From the grassy fields of Pokemon’s Wild Area to the catwalks and monster-ridden halls beneath the RPD in Resident Evil 2, 2019 was an excellent year to be surprised by some amazing games.
One game, however, captured our imaginations unlike any other, combining a fascinating world with top-tier telekinetic action.
IGN’s Game of the Year 2019: Control
If Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy and Second Sight made a porno together and asked Stanley Kubrick to direct it, the result would be Control. This story-driven, single-player third-person shooter packs all the firepower you’d expect from the minds behind Max Payne, but it’s the pairing of its gunplay with main character Jesse’s expanding suite of psychic powers that makes its combat encounters so spectacularly destructive and dynamic.Control’s ‘Oldest House’ office block setting is also a marvel of game world design, mundane at first glance but absolutely memorable by the end thanks to a shape-shifting structure that makes it consistently fascinating to explore and, additionally, its detail-rich settings a delight to destroy. Then there’s the story itself, a spellbinding slab of supernatural science fiction which starts out weird and only gets weirder, centered around an oddball cast of characters that are each eminently entertaining to interact with. Bombastic, bizarre, and beautiful, Control is more than just another day at the office.
More Game of the Year Awards
You can find the rest of our nominees for our 2019 Game of the Year award below. Even though Control was our top pick, every game on this list offers an exceptional gaming experience.
Game of the Year 2019 Nominees
Click through the gallery above or scroll down the page for the full list!
Game of the Year 2019 Runner-Up: Resident Evil 2 Remake
Like all remakes, Resident Evil 2 Remake could have been a disaster: the series famously struggled to straddle the old and the new with Resident Evil 5 and 6. What we got instead was the new gold standard of remakes, a game that was completely in step with the mechanics of modern action/adventures but also managed to capture the weird, nonsensical heart of the original.More, it was this year’s best horror game, a genuinely scary adventure primarily fuelled by the ominous Mr. X, who could easily take up the mantle of the year’s best villain.
Slay the Spire
Card games and roguelikes are a dime a dozen nowadays, but Slay the Spire still stands out proudly in both genres.Its mechanically simple core stays endlessly fresh thanks to the ludicrous amount of modifiers and combos waiting to be discovered, and a snappy UI means there’s little to slow you down as you blaze through dozens of runs to find them. The only thing to worry about with Slay the Spire is making sure you don’t stay up too late playing just one… more… game…
[Disclosure: Humble Bundle (which is owned by Ziff Davis, the parent company of IGN) is either the publisher or financier of this game and may receive a commission or fee in connection with sales. Humble Bundle and IGN operate completely independently, and no special consideration is given to Humble Bundle-published or financed games for coverage or scoring.]
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
FromSoftware’s new twist on its established Soulsborne formula elevates Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice into something both immediately familiar and mechanically distinct. Its mystical and moody world set in Japanese historical fiction and mythology offers an excellent catalyst for new skill-based systems and exploration.Sekiro’s beautiful marriage of lore and worldbuilding with its demanding, breakneck swordsmanship and brutal assassinations is a cohesive new flavor of action-adventure – cementing FromSoftware as one of the best to do it.
Outer Wilds gives you a rickety wooden spaceship and a lovingly crafted solar system and just says go. It’s a game built around stumbling across its loads of genuinely stunning “wow” moments, all of which somehow feel entirely spontaneous and meticulously curated at the same time.And, against all odds and all the freedom Outer Wilds allows, it also manages to tell a strange and powerful story that can be unraveled in a compelling way no matter what direction you choose to fly.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Like a masterful gambit from a skilled tactician, Fire Emblem: Three Houses tells a gripping story that carefully unravels across its multiple paths and charismatic leaders. Its engaging battles are full of surprises and provide a host of opportunities for tactical mastery, thanks to the addition of legions of battalions, giant monsters, and wicked combat arts.Even off the battlefield, the monastery provides a welcome respite to train your army while giving you plenty of time to form meaningful bonds with your colorful companions. The amount of customization and content both in and out of combat is truly special, which allows for just the right amount of challenge and fine-tuning for veterans and novices alike.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening Remake
Remaking a strange, quirky, twenty-six-year-old portable Legend of Zelda game was a peculiar choice for Nintendo to tackle as the Switch console follow-up to the vast and epic open-world masterpiece that was Breath of the Wild, but playing Link’s Awakening in 2019 somehow managed to feel better than ever.Revisiting the wondrously charming island of Koholint in its newly redesigned look proved that this classic Zelda game could still resonate with a modern audience. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening remains one of the best 2D Zelda games ever made and it was an absolute joy to play again or for the first time.
Disco Elysium isn’t only the most unique game I’ve played this year – it’s one of the most unique I’ve ever played. The premise is straightforward: A body has been discovered, hanged from a looming tree in the backyard of a hostel, and it’s up to you to work out how it got there over the course of the 30-hour story. It’s a unique blend of noir detective fiction, traditional pen-and-paper RPGs, and a large helping of existentialist theory.Its twisting plot, a cast of memorable characters, and sheer depth of choice combine to create an experience that begs to be savored in a world riddled with crime, poverty, and violence. And, somehow, it manages to make all of this fun and, surprisingly often, funny. It quickly becomes clear that this isn’t simply a whodunnit, but a journey that will challenge you to solve crises on both profoundly personal and societal levels. It’s a gorgeously designed isometric RPG that makes you think at every turn of its richly detailed streets. Disco Elysium isn’t just the best game I’ve played this year – it’s one of the best games I’ve ever played, and one that will surely live long in the memory of any who have, for many years to come.
The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds is the RPG we’ve been waiting for Obsidian to make for years now: the developers of Fallout: New Vegas and Star Wars: KOTOR II – The Sith Lords created an original sci-fi/western universe and integrated their own ideas into the formulas established by Bethesda and BioWare, ending up with an adventure that’s both familiar and fresh.And for this game to arrive at this moment, when both of those storied developers had released troubled multiplayer-focused games within the past year, couldn’t have been planned better.
Pokemon Sword & Shield
It may be “just another Pokemon game,” but Pokemon Sword and Shield are amazing Pokemon games that exude nostalgic charm while casting aside the tediousness of inconvenient random-encounters and other odds and ends.It’s an overall joyous RPG for all experience levels, both accessible enough for newcomers and deep enough for PvP enthusiasts – something Pokemon continues to excel at.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
After years of solid multiplayer Star Wars games – and just as many promising but canceled Star Wars single-player games, Star Wars fans looking for a lengthy, story-driven third-person Star Wars game finally have a new hope. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order confidently combines comfortable and familiar systems from other successful action games and wraps an excellent single-player Star Wars story around them.The result is a swashbuckling, planet-hopping adventure with campy, lovable characters, awesome combat, and one of the best Star Wars games ever made. Now here’s hoping it can successfully kick off a whole new franchise and that we’ve got many more Star Wars Jedi games to look forward to in the years ahead.
People’s Choice Game of the Year Winner: Death Stranding
Few games this year divided IGN’s staff – and players in general – more than Death Stranding. That was evident in the wide range of critical reviews of the game, our own staff’s perspective, and even in our People’s Choice awards polling. While Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order and Resident Evil 2 were close runners-up, enough Death Stranding players preferred Kojima’s Snake-free take on the apocalypse that it overtook those games.Our reviewer said of Death Stranding, “There is a fascinating, fleshed-out world of supernatural science fiction to enjoy across its sprawling and spectacular map, so it’s a real shame that it’s all been saddled on a gameplay backbone that struggles to adequately support its weight over the full course of the journey.” Many players looked past the gameplay struggles others experienced, or even embraced them, connecting (get it?!) with Death Stranding’s creepy, cool world and characters.
More Game of the Year Award Categories
There are plenty of other awards beyond just the Game of the Year! Check out all our genre and technical/craft awards below!
Best Games by Genre
Games Development and Craft Awards
What’s your choice for Game of the Year? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out all of our other Game of the Year award winners as well as our picks for the best movies, TV shows, comics, and anime of 2019!
Art for IGN’s Best of 2019 is by Julia Rago, Justin Vachon, Angela Nguyen, and Nicole Cagampan.