TheGamer’s Picks For GOG’s 15th Anniversary

Highlights

  • GOG is celebrating its 15th anniversary and looking back at classic games in its library that predate the platform.
  • The featured games include Arcanum, Zeus + Poseidon, Broken Sword 2, Sensible World of Soccer 96/97, Dungeon Keeper Gold, Hexen 2, Psychonauts, System Shock 2, and Tomb Raider 1+2+3.
  • These games are considered cult classics, offering unique experiences and innovative gameplay that have influenced the gaming industry.


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GOG is full of classic games that are crucial to the history of our industry. Whether you grew up playing them or were raised on Fortnite and The Witcher but want to see what came before them, it’s always important to remember where games started. As the GOG storefront turns 15, we take a look back at our favourite games in the library – but with a twist. These are all games that you can find on GOG but that launched over 15 years ago, predating the platform. From cult classics to core building blocks of games and genres we know and love today, here are TheGamer’s top picks.

Arcanum: Of Steamworks And Magick Obscura – Joe Parlock, Tabletop Editor

A knight surrounded by enemies, facing a character with magic surrounding them

While steampunk has become all the rage in the last decade or so, long before that we had Arcanum. Made by former Fallout developers at Troika (rest in peace), Arcanum takes place in a fantasy world undergoing an industrial revolution. Combining magic, technology, and the societal advances they bring, Arcanum is a clever game full of memorable moments and characters. It might be a bit buggy, but with a few fan patches it still holds up as one of the best cRPGs ever made. It also has an utterly killer soundtrack.

Arcanum of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

Platform(s)
PC

Released
April 21, 2001

Developer
Troika Games

Publisher(s)
Sierra Studios

Genre(s)
RPG

Multiplayer
Online Co-Op

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Zeus + Poseidon – Helen Ashcroft, Evergreen Trainer and Editor

As a huge fan of early ’00s city builders I have a trinity of games I turn to when I want to build within a historical civilisation: Pharaoh and Cleopatra, Caesar 3, and my favourite, Zeus + Poseidon. While all three have aged well and are in my gaming rotation, it’s Zeus that I come back to time and time again.

Partly it’s the Greek architecture that I adore, but mostly it’s the gameplay. While all three games are very similar, Zeus has the edge due to a couple of quality of life changes that make it easier to separate districts and keep your city organised. I also enjoy the narrative crossing both the main game and expansion. If you are a city building fan who hasn’t ventured into Greece and Atlantis then hurry up. You won’t regret it.

Zeus + Poseidon

Zeus + Poseidon (Acropolis)

Platform(s)
PC

Released
October 16, 2000

Developer
Impressions Games

Publisher(s)
Sierra Studios

Genre(s)
Strategy

Broken Sword 2: Remastered – Meg Pelliccio, Lead Guides Editor

A screenshot showing George Stobbart tied down on top a pyramid in Broken Sword 2: The Smoking Mirror

With Revolution Software announcing not only a remaster of the first Broken Sword title with Shadow of the Templars: Reforged but also a brand new entry with Parzival’s Stone launching next year, it’s the perfect time to get reacquainted with George and Nico.

While there are many entries in the series, it seems moot to start at the beginning when Reforged will soon be the definitive way to play. Instead, I recommend my personal favourite, the second game—Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror, which sees the dynamic duo becoming entangled with a drug gang and an ancient Mayan mystery. Each title can be played standalone, so don’t worry about starting with this if it’s your first foray into the world of this point-and-click adventure series. Hopefully, this will give you a taste of what Broken Sword has to offer, and soon you’ll be eagerly awaiting Parzival’s Stone alongside the rest of us.

Broken Sword 2 Remastered

Broken Sword 2: Remastered

Platform(s)
PC, PS1, iOS, OS X, Android

Released
October 17, 1997

Publisher(s)
Revolution Software

Genre(s)
Adventure

Developer(s)
Revolution Software

Sensible World of Soccer 96/97 – David W. Duffy, Database Editor

The final variant of the legendary Sensible World of Soccer was a doozy for 13-year-old me, not only because it was an updated version of by far the best football game around, but because it allowed me to play as Kevin Keegan’s great Entertainers, complete with real names. Taking Alan Shearer, David Ginola, and co. all the way to the European Cup final repeatedly was a real joy for a kid who was football-obsessed — and something that truly cemented my love for both the beautiful game and video games alike.

In an age where football games were beginning to embrace 3D graphics (Actua Soccer had launched not long beforehand), SWOS was a triumph of the gameplay experience over flashy presentation and new tech. Being able to relive that on GOG, while introducing my games-mad nephew to the classics, is priceless.

Sensible World of Soccer 96-97

Sensible World of Soccer 96/97

Platform(s)
PC, Xbox 360, Commodore Amiga

Released
January 2, 1996

Developer
Sensible Software

Publisher(s)
Codemasters

Genre(s)
Sports

Multiplayer
Local Multiplayer

Dungeon Keeper Gold – Ryan Bamsey, Deputy Lead Guides Editor

Dungeon Keeper dungeon heart gold seam treasure room

Dungeon Keeper is one of the first games I ever played as a wee child. Yes, it may have been a little bit inappropriate, what with the bad guys winning and all the blood and demonic imagery, but damn it was fun. Creating a dungeon, attracting creatures, and building solid strategies to wear down your foes are things that never get tired, and despite sequels both official and spiritual, nothing has come close to the original.

Dungeon Keeper Gold

Dungeon Keeper Gold

Platform(s)
PC

Released
June 26, 1997

Developer
Bullfrog Productions

Publisher(s)
EA

Genre(s)
Strategy

Multiplayer
Local Multiplayer, Online Multiplayer

Hexen 2 – James Troughton, Cross-Department Editor

Quake was originally envisioned as a medieval fantasy game with less guns and more hammers, before it underwent drastic changes and became an FPS as foundational as Doom. That original concept would never see the light of day, left as a what-if? We can only imagine thanks to interviews with co-creator John Romero, but Hexen 2 comes incredibly close.

Running on the Quake engine, Hexen 2 asks you to pick between crusader, paladin, or assassin, before embarking on a shooter where the shotguns are fireballs and the pistols are axes. You’re tasked with facing the archfiend Eidolon, the last of the three Serpent Riders, in what is one part FPS, one part puzzle-driven RPG. It’s an interesting hybrid that we don’t see often these days, and a glimpse into just how different the history of the FPS genre would be if id Software had stuck with its initial concept.

Hexen 2

Hexen 2

Platform(s)
PC

Released
September 11, 1997

Publisher(s)
id Software

Developer(s)
Raven Software

Genre(s)
First-Person Shooter, Fantasy

Multiplayer
Local Co-Op, Local Multiplayer, Online Co-Op, Online Multiplayer

Psychonauts – George Foster, Lead News Editor

Razputin Aquato And Edgar Teglee From Psychonauts

Thanks to its Burton-esque angular art style and gorgeous score, tight 3D platforming, and charming characters, the first Psychonauts is one of my all-time favourite games. And that’s before you jump into people’s heads and get to traverse through whacky levels like a black velvet luchador nightmare, a miniaturised board game that’s narrated by someone suffering from a literal Napoleon complex, and a circus made entirely of meat.

There simply aren’t very many games that manage to have as much creativity, wit, and heart as Psychonauts does. Well, except for Psychonauts 2, which is also on GOG. Do yourselves a favour and strap in for a Double Fine double feature.

Psychonauts Cover

Psychonauts

Platform(s)
PC, Xbox (Original), Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PS2, PS3, PS4, PS5, macOS, Linux

Released
April 19, 2005

Publisher(s)
Majesco Entertainment

Developer(s)
Double Fine

Genre(s)
Platformer

System Shock 2 – Jade King, Lead Features Editor

looking down a hallway with chambers lining the walls and one on the ground

The System Shock remake launched earlier this year and managed to recapture the original’s mix of unsettling atmosphere and freeform exploration perfectly. It’s great, but even today, the sequel still holds a special place in my heart. Helmed by Ken Levine and much of the team we would see go onto create BioShock, System Shock 2 is a thrillingly macabre immersive sim on an abandoned space station once again ruled by a rogue AI. Its user interface and level design is slightly archaic nowadays, but the ageing graphics and uncanny enemies only add to its fear.

System Shock 2

System Shock 2

Platform(s)
PC

Released
August 11, 1999

Publisher(s)
EA

Developer(s)
Irrational Games, Looking Glass Technologies

Genre(s)
Survival Horror, Action RPG

Multiplayer
Online Co-Op

Tomb Raider 1+2+3 – Stacey Henley, Editor-in-Chief

A screenshot showing Lara Croft in Tomb Raider 2

My all-time favourite Tomb Raider game is 2006’s Tomb Raider: Legend, also on GOG. But with the first three games all packaged together for the price of two fancy coffees, I have to recommend owning this slice of video game history. Tomb Raider remains an icon in gaming, but she was heralded as revolutionary when she burst onto the scene not just because she was a rare female protagonist, but because of how she reinvented action games. Playing the original games today, you can trace the first footsteps of Uncharted, Assassin’s Creed, and Horizon.

Tomb Raider 1+2+3

Tomb Raider 1+2+3

Platform(s)
PS1, PC, Sega Saturn

Released
November 14, 1996

Publisher(s)
Eidos Interactive

Developer
Core Design

Genre(s)
Action-Adventure

Heroes Of Might & Magic 3: Complete Edition – Matt Arnold, Specialist

homnm3-combat

Heroes Of Might & Magic is one of the most memorable strategy franchises of all time, and the third installment is widely considered to be the series’ masterpiece. Not only does the Complete Edition include the full main campaign plus both expansions, but Heroes 3 still has a dedicated multiplayer community twenty-four years on. This is a title that belongs in every strategy or RPG fan’s collection.

Heroes of Might and Magic 3 Complete

Heroes of Might and Magic 3: Complete Edition

Platform(s)
PC, iOS, Android

Released
June 1, 1999

Publisher
The 3DO Company

Developer
New World Computing

Genre(s)
Turn-Based Strategy

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – Master Collection – Ben Sledge, Features Editor

Warhammer 40K Dawn of War

Dawn of War was revolutionary for young Ben, as I realised that games could be more than eating power-up mushrooms and catching monsters. I have fond memories of playing Dawn of War at friends’ houses, desperately trying to persuade my own parents to let me install it onto our family computer, and finally getting my own copy many years later. This opened up PC gaming to me via the Warhammer universe that I already loved, as well as opening my eyes to the whole RTS genre. The Master Collection includes all three pieces of DLC including my personal favourite, Soulstorm, which just sneaks into our release date rules and brought the Sisters of Battle to the fray in new interplanetary battles.

Warhammer 40,000_ Dawn of War

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – Master Collection

Platform(s)
PC

Released
January 1, 2006

Publisher(s)
THQ

Developer(s)
Relic Entertainment

Genre(s)
Real-Time Strategy

Multiplayer
Online Multiplayer

Hogs Of War- Josh Coulson, Affiliates Editor

Hogs of war prerendered cutscene.

After spending more hours than I can recall playing Worms as a kid, discovering there was effectively a 3D version with pigs doing the battling instead blew my ten-year-old mind. Finding out Rik Mayall, the star of sitcoms I probably shouldn’t have been watching at that age, voiced all the characters once I finally landed a copy of Hogs of War made the whole experience even sweeter. There weren’t many better feelings than the one that came with landing a well-placed mortar right on the head of a rival hog from the other side of the map, especially if that hog was being controlled by a friend sitting alongside you. Some of the character’s accents, and the names of the teams, haven’t aged all that well, but I still get the same satisfaction from the gameplay, especially in multiplayer, more than 20 years later.

Hogs of War

Hogs of War

Platform(s)
PC, PS1

Released
June 8, 2000

Publisher
Infogrames

Developer
Infogrames Sheffield House

Genre(s)
Turn-Based Strategy, Tactical

Multiplayer
Online Multiplayer

Doom (1993) – Amanda Hurych, Evergreen Content Lead

Three Cacodemons, floating heads, attacking in Doom the video game

I first played Doom when I was in middle school, and I had no idea about the impact this game had had on the industry as a whole. I just knew I was a badass Doomguy shooting Pinkies and Cyberdemons at the speed of lightning and having a rip-tearing good time. Nowadays, after both reading up on the history of Doom’s creation and recognizing the most significant ways it influenced other games, I can still demon-slay to my heart’s content. Just with a bit more context. The original Doom is a delight to play. I know it’s trite to say this about older games, but Doom really does play fantastically decades after it was first released.True, it takes a bit of time to get used to playing without that vertical axis if you’re kicking it old-school, but the speed of combat, level layout, and enemy variation are all top-notch. Rip and tear, my friends. Rip and tear.

doom 2016

Doom (1993)

Platform(s)
PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Stadia

Released
December 10, 1993

Publisher(s)
id Software, Bethesda

Developer(s)
id Software

Genre(s)
First-Person Shooter

Multiplayer
Local Co-Op, Local Multiplayer, Online Multiplayer

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – Tessa Kaur, Features Editor

The main character in Star Wars Knights of The Old Republic using Force Storm on a crowd.

Anybody who knows me knows that my love for gaming grew out of my experience playing KOTOR. I have many fond memories from my childhood where, like the archetypal gamer, I sat on a musty couch in my basement playing Knights of the Old Republic over, and over, and over. I’m not even sure how many times I’ve played it at this point. It feels antiquated now, with its blocky animation and overwhelmingly easy combat, but at the time it was lauded for its excellent story and won a lot of awards. It was the first game I ever saw a lesbian in, the first game that made me feel like the way I treated people mattered, and the first game I loved so much that I couldn’t help but tell everybody I knew about it. It is one of the best Star Wars stories ever written, even if it isn’t technically part of the canon. It’s a bit hard to play in the year 2023, but I’m still holding out for the remake.

Assassin’s Creed: Director’s Cut – Vaspaan Dastoor, Affiliate Editor

Altair rides a horse into a crowd of villagers in Assassin's Creed.

The first time I caught a glimpse of Assassin’s Creed was on my mate’s PS3. A game that let you climb onto anything, was filled with opportunities, and had a rather cool outfit. Unfortunately, he didn’t let me play it then, saying that it was quite boring, but I later learnt that it was because he didn’t want me to mess up his save file. But even the slightest glimpse at it introduced me to what was, at that time, the next step in the evolution of open world games. I’ve been a fan of the series ever since I got to see those few minutes of the original game, and only recently has my love for it started to wane. Hopefully, Assassin’s Creed Mirage will be a return to form for the series I love so much.

Assassin's Creed Director's Cut

Assassin’s Creed: Director’s Cut

Platform(s)
PC

Released
April 8, 2008

Publisher(s)
Ubisoft

Developer(s)
Ubisoft Montreal

Genre(s)
Action-Adventure

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