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Top 111 PC Games, #40-31

40. The Oregon Trail (MECC, 1985)

If you're of a certain age you probably remember playing this one in your school days, mostly because it's one of those rare educational games that was actually fun.   In fact, it was actually rather like a roguelike in many respects - you picked one of three career paths (determining your starting money and score multiplier at the end), dealt with a lot of randomized hazards and splitting paths, and tried to reach Oregon with as many resources intact and people still alive as you could.  There were a lot of updates, remakes and rereleases over the years (still continuing to this day) and several spinoffs including Amazon Trail, Africa Trail, Yukon Trail and the controversial Freedom!, but the fact that this game still remains popular despite having iterations going all the way back to 1971 speaks to its timeless charm.

39. Monomyth (Rat Castle, 202?)

A small indie game which draws obvious inspiration from titles like Ultima Underworld, and for my money it's the best attempt to recapture its magic since the 90s (especially in light of the massive disappointment that was Underworld Ascendant).  Fitting together a complex tale through context clues and environmental storytelling, you're also largely left to your own devices to get past most obstacles - find a key to a door, using your lockpicking skills and tools to open it, blowing it off its hinges with a powder keg, searching for an alternate route to bypass it entirely, or smashing it down with raw strength are all perfectly viable options.  Of course it's often to your advantage to not solve every problem with violence, as you can discover useful clues and resources you wouldn't otherwise, and the environment is a surprisingly realistic one, letting you interact with even mundane objects like musical instruments and ovens that let you bake bread or grill meat for extra health restoration.

38. Torchlight II (Runic Games, 2012)

There are quite a few Diablo-styled action dungeon crawlers on the PC, but for my money, one of the absolute best is Torchlight II.  Created by a team partly made up of former Blizzard North (Diablo I) staff, Torchlight 2 takes everything that made Diablo a hit and cranks it up to eleven.  Combat is fast and frantic, the four playable classes in the game can be customized in any way the player wishes, and online multiplayer (sorely missing from the first game) is now back in full force.  The game even has full support for player mods which can even be used in online games, though all players must have the same set of mods installed in order to play together.  Some other clever tweaks, like each player finding separate loot drops and being able to send your pet back to town with a haul of items to trade in for cash or potions, also make sure that the action remains constant throughout.  Torchlight II is just pure fun.

37. Lemmings (DMA Design, 1991)

A popular puzzle game that spawned a horde of rereleases, updates, sequels, expansions, clones and parodies, Lemmings is a simple concept - get a quota of the little rodents safely to the goal.  To this end, one picks a few out of the crowd and assigns them jobs meant to help the others avoid danger or bypass obstacles - whether simply stopping and forcing them to go the other way, digging through dirt, climbing up walls, parachuting down long drops, or blowing themselves up to clear an obstacle from the others' path.  Once enough are safely through the exit door, the next stage begins.  Simple enough in concept, but many of the later stages get deviously difficult, requiring some very fast thinking to succeed.  Given just how prolific and popular the series was, if you owned basically any game platform out in the early '90s, you probably played or at least saw Lemmings or one of its sequels/spinoffs/expansions at some point.  And thankfully, most of them were pretty damn fun.  Key word being "most"; skip Lemmings Paintball and All New World of Lemmings aka Lemmings Chronicles, they're really lame.

36. Wartales (Shiro Games, 2022)

A game that obviously draws inspiration from the old cult classic "Darklands", Wartales is very similar in concept - a small band of adventurers traveling around the land in search of fame (or infamy) and fortune.  Unlike that game, though, it does have a bit more of an involved class system; characters earn sets of skills depending upon their chosen vocations and interact with the world in different ways, too.  As you travel and face danger you'll not only power up your characters, but learn new tools to craft and abilities that benefit the entire group like rationing food (slows food consumption), outrunning enemies to avoid fights, carrying more weight or even more ghoulish options like being willing to resort to cannibalism to survive.  There's no real overarching story to go through - you carve out your own.  But it's deep and engaging enough to keep you coming back for a good while.

35. AM2R (Some awesome fans, 2016)

Nintendo's Metroid series is one that has been oft-copied, but puzzlingly sat idle in Nintendo's own hands for nearly a decade.  AM2R is a stellar fan-created remake of Metroid II for the PC, combining excellent visuals and audio design, spot-on controls and polished gameplay on par with the top games in the franchise.  Naturally, Nintendo quickly became green with envy for said fans doing something better with Metroid than they had in years and had it pulled from the internet, once again reaffirming their philosophy that "If people can't play high-quality fan games or even our old games that were good, they'll just have to buy our new games that aren't so good instead".  Which just seems like terrible business practice to me, but oh well.  If you can get your hands on this piece of forbidden treasure, you should, because AM2R is a game with more polish than most professionally released games, and perfectly captures that feeling of isolation in an eerie alien world that the classic Metroid games provided.

34. Unreal Tournament (Epic MegaGames, 1999)

Multiplayer first person shooters have a pretty long history going all the way back to the '80s with MIDI Maze and gaining a lot of popularity with games like Doom, but Unreal Tournament is widely regarded as one of the all-time greatest even today.  Taking the fast-paced gameplay of Unreal and adding numerous new game modes, including Assault (capturing a fortress point by point while the other team defends), Capture the Flag, Domination (team battles) and Last Man Standing (giving each player a limited number of lives).  Several map packs were released, and being moddable also meant there were plenty of weapons packs, maps, new game modes and endless gameplay tweaks that give it unlimited replay value.

33. Day of the Tentacle (Lucasarts, 1993)

The sequel to Maniac Mansion and Tim Schafer's first game as project lead, Day of the Tentacle was another hilarious and well-made point and click adventure from LucasArts.  Starring Bernard and two of his college roommates as they attempt to foil the Purple Tentacle's scheme for world conquest, the setup is quite a clever one - each of the three characters is trapped in a different time period, able to pass objects between one another but otherwise unable to directly interact, and changing things in the past will affect things in the future, opening paths for puzzles to be solved. This, plus the sharp writing, acting and animation, make for a truly fun and creative adventure. Though it sadly lacks the multiple paths and endings of the original game, Day of the Tentacle is nonetheless a worthy sequel to a classic. 

32. Ultima VI: The False Prophet (Origin Systems, 1990)

It seemed that every Ultima title did its best to up the ante over the previous one, and Ultima VI was no different in that regard. While the previous games had a recognizable world to venture through with a lot of surprising nods to realism, Ultima VI set out to create an immersive, realistic world that you'd live an alternate life in.  You could hunt animals for food, milk cows, load and fire cannons, move furniture around and so forth, and creative solutions to get around problems often work. The story was another great one too, starting with what appears to be a hostile invasion but having you looking at things from a very different perspective by the end.  The somewhat clunky UI and limited viewpoint don't make it my favorite Ultima to play, but even with the annoyances of constantly running into dead-ends and getting lost in towns, it's another fantastic RPG from Origin and a very worthwhile entry to a legendary franchise. 

31. Ultima Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams (Origin Systems, 1991)

Ultima 6 is a game as known for its intriguing story as its inventive gameplay, putting the player into a world more intricately designed and realistic than any other seen to that point - cows could be milked, doors could be lockpicked, blown up or smashed down, and virtually every object one saw could be moved around, stacked atop one another or used in surprisingly intuitive and realistic ways.  Naturally, this engine cost Origin a ton of money to develop, so they decided to try and recoup costs with some spinoff games.  The end results, while lauded by critics, were not financial successes, leading to the Worlds of Ultima franchise being cancelled after only two entries. Shame, that, as Martian Dreams isone of the best games in the entire franchise.  Set in a fictionalized Victorian era on Mars, it has the player and a number of real-life historical figures unearthing the remains of a long-lost civilization on the red planet, and having to endure a lot of surprisingly realistic obstacles - low oxygen, radiation and an ever-constant struggle against limited supplies.  While it is frustrating to navigate at times, the tale told here is a creative and memorable one, and proof that Ultima remains an important milestone for both design and storytelling in video games.