What ten games would you bring if you were stranded on a deserted island? has crossed my mind before and is an often used, made up scenario to discuss “the best”. In the unlikely event I ended up stranded on a deserted island, I would need an irrational Tetsuya Nomura/Kazushigue Nojima plot device that would allow me to have a “Super Play All Console”, unlimited electric power, and an LCD screen TV set for me to play games.
Provided that the things that I requested above are given to me by the aforementioned director/writer duo, I would submit a list of ten games that I wanted to be stranded with for the rest of my life, alone.
This list is numbered, as I will rank the games using the following criteria:
Replay value – Game world size, side quest amount, and overall running time falls within this category. It is the most important criteria, as I would be playing these games for 40-60 years before I die on this lonely island.
Another important thing to consider is that this island wouldn’t have printed press services or internet (though there would be electric power). So, strategy guides are out and there is no google to search for strategies or tips.
Quality of the game – While this category will take a back seat to replay value, no one wants to be stuck playing a bad game for any considerable amount of time (Two Worlds I am looking at you).
Context for game’s release date – Obviously, I would rather play something like Days Gone over Chrono Trigger. Days Gone’s modern design and size would conceivably allow for more play time even if it is not nearly as good a game as Chrono Trigger in a historical context. But for the purposes of this list, however, I will factor in historical context to give older games a fairer shake.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the games that I would want to have in solitary confinement on my imaginary deserted island.
10. Chrono Trigger (1995)
Disclaimer: This isn’t a ‘best of all time’ list, it is a list about games that I would like to have if I were to find myself stranded on a solitary island, thus, Chrono Trigger places a bit low within this list of winners.
Chrono Trigger suffers in contrast to other games on this list given its 2-D nature (I am a self-proclaimed 3-D snub, and my favorite console is the N64 because it brought proper 3-D gaming to my younger-self). However, I do love the game and see the value in its incredible multi-ending system for any era of gaming.
Chrono Trigger’s 13 endings were unprecedented back in 1995 and its substantial number of finales will force me to play it for hours on end while I am stuck on the hypothetical island.
Turn-Based Battles haven’t been my cup of tea for the last 15 years or so, and yet, Chrono Trigger has one of the few turn-based battle systems that I still enjoy and don’t mind spending hours with.
Chrono Trigger’s unique time traveling tale would entertain for me at least 100 hours while I hunt for all of its endings. That kind of replay value is what I am looking for if I were to be stuck for years in a place with just a handful of games to play.
9. Final Fantasy VII (1997)
There are several reasons for that statement. First, I truly enjoyed Final Fantasy VII’s storyline more than any other in the series, but Final Fantasy VII also had a massive amount of side quests and side diversions to participate in.
A full 3-D motorcycle battle mini-game would satisfy my nostalgic needs for a ‘Great Value’ version of Road Rash. An equally impressive and fully realized Snowboarding mini-game would work for my 1080 Snowboarding cravings, even if FFVII’s version of snowboarding is miles worse than Nintendo’s wonderful game.
Final Fantasy VII allows you to do things that other JRPGs don’t, but that’s not all that the game has to offer. When coupled with its breeding component, the Chocobo racing game is fantastic. Although, without a guide in hand, it would take me dozens upon dozens of hours to figure out the right combinations in order to succeed at it. Completing this feat would eventually earn me the Knights of the Round Materia.
Then there are the Weapons, which are optional boss fights against ‘Godzilla like’ creatures. These Weapons will test my mastery of the game’s easy to learn but hard to master Materia system.
Final Fantasy VII is easily a 100–150-hour game without the help of strategy guide if you are looking to master all of its aspects. That is the most important reason for the game being the only Final Fantasy to make this list.
8. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (1998, 2011)
Okay, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is my favorite game of all time. It would be my #1 on any ‘best of’ list. But I am trying to be as impartial as possible within a list full of subjective choices (isn’t that ironic?). In terms of replay-ability, based on the size and length of the games listed, Ocarina of Time is no longer the king of hill…mainly because Ocarina of Time was the forefather of modern open-world gaming.
That said, I would go with the 3DS version of the game here. The 3DS version of Ocarina of Time is nearly everything that the first game was but with improved visuals that closely match the game’s original concept artwork and the inclusion of the Master Quest. In theory, this makes the game twice as long a play-through as the original game.
Beyond that, Ocarina of Time remains at the pinnacle of game design, and I still find myself enamored with its take on Hyrule. Without a guide, finding all the heart containers and Skulltulas hidden in its world would present a time-consuming challenge while conquering the game’s Master Quest.
The ability to compose my own tunes with the game’s Ocarina would also be a big plus for the nights when I am bored and feeling melancholic about my life on that lonely island (hopefully the island has a stash of rum hidden somewhere).
In the late 1990s I spent hundreds of hours toiling away in Ocarina’s Hyrule. While I understand that we are no longer in the late 1990s and OoT’s visuals will no longer awe-struck my senses in the same way, great game design is ageless and so is Ocarina of Time.
7. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)
So, a modern game has finally made the list. The Witcher 3 gets here on the strength of its plot and interesting side-quests. The game also has plenty to discover and see within its somewhat restricted (in comparison to other entries on this list) world. Provided that the game comes with its DLC packs, I can see The Witcher 3 producing 300 hours of play, at the very least.
The Witcher 3 remains a pleasing looking game. While there are other games on this list that look better, not many will provide the fun side quest content that CD Projekt’s golden child does. While I am not in love with The Witcher 3’s brand of combat, as it is unrefined and a bit wonky, fighting all sorts of mystical creatures is always a thrilling experience.
In many ways, The Witcher 3 brought the full mature ‘Game of Thrones’ experience to video games. Furthermore, since my confinement to the island wouldn’t include an HBO subscription, The Witcher 3 is the closest thing that I would get to my favorite TV series.
6. Dark Souls (2011)
In some ways, playing Dark Souls on a deserted island would be an ominous experience. After all, the entire game is a desolate experience where players find themselves stuck in a horrific (yet beautiful) land. Even when I first conquered what seemed to be an unconquerable game, a ‘new game plus’ mode was made available with tougher battles and greater challenges.
In that sense, Dark Souls never ends. The game keeps testing your mettle, patience, and monk like dedication to its gameplay. It is the perfect game for solitary confinement, as it is dangerously addictive.
A game that never ends. A game that keeps on churning out hours upon hours of gameplay. A never-ending challenge. Dark Souls is all that, and more, the game rightfully deserves a place on this list.
5. Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
What’s a better way to spend a lifetime away from modern civilization than to play the game (within the constraints of last generation console hardware) that simulates modern society the most.
With 155 million copies sold, Grand Theft Auto V has outsold every game on this list and for good reason. Grand Theft Auto V is a great game. Its open world scale and the provided freedom to engage in a ridiculously diverse set of activities make Grand Theft Auto V a perfect time waster outside of its main storyline.
Want to ride a jet ski? Or fly a plane? Maybe even jump from said plane into the ocean? You can, and you can you do so much more in GTA V that sometimes I wonder if the game outright deserves the title of “Greatest Open World Game of All-Time.”
Role-Playing Game buffs will not like this next statement: GTA V has aged so well that Cyberpunk 2077 looks and plays comically bad when stacked against it, even though it is a much newer game crafted for a newer generation of consoles and PC hardware.
If I could only have five games on that island, it is likely that I would pick GTA V to be included within that selection. The game offers too many activities and possibilities to pursue. The perfect time waster.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)
Grand Theft Auto V exists today because of Ocarina of Time existed first back in 1998. Shigeru Miyamoto’s masterpiece is one of the most influential titles for modern open-world games. As an example, take a look at The Witcher 3. TW3 doesn’t play any different than Ocarina did more than a decade and half before it. It is bigger and prettier, but that is more a result of modern hardware advancements than of actual ingenuity in game design.
Thus, Breath of the Wild signals the ultimate evolution of The Legend of Zelda series. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim had a big effect on open world games when it launched in 2011. Consequently, the Zelda series had found itself in a position that it had rarely been: Its formula had grown stagnant.
Zelda games had followed Ocarina of Time’s blueprint to perfection for 13 years. The series ignored advances made by GTA and The Elder Scrolls, but Nintendo learned its lesson and shook up the formula in 2017 with the release of Breath of the Wild.
Breath of the Wild offers the biggest version of Hyrule yet. The game’s open world rivals the size of Rockstar’s largest titles, but in true Nintendo fashion, every nook and cranny in the game seems to have a purpose.
Many open worlds offer vast but largely empty land masses for players to explore, and while Breath of the Wild isn’t immune to this, its world is densely packed with content and things to find and discover.
3. Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla (2020)
Considering that I am a fan of all things Nordic, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is a no brainer to me. The game is massive, beautiful, and if you decided to pursue everything (including the DLC content) you could be looking at 500+ hours of run time.
To me, Valhalla is the greatest AC game that I have ever played. Valhalla takes after its predecessor, Odyssey, which in turn seemed to take some cues from The Witcher 3, considering the fact that the series completed its transition into the full-blown Action-RPG genre in 2018 with it.
Out of all the games listed here, it is Valhalla that comes the closest to the ‘never ending’ replay value of my number 1 choice. The England, Norway, Ireland, and France land masses featured in the game are substantial in size and so is the quest/item/crafting material content.
You don’t want to follow the main questline? Then go ahead and spend dozens if not hundreds of hours exploring the countryside while grinding away for EXP, and maybe even hunt down the secret but tough optional bosses that the game offers.
Valhalla is the kind of game that will take you years to master (100 percent completion if that is even possible), and you will enjoy every hour of it. This is provided that you only have ten games to play in a lifetime, which would be my hypothetical scenario on this fictional island.
While Valhalla’s main tale is not great, it does the job. The game’s allure lies in exploring in its massive renditions of certain parts of the European continent, and that sort of replay value is tough to beat.
2. Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)
While I didn’t enjoy my play-through of Red Dead Redemption 2 as much as I enjoyed other games on this list, there is no denying that it is the game that most closely resembles and simulates a real world within this medium of entertainment.
The attention to detail on this game is unparalleled and remains unmatched 4 years later. Red Dead Redemption’s engine pays attention to weather, wildlife, and even NPC A.I. in ways that other games can only dream of.
In my 80-hour (main storyline) play-through of the game, I felt like I missed 70 percent (perhaps more) of all the things that were there to see and experience. This is certainly a game, that if I had nothing else to do in my life, I would love to dedicate myself to. The game’s design and painstaking attention to the smallest details demands that kind of commitment.
For example, I could spend 100+ hours just dedicating myself to becoming a hunter of all animal wildlife within its game world. The hunting component in this game offers more value than entire story campaigns in similar open world games do.
To top it off, RDR2 has a nice story where the gamer’s behavior does influence its outcome in relation to RDR2’s beloved protagonist.
A good dramatic romp? Endless replay-ability? Sign me up!
1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
Skyrim, the gift that keeps on giving…10 years after it first touched my Xbox 360 console. If I could only have one game, it would be Skyrim. I have put over 600 (could be more) hours (without mods) into this game over the last decade, and I have purchased about 5 different ports of it, because I must have a copy of it everywhere.
Skyrim was a seminal moment for me in 2011. It was the most draw dropping game that I had experienced since 1998’s Ocarina of Time.
It has never taken me more than 110 hours to finish a main quest-line on a game, but it took me nearly 300 hours to finish Skyrim’s Dragonborn quest-line.
The quest-line itself is not that time consuming, but the massive game around it was. The game’s world might have been surpassed in terms of “square miles” of surface terrain by newer open-world games, but Skyrim’s sense of verticality (mountain ranges, deep cave formations) remains unmatched.
10 years later, I still find myself running around its world and falling into “rabbit hole” types of quest lines that seem to pop out of nowhere.
Out of all the games on this list, Skyrim is the game that I have played the most (apart from Ocarina of Time). Even though its visuals have aged, I still find an inexplicable allure and fascination in exploring its world for hours at a time.
Skyrim is the game that I consistently continue to play in-between games, and that type of replay value would be essential in a solitary confinement situation. In my opinion, Skyrim remains the best at replay value, and it is the one game that I could not live without on my solitary island.
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