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Alright gotta get out the write-ups for the first half of the top 10 now, which include a new debut! One game went unguessed this time which was Black Mesa at #10, I think @Machina could probably have guessed it with the last hint but well he's 10 points ahead anyways :P Anyways here are my thoughts of some of my 10 favorite games:


Last Year


(Box) Art



Black Mesa

I didn’t have the pleasure of replaying Black Mesa this year but what I did do instead was replay the original Half-Life and while that game is still amazing, particularly for it’s time, it made me appreciate Black Mesa all the more for the way it improved upon it. In the same way that Resident Evil 2 (#46) is considered the golden standard for the reimagining type remake I for one think Black Mesa should be considered the golden standard for the more “loyal” remake. It proves that staying true to an original doesn’t have to mean not improving upon it. Other than better feeling gameplay thanks to revamped AI and difficulty among other things, it also manages to make the story beats smoother and at times hit harder. Some parts that come and go in the original really feel epic and impactful in here. And then there’s t the greatly expanded and redesigned final chapters which is extremely welcome as those were the weakest part of the original but end up being some of the best here. This really is the definitive way to experience the start of Half-Life in my eyes.

Simply put Valve did something incredible with Half-Life in 1998 and Crowbar Collective did something equally incredible with this remake resulting in an old-modern-school FPS that stands above all other FPSs as far as I’m concerned.



The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Everything from #15 to #8 is extremely close on my list and TotK is the newest game to enter that group. This time it landed near the top and maybe there’s recency bias played a little hand in that but I regardless it’s an amazing game and the best one I’ve played this year. I’ve already detailed my thoughts on this game vividly and extensively in my review here on the site, so I won’t go on and on here, but to summarize things briefly TotK is honestly a more flawed game that one could have hoped given 6 years development time starting from Breath of the Wild (#12)’s blueprint, but it’s also an incredible one that surprises and delights and has hands down the most fun gameplay in any open-world game I’ve played. TotK is possibly the game that has come closest to making me feel like a kid again, curiously playing around with its mechanics simply because it’s fun to do so and I had an absolute blast with it as a result.



The Stanley Parable (Ultra Deluxe)

Implanting itself further in the top 10 it entered last year we have one of the most unique and entertaining games ever created. Last year the long-awaited ULTRA DELUXE version launched which turned out to be as much of a sequel as a remaster (and technically it’s a remake, complicated stuff) with easily more than double the content of the original, and while that was most certainly what made me reevaluate the game’s placement last year, retrospectively I think this always belonged up here. It's brilliant, it’s hilarious, it’s Skyrim (#19), it’s Persona 3 (#35) (Note: I really love that that quote mentions two games on my list so I can do that), the Stanley Parable is a gift that keeps on giving with too many quotable and memorable bits. Simply too many. And while not all the game’s now nearly 50 endings are created equally (The Broom Closet ending is of course in a league of its own and my personal favorite), there’s bafflingly many clever, creative and hilarious ones in the mix. And despite it being a short game that I have spent less time on over multiple playthroughs than some games take to beat once, I feel a special connection to it, like it’s a nostalgic game I played as a child except it isn’t. If nothing else I’m pretty sure it’s a piece of media that has had a hand in shaping my sense of humor, for better or worse (better, definitely better).



Doki Doki Literature Club!

Yeaaa, I can’t talk about this one without spoilers. To the uninitiated all I will say is that this game gets a big recommendation to all but the faint of heart.


Doki Doki Literature Club is HORROR with a capital everything and if being a semi-traumatic experience isn’t worthy of a Top 10 spot, I don’t know what is. Its outward appearance hides an altogether different game once you get to the second half and even though I didn’t go into the game blind to that fact (which would probably have been the purest experience), nothing could have prepared me for what was in store. As a horror game DDLC is the most disturbing and unsettling one I’ve ever played, but it’s also just as much a mind-bending experience. While other games might poke holes in the fourth wall here and there, Doki Doki Literature Club smashes it with a sledgehammer and in a way the game’s awareness of its own status as a game makes it feel more real, which in turn makes it more disturbing.

I think many people who have played DDLC view it mostly as simply a game with a clever concept or gimmick, but to me it’s the execution of that concept that’s truly impressive. The writing is phenomenal and the poems are expertly crafted with subtle hints at deeper meanings, resulting in a feeling that something darker is lurking under the surface even in the first half, when the game is mostly sunshine and rainbows. Partially because of this the non-horror part that could have risked simply feeling like filler before you get to the real game becomes essential build-up and on subsequent playthroughs you will start to notice new elements in it once you know what is to come. There’s also a great attention to detail and lots of secrets beyond simply playing the game from start to finish (try messing with the character files before you start it, if you dare).

DDLC is a unique and incredible game, but it is of course also small one and the question is if a 5-hour game which will always stand strongest on your first playthrough can remain among my absolute favorites forever. And it is a good question; one which I cannot give a sure answer to, but what I can say for sure is that my first playthrough of DDLC was undeniably one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had with a game and that, I think, is unlikely to change.



Persona 5

So, the funny thing about Persona 5 is that I’ve played through this game 1.5 times and that’s not because I stopped on purpose. I got Persona 5 on a bit of a whim back in 2017 because I’d heard good things about the Persona series in general and because it was releasing for the PS3 which I had, believe or not, gotten a year earlier (late adopter would be an understatement). And that turned out to be a damn good whim because I immediately loved this game and was pretty damn engrossed in it, however due to circumstances I ended up taking a break from the game when I was about 60 hours in. When I returned, I played it once and when I next booted up my PS3 the game wouldn’t start… in fact none of my games would. Yeah, according to PlayStation customer service my account had been hacked (not sure how that prevented me from playing physical games, but something was clearly wrong) and when I finally got it back and could play my games again my save file was gone (retrospectively I think I accidentally deleted it myself by doing a total reboot when trying to get the console to work…)

So, what did I do after spending an appropriate amount of time feeling devastated? I binged the game in less than two weeks (during vacation). I’m not usually one to binge games or any media really but with Persona 5 it just worked; I didn’t get tired of it, even the part I had played previously was fun to revisit. And so, after 160+ hours in total I finally reached the epic conclusion to this game of games. I don’t even know if it’s necessary to say that much about the game itself beyond that. Amazing story, several great characters, one of the best soundtracks ever and just an incredibly stylish game. I’ve stated previously that I’m not the biggest turn-based combat fan and I do think the combat is the game’s weakest link, but even that is pretty fun and the knock down and Persona catching mechanics put it quite high as turn-based systems go in my eyes. With it being such a long game and there being much else on my plate I haven’t had a chance to replay it since the first 1.5 time(s), but 2024 is looking like the year since I recently picked up the Phantom Thieves Edition of P5 Royal and am planning to play that before too long. Will be interesting to see if that affects my opinion of the game by next year.

See you on the other side of Christmas!

Try out my free game on Steam

2024 OpenCritic Prediction Leagues:

Nintendo | PlayStation | Multiplat