80. 80 Days
Released 2015 | Last position 77
Andy K: In terms of writing, very few games come close to 80 Days. It's one of the finest pieces of interactive fiction on PC, because it roots its superb, unpredictable storytelling in a compelling management loop. You're being told a fun, colourful story about a voyage around the world in a vivid steampunk alternate history, but you're also juggling your budget and keeping your stoic master Phileas Fogg happy. Completing the journey in 80 days is genuinely difficult, but if you fail, it doesn't matter. You can try again, and the story will be totally different. I can't think of a game I've replayed more over the years than this.
Released 2018 | Last position New entry
Jacob: Hades manages to squeeze the fight, rinse, repeat roguelike mechanic into the narrative, and do so in a way that's genuinely entertaining. Each return trip back to Hades' Underworld is a chance to try out a new weapon or upgrade, and that's kept me coming back for more.
Both challenging and rewarding, Hades doesn't demand your finest form on every run—so you needn't be petrified of diving back in for another mad dash attempt at escaping the underworld.
78. Sea of Thieves
Released 2018 | Last position 67
Wes: Chris put my fish on the stove and left it cooking so long it set our ship on fire. On the Sea of Thieves, we make our own fun.
Chris: Well, Wes swung his sword at Tyler who was carrying an explosive barrel, and it killed our entire crew. Still fun!
Fraser: It wasn’t very good and now it is. Sea of Thieves is the heartwarming tale of a piratical sandbox eventually getting its sea legs. Rare’s worked hard to nurture it, and for a long time it served as my go-to co-op game. It’s been a wee while since I hit the high seas, but I’m still incredibly fond of it and will inevitably return. I have a crippling addiction to buying pets.
Phil: Part of the reason we stopped playing, Fraser, is that we're all sick of your mangy cat.
Released 2019 | Last position New entry
Robin: The thing that Control absolutely nails is atmosphere. Its weird, conspiratorial world of supernatural bureaucracy is so wonderfully realised—both visually, with creative, brutalist surrealism, and in its world-building, fleshed out through dialogue and text logs that are equal parts hilarious and sinister. Even its vending machines are memorable.
Andy K: At first I bounced off Control, hard. Which was a shame, because I love Remedy’s storytelling. The combat was the culprit. I found it overly difficult and quite tiring. But at a certain point, after unlocking a few abilities, it suddenly clicked. Where once I felt underpowered, I felt, well, in control. Suddenly I was looking forward to enemies showing up so I could cause telekinetic chaos. And with that problem handled, I was free to enjoy the story and world, which see Remedy and lead writer Sam Lake operating at the peak of their particular brand of weird.
Released 2008 | Last position 37
Emma: Spelunky offers a simple, yet challenging experience that punishes you for the tiniest mistakes. It's unique in that it offers a different experience depending on how far you're willing to explore. You're free to play through it casually, make your way to Olmec's Lair, and finish the game. While this is perfectly satisfying, there are so many hidden areas and special items that can enrich your journey along the way. It also features the cutest pug in any video game, ever.
Released 2016 | Last position 74
Chris: Survival and crafting games can quickly become a slog of repetitive tasks, but Factorio's hook involves automating those tasks before you get sick of them. And it's something of a thrill to build the machines to do those tasks… and even more thrilling to realize you can build machines to build those machines. Once you've got a few assembly lines running smoothly it's easy to lose yourself in the glorious (and sometimes very messy) expansion of your busy little factories.
74. Warhammer: Vermintide 2
Released 2018 | Last position 73
Robin: This year’s lockdown has really solidified for me how good this game is. Trapped inside, I’ve had way more time for co-op gaming, and I think Vermintide 2 really is the best of the bunch—a worthy successor to Left 4 Dead. Plus it absolutely nails the Warhammer setting, always riding that line between humour and grimdarkness perfectly.
Jody: I've been enjoying Deep Rock Galactic and I still think Left 4 Dead 2 is fun, but what Vermintide 2 has over other four-player co-op chaos games is its perfect first-person melee combat. It's the perfect quick woosh and slow thunk as big lumps of Renaissance metal bite into fur and skin. You get stuck in and the blood seeps in at the edges of the screen while you block and shove and swing till there's breathing room, then look around to make sure everyone else is standing. Then you do it again 12 more times and it's still enjoyable.
Plus, the weird-voiced space dwarves of Deep Rock Galactic have nothing on Bardin with his dwarfish battlecries and tendency to burst into song mid-battle.
Alan Dexter: Vermintide II is harsh, but in the best possible way. It challenges you, and then rewards your determination with a better understanding of the underlying mechanics. You get slightly further with each run, gear upgrades embolden you, communication with your buddies becomes more nuanced, and before you know it you're facing down the Skittergate like the team of wisecracking baddasses that you are.
73. What the Golf?
Released 2019 | Last position New entry
Chris: A great way to make people laugh is to surprise them, and What the Golf? is almost constantly surprising. Golf is almost never just golf: it becomes soccer, driving, bowling, first-person shooting, and archery, just to name a few. And just when you think you've got a handle on things it'll switch it up, so instead of your bow shooting an arrow, it'll shoot 100 arrows. Or it'll launch you through the air instead. Just a great, funny game.
Harry Shepherd: Unlike real-life golf, Triband's experimental curio is wonderfully accessible. Every person I invited to click and drag to hit the ball was immediately entranced, as just a few clicks and drags on the mouse is enough to hook you in.
72. Invisible Inc.
Released 2015 | Last position 71
Jody: Normally I'm a stickler for first-person stealth. You should be leaning around a corner, holding down Q or E while shifting slightly in your chair for no reason to see if there's a guard lurking there. Invisible Inc. makes you look down from above, pressing the peek icon instead, but it's still every bit as tense. Turn-based isometric stealth just as thrilling as the regular kind. Invisible Inc. understands cyberpunk as well, piling a miracle on top of another miracle.
Phil: Much like Into the Breach—which I'll admit has stolen a bit of Invisible, Inc.'s shine as my go-to meticulous, almost perfectly designed tactics game—the key to what makes this so good is information. You're given loads of it, up front, to the point that essentially nothing is up to chance. That leaves your fate in your own hands, and lets you concentrate on using your wits and your skills to stage a series of elaborate corporate heists.
Tom: The escalating guard levels over time forces you to take risky manoeuvres with agents that can be all-too fragile. The result is a tense chin-scratcher with a great art style. The procedurally generated levels work as well, which is vital in a game that, as Phil says, gives you almost total information about where enemies can see and what they are likely to do next.
71. EVE Online
Released 2003 | Last position 70
Steven: EVE Online is frequently joked about as the best game to read about but never play, but that kind of outlook dismisses just what a unique and special game EVE Online is. Sure, it's a very cerebral experience that often boils down to staring at spreadsheets, but that's because EVE Online is so good at creating a virtual life that it successfully recreates even the most boring bits of living. Just don't play it alone—this is one MMO where multiplayer is practically mandatory.
Andy K: I've played about 100 hours of EVE, which is nothing compared to a seasoned player. But whenever I visit New Eden, I fall in love with the game's dreamy, understated atmosphere. Even if you never meet another player and stick to the safe starting regions of space, there's still fun to be had here.