Great game mechanics are all well and good, but sometimes you just want to sink into a great story and forget about the world. Here are five games that gave us unforgettable narrative experiences in 2019.
5. Death Stranding by Kojima Productions - For all its quirks and the obscurity leading up to release, Kojima Productions' Death Stranding excels in the story department. At its heart, it's a story about connecting the east and west coasts of America to tie together the United Cities of America, but this simple premise soon evolves into much more, asking questions of Sam Porter Bridges (Norman Reedus) and his connections with the world and the various engaging characters found within it.
It's a thoroughly enticing and intriguing world that Hideo Kojima and his team lays out for us, and while there are certainly unusual elements like your baby companion BB and the spectral BTs that haunt your journey, everything is wrapped up surprisingly well by the end. As a whole, it's a unique package with a story you certainly won't find anywhere else, bolstered by A-list talent that delivers across the board.
4. A Plague Tale: Innocence by Asobo Studio - Innocence is a fragile thing, as A Plague Tale shows us. At the start of the game, Amicia and Hugo's lives are turned upside down by a devastating event, one that sees Amicia thrust into the role of carer as she leads her brother out of harm's way and keeps him safe in a world that's trying to kill them. It's a drastic fall from grace, and the fear is palpable in the youths as they flee.
Amicia and Hugo have a lot of growth in this story, meeting some friendly faces in this bleak medieval world in which rats and the plague run rampant. The evil within humanity is also explored, as the corruption doesn't just refer to the plague, but those hunting you down as you fight for survival. Can you find hope in this frightening situation? Asobo hopes you can.
3. The Outer Worlds by Obsidian Entertainment - When The Outer Worlds was revealed just after Fallout 76's disastrous launch, people thought it'd be a chance for Obsidian to shine, and that's exactly what they did when they unleashed their RPG on the world back in October, bringing us a fun and engaging experience with plenty of depth, characters, storylines, and intrigue, all waiting to be discovered on a journey through various alien worlds and locales.
What's perhaps more important is that it was packed with flavour. It's an instantly recognisable world of money-hungry corporations (not too dissimilar from our own), which is told through exaggerated and absurd characters. It never takes itself too seriously, but still does a good job of painting a corrupt world and giving you plenty of moral choices to make within it.
2. Resident Evil 2 by Capcom - 1998 gave us the story of Resident Evil 2, and it was masterfully retold with this year's remake, albeit with an added layer of polish and a few new additions. This is actually two stories in one, with Claire Redfield searching for her brother and rookie cop Leon Kennedy thrust into a horrifying survival scenario, and we're given the choice to play either of these characters when the game starts, each of which takes us in different directions.
Along the way not only do we have plenty of horrifying moments, but we also meet a number of characters who are struggling to deal with the zombie outbreak, some of which will help while others will hinder. There are a number of surprises in store for those who explore every nook and cranny, and it wouldn't be Resident Evil without some eccentric characters as well, a resurgent feature that has helped make this game stand out in an already accomplished franchise.
1. Control by Remedy - In the wake of 2010's Alan Wake, this year Remedy released a game that tied into the same universe in more ways than just the sublime subliminal messages. Control, the latest game in the Finnish studio's arsenal, had us following the path of Jesse Faden in the search for both her brother and answers about what happened to the sibling pair following an incident they experienced first-hand as children in their hometown of Ordinary.
This search led players The Oldest House, a seemingly normal federal building in New York housing the Federal Bureau of Control, but, as per usual in Remedy games, not all was as it seemed at the bureau. The employees of the mysterious organisation office seemed to linger in a sort of paranormal stasis or limbo, levitating subdued in the air throughout the building's inner halls, corrupted by a mysterious force. Throughout the game, explanations as to what happened, both at the bureau and in Ordinary were laid out in front of the player as the story progressed and the narrative, both when following and straying from the game's main path, was exceptionally well-written and engaging. Control stuck with us in a big way long after the credits rolled and with two expansions coming up, one seemingly tied to the 2010 horror classic, we can't wait to see what's next for Remedy's surreal and atmospheric Control.
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