You know the feeling. You bang on and on for years to a mate about how good a game is, and when they finally get around to playing it they wonder what the chuff you were going on about. Games tend to age you see. Some overnight like pears. Some gracefully like a fine wine. A select few, seemingly chosen by the gods, are immortal.
Old games tend to be much, much better in my head than they are in actuality. It’s a delightful combination of nostalgia and evolving expectations. Shenmue is the perfect example. It and its sequel are (or should I say were, now) two of my favourite games of all time. I had an idea in my head of exactly how they were, but going back and replaying them, witnessing Ryo Hazuki's freakish polygonal face and the endless stream of QTEs, taught me to be careful with my memories.
Some games though, stand the test of time regardless. Those special nuggets of gaming goodness that you can come back to 20 years later and it’s just as good as the first time you booted it up. The Super Mario Bros of this world. So it would be great if we could share the classics of the PC gaming world that are as good today as they have ever been, still holding up despite the dated visuals and lack of production values.
I’ll get the ball rolling with a solid pair that for me will never become obsolete - Deus Ex and Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars. The former is pretty much self-explanatory. Deus Ex looked rough even when it came it, and it certainly hasn’t got prettier with age. It’s a bit obtuse, clunky, and the combat is terrible, but what a game. No game since has offered the level of choice and freedom that Deus Ex offers with its sprawling levels and intricate designs. I’m still waiting for it to be bettered on that front.
The original Broken Sword meanwhile, while not to everyone’s tastes, is my gaming comfort food. About once a year I boot this up and have a playthrough. By now I could do it blindfolded but it’s not about the puzzles any more, it’s about a charming and easy-going adventure that’s as good today as it ever was.
Over to you then, what are some of your favourite older PC games that still hold up today? Any on a different tack, which recent games do you think will age gracefully?