What Game Should I Play Next?
Choice has become the real-life equivalent of the level one basement rat in every RPG - you're going to have to deal with it somehow if you want to actually play something.
Unfortunately, we don't seem to have developed the brainpower necessary to filter through our ever-expanding game libraries. Let's lend you a sword to help you on your way, adventurer, with our answers to the problem of "what game should I play?"
We have gathered 20 games, and organized them in 4 lists (by theme) featuring 5 games each. And here they are, in all their glory:
#I Strange Places to Explore
1. The Longing
Due to its unusual concept, a PC/Switch game that uses the ''idle'' or incremental mechanic common to some mobile games, The Longing isn't often found on many lists answering the question of what PC game to play.
This award-winning title doesn't ask anything of the player, other than to keep company to a lonely creature, living deep below the earth, named Shade, while he waits for his monarch to awaken after 400 days.
It's a sad, slow game that echoes the feelings of many during 2020's lockdowns. Explore ancient places, collect items, read books - and wait.
A game by Nomada and Devolver, Gris has attained the coveted ''Overwhelmingly Positive'' review score on Steam from almost 40,000 player reviews. Much like Shade in the previous entry on this list, Gris is a character struggling with negative emotions, in this case, grief.
The initial appeal of Gris is in its presentation. The hand-painted world shimmers in pastel shades of cyan and red. While it can be light on gameplay and story text, helping Gris on her journey (via abilities granted by her outfit) serves as its own reward.
We consider Gris a major player when wondering what game to play, mostly because it's a genuine work of video game art.
3. Death Stranding
Hideo Kojima, the creator of several nearly impenetrable games for Konami, went separate ways with the publisher in 2015. Death Stranding, now arguably the poster child of the ''walking simulator'' genre of adventure games, is the first independent title from Kojima Productions.
The purpose of Death Stranding is to deliver goods in the post-apocalyptic United States. However, during main character Sam's expedition, the character will explore elements like birth and death and all the weird things in between.
As a Kojima game, it's definitely not for everyone, but fans of labyrinthine lore and plot aspects will enjoy this one.
4. Golf Club Wasteland
Here's the fourth entry in the Strange Adventures list, and potentially the answer to our question from earlier - "what game should I play next?"
Oddly enough, golf has become one of the most adaptable games to ever grace a hard drive, with plenty of variants, themes, and personalities gracing the various video game platforms.
Acclaimed by the Washington Post, Golf Club Wasteland is exactly that - golf on a destroyed planet. Become a billionaire sports enthusiast and hit your ball through sewers, from the balconies of tumbledown apartment buildings, and deep underground.
The atmosphere is as beautiful as it is oppressive in this indie title.
5. No Man's Sky
An unmitigated disaster at launch, No Man's Sky's redemption arc is now the stuff of legends. Developer Hello Games have released eighteen content patches since 2016 and the title was nominated for a Bafta award in 2020 and 2021.
While echoes of its difficult start are likely to persist forever in the community, if any game deserves a second chance, it's this one.
Even as a curiosity, it's hard not to recommend this one for our "what game should I play?" list.
No Man's Sky's concept is simple - take your spaceship into the galaxy and do what you like. Follow the quests, learn alien languages, build bases, or pester the local wildlife for rides.
#II - Games to Relax with
Made by students from Berlin, this simple yet surprisingly deep experience is all about matching titles to create a bucolic scene. Fit water to water and forest to forest, railway to railway and town to town, and try not to run out of precious tiles.
Dorfromantik tasks the player with pairing as many sides of a hexagon as possible to the matching sides of previous tiles.
Gentle ''quests'' that require a certain amount of points from the placing of city or forest tiles, for example, reward the player with more tiles to continue their adventures.
A mix of puzzle and city-builder, Dorfromantik is another ''Overwhelmingly Positive'' game and very much worth the attention of those looking for the next game to play.
Minecraft has the unmatched ability to occupy whatever genre the player wants it to be, and is a popular choice of game to play on PC.
The base game is about building things but cave-diving always adds an element of horror while PVP modes can introduce frantic action. The player-made game Spleef even attracts audiences on YouTube and Twitch.
Minecraft is almost a gaming universal, appearing on 18 platforms and operating systems since its debut in November 2011.
With its new Caves and Cliffs update, Mojang's mega-seller adds plenty of new things to discover, including mountain goats, axolotl, a new copper ore, and a glowing squid. Just make sure you turn the monsters off if you want a peaceful evening.
8. Secret Cat Forest
A mobile game that has quite the fanbase on Facebook, Secret Cat Forest is the brainchild of Android games publisher IDEASAM.
It's an expression of the phrase ''if you build it, they will come'' from 1989's Field of Dreams movie, only with cats instead of dead baseball players.
In Secret Cat Forest, shake the enchanted tree to collect logs and build different pieces of furniture. Then, catch fish in the nearby pond to lure cats into your house.
You have to acquire different combinations of rugs, tables, lights, and toys to meet cats named Tushie, Brainy, Fluffy, and Froggy, and tens of others. In return, they will leave you gifts.
9. Cloud Gardens
Somewhat ironically, the end of the world is often presented as a tranquil place. Even in the more violent zombie variants, there's often peace to be found amidst the ruins, often via a representation of what life still remains.
Remember the giraffe scene from that one survival game set in an overrun United States?
Cloud Gardens turns the post-apocalyptic genre on its head by deifying the player with the powers of nature itself. Build dioramas from the broken vestiges of humanity and beautify them with ferns, trees, wildlife, and other pleasant green things.
Cloud Gardens is not so much a game as an experience in what it's like to serve the planet as Mother Nature.
10. Stardew Valley
Created by Eric ''ConcernedApe'' Barone, Stardew Valley is Harvest Moon if it was remade for burnt-out city-dwellers.
At its most basic, it's a farming sim but the concept has expanded to include all aspects of modern RPGs, from dungeon crawling and NPC relationships to archaeology and minor city-building elements.
While the time limits can feel unwelcome at times (often, by the time you get to the cave dungeon, it's time to go home), there's no true pressure to do anything you don't fancy.
There's always plenty of vegetables to grow and slimes to smash and festivals come around each year whether you attend them or not. This is an easy one to round off the second "what game should I play?" list, for those looking for a laid back gaming experience.
#III - Dark and Spooky Tales
11. Resident Evil Village
Horror has a great ability to provide catharsis - after all, when you're tucked up in bed, you're doing a lot better than the poor souls on the TV.
Resident Evil Village, the eighth mainline entry in the franchise, and one of our obvious favorites, continues the direction set by its predecessor by keeping the first-person camera and returning protagonists Ethan Winters and Chris Redfield.
The 9ft 6in Lady Dimitrescu and her horde of vampiric daughters became the game's breakout stars long before the title was even released to stores, and the title didn't disappoint on arrival.
With the addition of classic horror icons like werewolves, Capcom has gone back further than even the first Resident Evil game for inspiration this time. A triumph title, it's likely to remain a favorite for a while.
While just another zombie title on the surface, Dysmantle is actually a cheerful indie adventure about destroying everything in your path. Chairs, walls, computers, cars, zombies - it can all come down.
If you're still asking "what game should I play?", then take into account that it's also one of a golden breed of early access games that add new content every month, keeping it fresh and interesting.
Unusually for an action title, Dysmantle brings a sword to this particular gunfight, favoring melee weapons and close-quarters combat over shooting, though a hunting rifle is a recent addition to the game's arsenal. Farming and fishing are included, too.
Granted, it's a bit of an abstract addition to this part of our list of games to play, but Subnautica creates horror in a truly primal way. Thalassophobia (fear of the ocean) is very common in humans because it ultimately led to our survival as evolving apes.
Yet, by placing the character alone on an ocean planet, Subnautica already has fingers up our collective spines.
Giant monsters, an endless abyss, a colossal submerged spaceship, and all the worries of regular human survival combine to make Subnautica something of an exercise in survival and horror. It can also be beautiful, with a large range of vibrant biomes.
Of all the genres out there, horror is the one most cursed with adjectives in the media. Whether it's ''terrifying'' or ''nerve-shredding'', it can be difficult to tell one franchise from another when they all ultimately meet with the same review.
Visage hasn't escaped this fate but it at least seems to be living up to the hype and is definitely an option for those wondering what game they should play next, and enjoy a good scare.
Visage is a rare psychological horror game done well. The game's apparent objective is to unmake the player's sanity by contorting the world around them.
It's otherwise a classic haunted house tale that seems to take some visual cues from the remaster of the first Resident Evil, at least in terms of its twisted hallways and ornate bedrooms.
15. Dead by Daylight
While its concept is typically cynical - escape the monster or die - Dead by Daylight earns its place on our list of "what game should I play?" by virtue of the fact that it's very popular on streaming platform Twitch and continues to provide updates in the form of new antagonists.
To date, developer Behaviour Interactive has added a number of ''celebrity'' bad guys in the form of Michael Myers, Leatherface, Freddy Krueger, Ghost Face, and even Nemesis and Pyramid Head from Resident Evil 3 and Silent Hill 2, respectively.
#IV - Remastered Classics
16. Planescape: Torment (Enhanced Edition)
Planescape: Torment is a gloomy romp through a world based on the Dungeons & Dragons campaign of the same name.
Critically acclaimed to this day, the player must take on the mantle of the Nameless One, a badly-scarred immortal who has lived more lives than he can remember, and his cohort of oddities.
Throughout his quest across the planes, the Nameless One comes across people he has befriended, loved, and betrayed previously.
This remastered version of the 1999 epic maintains the combat-lite, story-heavy focus of the original perfectly.
17. Command & Conquer (Remastered Collection)
C&C fans haven't been treated very kindly in recent years. The final game in the Tiberium trilogy can only be referred to as a mistake while the newish mobile game went down about as well as Blizzard's introduction of the same with the Diablo franchise.
Evidently, players aren't always interested in mobile apps.
The C&C Remastered Collection is a long-overdue love letter to the classic RTS. It includes every mission from the two introductory games and all expansion packs, which amounts to around one hundred campaigns in total.
The once-secret ant and dinosaur missions make a return too - and it's all re-rendered in glorious HD quality.
18. Halo (The Master Chief Collection)
A collection of Halo games from the franchise's first thirty years, this collection serves as a perfect introduction to the pivotal FPS series for those who missed it all the first time around.
For long-serving fans, it's also a great recap ahead of the release of the brand new installment Halo Infinite towards the end of 2021.
Halo is a forerunner of the ''small squad vs. overwhelming alien force'' trope that features heavily in shooters like Destiny 2, Mass Effect, and fellow Xbox title Gears of War.
It also introduced many elements (and memes) to the shooter genre and is an obvious highlight of any list of what games you should play.
19. Final Fantasy VII (Remake)
For all his flaws, Final Fantasy VII's protagonist Cloud Strife is one of the most recognizable characters in video gaming.
Much the same can be said for his arch-nemesis Sephiroth, who was designed to be the polar opposite in appearance to Cloud, from the width and length of their swords to the hands they wield them with.
While controversial in some aspects, the remake of this 1997 RPG brings the cast from the first disc together in their battle to save the planet from the evil corporation SHINRA.
The newer title, Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade, brings charismatic thief Yuffie back into the fold too.
20. Mass Effect (Legendary Edition)
The original three Mass Effect games are as close to a perfect trilogy as it's possible to get in video gaming.
From the dark yet somehow optimistic atmosphere of the first game, the universe collapses first into a struggle against nefarious organizations and then into a battle for survival against a nearly all-powerful foe.
Unfortunately, it's perhaps fair to say that Mass Effect's monstrous Reapers fell into the same trap as the Borg from Star Trek (they had to be humanized to be stoppable) and confusion over the third game's ending is unlikely to ever go away.
Still, none of that detracts from the overall experience the Legendary Edition offers.
"What Should I Play Next?" In a Nutshell
Congratulations on coming this far in our article! Going over all of our answers to the ultimate quandary of "what game should I play?" is not an easy task.
The question at hand is an evolving and difficult one to answer, given the number of games now out there. However, hopefully, we've helped shine a light on some of the more interesting titles that deserve your attention.
Good luck, and happy gaming!