Game of the Decade

As this decade draws to a close, and the realisation over 20 years have now passed since we saw in the new millenium, its time to reflect back on the last ten years of video games and cherry pick a few jewels from each year. For the purpose of clarity, this is my own personal selection, other contributors to Around The Bonfire will have entirely selective picks so take that as forewarning in good faith. Equally, these games aren’t a reflective measure or statement on being the defining games of those years only the titles I personally enjoyed the most and the one defining game I picked as my Game of the Decade. Feel free to scroll to the bottom if you want to spoil the surprise. For now, lets indulge in a list of sequels, prequels and new franchises that taught us as a community, we are incredibly tolerant towards publishers pushing the same old games on us and eagerly awaiting each new iteration.

It’s staggering to realise this game is almost a decade old but is still regarded as one of the defining titles of the series and genre. Equally one of the most requested remasters of this generation with a fan base desperately wanting to relive the adventures of Shepherd and the Normandy in new and updated graphics. Bioware, you have your mandate, now make it so.

Admittedly, the game was rushed, with a staggering amount of reused assets in the interiors and a very limited area of exploration. That said the narrative was tight, taking place of a period of years with the city slowly evolving and changing to your actions. Room for improvement? certainly but equally a really memorable campaign to play.

This was my first exposure to the Far Cry universe, a fundamentally different game to the graphical powerhouse of the launch title. It was, quite simply, an insane experience with memorable characters and events that transpire. I enjoyed its sequel, but it largely felt like more of the same, this for me has been the defining Far Cry game and where the series could easily have concluded.

After the second game and its two sequels defined Assassin’s Creed, the third series entry was somewhat of a failure. It needed to relaunch and come back, and with Black Flag it certainly did. Was it just a pirate game paying lip service to the Assassins in name only? perhaps. But what a great pirate game, from the sea shanties to the action, my favourite game of the year no doubt.

The difficult follow up game and attempt to freshen up a genre of its own that had been evolving since the launch of the first Dragon Age game. From my personal perspective, it succeeded admirably, avoiding the mistakes of the open world games and instead allowing you to experience a multitude of areas to explore, companions to meet and narrative set pieces I still pause to consider.

I enjoyed the first in the new series of Tomb Raider games, accessible to those without a disposition for punishing our digital avatars in a fit of rage. Whilst employing a number of features common with games of that period, Rise was still my favourite game of the year for its step forward and progressive nature, visually stunning on the last generation of consoles and a great game.

I really enjoyed this game, it’s a stunning representation of the American national parks and wilderness, a gorgeous visual aesthetic and soundtrack. Perhaps not the best example of gameplay, one of those derided walking simulators in some circles of the gaming community. For me, an almost faultless experience that I thoroughly enjoyed and lament its ending still.

An exclusive franchise on my current generation of console, it was a bold and visually appealing game to play, from the opening moments as you grew into adulthood to the complex and intriguing plot of society’s downfall and rising in proximity to the robotic sentinels walking the planet’s surface. I cannot wait for the eventual sequel and the further exploits of Aloy.

My second game experienced from Quantic Dream and my favourite of that year taking the elements from Beyond Two Souls and expanding into this multi thread narrative telling the story of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep from a variety of perspectives. I found the narrative and story hugely engaging and would love to engage in this game again.

I have enjoyed New Vegas to some degree but generally struggled with feeling engaged in any Bethesda game. This changed with The Outer Worlds and it’s more tighter and restricted narrative, generally solid and polished playing experience and just a fun new science fiction franchise that borrowed liberally from Firefly. A great series I loved so a game I really brought into.

I wrote extensively about this game in the summer, it was one of the first Art Books that inspired me to undertake this project in earnest. There is little more I can say I haven’t covered already in greater deal. For now, quite simply, one of my most played games in the last ten years, one I have finished on multiple occasions with a variety of approaches and characters, constantly enjoying the wealth of missions and paths before the Inquisitor. I’ll fully concede it’s not a perfect game, graphically as a cross generational title it was stretching the last gen to breaking point, quite literally and certainly was designed for the PS4 and Xbox One to function as designed. Also, a compromise on the open world design with hub locations, often gate keeped by experience points. But for all its faults and shortcomings, this remains one of the defining titles of this decade for me, one of the most engaging and memorable narratives and one I hope Bioware can do justice to in the future.

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