The best video games of 2024 so far: from Tekken 8 to Animal Well

 (Square Enix)
(Square Enix)

Halfway through 2024 and the gaming industry has served us up plenty of juicy titles to while away the hours.

While the industry hasn’t quite hit the heights of last year – with titles including Baldur’s Gate 3, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 – this year has served up a pleasing variety of franchise favourites, indie gems and titles that are too bonkers for words. Here’s our list of the best so far.

Animal Well

For anybody who values their free time – Animal Well is not for you. Insanely addictive, it is a beautifully constructed game that thumbs its nose at the sprawling AAA titles of recent years in favour of something far more self-contained.

You play as a blob navigating a huge underground cavern system (the colour palette here is dark and, er, dark). It’s up to you to figure out the rules and lore of this strange universe through trial and error. Containing puzzles upon puzzles, this is very much an intellectual game rather than a combat-focused one, but it’s still one that will make the five-hour play time fly past.

Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, and Windows

Dragon’s Dogma 2

Poor Dragon’s Dogma 2 came out in the wake of the universe-conquering Baldur’s Gate 3, but don’t let that put you off. This vastly enjoyable RPG sees the player step into the shoes of the Arisen, plucked from humble beginnings and destined to defeat the dragon haunting the land.

The fantasy world at your fingertips is massive, the combat engaging (the game makes ample use of the ‘Pawn’ system, allowing you to summon extra helpers in battle) and the overall feel pleasingly silly.

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

Square Enix continues its winning streak of remaking old classics in fascinating new ways. Following in the footsteps of the first Final Fantasy 7 remake, Rebirth delivers a more or less faithful adaptation of the original 1990s game’s plot, but changes everything else: the graphics, the side quests, the voice acting. The result is something at once familiar and beautifully strange, with a massive open world just begging to be explored: a visual feast of a game.

PlayStation 5

Harold Halibut

This exceedingly sweet game has a unique USP: the characters are all clay figurines à la Wallace and Gromit, that have been scanned and animated. As a result, you can almost see the individual fingerprints on each one. No wonder Harold Halibut took 10 years to create.

You play as Harold, a hapless technician aboard the spaceship Fedora, which crashed into an underwater planet and has been stranded there ever since. The game itself is low stakes (there is a lot of doing odd jobs and managing peoples’ egos), but the world is so quirky, and its characters so well realised, that it’s still thoroughly enjoyable to play. It’s almost a meditative experience; settle back and sink in.

PC, Xbox and PlayStation

Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth

In terms of sheer insanity, there’s nothing on this list to beat Infinite Wealth. The latest instalment in the Like A Dragon series sees ex-Yakuza member/ puppy in human form Ichiban Kasuga attempt to make a fresh start working in a job centre (yes, really). But when destiny comes knocking, it’s off to Hawaii to battle mobsters, as well as track down his missing mother.

But that’s only the start of the madness. Yes, there’s the main campaign, but the game is jam packed with a frankly indecent amount of stuff to do. Create an island resort. Become a delivery driver. Play arcade games and use dating apps. All that, combined with an overhauled combat system and inventive enemies, make this a rollercoaster ride.

PlayStation, Xbox, Windows and Steam

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown

It’s been a good year for Metroidvanias. On top of Animal Well and the Tales of Kenzera: Zau, this year kicked off with Ubisoft reviving their Prince of Persia franchise with new title The Lost Crown. Gone are the 3D graphics of years past; instead, this is a return to the series’ 2D platforming roots.

The hero is Sargon, a warrior who sets out to rescue a kidnapped prince. The boss battles are hard, the backgrounds are gorgeous and the map ever expanding. A classic take on an established franchise.

Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox and Windows

Tekken 8

The Tekken series is the royal family of 1v1 street fighter games – and Tekken 8 more than lives up to its predecessors. The latest entry in the series boasts a new and improved combat system (debuting the new ‘Heat’ mechanic for dealing extra damage), continues the story in interesting ways (and with three new playable characters) and even manages to improve on its online mode.

PlayStation, Windows, and Xbox

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2

When Senua’s Sacrifice came out in 2017, it was hailed as a masterpiece for the way it tackled the mental experience of psychosis. Now, in 2024, Team Ninja are back with a brand new story that is just as dark, and just as enthralling, as its predecessor.

Despite only being six hours long, it also serves up plenty of story. Here, Senua has travelled to Iceland, and though she’s come to terms with living with psychosis, it still warps and impacts her lived experience in a way the player will become intimately familiar with, turning enemies into mythical monsters and villages into terrifying hellscapes. As a character study, it’s fascinating. As a game, it’s like nothing else you’ll play this year.

Windows and Xbox