For some, the best games of 2024 only solidify the narrative that this has been a bad year for gaming. Well…there’s certainly something to that. I doubt that 2024 will go down as an all-time great year for gaming, and a series of events that have negatively impacted the present and future of the video game industry may lead to 2024 eventually being viewed as a generally dark time for gaming.

A funny thing happens during years like this, though. While many of our eyes have been focused on a series of disappointing releases and abhorrent business decisions, an incredible collection of largely smaller games has come along and shown us that there is a light beyond the darkness that is worth following until it is bright enough to be recognized as the sunrise of a new era. They are not necessarily the biggest names, but these are the best games of 2024 (so far).


Nintendo Switch, Windows PC

The things that make it so hard to talk about 1000xRESIST are the things that often make it so brilliant. You play as an operative in a future where an alien disease has forced humanity underground. It’s a fascinating set-up that results in an experience that does not fit into any genre box and is incredibly difficult to break down without diving into deep spoilers. 

Yet, the one consistent in this game that often drastically changes its settings and gameplay is some of the best storytelling you’ll experience in any medium this year. 1000xRESIST’s as-written story is a harrowing and creative exploration of some complex sci-fi concepts. What makes it magical, though, are the ways that narrative is woven into some of the biggest gameplay swings we’ve seen in quite some time. We are rarely blessed with such a bold creative voice that conveys its ideas so loudly and clearly. 

Animal Well

Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Windows PC

When video game YouTuber Jason Gastrow (better known as videogamedunkey) decided to start a publisher called Bigmode, he stated that his surprising decision was based, in part, on a desire to “help good games succeed.” Well, if Animal Well, Bigmode’s first published title, is any indication of the company’s future, they may very well manage to achieve more than that. 

Developer Billy Basso’s Animal Well could most easily be described as a Metroidvania that emphasizes puzzles, atmosphere, and exploration over action. That’s a woefully inadequate description of what makes it magical, though. Animal Well raises a series of small questions about what we’ve come to expect from the Metroidvania genre and answers those questions in ways that manage to challenge those expectations while offering one of the most fundamentally fulfilling examples of that style of game design. It is a testament to gaming’s little pleasures and the great things they often add up to form. 


Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Windows PC

The word “addictive’ has been used to describe video games for as long as we’ve had video games. While there is obviously a potentially negative connotation to that word, it’s often the first word we use to describe some of our favorite gaming experiences. We know that we can’t stop playing them. The challenge is to remove ourselves from them long enough to properly break down what it is that makes them so addictive. 

Well, 2024’s most addictive game, Balatro, plays with that core concept in fascinating ways. It is, at its core, a game of Poker. However, it incorporates roguelike deckbuilding concepts (think Slay the Spire) into that card game in ways that begin to change the foundations of that classic experience. The changes come slowly, at first, but soon, Balatro transforms into something else entirely that manages to retain those qualities that cause some to spend their lives at the tables. You won’t be able to stop playing it, but who said you’ll want to? 

Children of the Sun

Windows PC

Children of the Sun puts you in control of a single bullet fired by a sniper tasked with eliminating cultists from across great distances. The challenge is to control the bullet in a way that will allow you to go around (or through) every obstacle between you and that target. It is essentially a puzzle game that allows you to pursue multiple paths through elaborate courses to find the most efficient and entertaining methods possible. 

It’s a fascinating set-up for a compelling puzzle experience, but it’s Children of the Sun’s minimalist plot and storytelling that makes it special. Every path adds another piece to the almost Mandy-like story, and the process of finding your target soon becomes far more complicated for reasons other than mechanical hurdles. 

Crow Country

Windows PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S

Throwback survival horror games often suffer from a common problem with no easy solution. While there is certainly so much charm and creativity in those ‘90s survival horror classics, some of the things that make them unique and special are often the things that make them a nightmare to play today. How do you translate those clunky controls, fixed cameras, and blocky visuals into a journey more worthwhile than a simple nostalgia trip? 

Well, if Crow Country doesn’t offer the perfect solution to that conundrum, it comes closer to finding it than most throwback horror games ever have. Yes, concessions have been made to make those old-school survival horror classics a bit more modern. There is a non-tank control option as well as a generous hint system. Yet, none of those compromises compromise the terror, thrills, and charms of this game which often falls somewhere between Resident Evil and Final Fantasy 7. It’s also a fantastic tribute to all things ‘90s gaming as exemplified by its video game magazine-style puzzle tips. 


Windows PC

Four adventurers have been tasked with raiding a dungeon presided over by the Cryptmaster: an all-seeing overlord with a fondness for mocking your efforts and only teasing possible solutions. Yes, you’ve seen and heard it before, but there’s a twist. Most of your actions in Cryptmaster are registered by saying or typing pretty much anything you can think of and watching the game respond to even the wildest of commands. 

One part Typing of the Dead, one part text adventure, and several parts levels of creativity you had no idea were possible, Cryptmaster is the creative and comedic culmination of how we interact with role-playing games. The mark of a great RPG has long been its ability to roll with the unusual punches you deliver, and few do it better than this game that has an answer for nearly everything and doesn’t use soul-sucking AI software to generate any of it. 

Dragon’s Dogma 2

Windows PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S

Dragon’s Dogma 2 shouldn’t exist. At least not in this form. After all this time, it’s nothing short of a miracle that its developers convinced Capcom to not just make this sequel but make a sequel that cements some of the original games’ janky “shortcomings” as features. Dragon’s Dogma 2 improves many aspects of that title, but it is remarkably close to that game that has long been a true love-it-or-hate-it affair. 

We should all be grateful they managed to get this thing out the door, though. Dragon’s Dogma 2 often feels chaotic and loose in ways that will make you question if it is functioning as intended. In that chaos, though, lies the game’s true purpose. This is a title that is meant to capture the heart of video game adventuring by ensuring that you are never entirely sure what consequences nearly every action will have. Even when the wheels fall off, the game manages to take you places that few others can. 

Diablo 4: Loot Reborn

PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Windows PC

I know, I know. But hear me out. 

The idea of the “infinite game” that uses a live service model to be updated indefinitely is not going anywhere. At least not anytime soon. When critiquing that concept, it becomes necessary to not just call out the games that abuse that model but praise the games that use that idea as the basis of something worthwhile. That way, you create two distinct, yet valid paths of discussion: what to do and what not to do. 

While Diablo 4 has been a “what not to do” tale for too long, the game’s extensive Loot Reborn update has addressed nearly every major concern fans have had about the ARPG so far. Nothing was taken for granted in this seasonal release that makes nearly every aspect of the game feel purposeful, rewarding, and, yes, fun again (or for the first time). No, it’s not technically a new game in any traditional sense. But at a time when the untraditional is rapidly becoming the way of things, it’s an incredible example of how an update can make a struggling game feel brand new. 

Final Fantasy 7: Rebirth

PlayStation 5

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Final Fantasy 7: Rebirth is a divisive game. It is, after all, the follow-up to the incredibly divisive Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Not only does this game take Remake’s controversial narrative decisions to often bewildering new levels of insanity, but the discussion around this game makes it clear that nobody can even agree on what Rebirth is. Is it a sequel? A remake? A reboot? It’s a seemingly minor distinction that gets to the heart of the ways this game has inspired arguments over nearly everything.

Yet, there is brilliance in Rebirth that should be close to undeniable. The Rebirth team arguably tried to do too much with this title, but they have managed to deliver a modern Triple-A epic that goes out of its way to offer a variety of activities, mechanics, and moments that are better designed than the core components of many other games. Is it perfect? No, but ambition rarely is nor should we expect it to be. 

Helldivers 2

Windows PC, PlayStation 5

There may come a day when Helldivers 2 is viewed as the unlikely turning point for the industry. At a time when every studio is looking for live service hits and few seem to find them, the Helldivers 2 team delivered a live service game that used that technology to deliver a truly dynamic experience. More importantly, they did so with a “budget” release in a franchise pretty much everyone had overlooked despite its potential. Helldivers 2 was not “supposed” to be a blockbuster. Now that it is one, it should force a lot of studios to come up with new answers to old questions. 

More importantly, Helldivers 2 is fun. This squad shooter relies on remarkably few gimmicks to deliver one of the most intense and purely entertaining action experiences in recent memory. You return to Helldivers 2 because it’s fun to play rather than because there is a laundry list of live service obligations to fulfill. When you do return, the live service elements keep the game fresh. What a concept. 

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Windows PC

Rather than rest on their laurels when the Yakuza/Like a Dragon series finally became an international success, developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio decided to stick with what got them there by staying bold. That’s especially true of 2020’s Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which essentially converted the franchise into an elaborate JRPG. When the studio announced that Infinite Wealth would be a follow-up to Like a Dragon, fans wondered how the developers would keep things fresh now that the genre pivot was “expected.”

Well, it’s hard to call anything about Infinite Wealth “expected” even when it sounds like we’ve seen it before. Yes, this series has always had minigames, but this new resort management minigame that rivals a full Animal Crossing release takes them to new levels. Yes, we’ve always been able to explore a city in these games, but the move from Tokyo to Hawaii allowed the team to explore entirely new cultural concepts and showcase their world design/writing talents. And yes, that turn-based JRPG combat makes a return, but the countless refinements made to those mechanics confirm that the Like A Dragon team will never settle for good enough.

Pacific Drive

PlayStation 5, Windows PC

It’s hardly unusual for car owners to form a bond with their rides, even if some are intent on abusing the privilege. It’s not just this daily part of your life that you’ve invested so much time and money into; it is the thing that, theoretically, could be your passport to the kind of freedom that has often been romanticized in ways that have turned the automobile into an almost mythological figure in Americana lore. 

Pacific Drive taps into that concept in its own unique ways. This survival game throws you into a hostile landscape defined by seemingly impossible odds. Your only hope of surviving is to not only upgrade your car with the resources you find along the way but also keep it running so that you can stay on the run with it. Pacific Drive can be janky, frustrating, and can sometimes fail on you at the worst times. Yet, we could say the same of our favorite cars. Much like those vehicles that we put so much of our hearts and souls into, Pacific Drive gets there in the end and leaves you with a lot of fond memories. 

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown

Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Windows PC

At a time when it feels like that seemingly simple Prince of Persia remake is just never coming out, nobody could have seen something like The Lost Crown coming. The idea of a Prince of Persia game developed in the style of a Metroidvania title makes sense on paper, but Ubisoft’s recent history of fumbling the bag with their legacy franchises raised serious doubts about how worthwhile this seemingly clever endeavor would be. 

Yet, The Lost Crown turned out to be a classic Ubisoft adventure in the best ways. I’m not talking about the company’s biggest game but rather that golden time in the early 2000s when Ubisoft put itself on the map by releasing a series of titles that, in ways big and small, always tried to do things just a little different or just a bit better. That spirit is alive and put to incredible use in this game that offers an incredible Metroidvania adventure with enough new ideas to send other Metroidvania developers back to the drawing board. 

Solium Infernum

Windows PC

Few genres have benefited from the rise of indie gaming quite like the strategy genre. Those who simply do not care for that genre often balk at the complexity that those who love those games crave. Since indie titles do not necessarily need to appeal to anyone, they can cater to those more hardcore experiences.

Well, Solium Infernum pushes the limits of those cries for “more.” By tasking you with claiming the Infernal Throne of Hell, this strategy game often throws you into scenarios that feel unwinnable and asks you to navigate a textbook of political, militaristic, and character-building mechanics to have a chance of surviving. Is it a lot? My word, yes. Is it too much? For those who crave grand strategy titles that reward hundreds of hours of play with an experience that couldn’t have been replicated with less, I’d argue it is not. 

Tekken 8

Windows PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S

Do we take Tekken for granted? Has the fighting game franchise that has almost always delivered for decades been so remarkably consistent for such a long time that we sometimes forget to assign it its proper spot in the pantheon? Perhaps, but if it’s easiest to love Tekken when you’re playing Tekken, then Tekken 8 may be the series’ finest achievement yet. 

Tekken 8 may lack the slightly more gimmicky gameplay hooks that more recent Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter games have benefited from, but you’ll have a hard time finding a better fighting experience when the round starts. Those nearly perfect Tekken mechanics have arguably been perfected in this game that finds ways to get new fans in on the action without having to water down the combat concepts they will undoubtedly grow to love. 

The post The Best Games of 2024 (So Far) appeared first on Den of Geek.

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