Here’s the thing about me… I am not much of a gamer. I LIKE video games; I PLAY video games damn frequently. But it’s more that I’m not good at games, and because of that, I tire of individual titles easily. I also have a bad penchant for buying games and either NEVER playing them or playing them for about two hours and never touching them again (‘Sup Batman: Arkham City, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Grand Theft Auto V, and The Last Of Us).
I downloaded The Witcher 3 A YEAR AGO around Christmas, and I just started playing it on this past Thanksgiving! And it’s coming along very slowly. I think I am stuck in a well after fighting the first actual monster? I don’t know. I got distracted and started playing the #2 game on my list. And then I downloaded Until Dawn and want to play that next.
That said, I do quite enjoy video games despite being a bad “gamer”, and I can tend to get passionate about the ones I really dig. You should have seen me when the Phoenix Wright games were coming out in the 2000’s! Oh man! Those had the same effect on me that Game of Thrones had on everyone else in the world.
There were some Ace Attorney games released in the 2010’s, but the magic wore off for me when I just couldn’t get through the snoozefest that was Ace Attorney Investigations. Who would have thought getting to play as Edgeworth would be so… “blah”?
But what games from the 2010’s DID have magic for me? At least SOME magic. Trace amounts of magic? There had to have been a few, right?
Here are my choices:
10. Injustice: Gods Among Us
I guess this is the obligatory Fighting Game of my list? And it’s comics-based, so… fun! I actually bought this because I had designs on my wife and I learning and playing it together, but I IMMEDIATELY started off much better than she did (she isn’t a game player at all, so even my mild level of gaming experience was a gulf for her to overcome), and it never got better. She got bored with it quickly, and I barely played it since. AND HERE IT IS, IN MY TOP 10! I’m telling you, keeping this to one game per series is killing me because I can’t load it up with Pokemons.
Anyway, I did play through almost all of the story mode after Amanda bailed. It’s not bad, honestly. It’s fun to mash buttons and watch big attack sequences. And with characters I know and love, it was a joy getting to see their abilities so beautifully brought to life.
My inherent problem with fighting games is that literally anyone in the world would wipe me off the map at them, so I am always too scared to take them online. So besides Story Mode, there usually isn’t much more to do.
9. Red Dead Redemption
Near the bottom of the top ten, we get to Red Dead Redemption. The thing is, I really enjoyed this game, so this isn’t a knock. I know people love this game, so don’t take this as a complaint. But I got several hours in, put it down, and never went back to it. I think I started playing Fallout 3 instead? I got them both at the same time.
The big “problem” with RDR was that I got to a part of the game where I had to win a horse race to really advance the story, but I had a shitty horse. Instead of training up a new pony, I just… played another game. Such is gaming for me: the moment I hit adversity, I grow weary and move on.
Still.. this game was a blast until I got to that point, whether it was playing poker, hogtying fools, or just roaming the untamed West. I’ll definitely play it again sometime if I feel like unpacking the PS3. I feel like I left a LOT of fun on the table with this one when my attention span dissipated.
8. Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime
LiaDS is a downloadable Switch game that requires teamwork from 4 players to navigate a spacecraft around and save hostages. It’s cute and fun, and coordinating efforts amongst your friends is a nice touch while you all figure out what you are best at. You want me manning the shield or maybe flying.
I really enjoy these kinds of low-rent, downloadable casual fun games, and of all the ones I played this decade, this was the best.
It’s a decent party game that is addicting as heck. Anytime we have four people at our house, we end up playing this.
7. Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout New Vegas was simultaneously a game I loved and one that frustrated me to no end. The frustration came in the form of having the “Ultimate” edition or whatever it was called that had all the DLC included. After several hours of gameplay, this started affecting performance on the PS3, which I read is somewhat common. After many hours, it rendered the game unplayable due to freezing and stuttering gameplay. But still, we’re clocking it in at #7. Why?
Well, the game was just so much fun! Even though I was able to complete Fallout 3 without the technical issues, I still dug NV more (and don’t get me started on Fallout 4, which I found to be tedious after just a few hours). The game seemed more tongue-in-cheek, the setting was more varied, and the threats were more perilous. Those fakakta mosquito/hornet things, right?! Screw those guys. I’d rather fight a pair of Deathclaws from FO3 than one of those.
New Vegas was a fantastic open world adventure. The Capital Wasteland was intense and Boston had tons to do, but New Vegas was simply the most joyful.
God, this game is beautiful. And such an experience. It takes about two-to-three hours to complete, and while there is replay value, it depends on how many other folks around the world are playing at the same time as you. I played it once, loved it, and will likely never play again. But it was such a memorable experience.
Journey is just what it purports to be: your little avatar has to journey across a difficult terrain to make it to an alleged paradise atop a distant mountain. You encounter other people whose names or gamertags you can’t see, and with whom you can’t communicate aside from emitting a musical call. You float in and out of each others’ lives on your treks, and the whole thing is just… powerful. I want a hundred sequels to this game.
5. Saints Row IV
On the far, far end of the gaming spectrum from the beauty and innocent wonder of Journey, you have the Saints Row series, which is basically GTA with the absurdity turned up to a billion. Saints Row The Third and SRIV were both fun, but SRIV just decided to give you super-powers for the hell of it. There have been similar concepts in games like Infamous (that’s the one, right?), but Saints Row is just an entire game of taking the piss.
Melee combat your foes with a Dildo Sword! Blast your enemies with the power of the Dubstep Gun! Fly around at ludicrous speeds and make stealing cars irrelevant! Take a break by hopping in the sack with any member of your crew! Chase down Keith David with help from Rowdy Roddy Piper for an epic fight scene! It’s unabashedly ridiculous.
It’s maybe not as deep or polished as some of the more serious types of open world experiences, but it more than makes up for that a dozen times over in silliness and joy.
4. Spider-Man PS4
I’mma cheat here and just refer to you to my existing review of this game!
3. Telltale’s The Walking Dead series
You know what’s better than playing video games? I don’t know, a lot of things. Really good coconut cream pies! Sex! Batman: The Long Halloween! That feeling you have where you just kind of “know” what song is going to come up next on Shuffle and then it does! Wait, where was I going with this?
Oh, right! The part about video games I don’t love is the PLAYING part. I don’t really want to face a high-level challenge in my relaxing downtime (SPOILER: Dark Souls is not on my list); I want to experience an engaging story that I can direct and influence. TellTale’s The Walking Dead is that.
The challenges you face in TWD are more moral than reflex and hand-eye coordination based. Who do you save? What do you say in a tense moment? What group do you trust?
I haven’t finished the last game in the series yet, but I will get to it soon enough. I loved the first 3+ games, though, and the world they built. This was a game even Amanda loved, as she would dictate when I had to play it so she could watch along. It just absorbs you in. I wish the show was as good.
2. Pokémon Shield
POKEMON. Do I like Pokémon?
It turns out that I really do! I have basically been playing Pokémon, in one form or another, non-stop since 1998. Red, Yellow, Gold, Crystal, Stadium, Ruby, LeafGreen, Stadium 2, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, Black, Y, Alpha Sapphire, GO, the TCG, and then, Shield.
Pokémon Shield is what made Pokémon FUN again for me. With Pokémon Black/White (Gen 5), I got into online battling, and with X/Y/Alpha Sapphire (Gen 6), that was all I did. I dedicated literal HUNDREDS of hours into trading, breeding, and battling online. The game, as many do when you become competitive with it, became less enjoyable and more frustrating.
After having skipped Generation 7 entirely to play Go and the card game instead, I decided I would play Shield the way I USED to love Pokémon. Just enjoying the storyline and building new teams of Pokeys with unknown IVs, scattershot EVs, and random natures.
You know what? It made me remember why I loved these games.
Also they took out HMs! And random encounters! And the Wild Area is one of the best locations in any game to date.
1. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The only thing that would have kept Skyrim from being my #1 was the feeling I had that it came out in the late 2000’s. Nope! 2011! Making the cut!
Skyrim is just great. The best open world game ever made. There are folks that will tell you Oblivion is better, but I’m here to tell you that I played some Oblivion, and the graphics kept me from ever getting involved. It looks like a Windows game from 1996! The story may well be superior, but I just thought it looked so derpy. Skyrim is marvelous to behold AND play.
The world is nuts to adventure through, there is a metric butt-ton of things to do, building skills is fun. It’s all good. The only negative is how repetitive and awful crafting can be when you want to make better armor (and get enough skill to be able to), but that’s fine because you can break up the tedium by going off to yell wolves off of mountain sides. And it’s one of those games where it’s fun to see your growth. When you can finally defeat one of those giants that used to launch you into orbit, it feels great. And soon after that, you’ll be trashing them for fun! Once when I was playing my first playthrough, and a bear wandered into my fight with a dragon; the two of them obliterated me together. Hours later, I stumbled into a fight that had a dragon, two giants, a bear, and some bandits all beating the hell out of me and each other; I emerged as the soul survivor.
The only thing I never accomplished was starting off as a straight melee brawler and making any real progress. I still need to try that someday. And I’m sure I will.
The week before this article is released, I downloaded three new games: Until Dawn, Dragon Ball Fighter Z, and Catherine: Full Body. It will be interesting to see if I play them much or if they go into my “I never really followed through on this” pile.
Until Dawn, which I mentioned way up at the top of this article, is likely to be my next video game destination. I just heard about it this month, and it seems like a really engaging story. I won’t get it played in time to see if it bumps anything off the list, unfortunately.
Unless I dedicate a LOT of time to it. Hmmm.
Until next time… take care!