In the current gaming climate, we are constantly being barraged by remakes, remasters, and game sequels. While there is a sense of nostalgia associated with these types of games, it’s fueled the industry and developers to sometimes put new IPs on the back burner.
Despite that, there have been a number of games over the years that standalone or exist as the first in a series that can be called the best of the best. They are not game sequels. Some take heavy inspiration from past games. What makes them great is a combination of their longevity, popularity, and how fun they are.
Though a remake has been announced, the original Deadspace from 2008 still holds up today with its tense atmosphere, innovative gameplay, and eerie sound design. It brought science fiction survival horror into the forefront with its Necromorph monsters and the Plasma Cutter weapon that let players strategically mutilate their enemies into oblivion. Environments were always tense even on later playthroughs thanks to enemies spawning in rooms at random spots. It’s been a long time since it came out, but revisiting the year 2508 is easy with Dead Space’s inclusion on Xbox Game Pass.
Spec Ops: The Line
Spec Ops: The Line is criminally underrated. Despite receiving positive reviews, it was a commercial failure. On the surface, it looks like it might pass off as a generic shooter. Beneath the firefights, however, lay a tense game filled with morally ambiguous choices. Over the course of the game and depending on the choices made, the main character Captain Martin Walker becomes increasingly more unhinged. This is apparent due to visual and auditory hallucinations and a heightened sense of rage and anger. The game ends with a surprising twist that will leave you slack-jawed.
Similar to Spec Ops: The Line, Bioshock’s narrative offers up its own surprising twists and turns. In addition to the stories of Jack, Andrew Ryan, and Brigid Tenenbaum, the game is teeming with exciting gameplay thanks to a variety of weapons, plasmid powers, and the ability to approach the game more stealthily or with guns blazing. It is still easy to get sucked into the world of Rapture today with its delightfully deadly denizens who are hell-bent on not only mutilating you but also themselves. Bioshock is much more than just an action RPG, it is a masterclass in narrative design and one of the best games on the 360.
If you’re looking for a fantastic action-adventure game with a variety of enemies, fast-paced combat, and deep customization, Astral Chain is the game for you. Set on a dystopian and futuristic Earth, the game follows the player as a detective for a special police task force that helps protect the public from interdimensional creatures. There is a wide variety of ways to play thanks to beings called Legions the player can summon to fight and use in the world to explore. In battle, combos and the different Legions are utilized to deal some major damage and kick ass in a very satisfying way.
Into the Breach
Indie games sometimes have trouble finding an audience, but Into the Breach found a dedicated one in gamers who enjoy turn-based strategy games. In the game, you commandeer soldier-controlled mechs to defeat an army of monsters called the Vek. You’ll use your turns to coordinate attacks against enemy forces. Winning conditions can vary and often must be completed within a set number of terms or you’ll get a game over. Into the Breach offers an inventive and refreshing take on a genre that doesn’t get a lot of attention.
Minecraft has sold over 238 million copies, and it’s very likely you have a friend with a kid who plays, or perhaps it is a game you get lost in. Its longevity is thanks to the community and accessibility. If you have a phone, console, computer, or tablet, you can play and be a part of Minecraft. While the game started small, it grew at such an outstanding rate and now boasts the title of the best-selling game. Ever. Behind it is Grand Theft Auto 5 with 155 million. Minecraft is more than just a game, it is an entire movement supported by its community.
Supergiant Games has always made great games, but the popularity and critical acclaim of Hades cemented their position as one of the best developers of indie titles. With multiple Game of the Year wins, Hades continues to drag players to Hell with its varied and addicting gameplay loop. If you have ever dreamt of smashing a Hydra with a shield as lightning bolts pelt him or lunging spears at Hades while painfully splashing water against him, it’s going to be a good time for you. The story is also surprisingly touching and engaging thanks to fantastic writing and voice performances.
No Man’s Sky
Despite a rocky launch in 2016, the developers of No Man’s Sky have listened to criticisms and launched many updates in order to give the full experience they initially envisioned. In the game, there are four principal facets: exploration, survival, combat, and trading. One of the most impressive parts of No Man’s Sky is that much of it is procedurally generated. From alien creatures to fauna and stars, there are upwards of 18 quintillion planets to explore within the game. Though it took years to get there, No Man’s Sky is a game most anyone should spend time with.
While future sequels improved upon the original in many ways, there is no denying the staying power and fun of the original Sims game. Besides being able to build a home (don’t forget your cheat codes to have unlimited money), the ability to run and even ruin a person’s life was instantly satiating. Want to trap someone in a pool so they drown? Do it. Want to have your character bonk every neighbor in town? You can do it! Fancy a midnight chat with the ghost of your dead mom? It’s possible!
On paper, Chrono Trigger’s synopsis sounds fairly typical for a JRPG: a group of adventurers traveling through time to prevent a global catastrophe. Thanks to its fantastic take on the Active Time Battle system and layered, but not too complex time-travel story, it is one of the most beloved classic JRPGs. It is a game that has had people begging for a remake for decades and with good reason. Its influences still reverberate today, and it routinely places on lists ranking the best games of all time.