Now that we’ve started a new decade I’ve been thinking about the best games from the beginning of 2010, to the end of 2019. And while it’s taken me nearly a fourth of 2020 to figure it out, I’ve completed my list. I even ordered it, too.
– – –
INSIDE is an interesting game, in that there isn’t actually a lot of game. It’s quite short and relatively thin in terms of gameplay. To call it anything other than a walking simulator with light puzzle elements would be generous. However, the game’s style, and the implications of the complex you travel through are quite memorable, to say the least. The game sets up interesting moments early on, that pay off through bizarre visuals and uncomfortable ideas. The game ramps up steadily to a truly bizarre climax. INSIDE is a game I’ve come back to several times since it’s release in 2016. Helped by the two to three hour play time.
49. Rain World
I had a similar experience with Rain World that other people describe with Dark Souls. An initially confusing puzzle of occluded game mechanics. Rain World explains little to the player, and throws you into a hostile environment expecting you to figure things out for yourself. Many of your early hours you will consist of scrambling for your life, trying to find food and shelter. Despite the game occasionally feeling unfair, I appreciated Rain World for doing something different. Rain World is a continuous adventure in trying to figure out how to survive. My desire to see what was next kept me playing despite some issues with the controls. I do want to go back to it and finish it in the future.
48. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Brotherhood is the best, and last, Assassin’s Creed game I played. I was enamored by the gameplay, the open world, and the various missions you could send your acolytes on. I felt that the ending to Assassin’s Creed 2 was a slap in the face, and Brotherhood’s was even worse. I swore off the franchise because of it. I don’t think I’ve played a Ubisoft game since. But I still have fond memories of traversing through Rome.
47. Warhammer 40k: Space Marine
Space Marine is a fun, relatively simple, action game that doesn’t overstay its welcome. And while I never played the multiplayer, I had an absolutely great time with the campaign. It’s maybe about six to eight hours depending on your skill level – and that’s just enough. It’s like a nice meal that leaves you perfectly satisfied. As a 40k fan it’s not often that we get good video games, but this is one of those few times.
46. Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
Sins is an entirely skirmish based real time strategy game that is a cross between 4X and RTS. My friend and I marathoned this game over spring break one year, playing games until 4am every night for a week straight. It was extremely fun. There’s nothing quite like taking a massive fleet from one solar system to another, and completely annihilating your enemy – and then glassing their planets. While we only played small scale games, I’ve heard from others that bigger maps lasting hundreds of hours.
45. E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy
Many of the things in EYE are taken from elsewhere in a bizarre ethereal patchwork. The game’s setting is like a quilt made of Ghost in the Shell, Warhammer, The Matrix, Doom, Judge Dredd, and plenty more. Many times I felt like I was playing a barely completed mod – which is almost the case. EYE’s quirky mechanics added greatly to the surreal fever dream quality that the game has overall. Playing it alone is a somewhat unsettling experience, and I don’t necessarily recommend it. There’s an uncanny feeling I have a hard time getting past. Playing it with friends is ideal. The downright wacky things you can pull off multiplayer is a joyous experience. Every time I go back to EYE I enjoy it more than the last time. Maybe I’ll be able to finish it in the new decade.
44. Alan Wake
Alan Wake is a game about a best selling Author, that tries very hard to appear like a TV show. And like most shows now, I binged through the entirety of Alan Wake’s main game in a single day. Only stopping once to eat. I played through the game about six years ago now, and the story sticks out in my mind as something special. I found the gameplay to be rather repetitive, but such is the lot of third person shooters. The game’s meta narrative is incredibly compelling – and the real reason to keep playing. Alan Wake is an example of the benefits provided by the longer time investment of a book, or video game, and creative use of the disconnect between gameplay and story.
43. Dark Wood
I’ve never really been one for survival games, and I can’t really say I’ve played many survival horror games either. Dark Wood manages to combine the two genres, into what you might think of when you hear those two words in a ‘modern’ context. There is an inherent repetitiveness to survival games that I don’t always appreciate, but there is an always looming pressure that hangs over Dark Wood that helps make the game feel less contrived. Dark Wood has many similarities to Rain World – although I found it to be considerably less aggravating at times. The horror elements of Dark Wood are done exceptionally well, and are the real reason to play the game. I never would have thought that a purely top down game could be frightening, but Dark Wood is genuinely scary.
42. Hollow Knight
I’ve never been much for the “metroidvania” genre, they’re not my go-to type of game. Additionally I hate the name, and think we should call them exploration games. That being said, I found Hollow Knight to be quite fun, and refreshing. The amount of content, and the feeling of progression as the world changes really gave the game a feeling of “scope” that a lot of other games simply lack. Many people compare Hollow Knight to Dark Souls and I think this aspect in particular is why. Hollownest feels like a real place, much like Lordran. I still want to try and get the true ending. I think I had an issue with “critical pathing” the game, and that got in my way with Hollow Knight – but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the game considerably despite that.
41. The Last of Us
It feels strange to think that The Last Of Us came out seven years ago, especially with the seemingly polarizing reception this game has garnered over time. People either love it or hate it. I find that people that pick apart the game’s story for being cliche are pedantic. Personally I enjoyed it quite a lot, even if I think the game may try a little too hard to be a movie for its own good. Not many games can get an emotional response out of me, aside from maybe anger. I had enough of an attachment to the characters in The Last of Us to get choked up at a few points… Even if the game is absolutely blatantly trying its hardest to get those kind of reactions. I certainly fell for it. The story is what carries The Last of Us, without that the game would just have been a repetitive third person shooter with half baked stealth mechanics.
40. Civilization V
Civ V was my first real introduction to the 4X genre, and I think that is true of many – even if they aren’t aware. Civilization’s grounded feeling makes it easily approachable, while it’s decent depth gives the game staying power. A single game can remain interesting for quite awhile. However I do have issues with the anachronisms that the game’s style causes. Probably because I don’t really feel much of a connection to many of the Civilizations. I like history as much as the next guy, but there’s something weird to me about fighting a modern war against Ramsees II, while Nebachadnezzar is threatening the world with nuclear ICBMs. And while the oddities of a Nuclear Babylon has a certain charm, after the initial “quirkiness” wears off it’s just odd to me. Additionally, I find that Civ goes through many ups and downs in its gameplay – exacerbated by my skill level with the game’s mechanics. Although it’s not unique to Civ itself, most 4X games go through activity droughts where a large chunk of turns can come and go with little input from the player. Either because you’re waiting on a variety of tasks to complete, or there just isn’t much happening on the board. My enjoyment is inconsistent.
There’s a lot to Stellaris that I like, and probably just as much that I don’t. It’s entirely possible to spend 20 hours on a single game without ever really doing anything. And the war system leaves a lot to be desired. Imagine going to war with another empire, completely destroying absolutely everything that they send your way while occupying ten of their planets across nine solar systems. And once you win the war only being able to keep a mere handful of planets. Things like that really, really get under my skin. I should have been able to literally purge half of their species from existence… But the game will force you to go to war repeatedly to slowly chip away at their territories. I always want to play an evil warmongering empire, but I just hate the combat in this game, and sadly there’s no way to avoid it. At some point you will have to go to war whether you’re a warmonger or a fanatic pacifist. Additionally, the majority of the vastly expensive DLC is all late game, meaning you’re going to have to play a lot of Stellaris to even see it. After a certain point the galaxy becomes so crowded you really can’t do anything other than sit there and work on your fleet. Perhaps I should engage in diplomacy a bit more, but I don’t like being aligned with filthy xeno scum. Maybe I just play the game wrong. Despite this, I’ve enjoyed most of my time with the game.
38. STALKER: Call of Pripyat
Call of Pripyat is everything that was great about Shadow of Chernobyl, with a significantly larger more open world. I appreciate the “open zone” level design that you see in older games, however I do feel like the larger open world lends itself heavily to STALKER. This game is a slow burn, and it’s fairly difficult as well, both things that I appreciate. You’ll find yourself exploring unkempt and abandoned wilderness, housing blocks, and research facilities. You’ll encounter disgusting mutants, unsavory people, and bizarre unexplainable events. STALKER isn’t a game for everyone, but it is entirely memorable. Only marred by a bad ending that kind of comes out of nowhere. I still remember my time with Call of Pripyat almost nine years later.
I told myself that I was going to beat Spelunky, and I did. Which is no easy task. It was difficult, it took many attempts, but I finally pulled it off. I also told myself I was going to ‘truly’ beat Spelunky, sadly that has yet to happen. In my 50 or more hours with the game I’ve gotten to the secret final boss only a handful of times, and I’ve actually killed him once… and yet I still died and lost. Spelunky is one of the few successful rogue-likes in my opinion, if only because it doesn’t give everything over to chance. A large portion of this game is determined by player skill and reacting to what the game throws at you. Spelunky has rules, and those rules are extremely tight. I appreciate that. I still want to kill Yama, and actually make it out alive this time.
36. Killing Floor 2
I’m not a huge fan of “horde mode” style games. That is to say progressively difficult wave defense. I find the design lends itself more to a fun diversionary mode that fleshes out a larger game. So I’m surprised at how much I enjoy Killing Floor 2. This game is fun alone, and even more fun with friends. I think a large part of why I enjoy KF2 is just how overbearing it is – the game is not easy – and it can be genuinely scary and stressful at times. The commitment to accuracy with their weapon modeling is also a wonderful touch. Playing this game with four friends is an absolute blast. I think I put in close to 40 or 50 hours one summer during their yearly event. My only issue with the game is that the bosses are simply not fun. They either go down with little trouble or cause a wipe.
35. Battlefield Bad Company 2
Hot Take: This was the last good Battlefield game. The environmental destructibility, the realistic level design, lack of focus on spectacle, and pure unadulterated chaos. There’s really not much more you can want from a battlefield game. Perhaps a larger player count and more vehicles, but even then I found that after Bad Company 2 the franchise began to lose it’s magic. I miss Bad Company 2. Everything since has felt more and more like Call of Duty and I can’t abide that.
34. Hunt: Showdown
I love the concept of the Battle Royale, but the execution in most cases is sub par. Games like PUBG have too much open space with nothing going on – which is one of the aspects of Hunt that Crytek nailed perfectly. Hunt only has 12, or less, players in a single match. And it’s entirely possible to go a full game without ever seeing another group. But to compensate, the map is populated with enemy creatures, and bosses you have to hunt down and kill. The players are almost incidental to the actual goal – banishing hellspawn back to the pit. This keeps the down time from feeling like wasted playtime. Just a small contextual change can do a lot to how the game plays out in the player’s mind. A friend and I snuck into the boss’ lair, slayed the creature, banished it, grabbed our marks and ran like hell to the exit. While we were banishing the demon another group of players tried to ambush us outside. We managed to escape and had a running firefight all the way to the exfiltration point with plenty of near death experiences. Enemy encounters, and player encounters are both scary and stressful in different ways.
33. Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption is easily The Game of the 7th Console Generation. (Had Demon’s Souls come out a year later it would be on this list alongside it.) Red Dead did what few open world games manage to pull off – a large open world that doesn’t feel empty, and isn’t populated with boring tedious checklist content. And while the world is fun to run around and cause trouble in the story is actually really good too. I found myself very attached to John Marston, and I wanted to make sure he got the best possible outcome. And on top of everything else, the multiplayer was a blast – whether it was free roam or deathmatch. They don’t make them like they used to.
32. Planetary Annihilation Titans
Planetary Annihilation Titans is basically Supreme Commander in space, with a simulated solar system, and contrary to what many people will tell you Supreme Commander is the best strategy game ever created. That alone is enough to make this game an instant classic in my book. There is nothing else like it on the market, so it benefits from novelty. And while it’s a bit of an understatement to say that UberEnt mismanaged the messaging and pricing around this game I found the backlash to be completely overblown. However, the original release of the game (sans Titans) was a bit of a disappointment… But there are few games that I will return to on a yearly basis, and Planetary Annihilation is one of them. Is it spring outside? Time to smash some planets together.
31. Divinity: Original Sin
I never finished Divinity Original Sin because I built my character wrong and hit a brick wall later on in the game, and because the opening of the game took me 20 hours to get passed. Which is both a positive and a negative. It’s a positive because solving the murder mystery that kicks off the story was truly engaging, and scouring the entire first map looking for clues and uncovering all sorts of bizarre things will stick with me forever. It’s a negative because of the time investment it takes to start over. I was probably half way through the game when I realized I had screwed myself over. But I don’t hold that against the game. I found the story to be both fun, and engaging narratively – and the game’s difficulty to be very rewarding. I should probably just follow a guide next time. Few games can say that they have more content in the opening portions of the game than some games have in their entire run time. Divinity Original Sin has some amazing ideas, and executes on them very well. I will finish this game.
Factorio built an entire game around the idea of identifying a problem, solving said problem, and iteratively improving the solution over time. I love this game, and can get lost for hours working on a single portion of my factory. Trying to maximize output, minimize clutter, and make sure everything looks pleasing. As a factory progresses more and more layers of complexity are introduced to the player, from increasingly intricate manufacturing requirements, to managing resource transportation and wildlife culling. I’ve played Factorio for 80 hours or so, and loved every minute of it. Plus the developers are constantly improving the game and adding more content. Truly a game that’s worth the price of admission. Plus it has multiplayer.
I don’t think I’ve ever played a game quite like Helldivers, a brutally difficult isometric action game, that tasks you with pulling off a series of difficult tasks against hostile and lopsided odds. I think my friend and I put in about 50 hours in this game in a week. Helldivers pulls from all sorts of scifi tropes, and smashes them together with a strong sense of humor. Nothing is all that serious, and comes with a healthy dose of irony. But it’s not so overbearing that you can’t ignore it. I truly enjoy the teamwork that this game requires, if you get a group of friends together and throw them into the deep end, they’ll eventually come out with a unique strategy they developed to get things done. Coordination, Communication, Execution, and Fun are the key components to liberating the galaxy.
28. DOOM 2016
I’m a sucker for old school shooters. I used to hate them, but that was because I had never truly given them a chance. And while DOOM 2016 isn’t entirely like a shooter from the 90s, it’s definitely diametrically opposed to the kind of games you see today. No cover, no regenerating health, no reloading your guns, low linearity, high weapon variety, and actual challenge. Doom is what shooters should aspire to be. I think I was about 90% through the game when I realized how absurdly smooth the difficulty curve was with integrating new enemies, and weapons, into the various arenas. DOOM is one of the most well optimized games I’ve ever played in terms of both engine performance, and challenge. It doesn’t treat you like an idiot.
27. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
There was a point where I played Metal Gear Solid V for about ten hours straight, and didn’t even realize it. I had forgotten to get food and water. I looked up, and it was dark outside. “Oh I should probably eat.” One of the things that kept MGSV engaging the entire time was that no matter what you’re doing you are constantly contributing to the development of Mother Base. That in turn contributes to your arsenal, and your abilities out in the field. A constant sense of progression really drives MGSV forward. When I went back to MGSV I had already unlocked most of the things that the game has to offer, so that sense of progression was lost, and I felt like it suffered for it. But I enjoy the gameplay enough that I considered going back and starting over from scratch. Many were disappointed with how the game ended, and I can understand that. But I was immunized against it in that I’m not strictly a Metal Gear fan; my first game was MGS4. so I had very few preconceived notions as to how the game needed to wrap itself up.
26. PlayerUnknown’s: BattleGrounds
PUBG is a schizophrenic experience, on one hand it can be exhilarating – on the other it can be tedious and boring. Sometimes within the same game. Most of my time with the game, I never played to win, I played to get into fights and to get kills. And it served me well for close to 300 hours. I still maintain that the proper way to play the game is to drop directly into the hottest zone possible and do your best to get as many kills as you can. I think that PUBG could be made into an exponentially better game with a few minor tweaks and I’m surprised that they, to my knowledge, haven’t come to the same conclusions that I have – but perhaps they’re extremely committed to their vision as is… Coasting on their previous success to sell microtransactions.
25. Pathfinder: Kingmaker
Pathfinder Kingmaker is one of the most ambitious games I have ever played. Not only does it try to emulate a tabletop RPG with copious amounts of intricate rules, it also tries to emulate the often heralded games of old like Baldur’s gate, and Icewind Dale. And to it’s credit it does a mostly fantastic job. Perhaps only held back by it’s absurd length, extremely unforgiving difficulty, and at times tedious overworld management. I adore this game for what it represents, and what it tries to do. I think it’s amazing that they were able to cram so much content into this game, and you can really feel the passion of the people that made it. I’ve played Kingmaker for 104 hours and I only ever made it to the fourth chapter in my most recent playthrough. There is enough content in this game to last some people years and years. That being said, the game absolutely has its idiosyncrasies, and I feel the best way to enjoy it is with mods. The pure unadulterated experience comes with a lot of waiting out tedious kingdom events. A mod to speed those up increased my enjoyment considerably. Kingmaker gives you no slack, and in many ways I do think the player should have been given a bit of a headstart level wise. But Owlcat made a game that’s brutal. And I love it. Plus if you want, there are mods that let you do to the game what it regularly does to you.
There are very few truly good mech games out there, so when a good game of this type gets released it stands head and shoulders above the rest. Brigador is one of those games. Dripping with flavor, and clearly made by passionate people. They managed to make an original setting, with compelling backstory, and a fun, fast paced, difficult, isometric mech game. Brigador is one of my personal favorites. I come back to it every six months or so. There’s something about it that’s hard to articulate, you kind of just have to play it. It just feels comfy.
23. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Perhaps I’m a contrarian, but I am of the opinion that the mechanics added in Enemy Within actually made XCOM a worse game – and I feel similarly about XCOM2. There’s an almost perfect balance to Enemy Unknown that I feel was lost with the expansion, and especially so in the sequel. They really managed to nail it the first time. And while I’m usually the first person to say that streamlining a game is usually not the right approach, there is something to be said about the fine tuned nature of Enemy Unknown. Later on Firaxis really leaned into the difficulty meme, but they failed in their execution. Issues with the expansion aside Enemy Unknown’s multiplayer is incredibly fun, it feels like a tabletop game like Kill Team.
22. Dark Souls III
Dark Souls III is caught in the middle between three masters. I has to please the fans of the first Dark Souls, it has to make up for the poorer aspects of Dark Souls II, and it has to compete with Bloodborne, an entirely new and much faster paced action game. And while Dark Souls III is not perfect by any means – I think it does a pretty good job. Of the Dark Souls games, it’s the only other one besides Demon’s Souls that I beat on more than one subsequent NG+ playthrough. It certainly has issues with PvP, one of the main draws in my opinion, and I won’t make excuses for any potential intentions on FROM’s part. But I was really enamored with Dark Souls III for a long time. I put close to 200 hours into it, and played through the game at least five times on one character. It’s good.
WarThunder has the unique trait of oscillating between being addictive like a drug, and the most infuriating and off-putting game all at the same time. There’s very little space between these two states. You’re either having fun, or you’re having a bad time with WarThunder. But when it works, boy does it work well. I definitely have issues with design decisions in this game, but they’re obviously doing just fine. I really only play this game with my friends, so it helps to smooth over any rough edges. There’s nothing quite like successfully taking out an entire tank crew with a single well placed shot from nearly a kilometer away. They never knew what hit them. Now if only Gaijin could make a good Mech Combat game.
20. TitanFall 2
TitanFall 2 is one of the best first person shooter campaigns I’ve played since Halo 2, or even since Half-Life 2. Every level is unique, and has some kind of cool memorable moment without feeling forced or contrived. The gunplay is quick and smooth, and movement is a cut above the rest. The Titans are cool, effective, and a key component to the game’s fun. The freedom of movement this game provides the player is unlike anything else in a shooter, and plenty have tried to imitate, but none can replicate. At this point it should be no secret that I love mechs, and don’t get enough of them. Titanfall 2 scratched that sci-fi itch for quite awhile. The multiplayer combat reminds me of something you would see in an actual arcade, with multiple cabinets networked together. It’s just plain fun. This game is cool, this game is unique, and it’s FUN. TitanFall 2 gives me that childlike sense of enjoyment that few games do now. It’s a shame Titanfall 3 was sacrificed on the altar of Apex Legends.
19. Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
What do you get when you combine Devil May Cry, Dungeons and Dragons, Skyrim, Shadow of the Colossus, Dark Souls, and Monster Hunter? Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen, one of my favorite games. If I had to summarize this game in a single sentence: It’s a game that’s more than the sum of its parts. Hideaki Itsuno managed to create something truly unique, and did it with style too. This game is a joy, just thinking about it makes me want to go play it. Not only is there nothing else like it, it’s incredibly traditional in it’s depictions of the monsters you’ll encounter, while also being completely bizarre and off the wall. I genuinely love it. I’ve beaten the game probably five times across two systems.
18. Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition
Furthering the trend of honoring tradition, Baldur’s Gate. The game that launched Bioware. THE Computer Role Playing Game for those who care. This game is the beginning, it set the foundation for Baldur’s Gate 2, the RPG by which all others are measured. Sadly many people now haven’t played it because of how old it is, and how arcane the ruleset it uses can be. When I was younger all I had heard in regards to this game was how great it was, and that “if you loved RPGs you owed it to yourself to play Baldur’s Gate.” After a failed attempt at playing through the game on the original release I picked up the Enhanced Edition – And several tries later I played through the entire game. It’s one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played. It’s a slow burn, I thought to myself several times “I’m not sure this game deserves the praise it gets.” Oh but it does. It does. It’s absolutely fantastic, you just have to work for it a bit.
SuperHOT is more of a puzzle game than it is a true shooter, and it goes about forcing the player to react and plan out solutions to it’s combat puzzles in unique and novel ways. If you have no idea what SuperHOT is – time moves when you move. That’s all you need to know. It’s the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years. I come back to it probably once a year and play through the entire thing in a single sitting.
16. Hotline Miami
For a very long time I wouldn’t even consider playing Hotline Miami. I had the wrong idea of the game, and thought it was just going to be gore porn. Then I finally broke down and gave it a shot. It’s absolutely fantastic. One of the best of its type. I enjoy a good combat puzzle, and Hotline Miami is nothing but great combat puzzles. It certainly has its flaws – the gun combat comes to mind. But they’re very minor in comparison to what makes this game good. Hotline Miami was like a breath of fresh air. Everything works together to make the game fun. Even the intentionally vague and hard to follow story. “Do you like hurting other people?”… at least in Hotline Miami… yeah.
15. Total War: Warhammer 2
I’m an absolute sucker for Warhammer. Anytime we get a good Warhammer game I’m all in. So needless to say I bought Total War: Warhammer 1 and all it’s DLC, and the same is true of Warhammer 2… and it will come to pass for Warhammer 3 as well. God save me. That being said, the game is very good. I honestly can’t think of another time where I was willing to throw money at a company like I am here. The quality is definitely there – plus it’s fun to see these characters come to life. I played a long campaign with my friend, I was Bretonnia – and he was the Empire. We had quite the distance between us, and had to fight our own continuous wars on multiple fronts, and also combined fronts together. I was fighting against necromancers, vampires, undead, beastmen, and foul northmen bringing the taint of chaos fueled by daemonic powers. While he was fighting battles against separtist factions in his own empire, bloodthirsty greenskins, different tribes of beastmen, and another bloodline of vampires. Eventually we had to form a coalition to push back against the Northmen, and just barely survived their assault. Then some years later the southern lands below me were consumed by a necromancer and a wight working together to purge all life from the coast my kingdom sat on. We were able to put our forces together again and stop their undead tide in the knick of time. But it cost us everything. And I was later destroyed before I could regroup.
14. Pillars of Eternity
Pillars of Eternity tried to recapture the spirit of the old cRPGs like Baldur’s Gate for a modern audience, and with an entirely new setting – not tethered to the Dungeons and Dragons license like its Ancestors. Whether or not it did that successfully seems to be a rather contentious topic – I feel as though Pillars of Eternity is just as good if not better than at least Baldur’s Gate the original. Although it never reached the same highs as that game, it also never reached the same lows. There’s a lot to do in Pillars of Eternity, and it tries to please many masters. And in doing so it has some serious pacing issues, especially in regards to the main plot, the side content, and the DLC, which is the best content in the game by far. But, that being said, I found myself to be very interested in the main story – and the cast of characters you pick up along the way. I’ve heard people complain about having issues micromanaging six party members – but I had no such issues. Pillars is a great game, but it’s a slow burn. And the odd pacing does more to hurt the game than anything else. But I got 70 hours out of a single playthrough, and I immediately wanted to play through it again. So that should say something to it’s quality.
13. Endless Legend
Endless Legend is Civilization V without many of the problems I had with that game. It has deeper mechanics, more interesting civilizations, better graphics, and more engaging gameplay. However it does run into the issue of being almost too dense. It’s not an easy game, and it can be difficult to jump into. It’s something you have to dedicate yourself too. It’s not a pick up and play game, at least not on the standard difficulty. But it provides a respectable number of factions, all with unique gameplay, and interesting mechanics involving the map you play on. You can also tailor the game to your preference, and make it easier or harder depending on how you like to play. It even has world generation parameters. Amplitude really tries to do some different things with this game, and while not all of them are implemented exceptionally well – core of the game is fantastic. I was almost late to work one day because I lost track of time playing it. I’ve beaten the game with almost every faction. Something I can’t say in Civ V. I love this game.
12. Rising Storm 2
This game is everything that I want in a multiplayer shooter. Larger open maps with objective based progression, decent player capacity, realistic damage model, high difficulty and skill ceiling, and stress. This game can make your hands shake if you let yourself get into it. Hunkering down in a small brick building and hoping that the artillery shells don’t kill you through the wall… I can only imagine what it was like to actually be in Vietnam. I once heard a player say to me “I’m getting PTSD just from playing this game, Imagine actually being in Hue City.” Rising Storm is a meat grinder, many times you will be running for several minutes at a time only to get shot from someone you never had an opportunity to see once you make it to the front line. You can’t play this game like a traditional online shooter, you have to at least pretend it’s like real life in some capacity or you will get turned into a ground beef. It’s not uncommon for matches to last upwards of 45 minutes to an hour. I’ve left the game feeling emotionally drained, and with a headache many times. It can be as grueling as it can be exhilarating. It’s amazing.
Dusk is one of the best shooters that I have ever played. Which is pretty high praise. Dusk knows exactly what it wants to be, and doesn’t try to temper it in any way. It is balls to the wall action constantly; if you stop moving you will die. Dusk is like a reincarnation of Quake, brought back from the depths with Blood’s… well blood. Later on in the game things get quite bizarre, and the level design goes completely off of the rails in ways I’ve rarely seen in a game. Dusk is absolutely some of the most fun I’ve had with a single player shooter in ages. I put it up there with the classics.
10. BLOOD: Fresh Supply
If Dusk is one of the best shooters that I have ever played.. Blood is the best “old school” shooter I have played. Period. It’s fantastic. It’s hard as nails, long, and frantic like few games are. Plus Caleb is one cold dude. I miss the era of “one liners” and Caleb has them for days. Blood is the kind of game that lets you set cultists on fire with an aerosol can, and then chuck bundles of dynamite at them while Caleb cackles as their blood and guts rain down on everything in the vicinity. There is an undeniable charm that older games have. You can call it nostalgia – but I never played Blood until 2019… So maybe I’m just a hipster. But Blood is an all time favorite.
9. Devil May Cry HD Collection
Perhaps it’s a bit unfair for me to put this game so high on the list, considering I only played one of the three games that comes packaged in this collection. Of them I played the very first, 2001’s Devil may Cry. I have always been a fan of this type of game, whatever you wish to call it. Ninja Gaiden Black was one of my favorite games of all time back on the Xbox… So going back to the game that created the genre, it was like going home. I haven’t had this much fun with a game in literal years. I loved every minute of it. I felt like a kid again. I see why the franchise has endured so long, and why it created an entire lineage. Truly joyful to play. I look forward to playing through the rest of the franchise.
8. Monster Hunter World
I’ve played almost every Monster Hunter game released in the west, six out of nine, and even one that wasn’t. I installed custom firmware on my PSP to play Freedom Unite online with others. I even patched a japanese game into english… I’ve probably put over 1000 hours into the franchise. 400 into the first game by itself. Hell i think modifying my PSP was what helped get me into IT… So it’s probably surprising for me to say that Monster Hunter World isn’t my favorite Monster Hunter game. In many ways I have a lot of problems with it – although they are all in comparison to the past games. I do really enjoy World, even if the game feels like something else now. I lost close to 100 hours to this game faster than most games, and I’ve spent another 50 with it in the past months. Hell, it’s one of the reasons it’s taken me so long to write this. So – while I have problems with World. It’s still a fantastic game – deserving of the franchise name.
7. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition
I got into the Souls franchise at the ground floor with Demon’s Souls back in 2009. I bought a PS3 for it, and a handful of other games. I was introduced to the game largely because of Monster Hunter. And similarly I have also spent a massive amount of time with this franchise, playing every game Fromsoftware has released since. If Demon’s Souls had come out just a year later it might be in this spot – maybe higher. Many people either don’t know, or won’t acknowledge that Dark Souls is Demon’s Souls remixed, and redone, with the lessons learned from the first game. Additionally Dark Souls has a reputation as being needlessly obtuse – I disagree. But I have the benefit of almost an entire part time work year with the franchise. Dark Souls is chiefly about overcoming adversity in order to “gain a sense of achievement and satisfaction”. This is done by putting difficult challenges in your path. I’ve known multiple people who encountered the first boss – a tutorial – and turned off the game and never played it again. They’ll never know how good it feels to link the fire.
Bloodborne is the reason I bought a PS4. Instead of a game about slower, deliberate attacks, and timing when to raise your shield; Bloodborne is a game about getting in the enemy’s face and ripping them apart. The concept is largely the same, but instead of waiting for an opportunity to appear – Bloodborne is more about creating the opportunity. This game is fast, and challenging in ways that the previous souls games weren’t. It’s also one of the only games to truly nail the “eldritch horror” idea, and is disgusting and disturbing in ways I’ve never seen before. Bloodborne is one of the best games Fromsoftware has made. It’s a shame that it runs very poorly on the PS4.
5. Resident Evil 2: Remake
As I was making this list I noticed a trend. I like older game design philosophies. Resident Evil 2 feels like a game out of the 90s. Obviously it has more quality of life improvements than they were able to do back in the day. But the way the game is laid out, the way it challenges the player, how the puzzles are handled… They were able to please newcomers like myself, and fans alike. I wish more games were made like this. Genuinely challenging without having artificially inflated difficulty. You can tell a lot of care went into making RE2 a fantastic game. Capcom managed to make zombies feel threatening again. Which is no easy feat. I’m not a person that gets freaked out by games, or movies, very often but there were several times where I was genuinely on edge because of the Tyrant, lickers, and some of the seemingly unkillable zombies.
Dishonored is one of my favorite games of all time. I’ve beaten it probably eight times. I know it well enough that I can beat it in just a few hours. I’ve played the good, and the evil, paths. I’ve killed everyone, I’ve killed as few as possible. I’ve almost even gone full non lethal. Games like Dishonored are rare. It has good writing, characters, a great setting, cool mechanics, good level design, great pacing, and is on top of all that it’s fun. They don’t make them like this often. You get a few of them a generation. I’ve thought about putting my thoughts together and making a video on Dishonored; comparing it to it’s lackluster sequel. It’s such a fantastic game, I can’t speak highly of it enough. I’m shocked that I never hear people talking about it. It won a respectable amount of awards – and yet I rarely hear it spoken of online other than people saying it isn’t a true successor to Thief, or Deus Ex. Sad.
3. HiTMAN (2016)
I’ve been aware of the Hitman franchise from the early days of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. But I wouldn’t say I’ve really followed the franchise. I’ve only played a few of the games over the years. But I became truly enraptured with HiTMAN. I spent 20 hours completing everything I could on the first level alone. I spent close to that on the second level as well. Making sure everything goes as planned, no slip ups, no evidence… Managing to get into a secure location and assassinating your target is thrilling. The game also has leaderboards, meaning that you are incentivized to play as well as possible. Along with it’s dark subject matter is a pretty dark sense of humor as well – combined with some pretty wacky assassinations. Like say: Infiltrating a VIP only national secrets auction as a famous male model and assassinating the leader of a rogue intelligence agency by drowning her in the toilet. There’s a lot to like with HiTMAN, and they’ve built hundreds of hours of content into the game. I spent 70 hours with HiTMAN and only just scratched the surface on some of the levels.
2. Path of Exile
The Action Role Playing gerne is a strange one. It was more or less created with Diablo back in the 90s, and then it essentially peaked with Diablo 2 back in the early 2000s. And every game since has been chasing the Diablo 2 dragon – perpetually trying to recapture the lightning in a bottle that was Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction. And while there are plenty of good ARPGs, none have come close to the king. At least not until Path of Exile. While the two games are not directly comparable, Path of Exile absolutely takes what made Diablo 2 such a definitive game, and expands upon it in ways that no other ARPG has even attempted. Path of Exile is bar none in terms of character customization and build potential. Now, once you play at the higher levels there tends to be some homogeneity, but that will be true of any game. PoE is practically bar none in terms of content as well. Spanning ten acts, 100 levels, endless maps, and eventually an entire second campaign. It’s kind of absurd. They even have, essentially, a secondary game once you reach the end of the story where you map out alternate dimensions. I’ve played for close to 200 hours and every time I come back to PoE it feels like a new game. And while some may not want to admit it – Path of Exile is the quintessential ARPG. The Crown has been passed on to a worthy successor.
1. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Sekiro is a game unlike anything I’ve played since Shinobi on the PS2. Or maybe Ninja Gaiden Black on the Xbox. Brutally difficult. Unrelenting. Challenging. It’s been a very long time where I had a game that I truly needed to “get good” at. Most of them are accessible enough that they don’t require anything particularly skillful from their players. Or if they do it’s all at the very end, or hidden behind optional challenges that are obnoxious to get to. Few games now have what some would affectionately refer to as a “filter”. Almost every boss in Sekiro is a filter. Even some of the mini bosses are harder than the most difficult challenges in other games. I got brutalized by the second mini boss in the game for more time than I would care to admit. Sekiro holds nothing back in terms of difficulty, and I love it. The fourth, or fifth depending on your route, boss in the game took me three hours of solid attempts to beat. And he’s the first “true” filter. By the time you get to Genichiro you absolutely will learn how you’re supposed to play Sekiro, or you will stop playing. He is the Murai of this game. And if you know that name, you know what I mean. I haven’t had an experience like playing Sekiro since I played Demon’s Souls for the first. Where I could feel myself improving with each attempt, where I had to actually learn how to play and overcome a mentally and physically demanding challenge in a game. It’s one thing to have to wrap your head around a system, it’s another to have to also acquire the dexterity to pull off what is required of you. And that is what I love about video games… And sadly it’s not very common.
That is why Sekiro is my favorite game of the decade. The game is bizarre, surreal, foreign, and actually hard.
I love it.
Well there’s 50 game reviews to make up for not posting one for over two years.