It’s never a dull year in the (sometimes overlooked) realm of PC gaming. Admittedly, many of us here at TSA Towers are consoles gamers through and through, yet we still find time to seek out those hidden gems and titles that just wouldn’t work on a PlayStation or Xbox.
In 2018, our undying love for Monster Hunter World saw Capcom’s behemoth snatch up the award for best PC game, flanked by dystopian settlement sim, Frostpunk, and Two Point Hospital. Although they didn’t make the staff’s top picks, Into the Breach and Return of the Obra Dinn received honorable mentions and have since been ported to other platforms.
This year’s winners are arguably more traditional, delving into classic genres that defined PC gaming, especially throughout the 1990s.
There’s a good chance some of you will only have heard of DIsco Elysium in Game of the Year lists and discussions, having bagged four gongs at this year’s Game Awards show. Developed by Estonian newcomers, ZA/UM, it’s a truly singular game yet one that can trace its roots back to the computer RPGs of old – we’re talking Baldur’s Gate, Planescape, and the original Fallout.
Game protagonists suffering from amnesia is a well worn trope yet here it forms the foundation of a bizarrely gripping story. One in which you – a bedraggled detective – wake up after going on a brutal bender with a murder mystery to solve.
The writing here is genuinely funny which helps as Disco Elysium artfully walks the line between visual novel and old-school RPG. Instead of outfitting your character with spells, armour, and abilities, ZA-UM has built a clever alternative that explores personality traits, inner thoughts, and the power of the mind, with a number of different ways to approach every scenario.
Planet Zoo – Runner Up
In the world of park simulators, Frontier Developments are king. While they’re still plugging away with dinosaurs in Jurassic World Evolution, this year saw the release of Planet Zoo, arguably their park-building magnum opus. The culmination of everything they’ve learnt over the past few years, there’s ridiculous levels of depth to go to in order to satisfy the animals in your care, all the while with a keen eye on conservation and the position that modern zoos hold. The fact that the animals themselves look incredible only adds to the effect, and once you dive into the different park appearance options you’ll never look back. This will be the title all future park builders are judged by.
Total War: Three Kingdoms – Runner Up
Following up the superb Total War: Warhammer II was never going to be an easy task for Creative Assembly, as shifted focus once again to another historic era. Working on the popular license opened many doors, allowing the team to do things they had never attempted before. So, in terms of sheer pomp, Three Kingdoms definitely felt like a step down.
That said, this latest instalment in the long-running strategy game franchise offered some new ideas of its own while still delivering in terms of rewarding gameplay and epic scale battles. Romance mode gave players the option to set down their history textbooks and pursue a more dramatic storyline. Despite some niggling issues that are ever-present in the Total War series, Three Kingdoms was another strong entry, exploring a saga few western video games have touched upon.
Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
- DOTA Underlords
- Frog Detective 2
- The Outer Worlds
To catch up on the Game of the Year awards we’ve handed out so far, here’s a handy list:
- Best Remaster/Remake
- Best Visual Design
- Best Soundtrack
- Best Ongoing Game
- Best Multiplayer Game
- Best Gameplay
- Best Narrative
- Best Single Player Game
- Best Indie Game
Which PC games have you been unable to get enough of in 2019? Let us know in the comments below.