There was a good ten-year period of my life when I didn't play video games. I was focused on my career, playing hockey, and trying to build a life for myself.
Then I got married, had kids, bought a house and injured my shoulder - all of which led me back to videos games a few years back.
I'm not an avid gamer by any stretch. I only play once a week (maybe less), after my kids are asleep, I've finished work and my wife has retired to our marital chamber. Video games have been a good way to turn off my brain and melt into a well-told story or raise my adrenaline levels and frustrate the shit out of me.
While I only count video games as an occasional hobby, there are some that capture my attention, cause me to obsess over and absorb hours of my life.
So, this list is for those games. The games that will melt hours off the clock and years off your life. The best games - because you're in my kingdom and I say they're the best.
#5 - Hogwarts Legacy
I never got into Harry Potter. Wizards stuff always seemed kind of lame to me. I've never read the books, I've only seen a couple of the movies and couldn't tell you much about the story other than "yer a wizard Harry!" and that Voldemort was clearly based on Hillary Clinton.
I have not played Hogwarts Legacy and don't plan on purchasing Hogwarts Legacy. In fact, this game would not have even landed on my radar if not for the pro-longed and ridiculous campaign that preceded its release on Steam.
I do not want to buy Hogwarts Legacy. It does not interest me. And yet, gaming journalists (i.e., activists) are doing all they can to make purchase this game.
It's a fucking video game, you absolute twats.
For those of you who have a life - I'll try and summarize this insanity for you as quickly as possible. TL:DR J.K. Rowling (a huge Lib) supports trans people, but thinks that sex is real and trans women are not LITERAL women (i.e. she violated a core tenet of the secular religion). This has devastated people who defined their personalities around Harry Potter, many of whom are activist types and/or gaming journalists.
So these lunatics have been waging online campaign for people to burn Rowling's books, trash her online and, most recently, boycott Hogwarts Legacy, a video game based in the world Rowling created.
All of that because of comments like this one:
I mean. . . there are gaming journalists literally refusing to review the game. Some of the ones that have reviewed the game included lengthy disclaimers, admitting the game is enjoyable, but questioning whether or not it's ethical to play the game.
Absolute insanity. Just shut the fuck up. Play the game. Or don't. Nobody gives a fuck.
I don't plan on playing this game. It does not interest me, but if the gaming journos are going to use this controversy for SEO purposes, then I will too.
Hogwarts Legacy - 10/10.
#4 - Super Mario Odyssey
You play as an obese, mustachioed, Italian plumber (you can almost smell the gabagool through the screen). Mario really wants to bang this princess, but she's constantly getting kidnapped by a giant dragon-dinosaur guy.
Super Mario Odyssey is a throwback to Mario 64, which was the high watermark of the franchise (its also the last Mario game I played), and in many ways it surpasses its predecessor.
In this iteration, Mario has a new companion, a hat named Cappy, that he can throw to literally gain control of creatures and inanimate objects. This sounds weird, but it's actually a ton of fucking fun.
You and Cappy go on an adventure to save Peach and Cappy's sister from Bowser, who plans to forcibly marry (and presumably rape) his new bride.
Instead of collecting stars, this time Mario and Cappy need to collect Power Moons to fuel your ship. The boss fights are clever, the puzzles are frustrating, you'll die so many times in some of the dumbest ways possible.
Yes, it's repetitive. Yes the game is pure fun.
At the end, after you risk your life to save Princess Peach from almost certain sexual assault, she will refuse to marry you and go off on a vacation with her friend.
Fucking women, man.
#3 - Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Zelda games were probably my favorite growing up. I never understood what the fuck was going on (Japanese story telling and all), but I have fond memories of playing the original NES version of the game with my brother.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild ("BOTW") is a throwback to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on Nintendo 64 - the best game in the series (and, again, the last one I had played prior the current iteration).
In BOTW, you play as Link, an elfy (somewhat feminine) looking humanoid, tasked with saving Hyrule and Princess Zelda from the clutches of Calamity Ganon, an evil, amorphous hemorrhoid of sorts.
The story is fairly odd (again, Japan), but the gameplay is among the best I've ever enjoyed.
The visuals are stunning, the world is massive, and the game lets you basically do whatever you want. You hunt. You cook. You train horses. You kill monsters. If you can think of a thing to try and do in this game, Nintendo probably engineered a way for it to work.
Wanna start a fire? Gonna need some wood, flint, and a metal weapon to get one going.
Wanna start a fire in the rain? Better build one under some shelter.
The battle system is fun. The dungeons are unique. The puzzles are challenging.
You could dump 150 hours into this game and still have things to finish before approaching the final boss fight.
In the end, you save Princess Zelda and free Hyrule by lancing the amorphous spiritual hemorrhoid off of the castle. In return for saving her life, Zelda reminds you that there is still so much work left to be done.
Fucking women, man.
#2 - Red Dead Redemption 2
I was truly torn on whether or not RDR2 should take the top spot on this list. It's truly just a beautiful piece of story telling, better than 99% of movies that come out today.
You play as Arthur Morgan, a member of the Van der Linde gang, in the year 1899 - the end of the era of the Wild West. You're an outlaw. A killer. A man on the wrong side of "progress". You're also self-aware. Arthur knows the age of the outlaw is coming to an end. Arthur knows he's done bad things.
Arthur knows that he's not a good man. Arthur Morgan knows that the debts of his sins will soon come due.
If you haven't already, you should go read Wesley Kushner's blog on the overarching Christian themes of this game.
The game play itself is similar to other Rockstar Games. It's basically Grand Theft Auto V , except you steal horses and rob trains.
The world is enormous. There are secrets everywhere. The game developers thought of almost everything.
The only reason I couldn't list it at number one - I kept killing all of my horses and that's a shame I'll never shake.
By the end of the game, you'll promise your girlfriend that you'll leave the gang life and run away with her. In response, she'll mail you back the engagement ring you gave her and tell you she's moving on.
Fucking women, man.
#1 - Elden Ring
Elden Ring the first "Souls" game I ever played.
It's comically difficult at first.
The story is really, really good, but so complex that I'm not going to even try to explain it here.
Like the other games on my list, the map of Elden Ring is massive, the world is full of secrets, the boss fights are clever and the customization offers players tons of options to experiment.
The reason why I ranked Elden Ring at the top of this list is that it captures all of the things the other games do well and offers something a little extra - a sense of accomplishment.
When I say it's comically difficult, what I really mean is that FromSoft, who developed the game, intentionally designed Elden Ring to kick the ever living shit out of you. From what I understand, this is kind of the way the "Souls" games work.
You start the game. You get a short cut-scene intro into the story. It offers you no tutorial. You cross a bridge and there is an 8-armed monster that fucks you up and you die.
You wake up. You exit a cave. A guy makes fun of you for having no bitches. You see a giant knight on a horse. You try and fight it. It fucks you up and you die.
Elden Ring has no difficulty settings. Expert players and dog shit players (like me) all play the same version of the game - we just reach the ending in different ways and at different times.
Elden Ring gives you hints on what to do next, but will not tell you where to go or how to get there - it refuses to hold your hand in the way that other games do these days. This frustrated many gaming journalists who complained that the game is literally too hard and is discriminatory to dsiabled players.
What was FromSoftware's response to such criticisms? Sorry, we're not changing our game design, it's hard for a reason, so. . . git gud.
By the end of the game, you'll finally find a maiden who will accompany you on your journey to become ELDEN LORD and she decides to self-immolate to fulfill some prophecy or whatever.
Fucking women, man.