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The RPS 100: Reader Edition (2023): your favourite PC games of all time

Welcome to the second ever RPS 100: Reader’s Edition. Over the last week, you’ll have seen our own RPS 100 list counting down our favourite games of all time (and if you haven’t, do go and have a look at Part One and Part Two when you’ve got a spare moment), as well as some additional features about the games that made it into our collective top ten. But now it’s time for your list, as voted for by you, the RPS readership. There have been some interesting movers and shakers this year, and some rather intriguing new entries, so read on below to find out what your 100 favourite PC games of all time are for 2023.

The RPS 100: Reader Edition

A big thank you to everyone who voted and participated in this year’s RPS 100: Reader Edition. We had loads of responses, and it’s been thrilling to see what new additions have made the cut, and which of your old favourites have been booted further down, or indeed thrust back into the limelight, off the back of these fresh set of votes. It’s also been lovely to read all of your excellent comments about them, too, so thank you again for taking the time to write in as well – you’ll find them below beside their respective games. Alas, there are still a couple of games in here that, while they were popular enough to make it into the top 100, didn’t have any words proferred alongside them. That’s why there are a couple of blank entries again this year, but hopefully next year we’ll have a complete set. We live in hope!

But enough from me, let’s get to the list! Fair warning before we begin, though: the rest of the RPS Treehouse will be taking to the comments to fight you on these picks. I mean, how could you not include our #101 favourite game of all time, you animals? An absolute disgrace, I’m telling you.


100. Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia


A top down view of a grassy field scene in Heroes Of Might And Magic 3
Image credit: The 3DO Company

Kiiiiim: The ultimate fantasy strategy game. Great turn based combat, nice graphics. Tons of races and units.

slick_named_pimpback: Just one more turn. Simple but completely addicting.

dracorogue: The ultimate turn-based strategy game. I put tons of hours into this and that just one more turn feeling keeps you going.

Karl Drinkwater: Because I’ve played it so much.


99. Fallout 3


A chunky Brotherhood of Steel boy in a Fallout 3 screenshot.
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

Adam in Kent: New Vegas isn’t better, Elder Scrolls is too po-faced, and the first time I met a supermutant I ran behind the sofa for a bit. The VAT system would improve almost every other game of this type.

Invisible Pete: Loved wandering the wasteland of Fallout 3, with the freedom to choose when to help and when to harm. Enjoyed experiencing the trip through an alternative history.

Mahdi: Yeah, I like 3 better than 1, 2 or NV. Come at me.


98. Enter the Gungeon


An intense shootout scene from Enter The Gungeon
Image credit: Devolver Digital

ElderBeagle: The original bullet hell roguelite. I loved this game to death, which unfortunately happened to my little gungeoneer over a thousand times. Tough but rewarding, with many secrets to uncover.

Namename: I sucked at this game, for months. Yet it’s become the game I come back to most to zone out, the game that’s sucked up the most hours. Each run is different enough to keep me engaged without quite pushing me to lose. Twin stick shooters are pure fun and the strong absurd theme here carries everything perfectly.

TheStreamLife: Easily the best bullet hell roguelike to date. Its horrifically hard, but fair. It’s all random chance, but its always doable. It’s always the same run, but the room variations are wild. Hundreds of hours later you will respect how hard but consistent of a game it is and to me it is king.


97. 80 Days


The globe showing your route from 80 Days
Image credit: Inkle

Allie: The first time I played 80 Days, I lost. As my time ran out, I was still thundering across the ocean from Reykjavik towards Britain. And yet, the story still came to a well-written and satisfying conclusion. Of course, it helped that none of my own money went into Fogg’s wager. Occasionally I’ve tried to do a playthrough with a specific goal in mind, but more often than not, the pull of the story itself distracts me, and takes me in an enticing new direction. The atmosphere, humour, and variety in this tale are unlike anything else I’ve played, and sometimes you just have to tug a thread and see where it goes.

Matthew Parsons: Meghna Jayanth’s vision of 1872 is a beautiful fantasy of optimism in the face of world-changing technologies and rapacious colonial powers. It’s the cozy steampunk adventure we all need, now more than ever.


96. Psychonauts


Raz from the original Psychonauts sliding down a bannister
Image credit: Double Fine Productions

Elaine: What story can a video game tell better than any other medium? Psychonauts has given us the best answer to this question so far: people as entire unique worlds you can explore in order to understand them better, and then help them help themselves. A game with such an imaginative concept didn’t also need to be so wickedly funny and packed with astonishing artistry, attention to detail and variety in its fun gameplay as well as its characters and their worlds, but they did that for us anyway. How not to fall in love with something clearly made with so much love?


95. Papers, Please


The immigration desk in Papers, Please
Image credit: 3909

Xavier: A great story told in a novel way. It makes you understand what it’s like to work for a totalitarian government in a way that no other medium than video games could. And it made me care about and fear for my family members without ever showing them to me.


94. Half-Life: Alyx


The player holds their hands up as Combine aim guns at them in Half-Life: Alyx
Image credit: Valve

Martin Aaby: The only reason this isn’t the perfect game is the lack of easy access to good tech to get the most out of this amazing game and leap in design. The more advanced VR tech you have, the better Half-Life: Alyx becomes, because the engine and game supports it. From the strength on your grip on the controller, to the light extension of a single finger, plinging at the piano, Alyx is the benchmark of a VR playground, and once again Valve wraps a game and story around the mechanics and executes masterfully.

Godwhacker: The best VR game; possibly the best Half-Life game too. Valve are really good at making games and they should do it more often.


93. Deep Rock Galactic


A busy fight scene in Deep Rock Galactic
Image credit: Coffee Stain Publishing

cbhv4321: Deep Rock Galactic is a roguelike about being a space dwarf hired to mine minerals on the most dangerous planet in the galaxy, ideally with three other friends. There are four classes to choose from, all of which are support classes. and yet, every class feels powerful in its own right. For this reason, DRG is the best co-op game ever made. Combine that with fantastic map design, enemy design, objective design, and weapon design, and an insane amount of customisation both in gear and cosmetics, and you have yourself one of the best video games ever made.

Emperor of the Tuna Fish: We’re rich! We’re rich! We’re rich! We’re rich! We’re rich! We’re rich! We’re rich! We’re rich! We’re rich! We’re rich! We’re rich! We’re rich! We’re rich! We’re rich! We’re rich! We’re rich!



A Big Daddy confronts the player in Bioshock
Image credit: 2K

92. BioShock

Previous position: 78 (-14)
Developer: 2K Boston, 2K Australia
Publisher: 2K
Release: 2007
Where can I buy it? Steam, GOG, Humble, Epic Games Store


91. World of Warcraft


World Of Warcraft: Dragonflight launches on November 28th, 2022. It's the latest expansion for Blizzard's long-running MMO RPG.
Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment

BloatedGuppy#5073: The ultimate time vampire. Has become a shadow of its former self, but it was a genre shattering phenomenon in its heyday.

0wlbear: Perhaps the RICHEST game?


90. Crusader Kings II


A map of Europe from Crusader Kings 2
Image credit: Paradox Interactive

juan_h: Crusader Kings II got in my brain and stayed there for years. There’s something about playing as a specific person rather than the disembodied spirit of a nation that changes the way you think about strategy games. You can paint the map your colour, if that’s what you want, but you can also choose to pursue more personal goals related to the character you’re currently controlling. What it is that they want? It could be power, money, land, or fame, but it could also be something like romance, scholarship, or even just a really good hunting trip.


89. Riven: The Sequel to Myst


An ocean landscape with lots of pointed rocks poking out of the sea in Riven: The Sequel To Myst
Image credit: Cyan Worlds Inc

sergiocornaga: Riven still looks beautiful today, and is one of the rare examples from this genre where the puzzles all make sense within (and contribute to) understanding a fascinating unfamiliar world.

 



Character portraits from the intro sequence of Persona 4 Golden
Image credit: Sega

88. Persona 4 Golden

Previous position: NEW ENTRY
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Sega
Release: 2020
Where can I buy it? Steam, Humble, Game Pass


87. Night in the Woods


Mae Borowski from Night In The Woods standing on a rooftop
Image credit: Finji

timsmith: Night in the Woods spoke to me at a time that I could sympathise a lot with Mae, with the feeling of being lost and not knowing your place in the world, and with the way she resorts to escapism to avoid dealing with her situation. Plus it was witty, charming, and had a kicking soundtrack.

Aerothorn: Night in the Woods absolutely nails the confusion and existential angst of young adulthood, and manages the delicate balancing act of having sympathy for its protagonist without trying to explain away their dysfunction, and manages to tie this to the similar angst of a rural America that feels it’s being left behind. Also, it’s beautiful.


86. Homeworld


A screenshot from Homeworld Remastered Collection showing ships heading towards the Mothership
Image credit: Sierra Studios, Gearbox Publishing

Laneford : Pure classical melancholic space opera vibes married with striking aesthetic decisions may be the thing it’s known for, but a brilliantly designed and varied RTS game and singular campaign makes it a classic.

Clancy: Samuel Barber’s Adagio For Strings. Enough said


85. Baldur’s Gate


Warriors get zapped by lightning on a mountaintop ritual in Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition
Image credit: Black Isle Studios, Interplay Entetainment, Beamdog

0wlbear: Sequels often take an incredible concept and add… stuff that doesn’t necessarily evolve or improve the core. See the Diablo, Assassin’s Creed, and Mass Effect franchises among others. In Baldur’s Gate, the core of exploration, mix-and-match team tactics, and storytelling was charted and is still super enjoyable today.

Rao Dao Zao: I think there’s something to be said for an RPG that only allows you to level up seven times across the course of 60-odd hours of game. So many RPGs throw so much at you so often that it’s impossible to pick your way forward and nothing feels like it has any meaning, but in Baldur’s Gate you’re more likely to go down a dungeon and find a magic sword than a level up – the decisions are small enough to be manageable, and infrequent enough to feel significant when they do come. No lootsplosions here and it’s the better for it. (And while I love many elements of the sequel, the sword’n’sorcery atmosphere of the original takes the biscuit for me.)


84. Transistor


A woman approaches a large robot in Transistor
Image credit: Supergiant Games

AnoSi: It’s hauntingly beautiful music as you uncover the edges of an alien but relatable society and the tragedy that undid it.

Chris M.: What a soundtrack. The combat system wasn’t perfect, but this game showed us a taste of what Hades would eventually be way back in 2014.


83. Monster Train


A deck of cards from Monster Train
Image credit: Good Shepherd Entertainment

Godwhacker: The best card-based roguelike; it wouldn’t exist without Slay the Spire, but it surpasses it in every way. I still play the daily challenge, and I’m almost good at it.

Adam in Kent: In terms of game run-time, attention required and pure satisfaction this game’s drip drip of dopamine is my comfort and calm. I started playing it on Saturday mornings when my son was just old enough to play basic iPad games on the bed next to me. Years later, he’s rinsing Tears of the Kingdom and I’m still obsessed with a roguelite set on a train full of demons.


82. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge


Pirates gather round a campfire in Monkey Island 2
Image credit: LucasArts

Laneford : The first one isn’t that funny, but created great characters and a brilliant world. This one expands on that but actually IS funny. Oh and the end is superb, everyone else is wrong.

Kiiiiim: Extremely funny. Has the best story of all the games in the series. Tons of puzzles. Great graphics.



Three characters aim their guns at a zombie on the floor in Left 4 Dead 2
Image credit: Valve

81. Left 4 Dead 2

Previous position: NEW ENTRY
Developer: Valve
Publisher: Valve
Release: 2009
Where can I buy it? Steam


80. Darkest Dungeon


A warrior fights a hooded demon in Darkest Dungeon
Image credit: Red Hook Studios

ElTiempo: It’s the best RPG battle system ever. The tactical possibilities are endless, and because of the RNG, it can feel totally unpredictable, which – maybe I’m in the minority – I LOVE. Prodigious size alone does not dissuade the sharpened blade!


79. Thief II: The Metal Age


A guard from Thief 2: The Metal Age
Image credit: Eidos Interactive

StingingVelvet: Stealth and immersive sim in a blender? With a steampunk world and the best voice actor of all time as the hero? Okay if you insist.


78. The Talos Principle


The robot in The Talos Principle looking at a puzzle, a laser splitter on a tripod
Image credit: Devolver Digital

timsmith: I recently replayed this and I’d forgotten just how good it is. Its puzzles are mostly good, though there are a few that feel like filler (something that wasn’t true of its fantastic expansion, Road To Gehenna). But I think it’s in the storytelling that it surpasses most of its peers. It’s an interesting take on an apocalypse story, one I can’t think of another example of, and one that allows it to consider some really potent questions about what we value and why it matters to us what happens when we’re gone.

Queen Bum Eggs of Beef World: The best first person puzzler outside of the Portal games.


77. Terraria


A bustling base in a Terraria screenshot.
Image credit: Re-Logic

TheStreamLife: You keep booting it up and saying, “This is the last time we’ll play this,” and those damned devs keep updating what you thought was already perfect, but OH, “that sounds cool, lets boot it up.” I hate you, devs. Stop it. I already did my time. Please.

mrMan: This was one of the few games that got me hooked, like really hooked. It has an addicting gameplay loop; (and although I usually dislike grinding) this game made grinding fun. In addition, with some exciting boss fights (although flawed since there are simple building strategies that can take the intended flair and panic away) it was quite simply, a fun game.

Martin Aaby: Terraria is an adventure unlike any other. While you are presented with a world to explore, you need to manipulate and harvest said world to progress the adventure and reach the next stage. You need to build and plan ahead before spelunking for more materials, and once you are ready, you summon the boss and get yourself ready for the next stage. You set the pace, and the game gives you freedom, with just enough direction to keep you moving through the stages of the adventure.

Sonthonax: Some of my fondest memories in gaming were the week I spent in early 2020 playing Terraria with my younger brother. Everything was cancelled: we couldn’t leave the house and we’d both returned to our parents’ place. We’d never had that much time to spend on a game together, we’ll likely never again. Terraria was the perfect game to get lost in together. I’ll always treasure it for that.



A man stands in front of a spaceship window in Star Control
Image credit: Accolade

76. Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters

Previous position: 33 (-43)
Developer: Toys For Bob
Publisher: Accolade
Release: 1992
Where can I buy it? Steam, GOG


75. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice


A ninja flies through the air in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Image credit: Activision

ArmitageV: The best combat system in gaming. The best final boss in gaming. Sekiro is proof that to make a game’s combat feel balletic and fast paced, you don’t need to have the player memorize 20 different combo strings with 10 different weapons. One single sword, if fully mastered, is deadly enough.

Tom Spell: By limiting the playstyles to just one, FromSoft could tinker all combat encounters to a perfect razor’s edge, making it the best Soulslike yet in my book.


74. Resident Evil 4 (2023)


Leon parries Dr. Salvador's chainsaw blades using his knife in the Resident Evil 4 remake
Image credit: Capcom

WhigBullMoose: What’re you buying? Take your pick on the remake or the original, but it has been on my best of list since the original came out. Horrifying, scary, but nailing those headshots is so fun.

Jake Lowder: Not a whole lot I can say that others haven’t said already but, it’s one of the most solid remakes I’ve ever played. I love the new characterizations and writing. Ashley’s new design was sorely needed. As per usual with Capcom’s recent titles, the sound design is superb. Just an overall blast of a game with incredible replay value.

Agnol117: A fantastic update to the original. Captures the spirit and modernizes it perfectly.


73. Undertale


A girl, rhino and a woman stand in a library in Undertale
Image credit: tobyfox

Shazbut: Probably the greatest morality play ever made. Undertale is pure lightness and confidence. From the first moment, the game goes wherever Toby Fox wants it to go. It reaches absolutely thrilling heights, and then switches to being deeply moving, and then hilarious, and then self-referential. It plays with the fourth wall and pushes boundaries everywhere it can and yet you can feel the history in its veins, as well as the big beating heart of its creator. The first time playing, it took an hour or two to understand what the fuss was about, but from then on I couldn’t bear the thought of it ever coming to an end. It felt and continues to feel like it was made for me and me alone, and what higher praise is there to offer?

Agnol117: I feel like there’s nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said, but this game was truly lifechanging for me.

mrMan: Full of charm!


72. Kerbal Space Program


A spaceship attempts to launch in Kerbal Space Program
Image credit: Private Division

MyrddinE: This is the type of game that most schoolteachers dream of… one that educates without being boring. One where failure is fun, where catastrophy, lithobraking, and rapid unplanned disassembly are all parts of the normal gameplay. There are 10 year olds who might not be able to pronounce ‘Hohmann transfer’, but they can execute one in about five minutes.

bills6693: This game is all wrapped up in the sense of achievement getting your first rocket to the Mun after all those ill-thought-out, crazy designs just didn’t cut it. Hopefully the sequel can recover and pull it off once again…



The Grey Warden in Dragon Age: Origins fights a giant darkspawn ogre
Image credit: EA

71. Dragon Age: Origins

Previous position: 39 (-32)
Developer: BioWare
Publisher: EA
Release: 2010
Where can I buy it? Steam, GOG


70. Deus Ex: Human Revolution


Chatting in a Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut screenshot.
Image credit: Eidos Interactive

KenTWOu: I think I played it twice, then played Director’s Cut. I think it still holds up. It looks great, sounds great, plays great. And it was kinda refreshing to see (and listen to) a happy dev team for a change. Like they were really, really proud of what they achieved. I wished Square Enix didn’t mess up its sequel and let devs continue the trilogy. I hope they’re still that happy despite all of that.



The map screen showing the Realm of Gigaknight in Crusader Kings 3
Image credit: Paradox Interactive

69. Crusader Kings III

Previous position: 41 (-28)
Developer: Paradox Development Studio
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release: 2020
Where can I buy it? Steam, Humble, Game Pass


68. Soma


A piece of key art for the sci-fi horror game SOMA showing a robot looking in a cracked mirror and seeing a sad woman in the reflection
Image credit: Frictional Games

Jake Lowder: This game destroyed me… and for that I am in Frictional Games’ debt. Soma is oppressive and uncomfortable. What’s more uncomfortable are the scenarios this game deals with. As much as I’d like to gush about why I love this game so much. It’s a game that should be experienced with as little narrative information as possible. I recommend it to everyone who wants to challenge their idea of true horror.

Karl Drinkwater (author): Thought-provoking, scary, original.

Queen Bum Eggs of Beef World: Incredible scary atmosphere and a pioneer of safe mode.

KenTWOu: Apparently you don’t need to be an immersive sim to immerse your player and to leave a lasting impression, although it’s a very depressing one. To be honest all those sneaking parts suck, the game struggled with telegraphing of behavior of its AI archetypes. Alien: Isolation did a much better job in these regards. Though annoying in its sneaking gameplay Soma was terrifying in its themes.


67. Life Is Strange


Life Is Strange protagonist Max Caulfield faces her polaroid photo wall, which is softly illuminated by a string of hanging lights.
Image credit: Square Enix

I_have_no_nose_but_I_must_sneeze: Did this fully capture the way teenagers talk? Is it a profound bildungsroman that rivals the literary greats? Did it always strike the right balance between the magical and the mundane? Even if the answer to all of these is no, that didn’t matter when everything melted into a story of two old friends reconnecting in surprising circumstances that culminate in an agonising choice. The feels were had and the music was on point.


66. Dota 2


Zapping wizards in a Dota 2 screenshot.
Image credit: Valve

MyrddinE: This is one of the most complex and engaging PvP team games in existence. And unlike similar games you do not have to pay for (or earn) heroes. You get them all, immediately. This means you can truly play this game for free, forever, and never feel like someone else has an advantage over you because of it. Which is good, because you START being less of a noob as you pass 1000 hours.

Martin Aaby: Dota 2 is the thinking masochist’s game. There’s always someone better than you, and usually you are bested in a way you aren’t always 100% sure why, because there’s so much depth and variables in a game of Dota that determines the outcome. It’s also why it’s easy to blame your teammates when things go wrong, but deep down, you know it’s a defense mechanism for not winning and being better yourself. It’s fiercely competitive and rough, but oh so sweet and rewarding, with depth and mechanics and variety without equal. Miles ahead in its genre, and a game other PvP games could take design-lessons from.

BloatedGuppy#5073: A game so granular and demanding it offers bottomless play for the invested. Suffers only from a toxic community and blame-funneling gameplay loop.


65. Mass Effect


Shepard, Garrus and Wrex hanging out in a Mass Effect elevator.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/EA

Martin Aaby: While surpassed in fluency of gameplay by the second and third installment of the series, the first one set the tone, universe, stakes and story unlike anything else at the time. It was grand, exotic and cinematic and swept you away on a space-adventure of its big sweeping narrative, masterfully applying classic scifi-tropes along the way.

ElSparko: The original one. The game that took Star Trek, Babylon 5, Star Gate and all kinds of other sci-fi works and put them into a blender. Out came a vast universe with diverse races, truly threatening villains and the rather new concept of “your choices matter, Shepard”. It was exactly my kind of game. I still don’t understand why the series and even that formula of game design was abandoned just a few short years after.

Allie: I absolutely agree with my predicted fellow voters that Mass Effect’s gameplay was improved in the sequels, but the experience the first game gave me as it build up its characters, world, and plot, while letting me shape all three, was unique. Also, I liked being able to revisit almost everywhere I’d been, even after the missions there were finished. There wasn’t much reason to go back, but the galaxy felt larger when you knew you could.


64. Dwarf Fortress


The scene of a bloody battle in Dwarf Fortress, with many dwarfs and animals lying in a large pool of blood
Image credit: Kitfox Games

Caff: The ultimate emergent story-teller. Nothing beats locking a psychotic dwarf in an office, then popping back later to, err… deal with the… leftovers.

Emperor of the Tuna Fish: Never before have I lost quite so much work because I couldn’t source any shells for my possessed stone-detailer, as he stood shouting and (presumably) urinating uncontrollably in a craftsdwarf’s workshop.


63. Dishonored


A key art short of Corvo from Dishonored, in his clockwork-skull mask with hood up, and his arms forming an x shape in front of his chest. One hand holds his knife, and the other has the mark of the Outsider glowing on it
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

StingingVelvet: Take Thief 2 and add some modern touches with cool super powers and you’ve got Dishonored. Honestly if it weren’t for nostalgia, I’d probably admit it’s the better sneaker.

Godwhacker: The Hound Pitts is the best pub in gaming. It’s probably still there, original fittings intact but mildly gentrified, selling craft beer and £8 scotch eggs, and with a quality quiz on Thursdays.

Chris M.: Sim-like gameplay in an exquisitely crafted original setting, all rendered in an art style that means the game holds up to this day. What more could I ask for?

cbhv4321: Dishonored is the best immersive sim ever made. Every mechanic is fully utilized, and it encourages the player to fully utilize them as well. Its artstyle is incredible and despite going for realism, still holds up today. Its gameplay is incredibly satisfying, and its maps are some of the best of any game ever made. Dunwall, the city in which the game takes place, manages to feel like real, lived in city, while at the same time being masterfully designed to be incredibly fun to explore and fascilitate incredibly fun gameplay. And that exactly is the result of incredibly good design – incredibly fun gameplay.

AnoSi: Dishonored is probably the perfect middle ground between the freedoms of classic immersive sims and friendlier modern game design


62. What Remains of Edith Finch


Barbara Finch's very pink bedroom in a What Remains of Edith Finch screenshot.
Image credit: Annapurna Interactive

Germansuplex: The platonic ideal of the walk ’em up genre: a surreal, emotional, shocking, and surprising story laid out before you as you stroll through it’s world. It’s also a big statement on game length – this game will give you more in three hours than most other games in 300.

Gloomy: Lovely stuff. Let’s have more games concerned with actual people and actual emotions and less about shooting/driving/jumping/kicking please.

the_less_deceived: An absolute heart crusher. Nothing like it.

Queen Bum Eggs of Beef World: Still the best walking sim.


61. Quake


A castle structure with a windmill and several pipes coming out of it from Quake
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks
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quasiotter: A few times during the mid-2010s, I tried the shareware maps. Yet I could not pass e1m3 because having to navigate a tight water maze with zombies was far too scary for me. This plagued me because the weirdness of this game felt like it was tailor-made for me. When I gave it another try in 2018, I finally completed it on normal, but not without feeling absolutely creeped out and exhausted after every map that I could only do one per day, max. Just a year later, I started making maps and ended up creating more than 20. Nothing will ever top this one for me.


60. Hyper Light Drifter


A warrior rests by a fire in Hyper Light Drifter
Image credit: Heart Machine

Xavier: Pixel art to die for, extremely tight action gameplay and lots of rewarding secrets. What more can a gamer ask for?

David Edwards: Hyper Light Drifter is a game where you live in desperation. You are foreign in a foreign land. You move forward not to save yourself, anyone else or anything else, but simply because moving forward is the only way to survive. The experiences of the character and player are deeply intertwined – visceral and unrelenting in their representation. All portrayed with the most distinctive pixel art of the modern era to create a beautiful, unerring and unique experience, not for the faint of heart.

Tom Spell: A meditative journey through beautiful, desolate world perfectly accented with sharp action. But what makes me return to Hyper Light Drifter year after year is it’s simple, wordless story that leaves just enough to your interpretation. A masterpiece.


59. A Short Hike


A screenshot from A Short Hike which shows two characters chilling by a campfire.
Image credit: adamgryu

Pertusaria: This is such a beautiful game. The kid played it from scratch again recently and it was a delight to revisit. Just the right balance of wandering around and having things to do. I must go back and catch all the fish, do all the races and so on. A great soundtrack too.

slick_named_pimpback: A really short experience that doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s like a postcard – a nostalgic trip back to childhood, wandering and exploring the countryside at the beginning of autumn. Most recommended


58. Thief: The Dark Project


A screenshot of first person stealth sim Thief: The Dark Project. The player has been spotted by a Hammerite, a religious soldier wearing read and silver armour
Image credit: Eidos Interactive

I_have_no_nose_but_I_must_sneeze: Unparalleled atmosphere. The spiders skitter and screech, the demonic apparitions whisper in menace, the guards chatter and mutter, footsteps clang, and the shadows keep you safe until the promise of dizzying riches leads you into a world of trouble.

Queen Bum Eggs of Beef World: The first stealth game I ever played and still the one that defines the genre. The satisfaction of clocking a guard on the head with your cosh and watching them crumple to the floor unconscious has never been equalled.


57. The Secret Of Monkey Island


A red-haired woman stares intensely at a blond man in The Secret Of Monkey Island
Image credit: Lucasfilm Games

Aerothorn: The game that’s the adventure game; it’s beautiful, the music is fantastic, and its humor is still funny. But first and foremost this was an adventure game that didn’t hate the player, that didn’t screw you because you forgot to pick up an inventory item 20 hours ago. Nearly every adventure game since has followed in its footsteps.

Gloomy: Still the definitive point-and-click adventure, with the smartest, sassiest humour around.


56. Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri


A top down view of a landmass in Alpha Centauri
Image credit: EA

Xavier: It’s not as infinitely replayable as Civilization IV, but no other strategy game made me feel like my AI oponents had a soul.

juan_h: I have played this game at least a little every year since 1999. Some years I play it a lot. Alpha Centauri isn’t perfect, but it’s so damned good. It’s atmospheric. It’s got an excellent story, quite possibly the first ever to grace the genre, and excellent writing. It’s got factions which are more than just a collection of bonuses. It’s got mag tubes! Drop infantry! The Hunter Seeker Algorithm! Terra forming! So much good stuff.


55. Fallout


A Vault dweller fights monsters in a cave in the original Fallout
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

AnoSi: Before the series got overly silly, the original Fallout is a wonderfully lonely journey but with just enough dark levity sprinkled in to avoid being a dirge

StingingVelvet: A crazy mix of fantasy, sci-fi and Mad Max in a CRPG that stood out from the crowd.


54. Pyre


Players weave between mounds of sand in Pyre
Image credit: Supergiant Games

ElTiempo: In most party-based games, you find your favorites and lean on them, over and over. In this one, doing so means condemning your favorite to hell. It’s a unique twist which, when combined with the story, is super emotional.


53. Sid Meier’s Civilization IV


A futuristic city in Civilization IV
Image credit: 2K

Kiiiiim: The ultimate strategy game. Not that much of a fan of the “stack of doom” anymore, but it is still so incredibly addictive, even more than the other installments.

Xavier: The fourth instalment of Sid Meier’s classic series is probably its best. It’s the last one that didn’t feel like it had to introduce a layer of tactics (the one unit per tile) that in my honest opinion doesn’t belong in a grand strategy game. The expansions are great and there are a gazillion mods that are truly labors of love by the community.

Zinzan: I’ve owned it on at least two platforms, three PCs and only stopped playing it two years ago because I kept playing it for 12 hours at a time, 2-4 days a week.

Isaac Kelley: One. More. Turn.


52. Rimworld


A bloody battle in a RimWorld screenshot.
Image credit: Ludeon Studios

MyrddinE: This game takes Dwarf Fortress, and makes the scope smaller. This is good! These games (colony sims) are best when they’re viewed as story generators. A story to tell about the time your hunter Nancy got infected by a boar injury, went loopy from the stress, and binge smoked all the crack that was being stored to sell to a passing trade ship. Focusing on fewer colonists lets you get better attached to them as individuals.

oneleg: The setting. The music. The tension. The choices. Paired with an excellent multiplayer mod this is a game that keeps on giving execellent gaming experiences.

BloatedGuppy#5073: One of the few games to poke its nose into the “emergent gameplay” arena and produce something genuinely approachable and rewarding.

Caff: Learning to build a working fridge is hugely satisfying – only to see it blown up a lightning storm three minutes later.


51. Red Dead Redemption 2


Red Dead Redemption 2 image showing Arthur Morgan and an ally firing a revolver and rifle respectively. They both wear bandanas. An explosion is going off behind them.
Image credit: Rockstar Games

Pavel: Yes, RDR2 suffers a bit from its over-restrictive and linear main mission design. It is a game of two halves – insanely detailed open world old west simulator, and linear cinematic TV series. These halves clash at times, but overall, they both offered me one of the greatest, most immersive experience I have ever had in front of the screen.

pandiculator: Yes, it has much of its publisher’s baggage, but what a love letter to an idea – beautiful landscapes, great characters, and meticulous attention to detail. I still love rambling in the Online (using a private lobby generator) from time to time when I need open skies and wild horses.

Tkrens: I once read about how many people worked on this game, and it is shocking to think that Rockstar still had to push that many people to work on crunch time to get this game finished. Yet playing the game you are continuously surprised by the incredible amount of stupid little details within its breathtaking world. If you have been making your horse work hard for a length of time, a white deposit builds up on its coat. Which are apparently salt deposits leftover from sweating. The moon operates on accurate lunar cycles. Opossums pretend to be dead when threats, including the player, are nearby. There are just so many stupid, pointless details in this game just to ensure that at no point will you be un-immersed by some reminder that this is in fact a game. Though all of this likely came at a great personal and unethical cost of the developers that endured Rockstar’s imposed crunch.

0wlbear: Another RICH game!


50. Baba Is You


A disarmingly difficult puzzle in Baba Is You, where the sheep-like doodle creature Baba must find a way to get across a river
Image credit: Hempuli Oy

Allie: In theory I enjoy puzzle games, but I often get frustrated at the very things other people find soothing. I enjoy the grand paradigm shifts that lead you to a solution, but I don’t like fiddling around with stuff stuck in corners. Baba Is You features both paridigm-shifting and corner-fiddling, but delivers so fantastically on the paradigms that the corners are completely worth it. Its mechanics are introduced and developed with grace and humour. This feels like a game tailor-made for my neurons. The best puzzle game since the Portals.

timsmith: As an elevator pitch, Baba Is You is such a strong idea, but I was initially worried that it wouldn’t translate well into a full game because the prototype was a little underwhelming. Thankfully my concerns were unfounded because the finished game is sublime. If we measure puzzle games by their ability to keep coming up with new ideas for constructing puzzles within their ruleset, to challenge their players’ deductive ingenuity in new ways, rather than just reemploying the same ideas in a more convoluted fashion, Baba Is You probably comes out on top (vying for position with Stephen’s Sausage Roll). Also it’s hilarious, possibly the funniest game I’ve ever played; the weird ways you subvert the rules and the preposterous consequences thereof regularly delighted me.


49. Heaven’s Vault


A woman treks through a desert with a robot in tow in Heaven's Vault
Image credit: Inkle

Caff: The ultimate archaeological adventure across time and space. The dialogues between the Aliya and Six are superbly crafted, every style of playthrough is a joy, and the soundtrack by Laurence Chapman is stunning.

Emperor of the Tuna Fish: Learning a language has never been so much fun! Oooh that little apostrophe-looking thing implies it’s like owned by something! Oooooh! I’m doing it, dad! I’m learning!


48. Team Fortress 2


The heavy weapons guy eating a sandwich in Team Fortress 2
Image credit: Valve

Clancy: Near ruined my university experience by draining hours of my time playing with housemates.

 


47. Stellaris


A densely populated galaxy in Stellaris.
Image credit: Paradox Interactive

MyrddinE: This 4X game is every science fiction trope in a single game. You can be the Gek, the Sith, the Foundation. You can screw every alien you meet (as a vicious trade consortium) or screw every alien you meet (as a xenophilic genetic hybrid culture)… or both at once. I don’t judge. And it’s a pretty excellent strategy game too!

Kevin: SPACE!!! A game from 2016 still putting out new and fascinating free updates alongside expansion packs that change the game in fascinating ways. I can play it solo or with friends and either way it’s a great time.


46. Sid Meier’s Civilization V


A tiled map in Civilization V
Image credit: 2K

juan_h: It’s quite possible that I love this game completely out of proportion to its actual merits. It might be the game that I have played more than any other, and I don’t even own any of the expansions. The Civilization series is almost always compelling, but Civilization V sometimes seems as if it were designed just for me. It allows for and even rewards tall play in ways that earlier iterations often didn’t. The one-unit-per-tile rule makes military operations considerably more interesting than the old doom-stack days. Finally, for reasons I cannot fully explain, it is undoubtedly the most relaxing game I own.

Viscount: It took a few years of expansions for it to eclipse IV, but the move to a hex grid and removal of the stacks of doom made for a much more streamlined game – the ultimate time sink.

Invisible Pete: I was hooked with the original Civilization bringing many friends and acquaintances into the series. Civilization V seemed to have the right amount of refinement, as well as playability. Just one more turn…


45. Europa Universalis IV


A map screen of Italy from Europa Universalis IV
Image credit: Paradox Interactive

Sonthonax: Games like Civilization make you feel like you are playing with history. Europa Universalis made me feel like I was playing IN history. As an early modern historian, I am obviously biased towards the game’s enormous amount of flavour. The game does a great job at simulating the mechanics of the period. I surprised myself by plundering a continent so I could pay for my European wars. Europe Universalis: it can give everyone that Mitchell & Webb realization of ‘Wait, am I the baddie?’


44. Tunic


Tunic fox looking over the West Garden with a telescope. River passes through ruins and wooden scaffolding
Image credit: Finji

David Edwards: Tunic knows exactly what it is trying to do and delivers that experience with a superlative level of depth, competence and innovation. It is great because it feels so utterly complete. It holds secrets that you could spend hours and hours unfurling, but within an extremely tightly defined map and experience – such an achievement in the time of sandboxes and timesinks. Nothing is out of place, and nothing is there without purpose. It really is game development at its best.

quasiotter: I’ve never met a game that was as brilliantly designed as this. It feels like that person who seems to have their whole life put together so well, and the reality is… that they do have their whole life put together so well. And they’re extremely kind and cute and radiate warmth, and you want to marry them. You feel blessed to be on earth the same time as them but not in a way that makes you feel inferior whatsoever.

SeekerX: Cute and familiar, but concealing hidden depths of cleverly designed puzzles, fearsome foes, and mechanics hidden from the player until, somewhere in the pages of the manual that can be found in-game, the player finds a hint that makes things clear. This is a well-oiled machine built out of childhood nostalgia and the mysterious possibilities promised by an instruction manual.


43. Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines


A quiet city street at night in Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines.
Image credit: Activision

pandiculator: What could I say here that hasn’t been said? A game world that understood the assignment – from Deb of Night to the haunted hotel mission to the endgame of choices, this is the pinnacle of what video games should seek to do if they are telling stories. It is by turns repulsive and attractive, flexible and straightforward, generous and callous. A masterpiece, after its extensive fan-patching.

Caff: The world of Bloodlines is trashy and gritty, the vampires are beautifully realised, and I felt it was the single player RPG that comes closest to tabletop roleplaying.

Pavel: Still remember playing Bloodlines for the first time. That song in the main menu. TV news guy. Santa Monica. Talking with bleeding Mercurio. I finished Bloodlines three times and I want to finish it many more times. I just hope we will someday get that cursed proper sequel.

I_have_no_nose_but_I_must_sneeze: I like this game so much that I slogged through it when it fell apart before the finishing line. I like it to the extent that I looked up where to add the colon in the title to include this entry. It’s not where you think.

Kiiiiim: Great story and characters. Fantastic graphics. Lots of choice and consequence. Unrivaled atmosphere.

Karl Drinkwater: I felt like I was in the city, a vampire.


42. Into The Breach


A row of enemies are lined up in Into The Breach
Image credit: Subset Games

Chris M.: Tight turn-based strategy that removes the unfair feeling of XCOM and lets you know that it’s really not the game, it’s you.

Namename: Practically its own subgenre at this point, just like FTL. While it combines many pre-existing ideas everything is so slick that it is a definitive strategy title. I love seeing what is going to happen, feeling stumped and making the best of a bad situation. XCOM makes me feel cheated, Into the Breach makes me feel cold and calculating, masterful.

ElTiempo: It is the best tactics game ever made.


41. Hitman: World Of Assassination Trilogy


Hitman 3's May 2022 roadmap delays Freelancer mode but moves the Ambrose Island map release forward
Image credit: IO Interactive

Germansuplex: The finished Hitman Trilogy is absolutely remarkable in that it fully trusts its core gameplay to engage you for hundreds of hours – and rightly so. The way those impeccably-crafted clockwork maps work, the way they intimidate you at first, the way they shape and bend to your will once you’ve mastered 47’s bag of tricks puts most other games to shame. Endlessly replayable even before they implemented Freelancer mode, 47’s exploits are cool, stylish, sometimes funny, and always a challenge for your brains and your reflexes. Most other stealth games just challenge your reload button.

StingingVelvet: I’ve put (literally) a thousand hours into this never ending pleasure factory of stealth, shooting and puzzle solving. You feel like a world traveling Hitman fighting the elites, and you never stop having fun with all the new challenges they patch in.

Kevin: Each masterfully crafted level is a Groundhog’s Day of trying things to see what works, then improvising when it doesn’t. Emergent puzzle design and storytelling shouldn’t look this simple.


40. Factorio


Bustling industry in a Factorio screenshot.
Image credit: Wube Software

MyrddinE: Endless fiddling. That sounds bad, but Factorio is the genre-creating factory logistics game, and that genre is all about building and rebuilding your production trains as you learn (or research) better ways of accomplishing your tasks. You need to balance your resource consumption, pollution, defense, expansion, and transport as you create an ever expanding base.

cbhv4321: Factorio perfected factory games. It’s very barebones in any aspect that isn’t the factory – relitavely basic visuals, very basic combat, very basic movement. But no other game does factory gameplay as well as Factorio – not even close. It’s impossible to quit, and definitely one of the best games ever made.

Garrison Fox: I played Factorio during the worst of the pandemic. Holed up in my dark room late at night and playing music, I would slowly and methodically exploit the land, expand my factory, and eventually launch a rocket, becoming lost in the meditative routine of it all.

oneleg: When every cog in the machine is in place and you are producing yellow science packs at a steady pace you feel like a genius. And its co-op!

ManiakMig: You play for four hours sitting down, then you play for 20 hours in your head every day.


39. Stardew Valley


Evening in a Stardew Valley screenshot.
Image credit: ConcernedApe

pandiculator: Another video game that is a love letter, Stardew does so many things right. A cozy cup of tea disguised as a video game, Stardew understands its players, delivers emotional moments in a way that doesn’t feel cheap or ham-fisted (other than the genre tropes it conforms to) and respects the player’s time. A great game to get lost in the playing of.

Adam in Kent: I hate farming simulation games, I said, booting this up. Hundreds of hours later and I stand by that, Stardew was a life simulator for me. The days just flew by and the sense of minor achievements snowballing into a big old mountain of home-brewed wine, mayonnaise and kale was a wonderful experience.

WhigBullMoose: Never before has there been a game that keeps me coming back as much as Stardew Valley. I have it every console I own and I don’t know how many countless farms I’ve started and I still play it at least once a week.

Aerothorn: Rarely has a game so improved upon its inspirations; in one sense, Stardew Valley sticks close to the Harvest Moon formula, but it’s chock full of quality of life improvements, greater freedom, better writing, and an embrace of the pastoral without getting saccharine. It also manages to make a game with real depth extremely accessible, such that this is the one game that unites all of my casual gaming friends. Also, a surprisingly good multiplayer experience.


38. Mass Effect 2


Miranda's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2, the squad are aiming their guns at a trecherous dude.
Image credit: EA

Joel: Still the most fun I’ve had with a group of virtual friends. It’s done companions better than any other game. Each companion is unique in their own way and feel real. The story starts with a bang and ramps up from there.

Laneford : Guns & Conversation (& the suicide mission).

slick_named_pimpback: It’s all about the companions, friendships, romances and saving the world together, against all odds. It’s worth playing the whole trilogy but the second chapter stands out the most.

the_less_deceived: The crew and your bonds with the crazy collection of personalities. So damn memorable.

Mahdi: The last mission of ME2 is a masterpiece and the perfect climax.


37. Psychonauts 2


Raz smiles against a colourful background in Psychonauts 2
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Xbox Game Studios

Elaine: For years I wondered whether there would ever be another game as good as Psychonauts; it sure seemed like no one else was striving for that kind of ambition, even when having way more resources than Double Fine. The sequel shows the maturing of the creativity and humour they’ve nurtured, its writing teeming with heart, each mental world a work of art where you can feel each detail has been crafted with purpose and wild glee. Never has the medium been used as cleverly to engage one’s empathy while being as terrifically fun to play. Let’s hope we see the like again before Psychonauts 3.

0wlbear: Great game from a scrappy team that deserves love!

Birky2002: It would be higher on the list if it brought back Mr Pokeylope.

Jake Lowder: My first and favorite Double Fine game was Psychonauts. Being so attached to the characters from the first game made my experience with Psychonauts 2 that much more cathartic and memorable. While everyone and everything feels so familiar, it also feels very new! I was pretty young when I was introduced to this series and how many years has passed while only a short amount of time has passed in the video game world is a thoughtful contrast. There’s a sense of maturity and growth yet, there remains those flaws even real people tend to carry and struggle with on display in Psychonauts 2. It’s a very human game in a cartoon fantasy world. It let me gain new perspectives that the first game sometimes fell short on. Incredibly fun gameplay, lovely art, and it’s also the first time Tim Schafer has made me cry. Thank you to everyone at Double Fine who made this game possible, I love y’all.


36. Prey (2017)


Several black gooey aliens leap at the player in Prey
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

SeekerX: A sci-fi thriller that offers the player the tools to leave their mark on the environments and on the player character in some very clever ways, and a pleasing array of options for how to proceed at nearly every step of the way.

Shazbut: Arkane’s magnum opus and probably the best immersive sim in gaming. So much design complexity pulled off seemingly effortlessly. I remember watching a short video clip long before playing the game (where January talks to you in your office) and feeling a strange feeling, something I realised I hadn’t felt since System Shock 2. They’d created the same atmosphere. The space felt alive. It felt deep. You could lose yourself in it. I’d forgotten how much I longed for this.

Godwhacker: It’s the best immersive sim ever made. It also has an art deco space station.

Jake Lowder: Masterful writing, a haunting atmosphere, and a smart approach to level design. Prey is a game that only comes once every blue moon and should be slowly examined instead of carelessly ran through. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why I love the game; it’s just the whole package works so well. That’s the thing about the immersive sim genre I suppose is that the magic is in the systems working in harmony with each other while you navigate and explore each room.

KenTWOu: Sadly I wasn’t impressed by System Shock 2. SS1 was both a great game and a technical marvel, while SS2 was just a great game built like that, because you couldn’t make an action game using Dark Engine. As a result a little too much RPG numbers for my taste. It also ditched some really cool features. So for years I was thinking about what a modern System Shock game might be. Arkane’s Prey exceeded almost all my expectations. It also has one of the best intros in video games, if not the best.

Alasseo: The zenith of the immersive sim, so far. Gameplay that’s fun and reactive, characters that are interesting, a plot worth exploring, mechanics worth playing with.


35. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition


Thane in a Mass Effect Legendary Edition screenshot.
Image credit: EA

Garrison Fox: My favorite narrative-driven game of all time. Mass Effect isn’t about the gameplay. It’s not even about the apocalyptic story at its centre. It’s about the motley crew of human and alien companions you make along the way: Liara, naïve but ever ambitious; Garrus, loyal to the end; even Ashley, space racist that she is. Okay, maybe not Ashley. Point is, the character writing and world-building in this epic space romp are unparalleled. Sigh, I miss old Bioware.

Agnol117: The ideal way to play the trilogy.

Germansuplex: The Mass Effect trilogy is an amazing achievement in creating an opera that’s equally space and soap. Love and hate your supporting cast, witness their amazing stories, save a honking galaxy. It’s sometimes very smart and sometimes very dumb, but it’s never boring. Also, Mordin >>> Garrus, fight me!


34. Grim Fandango


Manny The Grim Reaper from Grim Fandango
Image credit: Double Fine Productions

Kiiiiim: It’s still the perfect game. Extremely funny. Great story and puzzles. Incredible characters. Fantastic voice acting and music. Glottis.

Birky2002: Style, wit, an incredible soundtrack, and everyone’s favourite orange polygon… Glottis. Just perfect.

Shazbut: Sure, the puzzles are a bit dodgy, but when this is the world you’ve created and these are your characters, and this is the soundtrack, who cares?


33. Sid Meier’s Civilization VI


An overview of some civilisations in Civ 6.
Image credit: 2K

Allie: I have very rarely played a “proper” Civ game. I tend to load up an Earth-based map, switch off all the AI players (with mods), and quietly rebuild our world, while various historical figures drop by to help out. Though I prefer the aesthetics and hopeful spirit of Civ V to the garish snarkiness of Civ VI, this entry works best for the way I apparently want to play. Plus, there are mods for aesthetics and hopeful spirit too!

Chris M.: The latest in the greatest strategy game series of all time. Still suffers from late-game boredom and mediocre AI, but considering I still can’t wrap my head around the systems after hundreds of hours I can’t blame the bots for struggling too.


32. Planescape: Torment


Warriors stand in front of a large statue in Planescape Torment
Image credit: Beamdog

BloatedGuppy#5073: A quarter century later and this is still one of the high watermarks of writing in gaming.

Aerothorn: Planescape: Torment has spent so many years as The Favorite Game Of That Pretentious Guy You Know that it’s suffered a bit of a critical backlash, but make no mistake: this is still a wildly ambitious RPG in a genuinely fantastic setting, where every sidequest is interesting and nearly every character is memorable.

Birky2002: There’s a moment in Planescape: Torment when the blind old woman, Marta the Seamstress, starts ‘operating’ on your abdomen, only to chat to you about the organs she pulls out. As a teenager I felt genuinely squeamish reading this, and then delighted at each new creative idea the storytelling threw up. This was enough for me to fall in love with this grim and depressing world.

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ElSparko: What can change the nature of a man? If only I would know. I can trace back individual stages of my life to what number of play through attempt on this game I’d been making. Sure, it’s more of a novel than a game, but I think it works exactly in the medium it is presented by.

slick_named_pimpback: What can change the nature of a man? Perhaps a journey across planes, trying to find the answer to your own immortality? It’s one of the weirdest (setting-wise) and interesting RPGs of all time, just bear with the mediocre combat.


31. Invisible, Inc.


A woman hacks into a terminal in Invisible Inc
Image credit: Klei Entertainment

Kevin: Cyberpunk stealth X-Com distilled into clever little randomly generated puzzles. The game tells you almost everything in advance, so you know exactly how you screwed up each time you fail.

timsmith: It turns out XCOM + stealth is a winning combination. Invisible, Inc. was absolutely brilliant at creating a greater sense of peril than actually exists, allowing you to feel like you’re regularly pulling off miraculous victories. That, or I just got lucky a lot!

AnoSi: The combination of stealth and push-your-luck create a tense atmosphere. And then you embrace the true path of all daemons, all the time and learn to thrive in chaos, always only one step ahead of disaster

Xavier: The most nailbiting turn-based game of all time. Really perfects the feeling of leading a team of stealthy infiltrators.


30. Half-Life 2


Alyx and Dog from Half-Life 2
Image credit: Valve

Garrison Fox: There aren’t many games where the level design becomes a character in and of itself. Hopping across carefully placed crates, driving a dune buggy down the shoreline, impaling zombies with sawblades: playing Half-Life 2 is to be completely immersed in a hand-crafted world.

Clancy: Elevated by the developer mode which let’s you hear how valve made one of the greatest ever FPS.

Mahdi: I played Half-Life 2 so many times I feel its rhythm in my veins when playing it.

Martin Aaby: It was an evolution. I would fawn over the tech-demo from E3 years before its release and sit in awe as barrels tumbled down and wood broke into multiple pieces – it was miles ahead of everything else when it came out, and the way it applied the tech to the gameplay gave us an absolutely marvelous gem. It’s a classic, it’s Valve firering on all cylinders, doing what they do best. I don’t think we will see such a leap forward again in our lifetime.


29. The Binding Of Isaac: Rebirth


Isaac is surrounded by mutant Isaacs in The Binding Of Isaac: Rebirth
Image credit: Nicalis Inc

ElderBeagle: Another pillar of the roguelite genre and a game that continues to spawn similar games to this day. My version of video game comfort food.

Kevin: It’s gross, but once you get past that the strategy of combat feels great. This was my first roguelike and I compare all the rest to it.

Mahdi: You can urinate on poop. That’s pretty unique, gotta admit.


28. Pentiment


Pentiment is a medieval adventure game themed around illuminated manuscripts from RPG masters Obsidian.
Image credit: Xbox Game Studios

PolygonClassicist: Best enjoyed with a Bavarian-style beer, Pentiment has a great sense of place. Tassing, though a fictional village, feels “real” in the sense of being historically authentic (including the excellent sound design reminding players that the noises made by pets, livestock, and wild animals are ever-present) and in the sense of feeling lived in. The people of Tassing and its Abbey have their own desires, motivations, and distinct personalities that aren’t confined to easy stereotypes of people in the 16th Century. Moreover, their lives continue to exist even when Andreas isn’t interacting with them. There are no easy answers to the problems of Tassing. Not to the murders, the town’s issues, or the factional disputes. But Pentiment reminds us that change will come, no matter how much we want to resist it.

Jake Lowder: One of those games that on the surface didn’t seem like something I’d be into, but it ended up being one of the most impactful adventures I’ve ever been on. A beautiful, slow-paced journey into philosophy and sociology. Pentiment made me care about a whole town of people. Each interaction and choice can put a weight on your shoulders. It’s a game that makes you ponder humanity and how we perceive people. You are faced with the reality of the expectations we bestow on others. This moved me many times and it makes me wish for more games to consider approaching player character interactions with a bit more variables in mind that reflect us as flawed human beings.

slick_named_pimpback: Things change as time passes by. It’s obvious, but we rarely see it in video games. Most often we’re just visitors, tourists that will never come back. What I really love about Pentiment is that it shows how the small Bavarian town of Tassing changes over time. How certain events are or will be remembered depending on your choices.


27. Inside


A young boy floats in mid-air, surrounded by bodies suspended upside down in Inside
Image credit: Playdead

Xavier: A rich, mysterious story told entirely without words, within creepy yet gorgeous environments. It helps that the puzzles are all interesting and of just the right level of difficulty: they make you think without breaking the excellent pace. There’s something mind-blowing at every corner.

Namename: Even without the ending, it’s great. I’ve watched several people play it, which probably makes me a borderline sadist.

ElTiempo: Someone please explain the last 15 minutes to me. Halp.


26. XCOM 2


A Muton in an XCOM 2 screenshot.
Image credit: 2K

BloatedGuppy#5073: Could have put any game from the XCOM franchise in here, including the 1994 original, but I’ve lost more time to XCOM 2 and its Long War mods than any other singleplayer game in history. Game had incredible legs via mods, and some of the richest tactical gameplay to ever grace the medium.

Laneford : The best turn based strategy game ever made, the journey from plucky resistance to superhero arc is perfectly judged.

Germansuplex: XCOM 2 (including the expansion) is a big, broad, endlessly replayable tactics romp. It’s minute-by-minute gameplay is so tense and engaging, you won’t even notice the very rudimentary world-building and plotting. Also: mods!


25. Kentucky Route Zero


In a dimly-lit forest, a giant eagle looms over a group of much smaller humanoid figures, all of whom are sitting companionably on the same log the eagle is perched on.
Image credit: Cardboard Computer

Kiiiiim: Maybe the best story ever written in a computer game. Incredible Twin Peaks atmosphere. Makes you think. Closest a computer game has been to art. Maybe the best music scene in a game ever.

Matthew Parsons: One of my favourite feelings in the world is the one you get after spending several hours in an art museum and finding that you’ve used all the different parts of your brain past their capacity and you can’t process any more facts or emotions. Kentucky Route Zero is the only game that gives me that feeling. It’s also full of characters experiencing real-world struggles. You may not have personally experienced the sensation of gradually turning into a glowing electricity skeleton, but you may well have felt your humanity stripped away by predatory institutions, and isn’t that basically the same?

Aerothorn: Perhaps the greatest experiment in what an adventure game can be, Kentucky Route Zero is less a single work than a collection of disparate art pieces, tied together by a core cast of characters and an increasingly loose narrative. Its winding course definitely lost some people along the way, but I appreciated that this game never stopped trying new things, and its ending is as poetic and perfect as any game. Plus, the bluegrass numbers are top tier.


24. Divinity: Original Sin 2


A group of players fight an ice dragon in a ruined plain in Divinity: Original Sin 2
Image credit: Larian Studios

the_less_deceived: An incredibly creative game with loads of potential ways to play. Literary and smart as hell. Loved it!

Adam in Kent: I’ve never finished The Sopranos. I appreciate how good it is, breaking off lumps of it every so often. I’m in no rush. DOS2 is the exact same thing in video game form. Love the writing, the characters, the sense of play overlapping the dice rolls and structure. A treat, that I may never finish, but a treat nonetheless.

Laneford : Stupendous script tacked on to a endlessly creative and surprising RPG campaign, with a surprising cast and a robust tactical playset to goof about in.

Joel: The best CRPG ever made. So many combinations, paths, choices, and fun fights to take part in.

MyrddinE: Until Baldur’s Gate III has six months of patches, this is the best CRPG fun you can have with three friends. It has excellent tactical combat, a great storyline for each crafted character, and the ability to play as a party in truly free-form ways that aren’t normally seen anywhere but a tabletop game with a DM.


23. Citizen Sleeper


A mercenary speaks to the player in Citizen Sleeper
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Fellow Traveller

AnoSi: Citizen Sleeper is the perfect expression of community and home. While the setting is bleak, the focus on people living their best lives and looking out for each other in the circumstances creates a wonderfully bittersweet story

David Edwards: Dice rolls in a choose-your-own-text-adventure is one of the greatest innovations in games in the last 20 years. Citizen Sleeper delivers on this innovation, it delivers on writing and personality, and it delivers thoughts and questions that will keep you pondering long after the credits roll. It also makes you really want to eat mushrooms. The food kind. Not the trippy kind.

cpt_freakout: I can’t get over how special this game is. It’s our generation’s cyberpunk, a warm core called solidarity the only thing keeping us alive amidst the cold vastness of space, as well as an even colder vastness called capitalism. Where it seems that capital’s circuits have closed off the possibility of life, there’s always someone willing to care. That tenderness spreads like spores, and the margins of vitality widen a little bit, subterraneously communicating with other lifeforms at the edge. Mushrooms are everywhere in CS, their little threads waiting for the worst conditions to resist, and make life prosper in the end.

Gloomy: Let’s hope the one-two punch of this and Disco Elysium can start a new genre of combat-less RPGs.


22. The Witness


the witness cNhcrJA
Image credit: Thelka Inc

Xavier: In addition to being the most screenshot-able game of all time (every frame makes for a gorgeous wallpaper), The Witness nails the progression. It never teaches you how to solve the puzzles but always gives you just enough hint for you to understand the underlying mechanics. The “philosophical bits” behind the game are bullshit, but even that can’t make it less than a top three game.


21. Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows Of Amn


Warriors fight a large green dragon in Baldur's Gate 2: Enhanced Edition
Image credit: Beamdog

Kiiiiim: A massive classical role playing game. Great story and characters. Best D&D ruleset.

Emperor of the Tuna Fish: Baldur’s Gate II has creeped down my top lists over the years because I’ve simply overplayed it, but it remains quite stuck in the softest part of my heart and I am unable to dislodge it completely.

Martin Aaby: It’s peak RPG and the most uncompromising version of a tabletop RPG on a PC. I call it a tabletop simulator rather than a PC RPG, because of a lot of the design choices lifted from the source rules of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and the designers own experience playing AD&D. A lot of RPG standards were set with this series and a lot have yet to be surpassed.

WhigBullMoose: Nothing captured my love for D&D and Forgotten Realms lore quite like Baldur’s Gate II did back in the day. And it was challenging, to boot. A genre-defining, or perhaps mastering, game.

ElSparko: The continuation of the ultimate adventure. Bigger maps, bigger NPCs, bigger villains. Why is it called Baldur’s Gate when it plays in Athkatla? Who knows… It’s been a long journey from Candlekeep all the way to the Throne of Bhaal. Sacrifices were made, friendships formed. Now that all is over, there’s no need for a sequel in my book.


20. Total War: Warhammer III


A screenshot from Total War Warhammer 3 showing an ork wielding a weapon
Image credit: Sega

WhigBullMoose: I would have picked II until recently, but now that Immortal Empires is rounding into form, I’ll take III. I wish Sega weren’t so DLC focused, and I wish there were some more gameplay elements that had more time in the oven, but really nails the Warhammer feel and Total War strategy, and the scale is still unmatched.

Emperor of the Tuna Fish: Look, it’s not an addiction, okay? You’re going to have to accept the fact that I come crawling back to this game to start a new campaign every few days is NOT an addiction. Gotta have that FRESH campaign.

PolygonClassicist: Really, I’m voting for the entire trilogy. But I chose Total Warhammer III because of the Immortal Empires campaign. It’s a worldwide conflagration of all the Warhammer Fantasy Battles factions, enabling players to experience their own version of World War Warhammer.

Germansuplex: The Immortal Empires campaign is the definitive achievement in maximalism, a sandbox so vast and rich you might never find a way out of it. It’s amazing it took them so long to combine the peanut butter of Total War and the jelly of Warhammer, but good thing they made it.

cpt_freakout: Wargame spectacle at its finest – even if you’re not into Warhammer, this is like an ultimate version of that fantasy trope of armies marching down hills and across fields, with all their diverse weapons and chants and whatnot, engaging in mad slaughter while a wizard flies around throwing magic lightning bolts. It’s just damn great to watch in action.


19. Celeste


A young girl battles against the wind on a mountain in Celeste
Image credit: Maddy Makes Games

David Edwards: If I were to tell you that Celeste was a fantastic, fast-paced platformer, with incredibly tight controls and a gorgeous aesthetic – I would be underselling it. But if I were to tell you that Celeste is a metaphor for dealing with depression and anxiety that stays with you long after the game is over – you might get the wrong impression. Celeste is all of these things, married in such an endearing and thought-out way that it has become the superlative entry into the “platformer-where-you-fail-an-insane-number-of-times-but-keep-getting-back-up” genre.

slick_named_pimpback: It’s rarely that the game mechanics support the narrative that much, quite often it feels rather disjointed. Thankfully Celeste excels in that area, making the struggle (and fending off your inner demons) so much harder the closer to the top you are.

ElTiempo: It’s the GOAT platformer and it’s had a long tail for a reason.

Chris M.: Platforming perfection for all skill levels, a wonderful community that produces endless content, and a heartfelt story backed by an exhilarating soundtrack. More games need to have the message “go climb a mountain and find yourself”.

Garrison Fox: This knocked out Super Meat Boy as my favorite difficult platformer. If the visuals, soundtrack, and tight mechanics aren’t enough, it seamlessly weaves a memorable story of an anxiety-ridden girl into each level as well.


18. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim


Third person view of the hero from Skyrim walking through the town of Riverwood
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

Sonthonax: I’ve never managed to figure out how the Elder Scrolls games did it. How does Tamriel feel like a place I’ve been? The quests are not that deep, the combat is a bit clunky, the amount of reactivity is surprisingly limited, the NPCs often don’t leave a lasting impression (Nazeem excluded). And yet, the sum is so much greater than its parts, and Skyrim is the most fluid incarnation of the Bethesda formula.

dracorogue: I’ve put 1000s of hours into this across a lot of characters. I’ve modded it to oblivion to get new experiences. This is my go-to game when I’m severely depressed and need to get away from it all. This game is the ultimate game, at least ’til Starfield comes out.

Invisible Pete: Played all the previous games in The Elder Scrolls series. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim seemed to arrive at a point when technology and gameplay seemed perfectly meshed to provide the transport to and enjoyment of the world of Tamriel. That is until I took an arrow the knee…

Namename: If any broken game had received this much mod support, it would be as good as modded Skyrim is by now. Yet fate decreed this murky wilderness, with pretty awful first-person melee combat, was the chosen one.

Viscount: It does show its knickers a bit with the repetitive sidequests but I sunk hours into this. Also, with my obsessive pursuit of sidequests over the main storyline I had over 100 hours in it before I unlocked the dragons, so mostly missing out on the best bit.

Joel: Skyrim’s open world is, in my mind, still unbeaten. It’s full of surprises, not mere fetch quests or collectables, but quests. The story is surprising and fun, and it provides you with so many ways to play and nearly unending things to do.

Caff: I took an arrow to the knee.


17. Subnautica


Undersea exploration in a Subnautica screenshot.
Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Queen Bum Eggs of Beef World: A gorgeous, terrifying underwater world to explore.

Laneford : Exploration, not violence, being the key method to interact with a game is still refreshing now, and is a testament to the magnificent world created for the player. The most jaw dropping moments I’ve ever experienced in a game.

Garrison Fox: I had never been into survival games until I tried Subnautica. Something about the resource-gathering loop seemed repetitive and dull, but Subnautica eschews this issue by making survival second to exploration. As you progress from flippers, to small submersible, to giant submarine, you descend deeper and deeper into the most treacherous fathoms of the ocean and encounter increasingly terrifying marine life. It’s quite literally an immersive experience.

Godwhacker: I normally hate survival games, but Subnautica actually had me harvesting chlorine to purify water because the setting and story are worth sticking around for. Primal fears of the deep and dark help a lot, but I am also a sucker for long-dead alien civilisations.

bills6693: I will never forget starting Subnautica, getting onto the roof of my life pod, and spending 5 minute too afraid to jump into the water! Then the progression through undersea bases in stunning caves, exploring mysterious caverns and islands, and uncovering a beautiful undersea world was an experience I wish I could experience for the first time again.

Aerothorn: In a field of Minecraft-likes, Subnautica stood apart for its handcrafted content, its beautifully detailed aquatic biomes, its surprisingly strong narrative, cozy base building, and brilliant core loop of overcoming your fear of the depths, such that the initially scary kelp fields become a safe haven later on.

pandiculator: The best horror game on PC. Half-joking aside, Subnautica provides an excellent atmosphere for its survive-em-up. It is alien and beautiful, and the early exploration feels exciting with just a hint of curious danger. And, as the narrative unfolds and the water turns from tropical to abyssal, the weight of the unknown really shines through. One of the very best there ever was at nailing its sense of purpose all the way through.

WhigBullMoose: Must go deeper.


16. Portal


Two weighted storage cubes struggle to fit into a blue portal in Portal.
Image credit: Valve

Allie: I am so, so glad that I managed to play this game early enough that its most famous line (either you already know the one I mean, or you should seize this chance to follow in my footsteps) didn’t feel like an overbaked meme; it was a surreal but chilling revelation as Portal’s beautifully constructed world unfolded. According to my Steam history, I haven’t actually spent that much time on it, but those precious few hours stayed with me, as did its top-notch shower song.

Martin Aaby: It was a phenomenon, hidden away as part of a box-set. It’s tightly and masterfully executed in both style, presentation and gameplay. “Thinking with portals” became a concept you wrap your head around and the game rewards you and makes you feel clever – the balance is super tight and perfectly designed. That, on its own, would make it great, but it’s elevated by the story, told both from the eerie robotic voice of GLaDOS and the environment – a masterclass in both.

Germansuplex: Stylish, smart, funny, clever – Portal remains untouched as a miraculous puzzle game with a lot of personality. Its vision is more focused than that of the (also exceptional) sequel. It’s also unmatched at environmental storytelling – no audio logs here!

Isaac Kelley: The second best first-person non-shooter that is set in dystopian white environments, emphasizes non-traditional movement and that prominently features a song titled “Still Alive” of 2007.

mapletea: This game is the stuff of legends. There is nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said. Except that the evening that I spent playing through this in one go with friends (we rented it from Blockbuster if you can imagine that!) is one of my favourite gaming memories.


15. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind


Key art from The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind GOTY Edition showing a dunmer wearing armour and wielding a sword
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

Rao Dao Zao: For me, the reason why Morrowind always wins is that its story is so deeply interwined with the place and its history. The politics of the Great Houses, the Ashlander tribes, the Tribunal – you couldn’t just lift-and-shift the story of the Nerevarine to another province and have it function, the way you could take Dragons and drop them anywhere in Tamriel and still come out with the same plot as Skyrim had. That gives it a depth that I don’t think any other Bethesda RPG has ever captured and it’s why Morrowind, despite many of its mechanical… ah… foibles… still comes out on top.

mapletea: I’m biased by this being the first real RPG I fell in love with, but this weird and wonderful land, filled with weird and wonderful people, with slightly janky controls and a quest log so unhelpful I took to writing it all down on paper, showed me a perfect encapsulation of the journey from confused outsider to a savvy local. It showed me a world more deep and interesting than almost any other in gaming, and imho much more surprising and unpredictable than later installments in the series.

Aerothorn: If ever a game was more than the sum of its parts, it’s Morrowind; from ugly NPCs to unbalanced and unresponsive combat, Morrowind’s appeal might not seem apparent at first. But this is a game that is about the joys of exploration in every facet; not just learning the land, but learning the culture that inhabits it. This is when Elder Scrolls games got good at storytelling and creating meaningful places to inhabit, but before quest markers and fast travel took the thrill of discovery away.

StingingVelvet: Still the most amazing and unique world ever created.

WhigBullMoose: The “handcrafted” feeling of the world just makes it so much more satisfying to explore (make sure to levitate around everywhere) than the procedural feeling dungeons of the later games or any open world game since, for that matter (except maybe Elden Ring). Sure, it’s aged, but mods solve most, if not all of the quality of life issues.

pandiculator: This game has poisoned me with nostalgia, and I’m okay with it. It shifted my understanding of what fantasy games could be, with sweeping landscapes full of ash and giant mushrooms, with walking, groaning bugs acting as your personal taxi. Yes, playing it through a modern lens diminishes its light somewhat, as it did not age gracefully. And, yes, it is janky and frustrating and obtuse, but it is also amazing and transcendent when the musical score swells and the little city of Balmora comes into view again. Keep your Oblivions and Skyrims with their grace and respect for players, Morrowind calls again in my memories, and there again I must go.

Gloomy: Zero-to-hero simulator. A great playground to get lost in, with the added sauce of some amazing writing (The 36 Lessons of Vivec, anyone?) and deeply ambiguous lore that you can analyze forever.


14. Slay The Spire


A battle between a hooded figure in an animal skull and a large snake in Slay The Spire
Image credit: Mega Crit Games

Isaac Kelley: As of yet, still the best deckbuilder. A veteran of tabletop deckbuilders, I beat this game on my first run and wondered if it had very much replayability. I’ve put 600 hours into this game and I still come back.

Matthew Parsons: Every run starts off as the world’s best ‘podcast game,’ where you can half focus on something else. Then comes the realization, oh man, this run could be the one. It probably isn’t, but suddenly you’re ALL IN. Both phases rule.

Kevin: I was afraid of getting this game for so long because I could tell it would bury itself into the pleasure centers of my brain. I was right.

Adam in Kent: It was my favourite game until Monster Train rocked up in high heels with a blue plastic bag full of alcopops. The balance of Slay the Spire is undoubtedly better and it will always be the best game ever. Except for Monster Train.

Laneford : So compulsive I had to buy it on three different platforms and have forced myself to uninstall it on all of them too. Incredible design making an almost infinitely replayable game.

Xavier: The game that single-handedly introduced deckbuilding the the video gaming masses and perfected it at the same time. Some of the games it inspired are great (like Monster Train), just less so.

ElderBeagle: The pinnacle of roguelite strategy for me. So finely tuned and balanced I have yet to find a game that comes close. I have over 300 hours in this game I still go back a few times every year.

ArmitageV: When you’re starting to learn Slay The Spire, it feels like most unfair game ever made. Enemies with ridiculous damage numbers and sadistic mechanics are put against you and it feels like banging your head against a brick wall. But eventually, one brick comes loose and falls out. You probe at it, study its structure, see how it fits in its place. Then you dislodge another, then another. Before you know it, you’ve turned into an unstoppable God. That’s Slay The Spire for you.


13. FTL: Faster Than Light


The Kestral Cruiser at the start of a new FTL: Faster Than Light playthrough.
Image credit: Subset Games

Polyhop: FTL has an amazing level of depth and a surprisingly high skill ceiling. I went from initially getting trashed early game to consistently making it to the end (albeit over 100 hours or so as I worked to unlock all the ships.) Great diversity of playstyle depending on your starting ship and what devices you manage to find via RNG. Plus the soundtrack is killer.

timsmith: FTL is my most played game ever. It’s my go-to comfort game, the perfect level of engaging yet relaxing. Its brilliant systemic design meant I was still coming up with new strategies even after hundreds of hours played, and I recently watched some speedruns and learned some others I’d never have realised alone. I’m sad that about a year ago I finally “completed” it by getting the last remaining achievement after over 500 hours of play. I’ve been trying to resist just resetting my progress and starting all over again ever since – I doubt I’ll be able to much longer.

Isaac Kelley: I always wanted to like space games but never did, until FTL came along. This game captured my desire to be a starship crew like no game, before or since has.

Zinzan: Oh My Goodness, how many times I’ve failed at this and immediately restarted for “just a few systems, I’ll stop before 2am”? For someone who dislikes any rogue-ish elements this is the addictive exception.

ElderBeagle: One of the all-time best roguelites and was the game that ignited my passion for the genre. Still playable and fun all these years later.

bills6693: Pausable, manageable chaos, judging risks, pulling off perfectly timed boardings or attacks, and scraping it through encounter to encounter, this game mixes the right amount of random chance with managed risks to make a compelling game to play again and again.

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Chris M.: Somehow combines a race against time with whimsical space exploration.

David Edwards: The game that launched a thousand roguelikes.

Karl Drinkwater (author): Because I’ve played it so much.


12. Dark Souls


A character in Dark Souls in grey armour next to a grey tree looking towards a grey cliff with a grey castle on it
Image credit: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco Entertainment

Adam in Kent: Hands down the most fun I have had learning a way of playing from a game. Losing and realising why I lost was impactful to me when I first played this and it’s still my favourite Souls game. The lore, the musical score and a million things more.

ElSparko: I was confused when this game first made a top RPG spot on RPS. It took Dark Souls 3 to convince me to play the original. And man, was I wrongly judging those games. It’s not about bragging rights and masochistic difficulty. Dark Souls tells its story through enemy encounters and world building alike. Words don’t do it justice.

ArmitageV: Most people would tell you that there are many games out there that surpass Dark Souls in various aspects: better combat, better movement, better graphics, better narrative, better boss fights, an actual finished latter half. The more games come out, the longer this list grows. For with every passing year, Dark Souls gets a bit older and wearier; and the grace with which it carries itself falters ever so more. Maybe soon enough a game would come around that would supercede Dark Souls in terms of the impact it’s had on the games industry. But for me, this game embodies a pure sense of wonder; something that no other game I have played has come to match. It’s the closest that video games or any art form in general can come to being… magical. Would a game come along that would also surpass this feeling for me? I don’t know. But even if it never does, I would be okay with it.

Laneford : No one needs to hear more about why this is good.


11. Minecraft


In-game screenshot of Minecraft showing a character riding a horse.
Image credit: Mojang/Xbox Game Studios

oneleg: Bought and booted the alpha back in 2010. Was blown away and got totally addicted for two years. Never happened before or since.

Zinzan: Constant change, but fundamental gameplay loop remains interesting because procedural generation and varied biomes etc keep it fresh – this is a game that appeals to everyone – cuz it can be whatever you want it to be.

cbhv4321: Infinite creativity, executed better than every other game ever has. Some updates drag it down, but it is still the best blank slate any game could ever hope to be. It does so much to spark your creativity and drive you to make cool shit. Every mechanic in some form pushes you to do something cool.

mrMan: One of the most widely accesible games was the foundation of my digital childhood! No list of great games is complete without this legend, and nobody can prove me wrong! Although not for everybody, everybody deserves a chance to play this game, as it offers a fun survival mode and endless creativity limited only by your imagination (especially a marvel with shaders/ray tracing, if you have a good PC).


10. Hades


The son of Hades stands in front of a large door in a large chamber in Hades
Image credit: Supergiant Games

ElderBeagle: A beautiful and surprisingly emotional action roguelite. I never knew I wanted a coherent story in my roguelite games until this came along.

Clancy: I have 200 hours in Hades and completed it 100% on PC. Then again on Switch. Then again on Steam Deck. If someone pulls a Doom and gets it running on a fridge then I’ll probably do it all again there too.

Xavier: Not only is it a perfectly-tuned action RPG, it’s maybe the best non-classical work of fiction based on Greek mythology on any medium. The attention to detail is stunning and there are plenty of little easter eggs to satisfy the mythology nerds.

Chris M.: Supergiant’s masterpiece take on the roguelike formula in a Greek mythology setting. You can pet the (biggest!) dog.

Adam in Kent: Yeah, I got the horn for all the gods too, but this game is like someone put all the things I love about games in a blender then smashed me round the face with it.


9. Fallout: New Vegas


A screenshot of Fallout New Vegas showing the player taking aim at some enemies.
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

Viscount: Its reputation only enhanced by the ‘meh’ of Fallout 4, just some wonderful characters and plotlines. Caesar’s Legion were a real WTF moment for me.

Sonthonax: New Vegas has its flaws, but few games have ever given me a similar feeling of impact. From character creation to dialogue with characters: everything feels like it might come back to haunt (or reward) me later. The real magic is that, even after three playthroughs, that feeling never quite faded. Surprisingly few occurrences of Morton’s fork in this game.

Zinzan: Oh my, what variety of builds, stories, solutions and situations you can come across – see the MODS. Would be higher if it wasn’t creaking so much, but STILL a great game.

the_less_deceived: Two words: Yes Man. Nuff said.


8. Elden Ring


The Academy of Raya Lucaria in Elden Ring
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/FromSoftware/Bandai Namco Entertainment

BloatedGuppy#5073: A masterpiece of game design and contextual world building that almost single handedly revived a flagged enthusiasm for gaming.

Martin Aaby: Beautiful, vast and dauntingly dangerous. The game invites you along on a grand journey with its beautiful open world, but kills you when you stop to smell the flowers. It forces you to explore it, on its own terms, but when you play along and overcome and master its deadly foes, it’s one of the most rewarding experiences in gaming.

Godwhacker: Elden Ring gave me the feeling of exploring a world more than any game in the last ten years. Every hidden cave or dungeon you find has something interesting in it; no procedural filler in the game at all. That would be enough, but it’s also attached to the best Souls game ever made.

WhigBullMoose: I always bounced off Dark Souls because I really don’t have the time to git gud. But Elden Ring took everything cool about Dark Souls and about open world games and put them together in a way that made it so when I bounced off I could just move on to somewhere else and come back later. Maybe one day I’ll actually beat it.

Polyhop: I’m usually not much for the fantasy genre, however, I took the plunge and Elden Ring was a welcome exception. It felt like a new standard for open world games, where there’s very little hand holding, no markers, just exploring the world on my own terms.

TheStreamLife: It’s everything that everyone raves about with the phrase “Soulslike” but it’s finally given into a lot of small, quality of life changes that really make the game such a pleasant game to explore and mess around in. Tons of types of enemies and locations and awesome items to have fun with. It’s a true fantasy experience.

SeekerX: Marika damn me, there’s a whole lot of game here. A Dark Souls level of polish and worldbuilding, writ large over hundreds of hours of world to explore, packed with strange new things to find and get killed by.

Adam in Kent: This will probably be my number one, in time. Everything I like about open world games in a From Soft classic that feels so malleable I could mess about with builds for years.

0wlbear: Such a RICH game!


7. Portal 2


The robot arm inhabited by the AI GLaDOS in Portal 2, in an overgrown chamber full of vines
Image credit: Valve

Queen Bum Eggs of Beef World: It’s Portal 2. Nuff said.

Allie: A perfect, timeless classic that has played a supporting role in hundreds of little happy moments in my life.

Xavier: It doesn’t have the absolute best puzzles, or the greatest story of all time, or the most magnificent environments. But everything about this game is at the very least very good, so it’s one of the best “total packages” out there. And while it’s not very long, it has lots of additional content thanks to its modding community (Portal Stories:Mel by itself could have been an entry in this list).

the_less_deceived: No other gaming experience like it. Incredible gameplay, awesome puzzles, and hilarious writing. No game had me laughing out loud so often.

ElTiempo: This was the first game I played coop with my son. It is special.

Jake Lowder: Valve at their finest. Portal 2 opens up more fun possibilities and gets you thinking creatively and feeling like a master problem solver. The puzzles are varied, keep you on your toes and are incredibly satisfying. My personal favorite aspect of Portal 2 is the narrative; the storytelling is memorable and surprisingly has pockets of somber moments within the dark comedy backdrop. As for the multiplayer, some of my most cherished memories are from playing with friends in the co-op campaign. The miscommunications and accidents that happen add that much more to the joy of the game. Like with many Valve titles, Portal 2’s art direction allows it to stand the test of time year after year. The framing and attention to detail make each screenshot of this game a work of fine art. Simply one of the best games ever made. Valve, please let Erik Wolpaw make Portal 3.

syllopsium: What hasn’t been already said about Portal 2? Building on the success of Portal but with a fully developed story, significantly updated visuals, more interesting environments, and improved puzzles this isn’t to be missed. It is a little more timing oriented than Portal, but largely does not require appreciable dexterity to complete.

Martin Aaby: While improving on every aspect of Portal 1, it simply didn’t have the same sheer novelty of its predecessor, so while technically the superior game, personally it comes in JUST below Portal 1.


6. Deus Ex


JC Denton looks skyward in a cropped vintage Deus Ex wallpaper.

Aerothorn: Deus Ex is the ur-video game, folding in genres and tropes from across gaming to make a beautiful, janky melting pot. In any one aspect, it is outshone by other games; but taken as a whole, it is still the guiding light for immersive games that emphasise player freedom.

KenTWOu: A sad reminder that narrative driven games moved from fully simulated worlds where you can move a plant pot across your table to fully baked non-interactive environments and action set-pieces. That’s not the future we were promised.

Pavel: Back in 2001, I played Metal Gear Solid and No One Lives Forever. And I instantly knew what my dream game was: first person action stealth game with huge emphasis on story. Little did I know that my dream game was already made and released and it was called Deus Ex. Playing it (in 2002), it was everything I dreamed about and more. A timeless masterpiece.

mapletea: Back in the day, getting games running on PC sometimes meant navigating cryptic menus to select the correct obscure combination of OpenGL, IRQ and DMA settings, after which sometimes it just wouldn’t work anyway, so admittedly I played this one almost 15 years later than I would have liked. But the level of freedom to the way you approach challenges, and the way so many details react to your actions, still makes it feel like one of the most immersive video game worlds, and one that is hard to find rivals for to this day.

Rao Dao Zao: I don’t think I need to say anything about Deus Ex that has not been said already. It’s an utterly masterful blend of versatile mechanics and interesting places to explore, all tied together with a fantastic story. Peeling back layers of conspiracy has never been so much fun.

ElSparko: In a time when cyberpunk wasn’t mainstream and we still had to Rip The System on V90 modems, an immersive conspiracy theory sim on the new Unreal Engine was true gift. It is said that just mentioning this game will make you reinstall it. I might do so as well. Look, there’s my brother Paul greeting me on Liberty Island.

Garrison Fox: My favorite genre is the immersive sim, and, while I had many games to pick from like Thief, System Shock, and Prey, I decided to go with the poster child of the genre: Deus Ex. Deus Ex is all about player freedom. Each level is a sandbox of sorts where you must use an arsenal of tools and your own ingenuity to solve problems in any number of ways. Locked door? Pick the lock! Or find an open window to crawl through! Or scale the building and drop down through a vent! Or create a distraction to lure a guard out to open the door! The possibilities are endless!

Birky2002: So much choice and so much freedom… unless you want orange soda from the UNATCO vending machine. Poor Gunther.

Viscount: The game which first showed ‘games can be so much more’. Kill a guard, knock them out, or sneak by them altogether in the air ducts – the most freedom in a game at the time. Whilst the unwinnable fight was momentarily annoying, it paved the way for the best WTF plot twist in gaming.

StingingVelvet: The OG immersive sim with that funky music.


5. Hollow Knight


A bug sits on a bench chatting to another bug in Hollow Knight
Image credit: Team Cherry

Adam in Kent: Best soundtrack and atmosphere in any game I have played. It’s hard but I don’t mind replaying a boss nine times if it looks this pretty and feels this fluid.

SeekerX: Hollow Knight is a masterpiece of world design and gameplay. Signposts and clues keep the player from feeling aimlessly lost, but there are also hidden pathways and secrets and a freedom to explore that is pretty much unparalleled in the genre after the intro areas. The challenge level is uncompromising, but the world is open enough that it’s generally possible to turn away from anything that seems too tricky and come back to it later with more powers and tools, letting the player do a lot to set their own difficulty curve. Cute, creepy, epic. I love this game.

Birky2002: I sometimes greet my partner my making the random Hollow Knight bug noises at them. “Oh ee aw”. Enough said.

Namename: I’m more excited for its sequel than any other game coming out. It’s the sense of exploration combined with the artwork I think. Gameplay is good, okay, but the world… WOW.

Chris M.: Somehow they made bugs cute. And a wonderfully detailed and intricate metroidvania. Silksong when?

the_less_deceived: Soulful, poetic, and a real thrill to play. You feel like a proper hero when you take down its bosses.

gruberb: The atmosphere, the depth, the combat, the bosses, the world with a million secrets! A game to play for 100ish hours, and lose yourself in. It’s a true gem, something you can pick up for 30 minutes or five hours. It’s rare to find a game which sucks you into a different world like this, with no cheap mechanics to keep the player hooked.

Tom Spell: The worst thing about Hollow Knight is its price. I feel bad paying so little for a true masterpiece.

mrMan: What got me through the tight, gripping, and notoriously difficult combat + platforming, (that included the funnest boss fight I’ve ever encountered in the gaming world) was the exhilarating exploration of a mysterious, shattered, dark (both literally and metaphoricaly) world. These things, accompanied by the intoxicating soundtrack, beautiful hand-drawn art style, and overall polish, I have never experienced after I played Hollow Knight.


4. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt


Geralt and Ciri pose back-to-back in The Witcher 3 artwork.
Image credit: CD Projekt Red

Queen Bum Eggs of Beef World: A huge, compelling journey with some of the best DLC I’ve seen.

BloatedGuppy#5073: Absolute labour of love from the developers (and labour of crunch, too, if we’re being fully honest). Set a new bar for singleplayer RPGs that even the studio that made it has struggled to live up to.

Martin Aaby: An absolute masterclass in designing an open world while also telling a story. Everything is alive and feels lived in. The story is told as much in the world and environment and its inhabitants as much as it’s told in its dialogue, narrative and cinematic set-pieces. It’s utterly beautiful and teeming with places and secrets yearning to be explored, and gripping and emotional when it needs to be.

Zinzan: Choice, stories that wring you out, few “correct” decisions, moral choices through the yazoo AND it’s looks amazing, multiple custom character paths and it’s fun too. AWESOME.

Isaac Kelley: Forget all the world-building and story-telling. I’m here for the Gwent. The Gwent in this game is better than the Gwent in Gwent the video game. That’s how good this game is.

Clancy: Gwent.

Gilmir: No other game that I played comes even close to create such a living world. Quest design is simply amazing. Every sidequest is a story. Some small, some big. All of them pretty unique. In the end, the main quest is probably the weakest part of the game. The gamey systems are not the best around, but it’s easy to install a few mods to remove the worst problems (I’m on a “no levels” playthrough, right now).

Germansuplex: The existence of The Witcher 3 is simply unfair to every other western fantasy RPG out there. It just leaves them in the dust across the board. Story, characters, world-building, writing, quest design, sheer quantity and quality of basically everything. Even the combat isn’t bad, contrary to popular (wrong) belief. Looking at the way the games industry (including CDPR itself) is working these days, The Witcher 3 will never be equalled.

Viscount: The most brilliantly realised game world – so rich. From the mud of Velen to the living city of Novigrad. Genuinely well written and interesting sidequests and, of course, the Bloody Baron – the magnum opus of RPG storylines.

Pavel: Witcher 3 offered me the most memorable gaming experience to date, with its immense number of well written, well crafted quests, incredible worldbuilding and atmosphere, and dialogue dripping with naturalistic realism and humour. Characters here just feel like real people. And yes, it helps that I love the books and as a teenager dreamed of being able to step into their worlds. CD Projekt delivered like nobody else ever has.


3. Return Of The Obra Dinn


A crew is pulled overboard by mermaids in Return Of The Obra Dinn
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/3909

Germansuplex: A detective game with some actual detecting? With an iconic art style? A fascinating story being told piece by piece? Designed and programmed by ONE person? Sounds crazy, but it’s all true.

Caff: A proper detective game, that makes you go “ah HA!” every time.

Viscount: Any game that you have to play with a pen and notepad by your side is a good game and this is magnificent. The world’s greatest logic puzzle.

Namename: Few puzzle games capture that eureka moment well and Obra Dinn pulls you into its weird world effortlessly. Ticking off the dead like cargo as you observe the strange and sad fate of this ship.

Birky2002: I played Obra Dinn stuck on a hospital ward for two weeks, which is perhaps the only place more claustrophobic than an 18th century ghost ship. Deducing crew member’s identities, their misfortunes, grudges and grisly deaths has me feeling like a proper detective. But then I was full to the kraken’s eyeballs on IV antibiotics, so who knows.

Tom Spell: I still hope more games than just the Case Of The Golden Idol will be inspired by this genuine gem.

Queen Bum Eggs of Beef World: Incredibly atmospheric artwork and it beautifully balances making you really think to find the answers you need with giving you enough clues to prevent you from giving up altogether.

I’ve never felt so clever and so stupid playing (and discussing) a game.

mapletea: Made me feel like a real detective, combing over tiny details and thinking seriously about the relationships, locations and accents of each crew member.

Garrison Fox: No other game (save for Outer Wilds) has made me feel like a detective quite like this game. Piecing everything together using the notebook is wonderfully rewarding, particularly whenever you correctly identify three people and the answers lock in with a satisfying tune.

AnoSi: Obra Dinn seems to have started a new wave of detective games that have you picking at a tapestry. The way it only confirms your choices gradually lets you act on uncertainty in a nicer way than just being told true/false immediately

TheStreamLife: One of these most unique artstyles I know of, this game is amazing to play with a loved one or friend. Walk and talk through mysteries set before you, solve the murders, enjoy the story, 100% it. Love it.

Laneford : The best designed game of all time. I’ve never felt so clever and so stupid playing (and discussing) a game.

David Edwards: The best games can only tell their stories, or put their ideas across, as games – their consumption is uniquely tied to the medium. Return Of The Obra Dinn is a masterful example of this. As a book, as a TV show or film, Obra Dinn would be interesting but unremarkable, because its portrayal would be clumsy due to the limitations of those media. As a game though, it is fascinating, personal, quiet, contemplative, funny, head-scratching and makes you feel like you are the smartest person on earth. That is why it is uniquely a great game, and why you should play it.

Godwhacker: The best insurance assessor simulation ever made.

ElTiempo: This game is like reading a book over and over again. Each scene, though no different, feels completely different each time you revisit it.

Kevin: This game made me feel like Sherlock Holmes.


2. Outer Wilds


Riebeck from Outer Wilds playing his banjo by the fire
Image credit: Annapurna Interactive

Gloomy: How do you mix spirituality, quantum mechanics, 3D space simulation, physics, archaeology, time travel, horror, comedy, tragedy, and the sound of banjo? Outer Wilds.

Birky2002: I was so invested in this goofy puzzle box of a universe, I did serval ‘dummy flights’ of the final mission of this game, terrified I’d mess it up. Did I love the game that much, or did I not want the time loop to ever end?

quasiotter: I’m always weary of anything that is incredibly popular and loved because that often means it’s not taking enough risks. I want to spend time on the underdogs struggling to be noticed with their and boosting them… but there is no escaping the perfection of this experience.

TheStreamLife: It’s one of the only true exploration games, being honest. It’s not some giant puzzle, it’s not some high action stuff, it’s looking around and seeing what has happened and figuring out what needs to be done next. Both the base game and DLC made me go OHHH more than any other game.

David Edwards: Music is at the heart of Outer Wilds. When you finally know what you’re supposed to do, where you’re supposed to go, and how you’re going to get there – the music knows too. The music changes, it supports you, it wants you to get there, it calls back every step of your journey along the way and accompanies you to the end. That experience alone is what makes Outer Wilds truly great and something everyone who loves games should experience once.

Outer Wilds managed to cultivate a true sense of discovery and exploration that I’ve yet to experience again in a game.

mapletea: My favourite, most memorable experience in 30+ years of gaming. And just when I thought I would never be able to experience it for the first time ever again, Mobius released the DLC which somehow recaptured the magic all over again by twisting the formula in new and unexpected ways.

Garrison Fox: No other game (save for Return Of The Obra Dinn) has made me feel like a detective quite like this game. The game’s open-endedness may feel overwhelming at first, but as you explore the system’s unique planets and collect clues of an ancient civilization that once inhabited them, each mysterious thread will come together in a most satisfying and climactic resolution.

BuckZero: No other game has blown my mind so thoroughly and so repeatedly.

Viscount: Not a single ounce of fat or bloat – the most focused exploration and puzzle game ever. A genius loop metric. Every detail original and mindblowing. Full of aha moments and it all, in its own logic world, makes perfect sense.

cbhv4321: Outer Wilds is one of the only games I’ve ever played which is inherently about obtaining information. You are dropped in to a world full of locked doors and no keys; the only way to open the doors is to learn how they work well enough to get around the lock. Whether that’s discovering niche mechanics, mastering the physics engine, or learning to spot odd tornados, you progress through the game by learning how it works. Consequentially, a player who has already gone through it can beat it on a fresh save in less than 15 minutes, and once you’ve played it once you can never truly play it again. I will forever search for another experience like Outer Wilds.

Tkrens: Outer Wilds is to me the absolute pinnacle of game design and a showcase of what makes gaming a unique medium separate from writing, TV/film and other forms of art and media. It is an experience that couldn’t be replicated in any other way and is both mindblowing and unforgettable. The motion of its world within the time loop is both a technical and artistic achievement. It is unfortunately difficult to describe the game more specifically without spoiling it. But if there is a game you must absolutely play, it is this one.

Polyhop: Outer Wilds managed to cultivate a true sense of discovery and exploration that I’ve yet to experience again in a game. An immensely satisfying mystery to unravel.

KenTWOu: There will be lots of people who would give this game 10 points it truly deserves. It’s the best in almost every aspect. All I can say that it’s the real reason why Men in Black’s memory eraser should exist.


1. Disco Elysium


A man attempts to sing karaoke in a bar in Disco Elysium
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/ZA/UM

SeekerX: A game where the voices in the protagonist’s head make the RPG process of building a character more engaging than ever before. A game where being a flaming disaster of a human being and a catastrophe of a detective is both uproariously funny and, quietly, a reflection on the tragedies of the human condition.

Aerothorn: A sort of spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment, Disco Elysium combines that game’s intensively reactive roleplaying and narrative density with maybe the best skill system I’ve ever seen in a game; this is not a game you can min/max, but one that combines an excellent core mystery with intelligent observations of humanity and some absolutely gonzo humor. Never forget Contact Mike.

syllopsium: A unique, inventive take on RPGs that doesn’t hold back from addressing life issues. Stunning art, mysticism, and many paths to the end. Who can forget the anarchist tie, too!

Namename: Best written game of all time perhaps, we’ll be lucky to see its like ever again.

AnoSi: Disco Elysium has one of the best portrayals of addiction as an inner struggle in gaming. Instead of just being about stats you argue with yourself and deal with the impact of failures on the people around you. And there’s always some small amount of hope.

Garrison Fox: Everyone knows that video game writing has been shoddy compared to other storytelling media for a long time. Even today, AAA games often feature soulless dialogue and trite plotlines. Enter Disco Elysium, living proof that games can be elegant, acerbic, tragic, philosophical, absurd, literary, and grotesquely funny. We won’t get another game like this for some time, so onto the shelf it goes with the small handful of other novelistic games in existence.

Best written game of all time perhaps, we’ll be lucky to see its like ever again.

slick_named_pimpback: I love the rather bold decision to get rid of combat altogether. To let you retry ability checks so that you’re never blocked from progressing. To set the game in non-fantasy, down to earth setting. But I truly love Disco Elysium for telling an universal tale of redemption, and getting up from the very bottom.

Emperor of the Tuna Fish: I think a game particularly resounds as a great game for me when I not only willingly start it again, but also when I start the game again with the aim to have my character be the most bastard-angry awful person ever concieved, but I can’t go through with it and always pick the goody goody two shoes options when it comes down to it. That’s when I know I care for the game.

Caff: It speaks to all aspects of your reptilian brain with sparkling and poetic language. The lead character Harry Dubois is a total mess, but aren’t we all?

Laneford: It’s a magical realist fever dream, it’s the best written game of all time, it’s one of the few games I’m proud to show other people who don’t think they like games. It’s Marquez meets Bukowski meets Raymond Chandler with a side order of China Mielville. It’s got incredible art direction , peerless script, innovative and suprising mechanics, perfect soundtrack and voice acting. And it’s got Kim!


A screenshot of Disco Elysium: The Final Cut.
Image credit: ZA/UM

Tom Spell: It’s still hard to believe this game even exists. If the multiverse theory is true, we are one of the lucky few dimensions that got it. An ambitious reinvention of a stale genre that, I hope, will inspire many others to follow in its footsteps.

Matthew Parsons: Lots of games are huge and empty. Disco Elysium gives you one city block and packs it with the depth of history and lived experience that actual city blocks have. It is gaming’s most satisfying pocket universe.

mapletea: One of the few RPGs where the intention is not to become a powerhouse that smashes everything in your path; instead the game presents a world full of complex people trying to do their best with great empathy for everyone, and asks how you will respond and who you will side with. Ideology, activism and self-improvement are baked into this game, but it also allows you to double-down on past mistakes, if you really want to. You will have face the consequences either way.

Polyhop: The writing is just too good, the world fascinating and art evocative. I’ve not found a text-based game hook me in the same way since (curses, I’ve been spoiled!).

the_less_deceived: Wicked smart, emotionally crushing, and conceptually rich. Never experienced a game like it.

Gloomy: “Murder was the case that they gave me!” “Ah, the unpromising race pupil returns!” “Life is hard… But we go on…” “Cuno doesn’t f****** care.”


That’s all, folks! We hope you enjoyed taking part in this year’s RPS 100: Reader Edition. We’d love to hear what you think of it all, so let us know in the comments below. How do you think it compares to our own list? Think your’s is superior? Let the battle over which is the correct and bestest best list begin…

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