Writing about my Top Games of 2019 was a bit too short-sighted, apparently. I have seen others talk about their games of the decade – most recently Rakuno’s post. And then I figured that I could add another “top games” post here. I mean, it is my blog and it has been filled with lots and lots of talk about games… not in the past decade, but close (I started in March 2011)!
So let’s see… which games deserve to be called favourite or even best games in this time span? Should it be the games that gave you the most hours of entertainment? Or should a game of the decade be one that surprised you somehow? That was breathtaking in graphics (or audio, etc.) or just so immersive, you still think about it? I’m not going to dwell on these questions for too long and will go with my intuition, which means that it will probably be a good mix of all of these points. There is no ranking of games as I did in my other posts. Each of them earns a spot in its own way.
I tried to remember what I did at the beginning of the decade. At that time, I had more or less stopped playing LotRO and Warhammer Online was about to close, but I had left that one much earlier already. Despite not playing either Rift or Guild Wars 2 anymore nowadays, both have been my MMO home for quite some time. Rift (launched March 2011) most of all for its open world events and its housing system. Guild Wars 2 (launched August 2012) also because of the open world events and the horizontal progression at endgame. Even though I found the living world season 1 to be too stressful with its content being available for 2 or 4 weeks and then disappearing forever, in hindsight I still think it was the best content they released (not every single piece of it, but taken everything together). If only it hadn’t been time-limited. But most of all, I love the game for the community. Being a part of Dragon Season (our guild) has given me the opportunity to get to know so many amazing new people and I remember many fun hours spent together, doing guild missions or our guild events.
If I go by time played, other than the MMOs, I will have lots of city builders and management games come out on top. In some cases, this is certainly fitting and these games belong in my top list. With others, the advantage of being a game that is built on taking a long time to play would be unfair. So, out of the long list of games from these genres, Tropico 4 (launched September 2011) immediately comes to my mind. The music, the humour, the gameplay. I love everything about it and it’s a game that I can still launch and play and have fun with today. Then there is Jurassic World Evolution (launched June 2018) which belongs in my top list simply because it amazes me how real the dinosaurs seem and when I think back to my early days of playing on the C64 and how amazed I was by printing out birthday invitations made on… the C64 or the Amiga, I actually don’t remember… It was certainly pixel art, that’s for sure… But let’s get back to the past decade: My inner child is still amazed by graphics like these! And my inner child who loved the first Jurassic Park film is also amazed that suddenly, she can create her own park on her PC!
One thing I do not like is side-scrolling games – except for Terraria (launched May 2011) where I think it works perfectly. I especially like how open the world feels despite being 2D only and how immersive it is despite the simple graphics. However, once Trove launched (July 2015), I more or less stopped playing Terraria. I know, Trove isn’t a Terraria-clone, but it fills the space of digging through the world for me. Part of the appeal of Trove is certainly having a lot of other players around. I just like seeing others around me, even if I usually play on my own.
Whenever I played Civilization, I kept whining that there is too much of a focus on war. I didn’t want to fight! Also, the stacks of doom in Civilization IV were annoying. I wanted to conquer peacefully through culture instead. And then I found the first Warlock game (Warlock: Master of the Arcane, launched May 2012)… and I conquered through war. And I loved it! The game has a sequel, Warlock II: The Exiled (launched April 2014) which I like even more. So, the game series as a whole is in my top list.
L. A. Noire (launched November 2011 for PC) is one of the first games I actually played through. And the immersion level has been amazing! I’m still not happy about the ending, but I guess that just shows how much I could identify with the main character. Another detective game is Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments (launched September 2014). Ever since playing this game, I want more like it! Unfortunately, the sequel, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter, couldn’t win me over like the other one did. And then there is The Painscreek Killings (launched September 2017) where your task is to figure out who killed Vivian Roberts. Other than that, you’re on your own exploring the now abandoned village. I did not like the little extra play sequence at the end, but other than that, it was a really good game. There is no guidance where to go first and what to do next. There are no quests or missions and no direction. I did manage to figure out everything in the end and it was a very enjoyable journey.
Life is Strange (launched 2015) cannot be missing from my list. If I did any ranking, it would be very high up. I’m still pestering bookahnerk to pick up the game and play through it because I want to hear his opinion about this one moment (no spoiler!) where you need to make a certain choice. I think you only have this one choice in order to advance, so it’s basically not a choice. But I sat here with tears in my eyes imagining how I’d feel if I was ever asked to do something like this by a person close to me.
Last but not least, I haven’t listed any action RPGs (as you may have noticed, I did dig through my favourite game genres to detect all possible games). There is definitely Torchlight 2 (launched September 2012) followed closely by Grim Dawn (launched February 2016). In this case I say “follow”, because I feel that even though I’ve been playing it for a long time, I haven’t even seen a third of the content that Grim Dawn has to offer. And yet, it is such a strong game with an interesting world and very compelling classes. Torchlight 2, on the other hand, seems like a lightweighted action RPG in comparison. But it has the pet system and no matter which ARPG I’m playing, I always wish I had a little helper like that who I can send to town to sell all the items I found. It saves so much time and adds convenience, but not at the expense of immersion.
I’ve got one honorable mention: The Secret World/Secret World Legends (launched June 2012). I absolutely love the idea and the atmosphere of the game! However, I find the gameplay itself too clunky and I never liked how combat felt, including the character’s animations. So while it has something that makes it very memorable for me, I just couldn’t play it for a long enough time. Hence, the honorable mention. It tried, but it didn’t really succeed with me.
I guess that’s it – unless I forgot some game now which I probably did. There are so many more games that I enjoyed playing, of course. But these do stand out for one reason or another.