2019 has been one of the biggest years in heavy music in recent memory, with heavyweights such as Tool, Slipknot and Rammstein dropping long-awaited new albums, while trailblazing up-and-comers pushed boundaries in their own right. For his part, Riley McShane roared on Allegaeon’s ripping fifth album Apoptosis. In addition to dropping a record, the Coloradan extreme-metal crew also spent much of 2019 on the road where the vocalist killed a lot of time partaking in one of his favorite pastimes: gaming. Here, he lists his top 10 games of the year, adding, “If you want to see me play these games and many others, follow me on Twitch.”
This game is a long-awaited and very welcomed successor to the Playstation classic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Koji Igarashi completely lived up to the hype with this release and it is a must-play for metroidvania junkies looking for a seamless blend of modern RPG elements and nostalgic platforming.
Good survival horror games that aren’t tied into the Resident Evil legacy are few and far between these days. A lot of them feel a little too action/adventure-y to really get your adrenaline going, and while Days Gone can certainly be played in that style, the Kojima-esque stealth elements inherent to this game’s design set it apart from the others. My friend and colleague Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation did some zombie SFX for this game, as well, so, even if for that alone, it’s worth checking out.
While no game can truly hold a candle to the impact and innovation of the Dark Souls franchise, Remnant takes some of those soulsborne elements and fits them into a third-person shooter that is a bit easier to chew on for more casual players. The crafting system is fantastic and with a more expansive multiplayer system than it’s more elite counterparts, Remnant is a great game to introduce players to the ever-growing library of highly challenging action-adventure titles.
So, I’m really bad at competitive first-person shooters. I grew up playing platformers and turn-based RPGs, so I never really developed the reflexes needed to keep up with these games — outside of a few Halo LAN parties back in the day. That being said, COD:MW has sucked me in with familiar mechanics, fantastic graphics and a truly incredible campaign that has left me super excited for the next COD installment, Spec Ops, which is something I have definitely never said before.
My favorite thing about the gaming community is how even the goofiest ideas have viral potential and the capacity to shake the gaming world up without any right or reason. This game is exactly that. You play as a goose who sneaks up on and steals stuff from people to accomplish specific objectives and progress through the story(?). It is so fun, so charming, and such a mischievous title. I can’t recommend Untitled Goose Game enough.
The final chapter in the Xehanort arc of the Kingdom Hearts franchise is so beautiful, so smooth and so emotionally stirring that I’m almost willing to give SquareEnix a pass for releasing this game feeling half-finished after 10-plus years of development … almost. I wish I could place this game higher on my list because of how much I love KH as a series, but I just can’t. Hopefully, the upcoming DLC will breathe some life back into the hearts of long-time fans. Kingdom Hearts deserves so much more than this installment provided, but it is still so wonderful.
I mentioned above that the Resident Evil legacy is usually the only place to find great survival-horror nowadays and this game is proof through an existence that that is a true statement. Despite being a remake, this game feels so fresh and so crisp all while retaining everything a Resident Evil fan looks for from the franchise. Even players new to the series can latch on to this title, along with 2015’s Resident Evil HD Remaster, and fall in love with the series to the same degree us older gamers did in the late Nineties.
As a Pokémon fan dating all the way back to the first generation, every time a new gen gets announced I get so excited. However, the past few generations haven’t really lived up to that excitement for me due to unnecessary new mechanics, an overwhelming Pokédex, and re-skinned favorites in the place of innovation … until Pokémon: Sword & Shield. I love this current gen SO. MUCH. The dialed back Pokédex, the lovable albeit overly-conversational rival, the innovative and heart-pounding Dynamax battles … I could go on. Needless to say, this newest addition to the Pokémon series made me fall in love with it all over again and I can’t recommend it enough.
Hideo Kojima is, without a doubt, one of the most important figures in the history of gaming. His ability to concoct games with so much boldness and subtlety inherent to their design has always made his work feel like the fine wine of gaming, and Death Stranding is no exception. Providing a wholly unique science-fiction concept and propping it against a dichotomous backdrop of serene, mountainous countryside mixed in with a nightmarish, oil-soaked dystopia, Kojima delivered in this game an experience that only he could provide. It starts slow, but by the end of the game I was left feeling so entirely satisfied with yet another Kojima-fueled masterpiece.
This game. Every time a FromSoftware game comes out, I think to myself, “Where can they possibly go from here? How can Miyazaki outdo himself with this one?” I am never let down. Sekiro goes against the traditional FromSoft grain of vague lore, over-the-top difficulty and a dismal aesthetic and gives players a compelling story, difficult yet doable gameplay, and an absolutely beautiful view into their take on the environment of feudal Japan. This game is everything I look for in modern gaming and I cannot wait for more FromSoft games to be released in the years to come.