The last ten years in video games were magical. I found some of my favorite games of all time and plenty of hidden gems that deserved more success then they received. This list however is my own personal favorite games from the last decade. It wasn’t easy to pick some of them, but looking it over, I’m pretty pleased.
1. Portal 2
The original Portal is one of the coolest experiences I have ever experienced both in terms of puzzles and narrative. I wasn’t sure how well a sequel would work, but my god, Portal 2 came out and impressed me even more. The puzzles remained on point, the characters are fleshed out and hilarious, and it made me even more intrigued with the world left behind.
It’s hard to say a game is perfect, but Portal 2 is about as close as they come in my opinion. I can’t think of a single negative thing to say about the game and all these years later, I just want another iteration. I don’t even know what they would do, but I just want more. More GLaDOS, more Cave Johnson, more Wheatley…doesn’t matter. That game was an absolute blast, so give me more.
2. Stardew Valley
One of my favorite games of all time was Harvest Moon. Somewhere along the way, it lost its luster and became something else. Thankfully, Eric Barone was a fan as well and decided to take it upon himself to make the Harvest Moon game he wanted to see. He succeeded. People who didn’t know they would like Harvest Moon became fans, and long-time fans were ecstatic to see something so close to what they loved and have it surpassed.
Stardew Valley took a proven formula, expanded on it with inspiration from games like Rune Factory and Minecraft, and filled it with as much love as it possibly could. As if there wasn’t enough to do in the game, updates have added plenty of content from new marriage possibilities, multiplayer, and more. As if it hadn’t already usurped Harvest Moon as one of my favorite games ever, it keeps giving me more and more reason to accept that.
3. Mass Effect 2
It took me a number of times to work through the original Mass Effect. The same can’t be said for Mass Effect 2 because I was hooked from the beginning all the way through the end. This game felt fresh in both story and player choice, and the action kept players engaged.
It’s also a shame not many things this decade has given me the same rush as I had completing the final mission in the game. Fulfilling player missions meant things would work out better, and I was on the edge of my seat not only during main missions, but side ones too. This game nailed so many things, and it’s a shame it never saw a collection of sorts…yet.
4. Persona 4: Golden
I spent a lot of time in Persona 4: Golden. Sad thing is…I want to go back at some point. While the gameplay improved with Persona 5, it was the story and characters that has Persona 4: Golden win out over Persona 5 in my heart. It made owning a PlayStation Vita well worth it.
The plot of the story was like an interesting CreepyPasta story with characters I loved. Solid RPG mechanics, the wonderful music and colors….the game is awesome and deserves to be on this list.
5. The Last of Us
Not many games have impacted me emotionally to the point of tears. The Last of Us did just that, and did it almost immediately. Having been a new father for less than a year, The Last of Us resonated with me far more than it probably would have had I not had a child.
This choice is purely campaign too as I never touched the acclaimed multiplayer. That speaks how highly I thought the world was fleshed out and characters complimented the story both in personalities and interactions. I look forward to the sequel.
Journey is one of those games that upon hearing it described, I had no idea how much I would care about it. It wasn’t until I awoke in the world with my character bleating out it’s nonsensical language and careening down sand dunes with my mysterious friend that it finally hit me. The world was majestic. I was in love.
Not only was the world beautiful, but the interactions with the random players that would drop in were too. I have become mostly a single-player gamer because of tainted online experiences, but Journey proved games with randoms can be wonderful. Seeing my friends disappear was heartbreaking, and seeing everyone who involved at the end was magical. There is no better word for Journey either. That game was magical.
In 2018, not only was Celeste a game I hadn’t heard about prior to reviews, but it became my favorite game of that year. It’s still easy to see why. Platforming is tight and concise while unforgiving for even the slightest bit of mistake. Like another platformer a little further down my list, Celeste is another case of a game punishing the player through difficult but brilliant level design that leaves the player feeling accomplished when finally nailing that jump they previously couldn’t.
If that wasn’t enough, the story too is sweet and touching delving into the mental illness of main character Madeline. Her struggle is well realized and easy to connect with and I found myself wanting to play more not only because of the amazing gameplay, but how connected I felt with the character and to ultimately see how her story would end.
8. Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 seems to be a mixed bag for people. However, I loved the pacing, becoming engrossed in the world, the random events that kept me on my toes, and the story of Arthur Morgan. I always find it hard to care about prequels since you know where stories end up, but Rockstar nailed it with Red Dead Redemption 2.
In a medium that focuses so much on modern, futuristic, or fantastical worlds; the world of Red Dead Redemption 2 is such a nice difference. I never knew how much I wanted a cowboy open world until the first game, and this sequel just solidified my love for this kind of setting.
9. Rocket League
I’m not a fan of soccer. But I did learn I am a fan of leaping, turbo-boosted, flipping, destructive cars playing soccer. Rocket League came out like a beast and was hands down some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing games.
The game is easy enough to pick up for a quick game or two and its always interesting to see the changes made since release. New modes, new cosmetics, new arenas, and more keep the longevity of this game going and make it better as time passes.
10. Super Meat Boy
Super Meat Boy rejuvenated platformers for me in a way not done since Super Mario World back on the SNES. It set the standard of quick restarts, showing your failed attempts, and difficult levels that would become a staple for years to come without becoming obsolete.
It shouldn’t be obsolete either. The game had me question for a while if it was my favorite platformer of all time. Finishing levels was challenging and rewarding without feeling cheap. The mistakes were on nobody but you as controlling Meat Boy feels solid. I never did succeed in all the hidden levels, but I never found it a slog replaying the same level hundreds of times either.
There you have it, my top ten games of the decade. Keep an eye out for other members of VGU.tv to list their favorite games from this decade as well.
Here’s looking at the next decade. A new gen is about to begin and plenty of known games for 2020 look like they could be contenders for the same title here in 10 years.
Did I make a bad pick? Do you agree? Leave a comment below and tell me yours as well!