My 100 Favourite Games of All Time (30-21)

Welcome back to my 100 favourite games of all time series! Today, I’ll be covering entries 30 through 21.

If you haven’t read the previous instalment in this series, please do so here, and here’s the first entry if you want to start from the entry 100.

SPOILER WARNING!

Just a heads up that there will be full SPOILERS for every game I’m going to talk about in this series, so be careful if I talk about something you don’t want spoiled.

Let’s not waste any more time!

30 – Final Fantasy XV

Release Date: 29th November 2016
Developer: Square Enix Business Division 2
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows, Google Stadia
Metacritic Average: 85%

It’s a game about the best anime boys on an anime boy road trip

(From my Favourite Old Games I Played for the First Time in 2019 article)

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first. Final Fantasy XV is the first and to date, only, Final Fantasy game I’ve played. I don’t know and I don’t really care what the hardcore Final Fantasy base thought of this game, because I thought it was a masterpiece.

First of all, it looks beautiful, almost excessively so. It’s par for the course that in this generation of games, AAA games will look graphically impressive, but there’s something extra in the visual style of Final Fantasy XV that absolutely blows me away with how impressive it is. It’s not afraid to abandon the sense of realism to inject an extra dose of colour and styling into the world. The terrain is shaped in a visually pleasing way, the design of the various creatures in the world is amazingly diverse and foreign, while still maintaining a somewhat realistic feel, even the UI is so tightly designed that it’s able to convey all it needs to while still managing to fit with the aesthetic of the world around it.

The game as a whole seems to take a full-scale RPG like Skyrim or Witcher and shrink it down into a smaller, but more refined experience without losing much from the appeal of the formula. It’s a rare case of a game where I wanted to partake in some of the more repetitive side-quests like the hunts because I was fully invested in both the world and the progression of my characters. On top of that, the feel of the combat was top-notch, the various weapons had a very distinct feel to each of them and whether you wanted fast strikes or clubbing blows, you were guaranteed to get an extremely satisfying feel with every strike and every dodge. Then you add your party, which add a whole new layer to things. Not only does having a group of people around you partaking in the fight adds a lot to the feel of each encounter, but the strategic options each of them offer means I found myself constantly trying to think a few moves ahead to who I was going to use and when, as well as adding to this intense feeling of camaraderie between the guys.

This brings me to my other favourite thing about this game, which is the constant interactions that Noctis would have with his three “royal guards” (best friends) that come along on this “procession” (road trip) with him. The story as a whole was perfectly fine, there were great moments, there were not so great moments, but the interactions between the four main characters was constantly entertaining and engaging no matter the situation. They weren’t just people who happened to be following me on my journey, they were their own people and my friends who had their own things they wanted to do and the game makes sure to show you that. Ignis never ceases to entertain me with his attitude and him proclaiming he’s come up with a new recipe is music to my ears. Gladiolus will occasionally ask you to get up early and come jogging with him and isn’t afraid to call me out on my bullshit. Then there’s Prompto, who is an absolute angel and seeing all of the photos he takes during your activities at the end of each day was such something that I would genuinely look forward to because it added so much to that sense of friendship.

By the time I was done with Final Fantasy XV, I instantly wanted more, more of the combat, more of the characters, I felt like I’d come on such a journey with everyone that I wanted to keep it going for as long as possible, alongside the extremely fun combat system. I just wish other Final Fantasy games were like this one.

29 – Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon

Release Date: 17th September 2015
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: Nintendo, The Pokemon Company
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
Metacritic Average: 69%

It’s a game about dungeon crawling with Pokemon.

This might end up being one of the more controversial entries into this list, as the Pokemon fanbase is one that tends to be very divided on…well everything really, but the Mystery Dungeon series is especially divisive.

However, I’m planting my flag in the ground regardless and saying that I love the Mystery Dungeon games and Super Mystery Dungeon does the formula to perfection. The turn-based style of dungeon crawling is something I’ve seen very few other game series attempt. Unless I’m being an idiot and blanking on some major game, Curse of the Necrodancer is the only other game I can think of that uses this style of gameplay.

The PMD series is one that takes the varied, fun and colourful world of Pokemon and turns it into something new in what for my money is the best spin-off franchise the series has ever developed (Pokemon Ranger is a distant second). As I’ll discuss a lot more throughout these last few instalments in this series, turn-based strategy is amongst my favourite genres so to create an endless amount of dungeons with a whole host of different visual styles and Pokemon within them provided me with countless hours of fun. Explorers of Sky was very close to getting this spot. However, in the end, I decided to give it to Super Mystery Dungeon purely because of the ridiculously large amount of stuff there was to do in the endgame, which kept me playing the game for a good few weeks past the credits.

What really impresses me with these games though is their stories. While it still remains firmly in the family-friendly category, it isn’t afraid to tell stories that have a real emotional weight to them; something the main series of Pokemon games have so far failed to do. I genuinely cried while watching the final cutscene, and that goes for almost every other game in the series too. It proves that Pokemon can be used to tell a genuinely compelling and emotional story, and I hope that one day we get something like this outside of this spin-off franchise.

28 – Sid Meier’s Civilization V

Release Date: 21st September 2010
Developer: Firaxis Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 90%

It’s a game about creating and destroying the world throughout the entirety of world history.

So-called 4X games are a genre that I’m sure I’d absolutely adore if I ever had the mental energy to learn any of them. Games like Stellaris and Sins of a Solar Empire have taken the genre to complexities can I only dream of ever understanding. Proof of this is the one 4X game that I came across when I was young enough to still bother learning these kinds of things, that being Civilization V.

As I’ll discuss a little later on in the list, I’ve always preferred turn-based strategy to real-time. Something about running numerous processes through my head at once and formulating a strategy is the kind of drug that gets my brain totally hooked on a game. Civilization is perfect at this, as the game progresses you will have so many plates spinning all at once, every decision you make will affect several of them in ways that you don’t always see coming.

Whether playing against AI or with friends, I have so much fun formulating my masterplans for world domination and watching them crash and burn slowly and methodically as I frantically try to stop everything from falling apart. Then, once in a blue moon, my masterplan actually works, and it’s the single most satisfying feeling in gaming.

To tell a story, I was once playing a game with two of my friends, it was just the three of us on the map (no AI). I ended up spawning with my civilization sandwiched between the two of them. So I got to work. I spent the whole game playing both sides of the brewing war, a war that was only brewing because I was playing the two of them off against each other at every turn. Sure enough, the war came to pass, and I sat idly by while they whittled each other down bit by bit, helping both of them just enough so that they didn’t suspect I was double-crossing them. Then, when the time was right, and the war looked to be ending, I picked the bones of the winner before they had time to recover and handily won the game.

While that was an absolutely incredible gaming experience that I will never forget, I know from (vast) experience that it would have been equally as fun if my plan had gone awry and the two of them clamped down on me to take me out. Even when things don’t go my way, I still have so much fun playing a game of Civilization (even if I do occasionally get a bit salty) that I’m sure I’ll be coming back to it for years.

27 – Robot Roller Derby Disco Dodgeball

Release Date: 19th February 2015
Developer: Erik Asmussen
Platforms: Windows, MacLinux

It’s a game about…well…a robot roller derby disco dodgeball…I don’t really think there’s a more concise way to describe it.

Dipping once again into my bag of obscure games that I absolutely adore, we have a rough-around-the-edges multiplayer arena shooter that’s absolute chaos at every turn and a tremendous amount of fun. The concept is very simple, you’re either in teams or as a free for all, you get dropped into a pretty small arena, and you have to grab dodgeballs off of the ground and throw them at your opponents to get ‘hits’.

As you can probably imagine – given that I have time to write about 100 games – I didn’t enjoy PE(or ‘Gym’ for Americans) very much in school. However, the one game that I always enjoyed (and was surprisingly decent at) was dodgeball. You have to make perfect use of your space as you attempt to navigate the absolute chaos that is constantly going on around you, which I found that to be great fun. This game can capture that feeling almost exactly.

Then it piles on some bright visuals and some chaotic techno music – the likes of which I usually despise, but for this game, it works perfectly – and it gives you an experience that feels like someone’s distilled the concept of fun into a liquid and is pumping it directly into your veins.

26 – Beat Saber

Release Date: 21st May 2019
Developer: Beat Games
Publisher: Beat Games
Platforms: Playstation VR, HTC Vive, Oculus
Metacritic Average: 93%

It’s a game about slashing up blocks with lightsabers in-time with music.

(From my Game of the Year 2019 article)

The concept is so simple as it’s just like any other rhythm game, except you’ve got to move your arms to hit the blocks instead of just pressing buttons in time with some music.

This game as a mastery of its sound design, making sure that every slice of a block has an extremely satisfying sound to it, helping to create this cool factor as you slice left, right and centre, even when you know that to anyone watching outside of the headset, you just look to be flailing around wildly. Even the sounds and music on the menus create an intense sense of atmosphere as you stand in what seems to be the most neon warehouse to ever exist.

A lot of VR games that I enjoy are games that I think would still work fairly well without the VR component. While games like Job Simulator and Budget Cuts would need some tweaking, I don’t think the VR element is specifically what makes them as good as they are. Beat Saber is very much the opposite, I’ve never particularly cared for rhythm games, nor am I all that good at them, but when you take that concept and put it into VR suddenly it becomes one of the most all-out fun experiences I’ve ever had.

I don’t know what part of how my brain works causes this, but I am so much better at Beat Saber than I am any other rhythm game I’ve ever played. I’m miles away from being among the best of course, but I can play on the higher speeds and difficulties and not struggle massively as I play and I think the sense of pure fun the game as injected into it is a big part of that.

On top of all of that, it works as an exercise game, but it doesn’t frame it as one. I’ve never got along with games like Ring Fit Adventure or Wii Fit because they make sure to let you know you’re doing exercise the whole way through, but in Beat Saber you just start flailing your arms and suddenly you’re drenched in sweat and have lost about 20 pounds without even realizing it.

Beat Saber is a game that realized the massive potential that an existing genre of games could have in VR and made sure to tailor the experience perfectly so that it couldn’t possibly work without it and that is fundamentally what I believe makes a good VR game.

25 – Hexcells Infinite

Release Date: 1st September 2014
Developer: Matthew Brown Games
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS

It’s a game that’s a weird mix of Minesweeper and Picross.

Did somebody say more obscure indie games? Because we’re not done yet, it’s time to talk about the really simple, yet weirdly addictive puzzle game that I’ve inexplicably put 200 hours into.

As I explained in the opening line, Hexcells borrows from Minesweeper for its core mechanics. There are hexes all over that are covered up, and it’s your job to determine which ones are blue underneath and which ones aren’t. You do this by looking at the numbers in uncovered hexes, which indicate the number of adjacent blue hexes. It also borrows some mechanics from Picross, as some rows & columns will have numbers indicating how many blues there are in that row/column.

It doesn’t just use these mechanics though as it has some fresh ideas of its own to help you solve puzzles (and also make them more complicated in the process). For one thing, there are ‘{x}’ and ‘-x-‘ indicators (‘x’ representing a number) that tells you if the blues in question are adjacent to each other or not. Some blue hexes will also have numbers on them which indicate the number of blue hexes that are a specified area around them.

All of these come together to make a puzzle game that takes the best elements of the games it’s inspired by and sprinkles in ideas of its own to make something new, yet familiar. There are three different games in the series (all costing less than £5) and the hand-crafted puzzles through each of the games are masterfully designed. There are plenty of puzzles throughout the series that have truly stumped me for quite a while but gave that beautiful ‘eureka’ moment when I find the linchpin that was keeping all of the hexes from revealing themselves.

What I find most impressive about Hexcells Infinite specifically, however, is the seed-generated puzzles that are available. While these levels aren’t quite as smart as the hand-crafted ones, the algorithm the developer(s) used to generate these puzzles is incredibly robust and very intelligent. There are a grand total of 100,000,000 (one hundred million) different puzzles that you have access to. I’ve played just over 2000 so far, and I’ve yet to find a single one that wasn’t solvable. To me, it’s so incredibly impressive that they can build something to generate that many puzzles and not have a single one be busted. It’s a simple formula that has kept me playing for 200 hours and will likely keep me going for 200 more.

24 – Euro Truck Simulator 2

Release Date: 19th October 2012
Developer: SCS Software
Publisher: SCS Software
Platforms: Windows, MacLinux
Metacritic Average: 79%

It’s a game about driving a truck all over Europe.

While I’ve talked about plenty of niche games on this list (several in this particular instalment) yet, despite its relatively large reputation, I don’t think it gets much more niche than a truck-driving simulator. This is a game that came about around the time that YouTubers like Nerdcubed, The Yogscast and Jim Sterling were discovering all of the extremely poorly made simulator games that littered the PC market at the time (and still do, to some extent). So while all of that was going on, Euro Truck decided it was going to shut everyone up by setting an extremely high standard for the genre that, as far as I’m concerned, no other game has ever been able to meet.

I’m not even entirely sure why I like this game so much, it’s not even remotely similar to anything else I like to play, hell, I barely even like racing games, so why is a game where I drive slower more fun? The fact is this is easily one of the most robust and realistic simulators out there. When you’re doing even the most simple of manoeuvres with your truck, it feels weighty & forceful. It’s because of these systems that I’m much more willing to play the game properly than I ever am in more poorly made simulators. It’s such an easy game to just boot up and play, I’ll often stick on a movie or TV show onto my second screen and go for a drive across the continent. Not very good driving habits, I know, but this is a video game so who cares?

On top of that, the amount of content is continually expanding, the developers are slowly adding more and more regions of Europe with new DLC every 6-8 months. Combine this with its sister game, American Truck Simulator (which has started off with a few states on the west coast and has since added several more), and you’ve got so much land-mass to cover that you’ll almost certainly never get the chance to see all of it.

Even having talked about it now, I still can’t quite pinpoint a reason why I enjoy this game so much and yet, here it is, opening the final quarter of the list. It’s just such a nice game…actually, sod this, I’m going to go and play it.

23 – Into the Breach

Release Date: 27th February 2018
Developer: Subset Games
Publisher: Subset Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 90%

It’s a game about going back in time to stop some discount Kaijus from destroying the planet.

I will forever regret not putting this on my 2018 Game of the Year list. I was a fool, and this game is so much more brilliant than I initially realized.

Subset Games had quite the success on their hands when they launched FTL: Faster Than Light in 2012 (we’ll get to that later), and trying to follow up such a brilliant game was always going to be a difficult task. So, instead of rushing to the punch to immediately capitalize, they took their time to slowly craft a game that would be just as fun, and it’s hard to argue that they didn’t succeed in that task.

Into the Breach takes the turn-based strategy genre and adds layer after layer of complexity to it, but not in the way that things like 4X games do. Into the Breach has relatively quick matches for turn-based strategies, but it makes sure that you spend every second of it on your toes. With the combinations or your machines and the enemy’s abilities, you have to continually be thinking two or three turns ahead of the current one to stop yourself becoming overwhelmed.

It takes a lot to make the player feel like they’re under pressure in a turn-based strategy since you have as much time as you need to think about things, but Into the Breach has you always second-guessing your decisions, and never lets you settle on a plan for long. It will constantly be throwing you curveballs, which all serves to make every victory feel hard-fought and satisfying, which is precisely what a turn-based strategy should be like.

22 – Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Release Date: 26th October 2001
Developer: Capcom Production Studio 4
Publisher: Capcom
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance, Windows, iOS, Android
Metacritic Average: 81%

It’s a game about collecting evidence and using it to obliterate witness’ statements in the world’s most dramatic courtroom.

(From my Favourite Old Games I Played for the First Time in 2019 article)

The Ace Attorney series is a series that I’ve wanted to try for years, but never found a good enough excuse to bother with, so for years I never played it. Luckily for me, in January this year, the Ace Attorney Trilogy released on modern consoles & PC so now I didn’t have any excuse NOT to play at, and I’m thrilled I finally got around to it because this game was fantastic.

The Ace Attorney games are able to hit the mark that almost every other game in the mystery genre fail to, which is that making deductions feels brilliant. In so many games that ask you to “solve a mystery,” it never feels satisfying because if you wander around an area long enough, you’ll stumble across the answer, but Ace Attorney doesn’t do that. This is a game that gives you everything you need to crack the case, the testimonies, the mountain of different pieces of evidence and just tells you to go off and work it out.

The investigation phases are a bit frustrating and essentially boil down to a hidden object game, but the court scenes are where this game absolutely shines. Through a combination of pacing, music and dialogue, the game is able to draw me entirely into a scene and put me in the mindset of Phoenix Wright, I spend ages pouring over every word anyone says trying to pull on the slightest loose thread and rip the case open. I’ve sat at my screen agonizing for extended periods of time because I just can’t find the hole in the story.

Then I finally do find it and the game rewards you in the best way. The way the music kicks in as you throw your witness’ statements back in their face proving that they’re lying, kicking off a series of back and forths between you and your opponents. The way in which this game tells its story captures the essence of the most dramatic courtroom dramas, I can feel the momentum pulling back and forth as the case flows to the point where any ground gained feels like a huge victory.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a game that is in perfect control of your emotions at all times, it uses all the tools at its disposal to put you in the exact mindset it wants you to be in, so it can use that to take you on one of the wildest rides out there in gaming.

21 – Subsurface Circular

Release Date: 17th August 2017
Developer: Mike Bithell Games
Publisher: Mike Bithell Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Windows, iOS

It’s a game about riding a train and solving a mystery.

On the last edition of this series, I talked about Quarantine Circular, I looked at how the game forces you to see every situation from every perspective and then hits you with some incredibly difficult choices. Subsurface Circular decides to take the exact opposite direction, giving you a single character, who never moves from their spot and instead talks to everyone else as the world passes them by.

The game sets out the scenario that you are a detective trying to solve a mystery. So as you interview people across the Subsurface Circular train-line, you get all these different perspectives on events, but they’re filtered through your own perspective on what should be going on. You’re solving a mystery, you’re just trying to find the culprit right? Well, as I’m sure you’ve probably guessed, it’s nowhere near that simple. Each new interview opens up so many fresh layers to explore in further interviews. Some are dead ends, but others lead you down a winding path through a series of complex societal structures.

On that point, this isn’t a game that shies away from tackling pressing real-world issues in its story. It’s not the only game to do this, but the way in which Subsurface Circular presents these issues is trying to get people to look at things from a perspective that they might not have thought of before. It genuinely draws in points from all sides of the arguments and presents them to the player to figure out for themselves.

If that was all this game did, then it’d be good, but not deserving a spot as high as this, so what makes it so special?

I know I gave a spoiler warning at the start, but really, I’m about to discuss the end of the game so if you’ve decided you want to play this game now and don’t want to know what happens, now is the time to scroll to the next entry.

I won’t quite go into the details, but after taking on this winding journey, you discover all kinds of things about the city. Terrorist organizations, corrupt governments, the struggle of the every-day working-class people, but also the potential of how their lives could get so much worse if the system that’s making all this happen was to disappear. The game forces you to make a choice; a very simple choice. Kill the leader of the revolution and keep the status-quo (a status-quo that has caused discrimination and wide-spread poverty) or kill yourself and let the revolution happen (a revolution that might make everything better, but could just as easily make it a whole lot worse).

When the game faced me with this choice, I legitimately spent close to fifteen minutes going over it in my head. I thought through every scrap of information that I’d been told by everyone that I’d spoken to, trying to figure out what the right choice was.

Then I made my choice, and the game did something bold. It didn’t tell me what the result of my choice was. That was it, I made my choice, the credits rolled, and it was brilliant. It plays so perfectly off of all the doubt I had about either decision (I did check and the other choice does the exact same thing). Instead of giving me a moment of relief where I find out if I did the right thing, it just lets me sit there with my thoughts and decide for myself if I did what was right. It was such a powerful storytelling experience, and I’d love to say that it’s Mike Bithell’s masterpiece, but this isn’t even the last time I’m going to talk about one of his games in this series.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what you think of these games, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back here this time on Saturday, where I’ll be running down my favourite chracters from The Simpsons!

My 100 Favourite Games of All Time (40-31)

Welcome back to my 100 favourite games of all time series! Today, I’ll be covering entries 40 through 31.

If you haven’t read the previous instalment in this series, please do so here, and here’s the first entry if you want to start from the entry 100.

SPOILER WARNING!

Just a heads up that there will be full SPOILERS for every game I’m going to talk about in this series, so be careful if I talk about something you don’t want spoiled.

Let’s not waste any more time!

40 – Driver San Francisco

Release Date: 1st September 2011
Developer: Ubisoft Reflections
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Windows, Mac
Metacritic Average: 80%

It’s a game about driving around San Francisco while you’re in a coma.

Driver San Francisco is something so incredibly unique that I can’t even say I’d want to see more of it in the modern era because I’m not sure it could even be pulled off quite as good as this ever again. The concept of Tanner being in a coma gives the game so much freedom to do many weird and wonderful things.

For one thing, it’s incredibly open, almost like a sandbox. The mechanics let you float around any part of the map at any time and enter any car that you see. So much of the fun I’ve had in this game is just messing around in the open world, possessing a bunch of different cars in the same area and getting them all to completely mess each other up.

Arguably the game’s best feature though is it’s missions. I usually find missions are the least exciting parts of open-world games, however, the mechanics of the game allow for such incredibly innovative ideas of missions. You can act as the police and take down getaway drivers by hopping between every car on the road and boxing them in. You have to go through chase scenes where literally any car on the road could suddenly start darting towards you, or the stupendously impressive mission that you play from a second-person perspective.

This was a game that went above and beyond when it came to creative mechanics, and these mechanics all came together to create a ridiculously fun game no matter how you try to play it.

39 – Rocket League

Release Date: 7th July 2015
Developer: Psyonix
Publisher: Psyonix
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 87%

It’s a game about playing football with cars.

I don’t like sporty games for the most part. By that, I don’t just mean games about sports, I mean the kind of games that are popular in the esports scene. I like CS:GO, and when I’m particularly bored I’ll drop into a game of Overwatch, but that’s pretty much it. Yet, you add the phrase ‘but with cars’ to the end of the sentence, and suddenly I love it. As much as I never play it competitively (in fact, I very rarely play it with another human), it’s one of those games that has such a broad appeal that I think it’s quite hard to hate.

The concept is so simple too: football, but with cars. It hits that perfect niche of a casual game that lets the skilful people do skilful things, while the casual players can still jump into a game, have some fun and do pretty well. As you’d probably guessed, I fall into the latter category. I have plenty of fun just knocking the ball around against the decent AI every now and then. The game has such a strong sense of fast-pace that I find it so easy to just drop-in and play a match or two when I’m bored.

It’s also become quite the expansive games with all the different game-types and variants that you can tack onto those game types. Everything about it seems entirely designed to pump as much fun out of every match for casual players, while still maintaining the integrity of the standard modes for competitive players. It really is a game that lets you play however you want to play, and I think that’s what makes it such a widely popular game.

38 – Superhot

Release Date: 25th February 2016
Developer: Superhot Team
Publisher: Superhot Team
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac, Linux, Oculus Quest, Google Stadia
Metacritic Average: 84%

It’s a game about recreating that scene from The Matrix where you dodge the bullets in super-slow motion.

(From my Favourite VR Games article)

It may not seem like it on the surface, but what really makes Superhot great is how you’re always having to think a few steps ahead of each move. The slowed time concept gives you almost as much time as you need to think about each series of movements and despite having to focus on reacting to what’s going on, you’re forced into a proactive mindset to avoid certain doom.

Stick this formula into VR and you’ve got something so incredibly unique and special that I almost can’t comprehend what makes it so great. It’s still that idea of thinking a few steps ahead and making precise movements, only now those precise movements are going to have to be made by your body. It’s easy to avoid movement when you’re using a keyboard or controller, but when you’re in the situation yourself and every little wasted movement you make costs you precious seconds of reaction time, the stakes of the whole thing become so much more.

I’ve never felt so aware of every movement I’m making while in VR. It almost feels like the game heightens my senses, I become aware of almost everything that’s around me as I quickly calculate the best movements to escape the current situation. These plans almost never work and I probably look like a twat while executing them, but who the hell cares? I’m an action hero in slow motion and that’s what matters.

37 – Stardew Valley

Release Date: 26th February 2016
Developer: ConcernedApe
Publisher: ConcernedApe, Chucklefish
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows, MacLinux, iOS, Andriod
Metacritic Average: 89%

I’m a game about running a farm and making friends.

The modern indie scene has done weird things to my brain. Whenever I see a game like Stardew Valley that presents itself as a cute & happy farming game, I expect there to be some weird and meta-narrative twist on the whole thing. That’s not the case in Stardew Valley, it turned out that it genuinely was just a cute and happy farming game, but I’ll tell you what, it’s a really bloody good one.

I only spent about a month playing through Stardew Valley, but during that month I was playing it CONSTANTLY, I just couldn’t put it down because everything about the world was so engrossing. The thing that gets me, though, is the way in which it was engrossing. It wasn’t because of some lucrative story or addictive mechanics, it was the simplicity with how every little activity in the game is dripping with a light, fun tone.

From the big and obvious things like the visual & audio style to even the smallest little things like the touches on the animation as you character sows seeds or waters crops. With every character having a very distinctive personality, the whole village feels alive, so you really do become part of a little community as you get to know everyone.

The farming stuff is pretty simple, but that makes it perfect to be the driving motivation of the game. The pacing of the farming is extremely refined to the point where I never got bored of it, despite being somewhat repetitive in nature. An in-game day is long enough to just about everything you want/need to do, while not giving you so much time that you’re sitting around waiting for the clock to tick by. On top of that, the different crops/animals in the game grow/produce at just the right speed so that you’ll always be making progress. Even if you haven’t got anything grown today, chances are there’ll almost certainly be plenty ready for you tomorrow.

Combine that with a wealth of side-activities and clear goals the entire duration of the game (something many of these games lack), and you’ve got a cute little life-sim game that is among the best of it’s kind.

36 – Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Release Date: 18th June 2019
Developer: ArtPlay
Publisher: 505 Games
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows
Metacritic Average: 84%

It’s a game about murdering everything in the world’s most ambitiously designed castle.

(From my Game of the Year 2019 article)

I’d never got around to playing a Castlevania game before, but they always seemed right up my street. So, when I heard there was a game coming out made by the original creator of Castlevania in the style of Castlevania (but not officially called Castlevania because Konami doesn’t like using the historic franchises they own) I knew I had to check it out. I was absolutely blown away by what I found.

Bloodstained always keeps you on a journey of discovery. The items, enemies and powers it’s possible to acquire/encounter mean you’re always going to be finding something new and the map itself is packed with an almost overwhelming amount of variety. Every area feels extremely different to the ones that surround it and they’re all just the right size so that once you get comfortable in an area, you’re thrown right into a new one.

The combat system is wonderfully designed, it took a little getting used to, but once I got the pacing of when I should be striking and dodging I had so much fun with it. Every room presented a great challenge and I had a lot of fun trying to work out how best to tackle each combination of enemies that got thrown my way. It nails that balance of enemy design, where every enemy is easy on its own, but when a bunch of different ones are thrown together, it creates a great challenge.

That was also a game that reminded me how amazing boss fights can be, because not since NieR Automata have I had so much fun fighting bosses in a game. They follow that ethos that so many, typically old games do in that every boss has clear and recognisable patterns that are easy to dodge/counter and the skill comes from being able to react to them in time to deal out the damage. It’s a game that makes sure that every single failure and death I experienced was because I wasn’t skilful enough in order to pull it off, not because I got unlucky.

Bloodstained makes sure that every room and every enemy teaches you something, not necessarily something about the mechanics, but about what is the most optimal way to fight. This sense of pushing forward and constantly getting to experience new stuff is what pushed me towards achieving 100% completion without even realising I was doing it until suddenly I was 95% there and had to get that last little bit.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a game that is constantly pushing you deeper into it using its world & enemy design along with its combat system to enthral you in its world and give you the best Metroidvania experience I’ve had in many years.

35 – Quarantine Circular

Release Date: 22nd May 2018
Developer: Bithell Games
Publisher: Bithell Games, Ant Workshop Limited
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac
Metacritic Average: 73%

It’s a game about talking to an alien.

I often struggle to engage with pure-story games like this. I often find it difficult to get involved and focus when my attention isn’t being drawn continuously with gameplay. When it comes to Mike Bithell’s games, however, it’s an entirely different scenario. I’ll break down his style more in future entries of this list, but the main thing that I think makes Quarantine Circular so special is the understanding and insight it gives you into all of your characters.

In each chapter, you take control of a different person and see the story from their perspective. You get a chance to fully understand exactly how each character operates and why exactly they take the stances they do. The writing is intelligent enough to let you slip into answering questions and scenarios exactly how you believe that character would, perhaps without even realising it. It’s so tightly in control of your outlook and feelings on the situation at any given moment, and yet, you don’t even realise what it’s doing to you until you finish it and have the time to reflect.

Once you understand all the characters so deeply, it gives the critical choices so much weight, it deepens the emotional investment in the story so much more than almost any other game. Not because of any kind of world-ending stakes, but because of the personal stakes between each of the characters.

34 – N++

Release Date: 28th July 2015
Developer: Metanet Software
Publisher: Metanet Software
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 90%

It’s a game about being a Ninja who dies, a lot.

When it comes to controls in a platformer, I don’t think this game has an equal. In N++, even the most minute movements feel precise and make you feel totally in control of every single jump and manoeuvre you make; Which means that when you miss the jump by half a millimetre and fall into a pit of mines, it’s entirely your fault. Every jump feels so smooth, and when you get good enough to chain a lot fo these movements together, the sense of flow you get is easily on par with that of the Sonic games.

It also has the difficulty to boot, with one of the most well-constructed difficulty curves I’ve ever seen. Every level is designed so creatively and given the literal thousands that there are in the game, it’s quite frankly amazing that they managed to keep them all confined to a single screen. Each different element that will kill you in a level is placed so perfectly that you can almost instantly see the way you’re supposed to get past them, but that doesn’t make doing it any easier than it should be.

The game knows precisely how forgiving it wants each level to be and they seem to have been laid out in an order that means you’re always mastering the skill you need to push through to the next set.

33 – Overgrowth

Release Date: 16th October 2017
Developer: Wolfire Games
Publisher: Wolfire Games
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

It’s a game about rabbits murdering each other.

This one is a real oddity, and seeing “2017” as the release date blows me away because this game has been around for about a decade in some form or another. As you can probably tell from the lack of any on this list, I’m not really a fan of fighting games, I’m not entirely sure why they’re just not for me. However, even though at its core, Overgrowth is a fighting game, it doesn’t really follow the rules of any other game in the genre.

Instead of having health bars and the like, Overgrowth instead uses a system of body parts that slowly take damage and get crippled over time. I don’t know anything in the way of specifics, so I’m not going to explain anymore, but it leads to a high-speed, but very weighty fighting game where no two fights ever quite feel the same. The details of the sounds and blood when you take hits in certain places are almost too gruesome to look at in some cases, but it’s precisely those responsive mechanics that make fighting so much fun and drive me to do it over and over again.

32 – Heat Signature

Release Date: 21st September 2017
Developer: Suspicious Developments
Publisher: Suspicious Developments
Platforms: Windows
Metacritic Average: 79%

It’s a game about performing space heists where you inevitably fling yourself out of an airlock accidentally.

Heat Signature has just about everything you could want from a heist game because that’s essentially what each mission is, a mini heist inside of a spaceship. You can sit there and survey the entire scene before you as you craft a highly detailed and skilled plan to reach your target. Every movement you make is slow and clever…until you get seen, at which points it descends into chaos where you have to either use your various tools to escape with your life or be flung into the cold vacuum of space.

The set of tools you have at your disposal hold a bunch of surprisingly unique concepts that do things like reverse forcefields, magnetise enemies and just cause general chaos to your targets. The catch is, the enemies have all of these tools too, and these dynamic systems are so cleverly interwoven to create plenty of unique experiences that are always sure to surprise you in terms of just how spectacularly they go wrong.

Heat Signature that understands that it needs to let the mechanics speak for themselves and gets you to learn by doing. This means you’re bound to form your own tactics and strategies that will vary wildly from anyone else’s but will still lead to equally as hilarious fuck ups.

31 – WWE 2K19

Release Date: 5th October 2018
Developer: Yukes, Visual Concepts
Publisher: 2K Sports
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows
Metacritic Average: 77%

It’s a game about wrasslin’.

My original plan when I was putting this list together was to put the whole WWE 2K series in this spot because they’re all of pretty equal quality. Then WWE 2K20 came out and was an utter shit-show, so 2K19 gets the spot instead.

I know may people prefer many other wrestling games, but as a modern wrestling fan, these are more than enough to satisfy my needs for video game graps. Once again, it’s a fighting game that doesn’t follow most of the traditional rules of fighting games, and I think it’s much more fun to play because of it. The gameplay is so easy to grasp, and it really captures the feel of a live WWE show in interactive form.

The many different game modes mean that whatever kind of way you want to play the game you’re covered. Whether you just want to do random matchups with your friends, play through written stories or craft your own grand storyline and shows. Since the series first came to PC with 2K15 I’ve put over a 1000 combined hours into the games, which isn’t even including the time I spent playing it on consoles before then. I just have so much fun putting all these matches together. The fighting mechanics are enjoyable enough that I don’t even mind playing against AI all the time.

However, when you’re not a loner, it’s easily one of my favourite games to play with friends. Not only is there a rapid and easy learning curve, but once you’ve both got the hang of it, you can have very intense matchups. On top of that, I’ve had many friends (myself included) who played the games first, and that led to them becoming wrestling fans, which makes it all the better. Except for 2K20, fuck that one in particular.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what you think of these games, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back this time on Saturday, where I’ll be running down the best cliffhangers in Doctor Who!

My 100 Favourite Games of All Time (50-41)

Welcome back to my 100 favourite games of all time series! We’re over the half-way mark now, and the games just keep getting better. Today, it’s entires 50 through 41.

If you haven’t read the previous instalment in this series, please do so here, and here’s the first entry if you want to start from the entry 100.

SPOILER WARNING!

Just a heads up that there will be full SPOILERS for every game I’m going to talk about in this series, so be careful if I talk about something you don’t want spoiled.

Let’s not waste any more time!

50 – Sonic The Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles

Release Date: 2nd February 1994
Developer: SEGA
Publisher: SEGA
Platforms: SEGA Genesis, Windows
Metacritic Average: 79%

It’s a game about going fast.

Although I’ve grown an appreciation for Sonic’s red, plumber rival in recent years, nothing in the 2D platforming genre will ever be able to compete with the fastest thing alive for me. All three of the original Sonic 2D platformers could have conceivably made the list, but in the end, I decided to go for the combo of Sonic 3 & Knuckles because I feel it’s where the formula reached its peak for that era of Sonic games.

The momentum-based gameplay was down to a science by this point in the series, which meant that the development team were able to churn out more high-quality levels in a shorter timespan and that really showed when you combo these two games together. Most of my favourite zones from the whole Sonic franchise live in this game (Ice Cap, Lava Reef, Carnival Night) and that’s down to the fact that everything in the game felt so fantastically smooth in terms of the platforming.

Everything in the Sonic toolbox comes together so well in this game. It clearly had the staying power too, otherwise, the franchise wouldn’t have been able to endure for so long following so many crap games in the franchise following this one.

49 – Shadow of the Colossus

Release Date: 18th October 2015
Developer: SCE Japan Studio, Team Ico
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Playstation 2
Metacritic Average: 91%

It’s a game about slaughtering harmless creatures that also happen to be skyscraper-sized monsters.

(From my Favourite Old Games That I Played for the First Time in 2019 article)

I went into Shadow of the Colossus with no small amount of hype behind me. This autumn was the first time I ever owned a Playstation of any iteration, which means there was a big library of exclusives that I’m still slowly working my way through to this day, but the first game I had to try was Shadow of the Colossus. Pretty much every critic/Youtuber/reviewer who’s opinions I value has spent at least some time talking about how brilliant this game is, so I couldn’t wait to try it out for myself.

After finishing it, the best thing I can think of to say about it, it that there is genuinely nothing out there quite like it.

Plenty of games allow you to fight massive monsters, but they’re always so restrictive in how they let you interact with the things. The fights often limit you to a side-on perspective, or just straight up have the fight be almost entirely scripted, that’s not what Shadow of the Colossus does. Not only does it give you complete freedom to tackle each of the Colossus, but it also forces you into that freedom. The game doesn’t baby you in the slightest, the moment when the foot of the first colossus steps into frame, only for the camera to pan up and show you how massive it is was magical. This is all made even more magical when the cutscene ends and, instead of telling you how to fight it like most other game, just leaves you to work it out yourself.

This means that not only is every fight in the game a massive monster that could squish you as soon as look at you but an intelligently designed puzzle that you have to solve so you can climb up onto the thing’s back/head and stab its glowing bits.

The story is minimal, but the whole point of it is to not give you much, and get you to interpret what it’s trying to say. The game sets you up with a straightforward premise, kill the monsters and save the lady; seen it and done it hundreds of times. Then, as the game progresses, you slowly get very subtle hints that maybe what you’re doing isn’t necessarily the right thing. The game makes every battle seem like an epic fight. The music soars in triumph every time you make your way onto the Colossus’ back and yet when you finally kill them, the music changes to be very sombre, framing the death as a tragedy that you’ve murdered this wondrous creature. This leads up to the genius gameplay twist in game’s final segment, where you are transformed and forced to play as one of these giant lumbering beasts. You finally see just how difficult it is to move and attack as one of them, and it makes you realise just how helpless these creatures you’ve spent several hours murdering were.

The core gameplay concept for Shadow of the Colossus was one that could’ve easily been repetitive and boring, but a combination of satisfying climbing & combat; intelligent & varied colossus design; gorgeous looking world design and an unwavering commitment to tone, elevates the game to something genuinely special.

48 – Gunpoint

Release Date: 3rd June 2013
Developer: Suspicious Developments
Publisher: Suspicious Developments
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 83%

It’s a game about using lightswitches to fire guns.

Gunpoint is a puzzle game where every single element of the puzzles can interact with each other seamlessly. The rewiring concept would’ve been fun enough on its own, but the game gives you total freedom in what you can wire up to what. You wanna make it so that when a guard fires their gun, it calls the elevator? Sure thing. You want a lightswitch to set the whole building on red alert? No problem. You want to wire literally everything in the building up to everything else in the building so that they all trigger each other and the whole building descends into chaos. Probably giving some poor guard an epileptic fit as you leap through a window and knock him out with one punch? Couldn’t be more simple.

Gunpoint establishes all of its puzzle mechanics very quickly and then just lets you do what you want with them. The levels are designed in such a way that encourages you to experiment with the mechanics to see what works. With quick deaths and quicker respawns, you’re not punished for trying to have fun with the mechanics. The evaluation mechanic at the end of each level rewards you regardless of what play-style you used (provided you did it well). It allows you to be a lord of chaos and trick everyone into killing each other or getting in and out, without anyone even knowing you were ever in the building.

This is a game that has brilliantly designed puzzles, but also made sure that the puzzle mechanics lent itself to fun experimentation and whacky antics if you so chose to go down that route; and do you know what? I think I will.

47 – Spelunky

Release Date: 21st December 2008
Developer: Mossmouth LLC
Publisher: Mossmouth LLC, Microsoft Studios
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, Xbox 360, Windows, Chrome OS
Metacritic Average: 90%

It’s a game about spelunking.

There are plenty of games on this list that nail that “one more go” feeling, but they’re usually rapid games. Things like Super Hexagon that only last around a minute before they chuck you out and have you desperately wanting to go back in again, which is what makes Spelunky so interesting.

As much as you can complete it in almost no time at all if you’re good enough, for a standard player like myself, a single run can take around half an hour (assuming you don’t die in the first few levels), but that is what makes it work. What it means is that the game never runs out of ways to surprise you with brand new stuff. The environments are procedurally generated so that levels never feel the same. Even once you’ve been playing long enough to recognise the patterns in the terrain generation, they always link up in unique ways, showing you new traps, items or enemies almost every time.

No matter how much I play Spelunky (spoilers, it’s a lot), I never feel like I’m good at it. I’m a hell of a lot better at it than I was when I first started playing, but the game never lets you rest on your laurels. This sounds like a complaint, but for a roguelike/roguelite game that’s exactly what I want. I want a game like this to be genuinely unsolvable because that’s what will keep me coming back to it time and time again.

46 – Clustertruck

Release Date: 27th September 2016
Developer: Landfall Games
Publisher: tinyBuild
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac, Linux, Nvidia Shield TV
Metacritic Average: 76%

It’s a game about leaping between trucks as they get exploderized in various ways.

Clustertruck is an unbelievably simple concept, but one that I never get bored of. This is a game that takes the pure elements of total chaos and manages to distil that feeling into the core mechanic on the game. As you could probably tell by its title, this game doesn’t give a shit about anything other than providing you with absolutely mental fun at all times.

The idea of a “Floor is Lava” game is fun enough in and of itself (just look at 2019’s Hot Lava) but to have your tools to avoid the floor be trucks that speed along at over 100 miles an hour makes the experience all the more exhilarating; and that’s not even mentioning the obstacles. Lasers, Pillars, Lava, Swinging Axes, Massive Cogs, Weird Spinning Pretzel looking things; there’s nothing this game won’t throw at you to try and knock you off your trucks. Discovering what each new level is going to try and throw at you is just as fun as actually trying to complete it.

This is a game that doesn’t need to have any mechanical genius behind it because it’s an absolute blast from start to finish, which is more than enough for me to be happy with it.

45 – Blade & Sorcery

Release Date (Early Access): 11th December 2018
Developer: Warp Frog
Publisher: Warp Frog
Platforms: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift

It’s a game about being a medieval action hero.

I’m honestly getting exhausted just thinking about this game. This is definitely not a VR game for beginners to the platform because it relies pretty heavily on having a decent knowledge of how to get the most out of VR, but once you get into it, there’s nothing that stops you from being the formidable warrior you always dreamed of being. The combat is so weighty in the game, that when I run someone through with a sword, I really feel it. It’s quite gruesome, if I’m being honest, the way that I can feel the resistance as the sword pierces through the body, it’s almost too real. The AI is just the right level for the game since they’re passive enough so that I can mess around with them and do stupid – yet awesome – looking kills, but are also good enough that they can provide a challenge in a straight-up duel.

There was something that clicked in my head as I took a running leap onto a zipline, using my axe to hook onto it, only to release from that zipline, landing on someone and stabbing them in the throat in the process before turning 180 degrees and throwing an axe into another person’s skull all in VR. I just stood there and realised that this is what VR is all about, it’s that empowering feeling that a regular video can’t give you, it’s the ultimate power trip. The only downside is that I can only play it for around 30 minutes at a time before being absolutely exhausted, but that’s not the game’s fault, I’m just unfit.

Ultimately, when I first imagine how cool games in VR could be, something not too far off of Blade & Sorcery is what came to mind and as new stuff is regularly being added (it’s still in early access), it only gets better and better.

44 – Mirror’s Edge

Release Date: 11th November 2008
Developer: EA Dice
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, Windows, iOS, Windows Phone
Metacritic Average: 81%

It’s a game about running and jumping across a city.

Mirror’s Edge is a game that has the strange distinction of not only being a unique concept for its time but also remaining a unique concept to this day, despite being released over a decade ago. In a weird way, it took the same design philosophies as the Sonic the Hedgehog games, with the momentum-based gameplay that elevated the parkour mechanics to have an incredible sense of flow & satisfaction.

What I think made this game feel as great as it was (and one of the key reasons I wasn’t a fan of the sequel) was the linear level design. Each level was so carefully crafted to get the most out of the parkour mechanics, creating that feeling of being someone always on the run from the law. Those sequences where soldiers would be shooting at you from all angles and you could do nothing but run are some of the most exhilarating sequences I’ve ever played in a game.

Mirror’s Edge was a game that knew precisely what it wanted to be and did it to near perfection with a formula that I don’t believe has ever been successfully replicated.

43 – Cook, Serve, Delicious!

Release Date: 5th October 2012
Developer: Vertigo Gaming
Publisher: Vertigo Gaming
Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

It’s a game about running a restaurant, a whole restaurant, on your own.

When I first saw Cook, Serve, Delicious, I was expecting something along the lines of the time management games that dominate sites like Miniclip & Zylom, but it actually turned out to be something a lot more involved than that. Cook, Serve, Delicious is a game that requires all your focus at all times because it gets absolutely hectic. Orders & chores come in thick and fast, and you have to deal with them pretty much all at once. What makes this such a fun thing to play is the genius control scheme (on PC, at least). Using different buttons on the keyboard for all of the actions means that as long as you’re a fast typer, you absolutely can keep up with everything with some focus. It gives you this incredible rush of being able to do just about anything the game throws at you. It can be mentally exhausting at times, but I think it’s a fantastic feeling.

On top of that, it’s a game that I genuinely think improved my touch-typing skills. I could already touch-type reasonably well when I first found this game, but the rate at which I had to learn all of the different combinations and be able to dole them out on muscle memory alone meant that now I can touch-type so much faster than I ever could before.

Not only is Cook, Serve, Delicious an endlessly fun, fast-paced time management sim, but it has the potential to actually improve some clear real-world skills in the process. Something I’m not sure was its intention, but I’m impressed by it nonetheless.

42 – Dishonored

Release Date: 9th October 2012
Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Studios
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows
Metacritic Average: 91%

It’s a game about stealthy stabbing in the middle of a plague.

Mechanically, Dishonored is damn-near flawless, the stealth & combat mechanics combined with the magic abilities creates this wonderful sense of satisfaction in the gameplay. You’re able to calculate clear plans of how to sneak/stab your way through each room and provided your level of play is good enough, you’ll be able to do it almost every time. Every ability feeds into each other and allows you to manipulate the world in just the right way to achieve what you need to. You use your Dark Vision to scout the room and work out the best order of which to take everyone down. You use your Blink & time manipulation abilities to manoeuvre the room and – depending on which play-style you’re going for – either take out every guard in one smooth sequence or slip past entirely undetected.

What really elevates Dishonored above you’re average stealth game, however, is its world-building. The world of Dunwall has such a visceral feel in every sense of the word. Visually it’s almost charming in the way it’s run-down and dirty. As the sounds of the city echo through the streets, I get so absorbed, I can almost smell the horror that lives in the city. That’s not all though, because you have the option to go through the game killing everyone or no-one, including your primary targets, which has an impact on the world. Instead of just telling you what the consequences of your choices were, it makes sure to show you. If you go around killing everyone the city will slowly become more and more worn down and horrible with each mission, those infected with the plague will start to litter the streets as the bodies you created help to spread the infection around the city. In contrast, much the opposite occurs if you take the pacifist route.

The mechanics and the world of this game mesh so well to create one cohesive experience that keeps me going right up until the credits roll (with an awesome song, I might add), creating one of my favourite stealth games ever.

41 – Jackbox Party Pack

Release Date: 26th November 2014
Developer: Jackbox Games
Publisher: Jackbox Games
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, WindowsMac, Linux, iPad, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Nvidia Shield TV, Xfinity X1

They’re games about having fun with your friends.

I’m lumping the whole series into one entry here because I honestly can’t pick out one pack that’s better than the rest. They really are the perfect party games, they have concepts that are incredibly simple to grasp by all audiences and can be easily enjoyed by all audiences. I’ve played these games will people of all ages and every time they’ve had great fun with at least one of the games.

The nature of how you play them is also easily accessible. In an era where just about everyone has some form of smart device, using them as the controllers is an absolutely perfect way of doing it that honestly hasn’t been used nearly as much as I thought it would have by this point in time. Each pack has a brilliant variety of games that there’s never a social situation where you can’t open it up and have some fun with a group.

It’s a game that understands that the best humour in a group of friends or family come from the little in-jokes and references that only the people in that group will get, so they’ve created a system to facilitate precisely that kind of humour. It’s a formula that, to date, no other game has been able to replicate because it really is just so spot-on with the atmosphere it creates. Whenever I’m with a group of friends or family and we’re looking for something to occupy us, Jackbox is always among my first suggestions.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what you think of these games, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back this time on Saturday, where I’ll be covering the best on the Money in the Bank briefcase!

My 100 Favourite Games of All Time (60-51)

Welcome back to my 100 favourite games of all time series! Today, I’ll be covering entries 60 through 51.

If you haven’t read the previous instalment in this series, please do so here, and here’s the first entry if you want to start from the entry 100.

Let’s not waste any more time!

SPOILER WARNING!

Just a heads up that there will be full SPOILERS for every game I’m going to talk about in this series, so be careful if I talk about something you don’t want spoiled.

60 – Unheard

Release Date: 29th March 2019
Developer: NEXT Studios
Publisher: NEXT Studios, Bilibili
Platforms: Playstation 4, Windows, Mac
Metacritic Average: 72%

It’s a game about solving crimes with the power of hearing

(From my Game of the Year 2019 article)

Out of all the games on this list, this is the one that I’d imagine the fewest people have heard of, because this almost passed me by too, so let me explain.

At its most basic level, it’s a mystery-solving game, however, the method by which you solve these mysteries is what makes this an absolutely exceptional game in my view. Instead of searching the scene and interviewing witnesses after the fact, you get to see the 5-15 minutes in which the crime happened, except you don’t get to actually see the details. What you get is a floor-plan view of the building in which the crime took place which you can wander around as you play through the events of the scene and the only tool you have to work out what happened is sound.

You can see the outline of where everyone is at any moment, but you can’t actually see their form, you can only hear their voices. Using this information you must work out who everyone is, and answer specific questions about the crime. I can’t really be more specific without giving away partial solutions to some of the puzzles, but the way in which the game gets you to hear every conversation in a level to slowly fill in all the blanks is so very innovative and clever.

The game typically starts you off in each scenario listening to one conversation that will give a rough outline of what’s going on, but naturally, there are other conversations going on all over the scene at the exact same time and each conversation slowly fills in all of the blanks. In every conversation, you listen to you’ll learn something new about the scenario that slowly allows you to draw everything together and hit that euphoria of the “eureka” moment when you nail your target.

The game makes sure to give you just the right amount of information so that everything you need to know is there, but without explicitly giving you all of the solutions. I found myself taking notes on every level, creating a list of suspects and slowly ruling them out as I went along until the true culprit reveals themselves.

The mysteries themselves are very well thought out, for example, you’ll have to locate a stolen painting and work out who stole it, but there are also a number of fakes that other people have stolen, thinking they’re the real deal and it’s your job to use the conversations around the scene to piece together a chronology of who committed the first theft in order to determine who holds the real painting.

At £5 the game is absolutely worth it for the 5 puzzles (plus 1 as free DLC) that total to about 4 hours of game time. This is one of the most enthralling and unique puzzle games I’ve played ever and it perfectly captures the feeling on solving a mystery, so if you’re into that sort of thing, this game is a must-have.

59 – Papers, Please

Release Date: 8th August 2013
Developer: Lucas Pope
Platforms: Playstation Vita, Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 92%

It’s a game about becoming corrupt.

Much like Spec Ops, Papers, Please isn’t a fun game to play, but it’s still a brilliant one. It’s dark and dreary, it feels downbeat and without joy or hope, but that’s the point.

It shows you the mechanics and then lets you run with them, always adding more stuff day in and day out, to the point where you find yourself working through a routine in your head, and about halfway through you realise that you’re treating it like you would an actual job, and that’s how this game sinks its teeth into you.

It uses the monotony of it all as a way to draw you into the world, to make you feel like this actually is your job. It gives you the idea that the safety of your country and your family relies on you. Then, once it’s established those feelings, it throws the moral dilemmas at you hard and fast. That’s what they are in Papers, Please, dilemmas, not choices, because it doesn’t present you with a “choose A or B” option, it ingrains these dilemmas into the mechanics.

I’m going to give you an example here, but I will say this game is so much better if you play it blind, you have been warned. So a woman comes through your checkpoint, and all her papers are in order, so you let her through, but she slips you two notes. One is a business card for a strip club of some description, and the other is a note, naming a man who is behind her in the queue, saying that he’s holding her against her will and forcing her to work in the club and she begs you not to let him in. The thing is, all his documents are correct, by all legal definitions, you have to let him in, and if you don’t, then you’ll suffer a fine, which means you might not be able to buy food for your family. However, if you do let him in, that woman will be forced to work in a strip club against her will, so what do you do?

The game never outright tells you to make this choice, and you’ll never discover the consequences of your actions. No matter what you do, you never see that man or the woman he was holding again. The game is confident enough in its systems and moral dilemmas that it’s perfectly happy to let you sit there and ponder over whether or not you really did the right thing. Paper, Please won’t gratify your moral compass, it won’t tell you if you were right or wrong, because the real world very rarely does.

58 – The Stanley Parable

Release Date: 17th October 2013
Developer: Galactic Cafe
Publisher: Galactic Cafe
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 88%

It’s a game about a man named Stanley.

I’d love to go deeper than that, but for The Stanley Parable saying anything more would be completely spoiling it. I know I gave the spoiler warning at the start, but seriously, if you’ve ever wanted to play this game and somehow haven’t had it spoiled for you yet, keep scrolling, you need to experience this game with fresh eyes.

In the years since The Stanley Parable, there have been many games that attempted the so-called ‘meta-narrative’ to varying degrees of success. While I’m sure The Stanely Parable wasn’t the first, it is undoubtedly the first one to do it at this high quality to bring the concept in the mainstream (spawning a bunch of cheap imitations in the process, but what can you do?).

The idea of it is so straightforward, with the way the narrator tells you the choice you made before you’ve actually made it. Just the simple explanation of coming to a set of two doors and the narrator telling you that you went through the left one. Instantly, everything starts whirring in your brain, surely everyone who played it immediately had that instinct kick in where you don’t want to be told what to do. It’s such an instinctual reaction to go “no, screw you!” and then you’ve fallen right into the game’s trap.

From there, the game will take you on all sorts of adventures. Some funny, some weird and some rather grim. No matter what you do in The Stanley Parable, the game already knows you’ve done it. There are even moments where the game will trick you into thinking you beat it to the punch, only for something to be waiting for you on the other side, putting you in your place.

The Stanley Parable was made by people who truly understood how games traditionally work. The tropes and cliches. Only by having a real firm grasp on those things were they able to deconstruct it entirely to create an experience as mind-blowing and as memorable at The Stanley Parable.

57 – Super Hexagon

Release Date: 31st August 2012
Developer: Terry Cavanagh
Publisher: Terry Cavanagh
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS
Metacritic Average: 88%

It’s a game about dodging lines very, VERY fast.

Super Hexagon hits just the right spot when it comes to reflex games. Not only was it one of the first I played, but its difficulty is perfect for me. I would play it for hours and struggle like all hell, but I’d slowly but surely get better and better until suddenly I could do it. I’m not a master by any stretch, I’ve only completed the final level three times since 2012 (one of which was in front of my whole math’s class in secondary school, which is a fond memory), but I went from being hopeless at the game to being reasonably competent at it at a surprisingly steady rate.

Every death felt like a lesson, and every run got me just ever so slightly better at dodging the obstacles in front of me. The movement of the little triangle is so very precise and nails that feeling of only just being able to dodge everything in time. The soundtrack is a great listen, and it really adds to the chaotic feels that Super Hexagon goes for, the game makes it clear to you that you’re never in control, but at the same time, you never feel hopeless in your pursuits.

56 – Life is Strange

Release Date: 30th January 2015
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows, Mac, Linux, Andriod, iOS
Metacritic Average: 85%

It’s a game about being a teenage girl…with occasional time manipulation.

Life is Strange managed to create a world with countless characters, with varying personalities and colourful traits, which is impressive enough of a feat in and of itself, but what’s truly great about Life is Strange is that all of these characters mattered to me. I didn’t necessarily like all of them, or connect with all of them. Still, every single character I interacted with mattered, even in some of my favourite game stories there are characters I don’t care about *cough*Alfyn*cough* but that didn’t happen with Life is Strange.

It does such an excellent job of capturing the social structure of what school is like when you’re that age. That sense of recognising pretty much everyone, even if you don’t know them, having parents of friends that basically adopt you, or ones you find a bit off. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t long removed from that kind of social situation when I played Life is Strange, but I really found myself recognising so many situations it presents (admittedly not quite to the extremes that it goes too). The time manipulation is a clever mechanic and well-implemented, but that’s not really what everyone remembers about the game.

Those heartbreaking moments when you have to make some tough and horrible decisions in that game are things that stick with you for a long time after the fact. Not to mention the sheer weight of the final choice (and everyone’s reaction to it in all of the Youtube videos) is a moment that will go down in gaming history.

55 – Hand of Fate 2

Release Date: 7th November 2017
Developer: Defiant Development
Publisher: Defiant Development
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 82%

It’s a game about playing a tabletop RPG with a magical deck of cards.

The Hand of Fate games are compelling cases because it’s entirely true that if these games were just a regular RPG, they really wouldn’t be anything special. However, the twist of making you go through a tabletop RPG like D&D, using a deck of enchanted cards to take you through your adventure is such a genius change, and it makes the game so incredibly compelling when I’m going on my adventures.

The atmosphere of the travelling cart where you encounter the hooded & man who has these cards draws me in every time I boot up the game. The smooth and beautiful way with which the cards float their way around the space, shuffling themselves and laying them out before in such an attractive way that you cannot resist.

The scenarios that it puts before you always have a high level of intrigue to them, and every one of them brings you a unique challenge. These adventures are like a scaled-down version of what playing these tabletop RPGs can be like. Only there is the added advantage of the game having total control over the pacing, switching between combat encounters and interesting world-building seamlessly to keep thing varied.

All of the campaigns feel so carefully crafted, that you can tell there’s someone behind it like any other Dungeon Master you’ve ever played with. They keep that warm feeling of something created by someone for the love of creating it, but the medium of the video game allows them to tell it in much grander fashion. Which is what we all want for our D&D stories at the end of the day.

54 – Shovel Knight

Release Date: 26th June 2014
Developer: Yacht Club Games
Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo WiiU, Windows, Mac, Linux, Amazon Fire TV
Metacritic Average: 92%

It’s a game about ridding the world of evil with a shovel.

When it comes to indie games, the phrase ‘retro-platformer’ is always an instant turn off for me. Most of them are just bad attempts at recapturing the magic of the classic SNES games, and to put it plainly, Shovel Knight puts them all to shame.

Shovel Knight takes that idea of the retro platformer and makes it it’s own. The visual and sound design are great at capturing the sense of nostalgia and joy that so many of those classic games had. It doesn’t just copy though, as it’s not afraid to mix in modern techniques and use the advantages of modern technology to refine the edges of the game and get rid of all the unwanted quirks. It doesn’t feel like a cheap imitation because quite simply, it’s not, it’s able to form an identity of its own, while still aping that retro style

On top of all that, Shovel Knight’s main mechanic is genuinely unique and innovative. The titular shovel could’ve easily been a gimmick that worked as a retextured sword, but instead, time & care were put in to make it something that worked in a way we hadn’t seen before. The way you could dig through walls, and use it to bounce off of enemies allowed for some enjoyable puzzle-platforming opportunities. At the same time, the level design absolutely nails the flow and the challenge required to really gain mastery over the mechanics.

Very rarely does a game like Shovel Knight come along, where they seek to ape the style of retro games, while still creating a unique identity for itself. Regardless, Shovel Knight somehow managed to nail that landing…then bounce off of that landing with their shovel over a pit of death onto another landing.

53 – Red Faction Guerrilla

Release Date: 2nd June 2009
Developer: Volition, Reactor Zero, Kaiko Games
Publisher: THQ, THQ Nordic
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, Windows
Metacritic Average: 85%

It’s a game about destroying everything with the sledgehammer.

We’ve got an open world, powerful & varied weapons, and basically everything except the ground being fully destructible. If you’re anything like me, that sentence will have got you very excited indeed about Red Faction Guerrilla, which definitely doesn’t disappoint. The entire game is built around the core mechanic of the fully destructible structures that litter every nook and cranny of the open world. Almost every mission is focused around blowing up buildings in some way, shape or form and the massive variety in terms of both the buildings themselves, and the tools at your disposal ensure it never gets old.

Buildings can be anything from massive skyscrapers to long and wide warehouses that you can just plough a truck into and watch it crumble around you. Then you’ve got the weapons, starting off as the always popular (and extremely satisfying) sledgehammer, moving up to Arc Wielders and Remote Charges, before reaching stupidly over-the-top levels of destruction with Thermobaric Rocket Launchers and Singularity Bombs.

Red Faction Guerrilla simply focuses on making the unabashed destruction that makes this game so fun the primary focus at every opportunity and it’s a game that I will always go back to when I’m the mood for some carnage.

52 – The Binding of Issac: Rebirth

Release Date: 4th November 2014
Developer: Nicalis
Publisher: Nicalis
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS, Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS
Metacritic Average: 93%

It’s a game about using your tears to kill unholy (and sometimes holy) abominations.

The modern roguelike/roguelite genre is one that the PC indie market has managed to completely oversaturate over about 5 years, but The Binding of Issac was one of the first and remains one of the best. Not only is the visual design and general aura of the game so weird and uniquely disturbing, but the gameplay has been whittled down to near perfection for the genre.

The sheer volume of different items and modifiers in the game means that you’ll never have a playthrough that looks even remotely similar to the previous one. It avoids the trap that a lot of roguelikes fall into where I’m able to fall into a pattern for each run by merely giving me completely different items every single time. It forced me to play completely different every time I boot it up.

Then once you think you’ve got the hang of the game, you go online and look at some Youtube videos of people playing the game and you’ll see that they’re in a level you’ve never seen before, fighting a boss you didn’t even know existed with the craziest items you can imagine. I will genuinely never reach the bottom of The Binding of Issac, and I think that’s fantastic.

51 – Prison Architect

Release Date: 6th October 2015
Developer: Introversion Software, Double Eleven
Publisher: Introversion Software, Double Eleven, Paradox Interactive
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac, Linux, Andriod, iOS
Metacritic Average: 83%

It’s a game about building a (mostly) functional prison.

I’d generally consider myself to not be all that big a fan of the modern builder/management sim. They generally require a somewhat creative mind to get some fun out of them, and I just can’t tap into those elements. Prison Architect manages to get around that issue; however, by limiting how much you can do at each step. I know other games in the genre try to do that, but it always feels like it’s way too much. Prison Architect, meanwhile, is very good at holding my hand through the early stages of the game so that by the time it opens up, I’ve got plans and ideas of how to move forward.

On top of that, the system with which you construct all of your facilities is extraordinarily intuitive and has quite a tactile feel to it, which makes it so much more enjoyable to build and manage things. Even though I like it because of its constraints, it can also be an almost entirely open game if you want it to be. I’ve seen people get unbelievably creative with their prisons in this game, and it absolutely blows me away that what seems like such a simple game can produce so much.

Prison Architect really ticks all the boxes of a builder/management sim. If you want something simple to introduce you to the genre, then this will do that for you, but if you’re an experienced player who wants to build some crazy stuff, that’s absolutely a viable option for you too.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what you think of all these games, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo! Finally, make sure to come back here ton Saturday, where I’ll be releasing a sequel to my Pokemon music article!

My 100 Favourite Games of All Time (70-61)

Welcome back to my 100 favourite games of all time series! Today, I’ll be covering entries 70 through 61.

If you haven’t read the previous instalment in this series, please do so here, and here’s the first entry if you want to start from the entry 100.

Let’s not waste any more time!

70 – PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate

Release Date: 10th December 2009
Developer: Q-Games, Double Eleven
Publisher: Q-Games, Sony Computer Entertainment
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 90%

It’s a game about liquid physics.

Pixel Junk Shooter is a game that is fun on multiple levels. On one level, it’s an intelligent puzzle game, with combat elements that mean you’ve always got something to do. Then on another level, it’s one of the most surprisingly fun co-op experiences I’ve ever played.

It’s a rare occasion where I’d recommend playing this game with another person rather than on your own because it adds so much to the experience. Solving the puzzles and defeating the enemies is fun enough on your own, but suddenly it becomes a chaotic ball of fun when you add a second player. It feels like the developers knew this and leaned into it with their design.

Once you’ve got the hang of the game, the combat becomes relatively basic, and the puzzles don’t have the most difficult of solutions to work out, but executing them is surprisingly hard. This is partly because each level seems to be designed almost by the pixel to require precise and skilled movement of both yourself and the different liquids you get to play around with. However, it’s partly down to the fact that your co-op partner just got the lava suit and won’t stop spraying it everywhere.

I often found the puzzles becoming secondary while playing through this game as me and my co-op partner (usually my brother) would simply mess about the entire time. Let me tell you when one of us picks up the lava suit, and the other has the water suit, it is a battle for the ages.

Pixel Junk Shooter knows exactly the mindset its players will have going into it and designs an experience that will maximise fun, while still carrying a compelling singleplayer experience.

69 – Spec Ops: The Line

Release Date: 26th June 2012
Developer: Yager Development
Publisher: 2K Games
Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 77%

It’s a game about realising what a horrible person you are.

Another game here that is better the less you know going into it, Spec Ops: The Line keeps its cards hidden for as long as it possibly can. Spec Ops presents itself as a generic military shooter, with pretty basic shooting mechanics, but an extra level of tactics behind it to keep things interesting. After a few hours, it still feels like your standard military shooter, but it’s going a little bit off the rails. As Spec Ops progresses, things start to feel more and more uneasy, with the main character making some questionable decisions, and commit certain acts which have significant consequences.

I’m speaking in very vague terms here, so I don’t spoil it, but when the game finally reveals what it’s been doing the entire time, it was one hell of a narrative gut-punch. It’s a very dark and depressing twist, but one that really makes an impact on you, especially if you’ve just been treating the game like a standard military shooter up until that point. The narrative takes the military shooter – a genre I have very little interest in – and blows it wide open, deconstructing some of the more ‘grand’ elements we take for granted.

68 – Grow Home

Release Date: 4th February 2015
Developer: Ubisoft Reflections
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platforms: Playstation 4, Windows, Linux
Metacritic Average: 75%

It’s a game about climbing.

I’ve talked a lot so far in this series about the focus of games. What makes so many of these weird experimental/indie games so great is their grasp on precisely what they want to build. They don’t worry about appealing to as many different audiences as possible, so they don’t overstuff their worlds with a load of guff. What games like Grow Home do that make them so great is that they focus on a singular core mechanic and refine it until it’s as close to perfection as it can possibly be.

The climbing mechanics in Grow Home are without a shadow of a doubt the best I’ve ever played. They’re incredibly intuitive – just click one of the mouse buttons depending on what hand you want to move and then drag the mouse – but mastery over those mechanics takes time and skill to achieve.

It’s not just Grow Home’s mechanics that receive a sharp level of focus either, because the world also feels very refined and polished in its design. The game makes it very clear what your goal is right from the start, so every single mechanic is built around helping you to achieve that goal. There isn’t a tremendous amount of openness or exploration to be had in Grow Home, but it doesn’t need it. It’s a game that drops you off in the world, throws about every challenge it can at you centred around the climbing mechanics and then sends you on your way before it has a chance to get competitive.

Grow Home is all the proof you need that a great core mechanic is all you need to make a fantastic game.

67 – Pool Nation

Release Date: 5th September 2012
Developer: Cherry Pop Games
Publisher: Cherry Pop Games, Wired Productions
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Windows
Metacritic Average: 81%

It’s a game where you play Pool.

The so-called “Pub Game” genre – things like Pool, Darts & Air Hockey – is one that I don’t think ever gets enough attention. In real life, they’re the kinds of games that you’re not really all that good at, but you play it with your friends because it’s a fun way to kill 3 hours.

VR has added a lot to this genre, and the VR version of Pool Nation is also enjoyable, but there’s something about the nature of the regular Pool Nation that holds my attention for much longer. There’s not a lot I can say about the mechanics, because I’m not going to sit here and review the game of Pool, but the control scheme in Pool Nation is one that I don’t think has ever been topped for a pool game.

The whole game is able to capture the very causal feel that comes with playing a game of Pool in the pub. Yes, you care about the game to a certain extent, but it’s more just a tool for you and your mates to piss about a bit and have a nice time. Something in the sound design feels so very real, and when you combine it with the fact that Pool is a game I enjoy playing anyway, you’ve got yourself something I’m bound to sink a lot of time into.

66 – Katana ZERO

Release Date: 18th April 2019
Developer: Askiisoft
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac
Metacritic Average: 83%

It’s a game about taking drugs and slicing people in half with a katana.

(From my Game of the Year 2019 article)

One of my favourite things a game can accomplish is to be one specific thing while disguising itself as something else. To explain what I mean by that, let’s take a look at Katana ZERO.

When you star Katana ZERO, the impression I got from it is that it was going to be a fast-paced hack and slash, where you slice your way through waves of enemies feeling like a katana-wielding action hero and while the second part of that statement is true, Katana ZERO is in fact not a hack and slash, but a very clever and high-octane puzzle game.

The goal of each room is to introduce every enemy in the general vicinity to your Katana, usually by separating them from most of their limbs in the process, but if you go charging madly into every room, you’ll most certainly fail almost instantly. Instead, every room in the game is cleverly designed to be “solvable”, with a distinct order and pattern in which you need to show everyone their own spleen before removing their head in what can only be described as a “flourish” of blood. Every time I entered a room, I would instantly scour the whole place looking for the one weak spot where I could start my slicing rampage, running through a mental checklist every time I failed and restarted a room, which gave incredibly satisfying feeling when my master plan was executed to perfection.

What makes Katana ZERO stands out though, is the fact that it has that element of chaos to it. I could make the most ingenious plans ever, but that doesn’t mean I was good enough to pull them off perfectly all the time and that was where the game was at its most fun; when plans went wrong. Once a plan went wrong, it would be easy to just take the death and try again, but I think doing that takes out a huge element of the sheer joy that this game brings you when you improvise. Admittedly, my improvised plans very rarely bore fruit, but that didn’t stop it being an absolute blast when I missed my second strike, which sent me sailing into a room of armoured guards, causing me to panic, throw a firebomb which killed the armoured guards but alerted everyone within a 5-mile radius to my presence, at which point I went on a killing spree, slicing every neck I could lay my eyes on before finally being gunned down.

In addition to that…well…clusterfuck, the game has simplistic but masterfully styled visuals with great uses of colours and effect to create a depressingly beautiful cyberpunk dystopia, a feeling only helped by the brilliant choices that were made with the music, which helped elevate the already fantastically designed boss-fights to epic clashes and nail-biting encounters.

Katana ZERO is a game that strikes that perfect balance between careful & tactical planning and total chaos that makes for an incredibly focused and fun game, all tied together with a clever story that keeps you interested and invested in the world all the way to the credits.

65 – Intrusion 2

Release Date: 11th September 2012
Developer: Aleksey Abramenko
Publisher: Aleksey Abramenko, VAP Games
Platforms: Windows, Linux
Metacritic Average: 80%

It’s a game about shooting everything lots of times.

Intrusion takes a formula that worked in the past – in this case, the side-scrolling shooter – and adds on all the lessons and improvements in game design that we’ve learnt since the genre’s golden era to make an entertaining game.

It seems quite hard at first, but you don’t actually have to spend much time with it to get the hang of it. It plays off the design philosophies of the old Castlevania or Mega-Man games where if you’re good enough you could definitely go through the entire thing without taking a single hit, but it’s just tricky enough to challenge even experienced players of the genre. All of the bullets move just slow enough to dodge, but not slow enough to make it easy, and the level design finds a way to make each of these challenges feel new every single time.

On top of that, it has some of the best boss fights I’ve ever seen in a game. It keeps that idea that every single attack is dodgeable, but overwhelms you with spectacle. Every boss had clearly recognised patterns that manage to inject their own sense of personality into every fight. Be it using their gun as a motorbike, wagging their giant mechanical finger at you before smashing you in the face with it, or eating its way through a building to get to you. It’s a game so very full of character that I can’t help but smile at it, even when I’m getting my arse kicked.

64 – The Ship

Release Date: 30th July 2006
Developer: Outerlight
Publisher: Mindscape, Merscom, Blazing Griffin Ltd
Platforms: Windows
Metacritic Average: 78%

It’s a game about murdering people on a cruise ship.

I feel like The Ship was a game that passed most people by at the time, and yet, the ideas it innovated can be seen through a couple of popular genres today.

It innovated a style of multiplayer gameplay that would be the inspiration for the Assassin’s Creed multiplayer mode a few years later, and I’m surprised no-one else has really taken the idea and ran with it outside of the odd indie title. The setting is one that allows for a large and varied map design, with big open decks with pools and bars; the tight corridors with the passenger’s rooms; and even into the bowels of the engine rooms in the ship. The whole thing has an air of class and charm to it that is the perfect comedic juxtaposition with the murder tournament that’s happening around you.

The game also adds extra layers to its gameplay, with each kill being assigned a monetary value based on what weapon you used; the value of the weapon being determined by how commonly it’s been used in that game. In addition to this, you’ve got the fact that you need to be consistently subtle in your kills. Security guards, cameras and even other passengers can cause you to be caught in your actions, resulting in a fine and being locked up for precious seconds that could be spent killing. It stops you mindlessly running around hacking people to bits and instead forces you to think more strategically to achieve your goals.

It’s a style of multiplayer gameplay that has you constantly scheming and planning a few steps ahead while being on edge that your killer could round the corner wielding an axe at any second. The atmosphere the game produces is simultaneously charming and tense, which mixes in just the right way to make one hell of a fun game.

63 – Far Cry 3

Release Date: 29th November 2012
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows
Metacritic Average: 91%

It’s a game about taking drugs and being eaten by tigers.

As I’ve said before, First Person Shooters are one of my least favourite genres, so for any game in the FPS genre to adequately capture my enthusiasm for it, it has to have something unique. Enter, Far Cry 3.

I know many people prefer Far Cry 2 to 3, but I was too young to notice when 2 came out, and while I enjoy going back on it now, it didn’t have that first-time rush that 3 does for me. The thing with Far Cry is it takes the standard shooter format and meshes it with your standard Ubisoft formula (before it got way too bloated). It made it an open world, added survival and crafting elements (again, they were still new back then) and of course, bases & radio towers (those weren’t).

The bases in Far Cry 3 were the main thing that put it over the top for me because it managed to make both rousing success and catastrophic failure feel just as fun to play out. It feels awesome to take down a base completely unseen. Either through taking some good vantage points and sniping them all down one by one or by getting in there with your knife and getting your hands dirty. However, it’s equally as fun when you attempt those tactics, it goes very wrong indeed, and the thing devolves into an all-out gunfight, with bullets flying everywhere, explosions going off and the occasional tiger getting involved.

Sure, it could get repetitive to the point where that very fact is why I didn’t enjoy Far Cry 4, but once every couple of years, I will drop into Far Cry 3 and have a lot of fun taking down some bases and messing around in the open world.

62 – Portal

Release Date: 10th October 2007
Developer: Valve Corporation
Publisher: Valve Corporation
Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Windows, Mac, Linux, Android
Metacritic Average: 90%

It’s a game about thinking with portals.

I don’t think there’s a game that has stuck so hard in the general gaming consciousness quite like Portal. It’s not the most famous game ever made by a long stretch, but it feels like pretty much everyone in the gaming sphere has played – or at least seen someone else play – Portal.

As a puzzle game it’s pretty good, again, not the best ever but certainly a sound challenge the first time you play it, but that’s not why it’s so good, or why it’s been remembered so fondly for so long. Portal is a game that just seems to have an endless amount of character to it. The way it plays its humour, so subtle yet hilariously dark, it’s something that had never really been done to that extent in games so far. Many other games following Portal would attempt to ape its style, most would fail, but the ones that succeeded are still remembered today as beloved titles (a couple we will be talking about a little later down the line). In fact, with GLaDOS carrying the whole thing, you could even argue it was the progenitor of the ‘unreliable narrator’ trope in games.

Portal is a quick and focused experience that leaves a considerable mark on you when you play it and spits you out when you’re still wanting more. It’s a game that I will continue to go back and play, time and time again over the years – not to mention the countless attempts at copycats that it’s spawned – because it’s truly a game that never goes out of style.

61 – Fallout 4

Release Date: 10th November 2015
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows
Metacritic Average: 88%

It’s a game about exploring the American wasteland [insert topical political joke here].

It took me a while to crack Fallout 4, so much so that until 2019, when I was finally able to get into it, I only had about 7 hours of total playtime in the game. The weird thing is: I really don’t know why it took me so long. Sure, it’s a first-person shooter, but having played Fallout 4 for an extended period, it honestly doesn’t play like one, which to me, is a huge plus.

There’s a much more tactile feeling to the combat in Fallout than in most other shooters I’ve played. Pretty much all of the guns feel utterly different from one another, which is something I can’t say about most other games that I’ve played in the genre. Not to mention that the VATs system means you can almost play the game as a turn-based strategy if you really want to.

On top of that, the world-building is excellent. While I don’t find myself becoming as attached to the characters as I do in The Elder Scrolls games, I find it exciting to learn more about the world and what exactly society is like after America got destroyed. I love investigating the abandoned buildings and finding the terminals that teach me about how this place used to be before the bombs dropped. Or even better, what’s been going on in the places where society has started to rebuild itself. There just aren’t many games out there that pay that much attention the detail of their worlds.

So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what you think of all these games, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. The next entry in this series will be uploaded next Wednesday, but in the meantime, come back here on Saturday, where I’ll be covering WWE’s Extreme Rules!