The 10 Best Games Ever (according to me)

Today I stumbled across a post on I Hate Loading Screens about her top 10 games, and thought it was a great idea for a blog post.

So here is my list of the 10 best games I’ve ever played.

Planescape Torment

1. Planescape Torment – I talk about this game a lot. And there’s a reason for that – it’s fucking amazing. I’ve always been a fan of isometric RPGs and Torment is the best of the bunch by far. The story is great. The characters have backstories and personalities and feel as real as video game characters can get. The game is full of lore, every object you pick up can have it’s own story that sends your imagination on a joy ride. It’s text heavy and the text is beautifully written. Gameplay is also strong, and allows you to master different classes and switch between them. It also allows you to choose how to approach situations, with brains, brawn, or subterfuge.

If, by some chance, you like RPGs and have not played this, I can probably hook you up with a GoG code. Comment/message me if you want one.

Pandora Directive box art

2. Pandora Directive – Of all the adventure games I’ve played over the years, this one is the one I’d call the best.  Pandora Directive puts Sam Spade-inspired PI Tex Murphy on a missing person’s case that soon unearths a vast conspiracy. The gameplay combines point and click mechanics with first-person exploration to great effect. During the course of the investigation Tex solves puzzles, makes contacts, and shares wisecracks about everything. Pandora Directive has sharp, funny writing and allows the player to shape Tex’s character through branching dialogue trees (way before Bioware made this popular), which can lead to a number of different endings. All the Tex Murphy games are great, but this one is the best. The combination of noir setting with humour really works for me.

Beyond Good and Evil

3. Beyond Good and Evil – Besides having one of my favourite protagonists of all time, Beyond Good and Evil has an interesting story and really solid, fun gameplay. As Jade, you need to take on the DomZ, aliens who are enslaving humans. The game world of Hillys features a really cool combination of sci-fi and fantasy elements and features stylish visuals and a really cool soundtrack. Gameplay is diverse, featuring action, combat, stealth, platforming, puzzle solving, and hovercraft racing. All of these elements are done really well. It also features a photography mechanic which is used both to gather evidence about the conspiracy going on and to catalogue all the species of Hillys. I’m a sucker for photography in games when it’s well done.

Shadow of the Colossus

4. Shadow of the Colossus – There’s a certain beauty to exploring a vast and empty land and having a story that isn’t really spelled out for you. Shadow of the Colossus is one of the most moving gaming experiences I’ve had. It’s technically an action game, but the action is confined to one very specific thing – battling colossi. Each battle is a puzzle, where you need to find the beast’s weakness in order to defeat it. As the game progresses these fights become no less exhilarating, but take on an aspect of sadness and you start to wonder why you’re killing these magnificent creatures.

XCOM Enemy Within

5. XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Enemy Within – Set during a global alien invasion, XCOM puts you in the commander’s chair of an elite organization that represents humanity’s last hope against the invaders. It expertly combines tactical turn-based combat with resource management and strategy. Managing your base is a balancing act of researching alien tech so you can adapt it for your own use, building items and facilities which aid in combat, and reducing worldwide panic by deploying satellite coverage and shooting down enemy UFOs. Everything about this game is compelling, and while I generally play through games like this once then declare “I won,” XCOM is a game that I’ve played through multiple times. Just turning on Ironman mode makes this an entirely new experience.

Shadow Hearts: Covenant box art

6. Shadow Hearts: Covenant – The PS2 was an amazing console for JRPGs and of all of them, Shadow Hearts: Covenant is the one that won my heart. Set during WW1, Covenant takes an unlikely group of protagonists across the globe in order to stop a group of sorcerers intent on world domination. Admittedly, it’s not the most unique story, but it’s the game’s execution that makes it special. Shadow Hearts introduces some really likable characters and puts them in some seriously goofy situations. It’s the humour that really sets this JRPG apart, and there’s a lot of it. It also gives some unique character abilities, from having a character who uses tarot cards and aromatherapy in combat, to a puppetmaster whose doll gains abilities from new outfits, to a vampire who changes forms from golden bat to muscle-bound pro wrestler. From a gameplay perspective, one of the best things about the game is the Judgement Ring, which turns turn-based combat into something much more active and interesting.


7. Star Ocean: Second Story – Another amazing  JRPG. Like many JRPGs, the story is a bit of a save the world cliche (though it does add a lot of sci-fi elements to the usual fantasy tropes), but it’s the details that make this game great. First, you get to pick your main character. You can be the attractive, broody, sword-wielding young man with spike hair OR you can play as the naive young woman with magical abilities. Okay, I’m doing a bad job selling this. Your choice of character makes subtle changes to the story, including which other characters you can recruit, and changes some of the story that you get to see, so that’s cool. Second, crafting. You can write, you can blacksmith, you can cook, or compose music or create art. It’s a really robust crafting system that lets you create a ton of usable and special items. If you get good enough at cooking you can even compete in an Iron Chef-like tournament, which is amazing. I’m not generally a fan of crafting in games, but in Star Ocean it is so much fun. Third, the combat is really interesting. Rather than turn-based, combat is more active with you controlling movement and actions on the battlefield. Also, 4 characters participate in each battle, and 4 is better than 3. There’s also an emphasis on building relationships with the other characters in your party and Private Actions let you talk to each character individually.

Mass Effect - Commander Shepard

8. Mass Effect – I refuse to pick one game, Mass Effect is best looked at as a series. Why is Mass Effect awesome? Well, primarily because of Commander Shepard and Jennifer Hale. Shepard is an amazingly kick-ass space action hero and Mass Effect is one of the few games where I enjoy both the Paragon and Renegade character development track. In a lot of games the renegade/dark/evil options just make your character into an asshole, but Mass Effect gives options that are pragmatic and direct rather than just being jerky. Character development is great, relationships in the game get into your head and never let go, choices are hard. Mass Effect features some really memorable characters and the trilogy as a whole is an experience that covers not only the thrills and dangers of saving the entire galaxy but also has a ton of smaller, quieter moments that make the games special. Also, it’s a very solid 3rd person shooter.

Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines

9. Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines – Set in White Wolf’s World of Darkness, VtMB and is an atmospheric and immersive RPG. As a freshly sired vampire you need to navigate through an eternally dark Los Angeles, making friends and enemies, feeding on mortals, fighting foes, and surviving vampire politics. The game is not without flaws, there are some pretty nasty bugs, but the story and interactions in the game more than make up for them. The lore of the game is deep, each vampire clan has its own strengths and motivations. You can choose whether to abide by the rules of the Masquerade and what clans to align yourself with. The writing and voice acting in the game is top notch, and there are some truly creepy moments.

Final Fantasy x-2

10. Final Fantasy x-2 – Final Fantasy X was a great game, and X-2 leveraged the great world and characters it had set up and added some amazingly fun new gameplay. Yuna becomes the heroine and teams up with Rikku and new character Paine to spread girl power throughout the land (and save the world, obviously). Though there are some cringey bits (I find serious musical numbers in games to be immensely uncomfortable), the sheer amount of fun this game offers more than makes up for it. Combat has evolved past that of FFX. It’s faster, it’s slicker. Characters can use numerous different dresspheres which offer completely different sets of abilities and a snazzy new outfits. The mini-games like Sphere Break and Gunner’s Gauntlet are amusing diversions and the quest-focused story works really well.

Well, that’s my 10 (right now). I seem to have a thing for RPGs. And here’s a video where I share some more thoughts on what makes a game good enough to be called favourite.

What are your top 10 games?

13 responses to “The 10 Best Games Ever (according to me)

  1. That is one epic list of games. I’ve never seen anyone that loves Planescape: Torment as much as I do.

    • It’s so good! Also, after reading your list I think I’m going to pick up Persona 3, I’ve never played a persona game before.

      • You should. Both Persona 3 and Persona 4 is epic games to play. I just have to ask, have you heard about Pillar of Eternity and Torment: Tides of Numenera?

        • Yes! I’m a backer for Numenera, I’m really excited for that though I think it may still be a while before it’s done. Pillars of Eternity will probably be a day 1 purchase. It’s out soon, I think? I’m really glad isometric RPGs have been making such a comeback lately.

  2. I am ashamed to say that I have not played a single one of these games. 🙁

    The most recent Tex Murphy game trailer turned me off in a major way – I couldn’t stand how much I cringed just from that short exposure. So I’m not really interested in those games.

    I do have the first 2 Mass Effect games that I will get to this year, and might even be persuaded to buy the 3rd after doing so. I am looking forward to it!

    I don’t know why, but the FF games have never called to me in the way a lot of western RPGs have. I am interested, just not enough to bump them up the priority list.

    I’m not really surprised that your top 10 list is mostly RPG and adventure games, given that’s what I’ve seen you play most since you left WoW. It’s a deep genre!
    Dahakha recently posted..Steam Challenge – SBCG4AP Ep. 1 & 2

    • None of them, wow! What is your preferred genre?

      I think the most recent Tex Murphy is quite a bit more corny than the original ones and more of a game for existing fans. I think FMV with people who aren’t really professional actors (though the series has some) will always be a little cringeworthy though.

      I used to love FF, but starting with 12 I’ve just been completely turned off by the series. They changed combat to make it almost automated, using tactics you set up before battles and I find it really terrible. I actually haven’t played a JRPG I’ve really liked since 2007 (or at least that’s when the game was released). Western RPGs have definitely become more enjoyable for me.

      • I don’t really have a preferred genre, but I would say that historically I played RPGs, FPS and strategy (both turn-based and RTS) the most. I kind of lost touch with the industry a bit when I was sucked into WoW – even when I looked outside of it for other games, they tended to be MMOs – so I’ve been a little daunted at how much variety there is now. There is a huge backlog of games that I heard so much about (e.g. Mass Effect, Far Cry) but either didn’t have the specs to run it, didn’t have the money for it, or just never got around to it (thanks, WoW!).

        That includes a lot of the classic games from 15-20 years ago, like Torment, BG 2, Icewind Dale, Warcraft 3, C&C, Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, Silent Hill, Diablo 2…it’s a long list. I feel like I have a lot to catch up on.

        And then there are all the cool little indie games that have spread in the last 5+ years….

        Anyway, yeah between WoW, not owning any console except an N64, and generally being way behind the curve with my computer specs, I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised that I scored 0/10 on your list. The one that I am most ashamed about is Torment, of course, and I will never say no to a free game. 🙂

        I don’t think I could ever do a favourite games list, because the ones that I love, I love for very different reasons. This makes it extremely difficult for me to compare them and choose one over another. Like, trying to decide if I liked the Curse of Monkey Island more than Shogun: Total War is impossible, I just can’t rank the joy of humour and puzzles over the joy of hard-fought battles and epic strategies. It’d have to be done genre by genre, I think.
        Dahakha recently posted..Steam Challenge – SBCG4AP Ep. 1 & 2

    • Also, if you want to play Torment, I’ll give you a code (yes, I’m a Planescape pusher).

  3. We align so perfectly on Planescape, then deviate equally perfect in the opposite direction with FFX-2. Opinions are amazing!
    Murf recently posted..Today, my valentine is Tales of the Aggronaut.

    • They are! I know FFX-2 is an acquired taste, but if you get past the silliness I think the gameplay is the most fun and engaging of all the FF games.

  4. I remember getting XCOM on playstation 3, as part of the monthly free games option. I’d not heard anything about it before it came on PSN, but commanding a squad to take down aliens sounded fun enough, so I got it solely on that basis.

    I never really gave it chance though, but from what I did play of it, it was actually a really cool game. I believe I lost my save game file and so I never went back to replay it, but it’s a game I wouldn’t mind picking up again to complete someday, in fact I should still have it on PSN.
    Chris recently posted..The Lack of Console Strategy Games

    • I definitely recommend it if you like strategy games, especially if you already have it. And the expansion, Enemy Within, is also worthwhile. It adds a lot of customization for your soldiers.

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