If you’ve been reading the site this week, then you’ll know that we’ve been counting down the best PlayStation Games of the Decade for a few days. Of course, deciding on the ten most impactful titles of the past ten years was tough, and so we’d be remiss to mention over a dozen more releases that almost made the cut. In this list, we’re going to detail the near misses which have had a significant impact on the industry in recent years.
There are several PlayStation VR games we could have included in this list, but Astro Bot Rescue Mission perhaps encapsulates everything that’s good about virtual reality. This is, in essence, a traditional platforming game – and yet it’s so much more. The new perspective means that the level design envelops you, and Team Asobi takes full advantage of this with vibrant stages that utilise every inch of the 3D space around you. This title redefines a genre that’s as old as the industry itself, and for that it demands an outstanding degree of respect.
Dishonored is not the first game to let you play your own way – and in this decade alone, IO Interactive’s excellent Hitman reboot also deserves kudos for that – but it did it better than any release before it. Playing as master assassin Corvo Attano is a genuine thrill, as you blink through a meticulously designed fantasy word, leaving your own mark on some of the most improbably brilliant level layouts the industry has ever seen. The thing about Arkane Studios’ critically acclaimed stealth title is that you need to play it over-and-over again to truly appreciate it. And even then, you’ll only be scratching the surface.
When Final Fantasy XIV Online launched in 2010, it was a shambles -- but looking at the hugely popular MMO right now, you almost wouldn't believe that was ever the case. The game was torn down and rebuilt by a new team at Square Enix, resulting in one of the most dramatic and effective overhauls in gaming history. Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn released in 2013, and it's never looked back. Bolstered by a trio of incredible expansions, A Realm Reborn continues its reign as pretty much the best MMORPG on the planet. Here's to another ten years of stunning success.
After the lacklustre God of War: Ascension, it was clear that Sony's series was in dire need of a refresh. Kratos' rage had spanned six whole games, and it was starting to wear thin. Developer Sony Santa Monica Studio was torn on what to do next, but surely Kratos had to go -- and he did, to some extent. In a ballsy move that still defines one of this generation's best games, Kratos was reshaped in a way that, against all odds, made total sense. The studio had taken one of PlayStation's most iconic characters and flipped him on his head, and somehow, it was a perfect fit. 2018's God of War stands tall as not just a show-stopping action game, but as a daring creative vision, honed to a near perfect edge.
It’s the way Gone Home subverts expectations that makes it so memorable. The so-called walking simulator leans into every video game horror trope imaginable, teasing a tale of bloody murder and the supernatural. The reality is a much more sombre tale of love, but even in the thrusts of its final crescendo, it leaves you to believe the very worst. Other titles, like Firewatch, have attempted to shape your expectations, but none have done it anywhere near as masterfully as Fullbright’s inaugural effort.
Much like its predecessor Limbo, the dismal INSIDE is an atmospheric romp. Its storytelling, which is purposefully ambiguous, is entirely open to interpretation – and its crescendo is impactful and memorable. Ever since the release of Braid, the industry has been well serviced with independently developed puzzle platforming games. But this one is darker and smarter than all of its peers, and thus deserving of its position on this list.
It took a while for Mass Effect 2 to make its way to the PS3, but the wait for one of BioWare's greatest ever games was well worth it. This middle segment of Commander Shepard's story remains the high point of the beloved sci-fi series, combining tight mission design with so many fantastic character moments. Garrus, Mordin, Thane -- everyone aboard the Normandy has their own engrossing story to tell, whether they're a weird looking alien or not. When it comes to character writing in games, Mass Effect 2 remains a standout experience.
Capcom took a calculated risk with Monster Hunter when it decided to divert the property away from Nintendo platforms. For years, the series had enjoyed hit after hit in Japan where it was nothing short of a phenomenon, but as it turns out, making the jump to PS4 was the best decision that the company could have made. Monster Hunter World is now Capcom's best selling game ever -- by some distance -- and as a fantastic action RPG, it's allowed the franchise to finally crack the Western market. The title represents a watershed moment not just for Capcom, but for the Japanese industry as a whole.
Long before Fortnite became the biggest game in the world, Overwatch was absurdly popular. Blizzard’s first-person shooter – popularised by its meticulously designed cast of characters – provided a level of depth seldom seen in a genre that had, if we’re all honest with ourselves, grown a little stale. Stars such as D.Va are now household names, and competitive matches hosted by the Overwatch League attract millions of viewers. Even if its popularity has started to wane among more casual players, there’s no question that this competitive outing represents one of the biggest landmarks of the past ten years.
Dramatic, expansive, and stuffed with memorable story moments, Red Dead Redemption remains a masterpiece to this day. Rockstar's typical attention to detail makes the Wild West feel like a living, breathing place. From the countless dusty trails that stretch across the desert to the newly paved streets of up-and-coming cities, the twisting tale of John Marston captures a strange period in American history, and it does so while executing a gripping narrative, complete with one of the best endings in gaming.
Rocket League's release could've gone very differently given the lacklustre reception of its predecessor, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars. However, with a much improved name and refined gameplay, it was always going to be a superior game. What's amazing about Psyonix's unusual sports game is the explosive nature of its launch. It debuted on PS4 as a PlayStation Plus freebie, and this marketing move almost single-handedly made the game what it is today. Of course, PS Plus doesn't guarantee success – it's just fortunate that Rocket League happens to also be exceedingly fun, outrageously addictive, and a shining example of how games nowadays can grow and improve after launch. A remarkable rags to riches story, and a defining game of this generation.
Spelunky isn't solely responsible for the existence of rogue-likes, but it did massively popularise them. It takes a fairly standard platformer experience and turns it on its head with randomly generated levels, items, and enemies. This simple idea means you can essentially play the game forever and never have two runs be the same. Treacherous difficulty and not knowing what's coming makes each attempt as intense as the last. The ubiquity of rogue-likes today is all thanks to this cutesy, cave-exploring action game, and it's arguably still one of the best examples of the genre.
Telltale had been making episodic games for quite some time prior to the release of The Walking Dead in 2012, but this effort had an enormous impact on the industry which can still be felt today. Focusing on the relationship between ex-con Lee and a little girl named Clementine, the title showcased the power of paternal bonds prior to the release of The Last of Us a year later. Not only that, but its business model left on an indelible mark on the entire industry, with many copycats attempting to ape its success by releasing their wares in an episodic format.
Jonathan Blow's Myst-inspired puzzler The Witness was one of the first titles revealed for PS4, and it turned out to be one of the best. It's an ingenious game that takes a seemingly simple core idea and finds countless ways to bend and break the concept. Through gameplay alone, you're taught everything you need to know to master the gorgeous open world island and its many puzzles. The satisfaction when you conquer a tough conundrum is unparalleled, and this is a game that provides that feeling hundreds of times over. Exquisitely designed and utterly unique, The Witness sets a new bar for puzzle games.
What Remains of Edith Finch subscribes to a similar gameplay format as Gone Home, relying on environmental storytelling and steady pacing to tell its tale. What’s unique about this title, however, is the way it uses gameplay to put you into the shoes of its cast of characters. One segment, for example, reveals how the imagination can wander, as a humble cannery worker chops fish and envisages a sprawling fantasy setting. The mixture of monotony and magic is incredibly relatable, and a truly innovative example of interactive storytelling.
Are there any games from our list of Game of the Decade near misses that you believe should have received top billing? Have we egregiously overlooked any particularly important titles? Pass the pigs in blankets in the comments section below.