TA Top Five: Single-Player Only

By Marc Caccamise, 2 years ago
The popularity of multiplayer has exploded over these past two generations of gaming. Much of this is in thanks to certain popular franchises, such as Battlefield, Call of Duty, and numerous different sports titles. The multiplayer formula has now enticed millions of gamers to come back on an annual basis for the next iteration of these series. This success, in turn, has caused developers to hold the inclusion of multiplayer to a much higher importance than ever before, so much so that it has become an accepted occurrence for developers to tack on a multiplayer experience, even if it resembles that of another game with its own cosmetic look, just for the sake of having it. Going further in that direction, some games, such as Respawn Entertainment's Titanfall, have abandoned the single-player experience altogether for a complete focus on multiplayer gaming.

Not all developers feel the necessity to force a multiplayer option into their game, however. Instead they focus on the creation of a narrative story-line that is engrossing to the player and immerses them into the world. Often complimented with a strong cast of characters, these games deliver a strong enough appeal to make up for the lack of multiplayer, which can add that lost replay value that multiplayer is intended to bring. These games would not necessarily be tarnished with a buddy tagging along, but experiencing them alone ultimately provides a much more enjoyable and immersive experience. This week's Top Five, which was suggested by Judg3mentDrag0n, features some of the best games that are single-player only.

Honorable Mentions

Fallout 3
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Fallout 3 is one of my undisputed favorite games of all time and was a major influence behind why I bought an Xbox 360. What is so ultimately appealing about the game is that you are free to roam the gigantic wasteland, in whatever way you'd like, as soon as you step outside of the vault. While having a buddy tag along would have been enjoyable from time to time, it also would have taken away from that "lone wanderer" vibe, which saw the reality of you being alone against the rest of the world. Stockpiled with an enormous array of guns and other miscellaneous items, scavenging and surviving the Capital Wasteland was all too enjoyable on the search for your father. While this narrative was muter than that of the other games on this list, one has to remember that, while discovering your father's fate is the ultimate goal, the journey along the way is what brings the real depth to the game.


An unsung desire in video games is having the ability to make all of your own choices to shape your character's future. While many games may tease this, with stealth-oriented levels for example, which ultimately surmise in you forcibly being detected, Dishonored's strong characteristic was that it always allowed the player to choose how to play the game. You could, of course, choose a guns-blazing style, but what was far more impressive was the player's ability to stay undetected throughout entire levels; even after dealing with the main targets as well. The depth of choice even went as far as allowing the player to opt out of dealing a killing blow to the target, but instead searching out the non-lethal alternative to achieve similar results. There are far and few other games on the market that afford the player the depth of freedom that Dishonored does.

Top Five

5 - Dead Space

The first game that comes to mind, whenever thinking of a truly fantastic survival-horror, is Dead Space. Creepy, dark corridors filled with necromorphs that pop out from every available ventilation shaft -- this kept me in an upright and alert position for the entirety of my play. It's rare that you come across a game that continually gives you feelings of wanting it to be over, while leaving you wanting more to satisfy the thrill of it all. While Dead Space has gone on to have two sequels, it is with the original that a player will find the most raw experience possible as, truthfully, the sequels tended to shed some of what made Dead Space so special. That uncertainty of how the necromorphs will react, the skewed pattern of when they jump out at you, and the unnerving feeling of being trapped in space with them is at its highest in the original game.

4 - Alan Wake
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Remedy's psychological thriller provided players with an entirely different kind of enemy: the darkness. With the flashlight being one of Alan's main weapons, players had to find solace in whatever light sources were available. Out in the darkness laid evil forces that were not fully meant to be understood, but were rather figments of Alan's imagination come to life. The imaginative method of "burning" the darkness from foes before being able to dispose of them was the star quality of Alan Wake, as storing up weapons such as flares and flash-bang grenades became a key strategy later on when more difficult foes began to appear. Even with the XBLA-released "sequel", Alan Wake's American Nightmare, the story remains very much open and, while plans for another title seem to have been shelved for now, you can only hope that some sort of closure may one day come to this story.

3 - The Walking Dead
18/06/12 - Episode 2 Screen 1

Joining both the comic book and TV show, Telltale's The Walking Dead is perhaps the most emotionally charged experience of the three. Choice is the devious tactic that the developer has employed over the first one-and-a-half seasons so far, as players are often presented with choices in both dialogue and action that are often not easy to decide between. These choices are remembered by the characters around you and can have an impact in events that transpire later on in the story, making these decisions much more important to make. While these choices in the long-term have been noted as not carrying much weight thus far, short-term choices can often involve deciding the fate of fellow survivors around you. The zombie-filled apocalypse is not an easy world to live in, and Telltale makes sure to reinforce that for the player with every heart-felt decision they have to make.

2 - Metro 2033 / Metro: Last Light

In a market filled with post-apocalyptic games, the Metro series stands tall as one of the darkest ones that you'll find. Stricken by nuclear war, the surface has become unlivable under normal circumstances and humanity has been forced to the confines of Russia's vast metro system. The dark and depressing tunnels, and the new wasteland above, are now dangerously inhospitable to the human race and the game excels at pointing out this bleak situation. What helps to really push home the point is that the amount of resources a player can expect to find out in the world will only ever just get them by -- maybe a few bullets here, a health pack now and again, and, especially if you're on the surface, a new air filter to replace your always-expiring one. The player will always feel exposed to the danger of the world around them and that's especially true when coming into contact with a pack of enemies, which gives off the feeling of truly being at a disadvantage. If you have yet to experience either title, a new redux version of both games will be coming to Xbox One this summer, which will provide the perfect opportunity to do so.

1 - BioShock (Xbox 360)
Quote Top Five Bioshock

BioShock is masterful in how it unfolds a story. From seemingly a random plane crash to a trip to the bottom of the ocean comes a tale much more involved, which is wrapped in deceit and planning. The beautiful underwater city of Rapture provides the perfect setting as the dark and dangerous environment is everything opposite of what its Utopian aspirations were. Instead, filled with crazed splicers, the journey to your goal is anything but simple and all of the time you are having to be weary of Atlas, Ryan, and Tenenbaum, and what their true angle is. Watching the intertwined story unravel as the game progresses was perhaps the greatest part of the entire experience. That seems exemplified to an even higher note after seeing how the BioShock story was tied together during Burial at Sea - Episode Two. If it is indeed the end of Irrational's involvement in the series then they sent what started out as a simple plane crash out with a bang.

Now, "would you kindly" sound off in the comments below as to what some of your favorite single-player only games are, and what you would absolutely encourage the rest of the community to get to playing immediately?

The TA Team will be bringing you The TA Top Five every Sunday until we run out of coolness to debate and discuss. If you have an idea for a Top Five you'd like us to do, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Marc Caccamise
Written by Marc Caccamise
Writer of news, features, and reviews for TrueAchievements since June 2013. Discovered the incredible world of video games at a young age with Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf, and haven't looked back since. Outside of gaming, I'm usually found reading up on various history topics or rooting for the lowly Buffalo Bills and Sabres.