Top 10 PC Games of the 2010s

Collage of games that made the list of Top 10 PC Games of the 2010s here at Choicest Games

As 2019 draws to a close, there are a lot of people posting lists of their favourite things over the past decade, including computer games. I was inspired to do a post of my own based on this very good thread on Whirlpool started by user "sesquipedalian" which not only has their top 10 games of the decade but also their picks for other categories such as "Most disappointing game", "Biggest Surprise" and what the decade will be remembered for. While I originally wanted to do something very similar, in the end I decided to compromise, scale back some of my ambitions and try to take a more objective look at the past decade based on the reviews I've published on this very blog.

Choicest Games started in 2008 which means that a good proportion of the reviews over its 11 or so years were done in the 2010s; in fact, if you don't count soundtrack, video and book reviews, there were 279 reviews for games that were released between 2010-2019 (i.e. reviews for retro DOS games were not included). However, there have been several changes in my life over the past 10 years, including me moving interstate, getting married, buying a house and becoming the father of three kids. As you can imagine, this has impacted on my ability to dedicate time to this blog and it definitely shows in how many reviews I've been publishing for more recent games. The peak seems to occur for 2013 (see Figure 1) which means 65 out of the 279 reviews you'll read on this blog (23% or more than 1 in 5) are for games released in 2013. In contrast, I'm really behind on games released in 2018 and 2019 (8 and 2 respectively), although that could also be due to me scaling back on games released in recent years (i.e. trying to cull that Pile of Shame).

Chart showing a time series of review count
Figure 1: Review Count vs Year

Another interesting chart to look at in terms of a time series is trying to determine the "Best Year of the Decade" by counting how many games released in each of the years scored an 8 out of 10 or higher (Figure 2). While the chart bears some similarities to Figure 1, it's interesting to note that a greater proportion of reviews in recent years tend to rate better. For example, in 2013, 19 reviews out of 65 (29%) are considered titles that would be "Recommended" by Choicest Games on Steam, whereas in 2017, 14 out of the 27 reviews (52%) are, and this trend doesn't seem to show any signs of stopping. Either I'm getting soft in my old age or I'm just getting more selective about picking good games perhaps?

Anyway, one looking at the chart below could assume that 2013 was the "Best Year of the Decade" in terms of reviews which recommend the game (i.e. 8 out of 10 or higher) but since I haven't reviewed many games released in recent years, a fairer metric would probably involve looking at the percentage of reviews that recommend a game. However, this again might be too simplistic and misleading since the smaller sample size for recent years is still an issue.

Chart showing Recommended Review Count vs Year
Figure 2: Recommended Review Count vs Year

And while we're on the topic of ratings, how were the ratings distributed across the reviews for the last decade? My wife and friends probably find this as no surprise but the most common score on Choicest Games happens to be 7 out of 10 (a whopping 107 reviews to be exact which accounts for 38%). No games have ever been given a rating of less than 3 and none a rating of 10 either. The mean rating at Choicest Games is 7.11 out of 10 and the median rating is, you guessed it, 7.

Chart showing how many reviews have particular ratings out of 10
Figure 3: Review Count vs Rating

Just before we move on to the business end of this post, what about breaking down these reviews by genre?

Pie chart showing percentage of games reviewed by genre
Figure 4: Genre Count

It's no surprise to me but the largest genre by far is the "Adventure" genre. This predominantly includes traditional point ‘n' click adventure games but also includes FMV adventures (such as Her Story), Adventure/RPG hybrids (like Hero-U), and other non-conventional adventure games (such as Hypnospace Outlaw). 63 reviews or 22% are on adventure games over the past decade and if you wanted to include other narrative rich genres as well (such as visual novels and walking simulators) there are 95 such reviews which accounts for 34% of the total reviews over the decade: that means over a ⅓ of the reviews are about adventure games, visual novels and walking simulators, which means we really like games with a good story, here at Choicest Games!

Other genres that we seem to be big on are Role-Playing Games (22 or 7.9%), First Person Shooters (19 or 6.8%), Puzzle Games (17 or 6.1%) and Arcade Games (17 or 6.1%).

Okay, now down to the business end. Let's start off with the Best Game per Year. I created a shortlist of reviews with a Score of 8 out of 10 or more and then broke them down by year. Any instances where there was only one 9 out of 10 score for that year meant the game would be awarded as the best game of that year by default; when there was a tie, it would just come down to my personal preference.

2010: Mass Effect 2
2011: Portal 2
2012: Mass Effect 3
2013: Cook, Serve, Delicious!
2014: Elite: Dangerous
2015: King's Quest - Chapter 1: A Knight to Remember
2016: Day of the Tentacle Remastered
2017: Finding Paradise
2018: Horizon Chase Turbo
2019: Hypnospace Outlaw

As you can tell by the list, I'm a big fan of the Mass Effect series and despite the original lacklustre ending of the third game, the Extended Cut fixed the main issues I had with the ambiguous epilogue. A lot of indie games made the list, especially in more recent years since some indies are so good they can even go toe-to-toe with AAAs in terms of engaging gameplay and this is true for games like Cook, Serve, Delicious!, Finding Paradise, Horizon Chase Turbo and Hypnospace Outlaw. I really got into Elite: Dangerous for a couple of years so it definitely deserves its spot as the best game of 2014 and I really liked what the Odd Gentlemen achieved with the rebooted King's Quest series in 2015 and I was truly hoping for a Sierra revival (that unfortunately, never transpired).

With respect to the top 10 games of the entire decade, I again employed a similar process for shortlisting by only looking at games that achieved a score of 9 out of 10, then ranking these to compile my top 10.

  1. Mass Effect 2 (2010)
  2. Mass Effect 3 (2012)
  3. Portal 2 (2011)
  4. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
  5. Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty (2010)
  6. Day of the Tentacle Remastered (2016)
  7. Hacknet - Complete Edition (2015)
  8. King's Quest - Chapter 1: A Knight to Remember (2015)
  9. Cook, Serve, Delicious! (2013)
  10. Battlefield 3 (2011)

Some on the list above have already appeared in this post, and many of the games on the list are from classic franchises such as Mass Effect, Portal, The Elder Scrolls, Starcraft and Skyrim which is probably no surprise. But there are a couple of indie games on this list too including one that hasn't already been mentioned, the brilliant hacking simulation Hacknet which is even offered as a learning tool for schools here in Australia.

After compiling the Top 10 games of the decade list, I also decided to take a closer look at the best games for particular genres. I only looked at genres which had a lot of reviews (i.e. 10 or more) and then from a shortlist of the best within each of these genres (i.e. a rating of 8 out of 10 or more) picked the best. The results are below:

Best RPG: Mass Effect 2
Best Adventure: Day of the Tentacle Remastered
Best Arcade: PAC-MAN 256
Best Board/Card Game: Town of Salem
Best FPS: Portal 2
Best Puzzle: Gunpoint
Best Visual Novel: Hate Plus

Yes, Portal 2 is probably not technically your traditional FPS, but I think that's what makes it so great as you've still got hazards to overcome but instead of using a regular gun, you're using a portal gun. The same applies for Gunpoint which isn't what you'd normally expect of a puzzle game (it's technically a stealth/puzzle platformer) but it's for this very reason that the game probably resonated with me (as I'm not one to normally gravitate towards playing puzzle games in general).

PAC-MAN 256 stands out as the best arcade game (as it's a game I still regularly play with family and friends on the Steam Link) and many fun games were spent playing Town of Salem (also with friends and family).

Despite playing many visual novels over the past decade (and it's definitely a genre with a lot of competition) Hate Plus stands out for me as one with a thoroughly thought-out plot and novel ways of immersing you into its world.

So what do you think? Do you agree with any of the picks on this list? What are your picks for the best PC games of the last decade?