This was a very difficult decision.

This has been a tumultuous decade. We started things off with a great leader in the person of Barack Obama, and now we are ending it with one of, if not the worst person in power in American history in the person of he who shall not be named. When it comes to games however, there has been a smorgasbord of games spanning PC, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo platforms. With the decade winding to a close I’ll be going over the nine games that I enjoyed or had a big impact on me.

  1. Life is Strange (2015)
Video Credit: GameSpot

Prior to me playing Life Is Strange earlier this year I remember Adnan Riaz speaking very highly of it. I bought it whenever it went on sale to support the studio and would always think in the back of my head “soon”. So back in February I decide to play the first episode of the five. I should’ve done this sooner! To catch those of you up who haven’t played it: you play as Max Caulfield, an aspiring photographer enrolled at Blackwell Academy in the fictional city of Arcadia Bay, Oregon. You witness a death and it triggers Max’s meta-gene and she finds herself back in class and she discovers she can reverse time. However, while this is happening things in Arcadia Bay start getting stranger.

The B-plot involves a missing girl, Rachel Amber and is very reminiscent of Twin Peaks. I’ll try not to spoil the big stuff but things go in interesting directions and certain characters are not what you expect them to be. I talked about this with Graydon on an episode of Players Club where I said the game has an “indie/art-house” feel to it. Unlike certain Telltale games where your choices have very little to do with a story that is set in stone like Game of Thrones; Life is Strange has so many little consequences to your actions. Some can be small, others can be gargantuan. This game makes me want to erase my memories of it just so I can have my mind blown again.

2. Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014)

Video Credit: ReinaDCD

Dragon Age: Origins was released back in 2009 and was one of the best games of all time. It felt like a great throwback to classic CRPG’s and at the time felt like the spiritual successor to the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games. In 2012, the sequel to Dragon Age was released and would go on to become a very divisive game even now. The game began with two now iconic characters in Varric Tethras and Cassandra Pentaghast. Cassandra is trying to learn the location of where “The Champion” is. While DAII would be the middle child of the games, it builds on DA: Origins and Awakening and it in turn set up the events of Dragon Age: Inquisition. The main conflict that carries over to Dragon Age: Inquisition from II is the Mage rebellion against the Templars and the end of the Circle of Magi across Ferelden, Orlais, and the Free Marches.

The game begins in a fantastic way that still gets me to this day. The main menu is comprised of Templars and Mages walking to the Divine Conclave which was held at the Temple of Sacred Ashes from the first Dragon Age game. Once you imported your decisions made in the previous games to Dragon Age: Keep you press the start game button and BOOM! The conclave is destroyed. You wake to learn the player character (who was at the conclave), was the sole survivor. This is what took the life of Divine Justinia and all of the other high ranking members of the Templars, Mages, and Chantry.

What I loved about Inquisition was that it looked, felt, and played like a fantasy epic. This may shock you but this is my Lord of the Rings. There are so many tiny things that can be done, friendships to make, characters to romance. If those weren’t enough, this game was built onto DICE’s Frostbite engine which didn’t do well/still hasn’t done well when it comes to non-FPS games. If the writing for this game wasn’t as good as it was this game could’ve been a disaster.

3. Tales From The Borderlands (2014-2015)

Video Credit: AceParty

When I first played Tales From The Borderlands for a spoilercast I experienced something I hadn’t from a Telltale game: humor. This was as you can obviously tell, set in the “colorful” world of Borderlands. You were not in the shoes of a badass Vault Hunter or anyone of importance. You were actually in control of two characters: Rhys and Fiona. The former was a frustrated employee of Borderlands‘ evil company Hyperion, the latter was a con-artist who along with her sister, had been groomed for thieving at a young age. Despite taking place after the events of Borderlands 2 and during Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, the game told an original story with appearances from Borderlands 1 and 2 NPCs and PC’s.

Like every Borderlands game, everything revolves around locating a Vault which houses all kinds of loot. They could be valuables, weapons, and more. The main antagonist of the game is Handsome Jack from Borderlands 2 who, despite biting it at the hands of the Borderlands 2 Vault Hunters, still manages to steal the show. Each episode intro had me either laughing or very depressed. Some examples being Atlas Mugged and Vault of the Traveller. Every story based game out there has a message to be interpreted by its audience. The message that seemed to be sent when it came to Tales From The Borderlands was that of Friendship. The friendship built between Rhys, Vaughn, Fiona, Sasha, Loader Bot, and Gortys is simply fantastic.

4. Fallout: New Vegas (2010)

Video Credit: ArcGaming

“War… War Never Changes.”

These words have defined Fallout from its origins in the late 1990s all the way to the franchise’s resurgence in 2008. While there are people who love Bethesda’s Fallout 3, there are a large amount of people who don’t quite feel the same about it. There was however, another Fallout game that released ten years ago made my Obsidian that felt very much like classic Fallout. How this was possible you may ask? Because Obsidian is what remains of Black Isle Studios which was the developer of Fallout 1, 2, and Van Buren.

Fallout: New Vegas sees you in the role of a Courier who was ambushed and left for dead in the Mojave Wasteland. The different take on Fallout with New Vegas was taking a lot of the concepts and ideas from Van Buren (the original Fallout 3), and placing them into the world of Fallout to the extent of using characters/factions from the cancelled Van Buren.

While the game was released to both praise and criticism for technical issues, modders have stepped in to fix the problems.

5. Saints Row IV (2013)

Video Credit: Omega1397

God do I love Saints Row and the Third Street Saints. Back when THQ was still around and was nearing their bankruptcy the head of the company at the time was Jason Rubin of Naughty Dog. Volition was getting ready to work on the next piece of Downloadable Content titled “Enter the Dominatrix” which despite being an April Fool’s Day joke announcement, was greenlit. Rubin however, sent word to have “Enter the Dominatrix” be worked into a full fledged sequel to Saints Row: The Third. The game would lessen the focus on graphical fidelity and more on the bonkers transformation the game had undergone from Saints Row 2 to Saints Row: The Third. The big introduction in Saints Row IV was superpowers which had technically made an appearance in Saints Row 3 in the “Trouble With Clones” DLC. The other big introduction was the new antagonist: Zinyak. An alien that parodies what we expect when we see an alien in a video game.

The game was mainly set in a simulation devised by Zinyak which is very much like The Matrix. This opened the board for characters from previous games to return. There is a recreation of one of the greatest fights from 1980s cinema and it will make any fans of said movie lose it. This game really does a number on me with my OCD when it comes to collecting the power orbs similar to Crackdown. The insurance fraud minigame is the one thing that is monumentally changed as it becomes a not so kid friendly version of the PSN game PAIN. As you can just start running, leap into the sky, and hit the button to ragdoll. It’s really fun if you like dark humor. During an episode of The Dual Shock Show with Matt Mobley I may have talked about this game for an hour without letting Matt say anything. After the disappointment that was Agents of Mayhem, it still feels good to take a dive back into Saints Row IV.

6. WWE ’12 (2011)

Video Credit: WWE 2k

This is more of a sentimental pick as it was the game that hit at the absolute perfect moment. I was bedridden for the last part of 2011 with a fused-spine and once I was able to sit comfortably at my computer chair. Then CM Punk did his infamous pipe-bomb promo on Raw and then the Summer of Punk storyline unfolded in which he didn’t have the belt, feuded with Kevin Nash, Triple H, and John Laurinaitis. I think WWE ’12 was the wrestling game I put the most time in as I would play the game with a wrestling video in the background. These varied from wrestling documentaries, web series that would be on at the time like Wrestlezone’s Chair Shot Reality, or podcasts.

7. Assassin’s Creed: Origins (2017)

Video Credit: NRMgamingHD

Assassin’s Creed is a series that has been around for over a decade and after the release of Unity in 2014 which had a pretty catastrophic release with many bugs leading to a great TwoBestFriendsPlay episode where Matt and Pat uninstalled game fixing updates and experienced the unfortunate but flawed mess that people had to play in November 2014. After the release of the overlooked next game in the series AC: Syndicate things were looking bad as due to the negativity of Unity, Syndicate was the second worst selling game in the series only topping Rogue. It was after this that Ubisoft made a call that had long been requested: skip a year. That’s right, instead of putting out an Assassin’s Creed title they put out… more Assassin’s Creed out with the release of the Ezio Collection which featured the games the character appeared in.

While work began on Origins after the release of Black Flag in 2014 it wouldn’t be seen worldwide in 2017. You were cast in the role of Bayek, a Medjay who is seeking vengeance. Alongside his wife Aya, they play key roles in the struggle between the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order. The game was a real departure from the previous games as it changed and added as well. An example would be that from the first Assassin’s Creed all the way to Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate the controls were mapped to a limb system in the form of buttons controlling the legs, hands, and head. In Origins things were changed. For example, the combat was geared towards a Soulslike manner with RB/RT being the new quick/strong attack. Not just that but the game felt lived in as opposed to the simulations of the previous games which is the main plot of the series post AC3.

The combat is fun, the story is great, and simply put, Ubisoft knocked it out of the park with Assassin’s Creed: Origins.

8. Resident Evil 7: BioHazard (2017)

Video Credit: GameTrailers

After Resident Evil 6 in 2012 it was a dark time for Resident Evil fans. The series had become a summer blockbuster and had drifted away from its roots as a survival horror series. What had made things even more dire was an announcement that the numbered games would be more like 4,5, and 6 ie “action schlock” while the Revelations’ games would be more survival horror in the vein of classic Resident Evil. I for one, was very worried. A few years later in 2015 a VR demo was shown by Capcom titled “KI7CHEN” which ran on the new RE Engine.

When the game was revealed at E3 I remember the amount of cheers and freak outs when the title was shown. The game had a late January 2017 release date and changed some things like switching the point of view from third to first person, brought back save rooms, and even had a preview of what the Resident Evil 2 Remake Mr. X artificial intelligence would look like in the form of forever roaming Jack Baker who cannot be killed for most of the game and would simply fall down in a “dead-ish” state. When you would leave the area and come back he’d be gone. It was something I hadn’t seen before and wanted to see more of. It’s important that I had mentioned Revelations as the director on the first Resident Evil: Revelations game Koshi Nakanishi, directed RE7. Looking back on it, Resident Evil 7 is not only a “soft reboot” of Resident Evil as a series, but a preview of what was to come in the remake for Resident Evil 2 and the upcoming Resident Evil 3 remake.

9. The Walking Dead: A Telltale Game Series (2012)

Video Credit: GameSpot

This game did so many things. It changed how storytelling in games would be done, it put Telltale Games on the map while at the same time dooming them, and it told the story of a man who would do whatever it took to protect a little girl named Clementine. There was a reason that the first Season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead was different than what came before it, and long after. As documented in the Telltale No Clip documentary there was pushback between the development team and the executives. Jake Rodkin and Sean Vanaman who were the “showrunners” of that special first season of the episodic series had the ability to have a barrier between the dev team and the higher-ups.

The story of the four seasons which is set inside the world of the comics goes over what happened in the initial outbreak. The cast of characters are developed (the ones who make it through that is), while the enemies were mainly walkers, the real enemies were the living as seen in the second episode involving the St. Johns. While many out there were cynical about Clementine being little more than an escort mission like me, that changed with the way Lee and Clementine played off each other and you could get the notion that Lee would do anything to protect Clementine and make sure she is happy and safe. This would end up being the downfall of the Lee character but it was one hell of a ride.

There you have it. My top nine games of the decade.

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