I've been thinking about my favorite games of all time recently and this is what I've come up with:
- Half-Life 2
Half-Life 2 is a game that came out 8 years ago and still feels more mature and progressive than most modern games. The story-telling, pacing, variety and mechanics are leaps and bounds ahead of the majority of products in this medium. The story isn't revolutionary but it doesn't feel dumb in its content or delivery like so many other games. Its presented in the environment and through characters without feeling like exposition dumps between gameplay moments and without taking player control away. The characters and dialogue seem better realized to me than just about any game to come out this year.
Braid was one of the first and only games that made me stop and digest the content like a good movie or book. It stuck with me afterward and begged for real analysis. It is one of the deepest experiences I've ever come across, not just in terms of narrative, but every aspect of design. One of the most important aspects of design for me is 'justification.' Is every piece of content included in the game justified in the world you are creating? Braid is a game where every piece of code and asset was put there not just for a reason, but because it was necessary to deliver the concepts the artist wished to communicate.
- Alan Wake
I am currently on my 3rd play-through of this game, which, on its own, is proof that I have a deep affection for it. With the amount of entertainment out there it says something that I take time to replay any experience I've had before. Alan Wake crafts such a deep world with rich fiction and profound sense of place that most games never get close to. Like Half-Life, Alan Wake has superb pacing and variety, never keeping you in the same place or doing the same thing for too long. Like Braid, the game stuck with me after completion. The narrative isn't spoon-fed to you and lends itself to being replayed and analyzed.