Author Topic: Ranadiel's Top 25 (26) Games of the 2010s  (Read 308 times)

Ranadiel

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Ranadiel's Top 25 (26) Games of the 2010s
« on: January 08, 2020, 06:52:27 PM »
So I mentioned doing this on the Discord, and I figured I would do it as a topic so that I could go into full detail on my thoughts on the titles. So before I begin some ground rules:

1. The list is for games that I played in 2010-2019. Probably missed some from early 2010 or carryovers from 2009 that I played late, but w/e.

2. Rankings are supposed to represent how much I enjoyed the game, but really are based on my gut feelings while I was ordering the list more than anything else. So on a different day I might have ordered them a little bit differently. However anything in the top 26 basically has my seal of awesomeness meaning that you should absolutely play it if you haven't. Especially since a lot of these are probably fairly cheap at this point.

3. Only one entry for series, the list would be far too clogged up by a couple of series if I didn't. I had an exception clause for spin-offs that are drastically different from the main series, but the only game that applied to did not actually make the top 25.

4. For remakes/remasters, I am only counting content that is added to them (unless I played the original in the 2010s as well). This basically means that none make it in, but it feels right to me.

So rules out of the way, time for the list:

26. Asura's Wrath (PS3, 2012) - Yeah yeah, it is a bunch of quick time events. I know. But as you go through the list, you'll find that battle systems are not going to be a large factor in the rankings. What is going to be a large factor is how much I enjoyed the story. And I loved Asura's Wrath story. Honestly it can almost be summed up as Taken only involving gods. The result is amazing visuals and conceptual fights. I like the episodic story structure and while probably not intentional, I do enjoy the way that the game's DLC sort of mirrors anime DVD bonuses. I've read that the true end DLC is essentially what the plot for the sequel was going to be (prior to the game under performing), and honestly I think it kind of works better as DLC. Most importantly of all, the true end DLC gives an excellent conclusion to everything. After everything that Asura has gone through during the course of the game, his final line is extremely satisfying. Also you an enemy that throws universes at you at one point, so that is always fun. P.S. Reason there are 26 instead of 25 is because I had written this and then realized I forgot a game bumping this down a spot and I'd rather have an unusual number of entries than toss a write up that was done. XD

25. Summon Night 5 (PSP, 2015) - This is a weird one for me. I ordered the special edition of it when it released, and then it sat on my shelf for 4 years being the entry on this list that was on my backlog the longest. Only ended up playing it because I played 6 and got interested in the series as a result. Between the two, I would say that 5 is better entry as 6 is a cross-over game for a bunch of games that right now I really wish I could play (especially 2), but they were never translated. So oh well. The setting for this series is extremely interesting to me. The whole universe is heavily based on summon magic (which I love) and this game goes into some interesting directions relating to the topic as a recent(ish) event resulted in a complete change over of the nature of summon magic preventing "forceful" summonings. You play as essentially a cop that deals with inter-world crimes or situations in a city that sits between portals to four different worlds. I quite enjoyed the interaction between the MC and their "Cross" or I guess main summon spirit (they aren't summons in game, but conceptually that is what they are). Whoel thing was atreat and I regret that it took me so long to get to it.

24. Atelier Totori (PS3, 2010) - I was not expecting this to make the list when I started working on this. Mostly because I thought this game was pre-2010. But nope, it released 2010. Making my choice between this and Atelier Escha and Logy was hard. I love both the games and I do enjoy the way they handle the dual protagonists in Escha and Logy (one being a "traditional" alchemist and the other using cutting edge alchemy with no clue how to use a cauldron, made the two of them make sense as a team). However, I had to chose Totori in the end because I think it has the best story of the Atelier games (not counting the Iris games). Totori is a great character with her desire to find her mother by following in her mother's footsteps. I remember the game being massive in terms of where Totori goes (basically discovering a new continent in the process of her adventures). I can't say it has the most memorable supporting cast (only three I can remember being Rorona because she is the master, Totori's sister because she is ridiculous, and the rival because she shows up in Firis and I already forgot her name), but I do remember enjoying the game's central plot and can still remember the "true" ending because it left an impact on me.

23. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire (PC, 2018) - So this is the first game in the list that I got via crowdfunding. Only one not from Kickstarter (although 1 was on Kickstarter). Deciding between 1 and 2 was hard because I do enjoy both of them. I went with 2 because I feel like it was a little bit less clunky in some aspects. So this game has you resuming your role from 1 as a Watcher (aka someone with a strong soul and the ability to read the souls of others). Game starts with the keep that you claimed in 1 being destroyed by the giant statue buried underneath it, which you did see in 1, coming to life and marching off to the sea with a portion of your soul. So you have to go and track down the giant statue to reclaim your soul. Hijinks ensue! The setting has a very unique set up and I quite enjoyed the occasional discussions that you have with the various gods on your quest as they all have a stake in what the giant statue is up to since it happens to be possessed by a dead god. And on your quest, you will be forced to make decisions that will shape the world for untold centuries. Sadly this game did poorly, so there is a good chance it might be the end of the series meaning we'll never get to see the repercussions of the ending decision. But considering the severity of the decisions you can make at the end of 1 and 2, odds are eventually the decisions would have to result in something disappointing like ME3. However, the ride to get there is fun and I would highly recommend it.

22. Rune Factory 4 (3DS, 2013) - Checking the release dates, I actually have three options for Rune Factory as 3 and Tides of Destiny were also released early in the 2010s. While Tides of Destiny was a good game (and had golem fighting), Rune Factory 4 is probably the best in the series. My only mild issue with the game is that it bugs me that the MC lives in a palace. I don't event know why it bugs me (maybe it is because I don't have the option to upgrade it?). The game has the most refined versions of the Rune Factory systems which I consider to be a delight in general. I enjoyed the fact that the boss monsters got turned into villagers after their defeat. Game had an enjoyable cast (Dolce for the win!). I honestly don't remember the main plot too well, but I do look forward to playing it again when the Switch port releases. Hopefully they added the option to date the dragon in it...what? She has a human form that is very rarely used and she was an entertaining character from what I recall. I would probably stick with Dolce, but I would enjoy the option just existing.

21. Root Double: Before Crime * After Days Xtend edition (Vita, 2018) - Another game that I got from crowdfunding, I honestly backed this one as a whim without being really sure of what to expect. End result? An amazing VN. The game has a rather unique set up as it effectively has two main characters (the "route" double of the title). In the "after" route you follow a rescue worker who has wakes up in an emergency situation with no memory of who he is or how he ended up where he was. In the "before" route you follow an esper high school student in the days leading up to the emergency situation. Eventually you unlock routes corresponding to the how everything resolves. The game's structure is unique and provides for an enjoyable ride. The game's biggest flaw is that it tries to do something different with its choice setup, but while it makes sense why the choice system is set up that way when you have gone through the whole game...it just ends up being cumbersome and random while playing.

Honorable mention #4: Ar nosurge (PS3, 2014), Conception 2 (Vita, 2014), Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (PS3, 2014) - So when I was making this list, I started by going through my games for every system and selecting games that I thought were worthy of making the list. I ended up with 28 entries. Thankfully I was over as coming up with three new entries would have been more difficult than cutting the three lowest ranking entries. But I will give these three quick write ups for almost making the list. Ar nosurge has my favorite aspect of the Ar Tonelico series of diving into people's subconscious. Game has some good points, some bad points, and some weird points. Conception 2 was a weird but enjoyable game. A lot of the routes in the game were meh, but Ellie's route was all kinds of amazing that it probably makes the entire game worth it for me. I have not gotten to Conception 1 yet, so it was not in consideration. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is the game that would have invoked the spin-off clause had it ranked a little higher. The Persona 4 Arena games advanced the character stories of both P3 and P4, and I quite enjoyed that. I really hope that we do get a P5 Arena some day as I do want to see the Phantom Thieves interact with the casts of P3 and P4 in the real world. Also weird coincidence that all three of these were 2014 releases.

Dishonorable mention #4: Valkyria Revolution (PS4, 2017) - Oh you better believe that I am including some top tier duds in this post as well. I imagine that I am going to get the most disagreement from some of my dishonorable mentions. I do not expect that disagreement to come from this entry as most people have not played it. And they should not. The gameplay is repetitive. If I recall correctly, I believe that each character basically has a single three hit combo and that is about it. However, I can deal with repetition. That is not enough to earn a dishonorable mention. No, it is everything else about the game that earns the spot. The graphics are horrible, the characters are bad, the character design is bad, the story is hilariously bad, and it has no redeeming qualities. I remember thinking while I was playing it that I might finally understand the concept of "so bad its good." I mean I wouldn't call it good, but I would call it entertaining due to how bad it was. It is going to be very hard for there to ever be something that tops the time when the characters in the game were talking about there being a flying tank and I finally see it and it is a fucking whale flying around. I don't think I will ever know if the tears that I was shedding at that moment were because I was laughing so hard or because the game had managed to hurt my soul with how stupid that was. Oh and did I mention the whale was also a clown car? Because it was apparently storing like 50-70 soldiers in it despite it maybe being large enough for 10 soldiers? That sequence shall forever be the one I think of when it comes to this game.

20. Radiant Historia (DS, 2011) / Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology (3DS, 2018) - Radiant Historia is easily the best DS game that there is. The game manages to tell a great story where you weave yourself through time in order to solve overcome situations that should otherwise be impossible to address. Stocke is one of the best RPG main characters as I found his journey from walled off loner to caring commander to be quite well done. The game's bad ends do a good job of expanding on the stakes or the world (with maybe an occasional misfire). Really the whole package is just amazing. If I'm being honest though, I'm not a fan of the battle system. I also have mixed feelings on Perfect Chronology. I like the concept of the new alternate realities, but I recall thinking while playing that the new alternate realities were kind of boring. And I don't really remember any of them, so I can't say they added a whole lot. And I sort of feel like the new ending takes away from the original ending. Regardless, the game is amazing and the fact that it is at 20 should be taken more of as how strongly I love the other entries rather than any sort of dismissal of this game.

19. Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time (PSP, 2012) - This is the first entry in the list where it is a port of a game released prior to 2010. And it is an old game with the original game having released in 2003, but the original release never got a US release, so it was all new to me. And I am glad that we got the port because the game is excellent. The game has a fairly traditional plot in terms of a hero being called to arms by monster invasion (in this case being angels) only to discover that he is the special (although I think two other party members are similarly situated?). The port has some additional content added to it, which I think was added in smoothly and adds to the game. Only way that I knew which was added content is that the new characters just sort of disappear once you choose to go with the original route as opposed to the revised route. Till that point though they feel natural and the revised route feels like a natural addition. And unlike Perfect Chronology above, I do prefer the new ending in this case. Also should be noted that I just love the Growlanser series in general. Kind of sad that there hasn't been any new ones in a while.

18. Hyrule Warriors (Wii U, 2014) / Hyrule Warriors: Legends (3DS, 2016) - So I enjoy Warriors games. They might be repetitive at times, but I can enjoy that. There is just something I enjoy about controlling a single character and laying waste to thousands of enemies (a shame your allies have a habit of being slaughtered). And Hyrule Warriors is likely my favorite Warriors game to date. Now part of it could be Zelda nostalgia, but I think the real reason is just that it is a solid Warriors game. It has solid mechanics and a great cast with a wide range of movesets. Part of what I love about Warriors is the crazy movesets and the "loose" physics of the Zelda world allow for some absolutely amazing move sets. Adding in the DLC characters improves the cast even further. One negative of this game is that the "scoring" mechanics can be kind of strict so it can be a pain to get the A rank needed to unlock top tier weapons where something like 3 glancing blows is enough to knock you down to a B rank, but the game is still great fun.

17. Valkyria Chronicles 4 (PS4, 2018) - This game really feels like it is what Valkyria Chronicles 2 should have been. It is a direct continuation of the mechanics of 1 and has a story that is very much in line with the story of 1 as well. It is great that we get a view of the war outside of Gallia and I love their take on Operation Barbarossa from WWII. I mean it is kind of weird that it is being done by the western powers equivalent, but they already merged Germany and Russia so it is kind of the natural way for it proceed. The story has some excellent structuring, although the primary antagonist might be a little on the weak side, and I greatly enjoyed the ride. I look forward to someday hopefully getting a new Valkyria Chronicles that deals with the Pacific theater as 4 had some small lines heavily implying that a conflict corresponding to that was starting the brew, which appears like it will be a separate conflict from the Second Europan War since it hasn't started yet while the Second Europan War seems to have ended (although it could always go hot again I suppose).

16. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair (Vita, 2014) - Oh Danganronpa, truly a great series. Considering all of the games have come out in the 2010s, choosing which entry would make the list was tough. Ultra Despair Girls wasn't really in consideration. V3 was good, but I do think it is the weakest entry of the main series despite making a lot of good and entertaining choices. So that left 1 and 2. 1 has better atmosphere with the closed off school as compared to the deserted island. However I do think that 2 was overall better put together as they played with the concept a bit more. I'd also give 2 a slight edge in terms of overall cast and the twists. But lets be honest, 2 wins because Chiaki is my favorite character in the series. XD

Honorable mention #3: Pokemon - So I started the decade on a hiatus from Pokemon as I skipped Gen 5 as I was burned out after Gen 4. Got back in with Gen 6 and I have enjoyed the games since my return (even if X & Y were kind of weak). I don't think any of the entries rank high enough to make the list, but they do deserve a shout out. Specifically Sun and Moon for having the best story (exclusing Gen 5 since I skipped that gen) which was hurt by changes in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. And also Sword and Shield for having the best Pokemon League as I quite enjoyed that the region was set up to treat Pokemon battles as a sport including the stadiums full of people watching matches.

Dishonorable mention #3: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch, 2017) - I was originally thinking of putting Zero Time Dilemma here for being a disappointing finale, but I did enjoy that despite being the weakest entry in the series. So I decided to replace it with something that will get me ALL THE HATE. The game just was not fun. Combat was a chore (made worse by weapon breaking) with no real reward. I ended up just avoiding combat after a while because it was pointless outside of shrines. Giant empty world that was a pain to explore because weather. And the story was incredibly meh. And the story was incredibly meh. Story really would have benefited from not splitting the focus between the "current generation" and the past generation. I can't say that there is anything I'd particularly praise it for. Now to wait for the three pages of people arguing about how making a game tedious is good. >.>

15. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana (PS4, 2016) - So Ys is a series that I used to be fairly meh on, but my opinion on it has changed with the last decade as it has undergone some serious mechanical changes. Making it a party based combat system has increased character interaction which has helped make the games more interesting. And I think that they've been improving on the games as they get more used to the systems. Ys Seven's party was a little crowded from what I recall. Memories of Celceta suffered a little from being a remake as it felt a little sparse from what I recall (might be off as it has been a while). I think Ys VIII is where the series really pulled the new formula together. The whole thing is pretty much a story about Dana, and I think Dana was a great character to support a story. The rest of the cast is enjoyable and I liked the village building mechanic. Kind of annoying that Dogi didn't tag along, but hey I'm pretty sure that we do get to see him punch a dinosaur. And really? What more could you want?

14. AI: The Somnium Files (PS4, 2019) - Placing is really hard at this point. There are some other games which I was very much debating putting beneath this entry, but, at the end of the day, I feel like this is the right spot for this game. So what is this game about? Cyberpunk police officer. There done. More seriously, the game has great writing. I think it is some of the best writing from Uchikoshi. It has a nice self contained mystery plot that wraps up everything very nicely. While the central plot is some Uchikoshi's best writing, some of the secondary characters are kind of weak. The game has an interesting mechanic of diving into people's dreams, and the game does some very interesting stuff with the dream dives and that includes a lot of details which can only be appreciated after you understand the full meta narrative. And it is a grand meta-narrative for the entire game. It will keep you guessing until the end.

13. Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch, 2019) - So this is the one that I forgot about initially and ended up forcing this list to 26 entries instead of 25. Reason being that I do not have it stored as I intend to continue to playing it in 2020 when the last DLC wave lands. This ranking is sort of tentative as I have only played the Blue Lions route and know info about the other three routes from what I've read online. Short version, I did not like the Blue Lions route. I am optimistic that I will like the other routes more, and this ranking is partially based on my second-hand knowledge of the other three routes. I like that they went for a morally grey approach with the routes as I can certainly see people siding with any of them (although I strongly suspect that Black Eagles will be the one that I prefer). The game also takes a lot from Fire Emblem 4 and I love that about the game as Fire Emblem 4 is one of my favorite entries. Overall though, this entry is the most fluid since I still have more of it to play and therefore it could end up going up or down once I've experience the other routes for myself.

12. Dragon Age II (PC, 2011) - I feel like this is going to be one of my most controversial picks. Well assuming anyone actually reads past the Breath of the Wild mention. So I actually played all three Dragon Age games this decade. And as far as I am concerned, this is an easy pick for the series representative on the list. Hawke feels like so much more of a character to me than either the Warden or the Inquisitor. Warden just creepily stares his companions like an unfeeling doll. The Inquisitor felt like he was specifically told to minimize the amount of emotion in his line reads. But Hawke? Hawke oozes personality and I feel like the game was designed to maximize that personality. For example, the friendship/rivalry system was a wonderful addition (and a horrible removal in Inquisition). By having multiple paths to experience the character stories, it allows you to get all the content without having to just choose the brown-nosing option while interacting with companions. And the rivalry paths for some characters are quite interesting with Anders being a a great setup for the end game and rival-mance Merill probably being my favorite romance in the series. The game has problems. There is no denying that. Although the fact that the game was made on the timetable that it was is a freaking miracle. Looking back at the game, I can't help but feel they would have been better served ending on Act II and making Act III DLC with a bit more shine. However that is not what we got. Act I is good for setting things up. Act II has a great climax, made even better by the fact that my Hawke managed to get something akin to a friendship with the Arishok. Act III kind of just falls apart. I still love the game though, and I hold out hope that Dragon Age IV will make my top 25 for the 2020s...a small amount of hope since EA. >.>

11. Virtue's Last Reward (Vita, 2012 and PS4, 2017) - So another work from Uchikoshi (might be the only creator with two works on here?). I struggled with deciding whether I should rank VLR or AI higher. I do think AI is the stronger individual story. However I'm not ranking these solely off of the strength of the story (because lets be honest, while I remember I enjoy all of these, I don't necessarily remember the stories well enough to rank them solely off of that). I am ranking them off of how much I enjoyed them. And I enjoyed VLR more. VLR has a better overall cast and the story is just slightly worse than AI.  Some of the minor routes are kind of wasted potential, but I appreciate the way they play around with the mechanics of jumping around timelines. Comparing it with the other entries in the series, while 999 works as a stand alone story better, I do think that VLR is better in every aspect except for the graphics (as I liked the sprites more than the low quality models). ZTD was about 66% good, but I really can't say I cared for the...Team Q (?) stuff. They were the weak point of the game (that and unfollowed up plot points from VLR). VLR just ends up telling the most compelling story to me of the three. Also it must be said that I love Luna, so the game gets a slight boost from that.

Honorable Mention #2: Muramasa Rebirth (Vita, 2013) and Valkyria Chronicles Remastered (PS4, 2016) - Both of these games were ports that added nothing new to the games. Had the base games released in the 2010s then they both would have been contenders for the list. Muramasa possibly would have made it into the top 10. Valkyria Chronicles would have been a tough choice with Valkyria Chronicles 4. Should be noted that while Muramasa Rebirth did not add anything new in the base game, it did add four new DLC episodes each of which has two endings. Some of those DLC episodes were quite good with one of them even subtly tying in with my favorite ending of the base game. They do a good job of expanding the world of the games. I wish the DLC had been the rumored cut routes, but those were likely cut so early in development that there isn't enough to ever actually make them.

Dishonorable mention #2: White Knight Chronicles (PS3, 2010) - This was a horrible way to start the decade. :( This game was likely my most anticipated game for several years. The original trailer for it looked amazing. The gameplay video that released sometime afterwards looked fun. Then I didn't hear about it for a long time (I want to say years, but my memory might be exaggerating). Then out of nowhere I heard it was coming out finally. I was so excited to play that fast exciting looking combat and getting to use a giant (not) mech to fight giant enemies in a fantastic world. I...sort of got the fantastic world? Gameplay however was shit. It was the same BS psuedo-early MMO gameplay that FFXII had. I mean it was multiplayer, so I guess that makes some sense, but it was still shit and was nowhere near as good as the original video that I assume was a mockup. Knight combat was ruined by running on the same horrible gameplay as the base game (oh and you can't use Knights in the side missions). Story was also fairly bad. White Knight Chronicles 2 addresses the issues of...not being able to use Knights in side missions by giving a psudeo-Knight to the create a character. It made some combat adjustments, but it was still pretty bad. Story manages to get even worse. So yeah, this was a dumpster fire all around. If I made a greatest disappointments list, this would be number 1 by a fairly large margin.

(Cont)

Ranadiel

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Re: Ranadiel's Top 25 (26) Games of the 2010s
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2020, 06:52:49 PM »
(cont from above)

10. The Fruit of Grisaia (PC, 2015) - So another game that I got via crowdfunding, and this one is a doozy. The game takes a few of the common archetypes in slice of life anime/VNs and deeply explores what could actually lead someone to end up like that. And oh god does it go places. The whole thing starts innocently enough with the girls having seemingly endearing (if perhaps very bizarre quirks), but as the game goes on it becomes more and more apparent that all the characters (including the main character) have some deep psychological baggage. And across the routes, you will delve into all of it. Making something like this requires high quality writing and the game manages to deliver that in just about every route. My one complaint about it is that the common route before the game starts splitting off into routes went on for a little too long, but just a little. Out of all of the routes, Sachi was easily my favorite. Regarding the follow up games, Labyrinth had decent follow up mini stories and the backstory for the MC was nicely flushed out. It was a slight step down in writing quality since the major issues had been resolved and the individual stories were a little too short to introduce anything new. Well except for the stuff that is resolved in Eden, which is a good conclusion despite the fact that it continues off of an impossible state in Fruit where all the routes were done...somehow despite all them being pretty much contradictory. I have not played any of the Phantom Trigger games, but I'm planning on getting to at least some of them once I finish working on this list.

9. Star Wars: The Old Republic (PC, 2011) - I expect no one saw this one coming. If I were to somehow be able to get a total amount of time spent on every game on my list, I am fairly confident that this one would have the longest playtime by a mile. The game has eight classes and those eight classes each have a completely unique story where you go from a low new recruit to a major shaper of galactic events. These stories cover everything from Jedi, Sith, bounty hunters, soldiers, smugglers, and spies in the Star Wars universe. And the stories aren't just individual tales as they take place concurrently and tell the story of how a cold war between the Republic and Empire (of the time) ended up going hot. As the game was made by Bioware (And really feels to me like the last Biowarey Bioware game), you have choices to make on how you'll play your character which can result in some interesting setups. For example, my Light Side Sith Warrior is one of my favorite characters due to fine line he dances being a good man in an evil culture. Not every class works as well in their "opposite" alignment. In fact the writing between the classes is somewhat uneven with Imperial Agent being one of the best written things to ever come out of Bioware and Sith Inquisitor being ME3 quality (although some people seem to really enjoy it for reasons that I have never been able to understand). My ranking of the class stories would be Imperial Agent>(LS) Sith Warrior>Jedi Knight>Smuggler>Trooper>Bounty Hunter>Jedi Consular>Sith Inquisitor (S, Tr, and BH being very close together). Were I to rank the stories individually in this top 26 list, I expect that I would end up with the top three each placing with IA possibly making the top 5. Now unfortunately doing 8 unique class stories was an expensive gamble that did not pay off, so they were not able to keep that going with different expansions changing the storylines from 2 to 1 (with slightly different cutscenes) to 1 and back to 2. As such the expansions have not met the quality of the base game although they are still enjoyable. Quick thoughts on all the expansions: Rise of the Hutt Cartel- Pub side is decent but Imp side is great, Shadow of Revan- Enjoyable all around with a great cliffhanger ending, Knights of the Fallen Empire- Oh dear god this is horrible and it wastes the cliffhanger from SoR, Knights of the Eternal Throne- Eh, it is better than KotFE slightly? Really kind of screwed over by being the continuation of KotFE though as they had to resolve it before they could move on, Onslaught- Best of the bunch as it is trying to return to its roots. Hopefully future expansions will be in the vein of Onslaught. Important thing to note is that when the game went to free-to play all of the base game stuff was included in the free stuff. So you can play the 8 storylines that make up the best part of the game for free. And everyone who hasn't should. Even if you don't like MMOs because those stories are basically single player.

8. Steins;Gate (PC, 2014, PS3, 2015) / Steins;Gate Elite (PS4, 2019) - While SWTOR might have been the game that I have spent the most time playing, Steins;Gate is the storyline that I have experienced the most from this list. I've watched the anime at least three times and I have played the game on three different systems. The story is great. I love time travel and it does a great job of exploring it. Plus it has a great sense of escalation across the story as Okabe first gains access to D-mail then time leaping until finally in the true end he gets access to a time machine. Each method having their own rules and limitations making things quite entertaining. The anime adaptation is probably the best adaptation that I've ever come across. Nothing it cuts is essential and it manages to get everything without mangling any of the plot points. I still would recommend the VN over the anime though as I do think the stuff cut from the VN do slightly improve the story (other than maybe crazy Nae...but that is entertaining in its own right). I should probably mention Steins;Gate 0 which is enjoyable, but a lot more uneven. I think 0's peaks are a lot higher than S;G's peaks, but its valleys are also a lot deeper. The anime adaptation of 0 does a good job of adapting what I thought was an unadaptable work, but then it trips on its face with two episodes to go. The second to last episode was such a disappointment for me. However that is neither here nor there. That rant can be saved for when Arvis gets to that episode on Discord. :P

7. Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep (PSP, 2010 and PS3, 2014) - Oh hey a Square-Enix game. Just took 19 entries. for one to show up. For many years I debated on whether Kingdom Hearts 2 or BBS was the best game in the series. After having replayed both as part of 2.5, I feel confident saying that BBS is the best entry. I recall once hearing say that a comedy (in the classic Greek sense) is story in which everything that can go right does go right and a tragedy (again in the classical Greek sense) is a story in which everything that can go wrong does go wrong. A satisfying tragedy is a much more difficult story to write. However, a well written tragedy can be extremely satisfying, especially because they tend to be so rare. Birth by Sleep is an exceedingly well done tragedy. Every moment in the moment is slowly moving towards the inevitable end. The fact that game is a prequel is probably the only thing that really let them do a tragedy like this. And it is a refreshing change of pace. It does some great setup and has an enjoyable cast. Xehanort is a great villain and Nimoy delivers an amazing performance. I mean if it has any downsides it would be that some of the worlds might be a little repetitive after three runs, but overall I think it works and is good fun all around.

6. Record of Agarest War 2 (PS3, 2012) - So an Idea Factory game. Yeah, and in the top 10. I love the game and it is still weird to me. But here we are. So something I did not realize when I started making this is that every game in the Agarest series was actually released in the 2010s (at least in the US). This is bizarre to me considering that I have distinct memories of first hearing about Agarest when I was in high school, so probably sometime around 2005. Since all three came out this decade, I feel like going through all of them. So when I first heard about the game it caught my attention because I love generational systems in game (e.g., Fire Emblem 4 and Phantasy Star 3). Several years pass and then it releases in the US, I believe as the first full sized game download on the PSN. The first game was...anime Lord of the Rings. I mean it has the whole evil lord with an artifact that needs to be destroyed. It even has Nazguls. And it is far too fucking long. The plot is stretched thin and it just ends up dragging. I do love the general plot, the characters, and the world. The whole thing is just too long though. The battle system being a tactical battle system does not help matters as even minor fights take forever as a result. Probably should also mention that this is the decade where I realized that I am not a fan of this style of tactical combat. Record of Agarest War 0 fixes the issue of being too long in sense of it is just two generations, but that ends up being too short and the story doesn't have room to breathe. It really felt like the game got cut short for some reason. I mean the whole story is about a war and as I recall the game ends before the war. Also it keeps the the same battle system from 1, so that was also a minus for me. The we get to Agarest 2 which honestly hits all the right points for me. Three generations ends up being the perfect number (although I suspect four would also work) as it lets you play around with the different stat combinations without getting too tedious. The story is the best of the series with some quite enjoyable twists. Plus they completely changed the battle system to one that I enjoyed quite a bit. Overall, I can not think of any real weaknesses to the game. Honestly, next time I get some time between releases, I think I might pop this game in as I do sort of feel like replaying it.

Honorable Mention #1: Persona 4: Golden (Vita, 2012), Odin's Sphere Leifthrasir (PS4 2016), .hack//G.U. Last Recode (PS4, 2017) - More remasters of games not released in this decade that probably would have made the list had they been released this decade. So why are these a separate entry from the previous ones? Well these three actually added new content that was quite enjoyable. It wasn't enough content to win them entry on their own, but they certainly earned the top spot of honorable mentions. P4G adds a couple of new social links, a new dungeon, and a good number of new scenes that improve the game. Leifthrasir completely changed the combat system of the original game to make it more fun (while adding an option for the orignal if you want to torture yourself). And Last Recode added gameplay improvements from the later entries to earlier entries, tweaked a few mechanics in the game to reduce the amount of grinding necessary, and also added an entirely new episode to provide closure on some elements from the base game.

Dishonorable Mention #1: Final Fantasy XV (PS4, 2016), Dragon Warrior XI (PS4, 2018), and Kingdom Hearts III (PS4, 2019) - Ugh these three. So I have been meh on FF for a long time. I mean in terms of single player entries, it arguably only goes back three entries but in real world time that is 14 years. After XII, which I think it is well known that I hated, I was ready to drop the series if it seriously disappointed me again. XIII was mediocre but not bad enough to hit my threshold. XV hit it and kept running for another mile. Story was poorly told, characters were uninteresting, etc. So I planned to just never get another FF again. Then DQXI came along. I preordered it not really thinking too much about it, and then the hype came. The hype reminded me of the hype that Bravely Default got where it was getting praised for really nothing just excitement with no substance. Seeing as how I did not enjoy Bravely Default, this got me worried. I nearly cancelled my preorder, but decided to stick with it to see how it was. And it was mediocrity wrapped in a bad UI. I kept analyzing it as I played trying to figure out what people saw in it, and I just kept finding more and more flaws with barely any redeeming aspects (still waiting on anyone to respond to my giant post I made in the DQ XI thread over my thoughts after playing it). Yet you'll still find people all over praising it as some sort of masterpiece and I can not comprehend that. So after that, I decided that Square was just not making games I liked so I'm not going to waste my money on them anymore. I decided I would stick around for Kingdom Hearts though, I mean it has a game in my top 10 games of the decade, so clearly that is their best series these days? And so Kingdom Hearts 3 came, and it was bad between having all of the story back loaded, poorly used worlds (except for Big Hero 6), sticking characters in the parabolic time chamber (yet still managing to be useless), and the wtf that is giving Xehanort a freaking redemption moment. And so the decade opened with the best Kingdom Hearts game and ends with a Kingdom Hearts game so bad that it finished getting me to give up on the company. I'm sure that could be seen as being poetic...or something.

5. Dies Irae (PC, 2017) - Despite being 5th in the list overall, this VN still manages to get a lot of accolades. Like, "Highest placing VN," "Highest placing game that I crowdfunded," and "Highest amount I have spent on a video game Kickstarter" (Second highest I have spent on a Kickstarter period). My decision to back at the tier that I did was impulsive more than anything, but the my instincts (thankfully) did not steer me wrong as I managed to get one of my top 5 games of the decade. Dies Irae is a trip. The story is of a seemingly ordinary boy being forced into a fight with immortal "magicians" who seek to cause a massacre in his home in order to bring their leader (who pretty much is the antichrist) back into the world to bring forth his vision for the world, which most would hell on Earth. Oh and the immortal "magicians" are freaking nazis because of course they are. The story in engaging with plenty of mysteries that will be slowly revealed as you clear all the routes. And despite being text, the battles are absolutely amazing made even better by the nature of the magic used in the game. The primary magic used in the game is described as the person forcing their will upon the world and causes their greatest wish that is engraved upon their very soul to become reality. Thus every character's fighting style has a lot of their personality imbued in it. The anime adaptation...did not have the budget necessary for telling this story (and did not include all the routes so it missed a lot of great fights as each route has at least one amazing fight). Sadly, we'll probably not be getting the semi-sequel game localized any time soon as the company that made this game has gone bankrupt. But this game was a wonderful time that I would highly recommend.

4. Persona 5 (PS4, 2017) - *gasp* Persona 5 did not win it all. I be you never saw it coming, but this isn't going to the last surprise in this list. Persona 5 is great. The story is great (pacing issues around Haru's father's palace aside). The cast is overall good. And it has some of the best social links in the series (Sojibro, politician, and model gun shop guy). Plus it made a minor tweak to the turn based battle system (making commands correspond to buttons instead of having a list) which I felt made a surprisingly drastic improvement. Game is great all around. But it does have issues  like Ryuji being a bit on the unlikable side and some of the middle palaces feeling significantly inferior to the ones before. But I'm getting to the point of nitpicking. Comparing it to past Persona games I do feel it falls between Persona 3 (which I am not a big fan of) and Persona 4. However I am hopeful that Royal will manage to improve it further pushing it closer to Persona 4's greatness. There is one thing that Persona 5 does manage to do better than any prior entry though, and that is the choice of antagonist (and corresponding MC ultimate Persona) to go with the theme. The antagonist of Persona 5 is about as on point mythologically speaking as you can get. Persona 3's antagonist doesn't really have any myths that tie in with the theme. Persona 4's does manage to to tie in with the theme, but it requires a non-standard reading of the myth (although it probably is the myth that bests fits the theme despite requiring a weird reading?). However, P5's antagonist is just 100% on the nose and I appreciate that.

3. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker's Memory (PS4, 2018) - At the start of the decade I don't even think I was aware that Digimon was still a thing. Fast forward to 2016 when I saw some chatter about Cyber Sleuth was a really good game. I initially ignored it (to my later annoyance due to Bandai's Day 1 DLC policy). I ended up with a blank chunk in my gaming schedule and eventually decided to give it a chance. And I was amazed because I loved the game. The graphics and battle system are fairly basic, but the story is amazing. It has a wonderful build up and has some great side stories in the side quests. Fast forward to 2018, and Hacker's Memory comes out. Hacker's Memory is a side story to Cyber Sleuth that manages to tell a plot on par with the original. Choosing between the two of them is hard as they are very close in quality, but in the I gave the spot to Hacker's Memory because I think it has the better cast. The game heavily focuses on Erika, who is likely the best character in either game and her story explores concepts regarding dream versus reality. The symbol for the hacking team that you join being a butterfly referring to the Zhuangzi quote of "Was I man dreaming I was a butterfly or am I butterfly dreaming he is a man." And the game's story runs with the idea. It also continues some of the side plots from the first game and adds explanation to some of the plot points from the main game as well. Also it has the best side mission in either game. If you have played the game you know which one...pink. My one complaint with the game would be the ending, which is overall great and is sort of the only ending the game could of had in view of the first game's ending. However I do wish we had gotten a choice as to where we went at the end as I would have preferred the MC staying with a specific character instead of what they did. But oh well. Game is great.

2. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 1 (PS3, 2015) - Considering the amount of love that Trails gets here, I really don't think explaining its position is that necessary. So this entry really boils down to why this entry over the other 5 options. So Sky 1 was absolutely amazing and is probably the closest competition. Estelle is a great main character. My enjoyment of Sky 2 suffered due to the localization delay. By the time I had started Sky 2, I barely remembered the events of Sky 1 which made it a lot harder to follow what was going on for a while. I'm pretty sure I eventually remembered the important details, but it didn't feel as smooth of an experience as it probably should have. Sky 3 was fun, but it is all over the place with the way it tells its plot. There is something about the Sky trilogy though. I've run through CS 1 and 2 three times each and I intend to run through again in the future, but I have not run through Sky 1 or 2 a second time and the thought feels much more tedious to me. I can't place the why, but that is basically what sealed this slot as being a Cold Steel game. So Cold Steel 2 is a great game as is Cold Steel 3, but I just prefer the set up in Cold Steel 1. I dunno, I just sort of feel like Cold Steel 1 has the most interesting stuff happen in with the set up of the relationships for Class VII. 2 and 3 run with that set up, but the set up was the most interesting part for me. So just one entry left.

*drumroll*

Final

Fantasy

X

V

Su...I mean

1. Xenoblade Chronicles X (WiiU, 2015) - And so we have our winner. This one might come off as an odd choice. So lets begin with the other games in the series which it was chosen over. Xenoblade Chronicles is likely the best told story of the Chronicles games.  Has great characters, a unique world, and is one of the most satisfying games in the Xeno metaseries. Chronicles 2 has issues with the rare blades (whether design or acquisition method), but it still has a great story and has some absolutely amazing cutscenes in it (anytime Counterattack plays, it is guaranteed to be amazing). Also i love Nia and her arc, she is great. So with two games I love in the series, why does X come out ahead? Especially since it probably has the party members with the weakest character development of the three games? Well a large part of it is that the game's story does something different. While there is the central cast, I don't actually view them as the focus of the story. Instead the focus is on humanity's struggles. At the start humanity is nearly wiped out and they slowly work on rebuilding their strength. By the mid point of the game they have managed to rebuild to the point of holding off an assault on their home base by the forces that destroyed Earth. And then through the alliances they've made through out the game, they are able to increase their strength to win in a head on head confrontation. The constant build of strength is great and is wonderfully supported by the side quests that are going in the background showing a constantly evolving world as you assist in building the community and strengthening the forces of humanity through new alliances. I really hope that they someday revisit this world as the plot was very clearly meant to continue. Oh and the game has mechs. Mechs are important! :P

And so that is the top 26. If you read all of that, congrats, you have way too much spare time! And here are some bonus stats because why not:
(Year) - Top Game (Number of entries on the list, number of honorable mentions, number of dishonorable mentions)
2010- Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep (2, 1)
2011- Star Wars: The Old Republic (3)
2012- Record of Agarest War 2 (4, 1)
2013- Rune Factory 4 (1, 1)
2014- Steins;Gate (3, 3)
2015- Xenoblade Chronicles X (4)
2016- Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana (1, 2, 1)
2017- Persona 5 (2, 1, 2)
2018- Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker's Memory (4, 1)
2019- Fire Emblem: Three Houses (2, 1)

Gregosa

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Re: Ranadiel's Top 25 (26) Games of the 2010s
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2020, 05:01:50 PM »
I still haven't played Rune Factory 4 yet but I did purchase it at a used gameshop last years. It's on my backlog and the fact it's made a best games list is a good sign.

Radiant Historia is a text book example of a hidden gem. There's so much to love about this time travel rpg. Personally I really liked the battle system what with moving enemies around, setting up traps etc.

I also really loved the fact Fire Emblem Three Houses borrowed a lot of elements from Genealogy of the Holy War. I'm not sure if its my favourite FE of the decade as I also really enjoyed Mystery of the Emblem book 2 remake and Awakening. I think more playthroughs will change my perspective as I've only done two paths.

Great list!

Rook

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Re: Ranadiel's Top 25 (26) Games of the 2010s
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2020, 08:31:56 PM »
wow this must have taken forever to make.

Really think that this has been a golden age of JRPGs/RPGs in general. RPGs haven't been this good since 1998-00. Some of fellow oldz say they don't make JRPGs like they used to in the SNES era. Well we made SNES JRPGs too, its called I am Sestuna and it was trash.

-XCX was such a great game. Granted I'm biased and think that Takahashi is the greatest RPG director who ever lived. Really the perfect RPG for the WiiU. I never liked stories in 1st person RPGs but they really pulled it off and even managed to give your character a personality. 

-I thought Valkyria Chronicles was the best game RPG of the PS3 era (I think it looks better on PS3 than PS4 for some reason tho). The battle system was crazy fun and the story which I have said before is a masterclass in excellent simple RPG story telling. You are defending your homeland and there is subplot about tolerance and respecting others. I hated the story in VC4. The anime was turned up to eleventy (and I like anime, XB2 is one of my favorite games) and while the MC was OK and the supporting cast was good, I hated the other 3 protags, the antagionsts were dull plus my eyes started rolling w/ Angelica appeared.

-Persona 5 is my all time fav game. Great story, great fun, great battle system, great soundtrack. 

-I do consider Night in the woods to be more of a VN and its one of my favorite games of the decade.

-Loved CyberSleuth but didn't play hacker's memory, just seemed too similar.

-I guess you are sticking to 1 per series but no XC2 or Torna (all time greatest DLC). However those games are so different from XCX. I guess you could have included them.

-Stopped Radiant Historia about 50 hours in. That battle system just broke me. :( and I really liked the story.

-No Banner Saga?

Top 8 (no VNs on this).

1. Persona 5
2. Trails of CS trilogy
3. Banner Saga Trilogy
4. XCX
5. XB2: Torna
6. XB2
7. FE: 3 Houses
8. Digimon CS

Ranadiel

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Re: Ranadiel's Top 25 (26) Games of the 2010s
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2020, 07:19:09 AM »
-Loved CyberSleuth but didn't play hacker's memory, just seemed too similar.
Gameplay is certainly nearly identical (some minor changes), but the stories are fairly different, so I would recommend giving it a try if you are fine with the battle system.

-I guess you are sticking to 1 per series but no XC2 or Torna (all time greatest DLC). However those games are so different from XCX. I guess you could have included them.
While there are differences between XBX and the other XB games, I think part of my reason for including the series clause was to allow for variety of developers as there are certainly some developers that produce games (overall) that I prefer a lot more compared to other developers. Honestly, I was very close to stashing AI: The Sommnium file under the VLR entry rather than being a separate entry despite not being in the Zero Escape series due to it being by the same writer and developer.

-No Banner Saga?
Didn't play it.

Rook

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Re: Ranadiel's Top 25 (26) Games of the 2010s
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2020, 12:51:29 PM »
Banner Saga is amazing. Its my favorite SPRG (good challenge, no grinding needed, trilogy about 60-70hrs, no permadeath but players are knocked out from 1-3 battles depending on how bad the final blow was) the hand drawn art is better than Valkyria chronicles, plus soundtrack by Wintory. You could probably pick up the trilogy for $20-30.