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Top 111 PC Games #80-71

80. Heretic II (Raven Software, 1998)

Most people know about Heretic, but not too many people know it had a sequel.  Mostly because it didn't sell particularly well and owing to a dispute over rights to the game, it has not resurfaced on any digital distribution stores.  Which is a shame, as it's quite a unique and fun experience in its own right.  A third person action game that takes a few cues from Tomb Raider, with some polished platforming mechanics and a bit of focus on puzzle solving.  It doesn't lose sight of what made the original popular, though - after all, it's built in the Quake II engine, which lends itself perfectly to fast-paced projectile-slinging action against hordes of monsters.  Even melee brings some clever mechanics, with sweeping blows that deal heavy damage (and gory finishers) to enemies and even letting you use your staff to pole-vault, which both serves as a longer jump and a powerful mobile attack.  Heretic II is far less famous than its predecessor, but no less fun.

79. Heretic (Raven Software, 1994)

As popular as Doom was, it was little surprise that it would get a number of spinoff games and engine licenses.  Heretic is definitely one of the more memorable ones, taking the basic monster-blasting, puzzle-solving format of Doom and putting a coat of dark fantasy on everything.  Golems, axe-throwing skeleton knights, sorcerers and demons, among many others, stand in your way, while you get several weapons like a magic staff, a triple-firing crossbow, a fireball-launching mace and my personal favorite, gauntlets that launch lightning at your enemies.  More than that, though one could actually pick up many powerups and use them when needed, rather than being forced to activate and use them right then and there.  From temporary flight to powering up all of one's weapons to simply restoring a bit of health on-demand, they were all quite handy to have.

78. Jazz Jackrabbit (Epic MegaGames, 1994)

Probably the first PC game I can remember really being blown away by, proving that computers could have games that were just as fast-paced, colorful and smooth-playing as anything on a console. Jazz Jackrabbit obviously draws a lot of inspiration from Sonic with its colorful environments, mazelike levels and fast paced design (even utilizing similar 3D bonus stages to Sonic CD), though it works in a touch of run-and-gun shooting action too, giving you a number of different weapons and powerups to utilize and plenty of enemies to blow away with them.  Cap that off with a fantastic soundtrack and you've got a genuine shareware action classic that gave the major consoles of the time a run for their money.

77. Serious Sam (Croteam, 2001)

In the late '90s tiny Croatian studio Croteam decided that shooters had gotten too brown, gritty and slow in recent years, and set out to rectify that with their debut game, Serious Sam.  Not only did it look fantastic for the time, with enormous environments that were bright, colorful and intricately detailed, but it never lost a beat despite its action being downright manic.  Even with the huge open areas, impressive visual effects and the fact that literally hundreds of enemies can be rushing you all at once, there's virtually no slowdown or framerate stutters.  There's tons of hidden secrets in every level a la Doom or Wolfenstein, and the gameplay is reminiscent of classic arcade shooters like Smash TV - smooth-controlling, fast paced and uncomplicated, but certainly not easy.  Learning enemy patterns, rationing pickups, using the right weapon in the right situation, prioritizing threats and of course circle-strafing constantly quickly become key to survival.  A game where you somehow feel totally overwhelmed and completely in control at the same time, Serious Sam is a rush.

76. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge (LucasArts, 1991)

Monkey Island was never Lucasarts' best selling franchise, but its irreverent humor, strong atmosphere and well-crafted puzzles gave it enough of a following to get several sequels over the years.  Monkey Island 2 follows Guybrush Threepwood on his quest to find the lost treasure of Big Whoop, running afoul of his once-vanquished nemesis LeChuck on the way.  With more clever design, hilarious dialog and plenty of jokes tied to creative puzzles and a strong narrative, it's another solid title.  It would also be the last game in the series that Ron Gilbert would work on for nearly thirty years, eventually returning to the series with 2022's Return to Monkey Island.

75. Ys Origin (Nihon Falcom, 2012)

A prequel to the long-running Ys action-RPG series and the first to not star Adol Christin (although he is playable in some of the bonus modes), Ys Origin can also be considered more of a straight dungeon crawler - the game takes place entirely within the Devil's Tower, and the player is given a choice of three protagonists to control - Yunica plays most similarly to Adol by relying mostly on melee attacks and mobility, Hugo Fact relies on ranged magic and "Claw" (unlockable after completing the game once) is a high-risk high-reward character, with short ranged but rapid strikes.  The overall story changes slightly depending on your character, you earn and purchase upgrades as the story progresses to power up, and extra modes like a boss rush and time attack add plenty of replayability.

74. Cave Story (Dōkutsu Monogatari) (Pixel, 2004)

With the internet's explosion in popularity came an interest in indie games old and new, with sites like Newgrounds giving a lot of developers and fans a place to show off their talents and numerous abandonware sites archiving obscure and forgotten classics.  Cave Story is one that came to peoples' attention not long after its initial release in 2004, garnering a lot of attention for its high quality Metroid-like design, presentation reminiscent of 8 and 16-bit retro titles, having a surprisingly engrossing story and being created over the course of five years by a single developer.  Since then it's gotten tons of attention in the form of fan translations, ports to numerous platforms (official and otherwise), a slew of remakes, mods and source ports, and even a fan-created level editor.  

73. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos/The Frozen Throne (Blizzard Entertainment, 2002/2003)

Warcraft was one of Blizzard's earliest hits; an early real-time strategy game with two long and varied campaigns and plenty of charm and atmosphere.  The sequel offered a vastly improved UI and larger-scale battles, and Warcraft III certainly upped the ante too.  The total number of playable factions was raised to four (adding the corpse-manipulating Undead and nature-oriented Night Elves) and some RPG elements were worked into the proceedings - each army gets their own unique "hero units" that power up after defeating foes, carry an inventory of items (like temporary power boosts or potions to recover HP) and have powerful spells that can quickly turn the tide of battles.  The Frozen Throne is a great expansion too, adding new units for each army, two neutral factions (the Naga and the Dranei), reintroducing naval battles, and of course continuing the storyline from the original game.  It's just a shame that Activision has seen fit to taint its legacy with the absolutely wretched "remaster" called Warcraft III: Reforged, which not only has mountains of bugs and glitches, but you can't even play the original version online anymore AND they get dibs on any custom games you make with their engine.  Nice one, morons!

72. Organ Trail (The Men Who Wear Many Hats, 2010)

A game which is very clearly a parody of/tribute to the classic "The Oregon Trail", though it does much to set itself apart too and become a fine title in its own right.  Visually it resembles its predecessor with its low-color visuals and hatched graphics to simulate shading in particular scenes, but gameplay-wise it's a very different beast.  Instead of a wagon you drive a beaten-up car, and you'll frequently have to choose between different routes, fend off attacking bikers or hordes of zombies, and occasionally shoot it out with bandits.  Radiation, infection and vehicle breakdowns are constant threats, and scavenging enough supplies to make it to the end are an endeavor in themselves.  A game that melds humor, grim atmosphere and a constant sense of unease and uncertainty together in perfect fashion, Organ Trail is a fine homophonic homage.

71. Hero's Hour (Benjamin "ThingOnItsOwn" Hauer, 2022)

A game very clearly influenced by the gameplay style of Heroes of Might and Magic - Venture across the map, accumulate resources, upgrade your towns, build up your forces and try to be the last army standing, all in turn-based action.  The combat element is quite different though, playing out as more of a real-time strategy - you can give broad orders to your squads, but for the most part they engage and attack on their own.  Of course your general can still cast spells, which play a pretty hefty role in turning the tide of a battle - summoning critters behind your enemy's front line to wreak havoc on their ranged attackers, buffing up your units, dealing hefty damage and so forth.  It's a fun little game with a hefty amount of strategy and an even heftier amount of chaos.