Top 50 Games of the Decade: #50-41.
Posted: Posted January 29thEdited January 29th by Jet Presto
Been working on a list of Top 50 Games of the Decade. Just a little something to do. Will post the rest of the list as I make it, but figured I'd post it here. This is #50 through #41. There's no real scientific process. Kind of a mixture of games that I found interesting, thought were well designed, and also just genuinely enjoyed playing. It's not necessarily a "best of" list (hence calling it "top," which I guess felt like a way around claiming any game is better than the rest). Feel free to work on your own list here!
Or, for text:
Well, the decade has ended and everyone is releasing their Best Of lists for it. So of course I would try my hand at the same. There’s almost too much though, and I generally hate ranking things, but for the sake keeping track, here are the 50 Best Video games of the 2010s, or whatever that hellish decade was called. It’s hard to explain how exactly this list was constructed. It’s largely based on three components: was the game influential? Was it generally a well-designed game? And is it among my favorites to play? Determining the difference between “best” and “favorite” is often tricky, and this is clearly not scientific. On top of that, it’s open for rearrangement. After much thought and whittling down, here is my top fifty games of the decade, starting with numbers 50 through 41.
50. JUST DANCE 2 (2010) – Ubisoft
Available On: Wii
There’s no shortage of fun, physically-driven video games to have emerged from the era of motion controls, body-tracking, and VR. No franchise does it better than Just Dance, and among them, Just Dance 2 has some of the best songs, dances, and duets to perform. Lately, each version comes out with a different track list and some very, very subtle gameplay changes. They’ve also moved to be more of a subscription based system, wherein players can access nearly every track that’s ever been in a game through the service. Taken on their own, the main differences between each installment comes down to the song selection and how fun said routines are. Just Dance 2 is still very much the gold standard.
49. VALIANT HEARTS: THE GREAT WAR (2014) – Ubisoft
Available On: Android, iOS, Windows, PS3, PS4, XBox 360, XBox One, Switch
If the 2010s were a decade of advanced motion controls, body tracking, and VR, it was also a golden age for the indie puzzle side-scroller. Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a touching, gorgeous indie game tackling the First World War, making it one of the few video games to really delve into that arena. Ultimately not a very challenging game, it still puts a very human face on war while making it something of an educational experience for younger players. And that score! (Most games on this list will have an amazing soundtrack, by the way.)
48. THE WALKING DEAD: SEASON TWO (2014) – Telltale Games
Available On: Windows, OSX, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, XBox 360, XBox One, iOS, Android, Switch, Ouya (because this was the decade of the Ouya)
Listen, it’s really hard to want to promote anything Telltale Games did given their long history of awful practices to their employees, least of which involved shutting down the studio, not compensating employees for their extra work after doing so, only to re-open several months later without hiring anyone back. And, to be sure, they’ve shot themselves in the foot by tackling too many licenses at once making their own games oversaturate the narrative-driven, choice-based market. These games have turned into a dime a dozen experiences. The Walking Dead, however, has remained the cream of the crop from their line-up. Season One really broke the formula into the mainstream, but Season Two really did a lot to cover up the shaky “choice” mechanics, doing a substantially better job at maintaining the illusion than its previous season. And, while it doesn’t have the same emotional punch, it’s still an incredibly compelling and emotionally gripping narrative. Season Two was such an improvement that it should be on the list, despite Telltale’s involvement.
47. MIRROR’S EDGE: CATALYST (2016) – DICE
Available On: Windows, PS4, XBox One
Mirror’s Edge was an intriguing idea for a video game when it came out in 2009. A first-person parkour game that required precision and momentum made for a rather fun experience, but became clunky when combat was needed. Its long-awaited successor, Catalyst, fixed this by dropping gunplay altogether and tightening the melee combat. It also discouraged fighting. Not everything in the sequel works. For example, there isn’t really a reason for it to be open world. And the story is a bit underwhelming. This is a franchise that often feels like there’s more promise than has been executed in development, and that is kind of true here, too, but for my money, the game is just fun. The controls are tight, the combat here is solid, and it’s a rush to race around the city jumping from building to building. It didn’t find a ton of success among audiences, but it’s been one of my favorites to actually pick up and play.
46. THIS WAR OF MINE (2014) – 11 Bit Studios
Available On: Windows, OSX, Linux, Android, iOS, PS4, XBox One, Switch
The past decade really saw a boom in indie games, and thank god. Few of the Triple A developers and publishers were willing to take many chances or play around with new concepts. Even fewer felt like trying to tackle anything meaningful. “Deep,” mostly just meant gritty and dark. This War of Mine is essentially a resource management game in which players try to survive in a war torn city as long as they can. Not only are resources scarce; moral questions will have to be answered on the fly. If someone in your house needs medicine, are you willing to take it from another home with residents that might also need their medications? Someone knocks on the door asking for help, do you trust them enough to open the door? Even more, do you give them any of your stuff that you risked your life for? Players must also mingle with their housemates and check on their emotional states and manage that. Seldom do war games focus on the consequences of war among the civilians. Fewer even mention civilians to begin with. This War of Mine puts players in that role to really shine a light on just how awful one of the trendiest topics of video games actually is.
45. HER STORY (2015) – Sam Barlow
Available On: Windows, OSX, iOS, Android
Yes, there will be a number of indie games on this list. Her Story is ultimately a puzzle game made up of “cutscenes.” The gist of the game is that players have access to an old 1990’s computer with a ton of police interview clips of a woman telling her story in segments that don’t often last longer than twenty to thirty seconds. Using a rudimentary database search function, you try to find new videos using keywords picked up from the ones you’ve seen in order to piece together the story. It’s one of the few video games where a notepad and pen will be of great service. It’s a fascinating concept that doesn’t even explain what role the player is supposed to be in: is it a detective investigating? Is it a lawyer reviewing the case? Is it someone with a personal connection? It’s an incredibly challenging puzzle that encourages players to get to online forums and share what they’ve found with each other as they try to unlock all of the video clips available. A simple premise; it’s hard to imagine anyone finding them all.
44. FAR CRY 4 (2014) – Ubisoft
Available On: Windows, PS3, PS4, XBox 360, XBox One
Open world games are a dime a dozen, and it’s not like Far Cry does it amazingly well. The sandbox is generally full of repetitive and uninteresting missions. The gap in quality between Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4 is not truly that great, but what Far Cry 4 does better is its narrative. Dropping players into a new country complete with its own political strife and civil war, that context innately makes the environment more engaging. The villain is memorable, and the choices to be made are more complex, coming with more of a cost/benefit analysis in the moment. It’s nothing amazing, but it is still fun and, for the most part, gripping.
43. FURI (2016) – The Game Bakers
Available On: Windows, PS4, XBox One, Switch
One part hack and slash beat ’em up, one part bullet hell; Furi is a lot of flash and style with a great difficulty curve. It’s a boss rush game, meaning that the only thing players do in the game is fight bosses. There are no levels of gameplay between them, although you do walk for a bit as you move onto the next one. That is also when the game unleashes its narrative, which is totally fine but isn’t the draw. It’s the look and feel of the game that attracts. The challenge of it is the point, but there is an easy mode to make it accessible for wider audiences, something that was much appreciated. (I probably would have never beaten the game if I didn’t have the chance to play it on an easier mode first in order to really get a handle on the combat.)
42. RED DEAD REDEMPTION (2010) – Rockstar
Available On: PS3, XBox 360
Leave it to Rockstar to make a spiritual successor to a game that was pretty average and forgettable, turning the franchise into one of the strongest open world games of the decade. Of course, the open world game is what the studio is known for. Red Dead Redemption essentially can be described as GTA but in the wild west. That change of scenery is shockingly refreshing, though. In typical fashion, players also have the option to play how they want: they can play heroically or as an outlaw or somewhere in between. Combat is a little under-cooked, and giving players the choice to play like an outlaw kind of undermines the narrative, but the game is a fun character-driven tale with pretty solid writing for a video game.
41. RESIDENT EVIL 7: Biohazard (2017) – Capcom
Available On: PC, PS4, XBox One, Switch
The late 2010s saw something of a revival for the survival/horror genre. After getting away from its roots with more action/horror games, Resident Evil returned with one of the freakiest, most disquieting experiences in no small part because of its support of VR. That’s right, while it’s not required, players can indeed experience the entirety of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard in virtual reality! That makes this just one of two games on this list in which VR actually can enhance the experience. I have to admit that I got maybe a full hour into the game playing that way before having to stop. Not because the VR headset was giving me a headache, but because I was genuinely too terrified! Even without VR, it was still one of the scariest games of the decade, feeling a lot more like the franchise used to.
And with that, we’ve gotten the first ten games out of the way! Only forty more to rank. I’m sure this will be as much a blast for you as it is for me.
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