If you’ve not caught on already, this week at Virtual Bastion, we’ve been taking a look back at our favorite games of the 2010s (click here for Hatm0nster‘s and The Duck‘s picks), and we hope you’ve enjoyed our lists so far. The time has now come for me to produce my own inventory of favorite game of the last decade. And, while I’ve produced many a list in my blogging career, I can’t think of a single one that was as difficult to make as this one. I started it by producing a bunch of smaller lists of games I player each year througout the past decade. From there, it was just a matter of picking the one that were the most memorable, affecting, and enjoyable. Which as all of them, really. (Well, okay, most of them.) But eventually, the true favorites began to rise to the top. And it is with much fanfare and flourish that I officially state that my number one game of the 2010s is…
…and yes, I did give it away with this post’s featured image…
1. Red Dead Redemption (2010)
As you’ll see in the remainder of my list below, for me the 2010s were especially marked by excellent entries into existing series (i.e. Mass Effect 2, Skyrim, etc.). So what helped set Red Dead Redemption apart was that it was a new(ish) IP. As well, it was also the title that reintroduced, and reinvented, the Western in games. Yes, there were plenty of Western-themed games before RDR, and there have been others since, but RDR is a Western game done right, done with feeling, and done with immensely compelling storytelling.
This is not to say that RDR and I don’t have…issues. Despite replays, there are still portions of the game that are plenty unsavory, from the ungodly ordeal that is horse wrangling to its ending, which I wholeheartedly dislike. But, in between the looting and escorting and racing nonsense, RDR has one of the best overall plots in any game I’ve ever played (which is made even better with the existence of the game’s prominent sequel), and one of the most exquisite game worlds I’ve ever played in. I still can’t get over just how well-written John Marston is as a character and just how perfectly he’s married with the in-flux state of New Austin. He’s a man stuck between two very different worlds, and that fact exists in every fiber of the game. His is a magnificently sad tale that’s told as well as any critically-acclaimed Western film out there. Even though it’s not a perfect world with perfect game mechanics, there are few gaming environments I enjoying idling in as much as the ones present in RDR. And it has a stellar soundtrack, besides.
With that in mind, I hope you’ll enjoy some brilliantly (and tragically) evocative RDR ambiance as I present the rest of my top 10 games of the decade list, as follows.
Video by YouTube user VanillaVercetti
2. Fallout: New Vegas (2010) – if ever the apocalypse happens, I can only hope its events are half as captivating as those presented in this excellent Fallout game.
3. Mass Effect 2 (2010) – my second favorite ME game, and definitely the one of the three with the best overall story and companions.
4. Bastion (2011) – a stunning and beautifully crafted game, one that’s short, easy to play, and packs an emotional wallop.
5. Ori and the Blind Forest (2015), speaking of emotional wallops, this game hit that ball out of the park and then some, plus, it can’t be beat in terms of interesting and challenging platforming.
6. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) – I can’t think of a single other game where you can get as much out of playing anything but the main story; Skyrim feels full of unlimited discoveries.
7. Grand Theft Auto V (2013) – If I had started playing GTA Online sooner, this game might be higher on the list; as well, playing through GTA IV, which is great, makes me realize just how much better everything is in GTA V.
8. Dragon Age II (2011) – though I was on the “dislike” train with my first playthrough, subsequent playthroughs have shown me errors of my ways, and I have since made amends with this small RPG that has some of the best characters in any game, ever (I ❤ Fenris).
9. South Park: The Stick of Truth (2014) – kudos to the SP team for producing a game that’s just plain fun and funny; I never thought turn-based combat could be so comically hilarious.
10. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (2019) – can’t think of a better way to end a decade than with a remake done so, so right, and it’s a glitch-free, solid, and gorgeous game, period.