40. The Unfinished Swan (2012)
Despite its critical praise, I’ve always found The Unfinished Swan to be an underrated game. It’s so unique in so many ways, from its startlingly monochromatic presentation early on to its surprisingly affecting story that you really only uncover as you progress. The puzzles are mostly simple, but are far more varied and fun than you might expect.
39. South Park: The Stick of Truth (2014)
The 2017 sequel, The Fractured But Whole, was a near miss for this list. Its reliance on newer South Park humor connected with me less. But the original game plays so well with both fantasy and video game tropes, and does amazing service for long-time fans of the show. It ran away with my 2014 Game of the Year award.
38. Bioshock Infinite (2013)
Bioshock Infinite is a game that actually started even higher on this list, but just couldn’t hold up against some of its competition. I’m a huge Ken Levine and Irrational Games fan, and you’ll see even more Bioshock later in this list, but the spiritual successor just doesn’t have the same it factor. I like the addition of the speaking protagonist and it has great DLC, but there’s a bit too much “been there, done that.”
37. Portal (2007)
The cake is a lie. It’s a sentence I heard dozens of times before I even got the chance to play Portal a year or so after it released. What a quirky, challenging, bizarre, hilarious game Portal is. It starts out as a straightforward — though admittedly solid — puzzle game, but there’s oh so much more to discover there.
36. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002)
Oh, how time makes fools of us all. To be honest, I’ve never been the biggest Zelda fan, finding some of the “classics” to be merely good and some others to be actually bad, but I really enjoyed Wind Waker when it came out. And I was not in the majority. But, plenty of people have rewritten history to claim they’ve always been big fans. At least they’re on the right side of history now.
35. Inside (2016)
There’s a chance this game doesn’t age as well as I expect it to because it creates such a unique and singular experience to the person playing. I have very little interest in ever playing it again, but I have a hard time believing that I’ll ever forget those final few minutes of meat monster mayhem. The ending didn’t quite click with me, but man so many other moments did.
34. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010)
The general consensus seems to be that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is an overall better game than the original, but I’m not in that camp. Obviously, it’s still an amazing game, but it didn’t hook me as hard the second time around. The addition of Yoshi is fun, and I like the expanded ideas that Nintendo experiments with, but this is a minor case of diminishing returns.
33. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003)
My second favorite Star Wars game, the first Knights of the Old Republic introduces such a badass world to play around in. Darth Malak and HK-47 still stand as some of the best Star Wars characters, and the game is smart in letting you visit some favorite Star Wars destinations — only in a different time period. I don’t know how a Star Wars RPG will ever top this one. But I hope one does someday.
32. Borderlands 2 (2012)
Borderlands is a series that I could see continuing on forever. The Pre-Sequel isn’t great, but we don’t need to talk about that here. Borderlands 2, however, is an absolute blast when playing with friends and surprisingly fun when playing solo. I’ve started five different characters on three different systems, and I’ve only beaten the game once. There’s just so much damn content.
31. Fallout 4 (2015)
There are a few picks on this list that I’m sure will raise some eyebrows, and I still can’t believe that Fallout 4 will probably be one of them. It’s a damn good game. Some might even call it the best game of 2015 (that’s me, I did that). Sure, the settlement system is sort of half-baked, but it’s fun to experiment with. Sure, the shooting still isn’t first-person shooter worthy, but it’s easily the best in the series. Fallout 4 is great, you guys.