Hello and welcome to the final post of mine chronicling the top 50 games of the decade that is the 2010's. If you haven’t read the first two parts of this I would really like if you did that first.
If you have already read the first two parts, welcome to what are my top ten games of the decade. Of course, there will be a lot of disagreements, and maybe some tears, but if we can stay strong we can get through this. After this article I will do a “best of the rest” article about all the games that just missed out making my list, and if I can scrounge up enough maybe finish with a “worst of the decade” list, but that one would be a bit tougher to do. With all that said let’s go through the ground rules and then get this list started.
- First and foremost this is my list, it’s not a favorite games list, but it is the games that I think were the best of the decade.
- If it seems like I forgot your favorite, first wait for the entire thing to come out, then if it’s still not there just ask me about it, I may have genuinely forgot about it.
- I will be attempting to avoid putting two games in the same series on the list unless they are different enough or both good enough to warrant their own place on the list
- That’s it let’s get into the list
10. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
I have a gamer confession to make that I am a bit embarrassed by. A Link Between Worlds was the first Legend of Zelda game that I ever played. I even had a Nintendo 64 a Gamecube and a Wii. Dumb child me though just never realized about one of the best gaming series in the history of gaming and I completely missed it all. Eventually though I got a 3DS and wouldn’t you know it came with A Link Between Worlds because it was the gold themed one for it. I loved the game so much, it was open and fun, with creative dungeons and puzzles and oh my gosh the bosses. This game has phenomenal bosses. So, this game may not be some beautiful story driven adventure, nor is it some open world epic, instead it is beautiful in it’s simplicity. You can’t judge a game based off what it isn’t instead judge it for what it is. A Link Between Worlds is a near perfect title for what it is, doing everything you want a game like this to be, being fun throughout and meaty, but never overstaying it’s welcome.
Since I played this game, I have played through Wind Waker and Twilight Princess along with Breath of the Wild. I will also play through Link’s Awakening when I am finally able to afford a Switch. They are largely all pretty good games and I am very excited about the new Breath of the Wild. While the Switch isn’t too much more powerful than the Wii U, especially since the Switch has to be able to be run in just handheld mode. Making it for one console alone though should help them do more fun things with it. Overall though, I know now that this series are amazing and I would like to thank a Link Between Worlds for introducing me to the universe.
9. The Walking Dead
I don’t really know what to say about this game. When it came out, me being an impatient teenager decided to wait until the entire first season came out before I picked it up and I am glad I did because the wait has been agonizing. I have played through the first season alone four separate times. The first time when I was all alone and played through it in like two days. The second time with the neighbor girl that I really liked, but she clearly wasn’t interested in me. With my roommates in college when we needed something to pass the time. With my current girlfriend when we were working our way through all of the best story games there are on offer. Every single time I have loved it, made different choices, knew different people, finished with different groups.
Telltale may be gone now, but there impact on the gaming industry with this game can still be seen today. Telltale was flawed, we can all admit that, but what they achieved in the first season of The Walking Dead was nearly flawless on it’s own. In a time period where zombie overuse and fatigue was near it’s height, here came a zombie game that felt like a breath of fresh air, for the genre and for video gaming as a whole. So even though they are now gone, thank you Telltale, for making a beautiful experience that impacted an entire industry.
8. Hollow Knight
Alright let’s start getting weird with this and do what I would call the first weird entry on this list. When thinking of the best games of the decades no many will think of a 2D Metroidvania made by a small team of developers. Those people however, would be mistaken, because Hollow Knight is a masterclass in how to develop a Metroidvania and just a good game. Every aspect of Hollow Knight is near perfect, with extremely fun combat that is easy to learn but difficult to master, which still offers a lot of varieties in playstyle. A gorgeous artstyle that is easy to look at and a joy to behold. A story that is not too invasive, but with some simple digging is very good (and has some very good youtubers doing videos on it).
Overall, Hollow Knight is an absolute blast to play and has a good amount of length without ever feeling boring. The amount of variety you can approach the combat with allows for a variety of different playstyles. It is just a really really good game, a lot like A Link Between Worlds in that way, but even better in my opinion.
I have to admit that I am a sucker for weird things, when talking about this game. Anyone who has played this game knows exactly why I say that. This game is different in a way that not a lot of games are, being ok with never telling the player everything. The world that this game takes place in looks and feels like our own, especially early on, but the further in you get, the more things feel, wrong. This game is a great evolution of Limbo, with it’s more complex art style and more clear story. Which it is crazy that this game can be described as having a more clear story than something else, but compared to Limbo this positively lays out the facts.
Inside is a perfect example of a lot of the things I like in storytelling with it’s mysterious foreboding atmosphere. The sense of unease felt throughout that hints at sinister things going on just outside of your vision. The constant fear felt in the gameplay of being caught. The horror at the unknown things that lurk just outside of site or are so big and scary you don’t truly know exactly what they are. This game is a perfect blend of a lot of things, it’s visuals, gameplay, and story elements, all walk together to convey a mood and it is rare to see such perfect resonance between all of the elements of a game. The atmosphere Playdead has managed to build in their first two near flawless games has me extremely excited to see what is to come next from them.
6. The Last of Us
No, this game is not getting my top spot, as I’m sure that so many of these kinds of lists will do. The Last of Us is a great game, and showed that Naughty Dog was ready to move on from Uncharted. Of course where they are going after Last of Us Part II is still a mystery, but they showed that Uncharted wasn’t a fluke. This game has a great story, of course the actual story elements are not that great, simply engineered to usher the player from story point A to story point B. What is great though is the relationship between Joel and Ellie. While it is a bit silly how much the world fell apart in such a quick time frame, it does do wonders for establishing the mood that The Last of Us is going for.
Of course it nails that mood with the addition of clickers who will get you at the slightest sound. This necessitates extremely slow progress at times and the slightest mistake could result in death, panicking only makes it worse. The gameplay is fun even if the combat against other humans feels a bit dull at times, sometimes it requires smart play and stealth that is very fun to pull off. At the heart of the game’s success though is the connection that they build as so much more of the game I would simply just describe as well made.This has me a little cautious about Part II, but I at least expect Naughty Dog to make a fun game no matter what.
5. Portal 2
Portal 2 is a lot of fun, the puzzles are simple, but difficult enough to never feel like a breeze. the voiceovers are fun throughout and add a lot of character to a game that was largely missing it in it’s first installment. The idea to make Glados not be the villain in this game was definitely a good one so it didn’t feel like too much of a retread and Wheatley was perfectly annoying and funny and I was happy to take him down. The addition of co-op was a great idea and I have had a grand time playing through all the courses with friends.
This game is a great reminder of why it is sad that Valve is no longer making single player games. Valve games had so much heart to them, so much charm and character and love put into them. Now there is nothing and I just wish they could go back to making good single player story based games. Especially in a world where there is not near enough great puzzle games like Portal and Portal 2. SO Valve, please bring Portal back to us with a third installment, heck, make a combination, Left 4 Dead, Half Life, Portal game flawlessly work and sell one jillion billion copies. Or I’ll just take individual releases of each of the three, please?
4. Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward
Since I started posting garbage on Kinja, I have not once stopped talking about Virtue’s Last Reward, so of course I put it on here. Now I’m sure a lot of people don’t know what this is, and the ones that do can’t believe I put a visual novel in the top five of my games of the decade list. However, Zero Escape is what I think is the perfect example of storytelling in video games. What it lacks in gameplay it more than makes up for in a beautiful story, characters that you grow to love and appreciate throughout the entire story, which unfolds wonderfully across all the different timelines and endings that can be achieved. It is necessary to get every ending to see the true ending which is good as it requires having all the necessary information before finishing.
What gameplay there is, in the escape room puzzles sprinkled throughout is very good and creative. The puzzles are normally a good combination of difficult without being frustrating, with some notable exceptions in each direction. While the gameplay can be fun, what you are really playing for is a beautifully crafted science fiction story that fully uses it’s medium to it’s advantage. At the heart of every great story is also great characters, which the game also has, while never feeling too much like a caricature all of the characters stand out and their decisions make sense.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild is a gaming experience that will be very difficult for any gaming company to replicate for a while. Obviously Nintendo is making Breath of the Wild 2 which will hopefully be a natural evolution of the first game. However, what I mean is I doubt a game will make me feel like the opening of Breath of the Wild did for a long time. The magnitude of this game was simply breathtaking. This game took the go anywhere do anything model to a new level, fitting together countless systems in a fun way that allowed a lot of crazy stuff to happen.
It lacks in the plot department, but nearly everything else is awesome. The boss fights are fun and the frequent mini bosses are difficult early on and then easy as you get later in the game, well not Lynels still. The combat is fun, the exploration is more fun with a world filled with stuff for you to find. My only hope for the sequel is we can get more full sized puzzle dungeons, but everything else can stay about the same. I have no idea where The Legend of Zelda can go after this, how it could improve on the formula, because to me this game is near perfect.
2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
I mean come on, of course this game was going to be on the list, how could it be not. The game that changed the face of the gaming industry and helped establish CD Projekt RED as an industry titan and one of the greats. I played The Witcher 2 when it came out and absolutely loved it, doing both necessary playthroughs to see both routes. So it was an understatement to say that I was excited for The Witcher 3, and it lived up to every one of my expectations. I know some hate it, but I love the combat, simplistic, but just complicated enough to allow some to have fun with it. The scenery was absolutely beautiful and the designs of everything was fantastic.
While it has become a meme across the internet now, The Witcher 3 deserves every good word that has been said about it. It may be a simplistic story about getting his daughter back and safe from an evil force, but it holds a lot of depth. That is not even talking about the wealth of side quests that all never truly felt like side quests. I mean, come on, The Bloody Baron was amazing, the Werewolf quest, picking the next king of the islands, all of these felt significant and real and all were fantastic. Nothing felt copy pasted and it felt like a world people really lived and breathed in, and I am incredibly excited with what that kind of work can do to a futuristic society in Cyberpunk.
Ok, is it slightly bending the rules? Yes, Minecraft originally released in 2009, but the alpha, beta and full release all happened in the 2010's along with Mojang being formed in the 2010's. So you know what, I am counting for the decade that is the 2010's and man is it a big get. Minecraft is simply put, one of the best video games ever made. It is beautiful in it’s simplicity throughout and the freedom that it allows players to have. The mods for the game are phenomenal and a lot of the survival maps are a ton of fun to play.
Minecraft isn’t great for a lot of the reasons so many of the other games on this list are fun. It has no well laid out quests with great characters and development, no overarching story that can move a grown man to tears. No huge ambitious hand crafted world filled with developer curated things to do. It is simply a sandbox, that let’s you do what you want and that is the beauty of it. It isn’t restrictive, or curated, it shows all the strengths of video games in the fact that it puts the power in the hands of the gamer. With the ease of making mods for it there is even more power in the hands of players too.
Minecraft is simple, this is true, it has many clones, but none that do what it does best quite as well. Which is just let the player go and have fun, which is why it is my best game of the decade.
Alright everyone, thank anyone who read all the way through that and made it to the bottom here. This is the end of the list, but it is not the end of the series highlighting this past decade. The next part coming out will be taking a look at The Best of the Rest. Highlighting a bunch of games that just barely didn’t make the list and a couple of games that I forgot to include. After that I may do worst games post, if I can find enough worst games at least.
Thank you for reading and I would love to hear any feedback in the comments about games I misplaced or games that I missed entirely. I would also love to hear if anyone wants to post their own ten list.
If you manage to guess the two games I forgot to include I’ll reply with a cool gif, one came out in 2018 and the other in 2019.