This is officially my 50th post on Meghan Plays Games! I just want to start this post off by saying a huge thank you to anyone who has ever read, commented, or otherwise supported my content. 50 posts doesn’t seem like much, but I wasn’t even sure this was something I wanted to do regularly, or maintain, so it feels like a big milestone. I’ve really enjoyed writing over the last several months, and engaging with other bloggers in comments and collabs. I’m a couple months away from the 1st year anniversary of this blog, and I’m definitely planning to keep writing into 2020. So thank you again for reading – here’s hoping for a great year of gaming!
I’m taking a brief break from my Dark Souls Diaries to do this 50th post special – I already feel like I’m a bit late on the Game of the Decade train. Obviously the point of my Dark Souls series was to celebrate that game for being my favourite of the last ten years, but ten years is a long time – and I’ve played a lot of fantastic games. I’ve agonized, and narrowed it down to ten picks.
I’m also not going to do a dedicated post for my Game of the Year in 2019, because its an easy pick, and I’ve already talked about it at length in this post, and this one. Surprise – it’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. This past year was a bit disappointing to me in terms of gaming, as there wasn’t a whole lot I was excited about, or impressed by. Sekiro was the only game that really stood out as being Game of the Year-worthy for me personally. I was thrilled when it won GOTY at the Game Awards – unexpected, but extremely well deserved. Anyway, enough rambling, here’s my top ten games of the last decade!
Red Dead Redemption (2010)
Toss up between Red Dead 1 & 2, but I’ve decided to go with the first game, where it all started. I’ve talked about this game before, but I’m a big fan of Western settings, so being able to play Cowboy GTA was pretty much The Dream™. John Marston is one of my favourite protagonists of all time, and I genuinely think that Red Dead Redemption has one of the most impressive story arcs of the last decade. Its narrative structure was so easy to get invested in, taking each gang member down individually. It builds steadily to the crescendo of John atoning for his past, and trying to start a future with his family. I was in tears by the end; I loved the characters, the map, the sidequests, everything. Despite its slow pace, and occasionally dull missions, this is easily one of my favourite games of the past ten years.
Dark Souls (2011)
I was very afraid to play Dark Souls. Even by the time I picked it up (years after its release) its difficulty was legendary. If I’m being completely honest, that’s one of the main reasons I wanted to play it – I wanted to prove to myself, and to others, that I was capable of completing a game notorious for its high skill demand. I wanted a fallback for conversations that inevitably cropped up whenever gaming discussions did: Oh you’re a girl who plays games? What do you play? Do you play real games? Yes, I wanted to say, I play Dark Souls. Problem was, the game was really kicking my ass, and I struggled with it for almost a year. I walked away from it several times, when I felt so hopelessly stuck I couldn’t bring myself to play anymore. But I kept coming back to it, with a fresh file after each failure. Eventually, I learned to appreciate its no-holds-barred style, and (slowly) absorbed the lessons it taught me, in caution, patience, and perseverance. I grew to love the game I originally only wanted to play as a personal achievement. Not only did I grow to appreciate Dark Souls, with its incredible level design, boss fights, and intriguing lore, I continued on to play all of the Souls games, including Bloodborne and Sekiro. I proved to myself that I could play these games as well as anyone else, and grew quite attached to their style. So, not only do I play Dark Souls – I love it.
I always waffle on about writing a review for this game, but I don’t think I will. It’s hard to express why I love this game so much, because its fairly simple in its visual presentation and gameplay. But I think the musical score does a lot to elevate this deceptively simple game – it has the power to evoke genuine emotion, directly related to the story/gameplay you’re experiencing on-screen. Its immensely powerful, and I’d never experienced anything quite like it. Flying through the final area, and walking into the light at the top of the mountain still gets me every single time. The game can also feel completely different whether you’re travelling on your own, or with another person. Journey’s unique cooperative mechanic allows you to pair up with a random person to complete the game, and it can add an entirely new layer to an already moving experience. The best word I can use to describe this game is “resonant” because that’s exactly what it is.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf (2013)
This was my first foray into the world of Animal Crossing. I had heard of it before, but never tried it; I’ve since become a huge fan. As with every fan of the game, I love the peaceful, idyllic lifestyle that New Leaf offers. Getting to build your town from scratch, and getting to know your villagers (my ride-or-dies are Eunice, Rod, and Freckles) is probably my favourite part. At some point I realized I was ridiculously invested in these tiny creatures, and would be devastated if they left my town. There’s nothing like a game of Animal Crossing to lift you up when you’re feeling stressed or low – it’s such a lovely, wholesome experience. Who else is counting down to New Horizons?
Speaking of lovely, wholesome experiences – Bloodborne! Just kidding. Bloodborne is brutal, visceral, and took me completely by surprise. I wasn’t anticipating enjoying this game as much as I did, mostly because I was so enthralled by Dark Souls, that I doubted anything could compare. It was also scary to lose the crutch of a shield from the previous Souls games. But Bloodborne quickly became one of my favourites – its oppressive, unrelenting atmosphere, enjoyable combat, and twisting narrative easily make it one of my favourite titles of this decade. On a somewhat related note, it also has one of my favourite quotes of all time, on the Executioner Set: “Acts of goodness are not always wise, and acts of evil are not always foolish, but regardless, we shall always strive to be good.” I recently went back to Bloodborne and finally finished off the playthrough I needed for the Platinum Trophy – look for a post on that in the near future!
Persona 5 (2016)
Persona 5 was title I only played recently, as I’m not the biggest fan of JRPGs. I’ve never played a game in the franchise before either. But I had so much fun with this game; despite some issues I had with its narrative, and the game generally outstaying its welcome (sooo much unnecessary dialogue), it’s an absolute blast. I loved the characters, the combat, the music – everything gels well together, and the experience was unforgettable. The way that the game is able to incorporate symbolism into the Palaces of the villains was exciting to me – I loved their designs. I’m beyond excited for The Royal to drop this March.
Pokemon Sun and Moon (2016)
I had to include a Pokemon game on this list, and even though I generally consider X/Y to be my favourite, I wanted to name Sun/Moon instead – I feel like it doesn’t get enough love. I think the developers took a bit of a chance, stepping away from the usual Gym Challenge format, and it worked perfectly. The trials, while not necessarily challenging, were extremely enjoyable and well-crafted. The Ghost trial with Mimikyu was my personal favourite. The rival characters in Hau and Gladion were great, and Lusamine was an intriguing villain, with a somewhat unusual motive. I loved being able to fully customize my character, and the general quality of life improvements added in these titles were welcome. Overall, I think Sun and Moon were extremely strong additions to the franchise, and I loved every hour (more than 200 of them… shhhh) I played.
What Remains of Edith Finch (2017)
What Remains of Edith Finch is one of those games whose stories will stick with me forever. This is one of the best games I’ve ever played, hands down. Its incredible structure, chapter-like, with unique gameplay and art styles for each one, is brilliant. The heartfelt, melancholic tales are incredible to experience for the first time, as you walk through the dream-like Finch house, learning their family history. This game (for me personally) serves as a testament to the importance of history, and story-telling, and I love it all the more for that.
Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018)
This game was a huge surprise for me – I never expected to love it as much as I do. I played it oh a whim, trying to filling the ‘gaming gap’ between the release of God of War and Red Dead Redemption 2. I loved the gameplay, and the story, but most of all, I loved the characters. Peter Parker was presented perfectly (say that five times fast), as was Mary Jane. It was so easy to get attached to, and invested in the lives of these characters. The extremely fun movement/swinging mechanics were also executed perfectly. I simply adore this game, and all its DLCs (though they weren’t as strong) and I cannot wait for the inevitable sequel down the line.
God of War (2018)
God of War was another game I originally had no intention of playing, and picked up several weeks after its release. I hadn’t been a fan of the God of War series for years, but when I saw a streamer play through the tutorial area, the combat immediately intrigued me. Kratos and Atreus’ journey through Midgard and beyond grabbed me, and I literally could not stop thinking about the game until I had it completed. The relationship between father and son was so ridiculously endearing, I was in tears by the end. The original score absolutely slaps. The side characters are phenomenal. I kept playing this game to nab the Platinum Trophy, and went back again when they released the NG+ patch. I’ll never forget the thoughts and feelings I had playing this title for the first time – it’s genuinely one of my favourites of all time. I’m sure a sequel is in the works, and I hope director Cory Barlog stays on to see it through – it couldn’t possibly be as brilliant without him. Regardless, fantastic game to round out my favourites of the last decade.
Once again, thank you so much for reading! As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments – either your picks for game(s) of the decade, or what you’re looking forward to in 2020!