Top Games of the Decade

merry new year, time to pick your favorite children

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December 24, 2019 10:34am
So, as we approach the arbitrary date that just happens to be the end of a decade, I figured it'd be a nice time for us to reflect on one of the most important parts of life- video games!

In no particular order, here's a few of my top faves from the past ten years. I'm also probably going to forget a few of my own faves, because ten years is a long time,

Breath of the Wild
A niche gem, known to few, but still shining brightly nonetheless. LOL JK everyone knows how great this game is, and I agree with the masses wholeheartedly on this one. It's just so big and beautiful; I enjoyed every minute of exploring Hyrule. I don't think I've played another game that captures the feeling of exploration so well, AND it's Zelda! I was worried at first that it would lose the charms of the Zelda series, but it was all still there in full force.

Hollow Knight
Another game where I enjoyed every minute, even the minutes where I was being completely wrecked. The atmosphere is so beautiful in this game, with a style that just makes my heart happy. All the animations are gorgeous. The gameplay is very tight, and the boss fights are very demanding while still being learnable. Every time I'd make progress, I really felt like I earned it, and I was so excited to move onto the next fight.

Rune Factory 4
I just like it, okay? I dunno if it's some TRUE GAME OF THE DECADE or anything, but I just like this game a lot. You get to pet monsters, marry cute anime people, grow turnips, and fight stuff. I am a simple creature.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses
I've loved Fire Emblem since Awakening came out, but I feel like this game was where things really came together for me. I'll admit that I'm filthy anime trash- I was a huge fan of being able to date cute girls in this game like my beautiful wife, Edelgard. Aside from just being a weeb, though, I just feel like the dialog and character writing in this game was extremely good. Unlike Fates, the different sides and their motivations were actually engaging, and even if every plotline wasn't perfect, I had a fun time exploring them. Also, it's Fire Emblem! I love anime chess.

Undertale
Say what you want about the fandom, but Undertale is a true gem. I'll never forget the first time I played it, and how much it touched my heart at every turn. Toby Fox just has a way of writing dialogue and characters that has me emotionally attached to every line. And god, the music. It's just so perfect! This game just makes me happy.

I'm definitely forgetting some things in that list, and perhaps my choices are a bit basic, but hey! That's how it goes! What're your guys' top picks for the decade?
December 24, 2019 2:29pm
Many a good viddy game has come under my wing this decade. Here are a few of my favorites.

Terraria
A real beginning of the decade gem, Terraria is one of the games I have sunk the most hours into ever. I have over four hundred hours logged into that little adventure game and I don't think that counts he probable hundreds more hours I have that weren't logged in Steam due to using a mod launcher. Despite it's initial "2D Minecraft" beginnings, Terraria really became a gem in the gaming community. Following the developers for basically a decade as the work on release after release on a game that started out so simple makes me happy. Re-Logic has made a wonderful game that I'd recommend to literally anyone. The music, the boss fights, and the expansive world are all perfect and just suck you into a game. While I take breaks from playing it due to life or other games coming out, Terraria really is a mainstay in my gaming library that I have always returned to.

Shovel Knight
Shovel Knight follows the story of a blue boy who beats people to death with a shovel and slowly takes back a kingdom from a vile enchantress. Who is actually his girlfriend. This retro platformer has been the passion project of Yacht Club Games since, like Terraria, shortly after the turn of the previous decade. It's no secret to most of you that I love retro platformer-type games, being a Mega Man buff and all, and Shovel Knight really scratches that itch that Capcom FAILED TO DO SO FOR A FREAKING DECADE. Shovel Knight has been a labor of love and it really shows in the gameplay and polish that the developers have put into it. Hell, they very recently just finished fulfilling the final round of their Kickstarter goals. That goal being a fourth full campaign. The devs went on to develop four full games in the span of this decade under the Shovel Knight banner and all of them, while in the same world, are completely unique in terms of gameplay, level design, character growth, and overall feeling. Learning the different motivations of a few fan favorite bosses; that's right, you get to play as the bosses; was a wonderful idea that I feel has been a large part of the game's continued success.

Hollow Knight
Another knight-themed platformer. Are you seeing a theme here? I'm not. I swear. This one is also a Metroidvania, another genre I quite enjoy. Hollow Knight started out as a game that I was initially largely unaware of. After it's initial release, I largely ignored it because my laptop was bad, and still is, and I couldn't run the game at any decent level. Then, the beautiful developers at Team Cherry decided to release Hollow Knight of the Switch. After a short bout of trouble with the controls (due to JoyCon drift) I learned to master this game. The music, scenery, characters, plot, gameplay, etc. are all just perfect. The controls are tight and very intuitive. The music fits amazingly well with the different areas in the world, whether you are in literal bug heaven after ascending to godhood or in the deep abyssal void down below learning of your true nature, it just slaps. Learning the story of each of the supporting characters through repeated encounters in, initially, seemingly random parts of the world filled me with a sense of discovery and understanding that few games have given me since I was a young babe. The boss fights are all incredibly well designed, the story is impeccable, and if you don't own this game, you need to. Also, I really enjoyed beating Frosti to end of the game. We had a race. And I won. ;P

Dark Souls: The Franchise
Now, now, I admit, Dark Souls may not be everyone's cup of tea. It's a game that has had its difficulty espoused to hell and back. And let me tell you, they're not wrong. Dark Souls games, and the genre of games that it has spawned, are hard. Having completed each of them multiple times, I won't sugarcoat the difficulty. However, there is one thing the games are not, which I've seen many people call them, and that is unfair. There is a learning curve that must be met, just like everything in life. The games, again, while hard, are some of the most balanced, fair games I have every played. Not counting PvP because that shit gets nasty. The expansive, linked world of each of the three games (with a few references to their predecessor Demon's Souls) enthralled me. Being a Chosen Undead, the one meant to slay now-mortal gods and perpetuate the cycle of Light and Dark; the Bearer of the Curse, one of many who has been stricken with the accursed Dark Sign, now forced to fight and unlock the secrets of the soul; the Ashen One, a body unfit even to be cinder, rising up from the ashes of a hollow, burnt out world to discover the meaninglessness of everything you and your predecessors have done. Dark Souls is a lore-rich brawl through an unforgiving world. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Destiny 1 and 2
Ah, yes. The odd one out. The rootin' tootin' you're in space, now get to shootin' game. After the release of the Halo franchise to 343i, Bungie had a lot to live up to. Their next project, Destiny, was a large scale looter shooter MMO. And boy, has this franchise had its ups and downs. From an explosive initial release, to a rocky first few months, several okay DLCs, then a few amazing expansions, Destiny 1 ate up a LOT of my time in college. Exploring the solar system was fun, getting to slay kings and gods of different alien races was amazing, and with a masterful score to back it all up. Destiny 2 was largely the same. An amazing initial launch, followed by two just-okay DLCs, and then a major expansion that really brought the game together. Bungie hasn't done everything right, but they've managed to develop a very good game that I enjoy that doesn't fit into my standard array of games. Destiny is far from perfect. There are issues every season that seem to pop up out of nowhere and a few guns that seem to break the game in worse ways each season, but it's expansive lore and tight gameplay have managed to capture my heart. And my attention. And my credit card information.

I think that'll do for me. Five games (or series) of the decade that I quite enjoyed sinking my teeth into. I look forward to seeing what everyone else has to say.

Also, an edit, a fan favorite of mine has been Celeste. This game is real hecking good.I just didn't include it because I haven't finished it yet. I've beat the game, but the DLC has me in a chokehold because the last level is so long and you have to do it all in one go. It's another beautifully scripted, beautifully executed platformer about a girl and her battle with several mental issues. Please play it. It's really good.
December 24, 2019 8:48pm
Great idea to create this thread, Frosti! :D

In no particular order, here are 5 favorites of the decade:

Breath of the Wild (2017)
BotW might have its flaws, but I still consider it to be a masterpiece. Hyrule truly feels alive, which makes the environment seem like a main character all on its own. Even after two years, I'm still uncovering fun secrets and puzzles! I love just walking around and taking in the scenery. Maybe other open-world games are more technically advanced, but BotW gives me a better sense of adventure than any other game in its genre.

Pokemon HG/SS (2010 US release counts, right? :'D)
Whenever people ask me what Pokemon game is the best for people trying to get into the mainline RPGs, I point to HG/SS. I think these games are very close to being the perfect Pokemon experience. They have the charm of Pokemon following you wherever you go, the majesty of the Johto and Kanto regions, phenomenal music, the quality of life improvements that came with gen 4, and fun sprite-based graphics that I still dearly miss. Plus, I gained lots of points at Pokemon League during this era for winning Pokeathlon matches ;D

Portal 2 (2011)
Portal 2 took everything that was great about Portal and magnified it for the sequel. I got so into this game that I found myself zoning out while looking at white walls in the real world, thinking about how to use portals and the goo from the later levels of the game to get to my destinations more quickly. The new glimpses we got into Chell's and Aperture's past helped scratch a great itch I had for learning more about Portal's universe, but still left me with plenty to speculate about. This is one of the very few games that I immediately wanted to play again right after beating it.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (2015)
I still have mixed feelings about this game, but the fact still stands that it had a major impact on me. I hadn't been super engrossed in the MGS universe since Peace Walker came out in 2010, so diving back into Kojima's nonsense after 5 years was a real treat. While I was becoming emotionally invested in the characters all over again, my best friend was exploring the Metal Gear series for the first time, which led to many passionate debates about how certain story elements came to be and late nights listening to cassette tapes in-game to try to disentangle the wacky world that Kojima built for us.

Mario Kart 8 (2014)
When Mario Kart 8 came out, I was shocked to realize how much fun I had with it. I liked previous Mario Kart installments, but I usually left a play session feeling frustrated instead of satisfied, so I actually never felt compelled to buy any other Mario Kart games. This was the first time I actually enjoyed a Mario Kart game the whole time I was playing it. Sure, there are the same annoying AI karts and items, but somehow I felt in control of my experience for the first time. Maybe it's because the controls are more precise? In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed every hour I sunk into this game perfecting every track and racing online.
January 2, 2020 1:56am
journey
a short but aesthetically satisfying.. odyssey. maybe a little overrated as an artsy fartsy 'masterpiece'. masterpiece? really? is it really that earthshattering of a game? the gameplay is fun but simple, not history making really. but I'm still very glad it exists and I wish more games were as demure and wistful, and explored as inventive of a world and a style as this one.

hotline miami
deeply fun; crazy vibes.

goblet grotto
okay, I'd wager many of even you haven't heard of this one. it is extremely amusing and disturbing to me at the same time -- I feel like it is hacking into my brain in a way few works of media have ever been able to do. it's as if you are descending ever deeper into a janky hellscape made of a highschool notebook doodles. must. collect. GOBLETS !!

cuphead
each frame is handdrawn, down to the explosions. gorgeous and clever and wicked hard and quite entertaining.

dark souls ii
i haven't played many video games in the second half of this decade but this is one that made an impact on me and my roommates a ton. I actually haven't played the first one, which I hear is way better! so that's on my to do list. maybe I'll get to it by the end of this next decade.

honorary mention: hylics
okay I'm going to be honest - haven't played this one yet. it just looks so dang cool. I want to play it really bad, along with Hypnospace Outlaw

chrono trigger

get it. because... it's timeless . . . for real though, I played it first in this decade, and it is the only squenix JRPG I've ever been able to really loved. i'm listening to lo-fi chrono trigger beat remixes as a type this, I'm up at three in the morning grading exams and i feel rapturous. It's a testament to a kind of aesthetic and conceptual edge that chrono trigger has. I've tried all them final fantasies and mana mysteries and they've just never worked for me. og nes dragon quest is pretty cool though, fwiw.
this decade, as far as my video game life goes, framed my transition from 'nintendo/pokemon fanatic' into a casual explorer of emulated VR gems (still mostly nintendo: nes, snes, gb, gba) and a focus on the aesthetic and social aspects of video game culture than actual gameplay itself. I just get bored and lonely by almost all video games I try out. overstimulated I guess and more interested in ideas at this point. but I also like watching other people play and talk about it, and I spent many years of this past decade in a haze of video game youtubers, from jontron to avgn to matpat to caddicarus to peanut butter gamer to (the recently disgraced?) projared and so on and so forth. that said, I did put a lot of hours into classics like super metroid, earthbound, gba fire emblems, and the aforementioned chrono trigger. thems the ones that stick with ya. I did playthroughs of the first three generations of pokemon a fair number of times over the past decade, and I now suddenly remember, even made a gen I hack of my own. good times. is it too outrageous if I vote for myself, for Route 50 pokemon romhack as best game of the decade? ;)

my other favorite video game moments of the past decade have included: playing TF2 with my high school friends and blasting Odd Future tracks surround sound -- introducing some college classmates to melee for their first time -- watching my best friend slowly work his way through the dreamlike and terrifying archictecture of the initial areas of dark souls ii while I procrastinated on schoolwork -- beating Super Mario Land as a grown man, which I had never been able to do as a five year old with my old gameboy !!
January 14, 2020 11:48pm
Oh wow. I want to contribute to this thread but for some reason I can't remember any of the games I've played any more. It has been so long. How do any of you remember which games you like? Hah...
Just remembering what's in my Steam Library though and I'd have to say Fez is still really, wonderful. It has atmosphere and exploration unhindered by text or dialogue. When it rains in there, or it's night time, it just feels really... peaceful. To move around and solve puzzles in the world.
Sword & Sorcery also has fantastic ambiance. The gameplay I found innovative - it's a musical game where you directly interact with the environment with your mouse, separate to your character's directional movements. Very dreamlike.
Another one I'd like to mention despite not having played through it much is Kentucky Route Zero. I know it's getting a Switch release? It's the story. As with the other games mentioned here, it's seen and felt, not just read. Definitely a pattern in video games I like.
Finally, Fallen London and it's studio's same-universe game Sunless Seas. I can't say anything for Sunless Skies having not played it, but I'm sure it's good too! Look, quite frankly the writing and world of these games is stunning. Aside from the The Night Circus game on the StoryNexus platform, I really haven't seen such beautiful, deep, allusive, tragic, witty writing. It's amazing. AMAZING. You have to read it for yourself. Fallen London has so many secrets in it and absurdly connected lore in it. When you read through enough pathways, you can go back and anything else you've read through just starts to make sense. Even the most innocuous details link back to something else in the story. I just, have a lot of praise for this game.
Sunless Seas is more of a proper game but has the same writing. Also amazing, but not as long a playing time as Fallen London is. If you play one I'd recommend playing the other too.

Anyways these aren't games of the decade exactly for me since I can't even remember half the games I've played but just, really solid, beautiful, emotive games for me that really made me feel something. Something wonderful. Please check them out at some point if they sound good to you! Especially Fallen London. Although I understand the system of gameplay in it isn't appealing to everyone.

Edit: and actually another game I'd just like to mention is Way Walkers: University (and it has a sequel, Way Walkers: University 2 that I haven't played yet but would like to) hosted on Choice of Games. Writing is really good! If you like or liked choose-your-own-adventure games like the books back in the day, or Twine, this is a really good choice to read through. World-building is really nice with book-series of lore, and lots, lots of pathways in the game. Plenty of options and consequence and stats. Good fantasy game! Would recommend.
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