The Niche Gamer Game of the Year 2019 is Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark Indie Game of the Year 2019

Game of the Year 2019

The Niche Gamer selection for Game of the Year 2019 is Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, while our first ever Indie Game of the Year is Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark.

We had a difficult choice this year, all choosing different games. After much discussion, the hottest contenders were Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Resident Evil 2Devil May Cry 5, and Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark.


Resident Evil 2 was the nigh-perfect remake, and Devil May Cry 5 was the nigh-perfect sequel for a beloved franchise.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was… Unlike anything we had seen before. Even at Gamescom 2018 we knew it was shaping up to be something special.

While most “soulsborne” games encourage caution and studying your foe, Sekiro‘s combat felt more rewarding than ever thanks to its posture system. Rather than whittle away at an enemy’s health, you slowly opened them up to a killing blow.

Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark was the nigh-perfect example of a sub-genre, in this case “tactics” style RPGs. While Devil May Cry 5 perfected their formula, Fell Seal took the ball many thought studios like Square Enix or Nippon Icchi Software had mastered, and ran with it.

It went back to the roots of the genre, cutting away the fat of elements that most people did not enjoy (“y’know, I never did like trying to steal rare gear at a 2% chance over and over”).

Combined with one of the best difficulty systems in an RPG to date, varied classes for numerous viable builds, and a classic story; Fell Seal was the best Final Fantasy Tactics game Square Enix never made.


Discussions came between Sekiro and Fell Seal, no one wanting to overshadow or neglect the other. Since the major issue came down to comparing indie and AAA games, we soon came to a rather obvious answer.

While we have awarded Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice our staff Game of the Year 2019, we have also awarded Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark our first ever staff Indie Game of the Year 2019.

We still have some personal selections, and we all feel they are very much worth your time.

Here are each of our staff members’ personal Game of the Year 2019 picks:

Ryan’s Pick – Devil May Cry 5

“A practically fairy-tale ending for the franchise in both real life and in-game, Devil May Cry 5 was a fist-pumping scream from start to finish. First it took everything that made past games great, and made sure it worked perfectly. Then it added even more on top of it, even with risks like the playstyle of new character V.

Even the story managed to make me like Nero- someone I originally loathed and saw as a Dante usurper, only to find him a worthy successor (even if he still needs to lighten up a bit). I was torn between Devil May Cry 5, and Fell Seal (much like the aforementioned indie vs. AAA discussion). Despite my absolute love for the latter, I have to give the devil his due.”

You can find our review here.

Cody’s Pick – Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark

“Tactical RPGs are easily my favorite game genre, and Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark seemed to come out of nowhere for me. I bought on a whim, and what followed were many, many hours of play- with me bullheadedly maxing out every job, and trying to figure out which class/subclass combo was the most overpowered.

It’s got a great story, varied and unique classes (with some special ones only usable by certain characters), and a pretty damn engaging combat system. You still might not be into this one if strategy games don’t tickle your pickle, but if you’re a fan of the old classics like Final Fantasy Tactics and Jeanne D’arc, Fell Seal will definitely be right up your alley.”

You can find our review here.

Michael’s Pick – Grim Dawn (v1.1.5.0)

“After a huge 2019 patch and about 200+ hours gameplay, I have yet to even scratch the surface of the customization potential. It reminds me of old Diablo 2 mechanics, but more user friendly for ease of picking up the controls and usage. The 2019 patch completely revamped (among other things) the ways that loot drops are generated, to alleviate farming for better gear, while not handing you victories.

I enjoy the customizable parts a lot. You can run dual classes fairly early on, customizing one’s playthrough’s endlessly. You can even re-spec your build, in case you need to reform your tactics. The only gripe I have is that the story feels a bit lacking. The fun I was having playing made up for it, and I’m not disappointed with it. Everyone who’s a fan of ARPG’s should check it out ASAP.”

You can find our review here, though please bear in mind it is from the 2016 version of the game.

Allen’s Pick – Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

“Sekiro is a game with tight controls, good level design and art and a combat system that keeps you coming back. Between the level progression and difficult bosses I found it to be the most memorable game of 2019.

While the story was rather forgettable, I’ve found the Soulsborne games absolutely addicting- and Sekiro was no different. The gameplay change with a stealth focus as well as the posture system which put a focus on parrying instead of simply blocking or blindly rolling through attacks.”

You can find our review here.

Fingal’s PickResident Evil 2 (2019)

“If Resident Evil 7 was the coming attractions, then Resident Evil 2 (2019) was the feature presentation. This is not a remake like how the Resident Evil HD Remaster maintained the same general adventure game design as its predecessor.

Survival-horror is back, full force. Almost everything that made the original 1998 release the greatest PlayStation game of all time is here and with some new twists (such as the third-person control scheme). Resident Evil 2 relies so heavily on little details in tone, performance, and ambient sound design, that gives it life.”

You can find our review here.

Frank’s Pick – Greedfall

“The more I think about my time with GreedFall, the more I feel like I was maybe a bit too harsh on the game in my initial review. For a while now I’ve felt like Spiders was on the verge of releasing a truly fantastic RPG, and while GreedFall still has many flaws, it’s definitely a huge step up from their previous efforts.

GreedFall’s interesting characters and fantastical world inspired by 17th Century Europe and America proves that Spiders has the talent to become the next big RPG developer, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.”

You can find our review here.

Hunter’s Pick –Shenmue 3

“From Kingdom Hearts to Shenmue, 2019 brought long-awaited sequels to players after years of waiting. Shenmue III blew me away, managing to retain the charm of previous entries while bringing the series style 20 years forward thanks to Unreal Engine 4.

Shenmue III is the definition of a niche game. A sandbox life simulator that allows you to do what you want, its immersiveness was unlike anything I played this year. You can spend all day hunting leads and working to earn some cash, or you can be a NEET who spends all day fishing and buying capsule toys. The choice is yours, and that is what makes Shenmue III my game of the year.”

You can find our review here.

What was your game of the year for 2019? Did you see that Devil May Cry 5 won our third community Game of the Year poll? Sound off in the comments below!

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Ryan was a former Niche Gamer contributor.

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