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


Top 111 PC Games, #111-101

This was a challenging list for me to come up with, as I've never really been a die-hard PC gamer by any means. However, I was always fascinated by how different its library was from what I had gotten used to on consoles - for the most part, games on computer platforms, particularly in the '90s era, were a very different experience in that they had so much more ambition to them. Like most of the best-known console developers, they were always pushing technology to its limits, but they also had to contend with a huge variety of different hardware setups and operating systems, which made their games considerably more difficult to develop and run. Still, it was all worth it to play some very in-depth and interesting experiences that consoles simply couldn't deliver, whether due to a more limited player interface or just not having the technological advantages of the PC platform. And of course, it is quite nice to still be able to play nearly all of them today, even if many do require fan patches or virtual machines or some other emulation option in order to run on modern hardware.

The only criteria I chose for this list is that all of my picks must have been designed with a computer system in mind as the primary platform (and have a release gap of at least three months between any console ports), or be PC-exclusive.  Oh, and they have to still be fun to play today, too.

As ever, keep in mind that this are my personal picks and no-one else's.  Oh, and these are by no means the only PC games I like.  Trust me, I had no shortage of trouble sticking to my rules and narrowing this down to only 111!

But I did list off a few honorable mentions if that's your sort of thing.

111. Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Orpheo's Curse (Viacom New Media, 1994)

A tie-in to the Nickelodeon horror anthology show, which plays out much like an episode of it, even featuring the Midnight Society for the framing device around the story (with the player telling the Tale of Orpheo's Curse in hopes of becoming a member).  The game itself is also a surprisingly good point-and-click adventure, with environments rendered from stills and CGI, a lot of bizarre sights to see and some eerie music making for a surprisingly creepy and tense experience.  Even the acting in-game is surprisingly good and the puzzles actually make sense, so it's a good experience despite being a horror themed title for kids.  Sadly it hasn't resurfaced on any digital platforms owing to licensing issues, but it's still relatively cheap if you can find it secondhand.

110. CyberJudas (DC True, 1996)

A very in-depth presidential simulator with some cyberpunk overtones (you're plugged into a rotating VR-chair a la the Lawnmower Man that lets you monitor all global communications and manage basically everything from a convenient UI), it's basically just a sandbox game - you can try to improve relations with neighbors, crush them through military force (even nuclear war), fund insurrections, develop third world nations or do whatever else you please.  Of course, you also have to manage your approval ratings and, in CyberJudas's case, a cabinet that will try to manipulate you for their own ends or even outright betray the country and make you try to take the fall for it, so you have to discredit and/or eliminate them before irreparable damage is done (or they kill you first).  Grim stuff, and for better or worse, I've never seen another game quite like it.

109. Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness/Beyond the Dark Portal (Blizzard Entertainment, 1995)

Probably the first RTS game I ever played, having found it on a demo disc with a number of other games, and I played a frankly ridiculous amount of it, both in single player and over dial-up with one of my buddies.  You commanded all sorts of cool units - axe-throwing trolls, death knights who could summon tornadoes and decay, battleships, flying gryphons and dragons, and would battle across land, sea and air.  The single player campaign gets a bit monotonous and playing against the computer in skirmishes isn't much fun owing to the infamously cheap AI - building units and seeking your bases out at a rather absurd speed but getting tripped up by mere walls.  But hey, with friends it's a damn fun game, even if it's been largely eclipsed by bigger names in the genre nowadays.

108. The Hugo Trilogy (Hugo's House of Horrors, Hugo II: Whodunit? and Hugo III: Jungle of Doom!) (Gray Design Associates, 1990, 1991, 1992)

A trilogy that that made the rounds in the era of early '90s shareware, Hugo was notable for being a Sierra-inspired adventure series and for being designed and coded entirely by one guy.  That's all fine and dandy, and they do have some delightfully quirky humor throughout, but they fall prey to some strange design decisions; particularly in the second game where you have to walk between obstacles with unclear hit boxes and even the slightest touch will kill you or leave the game unwinnable. They're not particular standouts of the genre or anything, but they are a bit of fun for what they are.  The first game also had a remake of sorts, Nitemare 3D, which takes the basic plot and slots it into a Wolfenstein-like FPS engine.

107. Duke Nukem (Apogee, 1991)

Before Duke Nukem donned his trademark shades and became the gruff-voiced, one-liner spewing FPS action hero we all know, he starred in a pair of sidescrolling platformers for the PC in the early '90s.  Obviously drawing inspiration from run-and-gun titles like Contra, they also had labyrinthine levels, platforming, hunting keycards to open new paths, plenty of ways to score bonus points and a ton of hidden secrets to uncover; all things that would become hallmarks of the FPS genre only a couple years later.  The hero's name was also briefly changed to "Duke Nukum" to avoid trademark infringement with a Captain Planet villain of the same name, but it was later found that no trademark was placed on the name and the change was quickly reverted for the sequel.

106. Atomic Bomberman (Interplay Productions, 1997)

Now here's an oddball game attached to a well-known license.  Atomic Bomberman is an officially licensed Bomberman game, though it wasn't developed by Hudson Soft - instead, Interplay took the code base from Super Bomberman 3, gave the game an odd CGI art style and a techno soundtrack and added numerous voice quips by the likes of Charlie Adler and Billy West (including a number of very profane ones buried on the disc, most likely so they wouldn't alienate a younger audience with a T or M rating).  It's also notable for the fact that it lacks any kind of single player campaign - all you get is multiplayer versus mode against up to none other humans or bots, both locally and over LAN or dialup.  Definitely one of the more obscure and bizarre Bomberman games, but hey, it's pretty hard to mess up Bomberman.

105. Ripper / Black Dahlia (Take-Two Interactive, 1996/1998)

A pair of adventure games that came out at the tail end of the FMV game fad of the early '90s, seemingly trying to prove that the format could work if its developers put in the care and attention a "movie game" really deserved.  They didn't save the genre from largely falling into obscurity, but they certainly helped it go out on a high note.  With a staggering amount of content (Ripper came on six CDs while Black Dahlia came on a whopping eight), a surprisingly high production budget with big-name actors and plenty of well-rendered CGI visuals, and even some surprisingly good music.  Of course, there's no shortage of minigames and puzzles too, some of which are notoriously difficult or just plain annoying to endure; even the developers seemed to think so as they included cheats to allow you to skip the majority of of them.  While Ripper and Black Dahlia ultimately aren't incredible experiences as games, the sheer amount of effort put into them was pretty damn impressive for the late '90s, and in some ways predicted the enormous movie-like game productions we have on modern platforms.

104. Alien Carnage (Interactive Binary Illusions/SubZero Software, 1994)

Originally released on the shareware model as "Halloween Harry", though they changed the name at 3D Realms' suggestion that it would be seen as a seasonal game and would sell poorly the rest of the year. It's a relatively novel take on run-and-gun platforming, arming you with a flamethrower as your default weapon (which earns it points in my book) and, rather than a standard jump, you get a jetpack that runs off the same fuel supply. You can also purchase limited-quantity special weapons from vending machines in each stage, and your goal is to rescue citizens, open paths via switches and make your way to the end of each level. A fun and creative little game from an era when PC platformers were still a fairly rare sight.  It also had an obscure Windows based sequel called "Zombie Wars" which is pretty hard to find today.

103. Alone in the Dark (Infogrames, 1992)

A rare example of a western-developed game that made a splash in Japan; in fact, nearly all of the tropes defined here (tank controls, fixed camera angles, limited items and tons of inventory puzzles)  would later become popularized by Capcom's Resident Evil series, which would go on to become one of the most successful horror franchises of all time.  Alone in the Dark wouldn't fare nearly as well, though, with each game in the series seemingly just getting worse and worse.  The original was still a fun one, though, with some nicely creepy moments even with the comically crude 3D models, a clever storyline and and plenty of traps and horrors waiting to kill you.

102. Dong Dong Never Die (Jiangxi Konglong, 2009)

With the advent of the internet came too many fan games and parodies to count, some of which are actually surprisingly good.  Dong Dong Never Die (东东不死传说, more accurately translated as "Dong Dong the Immortal Legend") was one that caught the attention of the fighting game community, and for good reason - it's utterly ridiculous, lifts its plot from Terminator and several of its music cues, character traits and special moves straight from Street Fighter and King of Fighters while using digitized stills of actors a la Mortal Kombat.  The end result is a completely unbalanced, incredibly silly game with no regard for copyright laws, but it's an absolute blast to play, especially with friends.

101. 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.