I have played video games since I was a child. Most of my childhood, teenage years, and college years revolved around playing video games. I have played and beaten a lot of games.
Recently, I've discovered something that I subconsciously ignored in my college years (and some of my teenage years); for every good video game, there are fifty more just like it that either suck or just aren't worth playing. Through my work as a game developer, I became able to analyze games successfully. A lot of games often throw in various cliches or trademarks of their genre to pad itself out. This typically results in a game with interesting mechanics, but subpar levels, story, and music. Often, I find myself seeing a lot of games that are similar to the best in the genre, but with a twist. Is that really worth your time? You have likely already experienced most of that game.
Let's take the new Elden Ring game as an example. I have beaten Dark Souls twice, Dark Souls 2 once, Dark Souls 3 four times, Bloodborne once, and Sekiro once. Elden Ring has, interestingly, come out at the time where I've decided to mostly stop playing video games. It has tons of great reviews; it's a masterpiece. While I'm sure it would be a fun game, watching videos about it leaves me feeling like I've already seen it all. I've played so much of that kind of game, I'll likely feel the same feeling and thus another sixty hours of my life is gone. Is that worth it?
Separate from this is the reality that video games are addictive. No other media has made me want it so badly. A good example of this is how after playing Left 4 Dead for a whole week (maybe two hours a day), I then went camping for a weekend. Zombie noises, gunshots, other various sound effects, voice lines, and the music all played in my head the entire weekend. I had a good time camping, but all I could think about was Left 4 Dead. If you're like me, it's likely your parents had scheduled time for you to play video games (rules which were eventually dropped). I have over fourteen-hundred hours in CS:GO, most of which came from senior year of high school. It's likely I have enough hours across all games to have played for a year or two (it's at least a year, I calculated it a couple years ago). That's a whole year (or more) of my life.
Therefore, I've decided to make this list. In no particular order, here are games that are worth your time, that won't waste your time, and will add value to your life. I may update this list from time to time.
One of the only games in recent times that just lets the player explore and figure things out. I had a great time solving all the puzzles. The "A-ha!" moments in this game feel very worth it. There's also a special surprise that players will discover for themselves when walking through this gorgeous game. You'll be able to appreciate the world around you more after completing this game.
Super Mario 64
Absolutely my favorite mario game. It's good idea after good idea. It's challenging compared to most of the new mario games, which I like.
Metal Gear Solid
Takes many game formulas and rips them apart. I love how different and unique this game is from anything else I've played. I've actually played this to completion three times. It will likely teach you patience.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
It's Ocarina. Play it. Seriously though, it's full of adventure and secrets. There are a lot of different environments in the game with interesting characters and unique enemies filling them up. I know this game is on everyone's "Best Games" list, but I would feel wrong not to include it. I know people who prefer Majora's Mask, but I don't think that game captures the sense of wonder and adventure that Ocarina has.
Star Fox 64
The N64 has some great games. Star Fox 64 is simply one of the best on-rails shooters. The free-flying sections can be a pain though.
The insanely witty writing in this game amazed me, even more so once I considered it's age. I played this only a few months ago; I beat it in a week. There are some special moments in this game that you have to experience.
The game that will test your patience. You will learn how to watch things closely. There are only a couple of cheap deaths in this game; it makes you realize how important it is for you to feel like your death is your fault and not the game's.
Kerbal Space Program
After an hour of watching tutorials and after twenty hours of playing this game, pat yourself on the back. You've learned more about space travel than all of grade school ever taught you.
An optimization game that is also free software. It's easy to play and have fun quickly, but mastering it will require dedication.
An excellent building and survival game. I would recommend Minetest instead since Minecraft is forcing users to migrate to Microsoft accounts.
The original DOOM, not the remake. I've mentioned DOOM before on this blog. It's something I think everyone should experience.
The attention to detail in this game is absurd. I love all of the environments, characters, weapons, and powers. The story is pretty good too.
Play this with a friend. The story is good, and it's puzzle-solving at it's finest.
The story is told through the game's presentation, without any dialogue; the fact that it does that successfully is simply outstanding.
Fantastic music plays over one of the best gaming experiences of all time.
The fluid animations and visual style really drive this game home. It made me look into firewatching as a career.
Star Wars: TIE Fighter
Hard as nails, but once you learn it you'll play for hours. Once you've had your fill, you can be sad with everyone else that there won't ever be anything like it again.