Anyone who knows me knows I spend whatever free time I have playing video games.
I generally find the beauty of them to lie in the simplistic nature of how fun they can be. The world is a complicated place, so being able to find respite in sitting down and starting up a game is a more powerful experience than a lot of people may think. They can also be inspiring, provoking and artistic like any other medium, while remaining fairly unique in that few others can do so while being straight up fun. So, here they are, my top 10 favorite video games!
10. Resident Evil 4
RE4 is revolutionary for its pioneering of the modern third-person shooter. It took a huge step away from its predecessors in its removal of fixed camera angles, but still leaned into the charmingly convoluted plot the survival horror series is known for. The shooting and movement take a bit of getting used to and the game doesn’t hold up well enough to be scary in a modern era, but the tank controls and precision demanded of the player create a tension that few other games can evoke.
9. Red Dead Redemption
Rockstar has yet to create a protagonist so lovingly flawed and tragic as John Marston in the second installment of the Red Dead franchise, and I don’t know that they ever will. Character building is at the forefront of this open-world Western; love ‘em or hate ‘em, but you will care about every character you come across, down to the final scene of this game’s masterpiece of an ending. Plus, cowboys are just plain cool.
8. God Hand
It looks awful, the voice acting sucks and there’s barely a semblance of story to be found. And yet, no other game makes bobbing and weaving at the speed of sound before roundhouse kicking a demon in the face feel so good.
7. The Last of Us
Little can be said about this game that hasn’t already been said before. The writing is great, Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson deliver impeccable voice acting and motion capture performances as the main characters Joel and Ellie and creeping around the dark, grimey, cramped interiors of a post-apocalyptic city in attempts to narrowly avoid having your throat torn out by mushroom monsters is as knuckle-whitening and palm sweat inducing as it sounds.
6. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
If you’ve ever been kind of interested in chess but don’t want to learn how to play chess, you should give Fire Emblem a try. A solid variation of classes and maps makes this pioneer of the tactical RPG genre feel especially strategic. Prepare for heartbreak though; sometimes the moves you plan out several turns in advance can quickly perma-kill one of your units 40 minutes into a map. Whether they’re worth restarting to save is a decision you’ll have to make quite a bit.
5. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES
I don’t really like anime, so despite what you may have heard about the Persona series, you don’t have to be extremely invested in certain aspects of Japanese culture to appreciate this game, although it does help. If grinding, turn-based combat and pseudo dating sim mechanics are your idea of a good time, give Persona 3 a go.
The Souls series has always been renowned for its deliberate if not unforgiving combat. Bloodborne is no different; it’s one of the best feeling games I’ve ever played. It speeds things up just enough to attract players who never quite got into other installments in the franchise while retaining the brutal fluidity FromSoft fans have come to expect. Best final boss fight ever, y’all.
3. Kingdom Hearts II/Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix
I’ll admit, there’s a metric ton of nostalgia that went into KH2 making it this high on my list. I’m a sucker for seeing Disney worlds and characters amalgamate with the Final Fantasy universe in a shockingly cohesive way. But even still, for those who liked everything about the first Kingdom Hearts game, were able to ignore the lavishly busted narrative and just wished the combat was less restrictive, it’s a perfect game. So probably just me.
2. Shadow of the Colossus
To this day, Shadow of the Colossus remains the most artistic, inspired and original game I’ve ever played. The gameplay hasn’t aged amazingly, resulting in some frustrating moments when the clunky controls and camera don’t want to cooperate. However, this Team Ico product truly shines in its ability to make good on its imaginative concepts. There are no enemies besides 16 colossi ranging from slightly larger than the player character to absolutely gargantuan, leaving you to wander the expansive landscape until you decide to step foot into a colossus’ lair. The game is perhaps best known for its soundtrack, which features brilliant orchestral work composed by Kow Otani that makes you feel like the greatest hero to ever walk the planet. But you’re not. At a superficial glance, the story seems thin. But if you peer deeper, there’s a tale of questionable morality behind this grand adventure.
1. Fallout: New Vegas
Eight hundred hours. That’s how much time I’ve put into this game. So naturally, I don’t have to talk about its replayability. It combines all the right elements of sci-fi and western to be a perfect storm of jank. Seriously, this is the buggiest game I’ve ever played and it crashes constantly, but I couldn’t love it more. It’s a role-playing fanatic’s wonderland in the Mojave Desert. New Vegas is riddled with interesting factions and side quests, not to mention the strength all the downloadable content brings to the table. There’s a huge array of unique weapons and armor to find either scattered about or as quest rewards, so regardless of how you like to look cool and kill stuff dead, there’s something for you. I’ve never played it on PC, but I can only imagine what mods do for the game. If you’re looking to be a scientist cowboy with war-torn Nevada at your fingertips, look no further.