Those who know me, know I love 3 things – beer, video games, and comic books. And Warhammer, okay 4. And Rush, okay 5. The point is I’m a huge nerd, and I love a lot of things. However, video games were the one thing I always gladly went back to in my highs and lows. They have been a part of me ever since I picked up my first controller. So with that said, I wanted to honor my little special day, dedicating it to the games that meant a lot to me. Games that defined me as a person, and really sparked emotions beyond that of a simple pick and play.
The decade has ended, so this is a perfect time to look back at some games that were my personal gems. Only one game per year is allowed on this list, and they will clash against each other. I know that this list is not the same as many out there, but it’s my personal list. Games that got me to sink 100 of hours in them, and even replay them on multiple occasions. So sorry to all those who were expecting something like The Last of Us on this list. While I did enjoy the game, it still wasn’t the top of that year for me. With that said, happy birthday to me, The Goose, and let’s get cracking, shall we? And who knows maybe, somebody might pick up, and play some of these marvelous titles.
10. Deadly Premonition (2010)
When I was but a wee lad, I got interested in all kinds of crazy stuff. The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, that kind of material. However, when I saw Deadly Premonition after its first release, I must say that I wasn’t impressed. It took some time to get me to try it out, and when I did, oh boy, was it good. From the moment little me stepped into the shoes of Francis York Morgan, I immediately felt like I was watching an episode of the Twilight Zone. A lot of it is wanky, unpolished, and even bland at first sight.
But when you get into the meat of it, you start to enjoy all these nonsensical plot details. In the end, you really start to feel like it was all intentional, and I believed it too. The idea of you managing your clothes, beard, hunger, energy was at the time mindboggling. And even past the odd voice acting and characters, I got to like them throughout the whole experience. A thriller-horror game that in all its silliness, can be considered a gem. And it’s getting a sequel, so more uncanny valley horror is welcome in my book. Just remember, always consult with your coffee.
9. Don’t Starve (2013)
Ahh, I can already feel the rage, but don’t worry, it’s gonna get worse. 2013 was the year that some truly astonishing games were released. And yet, my personal favorite was Don’t Starve, over The Last of Us. This is mostly because I didn’t own the game at the time. That’s where this title comes in. Blend in a Tim Burton art style with survival gameplay and you have countless hours spent on just trying to build your camp. It’s brutal, unforgiving, and I absolutely love it.
Even after a few years, I still manage to pop back in this game, like I just bought it. And now, with friends, I can share my creations and my suffering. While on the surface it may look like a simple, cute survival title, you can be sure it will hook you from the moment you step into its world. Updated regularly with new characters, skins, and events, this one is a real treat for all.
8. Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide (2015)
Okay, this one is hard. I love Warhammer, I cannot express how much. It takes only one slight mention, and I go berserk trying to explain either the fantasy or the 40k universe. Naturally, there have been some great games, and one of them was Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide. Now, yes, I know what you’re thinking. How the hell could this game beat The Witcher 3? And to that, I say, at the time I haven’t owned the game, nor was my computer good enough to run it. But for this, it was.
Taking the frantic gameplay of a particular Valve survival, Vermintide puts you in the universe of Warhammer Fantasy. Surrounded by hordes of ratlike creatures, aka Skaven, you and your buddies have a simple objective. Get to the end of the map, and don’t die. Add a customization system, different classes, each with their distinct weapons, and I’m yours. All of that coated with that sweet Warhammer dark fantasy touch, and well yeah, it’s perfect.
7. L.A. Noire (2011)
When it comes to detective drama, I’m a sucker for a good one. It’s kind of harsh when people considered L.A. Noire to be a bad game. It is by no means perfect, but I’d like somebody to present me with a better example, yet a similar premise. Being a detective in Post-War America was something that was never done before. Rockstar Games, who was already known for their breathtaking titles, pulled a rabbit out of the hat once more. Gorgeous visuals, a perfect depiction of 1940’s LA, and a great cast of characters were just the tip of the iceberg.
Each character also was developed using motion capture, and while at times the interrogation system can be funny, it’s nothing short of brilliant. Solving cases, and approaching each one, in its own unique way, is something no game has done before, or even today. If you want a perfect detective simulator, this is the game for you. Or our next entry.
6. Disco Elysium (2019)
Okay, to be honest, I haven’t heard about this game until after its release. It was late December when I discovered this slice of brilliance, and after that, there has been no other like it. The only detective game, I can say is better than L.A. Noire is this. Since the game is relatively new, I won’t go into plot details, to avoid any spoilers. What you should know is that the game involves a detective, who after a series of binge drinking, forgets his identity due to alcohol. My kind of guy. He then wakes up in a washed-up motel room and begins solving a murder case.
Classic stuff, right? Wrong! The main appeal of Disco Elysium is how each situation can be approached differently. And how the game’s enjoyable and fresh RPG leveling mechanic allows the player to achieve that. There have been multiple choices for my personal Game of The Year Award, but when I played this, all others fell straight into the water. There is nothing like this out there, and you should go play it right now.
5. Metro Redux (2014)
By this point, all those who love the post-apocalyptic theme, in games, are familiar with the Metro series. Beginning as a novel, the first one came out in 2011, while the second came in 2013. And then, in 2014, both games were released, repolished as Metro Redux. Never, have I ever been so interested in an FPS title as much as this one. And no game before intrigued me so much that I simultaneously read the novels while playing them. While the books differ a lot from their virtual counterpart, they still revolve around the same plot.
Even before the series, I was a vivid fan of the Chernobyl mythos and the S.T.A.LK.E.R. series. This title only reaffirmed my love for the post-apocalypse and hyped me for more to come. I still have Metro Exodus to complete, but even without that game, I can safely recommend this franchise to anyone. Dmitry Glukhovsky created one of the most depressed, hopeless, and darkest real-life scenarios, and I absolutely love it.
4. DOOM (2016)
Blood. Gore. Mayhem. Metal. Doom Slayer. Rip and Tear. Yes, yes, it is Doom. It couldn’t be anything else. There was a period of my life when after a long day of stress, I would relax, playing a small fan game called Brutal Doom. Faster, bloodier than the original, I always wondered how cool this would be in 3D. And in 2016, the gods of carnage and murder heard my prayers and bestowed Doom onto me. While many were drooling over Overwatch in 2016, I was headbanging and speedrunning Doom, half a year.
It was never enough. From one difficulty to the next, and a new challenge each time, this was my solution for anger management. Revamped shooting, a kickass soundtrack by Mick Gordon, bless you beautiful man, and more blood than a meat plant, this continuation of the series had it all. Adding multiplayer and the possibility of creating custom maps, and you have a complete package.
3. Dark Souls Prepare to Die Edition (2012)
Dark Souls games need no introductions. However, my first taste of this From Software masterpiece came on the PC, with the Prepare to Die Edition. It was a late night and my best friend wanted to show me this game she was playing. So we popped in the disk and were treated to the famous logo, and to my first, You Died screen. At that point, many would put down the controller, be humble and submit defeat. But I’m not like many and was a masochist who wanted to prove himself. It was then I was captivated by its world and characters.
I was enamored for bosses like Sif, Artorias, Nito, and some side characters like Lautrec, and my sun bro, Solaire. Then there were remarkable locations, such as Anor Londo, Sen’s Fortress, and the Painted World of Ariamis, which were both terrifying and unforgettable. This was my first introduction to the series and the one that got me into the other games. It is why I hold it in such high regard, and why it’s high on this list.
2. Yakuza 0 (2018)
Much like my previous entry, Yakuza is a series I always saw in the background but never bothered to pick up. Luckily, I picked it with zero expectations and was blown away. Not only was this a perfect entry from which to start the whole series, but it also allows you to play the series fan favorite Goro Majima. While Kazuma Kiryu was the franchise’s main protagonist, this game was all about my pretty boi Majima. There are so many things this game does right.
Multiple combat stances for both characters, a simple and addicting leveling scheme, tons of mini-games, various side quests, an open world, and an engaging story. I have played many open-world games, from GTA to Skyrim, but nothing comes close to this. This is an example that not everything needs to be overdone. While the game’s world may be small, it’s brimming with so much life and personality. This is also one game that almost managed to make me cry, which is not an easy feat.
1. The Long Dark (2017)
There is one thing in common with all these titles. They all managed to get me invested and deeply connected to their worlds. Forged a special bond between player and machine. However, only one title goes so far as to invoke some authentic memories and emotions. The Long Dark is more than just a game, it’s an experience. A hard, brutal, unforgiving, and relentless experience. Survival at its core, but so much more underneath. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing your first Aurora, and nothing scarier than encountering your first bear.
Time and time again, I return to this world, going on an endless trip, from which I always return broken. And then a glimmer of hope, that a new day dawns, and I’m closer to my end goal of survival. Through trials and tribulations, I emerge as a new person. Overwhelmed by sensations, and feelings, and humbled that I managed this far. For all its sheer brutality, I have returned to this world more than any combined on this list. The Long Dark is something truly special to me. And I will never forget my first moment, alone in the woods accompanied by silence, and a northern light.