A lot of games released in the last 10 years (we tried counting but lost track somewhere after we used up all our fingers and toes) and in the spirit of moving forward into a new decade, we asked the PlayStation LifeStyle staff to land on one single game as their personal Game of the Decade. For many of us, this was a difficult decision that came after much debate, both internally and externally.
Even though we’re a PlayStation-focused site, our staff plays games on many platforms, so we invited them to pick from any game at all of the last decade. The only stipulation was that it had to release after January 1, 2010. This was also a highly personal choice for each person, so our picks don’t necessarily reflect what we think was Game of the Decade as a whole, but which games meant the most to us individually in the last 10 years.
Here’s everyone’s Game of the Decade picks:
Brianna Reeves – The Last of Us
Naughty Dog’s post-apocalyptic opus probably has a secure place on many a ‘Games of the Decade’ list. How could it not? To many, it served as proof positive that the medium had matured, weathered the storm of days past in which gaming was considered mere child’s play. In no way, shape, or form is The Last of Us an experience for children. Its violence, though plentiful, isn’t the sole reason for this notion, either.
A thought-provoking plot, unafraid of mentally and emotionally challenging players rests at The Last of Us’ core. Our morals are questioned, as are even the simplest of world views. In some respects, these aspects of the experience appear to have set the tone for this current console generation. The likes of 2018’s God of War, for instance, may not have come to fruition without the harrowing adventure embarked upon by Joel and Ellie.
Chandler Wood – Destiny
I initially wanted to hand this one to 2018’s God of War, an absolutely phenomenal title in every way, but I decided to take this one in a bit more personal of a direction.
2014’s release of Destiny changed the way that I played and interacted with games and other people online. It created long-lasting groups of long-distance friends and has by far eaten up more time than any other game or series in my entire life. Deep lore, perhaps the best first-person shooting mechanics, and ongoing love and support from the developer and community make it a game and series I still return to again and again.
From a wider perspective, Destiny’s release also set the stage for many games to come, having subtle influences and mechanics and features in a wide variety of other titles. Whether you love the game or not, you can’t deny the effect it has had on the industry as a whole, just as Bungie did once before when it released Halo.
When games coming out are being defined as “Destiny-like” or “Destiny-killers,” you know the namesake of those definitions is a pretty fantastic and influential game.
Annette Polis – Borderlands 2
This zany looter shooter consumed my life for a good month straight when it debuted. I started playing it split-screen with my husband, then moved onto four-player matches with some of my oldest gaming friends. Even now, years later and on another console, this is one of my gaming group’s go-to games for an impromptu game night.
Jenni Lada – Fire Emblem Awakening
Fire Emblem used to be a niche series. Perhaps hardcore Nintendo fans would know of it, but it wasn’t the sort of game you would see outside of dedicated game stores. I mean, it wasn’t even localized until the GBA entry Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, which was released here as just “Fire Emblem.” Fire Emblem Awakening, the 2012 3DS entry, is the one that changed everything.
Fire Emblem Awakening offered accessibility. It allowed people to choose whether or not there would be permadeath enabled, taking away a feature that might have scared away folks afraid of losing party members if they were careless. It had a massive story with a cast that could pair up and spawn child units who could be even more powerful and varied warriors. You had a world map to explore, letting you spend time leveling between maps. Not to mention, it had an amazing story.
Fire Emblem Awakening was a tremendous and influential hit. It was the turning point for the series. It led to Chrom, Lucina, and Robin, its three primary heroes, appearing in Super Smash Bros. It and Fire Emblem Fates’ casts were tapped for the Fire Emblem Warriors beat’em up spin-off. Characters from here are among those with multiple alts in the Fire Emblem Heroes mobile game. It is now among Nintendo’s most prominent and profitable IPs, and I think it is all because of this game of the decade.
Cameron Teague – Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
I had a hard time deciding between this and Persona 5, but while both excelled in all areas, Ni no Kuni made me truly feel like a kid again and gave me this nostalgic feeling that just gripped me tight throughout the adventure. It was like seeing A New Hope all over again as a child.
Joseph Yaden – Dark Souls
When it comes to impact and importance, Dark Souls is the one that has to take the crown over the last decade. So many of the most popular games in recent memory have drawn inspiration from Dark Souls’ design philosophies, like the combat of Breath of the Wild and the respawning enemies of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, among countless others. We even refer to games as “the Dark Souls of X,” now. From the memes to the epic boss battles, there’s something magical about Dark Souls. It elegantly blends challenging gameplay with a beautifully somber world that very few games have come close to recapturing since then, which is why it’s my favorite game of the past decade.
Sam Guglielmo – MonsterBag
Look, the Vita deserves a bit of love for its non-Japanese games. For me, that love goes to one specific game. MonsterBag. This weird point and click/stealth game hybrid stole my heart thanks to its beautiful animations and clever puzzles. Telling an adorable and heartwarming story about a monster backpack and its best friend, I was shocked by just how much I really loved the game.
This decade there were several games that spoke to me on a personal level. Night in the Woods, The Secret World, Final Fantasy XIII, and Metro 2033 all come to mind. Yet, without fail, every single time my mind wandered back to MonsterBag. Something about this game just clicked in some magical, amazing way that made me tear up at the end and set my Vita aside so I could just lay down for a bit. It’s a shame the game came out the same day Killzone: Mercenary went free on PS+, I strongly believe that’s what caused it to miss the general populace. I love this game and I hope anyone with a Vita will give it a serious chance.
I know the game won’t work without a touch screen so there’s no hope of a PS4 port, but if you’re reading this IguanaBee, I’m going to break the holy PlayStation rules for a moment for a quick request. Nintendo Switch port. Give this amazing game another shot in the new year.
Lucas White – Shin Megami Tensei IV
When I was in high school I tripped over Persona 3, a game that hit my teenage attraction to angst and anime dead on. It opened doors for me to really explore the world of JRPGs outside the obvious. Part of that, of course, was diving deeper into Persona’s older sibling, Shin Megami Tensei. The whole “Pokemon from Hell” thing is a common theme, but instead of Persona’s youth anime drama, the core series is more interested in existential questions and forcing humans to make moral decisions under extreme duress.
Shin Megami Tensei IV hit the 3DS well into my adult years and hit my evolved interests dead on. It was dark but not in a corny way, used religious imagery thoughtfully, and dialed back on Shin Megami Tensei’s notorious difficulty curve without compromising its jagged spirit. A direct sequel would complete the story a few years later, adding more cyberpunk sleaze but at the same time, a little more humanity-driven optimism. Shin Megami Tensei IV is a perfect mix of nuanced, mature storytelling, compelling JRPG grinding, monster collecting, and spooky anime/sci-fi synth music. The two games together as one experience remain at the top of my list for some of the best of all time, and definitely the best of the decade.
Zarmena Khan – The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
The Witcher III: Wild Hunt hands down. I’ve never been a huge fan of RPGs. I find them overwhelming, time-consuming, and often tedious. But the more I saw of The Witcher III, the more I wanted to try it. I wasn’t disappointed. By the end of the first quest I was fully invested in the world and its story, and I deeply cared about the characters. The two expansions further cemented my love for everything. Suffice to say CD Projekt RED delivered a master class in game design. Nothing came close to The Witcher III for me this decade.
It’s amazing to see how far gaming has come just in the last 10 years. Games like Skyrim, Witcher 3, Dark Souls, and more that we take for granted as beloved entertainment experiences had barely been conceived back in 2010, let alone released to the world. Really makes you wonder what kind of incredible experiences will define the next 10 years of gaming. The games we’ll all be talking about in 2030 are ones we probably don’t even know about yet.
More interested in focusing on the last year instead of the whole decade? Our Game of the Year awards published earlier this month, celebrating the best of the best in 2019. Lots of games had the opportunity to be honored, so make sure to check out both the nominees and winners for each category, as well as which games took the awards in each reader’s choice poll.
What was your personal Game of the Decade? It doesn’t have to be something that defined the entire decade for gaming, but just a game that meant the most to you during the last 10 years. Any platform, any release, as long as it came out after January 1, 2010 is fair game.