elevated heights (you’re welcome for the plane lingo). Skies Unknown is supposed to be a return-to-form as veteran writer Sunao Kutabuchi returns to tell the story, too. I can’t wait to take flight on January 18, 2019!
2 – Resident Evil 2 – I’ve been playing Resident Evil since 1996. It’s a franchise that’s very near and dear to my heart. While it’s unarguably had its rough patches over the years *cough* Resident Evil 6 *cough*, Capcom’s Resident Evil 7 (RE7) has brought the series back into the limelight and made the franchise cool and respectable again. Many wondered what a remake of Resident Evil 2 would look like and some were convinced it would be 1st-person (considering RE7’s approach), but it’s much, much more than what many of us could have hoped for. Resident Evil 2 looks like an entirely new game (utilizing, once again, the shiny new RE engine and its emphasis on gore), yet it’s familiar and welcoming at the same time. Leon, Ada, Claire, Sherry and Mr. X are all there and I can’t wait to revisit the horrifying sounds and sights of Racoon City come January 25, 2019!
1 – Devil May Cry 5 – Capcom’s Devil May Cry (DMC) franchise has been going strong for nearly two decades. While every other entry since the original game has been divisive among fans, director Hideaki Itsuno is looking to reclaim the character-action game genre that they arguably first established back in 2001. DMC5 takes place after the events of DMC2 and utilizes Capcom’s latest RE engine to stunning effects. With three playable characters, slick new mechanics and the stylish, over-the-top cinematography the franchise is known for, DMC5 is looking to give Platinum Game’s Bayonetta 3 and any other character-based action game on the market a run for their money. Now, excuse me while I go play the HD collection until this new hotness drops. Let’s rock, baby, on March 8, 2019!
Wishing Upon A Localization
In 2011, a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Tohoku, Japan. Japanese developer, Irem, was planning to release the 4th major installment in their long-running series, Zettai Zetsumei Toshi, otherwise known as Disaster Report in the west. Disaster Report is an action-adventure crisis simulator where players must navigate and escape a fictional city during a natural (or man made…) disaster. Needless to say, out of necessity and respect, the game was canceled and the company eventually closed. Fortunately, years later, producer Kazuma Kujo founded Granzella, a new studio comprised of former Irem staff, and acquired the rights to the IP. As of October of 2018, Disaster Report 4 Plus: Summer Memories finally shipped in Japan and a North America date has yet to be considered.
Before the release of Disaster Report 4 Plus: Summer Memories, the studio launched their first new console game called City Shrouded in Shadow. This game was considered a spiritual successor to Disaster Report and had players take on a similar role, but with a twist. Instead of escaping collapsing buildings, tidal waves and aftershocks, however, the player had to navigate a city inhabited by giant monsters, kaiju, robots, and heroes from famous live-action and animated Japanese series such as Godzilla, Ultraman, Gamera, and even Neon Genesis Evangelion. Then there’s Nippon Ichi Software’s (NIS) next big RPG, Destiny Connect, which is scheduled to launch next year as well. Although I’m not the biggest NIS fan, Destiny Connect’s super deformed visuals and bizarre cast of characters has me intrigued. It reminds me of the weird, B-tier RPGs we used to see back on the PS2 (see Okage: Shadow King). I’m there for all three of these games if someone decides to localize them, please!
I’m Interested, But Let’s Talk First
2019 is shaping up to be another amazing year. If none of the aforementioned games has you biting your fingernails in anticipation, then perhaps you have no soul… or maybe you just like playing other shit! EA/Bioware’s Anthem is releasing early next year, but as someone who’s already heavily invested in Activision/Bungie’s Destiny 2, I’m not quite sure I have the mental real-estate for another online cooperative loot-shooter. Rage 2, Days Gone and Crackdown 3 look like fun albeit mindless open-world affairs, but having just completed Spider-Man and Horizon: Zero Dawn for the first time this year, I’m not exactly thrilled for more games of that nature (and I haven’t even tried Red Dead Redemption 2 yet… or any of the recent Assassin’s Creed games).
I still love the feel and look of Gears of War. Popping Locust heads with a Longshot will never get old. I’ve been there since the original Gears, too. I’ve put 100s of hours into the multi-player, won a local GameStop tournament with my brother and I even completed all of the campaigns numerous times. I finished GOW4 for the first time last year and although I appreciated its attempt to introduce new, robotic enemies, it was still a traditional shooter campaign with a reliance on competitive/horde modes for its longevity. Gears of War 5 is in desperate need of a reboot akin to what Santa Monica Studio has done for God of War. The Last of Us: Part II is another sequel I’m looking forward to playing, but I’ve never finished the original game, so it’s hard to get excited (I know, I know, it’s on my to-do list). Neither of these two games have release dates, but are said to ship next year.
Indies Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop
As games become easier to create/distribute, whether at the expense of the platform holder, the availability of dev-kits or the ever-growing storefronts that seemingly crop-up overnight (see the recently launched Epic Games Store), new games from developers big and small are releasing at an unprecedented pace. At The Game Awards 2018, many new indie games were shown, including The Last Campfire, Sayonara Wild Hearts, Hades and The Pathless. Before these games were announced, Kinda Funny Games showcased even more new titles, including Moving Out, YIIK: A Post-Modern RPG and Project Hardcore, just to name a few. Here’s the problem… all of these games look really good!
I’m still playing indie titles from not only this year, but from 2017 and before and I can guarantee that many gaming enthusiasts are in a similar boat. With big “AAA” studios, indies and all of those in-between absolutely crushing it, there’s only so much disposable income (and time) for any given consumer. Whether or not an “indie-apocalypse” is approaching is besides the fact. There’s a lot of stuff to play, it’s all coming out very soon and a lot of it appears to be worth your time. Word of mouth, timing of release and marketing will dictate the fate of most of these games, but I can ensure you that I will be there at launch if I have the means to do so.
Release Dates, Please
As 2019 fast approaches, there are still a ton of questions/concerns regarding particular games and the studios responsible for such titles. Nintendo’s Metroid Prime 4 is still a big mystery to fans and industry peoples alike. Aside from apparently being developed by Namco Bandai Singapore, there’s been no substantial information since its 2017 E3 teaser debut. Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, has stated that they have a release window in-mind, however. Similarly, Platinum Game’s Bayonetta 3, first shown at The Game Awards 2017, has been resting on its laurels for well over a year now. I’m eager to see how Platinum Games will approach a Bayonetta 3, especially considering how Capcom is back on the scene with Devil May Cry 5. Bayonetta may no longer be the reigning queen of character-based action games, but competition is good, so I’m hoping to be floored whenever they do decide to show the game.
Sly Cooper and Infamous were some of my favorite games back on the PS2 and PS3, respectively, so Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima is another game that’s obviously on my radar. As I mentioned before, although I’ve been experiencing open-world fatigue, the feudal Japan setting sounds interesting and the game looks stunning. Finally, there’s Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding. After numerous E3 showings, interviews and trailers, does anyone truly know what this game is still? It looks like one big existential crisis where you gather resources, balance them on your back and return them to some sort of base while avoiding invisible creatures. I like Metal Gear Solid, but I’m not obsessed with the franchise nor do I think Kojima is the end-all, be-all game director/visionary that everyone makes him out to be. Who am I kidding, though, I’ll be there day-one for whatever the hell this is!
See you all in 2019!