As a lifetime gamer, who has literally grown from the beginning of gaming, it has been a beautiful thing to watch games begin to rival film as an art form. Long have role playing games tried to simulate the experience of a novel, but the ability to truly simulate real experience and take you to realistic worlds you cannot or might not actually want to experience in your own life is the heights of entertainment. Gaming is on the verge of surpassing filmmaking in that regards, and these are the games that show just how far we have come.
12. No Man’s Sky
This game has expanded from the biggest disappointment, to one of the most expansive experiences in the world of gaming. Traveling through the universe with your friends and building bases on new planets is a phenomenal experience.
11. Resident Evil: Biohazard
This franchise took a turn in an all new direction and created one of the most frightening experiences in any medium. I have not been scared like this since I was playing ‘Silent Hill 2’ at a motel in San Angelo nearly 20 years ago.
10. Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain
The final game the great Hideo Kojima will ever direct in this series, fundamentally improved everything about stealth gameplay and provided an infinite amount of replay ability. If it had a more compelling story it might be the best game of the decade.
9. God of War
This epic game stays locked into your characters for the entire 30 hours of gameplay. Never does it cut for cinematic or to provide a different angle. It’s just one continuous shot and this makes the fantastical gameplay feel real. Combine this with a powerful story of father and son, you get one of the most memorable experiences of the last decade.
8. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
More often than not, gaming is a narrative based exercise for me. All of my favorite art is judged by characters, story, emotion, and what connects me to it. Not always. ‘Mario Kart 8’ is just plain fun and it’s the best multiplayer game of the decade. Sure, there are tons of awesome first person shooters that have graced your screens, and a number of them are in the ‘Best of the Rest’ part of this list, but Mario Kart is just expertly crafted level design with an infinite amount of replay ability.
7. Final Fantasy XV
This game might not have as good of a story as some of the old Final Fantasy games, but the bond of brotherhood in this game is about as good as it gets. Noctis, Gladiolus, Ignis, and Prompto are four of the most memorable characters in the history of gaming. Throw in a new and engaging battle system, you have one of the best RPG’s of the 21st century.
6. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
One of the most beautifully executed role playing games in the history of gaming, and the role playing portion of it is just the tip of the iceberg. Discovering puzzles, climbing, soaring, and riding through this world is a pure delight. Everything that exemplifies the heights of gaming is on display in this unforgettable experience.
5. Horizon Zero Dawn
It’s a testament to how good the top five games of the decade truly are to have to put this game at number five. Before you even get to the menu for this exciting and gorgeous adventure, you know you are going to get something special. With an epic story, consistently exciting gameplay, and the most beautifully rendered world in modern gaming, ‘Horizon Zero Dawn’ and its expansion are a phenomenal fifty hour experience. And to top that all off, Aloy is the best new character of the century!
4. Red Dead Redemption II
I can’t believe this game is squeezing in at number four on my list. Rockstar Games has created some of the best games in history, but this one is truly their crown jewel. In a massive experience, that can easily be spread over 80 hours, they take you into the heart of the western frontier unlike you have ever experienced before. If the idea of gaming is to let you live a time and place, then this game is a time capsule to the final days of the old west. Add to this some unforgettable missions and a story that you will never forget, you have a recipe for a masterpiece!
3. Tomb Raider
The ‘Tomb Raider’ series seemed all but dead before this unforgettable experience was realized. Completely rethought as almost a horror story, Lara Croft becomes the John McClane (Bruce Willis in ‘Die Hard’ for all you young people) of video games. Within seconds of the opening, Lara is being impaled and struggling to make it out of a cave. Then, throughout the course of the game she is thrust into violence for survival and her struggle is the heart of the whole thing. It loses steam a bit in the final act, but this game recreated Lara Croft as the strongest female protagonist in any medium and gave legions a brand new series.
2. Bioshock Infinite
This game took one of the most original horror franchises around and raised it to new heights. Literally, raising the tale from under the sea, to above the clouds, and transforming the dynamic of the gameplay along the way. Every inch of this games design and gameplay mechanics is unique and a blast to spend time playing. However, it is the twisted tale that will stay with you for years after it concludes. I have not played this game for more than half the decade, but I remember it vividly. Which is why this game is one of the most unforgettable experiences of all time!
1. The Last of Us
The top three games on my list have been at the top in my head since they all came out in 2013. What a year for gaming that was, and the best of those games was ‘The Last of Us’. Like ‘Tomb Raider’, this game puts its characters through great horror very quickly, but what is does that no game has done so vividly, is make you feel that horrific loss in your bones. It’s a thing that only being someone or inhabiting someone can do. And that’s one of the things that games let you do that no other art form can. From the unforgettable opening, Naughty Dog Studios create two of the most memorable characters in the history of storytelling with Joel and Ellie. They craft one of the most finely tuned and intense gameplay systems to ever grace screens. And they craft a tale that takes familiar tropes and crafts them into a conclusion that still has me thinking today. The greatest art doesn’t just inspire or entertain, it leaves us changed in some way. No game I’ve experienced in the last decade changed me more than ‘The Last of Us’.
Best of the Rest
Batman: Arkham Knight
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Super Mario Odyssey
Grand Theft Auto 5
Max Payne 3
Far Cry 5
Batman: Arkham City
Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Elders Scroll V: Skyrim
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Super Mario Maker
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Fallout: New Vegas
Final Fantasy XIII
Assassins Creed III
Assassins Creed Odyssey
Beyond Two Souls
Far Cry 4
The Walking Dead: Telltale Series
Red Dead Redemption
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