I've been thinking a lot lately about this decade—the books I loved, the movies I watched over and over, the albums that stayed on my rotation, and the games I got lost in. Over the weekend, I rewatched an old favorite of this decade: Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha. I remembered why I loved it so much: the naturalistic dialogue, the relatable friendship at its core, the embarrassing reluctance to grow up. Most of all, I remembered a scene that was actually a direct homage to another famous scene, in which Greta Gerwig dances through the streets of New York as David Bowie's "Modern Love" triumphantly plays. In 1986, Denis Lavant did the very same thing in the French film Mauvais Sang. Is Frances Ha's version original? I guess not really, but it's affecting all the same.
So, what have been the great moments of this decade in gaming? That's a discussion for another day. It's easy, however, to recollect the most memorable moments of this year in gaming. There are too many to count.
It started this year with a hallway, a flaming helicopter, and a very big man in Resident Evil 2. Whether you choose Leon or Claire from the beginning, you find yourself lost in the maze of Raccoon City Police Department in Resident Evil 2's opening hours. You navigate it with little fear—save for the zombies always snapping for your flesh. You go outside in the pouring rain, solve a little environmental puzzle, and enter a hallway blocked by a helicopter that crashed into the building. Then large hands push the helicopter out of the way and a large man enters the frame. Only one thing enters your mind: I need to get the hell out of here.
And thus begins the mad chase that follows Leon and Claire throughout the police station: Mr. X (or the Tyrant), always stomping away behind them. It makes Resident Evil 2 tense in a good way, but it's that first moment where he makes his debut that sends goosebumps to your arms.
Telling Lies, in perhaps the only thing I can remember about it, delivers a haunting performance from actress Kerry Bishé. As per Telling Lies' nature, you sift through one-sided conversations of four people via Skype, Facetime, and whatever other video chatting app. Slowly but surely, you piece together their lives and connections to one another. In one video, you catch an emotional Bishé with a dollhouse. She looks into the camera, and tells whoever's on the other end, and unwittingly us, a story. It's a horrifying story about her past masked in a fairy tale, but it's one of the moments of 2019 in gaming that I remember the most. Heck, the scene's so good, that it warped my thinking in the extremely high score I gave it (in retrospect, it's more of a 3.5/5 game to me). Still, that dollhouse scene effed me up.
I'll admit that I've also forgotten a lot about Control. The excellent art direction and cool world building stuck with me (sorta), but the story itself and the clunky action, less so. One moment I remember crystal clear happens about two-thirds, or less, of the way through, though. You get a new power: The ability to fly. It was a moment that made me feel like I was having a That's So Raven vision for a second. I could remember all the areas in the Bureau of Control that I couldn't access before, and with the ability to fly, I could finally reach that one box, or glide across that giant gap. (Unaware that a secret boss awaited me at the other end.) Like any good Metroid game, it's a satisfying a-ha! moment.
In a more lighthearted moment I loved this year, the end of Untitled Goose Game was so delightful. [Caution: Spoilers ahead.] As the maddening goose on the loose, your last task is simple: steal the bell from the miniature town of the town you just waddled through, and bring it back to your home. If you walk too fast, the bell rings, alerting everyone around you. It's a true stealth challenge, but you're rewarded with the funniest moment of the game: the goose has been hoarding these bells for what looks like generations, as you plop the bell into a pit stuffed with other bells. Then the credits roll, chuckles are had, and to this day, I smile a little bit thinking about it. A silly game, capped off with the silliest of moments.
There are many other excellent moments from the year in gaming that I doubt I'll forget anytime soon. Devotion has perhaps the most grotesque sequence I've ever played in a game; rivaling the notorious scene from Lars von Trier's Antichrist. Death Stranding, like Breath of the Wild before it, is stuffed with beautiful horizons when you crest a cliffside—typically soundtracked by some forgettable Low Roar song, which admittedly lessens their impact for me. My favorite gaming moment of the year happened near the end of Disco Elysium, but it's a sequence that is better left unspoiled.
A great gaming moment can be anything. It can be scripted, like Disco Elysium's or Untitled Goose Game's, or it can be organic, like a really satisfying hike in Death Stranding, or it can be a killer combo in Devil May Cry 5. It depends on the player, I guess. To me, the best ones are like that scene in Frances Ha; where I know that one particular moment will stick with me as the months and years go by.
Major Game Releases: December 9 to December 13
Here are the major releases for the week of December 9 to December 13. Want to see the complete list? Check out our full list of video game release dates for 2019.
- Dragon Quest Builders 2 [December 10 for PC]:If you haven't played this game yet, because you don't have a PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch, now you have another chance. DQ Builders 2 starts with the familiar building mechanics of the Minecraft series, but then add on top of that the Dragon Quest aesthetic, a storyline, and a heaping dose of charm. It's one of the few games that handily improves upon Minecraft and it's well worth your time if you enjoy that genre.
- MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries [December 10 for PC]: The developer behind MechWarrior Online returns to make a proper entry in the mech simulation series. Step into the boots of a rookie MechWarrior and stomp across battlefields fighting other clans for domination. The campaign follows the last decade of the Third Successor War, which should prove a feast for fans of BattleTech lore.
- Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York [December 11 for PC, Mac]: Before you get Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, there's this visual novel style adventure game to hold you over. Navigate your way between the Camarilla and Anarchs factions of vampires, taking on the role of a vampire from one of Camarilla's clans. It lacks the interactivity of its elder sibling, but if you're a fan of Vampire: The Masquerade, maybe it's what you're looking for.
- Detroit: Become Human [December 12 for PC]: The adventure games of Quantic Dream continue their exodus onto PC with Detroit: Become Human. In the future of our world, androids are our constant companions and tools. In Detroit: Become Human, you will look through the robotic eyes of three androids, looking to survive in a world that wants to dismantle them. Can you find freedom for a new type of life?
This Week's News and Notes
- We're wrapping up 2019 with great speed! The USgamer team is busy deliberating over not only our Game of the Year list, but also our Top 100 Games of the Decade! Which games deserve the spot for 2019, and which ones have stood out across the entire decade? You should let us know some of your choices in the comments section below.
- Over the last week, the fine folks over at Yacht Club Games gave you folks a glimpse at the development process behind the development of Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove and Specter of Torment. If you've ever been interested in the development process, it's a fantastic and detailed look into what goes into making a platformer as good as Shovel Knight. The five part series culminated in our reviews of Shovel Knight: King of Cards and Shovel Knight Showdown, which you can read right now on our frontpage!
- Mike took a look at Halo: Reach on the PC, the latest move in Microsoft's ongoing plan to let you play all of its games on any platform, including a competitor like Steam. It's a great looking port, but it's missing some features that are pretty standard when it comes to PC games. Speaking of Microsoft's expansions, Minecraft: Bedrock Edition, allowing full cross-play on all platforms, has finally come to PlayStation 4 today!
- This week is the beginning of a series of announcement events across the industry. First, there's Sony's State of Play 2019, which is scheduled for December 10 at 9 a.m. ET / 6 a.m. PT. (Sorry, no PlayStation 5 news is coming.) Then on the same day at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT, Nintendo has a new Indie World presentation, showcasing all the indies coming to Nintendo Switch in the near future. Finally, there's the 2019 Game Awards show on Thursday, December 12 at 8:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. PT, which should have a number of announcements for new titles coming in 2020. The year may be ending, but there is more game news on the horizon!
- The news wasn't all good last week. Bethesda has put development of The Elder Scrolls: Legends on indefinite hold. The folks behind Wargroove received some harsh feedback for having white voice actors taking on the roles of characters of color. There was also our report on allegations of sexual harassment against developer Dangen Entertainment's CEO, amid other toxic business practices.
- Axe of the Blood God: Kat and Nadia celebrate two anniversaries in this episode of Axe of the Blood God! First, they look back on the RPG legacy of the original PlayStation, especially in terms of how the platform increased the localization of Japanese RPGs. But with the 25th anniversary of the PlayStation also comes the 25th anniversary of Breath of Fire 2, and Nadia's got some feelings about that game. Subscribe and listen here!