The year in gaming is already off to one hell of a strong start, as our two January picks for the best games of 2019 delivered the goods after years of heated anticipation. In addition to these long-awaited sequels, we also got the lovingly expanded port of New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe, another great fit for the Switch's on-the-go play if you missed it on Wii U. Meanwhile, Life is Strange 2: Episode 2 is still struggling to match the heights of the first game, with great characters currently trapped in a not-so-gripping setting. With big titles like BioWare's Anthem game and Crackdown 3 just around the corner, you'll want to jump on playing our Game of the Month picks ASAP.
At the end of every month, we comb through all our recent reviews to find the two games that qualify as must-plays. Consider these to be the highlights of the year thus far - and if you're looking for something to play while you wait for the other new games of 2019 (and beyond), these standout titles are a sure bet.
January Game of the Month (Runner-up): Kingdom Hearts 3
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One
GamesRadar+ review score: 4/5
Whether you've been waiting almost a decade for a new entry to the series, or you've never played one before, Kingdom Hearts 3 improves upon the previous games in every aspect. Sure, the story is complex and the amount of characters feels like a follow up to Too Many Cooks, but there’s nothing better than teaming up with Goofy, Donald Duck, and the vast array of beloved Disney characters that inhabit every world. When you’re done with battling Heartless, you can hop in the Gummi Ship and search for constellations in space, or collect ingredients to use with Remy from Ratatouille in his little bistro. Every world has been crafted with that tender loving care we were all expecting, which makes Kingdom Hearts 3 easily the best game in the franchise. Let’s hope it’s not another decade until Kingdom Hearts 4. Ford James
January Game of the Month (Winner): Resident Evil 2 Remake
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
GamesRadar+ review score: 4/5
If you remember the first time around or this is your introduction to Raccoon City’s zombie fun, Resident Evil 2 Remake is an essential horror game. Back in the day, the 1996 version set a standard for the genre, and this total remake only raises the bar further. It’s an atmospheric and tense exercise in terror using its scant resources and undead threats to create a tactical and engaging fight to stay alive, as you manage what you have and what you need to do on the fly. It’s also got some of the best dead in the business. Mr. X might be the meme star, but it’s the rotting, disintegrating corpses that shine here. They moan, shuffle and fall apart under gunfire in a way that’s up there with the best of their film and TV contemporaries. But above all, it honors and recreates what made the original great in a way that makes sense today, and on that front it’s a success on so many levels. If you’re thinking of diving in, check out our Resident Evil 2 Remake guide to make life just that little bit easier. Leon Hurley