We have previously talked about our idea for the greatest game, but in this article we have decided to change gears and talk about something that most people don’t think about. We will discuss the least flawed games ever made; not necessarily the best games, just the games that do what they’re meant to do with the least amount of flaws and with great polish, which is mostly how our gaming review scoring system works anyway as this is the fairest way to score a game.
This is an unsorted list, so there is no countdown and no particular order. Don’t worry about spoilers, there are none to be found within this article.
On this page we’ll list games that almost made the list, but didn’t due to several small flaws. This just goes to show how good all of these games are, as simple, easily forgiven flaws excluded these games from the main list. Note that the flaws we point out aren’t graphics related or anything else that shallow and unimportant.
- Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer – It is one of the absolute best games and best RPGs of all time, but didn’t make the list because of some rushed story elements and questionable balance with one gameplay mechanic (the Spirit Eater hunger mechanic). The rushed story elements aren’t worse than what is seen in most other games—it is ranked #2 on our list of best video game stories after all. It just raised the bar so high with its overall writing quality and story complexity, that having a few rushed elements is too noticeable when compared to the rest of the game.
- Penumbra – An episodic horror game, and a true legend. One of the absolute best horror games of all time. It didn’t make the list due to a few clunky gameplay mechanics that can make certain parts of the game frustrating. Again, easily forgivable especially given the age of the game, but our main lists is comprised of arguably flawless (but not necessarily better) games.
- Amnesia: The Dark Descent – Made by the same people who made Penumbra, and another legendary game in its own right. It doesn’t suffer from any clunkiness that Penumbra suffers from, but lacks the story depth of Penumbra (although it’s still a deeper story than that of most other games).
- Metro 2033 / Metro 2033 Redux – A powerful story-driven first person shooter with strong survival elements. Redux is of course a remake of the game on a better engine, although it actually has issues that don’t exist in the original, namely clipping issues that can make the game frustrating at times. On the other hand, the original lacks the amazingly detailed exploration and additional openness of Redux. The original has less exploration, and the exploration only leads to loot while Redux has many areas that tell stories of their own, and effectively add sorrow to the atmosphere.
- Modded Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition – The fact that mods are needed for this game to be considered for this list automatically disqualifies it. But with the right mods, New Vegas truly is lacking in any obvious flaws.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a turn-based strategy game released by Firaxis in 2012. It captured our Best Strategy Game of 2012 award with ease. The game is really about two things: tactical turn-based combat, and micromanaging your headquarters. It does both things pretty much perfectly, and without sacrificing complexity.
It’s not the most ambitious game, but it does a whole lot without making any obvious mistakes. There are so many difficulty options so that you can customize it just the way you want. On Classic mode, with some of the extra options enabled, I find it strikes a perfect balance between being tactically and strategically demanding while offering some stat-based luck and variation. On this difficulty mode, it is so amazingly balanced; AI is actually intelligent making for a proper opponent, and AI isn’t just blatantly overpowered or underpowered as they can do much of what you do, with any advantages or disadvantages boiling down to equipment used.
The micromanaging is advanced but perfectly logical, and never clumsy. Also, XCOM’s replayability is one of its most impressive aspects, since it’s a dynamic game that always changes.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown does it all right, and it’s improved upon further with the Enemy Within expansion. The best got better with many new additions offered by Enemy Within.
XCOM 2 comes out very soon, and it looks like it will somehow be significantly better than Enemy Unknown with Enemy Within, taking advantage of being PC exclusive unlike Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within. This is why Firaxis ranks as one of the greatest game developers of all time—unwavering focus and constant improvement.
The Wolf Among Us
The Wolf Among Us is an episodic point-and-click adventure game developed by Telltale Games. We reviewed it here. The most memorable aspects of the game are the setting, characters, and the strong, focused direction of its plot and cutscenes. It takes on a mystery/detective theme where you play as Bigby, both the Big Bad Wolf and Sheriff of Fabletown.
The plot builds up slowly and methodically, only letting some air out near the end only to build up once more due to a twist. It is perhaps Telltale’s most tightly crafted game. Every time the plot thickens you feel it, because of the sheer effectiveness in its delivery. It’s not the most complex story but it will keep you thoughtfully guessing throughout.
The only real problem with The Wolf Among Us is the fear that we may never get a second season, because Telltale has too many other ongoing projects. The ending, without spoiling anything, leaves us hanging. It raises many questions and leaves us hungry for a second season, but the chances of us getting a second season are very low. So we may be stuck with this cliffhanger forever, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We simply would have liked more. This isn’t even a fault of the game itself, although you can fault Telltale for it.
Tales from the Borderlands
Telltale does it again with Tales from the Borderlands, which only recently finished. Like our previous entry, it is an episodic point-and-click adventure game. It is far more lighthearted than every other Telltale game, as one would expect from a game with “Borderlands” in the name. But it’s not the same childish humor seen in the other Borderlands game, this is Telltale at their best.
Like every other recent Telltale game, Tales from the Borderlands is character driven. It is intense, constantly hilarious, and laughably ridiculous at the same time, the player will feel joy, sadness, sorrow, gut-wrenching anxiety, anger, and more while playing the game. It takes full control over you, and as a result you’ll feel just what Telltale intended you to feel.
No game has ever tried to do what Tales from the Borderlands does. Several films seem to go for a similar blend of humor with intense action, namely recent Marvel movies, but these movies get too ridiculous and never have good enough character development to deliver the impact that Tales from the Borderlands provides.
This game won’t have a second season, but it ends perfectly. As much as the emotional part of me wants a second season just to spend more time with the wonderful cast, the rational side of me says let it end on a positive note.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director’s Cut
Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut is a story-driven hybrid RPG, action, and stealth game. It almost didn’t make the list, but at the end of the day it hardly does anything wrong.
The story made our list of ten best stories ever told in gaming, the stealth gameplay is more advanced than most and perfectly fluid. The action gameplay (shooting) led to us almost excluding the game from this list. It’s not really flawed action gameplay, it’s just not quite as advanced or flexible as the stealth. But this is just us wanting more, not us finding flaws or errors and wanting to change it.
One controversial aspect of the game is its ending. It is a “button press” ending; multiple endings decided only by what you choose at the last minute of the game. However, we don’t consider this a flaw for this game because it is not a full-fledged RPG, it is a hybrid. Had it been a full fledged RPG then we’d consider it a flaw, and it would have then been excluded from the list.
What separates this game from all of the previous entries is the ambition behind it. It is undoubtedly bigger in scale and more ambitious than the previously mentioned games, since it spans a 50 hour length, has large and very detailed hubs, and never deviates from its story focus. It also offers multiple playstyles thanks to its RPG elements.
Dishonored is one of the most popular recent stealth games, and deservedly so. It is yet another one of the games on this list which we reviewed. We noted in the review how close to perfect it is, so it was one of the first games we chose to be on this list.
Dishonored is a revenge tale. The story is fairly simple but still engaging, unlike their previous game Dark Messiah: Of Might and Magic which didn’t attempt to make the story engaging throughout, instead focusing purely on gameplay. Dishonored manages to perfect both its fairly simple story and its gameplay. Whereas Dark Messiah has excellent action gameplay and lackluster stealth gameplay, Dishonored is phenomenal in both regards. It is just about as good an action game as it is a stealth game, and both are quite advanced.
The most amazing thing about Dishonored is probably its fluidity. It is one of the more advanced action games with regards to its gameplay, both action and stealth. It has very advanced movement mechanics/platforming (you can climb essentially any ledge), and very advanced (essentially) magical abilities. Just have a look at some gameplay footage:
In the above video I captured, I was obviously more focused on stealth, but you can also look at videos of action oriented gameplay from skilled players and you’ll see just how amazingly fluid it looks. It’s amazing that it feels just as fluid as it looks, that is to say perfectly fluid. The action mechanics are less advanced than those in Dark Messiah, but far more smooth. Stealth is more advanced than Dark Messiah and perhaps every other stealth game. The gameplay is such that we consider it to be one of the most pure fun games ever made, an article we’ll do in the future.
Dishonored provides very memorable atmosphere, beautiful art style, an engaging story, flawless gameplay mechanics, and it’s not overly short like most games are. It’s nearly 20 hours long, and then has a secondary two-part DLC campaign that’s just about as good as the main one and about half the length. We don’t think of it as the best game ever made, it’s not quite ambitious enough for us to call it that, but it has virtually no flaws in its design. The only flaw is its engine, which is Unreal Engine 3, as it is prone to stuttering on many system configurations. Even with G-SYNC.
SOMA is the most recent game on our list. We reviewed it right here. This article was written less than two months after the release of SOMA, and I still can’t stop thinking about it. It is a psychological horror game made by the creators of Penumbra and Amnesia: The Dark Descent, both of which nearly made the list. SOMA on the other hand was an easy choice.
SOMA is wonderfully polished and nearly twice as long as its spiritual predecessors. It ranks #3 on our list of best stories in video game history, and #1 on our list of greatest horror games of all time. SOMA was designed to be thought-provoking and disturbing on a psychological level, and to deliver terror through its gameplay design. In both regards, it is clearly superior to every other horror game we’ve played.
It is also considerably more polished than Amnesia and Penumbra, and benefits greatly from its higher budget. There is far more character interaction and a ton of dialogue, almost every enemy encounter is unique, and the levels are far more detailed and interactive. Gameplay never gets repetitive due to the uniqueness of each and every enemy encounter and also the object interaction.
SOMA is one of the most tightly crafted games there is. It’s all about the story and atmosphere, and both are some of the most memorable we’ve seen in gaming. We can’t find any real gameplay flaws; one may not agree with the decision to abandon combat altogether, but that’s a disagreement rather than an obvious flaw, as it was of course a deliberate choice on behalf of the developers.
SOMA raises the bar so high with regard to storytelling (for a video game) that it results in the player looking harder for shortcomings in the writing. Even so, the closest thing you can find to a shortcoming is one character who wasn’t as well developed as he could have been. This character makes a bizarre appearance near the end of the game, and he doesn’t add much to the game at the end of the day. But he doesn’t really detract from the game either, and you can discover more about him if you explore and read notes and logs scattered around throughout the game. Plus, SOMA never suggested that it would focus strongly on any one character other than the protagonist and main supporting character.
Adrian Chmielarz did point out some flaws in his blog about SOMA, but those are flaws that exist within every single game ever made. The flaws he pointed out consist of some inconsistencies in environmental interaction; how you can open certain doors, but not others that look the same. If such flaws excluded games from our list, then our list would be empty. The article is called “least flawed games” after all, opposed to “utterly flawless games.”
Dragon Age: Origins
The final game on our list is Dragon Age: Origins. We believe this is one of very few contenders worthy of being called the greatest game of all time, and it ranks #2 on our list of most ambitious games ever made. Just think about this for a second; it is objectively one of the absolute most ambitious games ever made, and pretty much any flaw you come up with will be a matter of personal taste/disagreement opposed to something that just doesn’t function correctly. This shows that Dragon Age: Origins truly is a spectacle and a once in a lifetime achievement.
We talked a lot about this game in the articles linked above, so give those a read if you haven’t. It has six playable introductions, each one completely different and each one between 90-180 minutes long. It has more plot variation than perhaps any other game, having both subtle and huge changes, totally changing the course of the plot depending on player choice, and also completely changing character disposition and dialogue toward the player based on player choice.
Take what we say about its ambition and diversity, and combine it with the lack of serious flaws, and you have a game that seems too good to be true. Its biggest flaws have to be the rather static NPC behavior in towns/villages/cities (but it’s not an open world game like The Elder Scrolls so this is expected), and one section earlier in the game taking place in “The Fade” that may drag on for a bit too long. Both of these issues are fixed by two specific mods which we highly recommend, although mods don’t have any impact on this list. We just thought we’d point this out to our readers.
One may take issue with the story lacking in originality and/or the depth of stories like Planescape: Torment. While these potential “issues” are in fact true—the story is not particularly complex or original, it never promises more and still manages to be logical and emotionally engaging. A story doesn’t need to be original or extraordinarily complex to deliver, as demonstrated by Dragon Age: Origins.
So, this game doesn’t really do much wrong at all. It is a full fledged RPG with many different playstyles, with arguably the best balance. It has some of the strongest character development and is one of the most dynamic, interactive games ever made. It offers a substantial amount of role playing. Dragon Age: Origins is a game that truly does it all.
Last but not least is Planescape: Torment. We can’t say enough good things about this game.
Planescape possesses the best writing quality in video game history, not only with regards to story depth but also the fact that every character you can have a conversation with (which is many, as this is a large scale RPG) is an actual character with distinct writing, personality, traits. It’s incredible. Furthermore the amount of quest content embarrasses most other RPGs especially those from today, and especially when you consider how every quest is unique (no generic fetch quests and the like here).
The level design is awe inspiring, at least for a 2D game. It’s unique and highly detailed, and again every location is just filled with content. And all of the content is of the very best quality; non repetitive, the best writing in the industry.
That wraps up this article. Feel free to leave comments, thoughts, questions, criticisms, threats, and anything else in the comment section below!