Help me find some games to love
January 24, 2013 2:40 PM   Subscribe

Having been away from the PC gaming world for a while due to dodgy then broken laptop, I'm now looking with bemusement to find some great games. Most of the amazon/etc best-seller lists seem dominated by World of Warcraft and toys for Skylander. I'm mainly interested in RPGs and Action Adventure games. Strong plots a must. If they have fiddly controls then a nice learning curve is a must!

Examples of games I have enjoyed in the past include Diablo II, World of Warcraft, Monkey Island, Simon the Sorceror. I've also loved some of the Sim/Strategy games like Settlers, Creatures, Theme Hospital (ancient, I know).

I don't mind FPS but I prefer the focus of the game isn't on dodging and shooting, more on solving the plot and working out how to advance.

New laptop is powerful enough that there shouldn't be any modern games out of range due to spec.

So, to summarise, what are the best, most fun, most interesting games out there at the moment for the PC?
posted by Wysawyg to Computers & Internet (28 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Portal, then Portal 2. Then play them both again and weep that you can't erase the memories and experience them fresh again and again.
posted by cosmicbandito at 2:44 PM on January 24, 2013 [6 favorites]

Telltale Games has taken over the Monkey Island franchise, and they have a sequel out, as well as some terrific other games in that genre.
posted by Kriesa at 2:44 PM on January 24, 2013

Mass Effect 1 and 2.
posted by spiderskull at 2:46 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Dragon Age, any of the elder scrolls games you haven't tried (oblivion & Skyrim in particular), also if you're into old point-and-click adventures, the discworld games take a lot of figuring out (particularly the first one)
posted by missmagenta at 2:57 PM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Kriesa: "Telltale Games has taken over the Monkey Island franchise, and they have a sequel out, as well as some terrific other games in that genre."

If you like adventure games I cannot recommend the Telltale catalog enough. They have new Sam & Max, a Monkey Island sequel . . . oh, and their latest, The Walking Dead, is an absolute goddamn masterpiece, albeit also soul-crushingly depressing.

If you want to scratch your Diablo itch without paying $60 for D3, consider Torchlight 2. Twenty bucks, and it's by the people who made D2 (and it shows).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:01 PM on January 24, 2013

For RPGs, you need to talk Bioware. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel, KOTOR II: The Sith Lords (technically a different studio, but whatever). Dragon Age I & II. Mass Effect 1 and 2. I'd recommend Mass Effect 3, because it's a good game, but the first two are available on Steam whereas the third requires you to install and use EA's unbelievably shitty Steam alternative, "Origin." Except for ME3, all of those are on Steam. Bioware is putting out what are arguably the strongest plots out there these days, and their games have enough content that you can't see it all on a single playthrough, so the replay value is real.

You should also take a look at X-COM: Enemy Unknown, which came out from Firaxis recently. It's pretty much a direct remake of the 1990s classic of the same name. Tactical, squad-based strategy, with a vaguely RTS strategic overlay. No micromanagement on the RTS though, so it's not twitchy at all. The plot is a little on the cursory side, but it's functional. And while we're on the subject of Firaxis, Civ V is a masterpiece, and its expansion makes it even better.

If you're willing to dig through a bit, the entire Baldur's Gate series is on there. The "Enhanced Edition," a remake with modern software, is also available, but it's about twice as much, and there's some debate about whether it's worth it, as patches and mods make the original accessible and robust.

Bethesda's Elder Scrolls series. Non-D&D-based but still Western-style RPGs. Decent plots and incredibly detailed backstories. You can pick up TES III: Morrowind, TES IV: Oblivion, and TES V: Skyrim on Steam. The first two are dirt cheap. The game mechanics also get a little wonky--recursive luck potions FTW!--but that's part of the fun. These are all technically FPS-style, but they're not really twitchy the way Call of Duty is. Combat is real-time and there is a bit of aiming involved--especially with bows--but hitting as as much to do with your stats as anything else.
posted by valkyryn at 3:04 PM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

BioShock and BioShock2 perhaps? BioShock Infinite is supposed to be released late Feb and it's the 3rd game in this series.
posted by elmay at 3:10 PM on January 24, 2013

Bastion is short and sweet. Not super-heavy on the plot, but very well put out.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:22 PM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've been enjoying playing Far Cry 3 as a plot-driven FPS game. There are lots of different ways to play and it's just as much about puzzle solving as killing folks. It's a little bit console-driven, though.
posted by Happydaz at 3:30 PM on January 24, 2013

You could try Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which is plot-heavy and can either be about shooting or stealth and cleverness, depending on how you play. It controls like a first-person shooter (except for stealth, when it goes into third-person);but it has heavy RPG elements, i.e. there are shops, an overworld, side-quests, etc.
posted by vogon_poet at 3:35 PM on January 24, 2013

Borderlands 2 is describes as a "first person RPG" and is surprisingly awesome.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:41 PM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

It hasn't been mentioned yet, but if you've never played Planescape: Torment, it's available on Don't let the graphics turn you off to it. Unlike a lot of games today where the focus is on maximizing only certain stats, it's a game where you want to put points into int and wisdom even if you're a fighter because you'll open up more options through dialog and your character being able to figure things out.
posted by cali59 at 3:48 PM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm really diggin' the original Torchlight right now. The story is pretty light, but the character development is fun. I got it on Steam Sale for around $8. You can add games to your wish list in Steam and it will send you an email when any go on sale.
posted by humboldt32 at 3:49 PM on January 24, 2013

Diablo II

So, there's been a renaissance of these. There's the sequel (online only though), Torchlight 2 mentioned above, its predecessor, which is even cheaper, Path of Exile (free to play, also online only). The Borderland games, 1 and 2, are basically FPS diablo with randomly generated gun loot. Light on the plot.

World of Warcraft

Star Wars: the Old Republic just recently went free to play, and plays like a cross between WoW, and the previously story heavy RPG games. Another story and slightly puzzle heavy MMO is The Secret World, which also went free to play.

Also, depending on when you left WoW, they might have redone the entire game, and added several character classes, races, zones, streamlined things.

Monkey Island

Some of the alums from the old Lucasarts days went to go form DoubleFine. They've just released a 2d platform puzzler called The Cave, as well as having an old school 2d adventure in the works.

This is somewhat of a wonderful time for doing what you are about to do. The aforementioned Steam platform regularly has games from the above answers for pocket change. I'd recommend downloading it and check the top ten for the RPG, Indie, and Adventure genres. Small independent developers make games directly for $20 bucks, and new experiments in gaming like Kickstarter and the Humble Indie Bundle are popping up all the time.
posted by zabuni at 3:52 PM on January 24, 2013

Kentucky Route Zero
posted by hellojed at 4:12 PM on January 24, 2013

Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition. It's not a remake, it's the good old game with new content and improved features. Without spoilering - buy through Beamdog, not Steam. Steam is behind on updates and does not include some of the latest additions, including an easter egg you don't want to miss.
posted by MinusCelsius at 5:30 PM on January 24, 2013

The Last Express has the strongest plot I know. An 800 page multi-storyline script! There are current versions available for iOS and PCs.

disclaimer: I know a ton of people who made this game. It's still awesome
posted by zippy at 7:12 PM on January 24, 2013

Psychonauts! Made by the people at Double Fine that zabuni mentioned. It's classed as a platformer but felt more to me like an adventure game (I love Monkey Island, very meh on Mario). Most of the focus is on figuring out worlds, not manual dexterity.

Also, nth-ing Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and KotOR.

Games I haven't played: I've heard really good things about The Longest Journey, which is a point and click (though not as lighthearted as Monkey Island). I've also heard good things about The Witcher, which is an action RPG. Both of those are on GOG, I think.
posted by Maecenas at 7:29 PM on January 24, 2013

Skyrim and Fall Out 3.
posted by empath at 7:32 PM on January 24, 2013

Oh, and for another atmospheric story filled adventure game, if very dissimilar in tone to Kentucky Route, is Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery
posted by zabuni at 7:36 PM on January 24, 2013

XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It's a wonderful remake of the 1997 game. Still turn-based and just as suspenseful. Don't name your soldiers after people you love, because you're going to see those names on your memorial wall if you do.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:56 PM on January 24, 2013

If you go the Borderlands route (and I n'th that you do!), start with Borderlands (not Borderlands2). It's 98% as good as BL2, you probably won't even notice a difference in graphics, it's half the price, and it introduces a bunch of things that will make your BL2 experience ten times better if you get hooked enough (which you will) to finish Borderlands and still want more. So do yourself a favor and start from the start.

(Also - I know it sounds weird, but perhaps don't be so dismissive of the Skylanders games. They're Diablo-style gameplay and you might be as shocked as I was to discover that being an adult doesn't render you immune to enjoying them. They're console-only though, only the tie-in MMO webworld is on PC.)
posted by anonymisc at 8:18 PM on January 24, 2013

Also, if you missed Minecraft, you should at least try it. It's a new genre of video game, and it strikes a deep resonant chord in people - not always the same chord, but a chord gets struck :)
PA comic part one, part two
posted by anonymisc at 8:26 PM on January 24, 2013

The Witcher and Dark Souls are utterly fantastic action adventures, but their learning curve is basically a cliff.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:10 PM on January 24, 2013

You should pick up a game by the creators of Skylanders: Star Control 2. There are a few free remakes.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:10 PM on January 24, 2013

If you like exploring big sandboxy places with lots of moving parts, Skyrim, Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas are wonderful.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:48 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

The witcher 2 wasn't that hard for me to pick up, and I didn't like/understand the first game at all.
posted by empath at 1:24 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

In the same vein as Monkey Island, you might enjoy Ben There, Dan That and its sequel Time Gentlemen, Please!

Also, if you don't have it already, get Steam.
posted by Grither at 6:23 AM on January 25, 2013

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