Are you ready for 2020?! Yeah, me neither. I’m not sure who turned up the speed on time but I did not sign up for this. So before The Game Awards announces their Game of the Year for 2019 at the end of the week we should look back at some of the other games that share that honourable title this decade. These are the games that have left behind a lasting impact and have influenced all the games to come. Some years have two because of split public opinion but I’m pretty sure you’re not going to begrudge us that. Now, let’s look back on the best of the best.
2010 – Red Dead Redemption by Rockstar Games
A stunning Wild Wild West epic that raised the bar for open-world action games. That Rockstar promptly beat with its sequel Red Dead Redemption 2, but that’s a story for another article. Famous for their car-chasing Grand Theft Auto series you wouldn’t expect such a deep and fleshed out story to come out from their next series. But it did. The ole’ West has a certain romanticism to it, from the heroes and bandits, the gold rush and the homesteads it’s a genre that has some deep roots. I won’t ruin the storyline here but I think we can all agree that Red Dead Redemption has elevated gaming by delivering one of the deepest, most fun and gorgeous games. It is a complete game in every sense and it’s a classic for any gamer.
2010 – Mass Effect 2 by BioWare
One of the most definitive franchises of our modern day. If BioWare doesn’t keep trying to ruining it, is Mass Effect. The whole series is more than just a sci-fi saga it’s a grand space opera, rife with detailed and deeply elaborate storytelling and character building. The game succeeds in drawing you into its world and has you care deeply about each member of the crew. Your choices in the game can have a significant impact immediately or lasting consequences later on. Mass Effect 2 is one of those rare journeys that touch stay with you long after you’ve finished the game and turned off the console.
2011 – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by Bethesda Softworks
Skyrim is one of the most loved games of all time. It’s been ported to pretty much every system and it’s still going. Much like my ongoing game from 2011. The sheer gargantuan size of this game makes it easy to lose yourself in its sword and sorcery world. You’ll find yourself discovering new things to do and people to meet long after the first 60 hours. The sheer amount of things to do is overwhelming, you can spend days just creating weapons, mixing potions, chopping wood, buying and decorating your house. Even getting married and joining a guild. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a world so packed with things it starts to take over your life. And for the sheer amount of yourself and time that you invest in this game, it’s worth its Game of the Year title.
2012 – The Walking Dead by Telltale Games
I’m still low key shocked that Telltale Games isn’t around anymore. With such notable and memorable games as The Wolf Among Us, Tales From The Borderlands and even a Game of Thrones spinoff. It’s hard to imagine how the studio could’ve failed. Telltale’s The Walking Dead wasn’t renowned for its gameplay, in fact, it followed the standard Tellatale formula. Decide your action and do a quick time event. But what stood out was its storytelling. We follow our young protagonist through a pretty harrowing arc that spans the pivotal years of her life. Together you make some of the toughest decision of her life but always, in the end, there is hope. Did I think this game deserves to beat Mass Effect 3 as Game of the Year for 2012? Not really, but it’s a good game.
2012 – Journey by Thatgamecompany
It’s hard to explain Journey, you have to experience it. In the simplest of terms, Journey is a third-person, sporadically two-player adventure in which you travel through a desert towards a mountain. The world is unique, exciting, mysterious, and utterly lovely, with mesmerising landscapes and stirring music. There are minimal gaming elements and if you’re looking for an action-packed adventure this isn’t it. Journey feels more like an evocative, interactive art piece. Three hours long at most, it’s concise but not overly short. Its cycle of emotional highs and lows are best experienced in a single sitting. Journey is deliberately ambiguous and allows you to speculate on its deeper meanings. But the meaning here is bound to be personal, and best discovered for yourself. Journey is truly a unique game unlike any other and it deserves its recognition.
2013 – The Last Of Us by Naughty Dog
I recently replayed The Last of Us remastered last year and even though I know everything that’s coming it still filled me with all the feels. It’s one fo the best game stories out there and a definitive Game of the Year for 2013. Much like The Walking Dead, even though we’re killing zombies it’s almost an afterthought to our journey with Joel and Ellie. Did we all not shed a tear at the beginning of the game? I cried buckets and had to put the game on pause for a whole day to recover. I was really not prepared. And then to play through his very real emotional journey of how he comes to term with his loss. It’s heartbreaking, moving and a story that has stayed with me for years to come.
2014 – Dragon Age: Inquisition by BioWare
2014 was a long time ago, to put that into context let me remind you that, that year Nintendo was showcasing The Legend of Zelda for the Wii U. The Wii U guys. Wow. Okay, so Dragon Age: Inquisition I have to say was a little uneven IMO. Yes, it’s one of the biggest RPGs to that date, with a lot of meaningful things to see and do. Unfortunately, the bugginess and story pacing really dragged down its experience as a whole. It starts off slowly, with the entire first act feeling very drawn out. However, the final two acts are magnificent with the Tresspasser DLC being one of the best add-ons. Dragon Age: Inquisition is a surprisingly dense, massively packed world with a lot of action. I think they did trade-off on lore for the world size but it comes back in the Tresspasser DLC.
2014 – Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor by Monolith Productions
With so many Lord of the Rings games being made, not to mention the critical acclaim of the movies it’s pretty hard to stand out but Shadow of Mordor does. The world that’s being built feels compelling and deep, it’s well-acted and introduces a couple of memorable new characters. If you’ve played Assassin’s Creed before then the gameplay mechanics are going to feel pretty familiar, but better. The game has got great free-flowing combat and a good-sized, good-looking open world full of Lord of the Rings lore. But what makes it special is what’s going on in the background: an intriguing hierarchy of enemies that gives every victory and defeat extra meaning. To sum it up excellent combat, rewarding progression and a fitting candidate for game of the year.