I like to talk about the reasons I like things and other people already did it this way, so I'll copy it. Anyways...
It's a game where you have futuristic roller skates and you use them to deliver magazines. You're in a giant desert, but your goal is to figure out how to use your skates to get to the moon to deliver magazines. (I wouldn't normally bother explaining the game I'm talking about, but I'm assuming most people don't know about this game) It's kind of like Jet Set Radio, it's a lot faster and open world. The only downside is that the bullet hell mini-games are pretty bland and that it's so short. If it had been made into a full length game it would be higher on this list, but as it stands it's more like my favorite demo.
9. DotA 2
I know this is a pretty controversial game, but in my eyes the good far out weighs the bad. In terms of strategic complexity in competitive games this game is only topped by a few RTS games. The way team play works in DotA 2 is more interesting and deep than teamplay in any game I've ever seen; there's so many insane combinations and possibilities that need to be collaboratively worked around by the team in any given situation. On top of that its got some mechanics (some people would say glitches) that are pretty cool that don't exist in other games: such as AI manipulation on creep waves or camp stacking. The obvious problem people always jump to talking about with this game is that the game's player base is "toxic". Honestly this issue is inherent to the game, but you could only stop this by cutting down on the teamplay mechanics that make the game so great in the first place.
8. Super Smash Bros. Melee
I like games with cool movement. Melee has the coolest movement. It's simple as that. The movement is pretty great to start with, but when you add in wavedashing, dashdancing, haxdashing, wavelands, and all the other tech nonsense you end up with a game that's fast as hell and looks cool doing it.
There isn't really one single reason I like this game, there's just a lot of little things. The soundtrack is fantastic, the settings are amazing, the dialogue is funny, and the rolling life bar adds a level of depth to the combat that couldn't otherwise exist in this simple sort of RPG. This game is only so low because there's another game that, to me, does all these things better, which you can probably guess pretty easily.
6. Super Metroid
I already said I like cool movement and this game's got it too. Its also got an interesting dynamic between gameplay and atmosphere where the game feels isolated and depressing if you don't know what you're doing but feels like a power fantasy if you do.
5. Hotline Miami
I like a game that conveys one feeling in the most extreme way possible; Hotline Miami definitely does this in a cool way by making that feeling pretty abstract. The soundtrack and visuals make the whole game feel surreal and dangerous. The gameplay ties it all together to make it Anxiety: The Game. The whole game has a flow to it where you can never stop moving, but making one mistake takes you to a sudden and visceral death. Just playing this game makes you feel uneasy and on edge. Through many parts of it I was shaking IRL, which ironically makes me love it.
4. Star Fox 64
Cool setting, cool soundtrack, cool art style. Obviously that alone doesn't make it a great game. What makes it a great game is the way it characterizes Fox McCloud through gameplay alone, and kind of forces you to empathize with him through the gameplay. If you don't get what I mean then I guess let me explain my interpretation of Star Fox 64. Being a game on the N64 it was made after the era of needing a score system had ended, but this game forces you to score to get through the game optimally. I'm 100% certain people will think I'm an overanalyzing pretentious bitch, but the way you are forced into doing everything in specific patterns, to the extreme of even having to damage yourself to acheive them, makes me see Fox as being obsessive compulsive. It's then also implied that Fox's perfectionism comes from his desire to fulfill the role left to him by James. The game forces you to empathize with Fox by forcing you to think in this odd manner in order to get the true ending. If you think it's just a silly game about a fox in space you can fight me .
3. Dwarf Fortress
I guess add poser to the list of names I'm calling myself in this list, because honestly I haven't even played that much of this game. The concept of this game alone carries it completely to me. There's basically no graphics and close to no audio, but it's still able to convey an overwhelming sense of hopelessness against all of the various forces constantly trying to kill through its set of rules alone. Good stuff.
2. Dark Souls
You want a game that conveys its themes through mechanics alone? Well no game does it like this one. The whole game is all about conveying an extreme sense of hope and determination by contrasting highs and lows. For every massive pit you fall into, and demon you die to, and trap that blindsides you, there's always a sunrise or a hill top or a bonfire at the end of it, and it never loses its strength. I could go on and on, but there's hundreds of hours of people praising Dark Souls if you want it. Just look anywhere.
1. Mother 3
I love emotional extremes in art, and Mother 3 is the "extremest." The soundtrack is the biggest factor into this. Every track makes you feel exactly what Shogo Sakai wanted you to feel, and then the combo mechanic forces you to get into it even more. The characterization is all pretty indirect, but it's more than enough to make me love the whole cast of characters. I don't want to spoil anything because I think everyone should play this game, but I will just broadly say that every individual moment works perfectly and it even made me consider a lot of philosophical concepts I wouldn't have otherwise. It even uses the rolling life bar mechanic Earthbound used, but by adding the combos and by allowing you to guard to slow it down, the turn-based combat becomes barely even turn-based anymore as you're constantly forced to time your inputs to maximize damage while healing before a fatal hit can resolve. Truly a fantastic game. It could only be better if it had an official American release. Nintendo pls.
Honorable mentions: Ori and the Blind Forest, Persona 4, Hotline Miami 2. (these are all games that will likely be among my top ten in the future, but I haven't finished them) FTL: Faster Than Light (Really love it, but didn't quite make it) Bastion (this game has been my favorite game for a longer time than any other game, so I feel it's worth mentioning) and Ihatovo Monogatari (Best concept for a game I've ever heard and looks like it would be perfect for me. I've played part of it, but can't make much progress and didn't get much out of it, as it's in Japanese only)
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