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!

My 100 Favourite Games of All Time (90-81)

We’re back again! Counting down another 10 games that I adore.

If you haven’t read the first instalment in this series, please do so here, where I explain how I’m judging these games.

Let’s not waste any more time!

90- Antichamber

Release Date: 31st January 2013
Developer: Demruth
Publisher: Demruth
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 82%

It’s a game about…ummm…mindfucks?

Antichamber is such a hard game to talk about because saying pretty much anything would ruin the experience. It’s one of those games that I think you should go into as blind as possible, because the more you know, the less of an effect it will have with you.

Antichamber is a game that sits you down, shows you the basics of its puzzle mechanics, and then proceeds to fuck with your head for an hour until either break through the game or the game breaks you. It’s a game where genuinely nothing is at it seems, as corridors change the moment you turn your back and the rules of the world are so fluid they may as well be non-existent.

It’s the kind of game that I love more for how impressively it was conceptualised and built, more than how it actually plays. Coming up with puzzles like the ones in Antichamber seems like an impossible task. How do you take the most random of elements and connect them into a puzzle? How do you create a world that changes on a dime, but still remains consistent the entire playthrough? Most importantly, how do you take any of those elements and turn them into an entirely solvable puzzle game? I couldn’t even begin to answer these questions, but Antichamber already has.

Just go and play Antichamber and you’ll see exactly what it means.

89 – Super Smash Bros Ultimate

Release Date: 7th December 2018
Developer: Bandai Namco Studios, Sora Ltd.
Publisher: Nintendo
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Metacritic Average: 93%

It’s a game where your favourite Nintendo characters all beat the ever-loving shit out of each other.

The appeal of Smash Bros is so simple that it was always destined to be a success. It’s the classic playground debates of “Who would win in a fight between…?” Nintendo takes beloved characters from all over the gaming world (not just their own IPs) and throws them into a world where they all coexist…when they’re not using their unique abilities to beat each other’s brains out.

The feel of the gameplay is incredible. ‘Casual Fighting Game’ doesn’t sound like it should be possible, but that’s precisely what Smash Bros is. Anyone can pick up Smash Bros and do ok at it once they’ve got the hang of the controls. At the same time, it has enough depth to it that taking the time to learn advanced strategies and grow your skill at the game is a fun and rewarding experience.

I don’t know how Nintendo was able to create a style of gameplay like that, but that’s what Nintendo seems to be good at; creating games that are simultaneously for children and the most skilled gamers in the world.

88 – Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012)

Release Date: 30th October 2012
Developer: Criterion Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, Wii U, Windows, iOS, Andriod, Kindle Fire
Metacritic Average: 86%

It’s a game about driving around a city stealing cars.

One thing you’re not going to see very much of in this series is racing games. Not because I think they’re bad, some of them are extremely impressive, but because they’re not the kind of games that capture my attention for very long. Maybe it’s because I know next to nothing about cars, but for the most part, I don’t get enjoyment out of driving around the same tracks over and over with a few different cars and even when I’m playing with friends, I only tend to get a kick out of more basic ones like Mario Kart

As you probably realised though, Need For Speed: Most Wanted is an exception to that rule. I admit, its racing mechanics are nothing special, and its open-world has been done by plenty of other racing games before and since. What it can do though, is strike a perfect balance between races that are brief enough to avoid getting boring and an open-world with enough to do that getting between each race is loads of fun.

The system of finding cars out on the streets and jumping between them to unlock new ones is such a fun system that taps right into that collectors/completionist part of my brain. Whenever I’d find a new car out in the world, it was a sweet little thrill, and I was excited to try out some races with it.

As well as all of that, some scenarios like police chases could get crazy. There were plenty of times throughout the game where I’d howl with laughter after watching a police car bounce off my roof, off a bridge and into the ocean. Even though I don’t think its mechanics are anything special, it was still able to provide me with a fantastically fun time as I drove around the city, which is good enough for me.

87 – Nidhogg 2

Release Date: 17th August 2017
Developer: Messhof
Publisher: Messhof
Platforms: Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac
Metacritic Average: 80%

It’s a game about sword fighting someone just like you so you can be eaten by a giant worm.

So-called ‘couch’ games are among my favourite genres. When a game gets it right, it has created some of the best social experiences of my life. I think the key to a good couch game is a simple concept that anyone can pick up quickly, but it also doesn’t get tired after a couple of plays. Nidhogg is pretty much the archetypal example of this formula.

The idea is easy for anyone to pick up straight away – you have to kill your opponent over and over again to run to the opposite side of the map – and the controls are easy to pick up. You wouldn’t think such a simple formula had such significant playability value, and if you were playing against an AI it probably wouldn’t be all that fun. However, when you’re playing against another person, of any skill level, it can be a tense and brilliant game.

The constant back and forth pushing creates matches that last ages and are tense and exciting for the entirety of their run times. The moment when you finally break through is a rush of adrenaline as you make a mad dash for victory, while your opponent now has to frantically work out a way to stop you. It’s a gameplay loop that has so much subtle variation to it that I never get tired of it, which is precisely was a couch game should be.

86 – Stacking

Release Date: 8th February 2011
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Double Fine Productions, THQ
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Windows, Mac
Metacritic Average: 84%

It’s a game about solving puzzles with sentient Russian Dolls.

Allow me to introduce you to the beautiful world of Stacking, which may be the most intricately designed world the puzzle genre has ever seen. The basic concept of the world is that everyone is different sizes of Russian Dolls, and if you sneak up behind someone who is one size above you, you can jump inside them, control them and use their abilities. Disturbing implications of that aside, it may be the most genius puzzle mechanic I’ve ever seen.

It creates fantastic opportunities for puzzle solving, as you can stack up various dolls with various abilities all together to access certain areas or trigger a chain of events. Stacking has every element of the puzzle-solving weaved into the world so carefully that the atmosphere throughout the game is incredible. Not only that, but every puzzle has a plethora of solutions. Stacking weaves the exploration of its world into the core of the game, making the world-building and puzzle-solving blend into one cohesive experience.

It’s a unique concept for both a puzzle game and a game world – both of which are becoming rarer by the day – and it absolutely gets the most out of what it brings to the table.

85 – Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood

Release Date: 25th September 2008
Developer: BioWare
Publisher: SEGA
Platforms: Nintendo DS
Metacritic Average: 74%

It’s a game where you gotta go…and do an RPG.

So here’s where we get to the first instance in this list where we get to a game that, from an objective standpoint, isn’t one of the best; but this is a list of my favourite games, not the best, so it goes in here.

A Sonic the Hedgehog RPG is such an obvious idea, you wonder why it hasn’t been done multiple times before or since. Sonic has a vast cast of characters, which is perfect for the JRPG genre, not to mention that Sonic’s whole level-design philosophies rely on bright, colourful and wildly varied terrains. As it stands, Sonic Chronicles is the only Sonic RPG we’ve ever gotten, and I wish it had taken off because I think it’s brilliant.

The exploration of the varied environments is fun, and you get to use a considerable portion of Sonic’s cast throughout the adventure. The game makes good use of the DS’s touch screen mechanics but doesn’t go overboard with it and risk making it a chore. The battling isn’t the most complex, but there’s enough strategy weaved into it that you’ll have to give every turn some thought before you act. I also think the writing is really good for a Sonic game. It’s nothing spectacular, but it tells a compelling story and even throws in a few meta-jokes in here and there.

Maybe I’m just being blinded by nostalgia, but for all this game’s flaws, I think it hit on a satisfying formula (which ended on a cliffhanger, by the way) that I’d like to see more of one day.

84 – Mark of the Ninja

Release Date: 7th September 2012
Developer: Klei Entertainment
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platforms: Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 91%

It’s a game about sneakily murdering everybody…or nobody depending on how you feel.

A 2D stealth platformer isn’t anything unique on the indie market, but Mark of the Ninja doesn’t worry about being unique to stand out, instead, it just stands out by being the absolute best at what it does.

The sense of focus in Mark of the Ninja is outstanding. It’s a game that understands that its stealth mechanics are all it needs to be fantastic, so refines those mechanics to near-perfection. Your abilities, items, UI and combat ability (or the limitations thereof) all serve the central purpose of being quick, efficient and above all, stealthy. Every step you take will give you vital information to work out how to get through a room. Sound is very clearly visualised, guard’s cones of vision are clear and strict, while your limited combat capabilities push you to the more challenging, non-violent solution.

Few other games can take the essence of being a silent killing machine and turn it into what more closely resembles a strategy game. Still, Mark of the Ninja manages to make every single action satisfying to perform.

83 – Worms Clan Wars

Release Date: 15th August 2013
Developer: Team17
Publisher: Team17
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 73%

It’s a game where Worms take turns blowing each other up.

You can argue all day about which Worms game is the best and, to be honest, they all have their charms, but I think that Clan Wars was the game that refined the 2D Worms formula to the best iteration we’ve had so far.

I adore the turn-based strategy genre in all its forms (as you’ll see later in this series), but it does mean that there’s a lot of games out there vying for my attention. This generally means I only have one or two games that fit into each role for what I want from the genre. For example, I have one or two 4X games that I like or squad-based tactics games. While they all fall under the ‘turn-based strategy’ umbrella, they apply the genre in very different ways.

Worms fits into these roles as my go-to ‘casual’ turn-based strategy game. It’s the one that I go to when I’m feeling like I want to play a bit of strategy, but don’t want to spend an hour or more staring at my screen mulling over hundreds of possibilities. That’s what I think I love about Worms the most, it takes a typically quite complex genre and boils it down to its simplest elements, making a fast-paced and fun game.

Where most other strategy games will have you balancing countless factors as you push towards your goals, Worms only gives you a few things to think about. These things include: Where is your worm? Where is the worm you want to blow up? Which over-the-top weapon are you going to use to bring about their destruction? THAT’S IT, and it’s brilliant.

82 – Just Cause 3

Release Date: 1st December 2015
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows
Metacritic Average: 74%

It’s a game about explosions.

Just Cause is a series that I’ve become less and less enthused with over the years, but I still think there’s a base level of enjoyment there every time I play. I didn’t like Just Cause 4 very much because it shifted focus to something I didn’t really care for, but Just Cause 3 knew what the franchise was best at and rolled with it.

Making every base a checklist of things to blow up was great, and some of the most fun moments I can remember playing games have been while trying to find the most creative ways to blow a base to pieces. That’s the thing about Just Cause, and why it can be quite divisive. It’s because if you play it as your standard AAA open-world game, just doing what you’re told, then it’s not the most fun experience. The fun comes in when you let your mind wander and realise that the game is a sandbox for the most mental stuff to happen.

The whole world is specifically designed to be more of a toybox for you to mess around with. It gives you plenty of tools that are specifically designed to interact with the environment in weird and exciting ways and depending on how you tackle every challenge, it can be an extremely dynamic experience.

Not only that, but it provided players with the wingsuit, which is one of my favourite methods of traversal in gaming history. The entire landscape is designed to work perfectly with the wingsuit, as you use the grappling hook to drag yourself along it can be so satisfying to glide over the terrain in the perfect way to make an excellent feeling method of moving around the world, no vehicle required.

81 – Sonic Generations

Release Date: 1st November 2011
Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: SEGA
Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, Windows
Metacritic Average: 77%

It’s a game where you gotta go fast…multidimensionally.

I’ll be the first to stand up and say that 3D Sonic games have their flaws and I will always prefer their 2D counterparts. However, that doesn’t mean there’s never been a good 3D Sonic game. I can’t deny that Sonic Adventure 2 is the most popular of the 3D Sonic games, but my personal favourite is undoubtedly Sonic Generations.

Firstly, the readdition of the classic 2D Sonic levels was a brilliant touch. It didn’t quite have the same feel as the original games, but I think Generations’ reimagining of the 2D platforming mechanics made for a fun experience. The nostalgia factor was prominent, not just with the mechanics, as I’ve already discussed, but with the levels too. They picked one level from every major Sonic game, and it was a wonderful trip down memory lane, seeing how beautiful some classic locations could look with the modern art style.

Meanwhile, the 3D platforming mechanics were, for my money, as good as they’ve ever been throughout the franchise. By this point in time, SEGA had made many, many mistakes with their 3D platforming mechanics and this game finally polished everything to the point where I believe it will hold up far into the future. The sense of speed and momentum was fast and snappy, the levels were designed in such a way that didn’t go too far to hamper your speed. Instead, it provided you with a series of quick challenges, where the punishment for failure was usually only being forced to take a slower path.

Generations did a wonderful job on iterating on the progress the series had made with Colors & Unleashed, combining it with Sonic’s gameplay routes to create the most complete feeling modern Sonic game to date.

So there you have it, 10 more awesome games in the bag! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post, if you haven’t read the first one already, then please do so here. Please, let me know what you think of these games, either in the comment below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure you come back here this time on Saturday, where I’ll be covering Money in the Bank cash-ins and their subsequent title reigns!

My 100 Favourite Games of All Time (100-91)

This list was a long time in the making, and finally, it’s here.

Throughout the summer, I’m going to be running down my top 100 games of all time. This isn’t designed to be a definitive ‘greatest’ or ‘most important’ games list, this is going to be personal to me. The only thing that determines what position each game gets on a list is how much I enjoyed playing it. It’s that straightforward.

Some quick background on my gaming history, I’ve only ever owned the following platforms: PC, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, Xbox 360 & Nintendo Switch. So, if a game didn’t come out on any of those platforms, I didn’t play it. I recently picked up a PS4, but I haven’t had a chance to play much yet, so don’t expect to see those games on this list.

My usual restrictions on ‘no early access’ doesn’t stand for this one, they’re totally free to go in regardless. The only restriction I’m putting on it is games that I played for the first time in 2020 will not be on this list. My opinion on how much I enjoyed a game tends to shift as I get some distance from it, so I will be covering those in my usual end-of-year lists, instead of including them here.

Finally, before we start. Although this first list is coming out in the usual Saturday time slot, I’m going to be releasing the rest on Wednesday every week, so I can still cover all the other stuff I like to cover on this blog. This also has the happy (and entirely planned) coincidence of meaning the final instalment will release on my birthday.

That’s all the explanation, now onto the games!

100 – GeoGuessr

Release Date: 9th May 2013
Developers: Anton Wallén, Daniel Antell, Erland Ranvinge
Platforms: Web Browser

It’s a game where you work out where you are.

A lot of casual games, such as Candy Crush and Angry Birds, sell themselves on being ‘accessible by anyone’, but I’m not entirely sure that statement is quite true. I think some people wouldn’t quite understand why they’re doing the things they’re doing in games like that, and the attitudes presented in those games can be quite a lousy representation for someone new to the medium.

GeoGuessr is what I would describe as the best possible introduction to video games. The concept is so simple, you’re in a place on the Earth, you have to wander around it and work out where you are. Not only is that easy for anyone to understand, but it brings to the table the core of what video games are supposed to be about, problem-solving. It’s an interesting little toy to use on your own, but where it really shines is when you get a bunch of people involved to start discussing and debating it with you.

GeoGuessr is a game where absolutely everyone can get enjoyment out of it. I’ve played it with my younger siblings, my older relatives and friends similar ages to me and all of them had a fun time playing it. It’s a concept that’s so immediately graspable by just about anyone, and it allows you to put to use the general knowledge that we all gain about the world during our lifetimes.

99 – Toybox Turbos

Release Date: 12th November 2014
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Windows
Metacritic Average: 78%

It’s a game about toy cars trying to murder other toy cars.

Toybox Turbos took did something quite rare to see in the modern gaming climate, even on the indie scene, which is that they took a form of gameplay that hadn’t been used for almost a decade, breathed new life into it, and managed to create a game better than the original.

Trying to top Micro Machines was going to be quite the task, but the developers of Toybox Turbos managed to replicate the gameplay feel almost perfectly. Then they piled tonnes of charm in the visual design onto it, and you’ve got yourself a winner. It creates the beautiful style of couch co-op that I absolutely love where the learning curve isn’t very steep at all. There’s also a pretty low skill ceiling, which means anyone new picking up shouldn’t have much trouble defeating more experienced players.

Toybox Turbos is one of those rare gems that take an old formula and polishes it up to work in a modern setting. It keeps the sense of fun the original formula had while throwing in a new visual style that ramps the charm through the roof.

98 – Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Release Date: 21st August 2012
Developer: Hidden Path Entertainment, Valve Corporation
Publisher: Valve Corporation
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, WindowsMac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 83%

It’s a game where you shoot some dudes.

I’m not the biggest fan of dude-shooting games. They tend to get a bit repetitive for me, and they’ll often drive me away. However, I can’t deny that I occasionally get that itch to play a game where I’ve just got to do some simple dude-shooting and not worry about much else. When that time comes, CS:GO is the game I get to scratch that itch.

The shooting is nice and tight, the guns are surprisingly precise, and there’s a good variety on offer. There’s more skill to it than many other shooters I’ve played, but when I’m playing it casually, I don’t feel constantly pressured to be hyper-aware or always being competitive. Honestly, I have just as much fun wandering around aimlessly shooting at bots as I do playing real matches.

I wouldn’t regard CS:GO as anything special, but I can’t deny that I do have fun whenever I decide to boot it up once a month or so.

97 – Tetris

Release Date: 6th June 1984
Designer: Alexey Pajitnov
Platforms: If it exists, you can play Tetris on it

It’s Tetris.

I don’t care what anyone says, Tetris is brilliant. It’s wonderfully compelling and a little bit addictive. There’s nothing revolutionary or particularly unique about Tetris, and if I’m honest, I can’t really describe why I like it so much, I just do.

I don’t really think there’s much more I can say about it, Tetris is brilliant because it’s Tetris, and that’s all there is to it.

96 – Liero

Release Date: 1st January 1998
Developer: Erik Lindroos
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

It’s Worms but in real-time.

A pretty straightforward, but surprisingly engaging windows game here, as Liero was a game that fully embraced the chaos of what the Worms games could be.

For one thing, there was a wide variety of weapons that could make any game quite tense. The AI wasn’t the smartest, but it was still good for a game, although playing against another person was always much more fun. The mechanic of having to manually dig through the terrain to get to each other is genius, as it means that you’re almost entirely in control of the map. Given that almost every weapon affects the terrain, you’re continually having to think of the consequences of every move, giving the game a surprising amount of strategy.

What really makes this game stand out, though, is the levels of customisation you can give to each time. You can change the amount of blood produced (all the way up to 500%, which is insane) and you can customise your health to insanely high degrees. Easily the best setting is the one that lets you change the reload speed, as you can change it all the way down to zero, meaning there are no reloading times. At this point, every weapon in the game become a ludicrously powerful tool of mass destruction that could obliterate the whole map in seconds.

It’s stupid, ridiculous and insane amounts of fun.

95 – Democracy 3

Release Date: 14th October 2013
Developer: Positech Games, Red Marble Games
Publisher: Positech Games, Tri Synergy
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 70%

It’s a game about being the government.

Democracy teaches you a lesson, a lesson in why the people in power do the things that they do. When you see a politician do something that seems to be totally against what they preach, Democracy shows you why the people in power do things like that by forcing you to become that person. You can absolutely play Democracy by just changing everything to be exactly how you personally want the world to work, but it won’t go well. You’ll end up driving the GDP through the floor, spiking crime to an all-time high or just upsetting enough people so that you lose you next election in a landslide, or worse get assassinated.

When playing Democracy, I found myself making decisions that go against some of my fundamental beliefs solely to keep the country afloat. Be it because putting a substantial tax on something because it makes up the extra money we need in our budget or because banning something I think is fine will make the majority of people very happy. CGP Grey’s ‘Rules for Rulers‘ video touches on a lot of these points, but Democracy is a game that shows it to you in action.

Not only is Democracy quite a fun game if you have the patience to bury yourself in it, but it will also help teach you things about how the government works, and what exactly is going on in the minds of those in power.

94 – Mini Metro

Release Date: 6th November 2015
Developer: Dinosaur Polo Club
Publisher: Dinosaur Polo Club
Platforms: Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, Web Browser, Windows, Mac, Linux, Andriod, iOS
Metacritic Average: 89%

It’s a game about designing underground train networks.

Mini Metro is a constant balancing act, one that will inevitably spiral out of control, and it’s your job to prevent that spiral for as long as possible. Everything about Mini Metro draws me into it. I’m not one of those Brits who’s in love with the London Underground, but the aesthetic design of the game is an endearing one. It had all the charm in the world, and it’s also an excellent way to display all of the information the game needs to display.

It creates a slightly strange style of puzzle, where you’re not presented with the whole puzzle right at the start, but rather the puzzle slowly forms throughout the game. This kind of puzzle design forces the player to form solutions that aren’t necessarily efficient in the long-run but work for the moment they are presented to you. In that sense, it’s almost like a game that teaches you how to be good at ‘bodge-fixing’ things. Sure, that line you’ve just made will be overcrowded in a couple weeks, but it’s working right now and ‘right now’ is all you’re concerned about.

It means that every puzzle is different every time you play it, and gives the game replayability value that puzzle games don’t often have. Games very rarely use the player’s own inefficiency against them, but Mini Metro creates a scenario that tricks you into making long-term mistakes, without it feeling like the game is deliberately screwing you over.

93 – Organ Trail: Director’s Cut

Release Date: 9th August 2012
Developer: The Men Who Wear Many Hats
Publisher: The Men Who Wear Many Hats
Platforms: Playstation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, Web Browser, Windows, Mac, Linux, Andriod, iOS, Ouya
Metacritic Average: 86%

It’s a game where everyone dies of dysentery while you shoot zombies.

Plenty of classic games have been remade and had various adaptations made over the years. Games like Tetris, Pacman and Pong have had too many clones or ‘new takes’ on them to count, but Oregon Trail has never really had that. I don’t know if because it was an educational game, or it just wasn’t popular enough to warrant it, but I don’t think I’d ever seen an attempt at adapting Oregon Trail until this came along.

At face value, Organ Trail takes the gameplay or Oregan Trail, makes a few modernisations and sets it in a zombie apocalypse, except it goes deeper than that. Not only does Organ Trail update the nuances of the gameplay, but it also looks to expand upon it and gives much more replayability value with a massive variety of events and missions you can partake in. Not to mention keeping your crew alive.

All the while, it keeps that feeling of going on a journey and caring about the characters that you created by giving stupid names because you thought it would be funny. It taps into what was compelling about the original Oregon Trail and expands upon it, which is perfect for a homage game like this one.

92 – Westerado: Double Barrelled

Release Date: 16th April 2015
Developer: Ostrich Banditos
Publisher: Adult Swim, Cartoon Interactive Group Inc
Platforms: Xbox One, Windows, Mac
Metacritic Average: 80%

It’s an old western murder mystery.

That sentence alone should be enough explanation as to why it’s on this list, but here are the details.

Westerado gives you a very simple premise that slowly expands over the course of the game. You get taught how to shoot, and then your family gets murdered and you have to find out whodunit. The murderer could be pretty much any random guy wandering about the world, but how you figure it out is the key.

You go around the world doing favours for people in exchange for information. You get told little details about the man bit by bit. These could be what shape his hat is, or what colour his bandana is. Then once you’ve got your full description, you find his location and hunt him down. The game presents itself, both in its narrative and gameplay, like it’s an old western, to create something genuinely unique.

91 – Bejeweled 3

Release Date: 7th December 2010
Developer: PopCap Games
Publisher: PopCap Games
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Windows, Mac, Nintendo DS, iOS, Android
Metacritic Average: 82%

It’s a game where you make the colours line up.

Once again, I don’t really think this one needs much explaining, it’s the game that you play when you don’t want to play anything. Sure, it has various modes of gameplay that change up the formula in exciting ways, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s the game where you swap the colours to make the colours match, and that is in some way useful.

Also, while it didn’t invent the formula, it certainly popularized it to the point where King could take that exact same formula and make one of the most popular mobile games of all time, so it’s got to be doing something right.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Please, let me know what you think of these games, either in the comments below, or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure you come back here on Wednesday for the next entry in this series!