By: The Geekly Grind Staff
We’re pretty sure there’s an equation out there that dictates the older you get, the more you utter the phrase “Time goes by so fast!” Well, here we are with exhibit ZZ of said expediency of time as 2019 comes to a close, and indeed, the 2010s are on their way to entering the rear-view mirror.
We’ll have a separate article to call out some of our favorite media from the past decade, but for now we’re content to spotlight some of our favorite comics, anime, video games, manga and board games from 2019. Take a look!
Attack on Titan (Season 3, Part 2) – Attack on Titan has maintained a Titan’s grip on the hearts and minds of many anime fans since it’s premiere in 2013. Though some parts had…significant gaps in production, the show returned with a bang and the concluding season of 2019 was no exception. With superb action sequences, a stellar soundtrack, and a narrative twist that has got anime fans sprinting to catch up with the manga, it was definitely the standout series of the year for me. I’d also strongly suggest the Netflix original adaptation of Levius as well. (Mithrandiel)
The Promised Neverland – Promised Neverland is one of those few anime that remind me how great this genre of television can be. It contains a premise so thoroughly thought out that most of the questions the audience has are then asked by the series protagonists. The way the series progresses keeps you in constant apprehension for the children’s safety with just the barest sliver of a hope that they will survive. I cannot recommend this show enough and it easily slides into my top pick for the year. (TheJewphin)
Nemesis – Ever wonder how you and your friends would do in an Alien-like scenario? Would you be able to cooperate and survive against hordes of monstrous aliens while securing your route home? Or would one of you jump in the escape pod while flipping off the rest of the party and jettisoning off into space? Nemesis lets you find out. With meticulously detailed minis, an expansive board, and
Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid – I would say that with Kyle Higgins (and now Ryan Parrot’s) terrific work on the Power Rangers comic, the action franchise is making a comeback…but let’s be honest, Power Rangers never really went anywhere. Still, this terrific board game from Renegade studios will definitely introduce a new demographic to the over-the-top martial antics that is Power Rangers. While the original series was campy and aimed at younger children, do not underestimate this game. It will chew you up and spit you out if you and your friends fail to bring your A-game in terms of strategy. It’s definitely the most fun I’ve had with a board game all year. (RogueSymbiote)
The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth – With all the orc-slaying Aragorn and company do in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you would expect an interactive journey involving the fellowship wouldn’t be too difficult, right? Haha, wrong. There’s definitely a good bite to this game when it comes to the difficulty, so be mindful of that, but if you’re not afraid of a challenge this is probably one of the best Lord of the Rings inspired board games I’ve had the pleasure of playing. Fantastic mini quality, exhaustive replay value, and a companion app that is a lot more than just for show help to set Journeys in Middle Earth apart. Definitely my favorite board game of 2019! (Mithrandiel)
Die – Die is a spectacular fantasy RPG style series from the brilliant minds of Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans. Kieron weaves together an intelligent and satisfying narrative while Stephanie wows with uniquely stunning art. The series centers around a group of friends who are pulled back into a fantasy world they barely escaped from decades prior. With endless narrative twists, exciting new RPG character classes and homages to literary greats, Die sets itself apart as one of the greatest ongoing comic titles in recent years. (RogueSymbiote)
Die – What RogueSymbiote said. (Mithrandiel)
Levius – While the series is actually a bit older, VIZ did some fantastic work bringing this sweeping sci-fi boxing title to market in a gorgeous hardcover release. With terrific art and a compelling narrative, I was reminded of Battle Angel Alita in more ways than one…and any resemblance to that series is sure to leave an impact. There were a lot of great series this year, but Levius was the best one for me. (Mithrandiel)
The Way of the Househusband – I’m a big fan of absurdist humor. From Don’t you know? I’m Sakamoto!!! to Azumanga Daioh, ridiculous antics and well-timed humor are big wins in my book. That’s why when I heard about a new series about a former notorious Yakuza member turned Househusband, I was intrigued. Man, did it deliver beyond my expectations. It’s a fantastic series, with superb timing, great art, and is definitely my favorite new title of the year. Check it out!
Note – The following games are not included in our consideration due to nobody actually having played them yet: Death Stranding, The Outer Worlds, and Control.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – It’s not often that Kickstarter-funded video games have such a happy ending, but in the case of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, fans of Koji Igarashi looking for a spiritual successor to the iconic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night rode off into the sunset in Igarashi’s caring arms. It’s a wonderfully-executed metroidvania, complete with a massive map to explore, routes to unlock, weapons to discover and craft, food to cook, monsters to kill, hats to wear, outfits to choose, more monsters to kill, spells to upgrade, crops to harvest, and even more monsters to kill. With a fantastic aesthetic, intriguing visuals, addictive gameplay, and a rocking soundtrack that echoes the glory of its predecessor, it’s ultimately the best anyone could have hoped for when they backed the project in 2015. (TheJewphin)
Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers – I’m well aware of how it looks to submit an MMO expansion for Game of the Year, but if you’ve heard me talk about FFXIV, you likely already know I’ve never really listed the story as one of my top reasons for playing. That changed when, this summer, FFXIV released its third expansion: Shadowbringers – a dark, fantastical journey to the cursed world of the First. While you’ve been busy trying to vanquish the darkness in your own world, the heroes of another world have succeeded – but not for the better.
The First has become a wasteland of endless brightness. Night has long disappeared, and the people live in fear of sin eaters – terrifying creatures of light that seem to destroy all in their path. Under new lead writer Natsuko Ishikawa (previously known for her work on the dark knight class story quests, certain arcs of Heavensward, etc), FFXIV is no longer simply playing with its dark threads of horror (Edda, Palace of the Dead, the Primals, Haukke Manor…). Instead, it’s bringing them to the surface and letting them truly shine. Shadowbringers does an amazing job at living up to its premise, and manages to bring genuinely surprising plot twists all the way through to the end. It’s an impressive feat for any game. On top of an excellently crafted story, the expansion features plenty of engaging content. I would say that the general story content is more difficult than previous expansions, while the endgame content is a bit easier, but from a dungeon that takes the player through a burning town to the new Nier Automata collaboration raid, all of it is just downright fun. The new areas we get to visit are stunning, and the soundtrack is incredible even by Final Fantasy standards.
In a way it’s both wonderful and too bad that this gem is tucked away into an MMO – on one hand I’m happy that we got to experience it, while on the other I know that it might not get the same reach as a standalone, non-MMO release. I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s top-notch as far as MMO expansions go, but personally I can’t say too much on that front since I don’t have a lot of MMO experience. However, Shadowbringers definitely earns its place as far more than an expansion of FFXIV. It’s an incredible addition to the Final Fantasy franchise, and to the fantasy gaming genre. (Rae)
Fire Emblem: Three Houses – I’m a huge fan of tactical RPGs, though admittedly I’d never really explored the Fire Emblem universe before the universal clamor around Three Houses piqued my interest. Of course, once I picked the game up, there was no looking back. With exhaustive replay value, a refined and addictive combat system, superb voice acting and an incredible reservoir of quality memes, Fire Emblem: Three Houses was the most fun I had playing a video game this year…with Katana Zero coming in at a close second. If you haven’t had a chance to play yet, hopefully it’s on your Christmas list and you’ve been a good boy or girl! (Mithrandiel)