We’re at that time of the year when people start looking back at what the best books, films, and video games of the year were, but of course this December is special because it’s not just the end of another year; it’s the end of a decade! I don’t know about you, but I have trouble remembering what I did last week let alone last decade, so it’s nice to think about the past ten years and remember the amazing games I’ve played.
They’ll be plenty of lists and arguments going around to crown what is the game of the decade, so instead of adding to that fire, I want to share what my personal top ten games of the decade are. These are all my choices based on games which I played to death over the past ten years, or games that affected me emotionally in various ways. As you can see, it’s quite a varied list!
And don’t worry, I’ll be following up this list with my top ten books of the decade!
So, without further ado, here are the games I loved in order of release date:
Mass Effect 2 ~ 2010
There aren’t many games as truly epic as the Mass Effect trilogy, and I certainly can’t think of any sci-fi RPG’s that sit in the same league as other more medieval-inspired fantasies. The Mass Effect trilogy brings together all of the best sci-fi tropes into a satisfying story that spans planets. Whilst the gameplay and exploration are all top-notch, it’s the characters which really make this trilogy for me. There are a variety of alien races represented in the Mass Effect world, but the relationships between these characters remains very human.
I loved Mass Effect 1, and I even loved the third game despite that controversial ending, but the second game remains my absolute favourite, and not just because of the romantic and mysterious Thane. There’s nothing more iconic than recruiting a ragtag group of nobodies and going on a suicide mission to the centre of the universe.
Child of Eden ~ 2011
If you’ve not heard of Child of Eden, it’s an on-rails shooter combined with a rhythm music game by the creative genius behind Rez and Lumines. Rez is one of my favourite games of all time because it created a colourful visual affect based on synaesthesia and combined it with an epic soundtrack of electronic dance music, and an interesting story centred around an A.I character. Child of Eden is the spiritual successor to Rez and is basically Rez 2 in all but name; the same trippy visuals and on-rails gameplay, but this time the music features audios and visuals from the Japanese band Genki Rockets.
Sadly, Child of Eden never received a sequel and isn’t available on PC unlike Rez now is (Via the release of Rez Infinite), but I fell in love with the game and especially loved the space whales!
Minecraft ~ 2011
Ah, Minecraft. A game which inspired a generation. Everyone knows of Minecraft and I can’t think of many gamers who haven’t played it. I certainly put in my fair share of hours. I probably don’t need to explain what Minecraft is, or what kind of affect it had on the gaming industry as whole, but I’d say Fortnite now is what Minecraft was back then.
I absolutely love building bases and homes in video games, and Minecraft allowed me to create whole cities, which is pretty much what I did! The adventuring and mining part of Minecraft didn’t appeal to me as much, but I did spend hundreds of hours making a fully functional city. I made floating pirate bases on the water. I made mountain homes. My favourite base was a floating zoo complete with animal and monster cages and a staffed hotel. Sometimes I get the urge to go back and create some of the buildings from Sand Dancer in Minecraft, but then I remember just how time consuming that would be.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim ~ 2011
I remember the first time I played Skyrim back on November 11th 2011. Of all the games on this list, Skyrim is the one I have played the most. The one that stole my soul. Not only did I play this game to death on my Xbox 360, I then battered it to oblivion on PC thanks to the great modding community. Skyrim is one of those games I simply can’t play without mods because they add so much to the game and allow me to make my role playing experience more realistic, which is something I love in my RPG’s.
The Elder Scrolls are more than just a video game; they’re a way of life. I loved Morrowind and Oblivion as well, and also played The Elder Scrolls Online for a time. It’s hard to believe that Skyrim came out so long ago when people are still playing it now. The only thing stopping me from playing Skyrim is the fact I have a damn book to write! Skyrim is a time-sink for sure.
And yes, I side with the Empire! Sorry Stormcloaks.
I love the Elder Scrolls SO much that I am desperate for any news about the next game…
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed ~ 2012
I’m not usually one for racing games, they’re too serious for me, but I do enjoy a good kart-racing game. Most people immediately think of Mario Kart, but my favourite kart racer is All Stars Racing from SEGA. This has something to do with my status as an old skool SEGA fan as All Stars Racing certainly provides a lot of fan service, including a whole track based on one of my favourite SEGA RPG’s: Skies of Arcadia! But All Stars Racing is also a damn fun game. It captures the thrill of speed in a way Mario Kart just doesn’t.
I played All Stars Racing a lot back in the day with friends. There has been a sequel of sorts since: the develops released Sonic Team Racing this year, which sadly didn’t capture the joy of the original for me. I’m hoping they’ll be another All Stars Racing back with SEGA characters in the future though.
Fallout 4 ~ 2015
I know a lot of people had issues without Fallout 4: it didn’t have enough role playing elements compared to New Vegas, or they hated the voice acting, but I personally LOVED Fallout 4 and will happily name it my favourite in the series. The story was good enough for me and honestly not that much different from Fallout 3 (Find my son instead of find my dad) and I think it took a step in the right direction, even if Bethesda didn’t get it 100% right. The combat was fun, the world was great to explore, and I loved the companion system in this. Seriously, I hate companions in any other Bethesda games, but they were more real and more fun in this one.
Of course, what I loved most of all was the base building! Preston didn’t need to convince me that another settlement needed my help because I was already THERE. I must have spent more time building homes and settlements than actually playing the damn game to be honest (Steam says I’m just under 1000 hours of game time ahah) and like Skyrim, it’s the modding community which really brought the game to life and allowed me to customise my Fallout into a true survival and crafting experience.
Bethesda have since taken the survival and crafting part of Fallout 4 and turned it into its own online game: Fallout 76. I honestly wanted to get into Fallout 76 because it sounded perfect for me. I love survival crafting games! Yet Fallout 76 just doesn’t work. There’s not enough crafting items for my liking, and the game is riddled with issues and microtransactions which ruin it. I’m hoping Fallout will eventually return to its single-player roots whilst still keeping the crafting I enjoy.
Undertale ~ 2015
I’m late to the party with Undertale as I played it for the first time this year, but I absolutely fell in love with it. What a fantastic indie game! The gameplay and graphics are quite retro in their quaint way, but the story and characterization really blew me away and left me with many emotions and thoughts that have haunted me in the same way a good book would. It’s a story of kindness and compassion that explores the tropes of role playing games where instead of slaying the monsters, you’re encouraged to show mercy. It’s so cleverly done that it earns a place among my favourite video games. I’d also rate Asgore and Toriel among my favourite video game characters.
The soundtrack to Undertale is also fantastic, and as a connoisseur of video game music, I’d recommend giving it a listen!
Pokémon Go ~ 2016
For a brief moment in time, it looked as though Pokémon Go might achieve what leaders of the free world could not: world peace. When Pokémon Go first launched into the world, everyone I knew went crazy over it. Poké stops appeared in my local neighbourhood and city, and complete strangers flocked to these stops to catch Pokémon and battle each other in the local gyms. Now, I’m the kind of person that needs a good reason to leave the house, otherwise I have to be dragged kicking and screaming, but Pokémon Go actively encouraged me to hit my 10,000 steps of the day. It encouraged me to explore areas of my own neighbourhood I hadn’t bothered to before. And it was super fun actually meeting other Pokémon fans out in the wild. My favourite memory is stalking into a graveyard to catch a Jynx…
I still know people who play Pokémon Go, but the magic faded for me partly because of all the server issues, and because less and less people took an interest in playing. But for that brief moment in time, this one game brought together people in a way I have never seen before. And it was magical.
Stardew Valley ~ 2016
I love farming games like Harvest Moon and Rune Factory, so I naturally spent hours consumed by Stardew Valley. I’d honestly rate Stardew Valley higher than the Harvest Moon series as this game takes all the best aspects of farming games and enhances them, creating the ultimate farming experience. You can play Stardew Valley however you want as there are different farming maps, plenty of customisation options, different characters you can indulge in a relationship with that aren’t limited by their gender/sexuality, and if that wasn’t enough there’s also co-op and modding! You know I love my mods.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Stardew Valley is that this game, this amazing and massive game, was developed by just one person because he loved Harvest Moon too and wanted to make his own homage to the series. Honestly, Stardew Valley is one of the best games I’ve ever played.
Subnautica ~ 2018
This has truly been the decade for survival crafting games. As you may have gathered, I love building bases and I also love adding realistic survival elements to my gaming experience, so naturally I love survival games, though quite a lot of them have remained in early access or just don’t feel as complete as they should by now. Subnautica is one game that comes under the survival genre, but unlike similar games, Subnautica is an incredibly polished experience. And it’s set underwater in a beautiful Avatar-inspired alien world.
I first played Subnautica on its early access days before the developers knew what they wanted the game to be and turned to the fan community to help shape it into the fully-fledged game it is now. Subnautica has a story alongside the survival crafting, but what really sets it apart is the amazing world full of wonders… and horrors. I’m not one for scary games, and Subnautica is terrifying in places, but this wonderful underwater world needs to be explored.
There is a direct sequel, Subnautica Below Zero, which is currently in early access. I’ve been playing that too and can’t wait to see how the developers will shape this one.
And that’s my list! Honourable mentions goes to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which I adored but can’t really include on this list because I haven’t actually completed the game yet ahaha, Sonic Generations which is arguably the best 3D Sonic the Hedgehog game of all time, and To The Moon which is a beautifully haunting indie game that everyone should play at least once.
Looking at my list above, it’s obvious that I became more interested in indie games as the years go by, and that’s something I want to continue in 2020. There’s also a massive gap in time where I was quite clearly busy working and not playing many games!
Have you played any of these games and would they fit in your top ten? Are there others you can’t believe I haven’t played yet and missed out on, like The Witcher 3? Share them with me!