Photo Courtesy of Steam
2010: FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS (Obsidian Entertainment)
A spectacular way to start the decade, Fallout: New Vegas is a game for the ages. Developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Bethesda Softworks it is widely regarded as one of the best Fallout games ever produced. Anyone familiar with the gaming world knows of New Vegas and its cover is instantly recognizable everywhere. Even today a wealth of players, memes, art, and community surrounds the game. The star of the line-up, it is almost a shame Fallout: New Vegas came first. As New Vegas antagonist Benny would say, “Truth is…the game was rigged from the start.”
2011: PORTAL 2 (Valve)
Runners-up: Dark Souls, Skyrim
Few franchises of this decade are as iconic as the Portal franchise, and Portal 2 is undoubtedly one of the most culturally impactful games of the decade. Along with the instantly recognizable blue and orange portals, Portal 2 brought us the “cake is a lie,” GLaDOS’s quintessential robotic sarcasm, and of course the songs “Still Alive” and “Want You Gone,” two of the most recognizable game tracks to this day. Despite being an older game, Portal 2 is still widely played today and holds up to contemporary gaming standards due to its unique portal mechanics and personal brand. In conclusion, the cake is still a lie.
2012: THE WALKING DEAD (Telltale Games)
Runners-up: Borderlands 2, Journey
There was tough competition between Borderlands 2 and Telltale’s The Walking Dead. With the looter shooter, crazy-gore-galore of Borderlands vs The Walking Dead’s somber atmosphere and gripping story line it was most definitely a close call. The harrowing drama of protecting a child in a zombie-apocalypse and the consequences of choice shook up the gaming scene in 2012 as players took control of Lee Everete, following his story across a desolate, struggling America. We all know the haunting scene of Clementine, Lee’s surrogate daughter, forced to make the choice of a mercy-killing or leaving him to zombify. Telltale had no mercy for their players and it shows within its indelible mark on this decade of video games.
2013: THE STANLEY PARABLE (Galactic Cafe)
Runners-Up: Bioshock Infinite, Grand Theft Auto V, The Last of Us
On Indie Game Website’s list of the top 100 indie games of all time, The Stanley Parable sits understandably at number one. In addition to being a fascinating and entertaining narrative experience, The Stanley Parable uses its fourth-wall-breaking humor to poke fun at both video game narrative tropes and the player themselves. The 19 different endings to this short but highly influential indie game covers everything from a brief excursion into Minecraft, several out-of-body experiences, and a harrowing discussion about the nature of free will.
2014: DRAGON AGE: INQUISITION (Bioware)
Runners-Up: Five Nights at Freddy’s, Bird Story, the Forest, PT
Bioware is well known for its fantastic storytelling and gripping gameplay. Faced with Five Nights at Freddy’s, The Forest, and the incomplete game PT, Dragon Age: Inquisition cut away the competition with a gleaming sword of brilliance. A beautiful world with interesting dialogue and lore, a fantastical setting rich with little nuances, character choice, it was ripe for the taking of 2014’s best video game. It had dragons, too! Who doesn’t love dragons? Instant success on that alone.
2015: UNDERTALE (Toby Fox)
Runners-Up: Call of Duty: Black Ops. Among the Sleep
If any game has had an eventful five years, it’s Undertale. Immediately after its release in 2015, Undertale exploded into an international phenomenon due to its quirky personality, interesting characters, wacky humor, unparalleled soundtrack, and unexpected emotional depth. Undertale has three main endings and each one turns classic RPG elements inside-out; the game remembers the actions of the player so that every playthrough is unique and every action has both hilarious and devastating consequences regardless of if the player resets the game or tries to erase the data. References to this small, six-hour indie game have ended up in anime, comic books, and American cartoons; an Undertale character was even added to Nintendo’s world-renowned fighting game Super Smash Brothers.
2016: OVERWATCH (Blizzard Entertainment)
Runners-Up: Firewatch, Stardew Valley, Pokemon: Sun/Moon, DOOM, Playdead’s Inside, Telltale Batman, Abzu, Persona 5, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Hitman
The forces of good and evil battle for the fate of the world! A good premise for a multiplayer, team-pvp video game and evidently an excellent one for a game that took the world by storm. Implementing a genius ‘ultimate’ mechanic and a multitude of heroes, Overwatch was an instant success in the video game industry. It was all the rage in 2016 and talked about in forums and group chats alike, encouraging more into the gaming sphere. “Heroes never die!” as Overwatch’s motto goes and it couldn’t be closer to the truth.
2017 : LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD (Nintendo)
Runners-Up: Fortnite, Super Mario Odyssey, Cuphead, Night in the Woods, Little Nightmares, Hollow Knight
Even in a year of many unique and fantastic releases like Night in the Woods and Fortnite, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild stands out. The release of BotW was accompanied by the long-awaited Nintendo Switch, offering a high-definition portable gaming experience and a colossal open-world map that was unheard of in Zelda games until BotW’s release. It soon rose past Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess on many people’s lists of favorite Zelda games and rose further still until it was named Game of the Year at the 2017 Game Awards. The minimalist music, earnest story and many entertaining side quests are tied together with detailed and flexible gameplay. BotW has many charming points, like cooking mechanics, puzzle-solving, skill trials, and a very handsome fish man. But the real selling point of the game comes from its fantastic interpretation of Legend of Zelda’s existing cast. After so many years – finally, blessedly – Link can jump.
2018: SUPER SMASH BROTHERS: ULTIMATE (Nintendo)
Runners-Up: Red Dead Redemption II, God of War, PUBG, Gris, Detroit: Become Human, Metro Exodus.
A contender to a plethora of amazing games, Super Smash Bros: Ultimate is well deserving of a spot as 2018’s best video game. With an impressive lineup of 81 playable fighters(including DLC) it continues on the Smash Bros legacy in the ultimate way. Look around SDA and you’ll see switches propped up, controllers in hand, and friends duking it out for the right to call themselves a smash bro champion. Suffice to say this will be a popular game among gamers for years to come.
2019: DEATH STRANDING (Hideo Kojima Studios)
Runners-Up: Star Wars: Fallen Jedi Order, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Untitled Goose Game, Pokemon: Sword/Shield, Control
For all those mourning the loss of “P.T.,” Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro’s canceled masterpiece starring Norman Reedus, boy have I got news for you. Death Stranding (produced by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro and starring Norman Reedus) was one of the most anticipated games of 2019 and it certainly delivered, in more ways than one. Death Stranding was nominated for Game of the Year in the 2019 games awards, and won Best Direction and Music Score. Even with Hideo Kojima’s signature direction style, Death Stranding is nothing but familiar. Though slow to start, the narrative of the game is full of twists and turns, nuanced characters, and excellent combat scenes; it also has a particularly compelling look at the nature of death and how interconnectedness with others is what makes us human.