The Vault – Top Ten Desert Island Games

by on June 20, 2013

The idea of “Desert Island Discs” has long been a staple of BBC radio. I grew up listening to various celebrities telling me which pieces of music and which albums they would take with them if they were going to be stranded on a desert island without the chance of more music in the future. I was thinking about that feature recently and started to wonder about which games I would take with me if I knew that I couldn’t get access to anything else for the rest of my life. As I started to form the list, some strange choices started to come out of it, games that I wouldn’t have thought I’d have chosen beforehand, but here I was listing them.

As you would expect though, these are the games that I would want with me, and I’m sure you’ve all got totally different ‘Desert Island Games’, so why don’t you let us know what yours are in the comments at the bottom of this article? In the mean time, here’s my list…


If I’m going to spend the rest of my life on a desert island with only video games to keep me company, then I’m going to want to have some of my beloved music with me. If I can’t have Spotify, iPods or anything to contain the music, then taking Rock Band – with all of the music, of course – seems like a very good option. It would have to be Rock Band 3 though, with all of the songs from the previous versions of the title already exported and included too. Nothing like a little bit of variety when it comes to musical choice.

Rock Band 3 is a great choice when it comes to attempting to keep myself entertained. If I wanted to just sit back and listen to some music, then I could do that, but if I wanted to enjoy myself even more, and sit in the sunshine with a guitar in my hand, then the option to do that would be there as well. The Rock Band series of games have always held more enjoyment for me anyway, especially with the ability to export songs from the previous versions, so it was a no-brainer really.


As well as having music to accompany me during my lifetime stint of loneliness, I would feel the need to engross myself into another world in order to take my mind away from everything for a little while. Having told myself that I also wouldn’t be allowed any internet access on this desert island, that automatically ruled out any kind of MMORPG that I would normally have taken, and while I have never been the biggest lover of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s the best offline RPG available on any platform.

On a secondary level also, if I was to be stranded in the heat of a desert island, then being able to escape into the snowy hills and cool lowlands of Skyrim would offer a welcome respite from the heat of my current predicament; even if the temperature change was purely psychological. Perhaps having all of eternity to enjoy my time in the latest offering from The Elder Scrolls universe would finally allow me experience all the game has to offer; I know I wouldn’t have the time otherwise.


I’m a huge fan of comic books, and if I wasn’t going to be allowed to take any of my comic book collection then I would need to take something to the desert island that would connect me to them in some way or another. This connection would take the form of a video game based on a comic book character and there’s no better example of that than the Batman series of games from Rocksteady. The perfect blend of action, stealth and storytelling taps in to everything that makes Batman an extraordinary character and playing any of the games over and over again wouldn’t be a problem at all.

Having both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City on this list would have been a little bit of a waste of one of the slots (although not too much of a waste, I have to admit) but picking one of them wasn’t the easiest of decisions. I eventually settled on Arkham Asylum just because there always felt to be more of a story within it, where Arkham City focused more on the open-world aspect of its gameplay. They were pretty close to each other though. Those scarecrow sections in Asylum also creep me out to this day.


I was never that much of a fan of the original Borderlands, although only playing it on OnLive through a less than stellar internet connection was probably the bulk of my issues. That being said, I wasn’t really excited for Borderlands 2 when it was released last year. All that changed once I’d gotten my hands on it though, the RPG elements perfectly slotted in to my preferred way of playing games, and the sheer amount of loot the player is able to obtain wouldn’t be out of place in some of my favourite dungeon-crawling Action-RPGs.

So why is it on this list at all if it’s only a game that I grew to love and didn’t even like it at first? Well, if I’ve got to spend the rest of my days alone, then not being afforded a laugh and a joke every now and then would probably kill me quicker than the sweltering heat would. I can’t think of many games out there that are almost literally a laugh a minute, but that also afford the player amazing amounts of gameplay too. Borderlands 2 ticks both of those boxes with gusto and it’s more than welcome to join me in my own personal Purgatory.


The Legacy of Kain series of games, especially the Soul Reaver sub-series, were the series of games that really made me crave storytelling from my interactive experiences. The interwoven stories were like dangling a carrot in front of a horse; I just needed the next little piece and I didn’t care how I was going to get it. The first Soul Reaver game really set the scene of a vampire who was stripped of his wings merely for sprouting them before his maker. Cast to his death, Raziel wakes up in the presence of The Elder God (voiced by the amazing Tony Jay) and things get off to a cracking start.

But the first Soul Reaver game isn’t the one I’d be taking to my desert island, it sets the story up, and does a great job at setting the scene of the world, the plight of Nosgoth and the whole surrounding areas, but nothing really starts moving quickly (backwards and forwards) until Soul Reaver 2. With Moebius sending our heroes throughout time, it’s a constant treat to see where you’re going to end up next. And you’re never really told where you are in time either, you’re left to figure that out for yourself using the Pillars of Nosgoth and the general state of decay of the area around you. I could play Soul Reaver 2 forever and a day, it never gets old to me. Here’s hoping the rumours about a forthcoming Legacy of Kain game are true!


I absolutely adore the Ratchet & Clank series of games (well, I love the series of platforming adventure games, didn’t love the Tower Defence game from earlier this year) so it should come as no surprise to people that know me that a Ratchet & Clank game would make it onto this list. I know I may have cheated a bit, in the sense that the Trilogy is – as you would probably expect – three games and not strictly a single game, but they come on a single disc so I’m sure that’s got to be allowed in some kind of rule book somewhere!

The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy collects the three games in the series to be released on the PlayStation 2, only this time in glorious HD. These three games – Ratchet & Clank, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando and Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal – are some of the best examples of an action platformer you’re still likely to find. They stand up to the test of time even now, and I’m sure they will after even a thousand playthroughs on my own desert island. Also, Clank’s strange little giggle would get be out of even the deepest depressions.


Another game series that I feel the need to play, no matter what it’s making fun of this time around, are the LEGO series of games. I’ve played every single one of them through to their end, even going so far as to unlock all of the hidden extras in most of them too; time permitting. The amount of content on offer for the completionist has always been exemplary and if I’m going to spend the remainder of my days with only a selection of games then I’m going to want two things: they need to be quality games, and they need to have a certain amount of longevity to them.

Almost all of the LEGO games tick both of these boxes without any problems whatsoever, but in a similar way to the Ratchet & Clank Trilogy, if I’ve only got a limited number of games that I can take with me, then I’m going to twist the rules a little bit to include bit more than I usually would have gotten. That’s why I’ve chosen LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga. Not only do I get to continue to get my Star Wars/Science Fiction fix while on a deserted island, I also get to play it for longer than I’d be able to with any of the other games in the series.


I wasn’t quiet about my adoration of Rayman Origins when it was released a few years ago. I played it at the Eurogamer Expo of that year and came away utterly amazed. If the full game could deliver that kind of experience then it would no doubt appear on my Game of the Year list – which it did. The reason that Rayman Origins would make its way onto my desert island would be for almost the exact same reasons as Rock Band 3: I could while away the hours simply listening to some of the stunning music that was included in the game.

Unlike Rock Band however, whose gameplay serves the purpose but the mere fact that you’re encumbered with peripherals means that you’re not going to enjoy it half as much as you are with a controller, the gameplay in Rayman Origins almost knows no equal. The control method was quick and responsive and there were multiple ways to play through each level, either by collecting all of the items or attempting a speed run – or both. I honestly couldn’t see myself tiring of playing through the game, and if that time ever came, I’d just put the game down for a month or two and then I’d be more than ready to come back to it for some more madness.


Another game that I played at Eurogamer Expo in 2011, although one that garnered decidedly less fanfare, was Ridge Racer Unbounded. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my time with it, as you can probably tell by its inclusion on this list. Now, the important thing to remember here is that by the rules of this little game, I have to pick games that I would be happy playing over and over again until the end of time, and Ridge Racer Unbounded is certainly one of those games. I’d want a little bit of variety in my lonely little life, so I’d want a racing game in there to keep things fresh, and when I look back over the last couple of years at the racing games that I’ve played, only one of them continues to jump out at me as the one that I’ve enjoyed above all others – and that’s Ridge Racer Unbounded.

I know that Ridge Racer Unbounded isn’t the greatest game out there, it isn’t even the greatest racing game, not by a long shot, but it’s the game that I think I’d have the most fun with over time. I know some of you are screaming at your monitors (or whatever you’re reading this on) telling me that I should be considering X game and Y, but I really do like Ridge Racer Unbounded; even if its title does contain a word that I still refuse to believe even exists.


If I’m going to be spending the rest of eternity stranded on my own on a desert island, then I’m going to want to keep the creative aspect of my brain at least a little bit active. That’s where LittleBigPlanet 2 comes in, with its Create Mode full of ideas and little bits of circuitry that would ensure that even if I couldn’t create something spectacular with what I had laying around the island, I could at least give it a shot within the game world – even if it was Sackboy that got to play around with it all instead of myself.

It’s not just the Create Mode however, not at all, LittleBigPlanet 2 is still one of my favourite platformers to just jump into and have a quick go at. With all the stickers and collectibles to collect, as well as attempting to ‘Ace’ all of the levels, it’ll be a good long while before I get tired of it. I’ve got no idea what I’ll do with all the sections that need more than one person though if I’m on my own on the island and without an internet connection…