2019 is nearly over, and though I’m pretty sure the actual last year of the decade isn’t until NEXT year, that sort of pedantry won’t make me any friends at parties.
If I were ever invited to parties.
So, what the hell. Let’s go with the notion that 2019 is the final year of the decade and that is is, therefore, time for BEST GAMES OF THE DECADE lists.
So I wrote one. I had to leave out a lot of games, either because I decided to restrict myself to 25 entries or because I realized that they may have been localized in the correct decade they hadn’t actually come OUT in the 2010-2019 range (Song of Saya) or were a remastered version of a game from the previous decade (Valkyria Chronicles) or because simply being able to fly around in a Y-Wing was NOT actually reason for inclusion (Battlefront II) and so on and so forth.
Still, I am pretty happy with the list I came up with. If your favorite game is not on here, it’s probably because I didn’t play it or couldn’t finish it. So, if you’re wondering where The Last of Us, Sekiro, God of War, and so on are… they’re on that other list, over there, written by the guy or gal who played and (maybe) finished them.
Oh, and try not to take the exact placement of any game too seriously. Any game in the top five could easily substitute for any other game in the top five.
After I was done, I split it into three parts because it was ridiculously long. Part 1 today, 2 and 3 to follow.
Before I get started, however, some honorable mentions:
God Damn, That’s Some Good Yuri Award: Arnice and Lilysee, Nights of Azure (Gust, 2015)
Best Anime Souls-Inspired Game I Checked Out From the Local Library And Couldn’t Finish Before Returning It: Code Vein (Bandai-Namco, 2019)
Best Game Featuring Pirates, Who I Am Just Totally Sick Of As Story Devices But They Keep Making Video Games About Pirates: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. (Naughty Dog, 2016)
Best Male Butt In Video Games And You Can’t Convince Me That’s Not What the Title is About: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. (Naughty Dog, 2016)
Best Hundreds Of Dollars I Dropped On Plastic Toys Only To Be Let Down By Disney When It Was Abruptly Canceled I’m Not Bitter: Disney Infinity (Various Studios, Various Years)
On to the list!
25. Fantasy Defense (Playbean, 2011)
So, just to get it out of the way, the first entry in this list is a free-to-play iOS tower defense game published by a company that seems to have gone out of business in 2013. The only way you’re playing this is if you happen to have an iPad of that vintage around and happened to download it while it was available.
Like most Tower Defense games, it’s a puzzle with some real time elements, where you set up your defenders – all of them fantasy-themed units, like Ice Mages and archers and knights and the like, and then watch hordes of monsters try to get through them and destroy the base. As you cleared levels, you earned money that could be used to buy more powerful units, and you also had one “hero” unit per level that tended to be crazy overpowered and could absolutely turn the tide if put in just the right spot.
It’s on here because I was absolutely addicted to it and it convinced me that iPads were decent devices for gaming. Also, it could be completed without spending a single penny in the in-game store, which may be why the company isn’t around now. I actually tossed the developers five bucks worth of iAP after completing the campaign. Hopefully they bought themselves a nice coffee with it.
Who am I kidding? They were probably fired five minutes after the game shipped. Still, it was great. Trust me!
24. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Atlus, 2015)
I do not hide my weebishness on this blog, and I have enjoyed many a hardcore weeb game. That said, a game where you have to save the world through putting on fabulous concerts may just be peak weeb. Pushed out the door to die on the WiiU, it’s getting a new release on the Switch soon. It would be the perfect opportunity for the new and more permissive Nintendo to undo some of the more ham-fisted changes made for the localization, but instead they are – checks notes – actually porting the cuts and bizarre censorship decisions BACK to the Japanese version of the game, resulting in some degree of outcry and Nintendo actually allowing people to refund their digital purchases.
Still, a good game. Ignore my kvetching.
23. Just Cause 2 (Avalanche, 2010)
Just Cause 2 was one of my first exposures to the Open World game style, and it gives you a wonderful sandbox to play around in. There’s a story…sort of? I can’t really remember much about it other than you needing to take down some sort of corrupt military regime, but the real joy to be had in this game happens immediately after chapter 3, when it sets you free on a beautiful tropical island and tells you to blow stuff up and cause as much chaos as you can. I spent a fair amount of my vacation to Panau stealing jet airliners and trying to pull off fancy flying tricks with them, generally crashing in the process.
Also it let you grapple from helicopter to helicopter in mid-air, throwing out the hapless pilot of your new ride in the process, and I would feel bad about that if it didn’t make me giggle when I did it.
It took me a long time before I got bored of this and actually finished the game.
22. Lara Croft Go (Square Enix Montreal, 2015)
I loved both 2013’s Tomb Raider and then Rise of the Tomb Raider a couple of years later, but this is Lara’s only appearance in this list. There was a lot of competition!
It’s not even the only Tomb Raider spinoff I enjoyed. Both Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris came out in the last decade and both were lots of fun. I wound up picking the “Go” game to represent the Tomb Raider series as a whole primarily because I loved its style.
Similarly to Hitman Go, it’s a low-poly turn-based puzzle game reimagining of an action series. You raid tombs, try not to get eaten by lizard people or killed by massive saw blades, occasionally there are really-well-hidden treasures to find. It was responsible for a lot of dead phone batteries before I managed to finish it and find everything, and I’m sad that the series died with their next release, Deus Ex Go.
21. Everquest: Call of the Forsaken (Daybreak, 2013)
An MMO expansion? In MY top 25 list? It’s more likely than you’d think! Also this will not be the only one, spoilers in advance.
Call of the Forsaken was Everquest’s 20th expansion, and came with the usual assortment of new areas and new people to murder for their loot. That’s not particularly notable, though they did a fine job of mining the past for nostalgia when creating the new areas. What is notable, however, is the way it revitalized the community aspect.
EQ’s players can be a bit… antisocial. It’s a game where serious players are generally controlling multiple characters at once, and adding another human to the mix introduces chaos and competition for loot. Call of the Forsaken, however, broke a lot of people out of their shells by introducing “Heroic Adventures” that were little half-hour affairs that weren’t terribly difficult and that didn’t require strict group makeups. You could leave your bot army at home, grab any few random people, burn through a couple of these instances, get some currency from them that you could then spend on gear, and generally have a relaxing time of things while still advancing your character. It got people talking to each other again, which is probably why they ditched the concept almost entirely for the next expansion.
Part two tomorrow!