Not focusing on the technological advancements of games nowadays, gaming in of itself has changed in such a way within the past ten years that is simply astonishing. Whether it’s games that gave rise to the popularity of multiplayer, or games that focus enriching us with some of the best stories. That’s not even mentioning the indie studios that have contributed to the lineup of great titles. Today, I will be discussing the top ten games of the 2010s.
The Last of Us
It comes as no surprise that one of the biggest games of this decade would be my first choice. Nobody knew what this game would mean to players when Naughty Dog announced it. However, we all became so familiar with the quality of ND games, that it was pointless to doubt them. The Last of Us sent us into a journey that would forever change my perspective in gaming.
The beautifully growing relationship between Joel and Ellie was the driving aspect of the game. Seeing Joel’s view of Ellie change from stranger to daughter was brilliant, and always felt earned. The Last of Us has, in many ways, become a new standard for storytelling, as it touched profoundly on themes of loss, love, trauma and finding hope in a hopeless time.
Beyond the great storytelling, The Last of Us also became popular for its Multiplayer mode. The intense combat, mixed with some great gun-gameplay made the multiplayer-mode a must play. It was easy enough to sink hours into the single-player story, but the multiplayer proved extremely fun to play, especially with friends.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Outstanding reviews giving this game a 9-10/10 simply aren’t enough. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice’s focus on the impact of mental illness is profound and crucial to the story.
The pain far outweighs the scattered moments of happiness in the game. Pain, sadness, fear, loss and confusion are that Senua knows and the game doesn’t give you a chance to miss that. The two voices haunting Senua plague her with every choice she makes. These voices speak directly to Senua, and they are continually trying to tear her down emotionally.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is easily one of the most haunting games, as you’re constantly battling a darkness that you won’t ever experience with any other game.
Batman: Arkham City
Rocksteady first proved themselves in the genre of superhero games when they gave us the gem Batman: Arkham Asylum. However, their reputation became more noticeable with the followup, Arkham City.
Arkham City expanded further on the already-amazing world from Arkham Asylum, as the developers chose for the sequel to be an open-world game. Players were given the freedom to navigate through a vast city in which The Dark Knight would come across some of his greatest foes. Ra’s Al Ghul, The Riddler, Joker, Dr Hugo Strange and Harley Quinn were only some of the villains you would come across.
The open-world nature of the game allowed you to discover little easter eggs or secrets planted by the developers, who clearly understood what it meant to have an open-world game based on Batman mythos.
Arkham City would go down as one of the best superhero games ever, and till now holding that mantle. Rocksteady took their time, and it’s clear. Arkham City quickly became one of the most loved games of the decade as it provided us with an enormous open-world, fantastic storytelling and an appreciation of Batman mythos.
Red Dead Redemption 2
If you thought you loved Red Dead Redemption, wait till you play the prequel. Red Dead Redemption 2, although it doesn’t stray far from Western cliches, gives us a story that is both remarkable and heartbreaking. It’s never an easy task to create a world that feels quite as realistic as the one in RDR2. Even after putting over 65 hours into the world of RDR2, it still feels real as the world, people and environments all play a part in ensuring the player is left with an unforgettable experience.
Gorgeous graphics accompany the perfectly crafted open-world, and the sights are within the world are some of the best in any game I’ve ever played.
Moving from the open-world aspect, the story of the game is what truly amplified this experience. Seeing Arthur Morgan evolve from an outlaw to a genuine person was quite beautiful. However, the decision to have Arthur fall ill with tuberculosis meant that players would soon see his demise. The relationships that Arthur has with members of the Van Der Linde gang feel all too real, and each of them providing a unique outlook of what the group means to them.
I know the game is known as Marvel’s Spider-Man, but Insomniac’s Spider-Man feels much more earned. Insomniac gave us one of the best games of 2018, but also one of the best superhero games ever.
Having understood the roots of Peter Parker and what makes him a hero, while also creating a lived-in version of New York. The open-world is simple enough here, mixed with some excellent references and easter-eggs to the Marvel universe. Furthermore, the swinging mechanic within the game is easily one of the best aspects. I never once used fast-travel because every moment I spent swinging through the city, was a moment I enjoyed. The fast-paced action is an absolute joy to engage in as you feel what is to be Spider-Man in action.
The game provides a story that looks at loss, love, friendship and betrayal. All of these were factors that made the narrative all that more powerful and impactful. Of course, it also helps that the function of a photo mode was added into the game, and it’s one of the best I’ve ever used. It’s both entertaining and compelling to spend time taking some beautiful shots of Spidey swinging through the city.
The fourth instalment in the Uncharted series is where Naughty Dog decided to make some significant changes. They moved away from the supernatural aspects that didn’t feel right in the series, and instead focused on the more straightforward nature of storytelling. The mercilessly beautiful graphics and extremely refined combat are two of the best aspects of the game. The sights to behold are stupendously brilliant, and it was hard not to stop each time you journeyed to a new area to take in the views.
There are also these flashback sequences within the game that give us an idea of Nathan’s childhood, and these sequences are the best part of the game. We get to understand what Nathan’s relationship was like with his brother – who is introduced into the series for the first time. The story makes it a point to show Nathan idolising his brother from a young age. However, that respect Nathan has for his older brother deteriorates when Nathan realises that Sam is only back because he needs Nathan’s help with a job. Uncharted 4 is easily the most mature game in the series, as it focuses on more emotional storytelling.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins
Including Origins feels almost wrong because most people would agree that titles such as Brotherhood or Black Flag are a better fit. Sure, those are amazing games and provided fans with some of the best storytelling in the series but Origins was the one that felt most personal to me.
The story of Bayek losing his child, seeking revenge but then becoming more than a vessel for vengeance was something I thoroughly enjoyed playing. Origins provided an excellent look at the rise of the assassins, as well as their ideologies.
On top of an excellent story, the game presented Ancient Egypt in a massively beautiful open-world. The setting was perfect, and although I never thought I’d cared for the setting, the game made me love it quickly. Something about the vast deserts felt so precious, and while these desserts weren’t filled with civilisation, it never felt empty. The attention to detail, fantastic music and enriching information about the setting were all factors that made me love this addition into the AC series.
Meaningful decision-making, acting, writing, twists and reveals are all part of what makes this horror game so unique. Until Dawn puts into a scary movie and tests your survival skills based on how many characters end up surviving your playthrough.
You’re primarily tasked with ensuring that a group of horny, angsty teenagers end up enduring a horrific night in which they’re haunted by creatures known as Wendigoes. It’s easy to let them die, and you’ll probably want them to, but the satisfaction of knowing you’re saving a life is far too good here. The game also makes clever use of the DualShock 4 controller, challenging players not to move the controller at all during tense moments that could lead to one of the characters dying.
There are some well-timed jump-scares, and while that method of horror is rather tired now Until Dawn executes them perfectly. The atmosphere in the game is also handled well, considering the game shifts locations quite often depending on where your characters are.
Life is Strange
Life is Strange follows Max Caulfield, a high school student at a prestigious art school. Throughout this beautiful game, you’ll find yourself needing to make decisions that define your playthrough. Granted, the decision-making here isn’t as effective as Until Dawn or Detroit: Become Human.
Max Caulfield isn’t a hero; she’s simply a teenager who finds herself with time-travel abilities that she doesn’t understand. The game touches on teenage angst, as well as the confusion and the overall struggles of adolescence. On top of that, the relationship between Max and her best friend, Chloe Price, is one that felt real. Chloe, unlike Max, is the rebel who has a pessimistic view of the world, and Max is continuously trying to rectify that.
This is a game about friendship, heartbreak, love, and how unfair life can be. There’s a lot this game does right, but I think it hits the psychology of a teenager perfectly. The world built within the game is one that always felt lived in, with beautiful art visuals to help bring that world to life. It’s a game that even after years of its release, people still talk about and having played the game, it’s not surprising.
What Remain of Edith Finch
What may seem like a lovely walking-simulator will quickly become a game of complexity, as you learn the tragic history of a doomed family. A first-person, story-driven experience that tells the sad tale of the Finch family. Each time you venture into the past, you will gain a further understanding of the events that robbed this family of one another. As you journey into the magnificent home, you’ll go on a guide of who the people within the family are, their personalities and how they have come to meet their end.
The game isn’t long at all, taking about two-four hours to complete. However, the impression this game will leave on you is quite unusual, to say the least. Each member of the Finch family has a unique tale being told about them, and while they all end up in tragedy, there’s something so beautiful about their stories. We share their memories and even some of their happiest moments, and that amplifies our connections to these characters.
Dark Souls – This title redefined the RPG genre and set a new bar for combat and difficulty in gaming. It all started with Demon’s Souls, but From Software’s golden goose was Dark Souls, the title that gave gaming journalists across the globe a fancy buzzword for difficulty and gamers everywhere a visually stunning and masterpiece-quality journey with near-infinite replay value.
The Witcher 3 – The only reason this didn’t make my official list is because of two reasons. One, because everyone is going to have it on a list, and two because I’ve always praised, complimented and expressed my love for this game. Having put in hundreds of hours into The Witcher 3, and experiencing an open-world like no other is, even now, unmatched. It’s not only the open-world but the complex story involving politics, love and adventure that makes this game so good. Geralt of Rivia is by far one of the best-written characters, and The Witcher 3 expanded on what the first two games built.
God of War – This game didn’t make my list for the same reasons The Witcher 3 didn’t. If God of War proved anything, it’s that a developer can change their format for a game, and still make it amazing. Changing something isn’t bad as long as you’re creating a story that works for you and the characters you’re playing as. The father/son relationship between Kratos and Atreus is damaged for sure, but those brief moments of love reveal that these two care for one another beyond explanation. While the game focuses on the mythical Gods and creatures you must face, God of War is a game about family more than anything else.
Let us know down in the comments what your list of favourite games from the past decade is!