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!

Games I’m Looking Forward to In Q4 of 2019

As we move into the 4th quarter of the year, the season comes around where we get all of the big releases in the space of about a week, which is either very exciting or very inconvenient depending on your perspective. Unfortunately, this year’s line up seems a little more underwhelming, with many of the big AAA releases like Watchdogs Legion and Cyberpunk 2077 opting to go with a spring 2020 release date instead.

That said, there a still a bunch of potentially great games still to come as we look to end of 2019 and I thought it’d be a nice idea to highlight the host of games that are set to release before the year is out, to help remind people to not look ahead to next spring too soon.

8th October – Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince

Developer: Frozenbyte
Publisher: Modus Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows, Linux

I haven’t had much of a chance to talk about the Trine series in this blog yet, but it’s one of the few series I think could be fairly described as ‘underrated’ in the eyes of the general gaming populous.

If I had to describe the Trine games in a single word, that word would be “vibrant”. The fairytale-style seeps into every pour of the game, making it ooze this charm that I just can’t look away from. The colour pallet is absolutely beautiful, with vibrant blues, greens and purples creating this incredibly serene atmosphere, although it’s not afraid to effectively use reds, oranges and even browns effectively when it wants to change that atmosphere.

The puzzle-platforming mechanics are a little basic, but that’s overshadowed by the surprisingly fun nature of the combat. It’s not a million miles a minute like much 2D sidescrolling combat, but instead, everything in the world interacts with each other in unexpected ways to create some hilarious outcomes when you spawn a box in a space where it looks like you shouldn’t be able to.

Trine 3 took the series into the realm of 3D and while it wasn’t as fun as the first two games in the franchise, it still captured that sense of charm that drew me into the series in the first place. Form what we’ve seen so far Trine 4 seems to have mostly gone back to the 2D style of game and it’s looked to have expanded its puzzle-platforming mechanics to open up a load of new opportunities for fun to be had, so if you’re a fan of the genre, or even just uniquely pretty games, this will be one for you.

11th October – Tracks: The Train Set Game

Developer: Whoop Group
Publisher: Excalibur Publishing
Platforms: Windows

So here’s a game specifically made for me and people like me.

The concept of the game is very simple: You remember the wooden Brio train sets that you’d have loads of as a kid if you liked trains? And you remember how you always wanted to build massive crazy tracks but never could? Well, this game lets you do exactly that to your heart’s content.

I played this in Early Access early last year and it’s amazing. This game will let you build any track you could possibly imagine with all the different types of pieces that used to be available (and a couple that weren’t). You can build these track on a blank canvas, or you can use a living room or bedroom to weave your tracks through.

I haven’t played it in a while as I want to be surprised by the new stuff that’s been added at launch, but when I last played there was a whole host of scenery that you could add all around the tracks, so you could build a little town for your train to go around. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! The pièce de résistance is the fact that you can actually get in the train and drive your train around the tracks you’ve made…I KNOW RIGHT?!

I’m well aware many of you are reading this thinking I’m weird, but the three people who had the same childhood I did are over the moon right now.

22nd October – WWE 2K20

Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: 2K Games
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows

For many years I was the kind of person that never understood why people bought a new sports game every year when they all seemed exactly the same from the perspective of an outside observer. However, having been a WWE fan for a good number of years now and buying the new game every single year, I totally understand the appeal.

Of course, I didn’t see the point in buying a new FIFA every year, I don’t like football. I do however like wrestling and as someone who plays the WWE games for at least 150 hours every year (usually more), the value is absolutely there for me to put down $60 every time a new one comes out.

That said, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little concerned about this year’s game.

For those who are unaware, for the 6 WWE games released under the 2K umbrella so far, Yukes has been a part of the development team and this year they weren’t, leaving Visual Concepts to develop the game on their own and that fact combined with how marketing has been behaving in the build-up to launch has me concerned. By this time last year, we had a full roster reveal and multiple press events where tonnes of gameplay was shown, but right now we’ve got absolutely none of that.

Don’t get me wrong as long as the game isn’t totally broken I’ll still buy it because I’m a sucker for the series and I don’t care who knows it, but I’m definitely going to wait for reviews to be sure until I put my money down on it.

25th October – The Outer Worlds

Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Private Division
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows

So far the games I’ve talked about are ones that I’m confident that I’m going to enjoy, either because they’re part of a franchise I love, or I’ve already played some of it prior to launch. The Outer Worlds, however, is slightly different because I really want to play it, but I’m not yet sure if I’ll enjoy it.

While I’m sure I’ll get lectures from people about this statement, but the game looks to be fairly similar to Fallout in terms of its main mechanics. This is to be expected as Obsidian’s biggest release before now was Fallout: New Vegas, so stick with what you know, so it’s a game I really want to try, but it’s not guaranteed to be a hit with me. I feel this way because of my relationship with Fallout 4 (the only one in the franchise I’ve played (I KNOW, shut up)) because when I played it at launch I didn’t enjoy it at all and over a number of years I would try over and over again to get into this and it wasn’t until early this summer that I finally cracked it and started enjoying it.

My hopes with this one is that it’s like Fallout, but not TOO much like Fallout, the gameplay that’s been shown up until now looks solid, but I always find it hard to gauge whether the feel of a game fits me by watching someone else playing it, so I’ll be very interested to see what I think of this one when it releases.

5th November – Planet Zoo

Developer: Frontier Developments
Publisher: Frontier Developments
Platforms: Windows

A few years ago Frontier Developments did something magical, they went to the farthest corners the Earth, searched through miles and miles of terrain until they found the withered and dying body of the theme park building genre and somehow breathed more life into it than it had ever had before. Planet Coaster is quite simply the best theme park building game ever made (no, that isn’t up for debate) and Planet Zoo looks to do exactly the same thing to the Zoo Tycoon genre that Planet Coaster was to theme park builders.

Of course, the focus is in a slightly different place with Planet Zoo as it’s all well and good making a zoo look pretty (which I absolutely will), but none of it matters if all of your animals are underfed. This game promises to put the focus in the caring and welfare of the animals you hold in your zoo, with some in depth-looking systems that mean you’ll have to adhere to all of the top-level standards that real zoos have to. Not that it’s going to stop me from throwing two of every animal into one pen and seeing who survives but that’s on me, not the game.

If the recent beta release that people have been able to get their hands on is any indication, Planet Zoo will live up to the hype that stands before it and I believe it will be a game that is just as beloved as Planet Coaster.

8th November – Death Stranding

Developer: Kojima Productions
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: Playstation 4

I just want to know what it actually is.

I think I got the rough gist of what the “basic” premise is from the explanation we received at Gamescom earlier this year, but I’m still not entirely clear. It’s also really not obvious what the gameplay is like since so far we’ve seen our protagonist have several conversations, fall off a cliff and…mark his territory.

As such, I honestly can’t speculate on whether or not I think I’ll enjoy this. If I had to take a wild guess, I’d say I’ll think it’s fairly mediocre, but what do I know? This could be the greatest game ever made, it could be utter trash, I don’t think anyone anywhere in the world has any idea, including Hideo Kojima.

I’m anticipating this release more to see what the reaction is from the general gaming populous when it finally comes out, not so much to play it myself. It’s definitely a game I’m keeping an eye on, but I’m going to be waiting for the reviews to come out before I consider buying it for myself.

15th November: Pokemon Sword/Shield

Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo & The Pokemon Company
Platforms: Nintendo Switch

If I need to explain this one to you then you’re obviously not paying enough attention.

In short: I like Pokemon…a lot.

I tend to judge Pokemon games on their own scale where I compare them to each other because for me they exist above other franchises. A Pokemon game can be full of obvious flaws an annoyances, but I’ll still enjoy it because it’s Pokemon and honestly, I like it that way, I like being happy.

Unfortunately, it’s very hard to tell where each game will fit on that scale before playing it. Case in point: Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, I honestly didn’t think I’d enjoy those games all that much, it didn’t look to me like they added much to the Alola region and they’d be quickly forgotten, but boy was I wrong about that and they are easily among my favourites in the franchise.

So far out of everything I’ve seen, I like most of it. I know the fact that the national dex won’t be in the game is a sticking point for many people, but I personally don’t mind too much as long as the game we get is good fun. The whole camping set up looks like it’ll have a lot more depth than Amie and Refresh did before it and I’m gonna dedicate my life to finding all the curry recipes if it kills me.

Out of the new Pokemon that have been revealed so far, I like the look of all but one and I’m overjoyed that we’re not only getting more regional variant but brand new evolutions for old Pokemon too; any game that gives Farfetch’d an evolution is good by me.

And that’s it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, please let me know what games you’re looking forward to the most either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo! Finally, make sure to come back on Saturday as my coverage for WWE’s Hell in a Cell begins!