2019 was a slow year for AAA games following a fantastic 2018, but this doesn’t mean there weren’t some incredible titles that were released. While the Nintendo Switch excelled, both Sony and Microsoft are winding down for their next consoles. Despite this, third-parties and smaller developers have put out some amazing content. We already did a piece of the best Nindies of 2019, and now it’s time to get to our 2019 Game of the Year awards. With so many great titles coming out it is always difficult to narrow a list down, but these are the best games from 2019. Most Underrated Game: Crystar Crystar was a criminally underrated game published by Spike Chunsoft. It focused on catharsis as its main theme, a term coined by Greek philosopher Aristotle. It induces an emotional release unlike any other game and has an incredibly unique concept. The combat is a bit basic, but it’s tons of fun and is the most underrated game of 2019. Most Disappointing: Death Stranding Death Stranding was a unique concept, but it never felt like a true video game. It was essentially a film with glorified fetch quests. It’s like playing as an Amazon Delivery Man, going from place to place. The all-star cast hides the fact that this is simply a mediocre game and is the most disappointing game of 2019. Kojima is a genius, and for the most part, his games are excellent, but Death Stranding, unfortunately, was not. It doesn’t help matters that the story is so confusing I still don’t understand what the point of it was. It was given critical appraise (from some outlets) simply because it was a Kojima game, which was unfortunate; a mediocre, or bad, game is a bad or mediocre game, regardless of who develops it. Best RPG: Pokemon Sword and Shield Pokemon Sword and Shield is the best entry in the franchise since SoulSilver and HeartGold, and in our opinion, the best entry in the franchise, period. The Galar region is full of unique gyms with dynamic puzzles, a myriad of new Pokemon, a wonderful cast of new characters, the best rival the series has ever known, a beautiful open-world, and the best story the series has ever seen. The new Dynamax feature also keeps the gameplay fresh. In a year with so few RPGs, Pokemon Sword and Shield is by far the best RPG to grace the Nintendo Switch and the best RPG to come out in 2019. Best Action/Adventure Game: Link’s Awakening Link’s Awakening is a classic, but the remake for the Nintendo Switch is not only one of the best games to come out for the Switch this year, but the best remake of 2019. The dungeons are some of the best in the series, the adventure aspect goes back to traditional Zelda, and Koholint Island is a delight to explore. The game gives hints, but exploration and figuring out various puzzles (both inside dungeons and out) are up to the player. Despite being a remake, it’s the best action/adventure game to be released this year. Best Shooter: Modern Warfare Call of Duty is back. Modern Warfare is the best entry in the franchise since the fabled Modern Warfare 2, which is saying something. The campaign is superb, the multiplayer is fantastic, and it has the best story in the Call of Duty franchise since the original Modern Warfare trilogy. The game shows the grim reality of modern-day war, and having a campaign is a nice return to form. The characters are endearing and it’s wonderful to have Captain Price back. The ending leaves a nice cliffhanger for Modern Warfare 2, which we cannot wait for. Best Visual Novel: Steins;Gate Elite 2019 saw some wonderful visual novels and Steins;Gate Elite was a step above the rest. It surpassed the original in every way, with animation from the anime series and brand new animation for scenarios not in the anime which were animated by White Fox, who were responsible for the anime. Steins;Gate is one of the greatest stories of all-time. There’s a reason why it’s ranked by Famitsu (via a poll) as the best adventure game to ever be released. Elite takes an already incredible game to the next level with some of the most endearing characters and best storytelling in gaming. It’s a story of human will and determination, something everyone can relate to. Best Remake: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening This is Link’s Awakening’s second award in our 2019 Game of the Year Awards, and it’s very much deserved. It’s the best remake to come out this year and in recent memory. The art style captures the magic of the original perfectly, the new musical arrangements make an already great score superb, and the artstyle is a wonderful contrast to the game’s melancholic tone. It’s a tragic tale filled with magic and adventure, and it was a perfect game for Nintendo to remake for the Nintendo Switch. Best Multiplayer Experience: Modern Warfare Modern Warfare is not only the best shooter of 2019, but the best multiplayer game as well. As we said before, Call of Duty is finally back to form. The maps are some of the best of the series with more classic maps on the way, old and new multiplayer modes make for an enjoyable experience, and the ability to filter your own playlist of game modes to play is a nice addition. Customization has never been better and it is the most polished multiplayer game of 2019. Best Narrative: Ai: The Somnium Files Ai: The Somnium Files by Kotaru Uchikoshi is not only one of the best games of 2019, but has the best narrative of the year. In addition to the best cast of characters in any game to be released in 2019, it’s full of twists and turns you will never see coming and is thoroughly thought-provoking, in classic Uchikoshi fashion. Mizuki, Iris, Aiba, Boss, and Date all stand out as incredibly well-written and intriguing characters…but there are more. In fact, there are too many to list. The game branches out like a visual novel and is roughly 30 hours or so long, so there’s plenty of story. The game is criminally underrated and if not for Crystar it would also be our most underrated game of the year. If you want a game with a compelling detective story that questions the very nature of reality versus dreams, as well as a game with an all-star cast of characters, this is a game for you. Best Musical Score: Gears 5 Iranian-German composer Ramin Djawadi is the best in the business and is known for his work in Person of Interest, Game of Thrones, and Westworld. His Gears 5 score may be his best work yet. Yes. It is that good. Kait has a hauntingly beautiful theme, which doubles as the main theme for the game, and there’s a very cool variation of the main theme from Gears 2 and 3. The theme is also heard in key moments of the game, but, it doesn’t overpower the new motifs. Gears has always had great music, but this takes it to an entirely different level, and hopefully, Djawadi is retained for Gears 6, because he has exploded as a star in the television and film industries, but it’s only fitting that he composes the music for what may be the final installment in the mainline saga. 2019 Game of the Year: Ai: The Somnium Files Ai: The Somnium Files is VGCultureHQ’s 2019 Game of the Year. It has the best narrative of the year, a cast of all-star characters, incredible voice acting (Jackie Lastra, who plays Iris/A-Set and Corina Boettger, who plays Mizuki, give standout performances), intriguing puzzles, and has a mindbending story in typical Uchikoshi fashion. It’s not only the best game of 2019, but the most unique game to be released as well. It has references to philosophy, quantum theory, questions the nature of reality and how dreams could possibly affect the real world, and is, in general, a ton of fun. The Somnium Realm is challenging but enjoyable, and there are different ways to clear several of the realms in order to unlock alternate story routes. It’s emotionally thrilling and will tug at your heartstrings. With such endearing characters, so many twists and turns, and an ending which will blow your mind, it’s a no-brainer that this is our 2019 GOTY.