10 Single-Player Video Games You Need To Play
February 7, 2020
While many games are released every year, only a few stand out in the vast library of games available. These games could be recognizable for many reasons: maybe for how bad they are, if they are a major release with a lot of hype behind it, or if they are unique in their story or presentation. Though very few games can claim the title of a masterpiece, or be so outstanding that people still talk about it years later. I have actively sought out these games and (for the most part) understood why people resonated with them. Though many of those games were good, 10 of them stood above the rest in my eyes and here I will discuss what games those are and why I love them so much.
10. Hollow Knight
This decade saw the release of many Metroidvanias, many of which were very well received. However, no Metroidvania game has ever gripped me as much as Hollow Knight has. This game will have you engrossed in it’s dark and expansive caverns, with each room presenting a unique challenge for you to solve. The combat is fairly simple to understand, but can get incredibly technical when the many bosses come to challenge you. Speaking of the bosses, many of them are very solid fights while a few of them are some of the greatest and most challenging boss fights I’ve experienced in a platformer.
This game also has a beautiful art style that really captures the depressing tone the game is going for, but still is very charming and beautiful when it needs to be. This atmosphere is supported by the characters and lore, which really feel like they could exist in this desolate world. Even further adding onto this is the soundtrack, which is masterfully done and really drives home the tone and general mood of any given area or moment. As a bonus, all the additional content created after release, which consists of 4 very hearty content packs, is completely free to anyone who purchases the game. Overall I would say Hollow Knight is one of the most solidly designed and addicting platformers you can buy.
9. God of War (PS4)
While I have not played the previous God of War games and can’t testify as to how good the previous installments were, I would have to say from the experience I had playing this game that this game is most likely the best game in that particular franchise. The gameplay is very good, with the combat in particular being a blast for every enemy encounter or boss fight. That’s not to say the exploration is bad, it’s actually quite good. Every area has the utmost care for detail, this on top of the game’s lack of loading screens (for the most part) makes it all feel like one streamlined adventure. This is helped by the dynamic between the two main characters (in addition to another near the midpoint). The way they talk and act is just so natural, and you can grow really attached to these characters in their constant struggles.
This game also fits the theme of Norse Mythology to a tee, with a lot of the game referencing various figures and places of the mythos and even letting you explore 5 of the 9 realms within the Mythology. A few boss fights in this game are reused often, but half of them are outstanding both in spectacle and design. One small complaint I have is that a few of the basic enemies are a chore to deal with, but other than that I have no real problems with this game. It’s a great action exploration game and it is most certainly worth your time.
8. A Hat in Time
3D collectathon platformers have been all but absent for the longest time, but have just recently had a resurgence in popularity, which was due in part to the brilliance of A Hat in Time. While it was made by a small indie studio, its ambitions are vast and for the most part I think they delivered. This game just oozes charm and is very cute and colorful throughout. The platforming mechanics feel very solid and refined, which makes the levels fun to play through. In addition the writing for the game is great, I found myself laughing out loud at some of the dialogue in this game between its distinct and interesting characters.
The worlds you explore in this game are creative and unique, one moment you will be running through a seaside town taken over by the mafia and the next you will be solving a murder mystery on a train. This is complemented by the score, which fits like a glove over any given situation the game throws you in. And with the recent addition of community support, your fun with this game is practically endless. My only complaint with this game is that it was way too short. I wanted more of the game after it was done, but regardless A Hat in Time is a truly heartwarming experience that you won’t regret giving a shot.
7. DOOM (2016)
This game is just awesome. There’s no easy way to describe how incredible this game feels to play. There are many things to love about this game, but the greatest part of it is the combat. All of the weapons feel so good to use against the waves of hellspawn out to kill you. This is further accentuated by the game’s “glory kills,” which are as brutal as they are satisfying to pull off. The environments you traverse in the game vary from decent to downright gorgeous in parts.
The music of this game is also wonderful, having a dynamic soundtrack that changes when you do a particular thing and immediately jumps back to the main track when that action is done. The story in this game is a bit subdued, but can be explored through logs and the bestiary in the menu. A few gripes I have with this game are the collectables being unfun to collect and the maps being somewhat hard to navigate at times. Other than that though this game is a blast and is definitely worth playing if you enjoy the FPS genre.
6. Crypt of the Necrodancer
I have always loved rhythm games, and Crypt of the Necrodancer takes everything I love about them and puts it in an addicting isometric dungeon crawler. For every action you make you must move on the beat indicated on the bottom of the screen, whether that be moving to the next space, attacking an enemy, opening a chest, etc. The enemies also follow this rhythm and move in predictable patterns which makes this game as strategic as it is action packed. It must be noted there is quite a big learning curve when it comes to this game, but if you have the patience to learn how it works, you will be hooked to it.
The story in this game isn’t great, but that isn’t really a huge issue when the game is mostly about the gameplay. The soundtrack is also outstanding, it fits the tone of each floor while also being catchy and memorable. The bosses in this game are pretty good, but nothing outstanding. Overall I think this game is a solid gameplay experience and is worth your time if you are willing to get over that initial learning curve.
5. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
There are many great games in the Legend of Zelda series, however not many delve into darker themes and environments. Some games have tried to achieve this tone with varying degrees of success, though none will top the dread of Majora’s Mask. The dark tone of this game is reflected through every aspect of the world you are placed in: from the characters losing fate as the final hours draw nearer, to the 4 areas of the game which suffer under the wrath of the mysterious skull kid, and to the massive moon slowly crashing down into the world reminding you that time is sparse and you must act quickly to save the world in time. Fortunately you have your ocarina in hand, which allows you to reverse time and have a fair shot at stopping this disaster from occurring.
The gameplay is very similar to this game’s predecessor, Ocarina of Time, with a few additions that make this game stand out from the others. The overworld is compact and easy to travel through, making it easy to get from place to place quickly. The dungeons, while few in number, are some of the best in the series. All the characters and sidequests are great, with them all fitting into the grim atmosphere nicely. The bosses are also great (with the exception of 1) and are fun to fight. I would highly recommend getting this game, though be sure to get the original over the 3DS remake, as it is inferior in many ways.
Bioshock is one of the few great FPS games to have a thought-provoking narrative attached to it. This game deals with the battling of two different ideals, but approaches it from a neutral angle to let the player decide which is the better one. It also explores the fallacy of choice in video games in a truly brilliant twist (which I won’t spoil for you here) that is the antithesis of a subtle setup and a startling payoff.
While its narrative is the part that many remember the most from this game, it has other aspects that make it shine as a beautifully crafted FPS. One of the stronger aspects is the atmosphere and environments. When you are down in the underwater city of Rapture, you really get the feeling that the areas were once lived in, but are now in disrepair after years of abandonment. The combat of this game is also quite good, with your character wielding many types of weapons as well as elemental powers known in the game as Plasmids. With these powers you can really cause a lot of destruction and take care of the many enemies in the game. The score can be hit or miss, either being average ambient music to being superb instrumentals. Overall I would say this game really goes to show how video games can not just be a form of entertainment, but also a platform for people to reinvent how stories are told.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
When reinventing the core design of a series, a developer has to be sure that the game still feels like the old design while also implementing new features to freshen up the experience. While many games have failed to make this transition, somehow Breath of the Wind persevered and went above and beyond in improving the series. It strips out the linearity of the previous titles in favor of a more open world experience, and unlike other open world games this one feels the closest to a world with truly limitless possibilities. There is an overwhelming amount to see, do, and collect in this world and every second of it is an incredible experience.
It’s hard to truly express how amazing this game is to me. You feel so free in this world and once you are out of the great plateau you can essentially do whatever you want within the games parameters. If you really wanted to you could go straight to Hyrule Castle as soon as you leave the great plateau, or stay in the world and explore all its secrets. The combat is also worth noting for being an improvement on the combat from Zelda titles like Twilight Princess. While the characters you meet along your way vary in likability, and the bosses are mostly not very good, all of that is sidelined by the feel of this world. I urge you to go out and play this game yourself and truly feel that freedom that I felt.
While Bayonetta lacks a thought-provoking narrative like Bioshock and the stellar environments of Breath of the Wild, this game has its own set of charms that put it above the rest. For one, the combat in bayonetta is very tight and responsive. This aspect helps with the very agile and tough enemies you face throughout the game, some of which require insane reflexes to dodge their attacks. The worlds, while at times not fun to explore, are impressive looking and are often amazing setpieces for the many fights in this game.
The two things that really make me love this game are the characters, the music, and the bosses. All of the main cast are really well written and fun to see in these scenarios. Bayonetta herself is a very deep character who is very confident and sassy, but has a tender side that makes itself known through the second half of the game. The music is also very well done: with great vocal songs that never stop being fun to listen to, remixes of classic SEGA tracks from some of their more iconic arcade games, and awe inspiring orchestral pieces for the bosses. Speaking of the bosses, they are what make this game worth getting. Every boss in the game is a spectacle to behold and is an incredible challenge to boot. With every boss, the set pieces for the battle get more and more insane, insane enough that each battle on its own seems like a final boss in its own right. But the game keeps on going, getting more and more extreme with each one culminating in what is arguably the greatest and most over the top final boss of all time. Bayonetta is an incredible experience from beginning to end and I would highly recommend picking it up if you can.
1. Deus Ex
Deus Ex is quite frankly the best game I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. It has everything I look for in a game and more, which is quite impressive for a game that was released years before nearly all of the games on this list. While I’m sure the outdated graphics will turn some people off the game, those who tolerate it will witness one of the greatest video game narratives ever told, and one that still holds relevancy in our modern day.
While Deus Ex’s story is far too complicated to explain in the limited space I am given for this article, it discusses many real problems still going on in the real world, many of which were not relevant at all until similar events happened in real life. Some could boil this down to coincidence, but I believe, at least in some capacity, that this game was prophetic in this regard. Deus Ex also talks about many philosophical themes, many of which are enough to make someone question their current beliefs of the world. I won’t discuss these things here as I hope that you will come to your own conclusions to these moments as that is the way the game is best played.
The combat of this game is also great, using an FPS system that I’ve never seen replicated past this point despite how good it is. I also love the way this game allows you to solve a single problem in many different ways, which can sometimes really make you stop and think about how you will get past a given scenario. The music of this game is also superb, having a very nice sounding synth feel to it, which fits the futuristic setting. I yearn to play another game like Deus Ex, but the rarity of such a game is unmatched in this current video game landscape. I strongly urge you to purchase this game. The game is really inexpensive, but be sure your computer can run it before you try to get it.