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Nobody's Top 100 Games of All Time: 90-81

These games have lower numbers in front of them than the last ones did.

#90: Divinity: Original Sin II (Larian Studios, PC, 2017)

The first DOS was a silly CRPG where you played two blank-slate characters on a journey that might well not involve recruiting any additional party members and that barely had an overarching storing attached. It worked on the strength of its battles, which revolved around creative use of elemental interactions and physics effects, and the depth of its RPG systems, which were almost unrivaled at the time.

DOS II is all the good parts of the original on steroids and with a real story thrown in. You're playing established characters who all have their own motivations and personal quests, and each of them can form their own relationships with the rest of the party. It's some of the best role playing you'll find in any game, and it'd be much higher on this list if not for a thoroughly underwhelming final boss. Everything before that is amazing.

#89: The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel (Falcom/XSEED, Vita, 2015)

Falcom has made a couple of attempts to be Persona, and this is the good one. It takes the remarkably customizable battle system from earlier Trails games and drops it on to a story about a bunch of military academy high schoolers who get caught up in the prelude to a civil war, then blatantly and unashamedly steals the idea of social links and a lot of the general feeling of the overworld from Persona. A lot of the time it's good in spite of itself - it can't resist being anime for no reason, it doesn't know when to just cut losses and admit a character is boring, and too much of its worldbuilding is just putting "orbal" in front of real technology. I'm honestly a little surprised it made the list, but that speaks to how well it works when it isn't working against itself. When it works, it's Persona 3 mixed with earlier Trails games and what Final Fantasy XII wanted to be. That's a compelling combination.

#88: 80 Days (Inkle, PC, 2015)

This is going to sound strange given that I apparently believe there are 87 better games, but I'm not sure I have anything to criticize about 80 Days. It casts you as Passepartout, valet for Phineas Fogg on his journey round the world, and makes you responsible for plotting the trip, managing finances, and keeping Fogg alive. There are a stunning number of choices to make, all of which the game reacts to in interesting ways. There are dozens upon dozens of cities you can reach, and each city has its own visual novel section to explore and unique characters to meet. Sometimes even the routes between cities have game-changing events attached. And on top of all of that, it's set in a unique slightly surrealist world that lets it have things like walking cities for you to find along the way. What's not to love?

#87: Medieval II: Total War (Creative Assemby/SEGA, PC, 2006)

Medieval II honestly wasn't that much of a change from 2004's Rome. It's still a mix of big RTS battles and a typical 4X for everything else. But instead of leading an ascendant empire whose only real enemy is its own internal politics, you're in charge of fledgling early medieval kingdoms. Everything is much smaller, the consequences for losses are more severe, and foreign powers are a real threat. It was also the last game in the series to have powerful mod support, which means there are total conversions available to set your wars in the LotR and even Zelda universes.

#86: Seers Isle (Nova-box, PC, 2018)

It's only about an hour long, and I've only played it once. But Seers Isle makes the list anyway because it's such a beautiful experience. You alternate playing as different characters from a group of shipwreck survivors on a vaguely-Celtic magic island. Some of those characters will probably die horribly. (but with pretty backgrounds!) It doesn't always feel fair, but it's short and well-written enough that I didn't mind.

#85: Tokyo Dark (Cherrymochi/Square Enix, PC, 2017)

Silent Hill may be long dead, but this is a great approximation of it. Detective Ito is haunted by a girl who has somehow returned from death. She's only rarely actually on screen, but Ito frequently hallucinates her voice or face, and sometimes ends up in a strange otherworld (like above) that's filled with references to her. There's a mystery plot about why the girl is so desperate to acquire a freaky mask and some choice systems driving everything along, but its real strength is in how weird and unnerving it all is. Tokyo Dark can get quite scary, but it never resorts to jumps scares.

#84: Rune Factory 3 (Neverland/Marvelous, DS, 2010)

Rune Factory, and especially RF3, succeeds for me where Harvest Moon doesn't because it's such a self-parody. The main conceit here is that you're a farm guy doing all the same farm and marriage stuff as in HM, but also you go on Zelda-style monster fighting quests and sometimes you turn into a talking sheep. Yeah. No one else in the village knows that you're the magic sheep for most of the plot, and it gets a lot of mileage out of how ridiculous that is. Really, it's all summed up by the fact that one early boss fight pits a sheep against a giant goddamn skeleton dragon. The fun farming mechanics and entertaining characters are a cherry on top of a great action adventure game.

#83: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (Nintendo, GCN, 2003)

This has fallen a lot since the first time I played it. It was one of the first 3D console games I ever played, and the sense of exploration was unmatched for years. But bigger games have come out in the 18 years since its release, and many of them have far more interesting things to find. Its world isn't particularly special anymore, and its dungeons honestly never were. Still, it has a wonderful art style that is as beautiful now as it was then, and its OST is quite possibly my single favorite. And since the art and music are with you every step of the way, they can make up for flaws in its other parts.

#82: Dragon's Dogma (Capcom, PS3, 2012)

Dragon's Dogma asks and answers "what if Monster Hunter was an open world RPG?" It's full of all kinds of big baddies from various European mythos, and you need to climb and stab all over them like you're playing Shadow of the Colossus. The core combat is so fun (and so varied across the different classes) that it's easy to overlook the inane writing and just how much backtracking across the same stretches of the world you have to do. It'd be a much better game without those flaws, obviously, but stabbing giant monsters in the head is just so satisfying.

#81: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past/Four Swords (Nintendo, GBA, 2002)

We've all played aLttP, so I'm not going to prattle on about it. It's the second best Zelda game. Four Swords is almost impossible to play nowadays, but co-op was a blast at the time and they made some really clever use of varying player counts. aLttP even got a bonus secret boss fight and secret ultimate sword technique if you finished the FS campaign.

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