Gaming's busiest time of the year has just begun, and we've just closed out what some might consider some of the slower months. Though, with the batch of games we have to talk about here, the idea that there's any slow time of the year for good game releases doesn't hold much weight. From new IPs to amazing sequels, the past three months have been kind to those looking for good games to play.
Before we get to those five, voted on by staff, here's the list of all games we reviewed this quarter that received a score of 9/10 or above:
Now, here's another set of five games to add to the best games of 2019 list, this time looking at those released July – September.
5 - Astral Chain (Our Review)
By Austin Suther
It’s understandable that Astral Chain may have slipped under your radar during this rather tumultuous year of great games. Still, if you own a Switch and like action games, you’ll find no better way to enjoy your time than with Platinum’s latest hit.
In Astral Chain, you take the role of a police officer in the future—a future where humanity is pushed to the brink of extinction by an alien foe. The remnants of humanity are sequestered on The Ark, a cyberpunk, technological island metropolis. As a police officer on the Neuron Task Force, you use these aliens bound to your astral chain—these are called Legions. The chain and Legion are as vital to the action-packed gameplay as your own player character.
While you yourself have a multifunctional tool that acts as a long sword, baton, or gun, throwing your astral chain and Legion into the mix truly makes this title stand apart. The physics behind the chain give players a tangible feeling that they’re controlling some beast on a leash, and a mighty beast these Legions are. Your Legions, of which there are six, all have different powerful abilities that you use in tandem with your police weapons to combo droves of strong foes.
Astral Chain is also a beautiful game that runs impressively well on the Nintendo Switch, considering the somewhat limited hardware. While there are particle effects galore and tons of other flashy animations, the Switch manages Astral Chain almost too good to be true. While some tedious sidequests and a cliche story hold the game back some, you’ll find that the combat more than makes up for any shortcomings.
4 - Control (Our Review)
By Sam Guglielmo
Control was one of my most anticipated games of 2019, and boy did it deliver in a way I never expected. I mean, sure, I expected a game developed by Max Payne and Alan Wake developer Remedy to have some fun gunplay and weird moments. But man, did Control really blow me out of the water. This is a game where you can rip chunks of the earth out and toss them at enemies with telekinetic glee or grab rockets out of mid-air and just casually toss them aside, watching them blow holes into the environment.
Perhaps most importantly, Control has one of the most entertainingly weird settings I’ve gotten to check out in a game. The Oldest House is brilliant—almost a character by itself. The way it constantly shifts, art on the wall will replace itself, and objects react to Jesse as she does things, is awesome. The Ashtray Maze has stood out as one of my favorite recent moments in all of gaming, and I can not wait for people to experience it.
If all that doesn’t sell it to you, there’s a particularly weird segment where Hideo Kojima plays a Japanese scientist that narrates a seagull getting hit by a forklift and how you need to stop all forklifts so trees can safely have sex. So that’s amazing too.
3 - Untitled Goose Game
By Jack Waibel
It's a game whose premise alone—that you're an asshole goose just wreaking havoc—was enough to grab our attention. Like 2014’s janky and ridiculous Goat Simulator, Untitled Goose Game seemed poised to be the meme game of 2019. But what surprised me and many other players was just how polished of an experience it actually was. Whether it’s the goose’s adorable lifelike waddle, the way it stares at things that would grab its attention, or the dynamic music that adjusts to match the current level of chaos, every detail in Untitled Goose Game helps to sell its joke so well that it’s hard not to fall in love with it.
I giggled at all the little things I could pick up and run with. I laughed out loud as I harassed a frightened boy with my honking. I cackled like a cartoon villain when the attitudes of the poor townsfolk evolved from intrigued, to irked, to downright annoyed at this avatar of mayhem descending upon their peaceful lives. I spent almost half my game time ignoring the main quest and harassing innocent people because, frankly, it was just so funny.
In an industry packed with bloated open worlds, edgy anti-heroes, and billions of guns, Untitled Goose Game provided a silly, polished, and positively refreshing experience.
2 - Borderlands 3 (Our Review)
By Robert Scarpinito
Half a decade has passed since we've gotten a new lootin', shootin' Borderlands game, and Gearbox delivered big with Borderlands 3. The game embodies a lot of what made the previous titles great while improving the quality of life. The gun variety keeps you searching for the next shiny toy to use, and every Vault Hunter's abilities are fun to use. Slowly figuring out your favorite build rewards players for thoughtful skill management. Above all, the moment to moment gameplay that Borderlands 3 offers can be described as nothing short of frantic and exciting.
The endgame lives up to the Mayhem Mode that defines it. By giving enemies random modifiers and more damage, the stakes put your skills to the test. Overcoming those challenges can feel pretty rewarding, but if that's not enough dopamine for you, the litany of legendary guns might do the trick. Gearbox built Borderlands 3 as a platform that sustains hundreds of hours of gameplay. After you've tricked out your Vault Hunter from hours of grinding, you can start fresh with a new character and new abilities. Once again, Borderlands proves itself as the Diablo of first-person shooters. With Gearbox's plans to update the game with free updates and story DLC, I can see this game having a long shelf life, even with Destiny 2 on the market.
1 - Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Our Review)
By Austin Suther
There’s only one game I can say that, after dumping over 100 hours into it within a few weeks and over two playthroughs, I yearn for more. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is not just the best game on the Nintendo Switch, it’s the best Fire Emblem game period. While many components of gameplay are a departure from the series, including exploring the wondrous monastery of Garreg Mach and teaching your students new skills, as a ravenous fan of the series I still feel right at home with Three Houses.
The cast of characters and story are unparalleled. Hence the name, there are three separate houses to choose from in this title. Each house has a different story that unfolds over dozens of hours of gameplay, incentivizing a playthrough for each. After starting my second run of the game, I thought I’d miss Dimitri and the rest of the Blue Lion house too much to get engaged with my second choice, the Black Eagles—I was wrong. Intelligent Systems really goes out of their way to create fleshed out backstories for each and every character. The overall story can only be comprehended after each playthrough, and the lore runs deep, much to Three Houses’ benefit.
Teaching students and exploring the giant monastery as Byleth is fun and all, but combat has never felt better in this entry of Fire Emblem. The inclusion of battalions creates a deeper strategy layer than ever before. Beasts and other giant foes is another fun mixup of gameplay, encouraging thoughtful maneuvering in every encounter.
The only thing holding me back from finishing up the remaining paths is the promise of more DLC, which will improve an already incredible game. I can’t wait to jump back in for another hundred hours or so when that time comes.