This article is particularly unique since I’m mainly spotlighting games for PC but I want to draw attention to a number of games that many people more than likely skipped in 2019. Granted, there were many outstanding releases that made last year one of the greatest years of eighth generation video gaming. But I want to make sure that these titles aren’t forgotten!
My first ever article for Geeks Under Grace was a review of the PC port for Killer7, a title that is near and dear to my heart and well-known for its unique gameplay. Titles like Killer7 are the games I resonate with the most—games that attempt to spin a unique form of classic genre formats and have a clear goal expressed in their design. I’m going to highlight three games released this year: Disco Elysium, Anodyne 2: Return to Dust, and Disc Creatures.
I would like to throw an honorable mention to Hypnospace Outlaw, which has been covered by our own E.L Wilson. Check out the article here if you’d like to learn more about the trippy A E S T H E T I C that 90’s internet browsing was.
“You shouldn’t listen to what people say, you should listen to what they are.”
Content Warning: Disco Elysium is a mature game that contains dark themes and content. It’s like playing a gritty detective story with a large helping of psychological fantasy.
This game has already caused some major waves since its release. However, I feel like this game would be skipped by a lot of people due to its text-based system. Disco Elysium places the player in charge of a grungy detective who has lost his memory, effectively giving the player complete agency over the character’s personality and actions. The game has an overwhelming amount of text to cover every possible scenario and detail in the game. It is exactly all this care and attention that makes the game as compelling as it is.
The biggest aspect is how the player character visualizes his own emotions and thoughts as if they were their own characters, which make player decisions like…psychological combat. The freedom of choice when talking to NPCs is also the most compelling aspect that is actually taken straight from Dungeons & Dragons. The decisions the player makes can cause a number of events to happen, both positively and especially negatively.
Did I mention that the majority of dialogue and text is voiced? Disco Elysium wants you to know exactly the type of world you’re in while making sure you can’t take your time to try to learn as much as possible at your own convenience as events in the game are in real-time. Again, I realize this game is a bit of a cheat since it has become one of the most critically acclaimed titles of 2019. However, the format may not be as appealing compared to many other popular titles. I highly recommend this title for those who enjoy long reads under the dim, crackling streetlight.
“Some say that life is a circle… Madness! All things grow from a point – a center.”
Content Warning: The 3D graphics depict strange and relatively disturbing entities that may unnerve some players. There are also some story backgrounds that depict several forms of depression.
The titular sequel to a game back in 2013 (feels so long ago…), Anodyne 2 is the work of two developers who revisit their youngest title to deliver a product that feels more cohesive to their current vision and goal. Anodyne 2 is a charming RPG that combines traditional top-down JRPG pixel art and early PSX/N64 polygon graphics. Anodyne 2 is weird yet sincere similar to Earthbound in its themes and design. The game has the player control Nova, a Nano Cleaner, who must clean up the Nano Dust that plagues the island of New Theland. There are extremely unique entities who are corrupted by the Nano Dust that Nova must purge to save and, along the way, learn more about the truth of the island that may challenge her faith in her role.
Much like Undertale, Anodyne 2 manages to hit an emotional connection that surprisingly stems from nostalgia while not feeling archaic. The game bares its own heart to the player and offers a Zelda-esque puzzle dungeon experience among a plethora of other gameplay gimmicks that will tickle those nostalgic fuzzy feelings.
It’s hard to describe the way I felt playing Anodyne 2 without giving away what happens in the game. The best way I can describe my own feelings is how lofty I felt playing the game, like reading a sequel to a book from your childhood or growing up with your favorite musical artist. This title may be harder to recommend to a younger audience but the game’s organic character development, charming art, and gorgeous soundtrack make for a compelling experience that feels lost to time. I recommend Anodyne 2 for those who want to re-experience the feeling of playing their first low-poly JRPG as a kid.
“Living things can be both charming and dangerous.”
Disc Creatures is a Pokémon clone, bar none. It is a passion project of lone developer, SATTO, who wanted to recapture his younger days of playing portable monster-catching games and being inspired to draw creatures in his notebook. The player controls a young boy or girl that becomes a Disc Ranger who collects disc creatures and travels the world to protect people and the disc creatures.
Disc Creatures has all the charm of the old Pokémon Gameboy games in its visual design while borrowing Dragon Quest Monsters‘s gameplay model. Battles are fought in 3v3 combat, your disc creatures require action points to attack, defend or use any of their learned skills. They can also use their turn to charge their action points which will be necessary to do in the majority of battles.
The disc creatures themselves are fairly interesting as they have a Digimon-like concept where they are copies of data that the player character carries in a DigiKid device. In order to “capture” more creatures, memory items are used to acquire them, but you only need to use them and then defeat them to capture their data so you can create your own copy.
Disc Creatures is a clone in the best possible way. It was a blast playing and learning the intricacies of a new yet similar system. The pixel art for the overworld and characters (including the a-dork-able computer critters) is well-crafted and the music is such a blast from the past that the game feels like a lost GameBoy title. The two biggest issues I have with it are the lack of screen options and it currently being available only on PC. I would love to play this on my Switch or even my smartphone. I highly recommend Disc Creatures to the players who just cannot get enough of monster collecting and don’t want to shell out the big bucks for Atlus‘s Last Bible series or scour forums for Pokémon fanhacks (Looking at you, Uranium).
There you have it: my recommendations from last year that you should check out. It’s tempting to want to keep up with trending video games, but I think it’s good to dip into a game that you would not ordinarily try. It’s always fun to take a chance.