Random quote:


Check out my other site, RPGreats, for honest RPG reviews!

12/15/2020

Top 100 PC Games, #70-61

70. The Secret of Monkey Island (LucasArts, 1990) 

LucasArts in the 90s was practically synonymous with adventure games - as much so for making several great ones themselves as for reinventing the genre practically from the ground up.  Monkey Island is a perfect example, doing away with the tedious trial-and-error design and cheap deaths of older games in the genre (and actively poking fun at such Sierra design tropes at several points) while working in some very creative elements of its own.  Everybody talks about the sword fighting/insult contest element, and rightfully so, as its both brilliant and hilarious.  But the rest is great too - consistently funny, off-kilter and with some very inspired visual design and animation.

69. 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. 

68. Sid Meier's Civilization IV (Firaxis Games, 2005)

Sid Meier's iconic Civilization series has always been a popular one, and many fans consider IV to be the height of the series.  It isn't hard to see why, either, as it takes everything great about its predecessors and improves it tenfold, even supporting player customization and a number of high-quality expansions (including a full remake of Sid Meier's Colonization).  Still, the core element remains much the same - build cities and armies, research new technologies, build world wonders, and reach one of the win conditions before your opponents do.  But as the old saying goes: Don't fix what ain't broken!  Plus, it has Leonard Nimoy doing the narration; you can't argue with that kind of awesome.

67. Diablo (Blizzard Entertainment, 1996)

Warcraft and Lost Vikings were fairly popular games in their time, but Diablo is the game that really put Blizzard on the map.  Taking the concept of games like Rogue, adding an action bent and dousing the whole thing in a heavy grim atmosphere, it definitely awed people at a glance. It only became more immersive thanks to its fantastic soundtrack and a surprisingly good story with some high quality voice over, and the fact that you got a random shuffle of quests, items and spells each time you played lent it quite  a bit of replay value. It had an official (though non-canon) expansion in Hellfire as well, adding in several new quests and three new playable classes (though you do have to do some file-editing to make them all accessible). While largely overshadowed by its sequel these days, Diablo is still a very worthy game that is not to be missed. 

66. Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition (Ensemble Studios/Forgotten Empires, 2019)

A real time strategy game with a historical bent, having the player gather resources, build a kingdom and advance it through four "ages", gaining access to new units and military technology as they go.  As in games like Civilization, one can win by simply wiping out all the other armies, but alternate win conditions exist as well - keeping a Wonder standing for a set amount of time, or controlling all relics on the map for a set period will also win the game. The campaign is also one for history buffs, recreating several famous historical campaigns. The Definitive Edition adds another campaign and four new civilizations, as well as upgrading the engine to support HD resolutions and massively improving the computer AI (no longer having to cheat to provide a challenge to the player). 

65. Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss (Blue Sky Productions, 1992)

A game that was built from the ground up to not just be a more realistic kind of puzzle-driven dungeon crawler, but a full blown life simulation too.  To that end, you had skills not just oriented around combat and spellcasting, but for swimming, conversing, identifying items and bartering with NPCs among many others.  It had a lighting system and rudimentary physics for platforming, letting objects bounce off of walls (and activate switches) and no single set solution for most puzzles, letting the player take an innovative approach to figuring out the game's mysteries.  Downright mind-blowing stuff for 1992, and the influence it's had on the industry since is immeasurable. inspiring games like Elder Scrolls, Half-Life 2, Deus Ex, and numerous others.  It's a bit clumsy and awkwardly slow to play today, but it's nevertheless a great game and an important building block for gaming as a whole.


64. Kenshi (Lo-Fi Games, 2018)

An independent game in development for over twelve years, released on Steam Early Access in 2013 and finally given a proper Version 1.0 release at the tail end of 2018.  So for all that effort, it had to be good, right?  Well, yes.  In fact, Kenshi actually feels like a fully-realized version of Fallouts 4 and 76 in some respects, providing a game that feels like a well-constructed and cohesive whole instead of a mishmash of half-baked ideas in an engine that wasn't really built for them.  Basically an open world sandbox RPG with a real time strategy bent set in an expansive environment that combines low fantasy and post-apocalyptic science fiction, Kenshi is an oddity in that the player isn't a "chosen one" or anything of the sort; in fact, there isn't really even an overarching storyline.  Just a complex backdrop and several walks of life for you to start in (from being a lowly adventurer to a holy knight to an escaped slave to an exile from a strange insect-like race) and once you start, you're just left to your own devices.  As you play more and more you'll slowly build up your stats and resources, recruit allies, construct bases and steadily make your way to becoming a substantial presence in  the world from basically nothing, and that's always fun.  The strangeness of the setting and the complex, yet intuitive gameplay lend it a lot of charm, and of course, player modding only lets you tweak the experience to your exact tastes.  The kind of engrossing, endlessly deep experience only the PC platform can provide, and Kenshi does it exceptionally well.

63. Grim Fandango (LucasArts, 1998)

Grim Fandango, like many LucasArts-produced adventure games, got very good reviews and is regarded as a masterpiece of writing and design; however, it also came at a time when the genre was on very weak footing and sold poorly as a result, leading the company to exit the market shortly thereafter.  But with the advent of high-definition remasters, people can finally appreciate it for what it is - an ingenious, creative title with an art style heavily inspired by Dia de Los Muertos and writing that combines twisted comedy, noir and drama into a masterful and highly compelling blend.

62. Alvora Tactics / Voidspire Tactics (Rad Codex, 2015/2017)

Rad Codex is a name I've grown to love in the short while I've known of them, mostly because they're one of the few indie devs I've seen that finally gets what made classic CRPGs like Fallout, Ultima and Might and Magic great.  They afford the player a deep combat and character-customizing experience and great amount of freedom to explore the world and forge their own path while not getting bogged down in flowery overwrought dialog, a story that tries to overstep its bounds into the realm of pretense or tedious busywork; you just get to roam and enjoy yourself while facing whatever challenge comes your way, taking everything at your own pace, and every fight you get into feels like there's really something at stake and it's not just boring filler.  (It also helps that the combat is heavily modeled on Final Fantasy Tactics, another of my favorites).  Quality over quantity, playing to your strengths and not getting full of yourself even when you make something genuinely good; more CRPG devs need to take lessons from Rad Codex.

61. Horizon's Gate (Rad Codex, 2020)

A game that has been described by many as "Final Fantasy Tactics by way of Uncharted Waters", and upon playing it, I can certainly confirm that is indeed the case.  You build a character, take part in turn-based battles both on foot and by sea, unlock new classes as the game progresses, and can basically explore, trade or become a privateer at your leisure, taking part in ship battles or legitimate business to earn loot for later upgrades.  Inventory management and item manipulation is simple as can be too, using a keyboard-and-mouse interface that reminds me more than a bit of the classic Ultimas.  It's certainly not the deepest example of anything it attempts to be, but it is a lot of fun, and really, that's what I come to a game for anyway.  Sacrilege, I know.