The holidays have traditionally been the time when I catch up on the games I miss. While everyone else rushes to buy the biggest new releases of the holiday season, I'm content to while away the winter months with games from my backlog. This was the case even before I joined the games industry. I've always been given to methodically move through the list of games I feel I need to play, focusing on one before moving on to the next.
With the torrent of new releases down to a trickle (see this week's releases below), now is the time when I can circle back on the games I missed. Some are games that I've been working on for years now; others are games that I picked up for a time, then set down so I could play something else. More than a few are games I never got around to simply because I happened to be reviewing, say, Death Stranding.
But now that I have some time on my hands, it's time to play some of the games I missed in preparation for USG's Game of the Year picks. Here are a few of the games on my list.
Outer Wilds: I played some Outer Wilds when it first came out, mostly because I was intrigued by the idea of flying around in a bespoke solar system. Then I realized that it was a puzzle game. It'll be on more than a few Best Of lists this year, so I plan to return to it soon, most likely with the help of my partner, who actually enjoys puzzles. I look forward to her figuring out the solutions while I actually enjoy the game.
Disco Elysium: Disco Elysium wound up getting lost in the tide of fall releases. First there was Death Stranding; then Jedi: Fallen Order, then Pokemon. Caty and Mike have been mercilessly guilting me over not playing what is probably the best RPG of the year, and it's supposed to be relatively short. But you know how it is: you keep telling yourself to put aside 20 hours for a really high-quality gaming experience, and then the next thing you know a year has passed and you're still playing FIFA for reasons you can't really fathom. I swear I'm going to get around to this game before December. I swear.
Ace Combat 7: There was a small but persistent outcry when The Game Awards nominations arrived: Where the heck is Ace Combat 7 on this list? My reaction, "Oh right! Ace Combat 7 came out this year!" As it's probably the closest thing to TIE Fighter on a console these days, I should probably get around to that.
Persona 5: No, I haven't finished Persona 5 yet. Yes, I'm going to try and finish it this Christmas, even with Persona 5 Royal just around the corner. I've been meaning to wrap up Persona 5 for a while now, but whenever I've had time, I've usually ended up playing The Witcher 3 instead. The Witcher 3 is done now though, so now it's time to finally plow through the rest of this 100 hour behemoth.
Luigi's Mansion 3: Most people I know seemed kind of lukewarm on Luigi's Mansion 3 during the review period, but now it seems like everyone loves it. One friend compared it favorably to the original, saying the GameCube game was the prototype, and Luigi's Mansion 3 is the fully-realized vision. I had originally planned on skipping it, but now I kind of want to play it for myself.
I'm sure there are plenty of other games that I'm forgetting. Even for a comparatively "weak" year, there have been plenty of excellent releases, from Jedi: Fallen Order to Resident Evil 2 Remake. In just a few months, the torrent will begin again, starting with Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore—another highly-regarded game I missed the first time around.
At this rate, I know I'll never truly clear out my backlog. But I'll eventually get around to playing the best of them; and as I discovered with The Witcher 3, even waiting years can't dull the thrill of discovering a new classic.
Major Game Releases: November 25 to November 29
Here are the major releases for the week of November 25 to November 29. Want to see the complete list? Check out our full list of video game release dates for 2019.
- SD Gundam G Generation Cross Rays [November 27 for PC]: It's Thanksgiving this week, so basically everything of note is already available, ready to be steeply discounted just in time for Black Friday. But as I was reminded when checking the calendar just now, SD Gundam G Generation Cross Rays is out in a couple days on Steam. If you're a Gundam fan, I recommend checking out this lovely little tactics series, which is finally getting an English release after years of waiting. And before you ask: yes, it has Gundam Wing.
This Week's News and Notes
- Another item for my backlog: The Mandalorian. I ostensibly like Star Wars, but I had originally planned on skipping The Mandalorian because it had seemed like the most cynical spinoff possible. Instead, it's apparently good, and now I've got one more item for my backlog. At least it's only being released one episode at a time.
- It's Thanksgiving this week, which I often find is one of the most polarizing holidays. Either you love it for feasting, family, and contact sports, or you hate it because of the same. Not a lot of in-between, really.
- That said, Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.
- If you are stuck watching Thanksgiving football with your family, you might want to remember the above. Just pretend that Dak Prescott is a Dragoon and go from there.
- A Side Note From Editor Caty: If you're getting your loved ones together for the holiday, might I suggest bringing your Switch along for Super Mario Party? I was somewhat down on it when I reviewed it last year—and honestly, it has the weakest boards in the series' history—but I recently played it while visiting a friend who's recovering from surgery and had a great time. ...Mostly because he had the worst luck for our 10-round game. Ya love to see it!
- The other big Thanksgiving tradition is Black Friday, which is a whole other rant. This year we're doing several themed gift guides, starting with what you should buy for a gamer who loves to throw parties. There are a ton of great ideas in this guide, so I strongly recommend giving it a click.
- Our Shenmue 3 review was a little late, mostly because we didn't get code until the day before release, but it's here now. You may recall that I was a little down on Shenmue 3 because I didn't think it lived up to the spirit of the original, which in its day sought to push the boundaries of technology and design beyond anything we had ever seen. Shenmue was a failure, but a noble one. I'm sure this new game will please old-school fans, but as for whether anyone else should care, I'm kind of inclined to say "nah."
- Favorite headline from today: "Final Fantasy 7 Remake's Chocobo's are Clearly Capable of Murder." Thanks, Nadia.
- Axe of the Blood God: Nadia and Kat talk some more about Pokemon Sword and Shield, and some of the surprising references within. (Trust Kat to be able to identify actual real-world stadiums within Galar region.) There's also a lot of end-of-the-year talk about the upcoming Game Awards, and some of the curious snubs that happened in this year's nominations. Oh Disco Elysium, where art thou? Subscribe and listen here!
When I realized that sports are actually a live action tactics RPG https://t.co/w24hH7Zkrb— Kat Bailey (@The_Katbot) November 25, 2019