This week in Zero Punctuation, Yahtzee recounts the most significant games of the 2010s.
Well, I've done my best, worst, and blandest video, because I'm as steadfast and reliable as your preferred brand of water-based lubricant, but 2020 is an important year! It'll be a while before we see another year that can so perfectly form the frames of a pair of hilarious novelty spectacles. And it's the start of a new decade; think of how far we've come in the last ten years. In 2010, I was stuck in a small yellow room complaining about video games, and look at me now! I'm a little bit fatter with a slightly less-functional dick.
Rather than summarize ten years' worth of best and worst games lists again - I mean, who the fuck remembers Amy, besides whatever poor twat-hinge invested in it and presumably now makes their Christmas dinner by peeling old lettuce leaves off the sides of compost bins? - I'd like to run down a short list of my most significant games and gaming developments from the last ten years, remembering that "significant" doesn't necessarily mean "good"; I mean, a metal straw pushed up my nostril until it penetrates my brain cavity would be a significant part of my day, but it'll mean a poor Yelp review for your milkshake shop!
The history of gaming in the 2010s could theoretically be told entirely in open world games; if I were to pick one that represents them all, I'd probably go for Far Cry 3, which was pretty good, but it was where an unpleasant trend was beginning to crystallize: a sandbox game becoming less open-ended cathartic adventure than gigantic three-dimensional checklist of busywork, its map splattered with identical copy-pasted challenges and collectibles designed mainly to torment the obsessive-compulsive with a primary gameplay loop best summarized as "tidying up", where the stories gradually devolved into withered strands of linear tutorial missions that don't even have proper endings 'cos we have to go straight back to the sandbox afterwards to hunt the remaining 500 silver pine cones.
But if you want an exemplar, look no further than CD Projekt Red's 2015 hit The Witcher 3, which showed that if you want a compelling open world game, there really is no substitute for putting the fucking work in, imbuing even the least of its side-quests with carefully-crafted story and character to create a game from which rich narrative bleeds from every pore like the juices of a beautifully-cooked roast. Plus, you get to see lohts of lahvely gahls' berbies!
"The Black Ops series, Yahtzee? Have you been mainlining Worcestershire sauce again?" Think about it, viewer: with four games, spanning from 2011 to 2018, is there any series that better encapsulates the state of spunkgargleweewee modern shooters in the 2010s? It's like a barometer for shit. It starts with Black Ops I in that Cold War-era Manchurian Candidate plot that played out like an overexcited 12-year-old downing Pixy Stix hand-over-hand while giving his school report on the Cuban Missile Crisis; that was while they were still riding off the high of Modern Warfare 1, when Call of Duty still cared about at least trying to take storytelling seriously, but over the course of Black Ops II and III, we see the gradual process of modern shooters giving less and less of a shit until they can barely spare a single kernel of undigested corn.
So suddenly, we're dealing with super-terrorists in the future with jetpacks and grapple guns and robot uprisings, until Black Ops 4 comes along, throws up its hands, stops pretending, and ditches the story altogether to drink from the overfilled catheter bag of live service multiplayer, and rip off PUBG as well just to completely give the game away. Sooner or later, shooters always gravitate back to what people actually want from them: SIMPLICITY! Run around, shoot things that aren't you, bounce up and down on their lifeless faces prostate-first. If only they'd rung up Doom 2016; they could've found that out for free!
The Nintendo Switch Edit
For a company that's constantly bringing out the same fiery turtle-lizard kidnapping the same rattled old strumpet whose underskirt region must by now resemble a First World War battle trench after a shipment of dodgy corned beef, Nintendo have done a surprising amount of hardware innovation, and the Nintendo Switch is the result of a decade of harsh lessons. First, there was the Wii, that under-powered little white square of hardened cum (in retrospect, little more than a very inefficient way to bring computer bowling to the nursing homes of the world), then the 3DS, which thought the best way to iterate on the winning dual-screen formula would be to add a visual gimmick about one step removed from a children's pop-up book. Then the Wii U, of course: "It's a console, it's a portable; IT'S BOTH! As long as you have a convenient forklift to move the portable part around and don't intend to go more than twelve yards."
So after all that flailing, we end up with the Switch, which I have to admit, I've come around to. I have an office full of gaming machinery, but the Switch is the only device I keep in my living room to dick around with in my off-hours, because it's easy to set up, has a rich library of curated indies, and I have a Pro Controller now, so I can actually play the fucking things without bending my hands into hideous claws fit only for stirring pasta water and bringing off female robots.
Solo Indie Games Edit
But masturbation isn't the only great thing that's best achieved alone; often, the most significant indie games come to us from small if not solo developers, probably because they're the ones who can take the big artistic risks without having to worry about other people needing to be paid and saying unhelpful things like, "Is it strictly necessary that every single enemy be themed around feces?" The 2010s brought us such innovative titles as Eric Barone's Stardew Valley, a game courageously asking the question, "What if Harvest Moon but called something different?" (All right, bad example.) Lucas Pope brought us Papers, Please and Return of the Obra Dinn, a superb one-two punch demonstrating the unlikely storytelling power of bureaucracy.
And how could we forget Toby Fox's Undertale, a lovely, indulgent, scented bubble bath of a game equal parts nostalgic, hilarious, and moving, which I would probably call my Game of the Decade if I were in a room full of people wearing internet meme T-shirts? But in terms of most culturally significant solo indie game, I'd give that title to 2011's The Binding of Isaac, a game whose deceptive simplicity hides nauseating depth, and which is partly responsible for the explosion of indie roguelikes that continues to this day. Yes, Edmund McMillen, I blame you!
My first idea for this video was just to list off my last ten Games of the Year with some token snarks and then knock off for spaghetti and robots, but then I realized that this would leave Dark Souls unmentioned, since I went from initially dismissing it to hardcore proselytism, like when all the world's insane conservative grandpas discovered social media. Dark Souls is what I'd call my Game of the Decade if the room was instead full of fat bearded dorks who unironically own swords, but it might also be my most historically significant game, now that every other game seeks to ape it, and the media calls every milk float with a slightly stiff brake pedal "the Dark Souls of commercial transportation equipment".
At the time it came out, franchises like Uncharted were redefining games as cinematic experiences with all the depth and challenge of a paddling pool half-full of children's activity sheets from popular chain restaurants, and it took FromSoftware to remind us that games are games, not just films where you have to keep holding the remote, and they have their own strengths: depth of exploration and discovery, the satisfaction of overcoming meaty challenges. "Real games never went away!" Dark Souls was saying. "They were here all along, waiting around a corner to twat you with a poleaxe!"
- Still chugging along: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- Additional music was from Creatures 2 on the C64, a game with a soundtrack yet to be topped in my view
- Welp, that was that
My 2010s Games of the Year (Retrospectively Ranked) Edit
- 10.) Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
- 9.) Just Cause 2
- 8.) BioShock Infinite
- 7.) Spec Ops: The Line
- 6.) Disco Elysium
- 5.) Resident Evil 7
- 4.) Doom
- 3.) Return of the Obra Dinn
- 2.) Portal 2
- 1.) Undertale
My 2010s Worst Games (Retrospectively Ranked) Edit
- 10.) Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
- 9.) Thief
- 8.) Call of Duty: Ghosts
- 7.) Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3
- 6.) Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days
- 5.) The Order: 1886
- 4.) Homefront: The Revolution
- 3.) Contra: Rogue Corps
- 2.) Amy
- 1.) Hunt Down The Freeman