It’s all too easy to get suckered into that blinkered way of thing wherein all we’re being fed is endless sequels and AAA homogeneity. All it takes is a little digging, scratching off the layer of Far Cry New Dawn, Metro Exodus, and F1 2019 (great though they may be) to reveal incredibly refreshing and unique ideas underneath.
The indie scene is the obvious starting point for new IPs and the most adventurous ideas, although the AAA market can still provide plenty of true excellence. Apex Legends and Sekiro may lack a massive quantity of originality, for example, but they stand up as some of the finest games in their respective genres. Apex is the whittling down to a fine point of what makes battle royale so intoxicating, while Sekiro is a harshly difficult evolution of the Souls formula which emphasises parrying and enhanced verticality.
It’s the weird and wonderful world of indies where we’ve seen the most magic so far this year though. 2019 has been a great time for anyone interested in wholly unique concepts, whether that’s Outer Wilds truly incredible galactic cartography, Hypnospace Outlaw’s Geocities-aping trawl through cyber-crime or Baba Is You’s head-wrecking spin on computer logic.
Fans of the greats haven’t been let down either. Bloodstained is as near-as-dammit to the rebirth of Castlevania, this time far away from Konami’s lecherous clutches. AMID EVIL, too, takes major cues from old-school first-person-shooters to deliver a game which is all your favourite bits of Doom, Hexen, Unreal, Blood, and Quake smudged together.
And finally, spare a thought for Devotion, the gaming great that never was. Devotion was a rare horror outing to arrive with near-universal critical acclaim yet was sadly permanently removed from Steam following an outcry from Chinese players that it was offensive to president Xi Jinping. Maybe they should just set it in the UK. You can make fun of our prime minister all you want. Seriously, please do.
Anyway, before I go and list them all and ruin this whole debate, it’s over to you. What are the best new game franchises and IPs that you’ve played this year? Let us know below!