80. Thief 2: The Metal Age
RELEASED 2000 | LAST POSITION New entry
Phil: Incredibly influential, many of the games elsewhere on this list (not least Dishonored 2) owe a debt to the first two entries in Looking Glass’s first-person burgle-’em-up series. But Thief 2 isn’t just included here as a historical curiosity. The fact is it’s still one of the best stealth games you can play in 2019. Its levels are immaculately designed, its tools make for excitingly tense encounters, and its community is still active and still building new mods and missions.
79. Devil Daggers
RELEASED 2016 | LAST POSITION 35
Jody: The retro FPS has brought back secret areas, keycards, and doors that go pixelated when you smoosh against them. Devil Daggers doesn’t have any of that. It has crunchy demons, shootable knives, and death within seconds. It treats the FPS like an animal with one decent cut of meat, binning the rest. It’s Circle-Strafe: The Game. It’s perfect.
78. Doom 2
RELEASED 1994 | LAST POSITION 79
Andy: It’s remarkable how playable old school Doom still is. Watching a demon being torn apart by your shotgun is as satisfying now as it was in the ’90s. The original is a classic, but the sequel’s enemies and complex levels make it the one to play today.
Phil: And away from the official campaign you’ll find an active mod scene packed full of delights.
77. 80 Days
RELEASED 2015 | LAST POSITION 59
Samuel: All it takes to bring a late 19th century steampunk version of our world to life is gorgeous illustrations and some of the best writing that you’ll find in games. 80 Days really makes you feel like you’re travelling across a fascinating world, and it gives you plenty of reasons to take that journey again and again, whether you succeed or fail.
RELEASED 2016 | LAST POSITION 42
Jody: Cooking is stressful. There are sharp objects, things burn if you don’t take them off the heat right now, and that order of soup was supposed to go out ages ago. Overcooked puts you in a kitchen with your loved ones, who all have their own ideas about how long to let dirty dishes pile up. Arguments are inevitable. In the chaos of Overcooked, everyone is an idiot sandwich.
Phil: A great test of any relationship. Survive Overcooked’s chaotic co-op and you can survive just about anything.
75. Life is Strange
RELEASED 2015 | LAST POSITION 13
Joanna Nelius: In this adventure game you play as a teenage girl named Max, who must navigate an increasingly complex web of angst while making decisions that may or may not end in the entire destruction of her hometown. You also have developed the power to rewind time, which doesn’t always save you from the consequences of your decisions. This gut-wrenching, coming-of-age tale left me sobbing for my best friend by the end—and made me fall in love with branching narratives.
74. Warhammer: Vermintide 2
RELEASED 2018 | LAST POSITION 77
Samuel: Playing through this co-op shooter’s campaign with the UK team was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had with games in the last year. It’s got a good, broad range of difficulties, the characters are so much fun, and the levels are so pretty. This sells me on the excitement of the Warhammer fantasy universe better than anything else has.
Tom: It’s hard to make first-person melee combat feel good but Vermintide 2 nails it. Even the magic flaming staffs feel powerful and hefty, and trying not to blow up as the Bright Wizard is a fun minigame in itself. I still prefer killing Skaven to the tougher Chaos enemies, but the levels are larger, prettier and more ambitious than the original game.
Wes Fenlon: The gear system is robust enough to give you some satisfying progression from replaying levels over and over again, but the combat’s so good you barely need it anyway. Mostly I love flinging myself through the air as a berserker dwarf, and also the tension of trying to clear a level with the well-hidden grimoires in hand, which improve your loot drops but lower your health while you’re holding them. It’s so much harder and completely optional, but I go for it every time. Rat men just don’t keep my heart pounding without a dusting of extra danger on top.
RELEASED 2016 | LAST POSITION New entry
Chris: There’s a certain exhaustion that can set in when playing resource management games—there are only so many trees you can chop or so much coal you can chisel before it becomes a joyless chore. But in Factorio you build little factories to do all that busywork for you and it’s a genuine rush to turn a barren landscape into a massive assembly line of busy little conveyor belts, robotic arms, and research labs. All the harvesting, transporting, and crafting you’ve been doing by hand can be turned over to machines, and the machines themselves can be built by machines that have been built by other machines. Once you’ve gotten a taste for the automation possibilities in Factorio, you’ll never want to lift a pickaxe in another resource management game ever again.
72. Deus Ex
RELEASED 2000 | LAST POSITION 53
Andy: I replay cyberpunk RPG Deus Ex every couple of years, and I’m always heartened to discover that it still holds up. I mean, visually it’s hideous. But those big, detailed, complex levels, and the sheer amount of ways to navigate them, make this a game that is somehow immune to the passage of time. Every time I play it I find new ways to complete objectives, and there’s something compelling about its bleak pre-apocalyptic world where every wild conspiracy theory is true.
71. Invisible, Inc.
RELEASED 2015 | LAST POSITION 43
Fraser: There are a lot of good stealth games that fall apart the moment you get spotted. The game devolves into a less tense, less thrilling action game, maybe. Or you’ve failed instantly and that’s the level over. Not here. Invisible, Inc. is a turn-based tactics game that’s pure stealth, but it’s equally brilliant when you screw up and get caught. Maybe your agent has an ability that can save them. You might simply be able to escape, ensuring your agents make it to the next mission. But if you’ve got an agent down, stunned and in another room, do you rescue them first? There are a bounty of options, and they’re almost always followed by persistent, dramatic consequences that change the complexion of a campaign that’s constantly teetering on the edge of failure.