10. The Last of Us (6/14/13)
So I said this game wasn't good in 2013 and now it's in my top 10 because sometimes I get things really comically wrong. TLoU is just an alright shooter (as Joel) with an initially unlikable player character and a nonsense world, yes, but it's really just about the relationship between two characters, and it delivers that in a way that only the games at the top of this list can rival.
9. Crusader Kings II (12/14/12, PC)
One of the most imposing games ever made, CKII tasks you with guiding any medieval family heir-by-heir and literally day-by-day from the Norman conquest of England in 1066 through the fall of Constantinople in 1453. You can start as the most pitiful baron in Europe and plot your way to becoming an emperor later, and if you're like me, also pick up the Cathar heresy along the way. It masters role playing and grand strategy at the same time to deliver a truly unique experience.
8. Finding Paradise (12/14/17, PC)
Like To the Moon before it, it's a game that explores the idea of fulfilling a person's life by giving them a dream of the life they never had right before they die. It's heavy stuff, but it wisely mixes in lighter moments and occasionally off-the-walls gameplay to keep the mood up and goes out with what's undoubtedly one of the best endings in any game.
7. Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun (12/6/16, PC)
Good stealth sequences are built around having enough tools to be creative and enough threats that you're still going to get caught if you're not very careful. Shadow Tactics is an unbroken series of those moments from start to end, with levels that took me multiple hours of extremely careful pushes forward to finally beat. It's an incredibly slow and unforgiving game, but every inch it gives feels like an accomplishment. Pretty good story, too.
6. osu! (???, PC)
This objectively should've been on my '00s list because it initially released in 2007, but I forgot and it wasn't any good until the early 2010s, so I'm cheating. osu! is Elite Beat Agents taken to an extreme by player-created levels. It's just clicking circles to music, and yet I've played it more than any other game because it does that one thing so amazingly well. There's nothing like finally nailing a song that's just beyond your previous best.
5. Persona 5 (9/15/16, PS4)
It's everything I said about Persona 4 on the '00s list but bigger and better. It took a formula that I'd have told you was already almost perfect and somehow made it massively better, while also having one of the best OSTs ever. It says it all that I wanted to jump right back in after finishing an 80 hour game, and that the only reason I didn't was because we all knew they'd make Royal and it'd be better still.
4. Mass Effect 3 (3/6/12, PC)
Sure, the ending is crap, but the 20 hours prior to it are everything I could possibly have asked for in a wrap-up to a universe and characters I'd spent hundreds of hours with. Plus, if you're like me and just pretend that The Citadel DLC is the real ending, then you even get the amazing sendoff we all wanted.
3. NieR: Automata (2/23/2017, PS4)
Automata is a game that's impossible to talk about. You can say it has one of the best soundtracks ever, that its combat is peak Platinum, and that there's ridiculous nonsense like the Fish Ending, but what really elevates it to all-time status is how it's never what you think it is. Every time you feel like you're getting a grasp on it as a game or as a story, it laughs at you and changes into something completely different, and yet it ties it all back to a single message in the end.
2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (5/19/15, PC)
The game that proved open world games and top-class storytelling could go together after all. Almost every RPG since has tried to be it, and while some have gotten close to its gameplay and world design, no one has reached the heights of its varied and morally ambiguous quests or its consistently surprising and well-developed characters.
1. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward (2/16/12, Vita)
A mystery game where practically every detail, puzzle, and word is a clue, yet which still manages to subvert your expectations at every turn. Nothing before or since has held my attention so thoroughly even when I wasn't playing it, and almost nothing has even gotten close to the bar it set for storytelling or narrative design. As great as everything else on this list is, Zero Time Dilemma, its sequel, was the only competition for #1.