Below, we have multiple people explaining their choice for Game of the Decade from our very first Jack of All Controllers Awards. While some writers didn’t explain their choices, the general population of staff did.

Please understand that this is our own views and as a collective voting, Horizon: Zero Dawn is our Game of the Decade. Another note is Cooper and Mystic joined after we did the voting, so their picks don’t count but they wanted to share their thoughts regardless.


Horizon: Zero Dawn

Ryan – Horizon set a new boundary for play. That isn’t even a joke, it made me believe that gaming is incredible. Throughout my time exploring I was just in insane awe that developers of the Killzone series could achieve a massive, open world RPG that made you feel for these characters and everything they’ve done to get to the point they’re at. Even Naughty Dog couldn’t fully convey that feeling with their 2017 outing Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. Sony believed in a new dream for the Dutch studio, and I’m glad they tried so hard to make this work. Essentially, Aloy’s commitment to keep pushing to help others is touching, and the narrative is absolutely interesting. While The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild had things going for it, Horizon just takes everything that game did and did it 10 times better.

Tristan – I remember when the game was announced and I thought that Guerrilla games may have bitten off more than they could chew. I had no real reasoning for this, and was just basing it off of my notion that they were a Killzone dev only. About three days before the release I found myself scrambling to get the funds together and purchase a digital copy so I could get the theme with it. That does not happen with me often. The countdown timer on the home screen was excruciating! Again, that is not something I ever have with any game. The game had me hooked before I even started! Once I was able to boot it up at midnight I lost two hours in what felt like minutes. The opening missions were the best tutorial section I have EVER seen in games. It was nuanced, hidden in believable and well written story elements, tense, and actually impactful. Watching Aloy grow up before my eyes made me care more for her than any other protagonist in recent memory. It isn’t just caring about what happens to Aloy, it’s understanding her every action and having a female protagonist on the screen that for once is not hyper sexualised and the focus is instead on her strength of mind, body and heart. She is an icon through and through, and Guerrilla should be lauded for not just having a strong female lead as a role model in a game, but also having a fully believable and perfect example of what a role model should be, regardless of gender. On top of all the heart and emotion pumped throughout the fairly lengthy story, which is filled with a tremendous amount of interesting and enjoyable supporting characters as well, you also have a game with near perfect mechanics and some terrific gameplay. Each swipe with Aloy’s spear carries the weight of battling machines that could destroy her with one mistake. Each weapon has a form factor that suits the lore of the world, and is feasible and completely useful throughout her journey. Lore is perfectly handled and spaced out and presented in a wonderfully natural way. There is too much going for the game to list in one little writing. What it comes down to is I have had a lengthy history this generation, and previous, of not finding a game that holds me until the very end, let alone long enough to find every collectible, weapon, armor set, etc. I could not put down Horizon Zero Dawn from start to finish, and grabbed the DLC as soon as humanly possible. This game means something to me, as it moved me and entertained me more than any game this decade. Aloy, Horizon, and Guerrilla Games are icons.

Tim – When Horizon Zero Dawn was shown off, I’ve really thought that this title would change how we would see the world of gaming in the coming future as when the title released I was surprised by the visuals and combat even with the characteristics and performance by the actress Ashly Burch. The story really was something special for me, as the tutorial was so unique compared to some titles. The setting pulling a post-apocalyptic feel throughout the world even though the engine they used was the exact same for what they used on Killzone: Shadow Fall and that Horizon Zero Dawn was Guerrilla Games first intellectual property since the Killzone series, and that Aloy grows up slowly through the time being as it progresses. The game has so much even to Battle Machines, Bandits and a cult known as the Eclipse. The controls for Aloy were really useful to use as you need to dodge, sprint, slide or roll evade the enemies’ advances. Honestly, my favorite thing is the skill trees as upgrades can help Aloy through her journey of the post-apocalyptic world even with hacking certain Machines to ride them or whatnot was a blast even though the DLC is known as The Frozen Wilds added ”Traveller” which unlocks the ability to jump off a mount to attack enemies is pretty sweet. As the main story missions cover the entire world, side missions can be an optional choice for you to do while exploring and that this game is very fun to replay again and again even though some of the dialogue and melee combat was a little downer but a game to enjoy through the decades nonetheless.

Umbra – I can never enjoy open world games. It’s my least favorite genre. Yet despite that, every single thing about Horizon kept me glued to my seat. I can’t think of a single game I have ever played that had kept my interest want wanting for more as much as this one. The world is absolutely stunning and graphically rivalled the best looking PC games at the time. The gameplay with the bow was spectacular, combat was engaging, and the crafting, while simple, also gave me the urge to always be foraging. I never 100% games, yet I had no choice to do so with Horizon as even after the 40 hour campaign, I wasn’t done. I NEEDED more game, so I explored every bit of the game I could while impatiently waiting for the DLC. Guerilla Games took a massive risk and it paid off. Horizon will go down as a genre defining game. I can only wish every open world game was like this. I would play them more that way.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Jon – Open word games can be hit or miss. It’s important for the world to be vast with a lot of content, but at the same time, you don’t want to overwhelm the player. Many open world games promise the player a high degree of exploration, but there’s always a limit to what you can explore that can easily break the immersion of exploring a whole new world. Breath of the Wild doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to your freedom in exploration; you can go anywhere and everywhere in this game. Exploration is the main idea behind BOTW’s gameplay. Unlike many open world games, it doesn’t bombard you by pointing out every in-game object on a map; it’d rather you discover it for yourself, and it feels pretty damn rewarding when you do. The story, gameplay, visuals, and audio design all come together to form an innovative product that elevates the open-world genre, and also feels like one big breath of fresh air.

Jared – Breath of the Wild is my game of the decade. Game of the decade is a big category but BOTW absolutely fills it. There has been no game that has given me the feeling that BOTW did. Its world is meticulously done to perfection. There’s secrets hidden everywhere rewarding exploration. The game is a game-changer for me. It took my favorite franchise of all time, and made me love it even more while modernizing it. It left me wowed like no other game has this decade. I could ramble on forever about. That’s just how amazing it is to me. I need to give credit to the interesting story, the smooth combat, the beautiful lands and of course, the soundtrack. Everything, in my eyes, is done to perfection. I love this game so much, that’s why it win game of the decade for me. Thank you, Nintendo for making this amazing and memorable game.

Persona 5

Kelvin – When I first played P5 it was about a month after they revealed Joker at The Game Awards and while at first I didn’t really care about his series I heard so much praise being thrown at this game, I decided to go to gamestop and picked up a preowned copy. When I first played P5 it didn’t peak my interest so I stopped playing it but a few months later I decided to give it a shot once again and I was sucked into it. I was enthralled by the characters and their own personal experiences, the story, music and so much more changed my outlook on games because I never really enjoyed playing JRPGs with the sole exception being Pokémon but when I beat Persona 5 I felt genuinely happy, only a few games have been able to make me feel a strong emotion when I beat them and with Persona 5 it was me happy that these characters that went through so much got to have a better life. I never thought that a game like Persona 5 would change my outlook on gaming by becoming one of favorites games of all time but here we are.

Cooper & Mystic – Holy crap. Not only is it the game that brought us together, but it is also one of the single best JRPGs of all time. When you first get Arsene, you feel the power and you know what is about to go down. The soundtrack is one of the best out of the series. The Voice Acting is amazing and even when we talked to some of the VA’s, they said that Persona 5 changed their life for the better too. The entire story brings up real things that teens deal with everyday: Sexual Abuse, Greed, Disapproval, I can go on. We love the Phantom Theives, some being our favorite Characters of all time. One of us will die for Futaba, and the other will die for Makoto. We will always be fans of this series as it has not only brought us closer together but shown the game industry that JRPGs aren’t dead. They never were. They’re thriving. Now more than ever.

Dark Souls

Meghan – Since its release in 2011, FromSoftware’s Dark Souls has held a lofty status in gaming circles as a title primarily known for its crushing difficulty. However, it would be a shame to reduce Dark Souls to just its challenge – it’s also a title that boasts an intricate, interwoven level design that I had never experienced before, nor have I experienced since. Each area is crafted thoughtfully, with hidden paths looping back to form much needed shortcuts (or bonfires), or even pathways that branch off to connect to a previous area you’d already explored. It is genuinely impressive, especially on a first playthrough (in between all the dying, of course). Dark Souls also contains a deep, spiraling story, a brand all its own; hidden in item descriptions and gleaned from conversations with characters you’ll meet along the way, the lore behind the land of Lordran is completely up to the player to discover. While the “Soulsborne” franchise technically began in 2009 with Demon’s Souls, the series didn’t quite reach the same popularity (or notoriety) until Dark Souls. Dark Souls streamlined a lot of mechanical elements that Demon’s Souls had piloted (like the weapon upgrade system) and was met with widespread critical acclaim. Just as unforgiving for new players as its predecessor, Dark Souls quickly entered the popular conscious as a true test of skill in a game that refused to hold your hand. Though the skill threshold initially seems high, the structure of the gameplay in Dark Souls is designed to teach the player (through the arduous process of dying over and over again) exactly what is required of them to triumph. It is this feedback loop – of trying, and trying, and trying – to finally having something click, and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat that ultimately makes Dark Souls so satisfying. To get through Blighttown, to solo Ornstein and Smough, or to best Gwyn, the Lord of Cinder, are all feats that can be conquered through patience, perseverance, and a little bit (okay, a lot) of trial and error. With the massive success of Dark Souls and its sequels, FromSoftware has found a niche of the gaming world that they have absolutely mastered, as evidenced by the popularity of Bloodborne in 2015, and 2019’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. They’ve effectively created a subgenre of gaming with their unique formula – the so-called “Souls-like” that many titles claim as a badge of honour, and a warning of extreme difficulty. Games like Hollow Knight, Salt and Sanctuary, Nioh, and The Surge all borrow elements of the Souls style. You’d also be hard-pressed to find someone in the gaming community (or even beyond) who hasn’t heard that some new game or product was the “Dark Souls of this” or “that” – now a borderline meme, you’ll definitely set people’s eyes rolling with the tired reference.

Nier: Automata

Jack Taylor – This has been an amazing decade for video games, from the stellar success of Grand Theft Auto 5 and a few sleeper hits that came out of nowhere like my personal Game of the Decade, Nier: Automata. Nier: Automata was first revealed at E3 2015, and I remember thinking “Oh, they’re making a sequel to that game”, (I hadn’t played the first one at the time) and that was all I saw until I played the demo closer to release and it was my kind of jam, fluid Platinum Games gameplay with an interesting narrative and it was released in 2017, I didn’t get to it straight away because as you probably remember 2017 was a stacked year for video game releases. Everything from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, Super Mario Odyssey and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 all coming out that year to name a few. So I foolishly sat on it for about a year. The reason why multiple playthroughs work so well is because the gameplay is so clean. You feel like a superhero swinging massive sword about with 2B and then it flips the game on its head when you take control of 9S it incorporates a twin stick shooter aspect to the game and the game flows brilliantly, it always keeps you on your toes. Like most other Yoko Taro games it’s a bit rough around the edges but you hardly notice because the storytelling and gameplay are so good. The one thing that can’t be understated is how good the music is, both aesthetically fitting and emotional, I could listen to the soundtrack for hours on end. It’s just sublime. I first finished Nier: Automata about 18 months ago (ish), and not a day has gone by when I haven’t thought about the meaning of what Yoko Taro’s message was whilst playing. All the existential themes, referencing many different philosophers including Blaise Pascal, Jean-Paul Sartre and Friedrich Nietzsche which is fascinating to say the least. But the one thing that made me sit back in my chair and stare at the screen was the choice given to the player at ending E. I won’t spoil too much but that was the perfect ending to a near (pun intended) game.

Minecraft

Jorge V. – Minecraft is my game of decade. It literally changed everything about the video game industry, even beyond its official 2011 release. Even now, it continues to deliver quality updates and value that bring the game back to massive levels of popularity on multiple occasions. It is the ultimate sandbox where everyone’s imagination has run wild, and continues to do so in a way no other game has managed to achieve, all with a simple to understand concept that even children can get behind. Even games that manage to win Game of the Year awards lose their relevance after a year or so, but Minecraft keeps coming back with more reasons to play it, mod it or get together with others in new ways every single time. Not only that, but all other developers have followed in Minecraft’s footsteps to make their own survival/crafting games that completely changed the face of the industry in a massive way. Regardless of what one’s opinion may be regarding the game, the monumental effect that it had on our industry in undeniable.

The Witcher III: Wild Hunt

Ian – Witcher 3 is my game of the Decade. No other single game this year has left such a personal impact on me. From being drawn into the magnificently dark world to deeply connecting about every single character. Whether that is caring for them like Ciri, loving them like Yennifer and Triss, or hating them like Dijkstra. The combat is beautifully deep yet simple to figure out. The music sweeps you away every time it chimes in. Whether in a cutscene or in combat. It is the ideal RPG and I can never not recommend it.

Taylor – I’ve debated myself over and over again about this, on one hand I want to say Fallout: New Vegas because it’s literally my favorite game of all time, and on the other I want to say The Last of Us because of its resurrection of the weaker console (PS3) and storytelling in games as a whole. My choice though, and it’s a hard one, is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Simply put, The Witcher 3 completely redefined the RPG genre. Out with simple fetch quests, and in with detailed, meaningful quests AND side quests that impact the rest of the game and whoever is playing the game. You may think, aren’t there a ton of games just like The Witcher 3 nowadays? Yes, there is. But is was the first of its kind, and the fact that so many games are like it should be a testament to how impactful it really is. The storytelling is no short stick either, if you played this game to completion and didn’t feel anything, that’s a you problem, bud. No, but really, the game is the Game of Thrones of video games, with the books to match. You will walk away from this game with at least one lasting memory, and whatever that memory is will be the first thing you think about when The Witcher pops up your head. You may not agree with me, and that’s fine, I just want you to think about all of the games that you played this decade and tell yourself what stood out the most, what made you feel the most, and what made you the happiest to play.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Josh: The Bethesda of old released an open world game in 2011 that created a phenomenon. I was a college student on my winter break when I received this game as a Christmas gift. I soon found myself enthralled in the branching and enticing nature of the game. For the first time in a game, I felt like I was in control of where I wanted to go. I found myself in a Thieves Guild where I made my in game riches and was part of a rag tag group. Soon after I was invited into a mysterious cult called the Dark Brotherhood where I squared off against the twisted Cicero and befriended a demonic stead named Shadowmere. I had to pick my allegiance between two warring kingdoms and all this without ever touching the main story of Skyrim. These in-game moments are my most fondest: the grueling trip north to Winterhold the place of magic, epic battles against the opposition suddenly being interrupted by airborne dragons, being able to get married in game and getting attacked by bandits during the ceremony, meeting the incredible dragon Parthunax who was voiced by Charles Martinet (the voice of Mario), and of course… becoming the fabled Dovahkiim. While the game was riddled with bugs and oddities that were in some cases infuriating, some of the bugs were also endearing. I didn’t mind too much when I joined the Skyrim Space Program courtesy of the Giants found in the lands. It also brought together a community of modders who help make the game better and created some crazy hilarious mods like the Macho Man and Thomas the Tank Engine mods. The game created a huge fan community of people streaming the game, creating memes, funny gameplay compilations, cosplays, beautiful art and one person who even named their child Dovahkiim. To me Skyrim was something special. It’s a game where the world is your oyster and surprises are around every turn. The game gives you complete freedom to play it however you please and role play any character you envision in your head. I feel like the games accomplishments have been overshadowed by current negative sentiment for the company that has made it. As well, a lot of open world games have come this decade and pushed the genre even further than Skyrim was able to do. While the Bethesda of new has taken new directions with the series and I worry about how The Elder Scrolls VI is going to turn out, Skyrim is a seminal game in this decade and I would be in denial if it wasn’t my game of the decade. It was a very special type of experience both in-game and culturally that will never be replicated.

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