As we enter into the fledgling year of a new decade and an exciting future in gaming, it seemed high time to reflect on some of the absolute gems that were served up by the sometimes tumultuous 2010’s. We at Cannonicity spent some time collaborating on a set of a few of our absolute favorites, and while coming to a consensus proved to be a bit difficult, we finally landed on a list (ordered by year and not necessarily recommendation) that we believe offer the best of the yesterdecade.
Dark Souls – 2011
Developed by the creators of the long-running Armored Core series and the internationally acclaimed ARPG Demon Souls, Dark Souls reignited the flame of yesteryear, bringing forth a yearning for supreme challenge in video games. It spawned countless clones and the term “Souls-like” became a common word in many gamers’ vernacular, but nothing else could quite compare to what FromSoftware had concocted.
Even more than 8 years later, Dark Souls still stands as a beacon in the realm of hardcore gaming and is not for the faint of heart. Its intense difficulty may be a turn off for some, but for most of us the hard-fought victories were the carrot-on-the-stick that kept us all coming back. — Garth Murray, Senior Editor
Minecraft – 2011
I remember beta testing Minecraft as a kid back in late 2010 into 2011. I found the game at my friends house, and insisted that we all pick it up. It looked like the greatest multiplayer game that any of us could dream of. Like Skyrim, Minecraft rushed into pop-culture, though a little more fringe for a time, with events like Mine-Con. It quickly developed a cult-following, active and imaginative modders, and an ever-expanding community.
People have done everything from recreating the hunger games in it (a favorite from the beginning of my group of friends) to creating a playable Pokemon Red using the electrical systems, whatever you dreamed of could probably be done, with some time, effort, and know how. This game has inspired and rewarded creativity like no game before, and maybe no game ever will, though many have tried since, making it a clear choice for a game of the decade. — Justin Brothers, Associate Editor
Portal 2 – 2011
The original Portal was inspired by a senior project devised by a small team of university students, which Valve then adopted (both the team and the game) and the rest is history. Portal was and is a huge hit, but its brevity left many gamers wanting more. Enter, Portal 2. The sequel to Valve’s incredible puzzler took everything to the next level by leaps and bounds, catapulting Portal 2 into the stratosphere of gaming fame.
Infused with humor, wildly intricate puzzles, and fantastic co-op, Portal 2 became something that many players would immediately gravitate towards. It still stands as one of the PC’s most popular games to date, and for good reason; it has stood the test of time and remains one of gaming’s most endearing titles. — Garth Murray, Senior Editor
Skyrim – 2011
When Skyrim was announced, it was groundbreaking. Bethesda brought to the gaming world one of the first truly ubiquitous cultural games, helping to jettison gaming into mainstream culture. For reference, the popular predecessor, Oblivion, sold around 3 million copies in 5 years. Skyrim, only the other hand, sold 20 million in just 3 years. It also brought to the fore truly open world games. I remember excitedly showing my family the depth of the world. I showed them the dragons with early AI-type behavior, the grass blowing in the wind, the mountains you could see in the distance and climb.
It still maintains a thriving community of players and modders nine years later. With rich, extensive voice acting, mesmerizing graphics, and endless playability, Skyrim changed the genre, and easily earns its place among the greatest games of the decade, and probably of all time. — Justin Brothers, Associate Editor
Journey – 2012
Heralded as one of gaming’s great masterpieces, Journey was all but guaranteed a spot on this list. Back in 2012, small indie studio Thatgamecompany told a breathtaking story without words and popularised a more artistic and thought-provoking format for making games that still inspires the medium today, with games like GRIS and Abzu following in its pencil-shaped footprints.
Journey is my personal favourite game on this list. Everything from the gorgeous visuals to all the simple ways you interact with the environment slots perfectly into place. This two-hour pilgrimage says so much without a single word at all, and feels timeless while doing it. — James Smith, Associate Editor
The Walking Dead: Season 1 (Eric) – 2012
Back before The Walking Dead aired its 10,000th season on television, and back when I actually cared about it, Telltale Games released what seemed to be the most engaging and accessible form of storytelling I had played. By taking a property that I was very interested in, basing it on different characters than the ones I was used to, and putting me in charge of their fates based on my dialogue choices, The Walking Dead coined a whole new style of game that blurred the line between Television and Video Game. Don’t believe me? Grab a group of friends and watch them groan in disapproval everytime they see “Clementine will remember that.” — Eric Martin, Senior Editor
The Last of Us – 2013
Naughty Dog had pedigree since Crash Bandicoot, but the Uncharted series brought about their reputation as a narrative-driven studio and trendsetter for the industry. The Last of Us is the next step on that trajectory.
An experience that takes the story-focused design of Uncharted and tones it down. The Last of Us focuses on the intimacy of a father-daughter relationship between two people who are forced into a situation neither wants to be in. It’s a masterpiece from the tear jerking opening to the surprising and profound ending that begs the question: ‘What next?’ — James Smith, Associate Editor
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – 2015
Back in 2007, CD Projekt Red launched itself onto the scene with its widely praised release of the original Witcher. It intermingled dark themes with an epic narrative and plenty of monsters to hunt down and slay. Skip forward 8 years and the small development team exploded into one of the most respected and trusted game creators of our time. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt set the bar exceedingly high for RPGs, creating a gigantic living and breathing world that felt heavily impacted by the player’s actions.
CDPR are experts in the craft of designing meaningful and intriguing “side” quests, which delicately interweave with the primary narrative. It makes every jaunt over the next hill seem incredibly important and worth seeing through. Every RPG fan should do themselves a favor and explore the fascinating world of the Witcher. — Garth Murray, Senior Editor
Overwatch – 2016
Blizzard’s first new IP in 17 years, Overwatch released with incredible anticipation and sky high expectations. It delivered on those expectations and then some, bringing about a wave of hero shooters, not dissimilar to the battle royale trend we’ve seen in the past few years.
Overwatch’s influence is clear, and while some may say the game has declined in quality over the years, its blend of FPS and MOBA gameplay earned it a place in the history books alongside Blizzard’s other behemoths like World of Warcraft and Diablo as the best of its genre. — James Smith, Associate Editor
Stardew Valley – 2016
I have purchased Stardew Valley 5 times. I have two copies for myself, one for my wife, and two that I bought for my friends because the world needs to play Stardew Valley (this does not include the probably dozens of people I have led to purchase it on their own financial backing). What may seem like a simple Farming Simulator is actually the most addicting and wholesome town simulation game I have played since Animal Crossing. I came to make money growing cranberries, I stayed to save the town from the impending takeover from JojaMart (and so I could make more money selling cranberries). — Eric Martin, Senior Editor
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – 2016
Starting in 2007 with the smart and adventurous Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Naughty Dog paved the way for mainstream Indiana-Jonesing in the gaming sphere. Each consecutive game built on the others, creating ever evolving and supremely engaging adventures that expertly combined treasure hunting, puzzle solving, and exciting platforming to tremendous effect.
Though the early iterations were great games in their own right, Uncharted 4 took things to unmatched heights. Few times have I felt my jaw drop like the first time I booted up this gem of a journey. Every detail has been painstakingly crafted and absolutely shines on the PS4. Most impressive, though, is the nuance with which Naughty Dog tells a compelling and heartfelt story. By the time the credits rolled, I felt deeply affected and found myself ruminating on this game for months afterward. — Garth Murray, Senior Editor
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – 2017
My first experience with Breath of the Wild was seeing Eric play on his Wii U, and I could barely believe that it was a Zelda game. With this newest installment, the Zelda series hopped right on the open world craze and it managed to do so with unparalleled success. It drove Switch sales through the roof, with the console being sold out everywhere for months.
The art-style showcased in this games graphics is absolutely beautiful, accompanied by some of the best music we’ve heard from the series, and one of the better plots. It rewards creativity like no other game in the franchise has, and truly allows players to fully engage the game. The sweet, sweet nostalgia of Zelda, mixed with how truly incredible this game would be even without that guaranteed it a spot on this list. — Justin Brothers, Associate Editor
Super Mario Odyssey – 2017
For the longest time, I swore that Super Mario Sunshine was my favorite 3D Platformer of all time. Even Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 didn’t top it in my mind, as fantastic as they were. Then, similar to Breath of the Wild for the Zelda franchise, Super Mario Odyssey exploded onto the scene with its daringness to strip the Mario franchise to its core and build on it in creative new ways.
With tight controls, hundreds of things to collect, vastly different worlds to explore, and a swingin’ soundtrack playing the whole time, Mario Odyssey took the throne for the greatest 3D Platformer I have ever played, and one that I will never want to forget. — Eric Martin, Senior Editor
God of War – 2018
God of War is now my favorite game of all time. While previous entries were defined by gratuity, the newest iteration replaces it with a healthy dose of maturity in just about every aspect. Combat has never felt better, with the introduction of the amazing Leviathan axe as its champion. Mix with a story as heartfelt and gripping as any other AAA Sony title, fantastic performances that deliver it, and some of the best visuals to showcase it, and you are looking at a 30+ hour game that you won’t want to put down. Oh, did I mention the fact that the entire game is made with a camera that never once transitions to a different shot? Because it has a camera that never once transitions to a different shot. — Eric Martin, Senior Editor
Red Dead Redemption 2 – 2018
If I could talk about Red Dead Redemption 2 all day, I would. There’s something inherently captivating about the slow day-to-day of an outlaw in the civilised west hunting and meeting strangers at every turn, while at the same time wrestling with a new era that has no place for him and his friends.
Rockstar’s newest title wasn’t for everyone, but mostly everyone who saw it to completion agrees; it’s a masterclass in storytelling and an exceptionally delicate look into the moral compasses of men on the brink of extinction. — James Smith, Associate Editor