Welcome to part 3 of the Baud Attitude Games of the Decade list, which honestly is two parts too many. Still, I must share my incredibly accurate and insightful opinions with the world, or at least the few of you who actually read this thing.
10. Doki Doki Literature Club (Team Salvato, 2017)
Yes, a short and free visual novel is in my top ten games of the decade, but explaining more would run the risk of spoiling it. It opens with a disturbing content warning that leads into a high school romance story that is so sickly-sweet that you may manage to forget about the warning by the times things start to go… badly.
09. The Last Guardian (Team ICO, 2016)
Do you like the idea of trying to solve puzzles while relying on a giant cat/bird thing with entirely too much of its own personality? Can you completely surpress your fears of heights and falling and falling from heights? Can you deal with the crushing sadness of clambering over the decaying ruins of a once-great civilization with only the vaguest hope of a happy outcome before you?
The Last Guardian is one of those games that seemed doomed to never actually come out and didn’t actually sell all that well when it finally did, seven years after its original announcement. So, you may not have played it. You should do something about that.
08. Assassin’s Creed: Rogue (Ubisoft, 2014)
I love me some Assassin’s Creed, and picking the absolute best game in the series is dead easy to do. Unfortunately, Assassin’s Creed II came out in 2009 and is ineligible for this list, so let’s go with the runner-up.
Rogue is… well, even for a series that makes a habit out of slapping a new coat of paint and a new cast of characters onto the previous entry and hoping you don’t notice, it’s a pretty blatant example. It’s Black Flag, just set in the northern Atlantic with better naval combat and with a more-likable main character.
Oh, and the cities are better. Black Flag had a lot of tiny villages to it, which is a shame in a series where climbing tall things and jumping off them is one of the selling points.
It even sticks in some story beats that retroactively make Assassin’s Creed III less awful, and I would not have thought that possible.
After all that, it gets bonus points for exploring the Templar/Assassin relationship from the Other Side and pointing out that, hey, a bunch of people that call themselves Assassins and go around stabbing people aren’t ALWAYS the good guys. Shock!
07. Nioh (Team Ninja, 2017)
What if you made a Souls game, but with fast combat and mission-based rather than open world, and what if it was set right around 1600 in Japan when things were starting to really pop off?
Oh, and throw in loot drops. Lots of random loot drops, exploding out of downed enemies like so much sparkly joy.
Then you take all of your loot to a blacksmith and mash it together to make slightly shinier weapons and take those new shiny weapons back to take another crack at the mission that just wrecked you and probably die anyway but you got a little closer to the end this time and then you repeat that until you are watching end credits. Bonus points for having massive bosses stolen from a particularly dark season of GeGeGe no Kitaro.
That’s Nioh. Admittedly, it’s not for everyone. It opens with a rather tedious level set in the Tower of London, and getting through the game’s first two “real” bosses is an experience rather like having your face held to a belt sander until it starts to feel good. I’m not going to fault anyone who decides that they can spend their time better doing literally anything else.
I played it on the normal difficulty, played it AGAIN on the hard difficulty, and went back for another pass at the difficulty above that. I don’t DO that kind of thing.
06. Super Mario 3D World (Nintendo, 2014)
I’m not a big Mario fan. I have problems with judging distance and relative velocity, and the Mario series is all about correctly judging distance and relative velocity in order to not fall to your death while you are trying to rescue Peach from Bowser YET AGAIN.
I bought the version of the Switch that came with Mario Odyssey, enjoyed it a lot, and went back to play the WiiU entry in the series, which I turned out to absolutely love.
Oh, and you’re not rescuing Peach. She’s actually fine. There’s kidnapped fairies or something? But most importantly Mario can turn into a cat.
Hopefully it gets a Switch release at some point.
05. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Nintendo, 2017)
Honestly I AM NOT A BIG MARIO FAN and this list was not sponsored by Nintendo. I bought Mario Kart 8 Deluxe because I was going to have a few people over for food and videogames and Mario Kart is consistently recommended as a good game to have a few people over for. I had virtually no preconceived notions as to what I was getting into when I did so, and the sheer quantity of tracks and imagination put into this game blew me away. I wound up spending enough time with Mario Kart 8 to grind through all of the races in the game’s first three difficulty levels and even now occasionally go back to play online against people who are WAY better than I am.
04. Splatoon (Nintendo, 2015)
Not. Sponsored. By. Nintendo. Really.
I’ve already mentioned that I’m not a big fan of online multiplayer PVP games, and yet this is the second one in this list. I will take being willing to try new genres as a sign of growing as a person as I get older.
Splatoon, at least, is a game where killing The Other Guys isn’t really the point of the game. I mean, sure, knock yourself out if you feel like knocking them out, but the game is going to give the win to the team that can stick to the objective of making sure that the map is covered in paint of YOUR glorious color and not the color of the opposing team. It’s cute, the matches are short enough that you can’t get ground down too much even if you’re on the losing side, and the way that the paint mechanic ties into reloading and stealth and movement is just a joy.
There’s a Switch sequel. I didn’t get into it as much. I should probably give it another try.
03. Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerilla Games, 2017)
Not. Sponsored. By… oh, good, we’re moving on from Nintendo-published games. That’s a relief. Was starting to feel a bit of a corporate shill.
So. Horizon Zero Dawn, another take on the Ubisoft open-world formula but with GIANT CHROME ROBOT DINOSAURS and a really good sci-fi story that I thought I had entirely figured out about five hours into the game and was completely wrong about and absolutely the best villain of the last I don’t know how long. My game of the year for 2017, and that was a year full of amazing games.
One of the best things about Horizon is that it didn’t NEED to be anything more than “here’s your bow, there’s some giant chrome robot dinosaurs, how about you kill some of them?” but they spent so much time filling the game with background lore explanations that, by the end of it, the giant chrome robot dinosaurs make perfect sense.
Unlike many of the games I have raved about so far, Horizon sold over ten million copies so you have probably already played it. If you haven’t, it’s in the Greatest Hits lineup so you should be able to pick up a copy for roughly the price of a meal for two at McDonald’s.
02. Bloodborne (FROM Software, 2014)
If you look back at my comments on Dark Souls II and how there weren’t any other Souls games on the list, you may be raising an eyebrow at this point. Technically Bloodborne is NOT a Souls game and I did not lie to you.
Much like Nioh, Bloodborne is Souls-But-Faster, discourages blocking in favor of just getting out of the way of attacks, and gets away from the generic knights-in-plate-armor fantasy setting in favor of something a little more interesting – in this case, a sort of Lovecraftian Victorian England thing, with occasional trips into complete freaking nightmare.
I loved it enough to get the Platinum trophy, which involves finishing the base game three times and spending hours beating my head against “optional” challenge dungeons, some of which were just seriously unfair. A SPECIAL shout-out to the ones you have to play through with your health cut in half and where a single hit from any of the bosses is almost always enough to kill you.
I WOULD DO IT AGAIN.
01. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda, 2011)
Hey, you. You’re finally at the end of the list. And you’re probably disappointed. This isn’t a super-obscure cult favorite or anything, it’s a game that everyone played to death years ago, but that Bethesda keeps porting to new platforms instead of making an Elder Scrolls VI.
So, sue me. This is my list and I’m sticking with it.
I originally got Skyrim for free from a stranger on the internet who decided to raffle off a copy and… well, really didn’t care for it at all. I don’t think I even made it out of the tutorial. It was kinda ugly, especially the character models, and the combat was meh and it just did not stick.
Then I read an article about all the different sorts of mods people were making for it, and discovered that I could swap out the Lore Appropriate But Ugly character models for Hot Babes With Perfect Skin and I gave it another go.
Some time passed…
…and then, after I finished my second play-through, my beloved and eternally-suffering wife suggested that if I started a third pass she was going to do horrible things to me and to my gaming PC and that was about the point where I figured I should call it good and get on to the important task of waiting for the next game in the series.
Skyrim is one of those games, like Just Cause 2, where there IS a main story that you are occasionally reminded about, but the world you are wandering through is just so perfectly designed to distract you away from it that you can be forgiven for completely ignoring it. You’ll be walking down a path and notice that there are some flowers just off the path that you can pick to make potions out of, and while you’re over there you get a little indicator on your HUD that there’s a cave nearby that you can check out if you go just a little further, and you clear out the undead critters in that cave and find a dead man’s belongings with a letter in them that leads you to something else, and suddenly you are half the world away from that initial path and the whole Saving The World From the Draconic Scourge thing has completely slipped your mind.
11/10, would mod in hot chicks in bikini armor and save the world for a third time.
That’s it! 2020 awaits, with new consoles and new titles to anticipate.
I hope you’ve enjoyed … actually, let me set my expectations a little differently. I hope you FINISHED reading. I had some fun going through the last ten years of backlog progress and picking out my favorites, and I am going to try not to think too hard on how much I could have gotten done with my life if I hadn’t spent so much of it with controller in hand.
Remember, if I left off your favorite game, I probably had a dumb reason for leaving it out or simply didn’t manage to finish it. Feel free to print out my list and write over it with a sharpie or something.
Don’t know if I’d put Doki Doki up on a top 25 of the decade list, but it was certainly good. It’s not that easy to make a game like that enjoyable while still sticking to the theme. I don’t know how else to say it without spoiling anything like you said, so I’ll shut up about it.
I still have Horizon Zero Dawn sitting on my shelf. I was going to play it, but Persona 5 and NieR:Automata occupied all my game time in 2017, and now I barely have time for anything at all. One day I should get around to it.
I watch way too much goofy harem romance anime and that may be responsible for pushing DDLC so far up the list. 🙂
I’m impressed by anyone who can find the time for an RPG like Persona 5! I love the look of that game and really want to try it sometime myself, but knowing the length of it up-front is daunting.
Thanks for reading and commenting. It makes it more fun to write this thing. 🙂
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