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The best video games of 2024 so far

Cait Sith dances in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.
Square Enix

After a 2023 packed with generation-defining games, it felt like 2024 might be more of a comedown. There weren’t a lot of big new releases scheduled to drop outside of a busy first few months, and heavy hitters like Grand Theft Auto 6 aren’t arriving until 2025. Traditional wisdom would have you thinking that gamers were in for a very slow year with few highlights.

Now halfway through the year, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In reality, 2024 has been every bit as exciting as 2023 so far, though in more niche corners of the industry. We haven’t gotten a lot of massive action-adventure games that mainstream audiences seem to gravitate toward, but it’s been a historic year for RPGs and independent games especially. This May alone has seen the release of several phenomenal indies that have completely taken over my own personal, in-progress list of the year’s best games. To keep our readers up to date, we’ve assembled an early list of our favorite games of 2024 so far. We expect this to shift around a lot before our final year-end list, but this should give you a temperature check on what we’re enjoying so far. Play these games now before you find yourself wading through a massive backlog later this year.

10. Indika

A nun speaks to a man in Indika.
11 Bit Studios

It’s my belief that games don’t always need to be traditionally fun. If a game is dealing with heavy subject matter, the gameplay should match those themes. That’s what the unapologetic Indika does so well. The narrative adventure game follows a nun during her crisis of faith, one where the literal devil on her shoulder tries to get her to reckon with the logic of Christianity. How do you quantify sin? Is God truly righteous? Is all of her devotion worth it? Indika presents those challenging questions with at-times antagonistic gameplay. One scene has the nun slowly filling a bucket of water for nearly 20 minutes before having it all unceremoniously dumped out — a meaningless task that was all for naught. Confrontational moments like that make for a game that’s sure to be polarizing, but it’ll reward anyone who is willing to engage with its theological debates.

9. Animal Well

A blob stands in a capybara room in Animal Well.
Bigmode

When I first played Animal Well at Summer Game Fest years ago, I instantly knew it would become a critical darling. It had the same appeal as Fez, giving players a richly detailed 2D world filled with secrets. At the time, I didn’t know how deep the rabbit hole would go. Even after spending over 20 hours on it, I still don’t. The multilayered platformer is a revelatory experience, one that puts the surprise back in a Metroidvania genre that’s been taken over by boilerplate action platformers. If you want to get the full extent of thr experience, go into it knowing as little as possible. You won’t be disappointed by what you find.

8. Mars After Midnight

An alien peeks through a door in Mars After Midnight.
Lucas Pope

When the Playdate first launched two years ago, my expectations for its games were tempered. I figured it would be home for a few fun, quirky curiosities that made it worth a purchase. What I didn’t expect was for it to include one of the most ingeniously designed games I’ve played so far this decade. Mars After Midnight is a deduction game by Lucas Pope that plays like a kid-friendly version of his heavier Papers, Please. In it, players run an alien support group and are tasked with making sure the right critters get in and keeping the event’s snack table clean. That all happens through wonderfully creative Playdate controls that make great use of its crank. It’s as close to a killer app as I imagine the Playdate will get, so now’s the time to grab one if you’ve been holding off.

7. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

Kiryu and Kasuga grasp hands in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth.
Sega

Like a Dragon (formerly Yakuza) was always one of those series I admired from afar. I watched from the sidelines curiously as I took in zany gameplay videos that subverted any expectations I had for the hard-boiled crime series. I’d finally jump in with 2020’s excellent Yakuza: Like a Dragon and I’ve been hooked since. So it’s no surprise that its sequel, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, would grab me too. The sequel gives the franchise the shake-up it needed with its Hawaiian setting, an entire Animal Crossing minigame, and an emotional story that always had my eyes a little misty. It might not be the best entry point for the ongoing soap opera, but it’s one hell of a chapter.

6. Hades 2

Melinoe blasting enemies with magic in Hades 2
Supergiant Games

Originally, we didn’t plan on including Hades 2 here. We tend not to consider early access games for lists like this until their 1.0 launch. We expected the initial version of Hades 2 to be great, but figured it wouldn’t be far enough along to make a judgment call. Our minds quickly changed when we played it. Even in early access, Hades 2 feels like a fully complete roguelike. It builds on everything that made Hades so memorable, but layers in tons of new systems and a witchy tone that makes it feel distinct. We’re already obsessing over it as we take the fight to Chronos in its shockingly full-bodied roguelike runs. I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to wait for the full release, but you could jump in now and feel like you’re getting the full game. And a fantastic one at that. I only imagine that future updates will kick it further up the list by the end of the year.

5. Helldivers 2

A Helldivers 2 player fires a laser canon.
Sony Interactive Entertainment.

In an age where live service games don’t always last a year before getting shut down, Helldivers 2 is the stability the industry needed. The top-notch co-op shooter gets the games as a service formula down pat thanks to a constantly evolving story and strong community support that’s brought its players together. That’s before getting into the actual gameplay, which perfectly turns Starship Troopers into a co-op comedy of errors. It’s a deceptively hilarious shooter that’ll have you at your teammate’s throats after someone accidentally calls a bombing run down on you.

4. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown

Sargon reaches for a feather in Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown.
Ubisoft

When Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown was first announced, it was subject to some knee-jerk criticism. Some fans voiced disappointment with its return to 2D, and instead wished for a fully 3D revival. I imagine those players are still cleaning the egg off their faces. The Lost Crown is a top-notch Metroidvania that masters the 2D action-adventure formula (the very one that Animal Well diverts from with equal success). Combat feels deep from its opening moments, the world is rich with mystery, and it contains an excellent Memory Shard system that deserves to become the industry standard for every game like it. As far as revivals go, you couldn’t have asked for a better one than this.

3. Final Fantasy VII Rebirth

Cloud,. Aerith, and Tifa stand together in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.
Square Enix

Square Enix had an impossible task on its hands when setting out to make the second chapter of its Final Fantasy VII remake trilogy. How do you make the most shocking moment in history surprising again? Rather than dancing around that challenge, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth makes it the entire point. The incredibly tense adventure constantly toys with players emotions as it leads them to what they fear is inevitable. Is it too late to change the future? Can we really do it even if it was possible? Those questions create a thrilling RPG where self-doubt is the villain — and it’s a foe even more ruthless than destiny. The result is an unforgettable, if polarizing, sequel about learning to fight on in the face of grief.

2. Balatro

A player plays a straight in Balatro.
LocalThunk

I always find that my favorite games in any given year are the ones I’d never heard of going into it. That was exactly the case with Balatro, a roguelike poker game that’s become a go-to obsession. The ingenious game has me playing poker hands to hit the score needed to beat a round. The bar raises each time, but I can expand how many points a hand scores and its multiplier through Jokers with passive perks and card upgrades that buff my deck’s potential. The end result is the kind of game that’s impossible to put down. There are so many strategies to experiment with that each run feels rewarding. My greatest accomplishment came from a deck entirely built around one-of-a-kinds. To see how I could have possibly pulled that off, you’ll need to try it for yourself.

1. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes

A character stands in front of a cracked mirror in Lorelei and the Laser Eyes.
Annapurna Interactive

I wish I could forget everything I know about Lorelei and the Laser Eyes. What I’d give to experience every second of this miraculously designed puzzle game again with no knowledge of its devious solutions. That’s a rare feeling, one that’s long been reserved for puzzle genre classics like The Witness and Return of the Obra Dinn. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes doesn’t just sit next to those greats — it usurps the throne. The stylish creative vision uses ever-changing — but always genius — puzzle logic to lead players through a winding hotel filled with moody secrets. The prize at the center of it all? A thoughtful meditation on the twisted relationship between fiction and reality.

Honorable mentions: Persona 5 Reload, Granblue Fantasy Relink, Minishoot’ Adventures, Tekken 8, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden, Unicorn Overlord, Berserk Boy, Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story, Children of the Sun, Boxes: Lost Fragments

Editors' Recommendations

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Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
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