My top 10 personal games: or how I revisited my childhood

At the behest of my best friend’s urging, we set out to list our top 10 personal games, and when he gets an idea, believe me when he sets to work at it in a frenzied urge. So it was naturally that he completed his list long before I even brainstormed mine.

I narrowed it down to a list of 10, and it was tough to justify cutting any one off, since they all played a pivotal role in shaping my experiences. As such, I decided to go by personal relevance as the main criteria, acknowledging the inherent bias in my selection.

Thus without further a-do:

10. Bastion

This is a ~very beautiful~ game. Although I wasn’t entirely sold on the narration, this is one of the rare few games where I actually felt like I was competent — mastering combo attacks, mashing key presses, and actually clearing challenges. The rhythmic music was top-notch, and has stayed with me as a staple of my auditory experience. I eagerly awaited its spiritual sequel, Transistor, but the semi turn-based combat did not feel as fluid as Bastion did.

9. Final Fantasy Tactics: Advance 2

One of my fan favorites! So much that I did an LP for it. But only for like 5 updates, by which later it was apparent my small audience of my private friend club wasn’t interested in it. Or that I was so engrossed in the game that I went as hard as I could to 100% it. All 300 missions! There’s something about the game that it doesn’t particularly stand out, yet still is charming in a quaint way. Whether it’s chuckling at the irony of using a potion to damage Frimelda as a zombie, or Luso’s ridiculously belt-ridden foppish attire. A game that holds my turn-based tendencies at heart.

8. Undertale

If I could rate this higher I would, but after the initial excitement had died off, I realized it it was a one-of-a-kind experiment that was pulled off by a fluke. The right combination of references and the novelty (of the wall-breaking, decision impacting style) of its kind for its time — culminated in a smashing hit that I would find hard to imagine would have happened in another era. It had such goooood music too.

7. Bioshock

This is a classic. I may not remember much from it, but the original raw power of that scene between the player confronting Andrew Ryan has left a lasting impression on me. Its’ sequels are merely homage to the nostalgia evoked of the original game, never coming close.

6. Portal

Ahhh, Portal. My first foray into Valve’s games, and nothing could top this. The perfect build-up to the companion-cube, and after that a harrowing descent into an opposite world. GLaDOS’ commentary really sealed it for me. One of the few games I’ve played multiple times, and I always suggest it as an introduction for people relatively new to PC gaming.

5. Fallout 2

Another perfect classic. The amount of wit and dialogue in this game really kills it. The perfect mix of expository explosion, sci-fi elements, gameplay choices (especially sneaking, lockpicking and stealing). Fallout 2 will forever be the best Fallout!

4. Final Fantasy VII

One of my very first loved video games. Weirdly, I got into it after hearing some cool soundtracks on Limewire (dear god, that was forever ago), but its original attraction for me still holds true — the music is the best part of the game. Years later, reading an LP of it; I developed a finer taste for its subtleties that went right over my teenager brain.

3. Final Fantasy XIV

And now for the fun stuff! MMOs have played a large role in my countless hours of gaming as well. They’re so much more than an immersive world — they’re the social community I could never have access to, the soapbox that my voice could never find. This game is beautiful in every aspect — the music, the scenery, the story, and also the people! I’ve never met a more friendly bunch of people in any other online community.

2. Tibia

This one deserves a special mention. It was where I met my best friends (of which one I only keep in touch regularly, sadly). Countless hours were spent just discussing the hell out of literally anything with those friends, and there was hardly a dull intellectual moment. The game itself was not so much that great.. But it will forever hold a special place in my heart.

1. Planescape: Torment

And this, this is the pinnacle of PC gaming. Take the combined lore of all the previous 9 games, and it still would not hold a candle to this. Where the previous games focused on your player character, Planescape gives you an incredibly deep glimpse into eternity and the game’s universe. Part of how it achieved this was through using Dungeons & Dragons as its universe, and did not shy away from complex topics like immortality, split personalities and reincairnation. In a way it’s incredibly open-ended in how you choose to interpret and judge the player character — I love it.

Finally, honorable mentions go out to these:

  • Skyrim (mods for months)
  • 5 days a stranger (and the sequels) — really well done on a shoestring budget
  • The Longest Journey — The female protagonist here really feels well done
  • Saints Row 4 — wacky epic crazy shit all day long
  • Dota 2 — because of how many hours I’ve invested. CURSE YOU, 10V10 AND ABILITY DRAFT MODES
  • Digital: A Love Story
  • Civilization II — obligatory introduction to history
  • L4D2 — My most played co-op game
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