Games: Resident Evil 2, Days Gone, Death Stranding, Astral Chain, Judgement and Yoshi's Crafted World are six of 2019's best

Astral Chain serves up a cocktail of anime-influenced hack and slash action
Neil McGreevy

Games of The Year

'TIS the most wonderful time of the year, as the man sang, when, like many a fireplace, I get stoked. And while in the real world, 2019 can do one, it was a much rosier picture in the virtual, where our wheezing consoles stepped up to the plate once more for their final bask in the spotlight.

The PS4 and Xbox One may be in their twilight, but those old bones coughed up enough videogame experiences to help us forget about Brexit, Trump and the end of days. So smoke 'em if you got 'em – and don't let this selection box of 2019's crackers escape the shade of your Christmas tree. Even better, wrap them in soft fabric to make your presents felt...

:: Resident Evil 2 (Multi)

21 YEARS after Resi 2's cocktail of cheese and fear first rotated menacingly in the original PlayStation, Capcom saw fit to let vets and newcomers alike enjoy a reimagining of the 90s masterpiece. Retooled to perfection, players attempt to hightail it from Raccoon City and its coffin-dodging citizenry in a visually stunning blend of puzzles and bloody ultraviolence that proves class never goes out of date.

:: Yoshi's Crafted World (Switch)

A DEFIANTLY traditional platformer that's more digital hug than game, Yoshi's trippy, handmade visuals look for all the world like Tony Hart's been on the cough syrup. Turning to the stationery cupboard for inspiration, levels are assembled from cardboard, pipe cleaners and assorted tat as players rinse its origami landscape for hidden loot in a languidly paced adventure.

:: Days Gone (PS4)

DESPITE the lukewarm expectations, Sony's bikers 'n' zombies exclusive was an unexpected treat. Essentially Sons of Anarchy meets Walking Dead, hard fightin', Harley-straddling Deacon St John takes on horde-sized mutant swarms in the Pacific North West. The plot is pure Cheesy Rider and there's little originality in the tank, but Days Gone's solid gunplay and satisfyingly beefy dust-ups are well worth a look for leather-clad survivalists.

:: Judgement (PS4)

THREE years after Yakuza 6 gave the venerable series a fitting farewell, Judgement returned players to the mean streets of Kamurocho, where lawyer turned detective Takayuki Yagami takes the law into his own fists, investigating a serial killer with a penchant for removing Yakuza eyeballs. A unique twist on the Yakuza formula, players punch faces and build cases in Tokyo's viceland across 60 hours of top ethno-sleuthing.

:: Astral Chain (Switch)

ANOTHER pitch-perfect action-fest from Platinum where everything and the kitchen sink is thrown at a cocktail of anime-influenced hack and slash action as players command one of two sibling cops in a blend of lickety-split combat and detective work. A love letter to the Japanese action genre.

:: Death Stranding (PS4)

I WAS loathe to include Hideo Kojima's bloated blockbuster on the list as there's plenty to hate about the Metal Gear Solid auteur's latest. The incomprehensible sci-fi nonsense puts a stellar cast and incredible tech in the service of gussied up fetch quests – yet, while I may not have thoroughly enjoyed my 50 odd hours as a post-apocalyptic postman, it's hard not to admire the wildly ambitious vision on show.

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