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The 100 best games of the decade

70. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

(Image credit: Firaxis Games)

Year: 2012 | Developer: Firaxis Games

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is the model for how to successfully reboot a legacy franchise. Firaxis Games navigated the pitfalls of nostalgia by retooling the X-COM brand entirely, taking the fundamental ideals of its namesake and overhauled everything around them. The result is a modern masterpiece of the turn-based strategy genre; Enemy Unknown set a new benchmark for strategy games that few have even come close to clearing in the years since its release. Josh West

(Image credit: TeamMeat)

69. Super Meat Boy
Year:
2010 | Developer: Team Meat

It's hard to believe that just two dudes made Super Meat Boy, a platformer that references its predecessors at every turn. The controls are precise, the level designs are difficult but not impossible, the humour is gleefully violent. Without knowing it's the product of the labour of two men, you'd consider Super Meat Boy a great game – when you know just how much work went into this funny, frustrating ode to platformers, you have to call it what it is: utterly fantastic. Alyssa Mercante

(Image credit: Lucas Pope)

68. Papers, Please
Year:
2013 | Developer: 2909 LLC

Papers, Please is daring and reflective, an expertly crafted management sim that never fails to make you feel like a jerk. Cast as a border agent, you are forced to manage and mitigate a daily barrage of moral quandaries; pushed to confront bigotry, corruption, and desperation as you desperately attempt to manage the flow of immigration into an oppressive regime. Papers, Please is a routinely harrowing and deeply reflective experience, and that's all a part of its charm. Josh West

(Image credit: Sam Barlow)

67. Her Story
Year:
2015 | Developer: Sam Barlow

Her Story draws from both video games and traditional film in its depiction of an interrogation-based murder mystery, yet enters a domain of narrative competence that neither of those mediums could ever hope to reach on their own. Sam Barlow's wildly smart work of choose-your-own whodunnit proves once again that we've barely scratched the surface when it comes to what's possible in the realm of interactive fiction, and paved the way for dozens of knowledge-based indie games to come. Alex Avard

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

66. StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty
Year:
2010 | Developer: Blizzard Entertainment

There aren't many real-time strategy games that are so iconic they get referenced in The Office, but StarCraft 2 is in a league of its own. Three species – Protoss, Terran, and Zerg – battle it out on otherworldy maps, their various technological, organic or military advances all varied, but all somehow just balanced enough to make every battle tenser than a neurotic possum on a tightrope. This is Blizzard at the height of its power, and it is glorious. Rachel Weber

65. Hotline Miami

(Image credit: Dennaton Games)

Year: 2012 | Developer: Dennaton Games

A grotty cocktail of gratuitous action and trial-and-error puzzling, this lurid VHS thriller of a game became an overnight indie sensation. If its style is what hooks you in, striking pixel art married to an incredible synth soundtrack, then its level design is what keeps you playing. Every room is a Rubik's Cube of violence, as you figure out the right moves you need to make so you can bash, shoot, and slice through grunts with mesmeric ease. Ben Tyrer

(Image credit: Toby fox)

64. Undertale
Year:
2015 | Developer: Toby Fox

In a sea of games where violence is the only option, Toby Fox's character-rich RPG gives you the option to befriend all the foes you meet in its distinctively charming underworld. With a unique combat system where you can choose to talk your opponents down and show them mercy, it succeeds at making you feel utterly horrible if you do go on the offensive. Full of humour, colourful characters, and some memorable lines – such as "despite everything, you're still you" – Undertale has earned itself a cult following for a good reason. Heather Wald

(Image credit: Capcom)

63. Ultra Street Fighter 4
Year:
2014 | Developer: Capcom

Any one of the Street Fighter 4 editions put out into the world by Capcom could have made this list. While Super Street Fighter 4 rebalanced the already phenomenal core play and introduced a slew of new characters and modes, and Arcade Edition brought even further refinement to the roster, it is Ultra Street Fighter 4 that stands victorious as the best brawler of the decade. It's slick to control, irresistibly smooth, and contains the type of skill ceiling that has enraptured the flourishing competitive scene. Josh West

(Image credit: Campo Santo)

62. Firewatch
Year:
2016 | Developer: Campo Santo

For all of its chat about fires in the forest, Firewatch is actually a game that explores human flaws in a way that's rare to find in this medium. In amongst the escapism of its gorgeous natural landscape, there's some beautiful environmental storytelling and simple gameplay that makes you feel instantly connected to the game. Even if the story doesn't always hit the mark, it's one that'll stay with you long after the hills fade into the distance. Sam Loveridge

(Image credit: Starbreeze)

61. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Year:
2013 | Developer: Starbreeze Studios

There's a moment in Brothers (you'll know it if you've played it) that connects the player through the controller into the narrative like never before, masterfully highlighting how games can weaponise the experience of play to strengthen the impact of their storytelling. It's a brilliantly conceived spot of game design from Starbreeze, and a testament to Brothers' power as both a heart-rendering familial fable and intuitive form of interactive entertainment. Analogue sticks of rubber and plastic have never been imbued with such raw emotion. Alex Avard

60. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

(Image credit: Valve)

Year: 2012 | Developer: Valve

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most refined first-person-shooters ever made. It's easy enough to grasp the basics, but it is the epitome of games with an infinite skill ceiling. There are so many nuances and tricks to employ in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive that watching some of the best esports players in the world is utterly mesmerising. No other shooter has toppled CS when it comes to esports; in that respect, this is Valve's magnum opus. Ford James

(Image credit: Irrational)

59. BioShock Infinite
Year:
2013 | Developer: Irrational Games

Leaving the ocean for the sky, Bioshock Infinite is a fascinating continuation of the series. While it doesn't have a twist to rival the size of "Would you kindly…", it does have one of the most audacious endings of the last generation, one that delighted and confounded in equal measure. This ambition is what makes the shooter so endearing, as it swings for the fences with grandiose set-pieces and a setting in Columbia that's every bit as alluringly dangerous as Rapture. Ben Tyrer

(Image credit: ZA/UM)

58. Disco Elysium
Year:
2019 | Developer: ZA/UM

If only every game could contain just a kernel of Disco Elysium's cerebral smarts. ZA/UM's debut RPG is a fizzy, phantasmagorical treat of a video game, endlessly surprising and consistently impressive throughout its 30-hour runtime. Inspired by everything, from the real-time mechanics of tabletop role-playing to the works of Francisco Goya, you'd be hard-pressed to have found an experience quite as intelligent, idiosyncratic, and drop-dead gorgeous as Disco Elysium in 2019. Alex Avard

(Image credit: Guerrilla Games)

57. Horizon Zero Dawn
Year:
2017 | Developer: Guerrilla Games

For over a decade, Guerrilla Games was known as the Killzone studio; an identity that, by the time of Killzone: Shadowfall released, seemed like a label the developer would never be able to shake. Horizon Zero Dawn changed that, effortlessly proving that this studio wasn't just talented at making shooters, but talented at making great games, period. What's more, Horizon Zero Dawn gave us the PlayStation icon we didn't know we needed in Aloy – a character that instantly captured the hearts of millions. Alex Avard

(Image credit: Playdead)

56. Inside
Year:
2016 | Developer: Playdead

Inside is a quietly affecting and overtly brilliant experience. It's an exploration of dread in a monochrome world, a startling and arresting adventure that seems to find real delight in its ability to unsettle any that sit down to play it. Inside is simple and devastating, gradually warping into something more complex and stranger still. Playdead made an impact with its debut, Limbo; with Inside, it left a permanent scar on the psyche. Josh West

55. Monster Hunter World

(Image credit: Capcom)

Year: 2018 | Developer: Capcom

With Monster Hunter World, Capcom's dragon killing sim graduated from niche action-RPG to – fittingly – global sensation. It's Capcom's best-selling game ever, and more importantly, it's the best Monster Hunter ever made. By removing barriers to entry and streamlining the compelling gameplay loop that drives the series – hunt, craft, hunt, craft – it brought Monster Hunter into the modern era without sacrificing what makes it special. While previous Monster Hunters all felt aimed at core fans, Monster Hunter World is a game for everyone. Austin Wood

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

54. Uncharted 4
Year:
2016 | Developer: Naughty Dog

Let's be clear; Uncharted 4 has its problems, where the strains of a troubled development cycle are manifested in muddled pacing and half-formed features. It's also the most self-reflective game that Naughty Dog has ever made, one which looks back critically at the legacy of its central hero, and the series he's come to define. Uncharted 4 thus wades confidently across territory which few other developers could ever hope to tread. In that sense, it's arguably more deserving of its namesake than any other Uncharted game before it. Alex Avard

(Image credit: Matt Makes Games)

53. Celeste
Year:
2018 | Developer: Matt Makes Games

Celeste is a pixel-perfect platformer. In many ways, it feels like the natural evolution of the micro-challenge design popularised by games like Super Meat Boy, pushing you through an ever-escalating series of navigational puzzles where success is always but a carefully timed button press away. With its poignant narrative frame, hypnotic soundtrack, relentless pace, and incredible execution, Celeste is a careful exploration of the grip anxiety can hold over us all and the thrill to be had in overcoming it. Josh West

(Image credit: PlatinumGames)

52. Bayonetta
Year:
2010 | Developer: PlatinumGames

Video game action rarely feels as smooth, satisfying, and strange as it does in Bayonetta. Its combo-driven combat system encourages players to take advantage of all the eponymous witch's abilities, freezing time, firing her handguns and shoeguns, turning her hair into a giant fist to punch angels out of the sky. You know, regular video game things. Bayonetta also made the crucial addition of extra easy modes, making an otherwise demanding genre accessible for players of all kinds. Connor Sheridan

(Image credit: Playground)

51. Forza Horizon 4
Year:
2018 | Developer: Playground Games

Forza Horizon quietly became the best racing series of the decade, mixing the freedom of Burnout with the attention to detail that made its sister series, Forza Motorsport, so beloved with petrolheads. By moving the action over to the UK, and by adding in real-time weather seasons and a whole host of quality of life improvements, Forza Horizon 4 became an open-world racer that felt alive in ways its predecessors couldn't ever match. Ben Tyrer

50. Kentucky Route Zero

(Image credit: Cardboard Computer)

Year: 2013 | Developer: Cardboard Computer

Kentucky Route Zero will stand the test of time as a truly powerful work of art in the interactive medium. It is one of the clearest and most substantial creative visions of the decade, a lens in which you might be able to see the shift in the state of play for the industry. It's a beautiful, evocative, and deeply subversive work, a game that never fails to challenge expectations across each of its acts and interludes. Josh West

(Image credit: atlas)

49. Persona 4 Golden
Year:
2012 | Developer: Atlus

Persona 4 Golden is a game of irresistible contrasts. Its small, sombre setting is enlivened by an inimitable soundtrack of jazz, pop, and even ragtime funk. Its bright and bubbly cast of anime characters battles personal and literal demons, all while struggling to determine which of the two are scarier. And its energetic turn-based fights are paired with the series' ever-engrossing social links, blending and balancing combat and storytelling so expertly that you wind up craving more of both at every turn. Austin Wood

(Image credit: Nintendo)

48. Animal Crossing New Leaf
Year:
2012 | Developer: Nintendo EAD 

Simple, carefree, and utterly charming, Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a lot of things real life isn't. Its little slice of bug-collecting, fruit-picking, home-building paradise is exactly why we're all clamouring for a sequel. All it asks from you is time, and in exchange, you get a surprisingly compelling gameplay loop, living in a town of anthropomorphic animals, that runs parallel to our own – regularly interrupting real life for a moment of bliss, even if it's just to watch a dog play guitar. Sam Loveridge

(Image credit: Capcom)

47. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Year:
2017 | Developer: Capcom

After a decade of water-treading, Biohazard was not so much a comeback for Resident Evil as a full-on smashing through the windows home invasion. The formula was simple: throw out almost everything you remember to create a modern, cineliterate cat and mouse escape from a crazy family in a rotting old house. The reinvention is one of the best new horror games of a generation, with just enough crazy puzzle callbacks and hard to get shotguns to keep the spirit of the original alive. Leon Hurley

(Image credit: Dontnod)

46. Life is Strange (Season 1)
Year:
2015 | Developer: Dontnod

Life is Strange holds a special place in the hearts of many thanks to its cast of excellent characters that you truly end up caring about. As you follow Max on her whirlwind journey in Arcadia Bay with the loveable blue-haired rebel, Chloe, the narrative shapes a story filled with plenty of twists and unexpected turns. The nature of its choice-based format lets you truly feel like you're a part of the world, and it's easy to get hella invested in the events that unfold as a result. Heather Wald

45. FTL: Faster Than Light

(Image credit: Subset Games)

Year: 2012 | Developer: Subset Games

FTL: Faster Than Light is a relentless exercise in damage control. It tasks you with escaping from the clutches of federation forces with little more than a small crew aboard a severely underpowered ship. All you can really do is attempt to survive from one encounter to the next, all the while embracing the knowledge that one wrong move could set you back hours of progress. FTL is a sensational time sink, a game that seems to delight in breaking your heart one malfunctioning system at a time. Josh West

(Image credit: Lucas Pope)

44. Return of the Obra Dinn
Year:
2018 | Developer: 3909 LLC

Return of the Obra Dinn is a meticulously crafted logic puzzle. It's a unique point-and-click adventure quite unlike any other, a smartly constructed whodunit designed to exploit those with a natural inclination towards attention to detail and the ability to discern fact from fiction. It's an intellectually curious and singular creation, the type of experience that highlights the true power of the interactive medium. To put it simply enough, Return of the Obra Dinn is an absolute must play.  Josh West

(Image credit: Hello Games)

43. No Man's Sky
Year:
2016 | Developer: Hello Games

The fact that No Man's Sky is here would have come as a surprise to most of us three years ago, but that's exactly why it deserves such commendation. Undefeated by the blowback of its tumultuous 2016 release, Hello Game stood up, dusted itself off, and got back to work. Fast forward, and No Man's Sky is looking healthier than ever, its comeback story having already served as a teaching point for developers around the world that no true labour of love deserves to get left behind. Alex Avard

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

42. Far Cry 3
Year:
2012 | Developer: Ubisoft Montreal

Much has been said about Ubisoft's blanket application of a familiar open-world formula across almost all of its properties, but we forget how daring Far Cry 3 was for its time – a game which challenged FPS convention at every turn. Vaas' endlessly quoted line on the definition of insanity would later come to haunt Ubisoft as an easy jab at its design philosophy, but Far Cry 3 still stands the test of time as a shooter which forced you to consider the impact of every bullet. Alex Avard

41. Alien Isolation

(Image credit: Creative Assembly)

Year: 2014 | Developer: Creative Assembly

Developers and filmmakers alike have spent decades attempting to authentically recapture the spirit of Alien, wrestling to recreate its suffocating atmosphere and tempered pacing. Enter Alien Isolation, a true survival horror experience that perfectly encapsulates why it is that we fell in love with the franchise to begin with. Creative Assembly unleashed a masterpiece in Alien Isolation; it's a bold, terrifying, and utterly breathtaking creative undertaking that is yet to be surpassed this generation. Josh West