What makes a game stand out against its peers? Honestly? Often it’s because if how it resonates with the person more than how it may compare in a by the numbers game.
Starting off our two week gush fest to celebrate Chalgyr’s Game Room’s 10th anniversary, is our top three games of the decade in the Action category!
The Last of Us
Fantastic voice acting, tense music and scenarios, and a story (which is something that is very important to me and you will see show up in other responses of mine later as well) that really had me thinking. I do not get a chance to play many games more than once, especially those where the narrative does not change based on decisions I make along the way. But when the Remastered version of this game came out, you can bet I eagerly put it in and played it all over again. It is a grim, heavy adventure that is no necessarily ‘fun’ in the traditional sense, but it is one of my favorite games of all time. It also narrowly kept Uncharated 2 off of this list, but at least Naughty Dog got represented.
Objectively, I know that the Dark Souls games were better designed, and the Souls-inspired Bloodborne was flashing and prettier. Demon’s Souls deserves a ton of credit for reintroducing people to difficult video games, all while oozing a dark, grimy, gothic visual that I could not get enough of. Walking those prison halls in the third world (tower of Latria) is still one of the most tension-filled experiences in gaming for me.
In many ways, Spider-Man felt like a more polished version of combat superhero games from before, such as Batman. That being said, this game got so many things right, from the visuals, to the feeling of swinging around the city, to outstanding voice acting and more, and set a new bar for superhero video games.
I’ve played it, I’ve re-played it, I’ve streamed it for 18.5 hours straight for Extra Life, and now? Now I’m still four bloody trophies from actually platinuming it and just need to get it done. Since originally rage quitting to Demon’s Souls, multiple times as I haven’t actually been able to beat it, I’ve been a huge fan of From Software’s current direction with their hardcore roguelike Metroidvania action RPGs now known as Soulsbornes. Bloodborne for me though hit all the marks in this Lovecraftian action RPG horror on a night of the year where everything goes to hell and only those strong enough to dream will be left alive.
Van Helsing has never been this cool. Seriously. Hacking and Slashing enemies to bits has, to quote the Bare Naked Ladies, All Been Done, but this implemented platforming mechanics into the mix making it so much more than the style usually amounts to. Especially when your character can’t hope a small damned ledge and instead has to walk the long way around.
Horizon Zero Dawn
I struggled a lot on my third choice. Monster Hunter, DMC5, EDF: Iron Rain Dark Souls 3, Nioh and The Surge. Each of these were fantastic but I kept coming back to Horizon and your adventure of Aloy, the girl who wanted more than her tribe would allow. With humanity having been reduced to a ghost of it’s former self by self replicating nanomachines, this was an excellent open world action adventure with plenty of great narrative and excellent gameplay features for players of every type.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
Batman: Arkham City
The only action game on my list is Vampyr for several reasons. First, it’s vampires and as we know, I’m all about vampires. Second, it was developed by Dontnod who had previously released Life is Strange, and I absolutely loved that game (It’s next on this list by the way). Although many people were skeptical about this game, I was excited because I wanted to see what mythos of vampires they would be following. I also enjoyed the combat system which, even though it didn’t have everything people were looking for, I loved the customization. Players could attribute points to the abilities they wanted to use, instead of being shoved into one specific playstyle. Another thing that I appreciated about this game was the fact that each character had a story or a motivation, and as I discovered more about some of the characters, I shifted my opinions about them. The art style was something that I took note of because when Jonathon is following a blood trail, the screen can be changed to be almost black and white. Finally, the music in Vampyr was brilliantly composed. All in all, Vampyr was a game that exceeded my expectations and I ended up making it my runner up for game of the year in 2018.
Xenoblade Chronicle X
Starting off this list, I should preface the fact that I’ve tried to keep to games I’ve reviewed as part of my picks, mainly because I feel a lot of my choices would otherwise be covered by others on the site. Even if this weren’t the case, Xenoblade Chronicles X would still make it on this list. With a great blend of action and turn-based battles, some really interesting characters, and a large map to explore, Xenoblade X was definitely up there in my favourite games of the past decade. The soundtrack still plays in my head even now, there’s so much to do if you want to complete the game 100%, and there’s giant mechs. I mean come on, who doesn’t love giant mechs! Seriously though, as someone who started playing the “xeno” games when I was a lot younger, it felt great to see this installment take place in my collection, and it’s a spot I feel it rightly deserves to be in.
Horizon Zero Dawn
I’m not usually a fan of games that have the same style as Horizon Zero Dawn. In fact, I tend to find them less exciting or gripping than I do most other genres. Horizon flew right past this expectation and out the window on the other side of the room. With so much customization to your playstyle from stealth to shooting giant robot dinosaurs in the face, Horizon satisfied an itch I wasn’t aware I had. Apart from the fact you can skew your skills into a way that can partially kick you in the shins later on for your lack of tact, it was hard for me to really point out something I felt truly lacking.
I’ve always loved the eldritch side of R’yleah, so needless to say Demon Souls meets Cthullhu was definitely a sale on my list. Maybe an uncommon opinion, but I much preferred Demon Souls to Dark Souls, and Bloodborne felt like going back to Demon Souls, just with more tentacles and unborn fetuses. The twisted monstrosities that are the nightmare fuel bosses and the streamlined gameplay had me bashing my head off the wall that is Soulsborn (or whatever they call it now) kept me coming back for more, often way too late into the night.
A game that through me out of an unexpected window and into a pool of my own tears. Don’t know why it took me a full year to even pick up this game after its release date, but the journey it took me on was life changing. Platinum Games has giving this series the face lift it needed, while keeping Yoko Taro bizarre story telling and soul shattering soundtrack.
God of War
Another game I never would have even batted and eyelash for if it wasn’t for the constant howling and over the shoulder glances at the gameplay, that I finally said “What can it hurt?” Apparently everything. I’ve never bother picking up any of the other God of War back on the PS2 since I found the game to masculin. But when the son was introduce and it wasn’t about destruction anymore, I was curious to see how this giant Titan of a man would raise his soft hearted son.
Naughty Dogs has always deliver on their Oscar-worthy games and the 4th instalment of the male version of Tomb Raider doesn’t disappoint. Not only do with get Nolan North, we get Nolan AND Troy Baker. Combining these legendary duo bring out the brotherly adventure of a life time.