Mountain’s Florence debuted on smartphones but the PC port is no less evocative. A short, narrative-driven experience, the game charts the relationship between two young individuals and uses the language of game mechanics to map out the ebb and flow between the two people.
Florence’s inviting art style and soundtrack generate a kind of wanderlust that’s a natural complement for the game’s talents towards creative expression and self-reinvention.
79. Mark of the Ninja
While KLEI Entertainment’s debut title, Shank, provided plenty of thrills, it wasn’t really until Mark of the Ninja arrived that the studio’s sensibility towards deconstructing and stylishly rebuilding genres of gaming often considered intimidating fully revealed itself.
Mark of the Ninja repurposed many of the stealth action and immersive simulation elements that made games like Thief and Deus Ex into cult-classics and proved they remain compelling regardless of whether they’re used on a 2D or 3D plane.
Orwell is the most well-articulated warning against the dangers of social media surveillance I’ve ever encountered. By contrast, the fact that it’s also a cleverly-conceived and elegantly-executed adventure game feels merely incidental.
Orwell explores the worst fears of our overly-connected time. It exposes just how fragile facts can be and interrogates the idea that information is neutral to terrifying effect.
77. The Stanley Parable
The Stanley Parable wasn’t the first PC game to break the fourth wall but it was probably one of the first to do it so enthusiastically.
Closer to an interactive short film than a traditional video game, it skewers the choice-driven storytelling that dominated the discourse of its time with absurdist wit and an antagonistic narrator. Depending on who you ask, The Stanley Parable is either a game about nothing or a game about everything. Either way, it makes a hell of an impression.
76. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
The horror game that launched a thousand Let’s Play careers on Youtube, Amnesia: The Dark Descent was as much a throwback as it was an evolution for the genre.
You could run and hide from the monsters in Amnesia but you couldn’t fight back against them. In a further, vaguely-Lovecraftian twist, you couldn’t even look at them. And yet, despite these permutations, Amnesia: The Dark Descent manages the same feat that all great horror games do. It tricks you into facing your fears head-on.
For the longest time, the breakout success of Jonathan Blow’s Braid was considered proof that indie gaming could deliver just as much bang-for-your-buck as AAA fare. A reinvention of the classic puzzle platformer, Braid takes the logic of time-travel and gamifies it in ways you don’t always expect.
While Braid’s infamous “Secret Ending” remains divisive, the design and execution here remain genuinely remarkable.
74. Day of Defeat
DoD is a classic WWII shooter having first been released back in 2003, but it still has an addictive appeal. Play is set in the midst of WWII on a selection of maps drawn from historical battles like Omaha Beach and Palermo, with players first choosing a side, either axis or allied, and from among a number of different solider classes, before they battle.
There’s nothing flashy about DoD’s graphics, but that makes for a smooth multiplayer experience, since gameplay rarely suffers latency issues. Teaming up to fight against enemies, capturing objectives and end checkpoints makes DoD a highly enjoyable experience on Aussie servers. Be warned though, if you do join one, you may soon be asked to admin.
73. Assassin’s Creed 2
Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed has metamorphosed many times over the years. However, it’s the second game in the series that arguably deserves a slot on this list the most.
Set in Renaissance of Italy, you play as Ezio Auditore da Firenze - a young man who is forced to embrace a hidden heritage when his idyllic family life is violently torn apart by secret conspirators.
Though mechanically surpassed in the years since, Assassin’s Creed 2 set the template for the series for good reason. It does justice to the concepts introduced by its predecessors and ends with you facing off in a punch out with The Pope.
Putting up to six players in the shoes of nuclear superpowers, Defcon simulates the arms race of the Cold War and challenges you to make the right alliances and keep your cool when things flare up. It’s a strategy game of chilling calculations, sinister stratagems and terrific tensions.
Defcon is chess for the atomic age and pornography for the geopolitical Machiavelli inside you.
71. Unreal Tournament 2004
Epic’s Unreal Tournament 2004 is a fast-paced arena FPS from the golden age of the deathmatch. It features schlocky shooting, an over-the-top sci-fi weaponry, a deep & diverse pool of playable maps and a multitude of modes that cover everything from familiar staples like capture the flag to the Battlefield-inspired Onslaught mode and more.
If Unreal Tournament 2004 can’t quite steal the crown for best arena shooter, it can damn well win praise for being the most arena shooter.
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