100 Great PC Games You Should Play Before You Die

So many games, so little time

Credit: CD Projekt Red

If you're looking to fill in the gaps when it comes to modern classics of PC gaming, you've come to the right place. Before we get into the thick of things, here are a few things to consider:

  • This isn't a ranked list of the 100 best PC games. This is a list of 100 PC games we consider must-plays. There is a difference.
  • With a handful of exceptions, we tried to avoid including multiple entries of the same franchise on this list. In most cases, we opted for the installment we consider the best or most significant. This was done in order to try and ensure a more diverse list that covers more than just the obvious stuff and doesn't lose ten entries to the collective merits of the wider Half Life franchise.
  • Older gamers might also notice that the contents of the list also skew towards more modern titles over fare like Deus Ex, Thief, Planescape: Torment, Vampire: The Masquarade and Arcanum. Part of the reason for this is because getting those older titles running on modern systems can be a bit painful. Part of it is also down to some of the writing or design or graphics in those games not aging well. However, more than either of those things, we didn't want this list to obsess over the same games that every best PC games list obsesses over. Yes, the original DOOM had a big impact but is it really the shooter you want to point modern audiences towards? While there's certainly a debt to be paid to the past, we think it's okay to let go of that legacy and some of the baggage associated with it to make room for new things 
  • In the grand scheme of things, 100 games is not a lot of games. There are tons of gems that did not make the cut here. How do you realistically rate the best city simulator game ever made against the third or fourth best first-person shooter against one another? Some calls had to be made and this list can't please everyone.
  • We plan to update this list in the future! Some games might move up over time. Others might lose their spots to future hits. Stay tuned.

Without any further ado, please enjoy this list of 100 PC games you should play before you die.

100. EVE Online

Credit: CCP

The history of space sims runs in close parallel with the history of PC gaming and before ambitious and immersive fare like Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen hit the scene, EVE Online represented the apex of the detail-oriented genre. 

Set in an expansive, dynamic and dangerous setting of New Eden, EVE Online embraces player choice and socially-driven narratives like no MMORPG before it. Though dense and intimidating in its complexity, there’s an undeniable allure to a virtual world where everything has a price.

99. Cibele

Credit: Star Maid Games

Cibele is a narrative game that’s unlike any other. Taking place within the confines of a shitty MMORPG, the game situates you within the relationship between two young adults who meet playing the game and, predictably, look to take their bond beyond the virtual world that initially brought them together.

Cibele is short, sweet, intimate in tone, inventive in form and refreshingly honest about the ups and downs of internet relationships.

98. Super Hexagon

Credit: Terry Cavanagh

A simple but stylish rhythm game about guiding yourself out of a series of sinister shapes, Super Hexagon takes seconds to learn but hours to master. It’s elegant, engaging and energetic. Every time you get a little further. Every time it gets a little better. 

Super Hexagon is like a hit single that you’ll want to hit replay on over and over again.

97. The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena

Credit: Starbreeze

Though in-part a remake of the first game in the series, Assault on Dark Athena can be fairly called the definitive Riddick video game. A gritty science fiction adventure that most missed the first time around, Starbreeze’s take on Vin Diesel's stoic anti-hero expands the scope of the narrative and brings new mechanics into the mix. 

The Chronicles of Riddick is a stealth action game where things going wrong can sometimes be more fun than everything going right.

96. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Credit: Starbreeze Studios

Brothers is an adventure built around a simple but unique hook: you’re in control of two characters at once. Naturally, the act of learning how to get these two individuals to work together as a unit mirrors the larger narrative arc of the game and serves to make the game’s finale all the more heartbreaking. 

Long before the Swedish director behind the game became a viral internet icon, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons saw Josef Fares subvert the conventions of modern gaming to offer up something more grounded in emotion than action.

95. Slay the Spire

Credit: Mega Crit Games

While more multiplayer-focused digital card games have arrived in the aftermath of Blizzard’s Hearthstone, Slay the Spire sets the standard for what single-player deck building should look like.

Pulling from popular roguelike games and old-school turn-based RPGs, Slay the Spire provides manifold fresh twists on convention. More than just a game that challenges you, it’s a game that feels like it’s in conversation with you. Slay The Spire feels like it never stops asking you to find new ways to play.

94. Heat Signature

Credit: Suspicious Developments

Heat Signature cross stitches together a medley of mechanics from roguelikes, immersive sims, procedural exploration and action games to form a bizarre cocktail of gameplay that, while not infinitely replayable, is rich in possibility. 

If Halo invented the combat puzzle, Heat Signature perfects it. It’s a game where the point isn’t about learning a skill or grinding experience points but rather learning the ins and outs of the toolbox that the game gives you.

93. Stellaris 

Credit: Paradox Interactive

Emphasising exploration and interspecies diplomacy, Stellaris codifies and gamifies every aspect of modern life and imagines how it could be different. It’s an exciting look at not the destiny that mankind could chart among the stars but a glimpse into what the future of strategy games could look like. 

Though similar in appearance, Stellaris feels like a departure from the strategy games of old and a fresh foray into unknown territory.

92. FEZ

Credit: Polytron

Boasting a unique vowelised look, this zen-inducing platformer is far more than it first appears to be. 

Where the platforming borrows from Metroid, the storytelling in FEZ borrows from games like Myst. In both form, function, style and execution, FEZ is all about learning to see things from a different perspective.

91. Prison Architect

Credit: Introversion Software

Introversion’s Prison Architect takes the formula popularised by games like Rollercoaster Tycoon and bends it towards morally ambiguous ends. 

Where other simulation games’ strip away or minimise the humanity of the people inhabiting the spaces you design, Prison Architect places it front and centre. The results of this reorientation can be unexpectedly challenging but admirably original.

Next Page: #90-81

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Fergus Halliday
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