20. Sly 3 Honor Among Thieves – Sucker Punch Productions (PS2, 2005)
The conclusion to Sly’s PS2 trilogy felt like the end of part of my childhood. Sly Cooper as a series really started my interest in video games and to see his story come to an end(?) was super disappointing and exciting at the same time. Sly felt like a friend, someone I knew. I’d played through Sly Cooper 1 and 2 so many times, I was invested in these characters and this world. It seems silly in retrospect, I was only 8 years old. But playing through Sly 3 felt like a coming of age thing for me. It’s all a little dumb, but Sly 3 will always hold a special place in my heart.
19. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune – Naughty Dog Inc. (PS3, 2007)
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune really was the culmination of years of growth and learning for Naughty Dog Inc. After Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter, Naughty Dog came into their place as one of the best studios on god’s green Earth with the release of this gem. With a campy, predictable story, lovable and memorable characters and tight, addicting gameplay I treasured every second of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and it hooked me into the next 10 years of Naughty Dog games.
18. The Walking Dead: Season 1 – Telltale Games (Xbox 360, 2013)
There’s something special about your first. The first Telltale game I ever played was The Walking Dead back in 2012 when the first episode launched in April. And from that moment I was hooked into Lee and Clem’s story. I eagerly awaited every new episode, got swept up in the online adoration of the characters and story. And yeah it was buggy and a little broken. But I was able to look past that and appreciate the great writing, world building and characters that make it a special game for me and so many other people around the world. #DoItForClem
17. The Swapper – Facepalm Games (PS4, 2013)
Science fiction is a favourite genre of mine. A well done, thought provoking sci-fi story stays with me for years. It might have something to do with watching so much Star Trek with my dad growing up. But regardless I have a great love for well-executed and thoughtful sci-fi. The Swapper is sci-fi brilliantly executed and takes advantage of player interaction to contribute to the narrative. The game’s use of stop motion animation was wholly unique, something I’ve never encountered in games before or since. The Swapper is a masterpiece, and the ending has stuck with me for years, sticking out as my favourite puzzle game ending ever (Sorry-not-sorry Portal 2).
16. Firewatch – Campo Santo (PS4, 2016)
This may be a weird reason to enjoy a game, but I absolutely adore the orange and yellow palette of Firewatch. The sunsets, the fires, the sunrises. It’s a beautiful painting I can walk around and relish in. While the story somewhat let me down at the end, the other 90% of the game really connected with me. The intro especially got to me. Even though it was just text on the screen with some background music, it set the stage for Henry’s motivations and situation better than any cutscene could’ve. It reminded me of the magnificent introduction to the Pixar movie Up. I’ve played through Firewatch several times now and each time I notice something new, something I’d failed to appreciate before. And I have no doubt I will notice more things in future playthroughs.
15. Rayman Legends – Ubisoft (PS3, 2013)
The only reason Rayman Origins isn’t on my list is that it exists in its entirety within Rayman Legends. So essentially two of my favourite platformers are wrapped up in one gorgeous package for me to enjoy. And I enjoyed Rayman Legends a whole lot. I especially love the rhythm stages that time the platforming jumps and punches to the beats of well-known songs. And the pixelated remixes of these levels were genuinely challenging, requiring hours of practice to nail just perfectly. And I did nail them all perfectly.
14. Gone Home – Fullbright (PC, 2013)
The emotional rollercoaster that Gone Home took me on was so special because it was a journey I took at my own pace. Unlike the Telltale games on my list, Gone Home opened up a space and gave me the time to explore at my leisure. I felt like I was discovering things naturally, rather than following a scripted story. And I was hooked. I got way too invested in Sam and needed to know what happened with her and Lonnie. I scoured that mansion for every clue possible to learn more about what happened. Gone Home is also one of few games to move me to tears. I was so touched by Sam’s love for Lonnie and learning about their relationship made me so happy.
13. Undertale – tobyfox (PC, 2015)
Please play it.
12. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – Naughty Dog Inc. (PS3, 2011)
The plane scene in Uncharted 3 is my favourite scene in any game I’ve played to date. But it is just one of many amazing set pieces I’ve stumbled around in Uncharted 3. Naughty Dog’s penultimate Uncharted game is my favourite of the entire series. I loved learning about Drake’s childhood story, how he met Scully and the mystery of his origins. Every beat of the story hit perfectly and it plays exceptionally. There’s so much heart in Uncharted 3, so much passion and attention to detail. Every corner of Nate’s greatest adventure feels polished and purposeful.
11. The Walking Dead: Season 2 – Telltale Games (Xbox 360, 2013)
Spoilers for Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season 1 and 2.
The Walking Dead: Season 2 was the first game to move me to tears. The scene at the end of episode 5 where Clem blacks out in the blizzard throw me hard. A flashback to a never before experienced scene from Season 1 with Lee in the RV, Clem tells Lee she’s scared. And Lee reassures her that everything will be okay, and he’ll never leave her. Of course, he does leave her. That one scene brought back a wave of emotions from the season one finale when my Clem shot Lee to make sure he wouldn’t turn. He promised he wouldn’t leave. And he did. That scene broke me for hours.
Aside from the pure emotional connection I have with The Walking Dead Season 2, I loved that Clem came into her own as a survivor. We saw her struggle, her compassion and her capacity to be stone cold and ruthless. From sharing a meal with the puppy to breaking into the department store compound to stitching herself together while locked in the shed there are so many memorable moments that have stuck with me years after playing. Still. Not. BITTEN!