The new year is full of uncertainty so let’s warm up beforehand with what will always be a constant… Wout talking about Dragon’s Dogma.
Evolve PR’s game of the decade list continues as we explore the rest of our teams favourite experiences from the last 10 years within the medium. Our rules were pretty much non-existent for putting this together, so keep that in mind as we retrace memorable moments that have stayed with us throughout.
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen (2013)
Wouter van Halderen – The Dutch Evolve guy that can’t shut up about Dragon’s Dogma.
The first time I played Dragon’s Dogma, I couldn’t really get into it. I thought that maybe it just wasn’t the game for me, but as it turned out, I just wasn’t worthy of the game yet. Then I tried it again when the Dark Arisen expansion came out, it grabbed me by the face with both hands and screamed “I am the perfect video game!” and it has held a very special place in my heart ever since.
There are many reasons why I love Dragon’s Dogma so much, but it basically comes down to the fact that it satisfies every want and need I have when it comes to video games. Dragon’s Dogma has a world that feels alive, characters I care about (Mercedes best girl), villains that operate with believable motives and honestly the best and most robust combat system I have ever seen.
There are many games that try to do what Dragon’s Dogma does but I have never before, and never since, played a game that combines so many elements of game design together in a single game. Clearly the best game of the decade and seriously, where is the sequel?
Super Mario 3D World (2013)
Candace Ohle, co-director – Trying to keep up with our amazing work family and making sure nothing burns to the ground behind the scenes.
What can I say about Super Mario 3D World that hasn’t already been said before? This game for me (being an old-school Super Mario fan from its very debut, oh god I’m old!) brought me right back to my roots while throwing me right into the future. AND OH MAN, THOSE VISUALS!!! Super fun co-op, throwing each other around like you’re in the Cirque du Soleil (while yelling at your partner, to cooperate of course!)! And riding dinosaurs??!! Dang. It was just waaaay tooo much fun. Now someone please help me get it on the Switch, kthxbye!
Crypt of the Necrodancer (2015)
Carly Shields – Senior PR specialist currently working on the promotion of Persona 5 Royal and STILL gobsmacked that she gets to type that.
I’m not sure this will end up on a lot of decade lists, but after spending more time with Cadance than any other game character in the last decade, I’m hard-pressed to choose another title (though, let’s be honest, the Yakuza remasters and Persona 5 nearly beat this one out). I’m not one to play a ton of multiplayer titles that can eat up hundreds of hours of your life, so when I saw my total playtime of Necrodancer exceed 125 hours I was pretty blown away. I’m a sucker for a rhythm-based game so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this made my cut. I’m not one who loves an intense challenge and this can be a punishing game (Or maybe I just suck??) but DAMN if that soundtrack doesn’t SLAP and keep me coming back for more. Along with Darren Korb’s soundtrack for Transistor, Bastion, and Pyre, the music from Crypt of the Necrodancer has seen some heavy rotation in my work-day playlists over the last decade!
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (2015)
Brendan McElroy – I’m one half of the Video team here at Evolve and I make trailers, social assets and sometimes inappropriate photoshops of my co-workers.
In its early days, Siege was riddled with bugs, networking issues, hit-reg issues, and enough hackers to turn anyone away. While this ain’t a good look for a competitive shooter, Siege, at its core was so fundamentally strong, I couldn’t stay away. So many things about this game are great. Reinforcing bomb-sites, pixel peaking other players, unique operator abilities and unparalleled gun mechanics are some of the many things that gave this game a unique spin on the cookie-cutter FPS games I was accustomed to. Fast forward four years, a ton of updates, three thousand hours of playtime, and I’m still finding things in-game that surprise me. I think it’ll be awhile before I put down Siege for good.
Stardew Valley (2016)
Cassandra Campbell – I do research stuff; spreadsheets, graphs, and making sure you actually covered that game we sent you!
I was all in on Stardew Valley the moment I heard about it. It really doesn’t take more than “farming sim RPG” to get me interested in any game and the cute pixel style graphics sold me. In the past four years, I’ve put over 250 hours into the game between PC, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch versions. It’s also taken far more willpower than I care to admit to not pick it up on my phone as well. It’s a game I can simply fall into whenever the mood strikes, getting lost in the draw of “just one more day” as the hours slip by. The leveling system made me feel like I was actually making progress, not just puttering away on my farm. Whether the days were spent farming, fishing, or dungeon crawling (let’s be honest it was usually fishing), there was always something more to do. Another animal to take care of, another level of the dungeon to reach, a new villager to woo.
When the game added multiplayer mode it was the cherry on top. I could finally share my simple farm life with my friends. But more importantly, I could spend all day every day fishing while everyone else took care of the farm. And I can not think of a better way to spend my time.
Chris Priestly – PR/Marketing Coordinator at Evolve PR. Alternates between Bon Vivant and Old Grump.
I was going to pick Spider-Man as my game of the decade. I’m a lifelong comic nerd and I think it was the best superhero game out in the past 10 years, but when I really stopped and thought about it, I had to change my pick to Stardew Valley. I play a lot of RPGs, shooters, and adventure games but when I played this quiet, unassuming game set on a cute farm, with happy pigs, gem mining, and fishing it totally captivated me. The simple joys presented in your pixelated daily life grabbed me in a way no other game, not even Spidey, did this decade. Above all of the other games I played, this is the game that brought the simplest, yet most lasting, enjoyment. Whoops, got to go, its time to harvest my apples.
Black Desert Online (2016)
Stephanie Groves – I’m one of the researchers at Evolve. You can often find me tucked away in a spreadsheet or frantically googling for information!
I think anyone who has been following the MMO genre for the last few years can remember when Black Desert Online’s character creator was first shown and started making the rounds on the internet. I recall seeing the video on Reddit back in 2014 and knowing right away that I’d be playing this game the moment I could, and here we are, nearly 4 years later and I’m still playing on a nearly daily basis. One of the things I appreciate the most about BDO is the almost non-stop release of content, whether it’s in game events, new lands to explore, a new class to play, or new gear to try and upgrade. I’ve not grown tired of it one bit! I’ll never forget those first few months of trying to learn the game, it’s a big commitment, but everyday it was like I had an entirely new aspect of the world to learn or explore, even now after all these hours (years) I still find myself learning something new, or improving upon my playstyle.
More importantly though, Black Desert Online has been a great place for me to find friends, something I have always struggled with a lot. Most of my current circle of friends that I game with are thanks to communities in BDO that I’ve been a part of and I’m really grateful to have been able to meet so many wonderful people all thanks to a video of a character creator 5 years ago.
Charles Singltary Jr – Gaming journalist turned PR coordinator, my aim is to make you know about all the wonderful games I think you’ll love.
I game in a plethora of ways, but my love for gaming was born from deeply engaging experiences I’ve experienced largely in isolation. So, when looking over all the games I’ve played over the decade, I stripped away all of the outside influences as much as I could. Strip away the wildly popular games that FOMO propelled me to play and what’s left behind? That’s the list I worked with and I struggled greatly to chisel it down to this one game: Furi.
Furi is challenging, charming, and quietly compelling. There are some games you can spend a couple hours with and not complete (if they can be completed) and fully understand why someone fell in love with them. Unless spelled out in a lengthy article, Furi has to be experienced from beginning to end. The developers kept the gameplay fresh from open to close (pushing players out of any potential comfort zone they’d start to develop) and hit players with a narrative curveball that was enhanced by a risky design choice by making the main story’s final boss incredibly easy compared to the ones before it. It’s not for everyone but I truly hope everyone that can appreciate what it is finds time to play it.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)
Ryan Seville – Trailersmith, crafter of video glitter, average d20 roll of 14.89
I’m sure I’m like the fourth person (he isn’t) on this list to pick this game but I spent a long time thinking about my favourite game this decade until I realized that no game has left me with the kind of fond memories that Zelda: Breath of the Wild left me with. From that exhilarating moment of getting down from the Great Plateau, realizing that you can head in absolutely any direction – I found myself drawn to the intimidating Duelling Peaks. And as I played around in the woods just past there I came across my first glowing Blupee and I remember thinking “Oh my god, there’s so much for me to explore!” It reminded me of a similar moment in my all-time-favourite game, Shadow of the Colossus, when you first venture out into the Forbidden Land and you find a lizard with a glowing tail. That feeling that there’s a huge, but full, world for you to explore can’t be beat. Yes, I found a way to mention Shadow of the Colossus (2005) in a best game of the decade article. I guess the PS4 version came out in 2018 so I could have picked that… next time.
An Ode to Mobile (2010-2019)
Astrid Rosemarin – Evolve’s very own Emoji mashup bot, but in PR form!
When Bryden and Wout asked me to think of my top game of the decade for the Evolve blog series I quickly got to work refreshing my noggin with what even the heck released in the 2010s. As I looked through lists, so many lists, and thought back on where games have had the single biggest impact in my life something kept drawing me to mobile. Maybe this was inevitable, I adored my Game Boy, Game Boy Colour, and Tamagotchi as a kid. Not to mention the countless hours sunk into games like Tetris on my old Motorola flip phones. In this decade we’ve witnessed incredible ingenuity and creativity with mobile games and I think they deserve at least a small nod of recognition as we close out 2019.
This decade is where I began and have been building my career in games. I owe a big piece of that to those on mobile; frankly I think the entire industry has always – and continues to have – a lot to learn from the mobile space. Market saturation happened in mobile long before PC, as did the need to explore new business models, especially for those self-publishing or moving beyond western markets.
Mobile has introduced video games to audiences well beyond the ‘core’ market. It has helped to push boundaries of how we even define what a video game is, can, or should be.
I do, of course, have some personal favourites. NimbleBit’s Nimble Quest (2013) is brilliant in its novel simplicity – RPG Snake, basically. Ironhide’s tower defence gem Kingdom Rush (2011) is approachable, challenging, and endlessly satisfying. Monument Valley is beautiful, moving, and expertly crafted. Finally, there’s Ingress (2012). Throughout the early years of Ingress being live I sunk a serious amount of time and energy – it is an ARG after all – into hacking portals around town.
Now-a-days my ‘go to’ is I love Hue (2017) and, well, who knows what will be next! <3
And that’s a wrap from us until the new year! Thank you all for the continued support and chances to work together this decade. It has been swell and we look forward to what a new decade, new consoles, and a whole load of other new things to love have in store for us as well. See you *puts on asymmetrical NYE glasses* in 2020!