One of the centers of indie game development, the PC is an interesting place for videogame competition. Visit our list of the Best PC Games of 2019 for the full catalog.
With the Metroidvania love at an all-time high, Koji Igarashi chose one of the best moments to return to the iconic world of gothic action. With his iron grit and a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign, the ritual was completed and we get perhaps one of the most faithful additions to the Castlevania lore we’ll ever get.
Igarashi was one of the main people responsible for the success of the cult classic Symphony of the Night and the Castlevania titles that followed. In this spiritual successor, he brings all that energy back, and more.
With its story of an orphan making her way through the floors of a castle to lift an alchemist’s curse, Bloodstained boasts fantastic level designs, tactile controls, and even the silliness that we all associate with the Castlevania series.
While its greatest strength has always been its similarity to its predecessor, this could also be its weakness. It’s a recreation, but like PC Gamer says, it might be a bit too old fashioned.
With its high scores from gamers though, maybe it’s exactly what it needs to be. It has a playscore of 8.84
9. A Short Hike
In a world obsessed with fast-paced action and punishing difficulty, A Short Hike is the videogame equivalent of a breath of fresh air. It’s a singleplayer indie adventure that puts you in the shoes of bird person, Claire, who ventures to Hawk Peak in search of a cellphone signal.
Aside from its incredibly relatable plot, A Short Hike’s journey to the top is also sprinkled with all things bright and beautiful. It’s literally just a walk in the park. Sometimes you meet new characters and have natural yet dorky conversations, Or you can glide around and go on collection sidequests around its lush pixel environments. It's this combination of relaxing atmosphere and genuine interactions that make up the bulk of what makes A Short Hike awesome.
The game does struggle a bit with endings. Destructoid gave it a 7.5, saying that while its two-hour storyline doesn’t give it a chance to grow stale, “the final moments suffer from a lack of setup and character development.”
But, if it’s a bite-sized vacation you want, A Short Hike is more than willing to serve. Created by a developer burned out from another project, Thumbsticks has this to say: “It’s fitting, then, that what began as an act of self-care...has blossomed into a welcome respite from the modern world.”
It has a playscore of 8.85
8. AMID EVIL
Everybody knows nostalgia is one of the easiest ways to make a videogame hit. But, if you pair that with fresh and original ideas, that's when you've hit the jackpot. For our 8th spot, we get a game that might be awfully familiar to long-time fans of the Doom series. However, it's most similar to the classic fantasy FPS titles like Heretic and Hexen.
Indefatigable's Amid Evil offers frenetic FPS action in the style of the old MSDOS days. Except, with a much bigger scale than the games of old. The game spreads across 7 distinct worlds, all jampacked with monsters and mystical weapons.
On the other hand, it's definitely not the first to explore the retro shooter formula. Dusk, a retro-style shooter from the same publisher, earned high praise just the year before. Thankfully, for AMID EVIL, it makes itself worthy of the same acclaim. This is exactly Destructoid's view.
"I'm not as over the moon as I was with DUSK, but that's like saying you didn't enjoy driving the Camaro as much as the Corvette." they said.
Game Revolution expounds on the point in their review, saying "Even if you’ve already tired yourself out on retro shooters, Amid Evil deserves your attention as a well-crafted and unique entry in the genre."
The verdict is out. Despite the many competitors in the market, AMID EVIL is just as deserving of its spot on the list, with a total playscore of 8.93
It took 11 years of waiting but it looks like CAPCOM finally figured what to do with their iconic hack and slash series. After the slightly polarizing results of Ninja Theory's DmC reboot, which changed too many things for comfort, this fifth main installment seems to have nailed the balance.
It brings back the two favorite demon slayers, Nero--with his new robot appendage--and Dante, with his grey hair. But, DMC5 also brought a new character in V, whose demon companions give an added edge to the entry. As a series built on making demon-slaying as stylish as ever, Devil May Cry 5 is definitely equipped with next-level visuals.
However, for most reviewers, what really sets it apart is its combat. IGN SEA gave it a score of 9.5, praising the depth, variety, and freedom that the three main characters provide. PC Gamer similarly praised the game for its "greater variety of combat styles and a higher degree of challenge."
Aside from combat, its renewed focus on story and characters also makes it a standout in a series that's mostly been praised for its straightforward action.
All in all, Devil May Cry 5 is a return to everything we loved about the series and more, and it has a playscore of 8.98
FromSoftware has built a reputation for punishing, genre-defining action RPGs. But, in their latest IP, they switch things up just a little to create something that's hauntingly familiar yet beautifully fresh in its own way.
Putting you in the shoes of a samurai with the useful ability to come back from the dead, SEKIRO is more of a focused action-adventure compared to FromSoftware's traditional RPGs. Without builds and multiplayer distractions, Cheatcc calls it "a game that asks you to succeed on your own and creates an intimate, engaging experience as a result."
But, while its story, settings, and characters were welcome additions to the formula, SEKIRO’s greatest strength is ultimately its enhancements on the studio's signature punishing combat. It adds stealth, verticality, and open level designs into the mix. This means that fights are as complex and grueling as ever but there's a lot more to play within how to approach them.
As heavy.com notes in their review: "The greater focus on dynamic, nuanced fights greatly improves over Dark Souls’ hack and slash methodology."
While there may have had some hiccups at launch, SEKIRO's recent reviews, especially on Steam, have been overwhelmingly positive since.
It has a playscore of 8.98
5. Katana ZERO
Speaking of Japanese combat settings, Askiisoft brings Devolver Digital another impressive win with their flashy take on cyberpunk action platforming. At first blush, it has all the markings of a Devolver title. Just like Hotline Miami, it's got that lush retro aesthetic, colorful visuals, and fast-paced difficulty.
When every hit results in instant death though, the premise anchors on perfection. That's when the rewind button comes in handy, letting you plan out your movements for each interaction and culminating into a surgical but satisfyingly smooth combat experience.
But, Katana ZERO didn't earn its spot for action alone. There's a complicated narrative underpinning it, too. It tells the tale of a sword for hire and it does so with a timed dialog that lets players project their personalities into the story.
As Shacknews puts it: "Katana Zero dares to go bolder, with a story that takes more than one left turn, and an innovative dialogue system that can paint both the story and the main character in a different light."
And, if like most critics, you’re worried about its short run time and lack of replayability, Game Reactor offers some reassurance: "Katana Zero is a short experience with very little replay value...but it's also, without a doubt, one of the best low-profile games we've played."
It receives a playscore of 9.01
4. Baba Is You
Indie games might mean low-budget but what they lack in production value, they make up for with boundless creativity. And that’s kind of what Hempuli Oy offers in their endlessly charming puzzle game.
In their world, the only rule is that there aren’t any rules at all. As you push letters and blocks around their pixel-based environment, you get to be the sole decider of how the world around you works. For Game Reactor: “It's not about shifting the pieces in the game but changing how the game itself operates.”
When there’s so much freedom involved, it widens your scope of imagination and forces you to think outside the box. It only gets harder, as words and conditions continue to pile on. It’s challenging, but it’s the kind of challenge that puzzle fans will love--the kind that leaves you thinking even long after you’ve put it down.
Baba Is You doesn’t just continually redefine itself, it’s irreverence to rules manages to redefine the genre too. MeriStation describes it beautifully, calling it an “orderly anarchy” that “demonstrates the magic of words.”
A puzzle that will leave you suitably baffled, it has a playscore of 9.02
Released early in January of this year, Mega Crit's debut title has continued to slay the charts throughout the rest of 2019. Now, it finds itself at home among the top ranks as one of the most innovative card games of the year.
Slay the Spire offers turn-based strategy, cardgame mechanics, and roguelike gameplay all rolled into one. It's not just the unlikely mixture that gives the game its flair, it's how well the three combine into an exhilarating cardgame that's relatively low-cost. Unlike other deck-building titles, it's a level playing field where you choose from three characters, each with unique basic decks which you build up along your journey.
For IGN, its formula "encourages experimentation, gives you time to make mistakes, and will challenge you immensely."
As a roguelike game, death is an integral factor but it also means it has replayability in droves. Slaying the titular spire only takes about an hour, but its balance of chance encounters and tactical depth will keep you coming back for more.
At its earliest stage, it’s been called “the first great surprise of 2019. ” But with a new playable character in the works, it shows that the game will only get better with time.
It has a playscore of 9.13
Though Bloodstained may have been the picture of an all too faithful spiritual successor, CAPCOM shows them off in their biggest hit this year, creating 2019’s poster boy for a remake done right.
In their effort to bring 1998’s Resident Evil 2 to the modern generation, CAPCOM didn’t just build it from the ground up--with new textures for Claire and Leon, and a more immersive over the shoulder perspective--they turned it into a modern horror game in its own right.
In line with the challenges presented by the big visual changes, CAPCOM had to explore other ways to deliver the series’ signature scares. But, in doing so, they created a whole new experience that’s packed with content and provided new insight to Claire and Leon’s adventures in Raccoon City.
As IGN puts it: “Capcom did a fantastic job of resurrecting all the best parts of the classic Resident Evil 2 and making them look, sound, and play like a 2019 game.”
Released in January, Resident Evil 2 bookends the year with a chart-topping finish and it rightly deserves its spot--here and in the halls of modern horror fame.
It has a playscore of 9.15
For a game that's only been out for two months, ZA/UM's Disco Elysium snuck its way to the top being called one of the most groundbreaking RPGs yet. RPGs are known for their emergent quality, customizations, and unique interactions with an unfamiliar environment. And, that's exactly what Disco Elysium brings to the table.
It follows the footsteps of Larian Studios' Divinity series with its intricate role-playing mechanics. Instead of sprawling fantasy settings, we get a political tale of a detective fighting to solve a murder mystery and to survive the voices in his head.
Ultimately, though, you, the player, will get to tell the story yourself through the many choices on offer, making each lengthy run-through a different experience. As PC Gamer notes: "...my experience of it is completely unique to me, such is the dizzying variety of skills, stats, thoughts, and conversation options on offer."
Freedom of choice aside, its Disco Elysium's story that stands out the most. Only Single Player notes that its characters "explore highbrow themes such as existentialism, political theory, and psychology, all wrapped around a twin mystery of murder and identity."
If you want to be engrossed, intrigued, and awed by a gorgeous, painterly world that's not your own, Disco Elysium is the place to be. That's why it's our best PC title of 2019, with a playscore of 9.29