Dan Teasdale is the co-founder of developer No Goblin, which released its first game, Roundabout, earlier this year. Dan has previously worked on games like The Gunstringer, Rock Band, and Destroy All Humans, and he's Australian for some reason. You can often find Dan discussing which games are better than Brothers on his Twitter.
For full disclosure: I haven’t played Shadow of Mordor, Dungeonmans, Hand of Fate, Shovel Knight, Gang Beasts, or Captain Toad. I really want to. I’m sure these will be wonderful games that will make me regret not including them in a Top 10.
11. TIE: Roundabout / Dave Lang’s Turnover
Alex said I couldn’t do a Top 10 list with Roundabout in all the slots. Apparently Alex wants to see me homeless and starving. What a grade-A jerk. Working in the brutal indie game biz mines has stripped me of any remaining modesty or restraint I may have had, so putting my own game on a Best Of list doesn’t even feel sleazy or wrong anymore.
Buy our game at roundaboutgame.com. Also calendars at menofgamedev.com. Maybe just put some unmarked bills in my mailbox. Can you send Domino's gift cards through Twitter? Maybe that too. I like eating food and paying rent.
As a man who appears to be getting older every year, I harbor an irrational dislike of playing 1v1 against people online. Hearthstone managed to pierce that impenetrable wall of solitude and get me playing versus games again.
It also helps that Hearthstone solves all of the other problems I have whenever I try to pick up real Magic-esque games: I can mash cards forward and it’ll apply all the fancy tokens and rules, the card set is small enough that I can have a sense of what everything does without having to memorize decades of expansions, and I can play it without having to put pants on.
For me, Broken Age is a warm blanket that feels exactly what I’d imagine a modern SCUMM game would feel like. As a bonus, the documentary series following it is probably the most “real” game development story I’ve seen committed to film.
8. Far Cry 4
I don’t understand how both Far Cry 3 and 4 both have amazing villains, but completely flat-to-garbage story paths. Why don’t we have a Far Cry game where I get to play on the side of Pagan Min, or Vaas, or Noore?
I would play the crap out of an open world game where I’m climbing up radio towers to rig them for propaganda instead of “liberating them” for “good reasons” or whatever. You could kidnap people instead of rescuing them! Plus, you could finally get rid of all of the insufferable characters and plot on the “good side” of every Far Cry game.
Far Cry 4 makes it into my list for the same reason it makes it into everyone’s list--crazy-ass emergent sandbox gameplay. It’s a little rougher and more “Ubisoft” than Far Cry 3, but if you ignore the story campaign, it’s still a crap-ton of fun.
Octodad is a game where you play as a seemingly permadrunk dad trying to do everyday things. This makes it the third game that Dave Lang’s likeness has been misappropriated for this year.
Fun fact: Before I doubled down on being a huge game nerd, I used to fence. I was decent enough that I competed in the Australian National Championships. I didn’t “win” or even “place”, but I got a pretty good participation trophy. I also tried to bring back some fencing gear on a plane from London once, which even in a pre-9/11 world didn’t go great.
Anyway, don’t let the retro graphics or the multiplayer-centric positioning put you off. Nidhogg is a ton of fun, even if you’re just playing by yourself. It is definitely way more fun and more accessible than travelling to Melbourne and then coming in 13th in an official fencing tournament.
Forza Horizon 2’s narrative is the game equivalent of your dad pretending to be a high school student. The entire story involves you following an alien who has decided to wear Phil Spencer’s skin as some kind of disguise to fit in with “cool” “humans”.
He takes you to a music festival that for some reason is focused entirely on cars instead of music. Alien Phil apparently believes humans have no long term memory, as he tells you what a “race” is nearly every time you start a championship. Alien Phil thinks it’s really important because he never. ever. lets. you. skip. anything. Oh, humans like thinly veiled sexual innuendo too, right? Alien Phil hears you, and makes you sit through an unskippable 98 second recording of some art student fan fiction his sensors picked up from a Rule 34 website about cars.
Even with all of that, Forza Horizon 2 is my #5 game of the year, because the game part is still fantastic and super addictive for a collection-aholic like myself. There’s an entire Pokemon Snap mode buried away in the game where you have to catch all the cars with a camera. You can jump a car through a hangar. You can race a Jurassic Park jeep off-road thanks to the car paint marketplace. A+ sold.
I am so good at Pair Solitaire. Look at this screenshot.
Any game that I am the best in the world at, even for a short amount of time, is the best game. It’s just the rules of making a list.
I included the Timeless Isle in my list last year because it distilled everything great about WoW into something that I could pick up and play whenever. Warlords of Draenor takes that mindset and builds a full expansion out of it.
All the big things have been covered by better writers than me (Garrisons! Solo Scenarios!), but I’m one of the people who also really appreciates the huge machete that’s been sliced through the ability list and standard rotations. For ten years my action bars have been 7 things that are useful, and 30 things that are trash except for one specific edge case. Now, I have a nice neat set of abilities that I can be semi-knowledgeable about instead of a huge set of abilities that I get yelled at for not knowing how to use in the most efficient manner.
Also: Southshore vs. Tarren Mill is back for the 10th anniversary celebrations, and worth checking out if you want to experience what “real” PvP was like in the vanilla version of WoW.
2. Kerbal Space Program: First Contract and Economic Boom Updates
The time between June and September is a huge blur to me. My schedule was wake up, work, eat, work, sleep. I had no time to even do errands most days, let alone play video games. I still made time for the First Contract update.
First Contract was the update that turned KSP from “rocket maker game” into “NASA simulator”. It added a metagame where you bid for jobs. You had to pay for your parts. It added meaning to the madness. Economic Boom made things even crazier with destructible buildings and funding strategies. It was now possible to “lose” a game of KSP, turning KSP into a whole new game that’s almost unrecognisable on the metagame level.
This is my third Giant Bomb Top 10, and looking back through the previous ones made me realise that I’ve added KSP to every one I’ve put together. The only other game that has so consistently and frequently raised the bar with every update for me was Minecraft pre-1.0.
1. TIE: Fibbage XL / Drawful
In the last three months, I’ve purchased Fibbage three times: initially on Xbox One, again for PlayStation 4 when I was over at a friend’s place, and yet again to get the Fibbage XL upgrade as part of the Jackbox Party Pack. I have zero regrets, and would happily buy it again. Drawful is Fibbage but with drawing, but typing that makes me feel dirty since it undersells an equally amazing experience.
Towards the end of the last generation, I was really sad that couch gaming was dying. Publishers wouldn’t support it, indies couldn’t position or sell it beyond the nostalgia factor, and the Ouya abused and buried it to make some quick venture capital cash.
In one game, Jackbox has shown the path for the next generation of party multiplayer, and it’s this wonderful phone based model that solves nearly all the problems we had in games like Rock Band--investment cost, room space, matchmaking, and way more inside baseball things that myself and other designers banged our heads against for years. It’s the perfect party game.
Just typing this out makes me mad that I didn’t work on Fibbage. I’m insanely jealous. They’re in Chicago too, right? If Max Temkin isn’t calling up Jackbox right now to make a digital version of Cards Against Humanity or some other party game insanity, I will be so cranky.