Top Games of the 2010s as Recounted by the Young Liar

The 2010s were pretty good for video games, lemme tell ya. I’m gonna list the ones that stuck with me the most for all sorts of reasons, starting with the:

Top 5 Games That Crushed Me And Made Me Cry Like A Baby

5 - Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (2013)
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the original “press f to pay respects” game

4 - Devotion (2019)
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faith and family issues touch a raw nerve for me

3 - Life is Strange (2015)
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episode 4 was a tornado

2 - Rakuen (2017)
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we clap need clap more clap mom clap games clap

1 - The Walking Dead: Season 1 (2012)
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The Walking Dead franchise is bleak. All the death and despair would be weightless without characters to latch onto. Lee and Clementine are the best video game father-daughter relationship and the emotional anchor to the best dad game of the 2010s.

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Top 5 Games That Touched Me And Made Me Cry Happy Tears

5 - Florence (2018)

moving on and being able to cherish the good things from past relationships is, as the kids say, goals

4 - Night in the Woods (2017)

friends are good

3 - Red Dead Redemption II (2018)

i like the cowboy man trying to live a normal life and realize the ultimate dream of being a wife guy

2 - Outer Wilds (2019)

a campfire song at the end of the universe is a beautiful thing

1 - NieR: Automata (2017)

Who knew a game about sexy existentialist androids in all-black fetish outfits and robots that mimic ancient civilizations would be the game that gave me the most hope in humanity? The ending left me a quivering, crying mess, as it reminded me that there are good people still in this world!

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Top 5 Games That Actually Made Me Laugh Consistently!

5 - Jazzpunk (2014)

its surrealist absurdity in a retro red-scare spy aesthetic

4 - Saints Row IV (2013)

the only good video game that parodies other video games

3 - Tales from the Borderlands (2015)

finger guns have never been so funny

2 - Hitman (2016)

1 - Butterfly Soup (2017)


It’s a visual novel about Asian-American teen lesbian weirdos who come together for the love of baseball. These girls are hilarious! It has the single best video game scene parodying a blockbuster Hollywood movie with an inspired cover of a chart-topper!

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Top 5 Social Experiences With People I Don’t Know In Real Life

5 - Destiny 2 (2017)

raids are rad

4 - Monster Hunter: World (2018)

love to hunt ancient dragons with my online buds

3 - Apex Legends (2019)

ping system, respawns, hero abilities, and sliding everywhere make this the best battle royale. also, pathfinder, bloodhound, mirage, and lifeline are great.

2 - Overwatch (2016)

overwatch made me feel like i matter

1 - Journey (2012)

I played Journey 5 consecutive times, and each one was a unique adventure with total strangers. I was alone, I was a passerby, I was a follower, I was an equal, and I was a mentor. I had the closest connections I’ve ever made online without saying a single word.

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Top 5 Social Experiences With People I Know In Real Life

5 - Until Dawn (2015)

it was always fun watching friends try to survive the night with these teens and see all the different decisions they made

4 - Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (2010)

i played all of this with an ex, and it was a really good time

3 - Overcooked 2 (2018)

yelling at friends has never been so fun

2 - Nidhogg (2014)

after-work tournaments with people who don’t play video games like this and everyone is cheering along to every duel was a blast

1 - Super Mario 3D World (2013)

I was lucky enough to play through all of Super Mario 3D World in co-op with close friends. Trying to finish levels while accidentally and intentionally screwing each other over was the wackiest time I’ve ever had the pleasure of enduring.

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Top 5 Games That Are Just A Joy To Play

5 - Rayman Legends (2013)

those rhythm game platforming boss fights are magical

4 - Donut County (2018)

putting things in holes is vibes

3 - Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018)

web-swinging in this game is the best city traversal mechanic in the past decade

2 - Super Mario Odyssey (2017)

possessing my enemies has never been so fun

1 - A Short Hike (2019)

Life is hard. Take some time to relax. Collect some seashells. Go fishing. Stretch your wings and let the wind take you. Play A Short Hike.

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Top 5 Games That Made Me Feel Like A Big Man

5 - Dead Cells (2018)

blasting through levels and annihilating bosses with overpowered builds feels good, and it never isn’t satisfying beating that last boss

4 - Batman: Arkham Knight (2015)

it’s the arkham combat system at its apex, the fear takedowns are badass, the dynamic dual play sections with robin, nightwing, and catwoman are cool as shit, and the batmobile is good actually don’t @ me

3 - DOOM (2016)

“DOOM is maniacally laughing with childish glee as you lay waste to everything. DOOM is power fantasy.” -youngliar, discourse.zone, 2017

2 - Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (2013)

1 - Titanfall 2 (2016)

Titanfall 2 is kineticism defined. Wall run across a moving house-building factory! Duel the most dangerous space outlaws in titanic mech battles! Grapple-hook karate kick dudes in the face! High-five your sentient AI robot buddy!

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Top 5 Games That Made Me Feel Like A Small Man (Moreso Than Usual!)

5 - Fez (2012)

it’s the most notes i’ve ever had to write down on actual pieces of paper in my entire life

4 - Spelunky (2012)

i will never beat yama

3 - XCOM 2 (2016)

i don’t know how anyone can beat this game in ironman mode

2 - Darkest Dungeon (2016)

darkest dungeon is taxing. -youngliar, discourse.zone, 2017

1 - The Witness (2016)

I used to think I was a smart guy. The Witness made it resoundingly clear that I am not. I cannot begin to comprehend how smart Jonathan Blow and co. are as game designers. I had to eke out every ounce of brain juice I had to finish this brilliant game.

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(This is also my problem)

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Top 5 Games That Made Me Just Stop And Like Think For A Second Bro
5 - Little Red Lie (2017)

being in debt and living paycheck to paycheck and asking for money from family to pay bills suuuuuuuck

4 - Spec Ops: The Line (2012)

oh shit video games about war are kinda fucked up, aren’t they?

2 - Papers, Please (2013)

it made me feel okay for doing tiny acts of rebellion in the workplaces i’ve been in that don’t share my principles

2 - Eliza (2019)
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people… need other people to talk to and listen, like, for real

1 - Dujanah (2017)

Dujanah is a magic realist claypunk adventure game about a Muslim woman looking for her family. It is about mortality, theology, imperialism, love, loss, and acceptance. It is mundanity wrapped in weirdness. I haven’t played anything else like it.

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Top 5 Most Memorable Looking Games
5 - Observer (2017)

4 - Inside (2016)

3 - Child of Light (2014)

2 - Return of the Obra Dinn (2019)

1 - Cuphead (2017)


Cuphead is the 1920s-30s Disney and Fleischer Studios aesthetic realized in video game form. Pictures don’t do it justice. You have to see it in action.

It is also a stark reminder of nostalgia hiding America’s inherently racist history.

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Top 5 Most Memorable Soundtracks

5 - Celeste (2018)


Lena Raine - Resurrections

4 - Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (2015)


Perturbator - Technoir
(cw: graphic pixel violence)

3 - Persona 5 (2017)


Shoji Meguro, Lyn - Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There

2 - Furi (2016)



The Toxic Avenger - Make This Right / Remix (because these two tracks are basically one song)

1 - Sayonara Wild Hearts (2019)


Daniel Olsén, Jonathan Eng, Linnea Olsson - Begin Again

Sayonara Wild Hearts is an interactive visual pop album. The music is what makes the game. Just watch the video, listen to the track, and feel it in your heart of hearts to begin again.

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Top 5 Most Memorable Worlds
5 - The Oldest House - Control (2019)

brutalism and bureaucracy have never been so beguiling

4 - Hallownest - Hollow Knight (2017)

bug souls is the best souls-like

3 - Lordran - Dark Souls (2011)

shoutouts to vaati and bonfireside chat for being the lordran archaeologists that led me to a deeper appreciation of this world

2 - Yharnam - Bloodborne (2015)

yharnam is my dream nightmare world

1 - The Milky Way - Mass Effect 2/3 (2010/2012)


Bioware made something cool when they created the world of Mass Effect in 2007, but it was when they fleshed it out in the sequels with a wider and deeper cast and intersected the interstellar storylines that it became truly special.

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Top 5 Most Memorable Stories
5 - What Remains of Edith Finch (2017)

best family tree in video game form

4 - Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (2017)
wolfenstein ii the new colossus

most best moments in video games

3 - Gone Home (2013)

best ghost game

2 - The Last of Us (2013)
the last of us

i’m sorry i’m a dad gamer

1 - The Beginner’s Guide (2015)


It’s a story of a man who follows an indie game developer and tries to understand them as a person through the games they make. It’s about how people relate to other people through art and the limits to that kind of relationship. It’s essential in this time of parasocial fandoms.

Top 5 Most Memorable Characters

5 - Lee - The Walking Dead: Season 1 (2012)

best dad

4 - Senua - Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (2017)
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best performance

3 - BJ Blazkowicz - Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (2017)

best internal monologues

2 - Chloe Price - Life is Strange (2015)
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best reason to tear the fabric of spacetime

1 - Ellie - The Last of Us (2013)

I wrote an almost 3000-word essay comparing Ellie to Elizabeth of BioShock Infinite back in 2013, and an almost 1000-word essay on some of the reactions regarding Ellie’s relationship with Riley in the Left Behind DLC back in 2014. I stand by every word to this day. I am both excited and dreadfully nervous for what Naughty Dog has in store for Ellie this 2020 with The Last of Us Part II.

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God, I forgot this happened. The mental gymnastics people went through to deny Elli’s relationship with Riley was wild. I can’t wait to forget again. (great article btw)

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Top 5 Most Memorable Casts

5 - Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (2017)

best buncha nazi killers

4 - Until Dawn (2015)

horror archetypes are actually fun when you’re responsible for the lives of foolish horny teens! also emily is great again don’t @ me

3 - NieR: Automata (2017)
nier automata cast
Art by TMK

robotic characters struggling to express their thoughts and feelings to each other is so relatable

2 - Mass Effect 2/3 (2010/2012)
mass effect cast

if i could just have more citadel-like adventures with my space crew, i’d be a satisfied gamer. bioware please.

1 - Overwatch (2016)


I have every ability of every character memorized, including all the ones that have been patched out. I understand every character interaction. I know the hero counters, I know the optimal team compositions, and I know the metas throughout the game’s history. I know the backstory to each hero and what their motivations are. I know the ships.

Overwatch has the best aesthetically designed cast of video game characters this decade, hell, maybe ever. It trades in archetypes and borrowed heavily from other classic shooters, but it mashes it all together with its own original concepts to come up with something fresh and, I’ll say it, actually iconic .

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Top 5 Most Tightly Designed Games That Aren’t Just, Like, Y’Know, Tetris

5 - Hitman Go (2014)
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perfect abstraction of the core hitman design

4 - Hotline Miami (2012)
hotline miami

only game i’ve played that actually delivers on the conflicting feelings of that old video game saying “you enjoy all the killing, that’s why”

3 - Device 6 (2013)
device 6

mystery novels are video games change my mind

2 - Into the Breach (2018)

if i can describe into the breach in one word, it’s “elegant”

1 - Pyre (2017)

Pyre is the pinnacle of marrying visuals, sound, narrative, and mechanics into a harmonious whole, with each element coming together to serve a singular purpose and to make something that simply can’t be done in any other medium than video games.

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that’s it for my “awards”. i’ll just be posting my totally arbitrary top 100 list later on because i need to expose my basic-ass taste in video games to more people and because i spent way too much time making those rankings.

y’all can comment anytime btw!

@Soiyer I’m glad you liked it! Kinda hard to believe that I wrote that almost six years ago and that it isn’t something I’m embarrassed to share!

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I love this! Thank you so much! It’s a good reminder of some games I haven’t gotten around to play yet and that I need to bump up my bucket list. It’s also good validation for my tastes so thank you hahaha!