Pick Five (and a Few More) Games

A couple of weeks ago, I've seen a few people posting their #Pick5Games lists and it really got me thinking about mine. Given that I have quite a history with games, it was pretty hard to really come up with exactly five titles, especially since I always felt (and still feel) that I might miss the one or other important game — or at least miss to think about it.

In the following, I'll give you my list of games, including my thoughts. I'll also add a few more games that I feel are worth mentioning.

The Question to Think About

Okay, so the question that I have seen with the hashtag is: “If you had to recommend someone play 5 games to really get a feel for you/your tastes, what five would you pick?“

After I really wasn't able to just #Pick5Games, I went back to the question and felt that, at least for me, that sounds like a "What do you like now?" question. That made things a bit easier, so without further ado, let's finally hop right into that:

My Five Games

1 – Mass Effect 2

Frankly, I would like to add the whole series here. I think that all games have their merits where they stand out. The original Mass Effect has a fantastic story and really great hook, ME2 has fantastic storytelling and ME3 has the best game mechanics of the series.

However, I think I never felt as engaged as with ME2. When it was released, I basically spent a whole weekend to play through it and it was simply fantastic. The way the whole story is told and presented still feels unique for me, even eight years later. During this weekend, I really was Commander Shepard. My decision mattered. My crew was counting on me.

2 – Firewatch

Authenticity goes a long way for this game, both from a design and an in-game perspective. The designers didn't try to accomplish anything they couldn't do while the characters in the game simply feel real and alive, just because of the great dialogues.

I never really knew where the game was heading, but again with this game, the storytelling ways just kept me exploring until the final credits rolled. Even though it wasn't a very long playthrough, the experience has been both unique and rewarding.

3 – Life is Strange

You might see a pattern here. ;-) Again, an authentic story told in a great way. Additionally, I really liked the mechanics in this one. In some games, I tend to reload save games to see different outcomes. In this game, they basically were built-in already. But given that ... well ... life is strange, even reversing your actions wouldn't give you an immediate feeling whether a certain action was "better" than another one. That's what really stood out to be.

Really enjoyable!

4 – XCOM 2

Finally a game that isn't all about an authentic story. Still, the developers understood their job in how much story a game needs to be engaging and motivating.

I played XCOM 2 a lot this year and I really enjoyed how everything in this game comes together. As I said, the story is solid and the cinematics in between are both well-synchronized and polished. The game-mechanics are spot-on in regards to difficulty, complexity and realism. Also, with simple features like giving the soldiers both randomized names and nicknames while also granting them bonus feats to choose from, make them actual characters instead of numbers.

With the add-on all of this gets even better, even though it's hard to keep track of all the soldiers and their feats and special abilities in the end. Especially the fatigue mechanic felt a bit lackluster, but overall, the whole game is enganging, fun and challenging to play.

#5 – Hearthstone

Years after I quit WoW (more about that later), Hearthstone basically became a substitute for the itch that quitting WoW left unscratched. I'm not sure whether it plays a role that it's also Warcraft-themed, but Blizzard definitely did a lot of things right here, especially with the UI design.

Other than that, the game is free, challenging, has a high skill cap and fit very well into my life, given that the game times are usually rather short and don't need much time to ramp up. Just to prove @monoxyd@mastodon.social wrong, I almost accidentally also started a little streaming carrier with a YouTube channel that brought my past student-self some fame and some extra bucks. :D

After a hiatus of almost two years, I'm now slowly crawling back into that game as it's still pretty engaging for me.

Runner-up: Invisible Inc.

This one has emerged to be my go-to game when I want to play something but can't figure out what to play. It has an okayish story, but the very strong part in this games are the mechanics. The level design is random, so are the missions you are given. Characters can (and will) die on the missions.

The main part that always astonishes me is the balance between difficulty and incentives. On almost every mission, you want to explore more, as you can find more to help you with future missions. However, this exploration usually comes with the cost of making your mission more difficult. It's amazing how hard a game can be while still being fair. When I make a wrong decision in this game, it's usually due to my greed. The game somehow never feels “unfairly“ difficult. The levels are not designed (well, generated) to beat every one of them completely. But the urge, of course, is always present. :D

A Few More Words

Okay, so these five (well, five-ish) games should give you a pretty good overview of what games I like.

However, while thinking about them, I had a lot more games come to my mind that meant and mean something to me. Therefore, I'll come back later with a short overview of bonus games and my reasoning behind mentioning them.

Stay tuned!