The 15 Best Pick Up and Play Games on GOG That Are Over 10 years old

Here is a list of the 15 games I would buy if I were a younger gamer looking to check out some classic games on Good Old Games. Note that this isn't a list of 15 best games from a historical context, or games that nostalgists should revisit, but the 15 best games that just about anyone can still pick up and play within reason. I choose the games based on the following rules.

  1. The game doesn't have an extremely complicated control system (example: the older Ultima games).
  2. The game is not so difficult to require digging into PDF manuals. I've knocked down games that aren't difficult to play, but difficult to learn like Baldur's Gate...etc.
  3. The game was released 10 or more years ago.

List items

Avatar image for mistermouse
Posted by MisterMouse

Awesome list, will need to try some of these out.

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Posted by Atlas

I've wanted to play Baldur's Gate 2 ever since I played (and loved) Dragon Age. The Random Ass PC Game put me off it every so slightly, but maybe I should just man up and buy it.

Very interesting list. I feel like a CRPG fan born in the wrong era, since I missed all these games. Hell, the first real RPG I played was Oblivion in '06. So yeah, lot of history to catch up on.

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Posted by mexicola

Nice to see Gabriel Knight mentioned, one the best game series for sure.

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Posted by wizall

That's a pretty good list. I'm already going to drop a serious dime on their Christmas sale. I may just add a couple more from your list here. Probably Shogo and Arx Fatalis.

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Posted by KingHippp0

Jagged Alliance 2. Man, I tried forever to get that to run on Win 2K with no luck. Such a good game.

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Posted by Ali_D

I've got Planescape Tormet but I've not started on it yet. I did try to play Under A Killing Moon and found it pretty hard to control, so I'm glad for recommendations for games you can just jump into it.

Avatar image for zurichazure
Edited by zurichazure

Might try out Freespace 2. On a related note in regard to old games, how does Snatcher for Sega CD hold up? I've never played it, but I've always heard praise for it.

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Posted by DoctorLazy

Add X-Com UFO Defense and Master of Orion II and this list becomes even better.

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Posted by Shayera

No Icewind Dale? I know Baldur's Gate covers all your needs but you know, I like Icewind Dale :(

Good list Dave, I might pick Giants, never played that one.

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Edited by Vager

Divine Divinity looks interesting, just bought it off GOG.

Can't recommend Nox enough. The game doesn't have the huge variety of loot like Diablo but the combat is far and beyond better anything Diablo had. Too bad the online servers are gone. The combat really shined when you were fighting against other players.

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Posted by FoxMulder

The Longest Journey is awesome! Probably my favorite adventure game of all time!

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Posted by recroulette

Wow, way to read my mind. I was looking through gog and was wondering which games were worth playing. Thanks Dave.

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Posted by NoCookiesForYou

I hear ya Dave Freespace 2 is goddamn awesome.

Avatar image for andrewb
Posted by AndrewB

Thanks Dave. I've been looking to cash in on this GOG sale and I feel like I haven't done a very good job. So far all I bought was a second, DRM free copy of Neverwinter Nights so I can have an install that doesn't take 5 or more discs, and SWAT 3 (wish they had SWAT 4).

Specifically interested in Arx Fatalis, crazily enough, after having spent a good 140 hours now in Skyrim. Can you give your opinion on how playable it is? More or less so than Morrowind? Because honestly, I keep trying to go back and enjoy the awesomeness that was that game, but am held back by what I consider to be terrible character progression and combat systems.

The other one I was pondering was Freespace 2. As someone who enjoyed/enjoys Freelancer, is it worth going back to an older, albeit somewhat legendary title like that, or just quench my thirst with more Freelancer? I hate to say it, but I feel like the graphics will be too much of a turnoff for me. Even Freelancer is pushing it a little. Damn, I miss space exploration sims.

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Posted by Galiant

I've tried going back, but standards have evolved so much that I just end up getting frustrated.

I prefer the games of today.

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Posted by Nerdmotron

Well that's at least 10 more games to add to the list of games I was going to buy from GOG.

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Posted by snide

@AndrewB: Pick up Freespace. Arx has easier combat than Morrowind and has mostly linear gameplay. My guess though is if you had trouble with Morrowind, you probably want to stick to the action/shooter games on this list. RPG mechanics were a lot more complicated back then.

Avatar image for snide
Posted by snide

@DoctorLazy said:

Add X-Com UFO Defense and Master of Orion II and this list becomes even better.

I left off both because they are extremely difficult and have complicated UIs for new gamers. I'd easily recommend Jagged Alliance, or the easier Fallout: Tactics before X-Com, and would recommend Alpha Centari or Star Control 2 over MOO2.

Again, went with easier to play games over better, more historically significant ones.

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Posted by MjHealy

Thanks for this list Dave. I also thought about going back and giving myself an education in 90s PC gaming, considering I was only a wee lad when most of these games came out.

Avatar image for bkbroiler
Posted by bkbroiler

I've tried so many times to beat Planescape Torment, but reading all that text in that resolution is so hard on my eyes. Some day I will do it, maybe with a patch.

Avatar image for starrjack1
Posted by starrjack1

Jagged Alliance 2 Random PC game has gotta happen!!!

Avatar image for praxis
Posted by Praxis

Great list Dave, although I personally don't feel that those old Lithtech games hold up very well. I played Blood II a while back, and came away from it mostly just wishing I had spent that time playing the original.

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Edited by TeenageJesusSuperstar

Played through the Gabriel Knight game earlier this year. Calling it "good" is a rather large stretch but it's certainly entertaining if you're a fan of awkward live-action FMV (and you should be).

Actually, come to think of it, I also played through Fallout 2, The Longest Journey and Planescape: Torment this year and they're all definitely worth a shot.

Avatar image for rmack
Posted by Rmack

So, for someone like me who really wants to get into Planescape but is generally horrible at old RPG's....any tips?

Avatar image for helios1337
Posted by Helios1337

I just started playing Planescape Torment earlier today. There is a nice article on the GOG forums that helps you get it running in a higher resolution right here.

Avatar image for shayera
Posted by Shayera
Avatar image for gike987
Edited by gike987

I have not played that many older strategy games and would recommend Alpha Centauriif you have played civ 4, civ 5 or some similar game. It's pretty complicated for sure but it has an in-game tutorial and you still stand a chance against the easiest AI even you automate a lot of things.

I have played a couple of matches now and I never even touched the manual. I'm probably pretty terrible at the game but I never get steamrolled by the AI and it's fun to play.

Avatar image for andrewb
Posted by AndrewB

@snide: Morrowind (and even Oblivion) are particularly tough for me to go back to because of the way they punish you for not keeping a spreadsheet and a pad of paper ready to calculate when you need to level up to get the most of things. I end up playing how I want and then console cheat myself those 5 points to spend in attributes every level. It's the only way I can have fun with those games anymore.

That's why I loved the look at Oblivion that you guys did pre-Skyrim. It made me aware of the Oblivion levelling mod that I'll use when I eventually get the time to play that again.

Anyway... thank you. Not looking for a linear Morrowind (knowing I'm being super-reductive here), but I'll pick up Freespace.

Avatar image for simonbuchan
Posted by simonbuchan

Arx has some somewhat annoying behavior on modern machines (very long loads, hitching, broken menus at high resolution, very poor text quality), and though it had a source release, I've not seen any cleanup/fix ports, just OpenGL/linux ones :( (links would be nice!). A while ago I was partway though a DX9 port that fixed some things (load times ~20X faster for one thing!) but it's still way too broken to play.

I disagree about MOO2 being too complicated, I've shown it to friends and had them pick it up in an hour or so... to the level of figuring out the brokenness of high-population and creativity :P

Does anyone know if Freespace 2 is (usefully) playable with a 360 controller, maybe in combo with keyboard? I don't really have the deskspace for a joystick...

Avatar image for endaround
Posted by endaround

@Rmack said:

So, for someone like me who really wants to get into Planescape but is generally horrible at old RPG's....any tips?

Planescape isn't really hard in the old RPG sense. The hardest might just be avoiding the enemies in the beginning of the game. Combat is broken but it isn't really a combat heavy game. Quicksaves are your friend.

Avatar image for parsnip
Edited by Parsnip

Good call on the Longest Journey.
On that same vein I would also recommend Sanitarium to everyone, also from GOG.
Also Syberia games, but they are not 10 years old yet. The first one is pretty close.

Avatar image for falling_fast
Edited by falling_fast

the first Master of Orion is extremely simple and fun. Not as good as the sequel, but way easier to pick up and have fun with.

Anyways, thanks for the list, Dave. I haven't even heard of a few of these games, but if I have time, i'll definitely give them a look.

oh also, psychonauts is on gog now I think. it's not really old at all, but still, it deserves to be played by everyone.

also, um *thinks* Dungeon Keeper 2 and Beyond Good and Evil, for sure.

Avatar image for bluepixie
Edited by Bluepixie

Great list! I'd add that Outcast should be on there as well. Amazing adventure game and stands up well after all of these years.

Also, great mod for running Infinity Engine games in widescreen.