Just one more level! The 25 most addictive games of all time (2024)

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Can't stop won't stop

Some games are made to be played on the go--quick little time-passers to keep us occupied as we travel to work or elsewhere. Others keep our interests for an hour at a time, maybe two, right when we wake up or before we go to sleep. The 25 games on this list fit into neither of these groups.

The games here are addictive beyond reason, making us yearn for one more level, one more match, or one more turn. No matter what time it is, no matter where we're supposed to be or what we're supposed to be doing, these games can keep us in our chairs for days at a time, locked away with our gaming systems just playing the hours away. Addiction in digital form awaits those who read this list...

Just one more level! The 25 most addictive games of all time (29)

25. DOTA 2

Valve's first attempt at a multiplayer online battle arena or "MOBA" game, DOTA 2 is one of those games that screams "play me again!" The five-on-five battles are crazy fun, and with 102 Hero characters to choose from, there's a good chance you'll want to try your luck with multiple characters. Of course, each time you change you'll have to build up the new Hero, so that's even MORE time in-game...see why this is so addictive?

With over 500,000 concurrent players on Steam, you'll never have trouble finding a game of DOTA 2. Depending on how strong the opponents are, however, you may end up getting thrashed a couple hundred times...all the more reason to keep practicing!

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Just one more level! The 25 most addictive games of all time (30)

24. Super Meat Boy

Mario's been platforming since the mid-80s, but nothing that plucky plumber has done can compare to the travails of Super Meat Boy. While the two both are adventuring to save a damsel in distress, the path to Peach is nothing compared to the path to Bandage Girl. There's over 300 unique levels in Super Meat Boy, all of them waiting to challenge every gaming talent you've ever learned.

Timing is important in all platformers, but Super Meat Boy requires a split-second efficiency, creating a difficulty we haven't seen since the days of Ghosts 'N Goblins. Each completed level is immensely satisfying, leading us closer and closer to saving the day. Even after finishing all 300 levels, Super Meat Boy still feels like it ended too quick, making us want even more. That's the legacy of a great game.

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23. Plants vs Zombies 2

Botany enthusiasts unite! The original Plants vs Zombies was addictive in its own right, but PvZ2 takes the formula above and beyond, adding a slew of new features to mess around with and subtracting a ton of hours from our free time. We can't help but try out a stage or two no matter where we go, because those stinkin' zombies aren't going to kill themselves.

Once a battle begins and the first wave of zombies approaches, we can think of nothing else but total zombiecide. It's gotten to the point where we see zombies in other games and wonder why we don't have a peashooter to exterminate it with. The upcoming Garden Warfare probably isn't going to help our predicament either, as it's turning the conflict into a full-on third-person shooter. Looks like we'll be turning our green thumb zombie blood-red for the foreseeable future.

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22. Trials HD

At first glance, Trials HD is a motorcycle racer where you try to get the best time. Okay, nothing Excitebike didn't do on the NES years ago. So what makes Trials HD so special? Unlike Excitebike, these tracks aren't just straight courses with a few jumps; these are some of the craziest obstacle courses you'll ever see. Trials is the first motorcycle platformer, and we've fallen in love.

If that isn't enough, Trials HD allows us to build our own crazy levels in the track editor mode and share them online, meaning that fresh content for the game will be available until everyone stops playing the game, which we do not expect to happen at all. We know there's more Trials game available and more to come, but our heart is set on Trials HD for now.

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21. Team Fortress 2

Who says a first-person shooter can't be lighthearted? Team Fortress 2 adds some color to the world of the shooter, literally and figuratively, creating a game that we keep coming back to. The action is fast and intense, the weapons are awesome, and the level design is in a league of its own. Plus, there's so many unlockables to collect, we always have a reason to play. We need more hats, after all.

Part of what makes TF2 so cool is the colorful cast of characters. Each of the nine classes is brimming with personality, good for a chuckle or two while in the middle of battle. We're particularly fond of the big oaf Heavy and the stealthy Spy, but anyone will do. Once you get past choosing a character, the rest of the game can speak for itself. Looking for some mindless fun? Team Fortress 2 is the game for you.

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20. Dark Souls 2

Why is Dark Souls 2 so addictive? We play and we die. We die and we die some more. Just when we think we're out of danger, we die. Right when we start the game, we die. There's a lot of dying in Dark Souls 2, but we still can't stop playing it...and dying. Any normal person would have abandoned this frustration a long time ago, so why can't we?

It's because when we're not dying, Dark Souls 2 is an excellent action RPG. Building our character is great, the dangerous world we're fighting in is fun to explore, and when we do actually finish the quest without dying, the satisfaction is unmatched. Yes, sometimes you make us want to bash our heads against the wall...but we love you Dark Souls 2. Don't ever change.

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19. Counter-Strike

The round begins: we pick our loadout and run toward one of the two objectives, either on offense of defense. We shoot every enemy we see until we die, then wait until there's either one defender left standing or the offense successfully denotates the bomb. Repeat 29 times. That's the gist of the Bomb Defusal mode in Counter-Strike, and we can't stop playing it!

There's a reason that Counter-Strike has maintained a steady fan base for 13 years: it's insanely fun online multiplayer that's been doing the Call of Duty thing since before Call of Duty. Last year's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive brought the franchise back to the spotlight, but thankfully the stellar gameplay remained. Why fix what isn't broken?

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18. Grand Theft Auto V

What would we do if we were dropped in the middle of a sprawling urban landscape, left only to our own devices? We're not sure what we'd do in real life, but Grand Theft Auto V gives us the opportunity to do that in the video game world. When we turn the game on, we're instantly lost in Los Santos, stealing cars, fighting anyone we want, and even taking time out for our digital girlfriends. What's not to love?

The virtual sandbox of the included Grand Theft Auto Online makes things even better, as we can create a citizen of Los Santos in our own image and bend the city to our will. Cars, homes, women, money...we can make it all ours in GTA Online, and we can't stop playing to get it. There's probably hundred of secrets that we haven't found yet, and that's the beauty of the game. RockStar created quite the monster with GTA V and its online component; we're not sure when we'll be done for good.

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17. StarCraft 2

We sit down to play some StarCraft II, wanting to get a little further through the robust campaign mode, when suddenly we decide that maybe one online match will be good to get us warmed up. Next thing we know, it's seven hours later and we've watched the sun go down and come back up again while we fight countless online battles against strangers? Where the hell did the time go?

It went into excellent real-time strategy gameplay with three classes that demand three different ways of playing. We can't remember if we chose Terran, Protoss, or Zerg more, but we know that we had a blast playing with all three. Maybe we'll get back to the campaign mode, but all we want to do is battle against the best online. We could spend all day doing it.

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16. Persona 4 Golden

When we graduated from high school, we thought we left all of the petty drama that came with it behind us, trading it for our place in the "real world." As it turns out, that high school atmosphere came and found us in Persona 4 Golden, and even though we were so relieved to be away from it, we're hopelessly addicted to P4G. Why is that?

Well, it's because underneath the high school stuff is a deep, incredibly fun RPG game with sharp writing and a fantastic cast of characters. The game commands almost 100 hours to complete its great storyline, but we'd give it 1000 hours if it wanted us to. The Vita may be barren of quality titles, but Persona 4 Golden is worth the price of the system by itself.

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15. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

While most of Monster Hunter's popularity is based in Japan, there's no denying how incredibly fun this game can be. The formula is simple: equip gear, take a bounty, kill the monster, collect money. However, each monster brings a unique challenge with it, testing your skills in every way imaginable. Being able to team up with friends helps too; the vision of you and your team surrounding a monster with swords and bows has a primitive, "cavemen hunting food" sense of camaraderie that's hard to top.

Want a surefire indication of just how popular this series is in Japan? Monster Hunter 4 for the 3DS recently launched, and if you combine its first-day sales with the combined sales of MH3U Wii U and 3DS, it clocks in at just over 3.6 million units. The combined sales of every game released in Japan on the PS Vita is just above 3.7 million units. Three games in one series have almost sold more than a console's entire library. 3.6 million people can't be wrong, can they?.

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14. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

We've traveled every inch of Skyrim, from Solitude to Whiterun and back again, yet we still can't pull ourselves away from this majestic landscape that Bethesda has created. There's always something to do, somewhere to go, and someone to talk to. Even after hundreds of hours spent within this world, we keep coming back for more. We're not sure we'll ever get tired of it.

Being Dovahkiin fills us with a power that other heroes simply cannot match. He or she is a Dragonborn, after all, and as such shares all of the powers of a dragon along with whatever class we're crafted our hero into. How many melee-focused warriors do you know that can breathe fire by shouting a few syllables? Or a fleet-footed thief with the power to send any enemy flying with a shockwave? Skyrim can do this, and that's but one of the many reasons why we'll continue to play it.

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Just one more level! The 25 most addictive games of all time (41)

13. Diablo III

We're taught to resist the Devil's temptations, but how are we supposed to do that when Diablo is the one calling our names? We've fought against this menace for 17 years across three different games, yet we still can't get enough of the demon-slaying, loot-collecting madness. Now that the newest game, Diablo III, has made its way to consoles, a whole new legion of gamers can see what it's like to go to Hell.

Blizzard is acting like they want Diablo III to be the same type of juggernaut as its predecessor by introducing it to the consoles and getting rid of unpopular features like the real money auction house. Oh, and there's a expansion on the way, Reaper of Souls. Thanks to both of those points, we have a feeling we'll be playing Diablo III for a long time coming.

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Just one more level! The 25 most addictive games of all time (42)

12. Minecraft

Look, we're not going to say anything here that you haven't heard before about Minecraft. It's a digital sandbox where the entire world can be manipulated at the player's will. Some players prefer the challenge of Survival mode, others like to just go and build things in Creative, but whatever your preference, you've probably logged a hefty chunk of hours into the game, so you know all about it.

The most trouble we've had with Minecraft is trying to figure out what we want to build in Creative mode. Do we want to construct a tower to the stars? Should we dig underground and create a labyrinthine maze for our friends to try and conquer? Maybe we'll build fully working Game Boy games like some YouTubers. Minecraft lets us decide what we want, and that's why it's so insanely hard to put down.

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Just one more level! The 25 most addictive games of all time (43)

11. Angry Birds

Slingshotting birds at pigs. If we had heard this concept before Angry Birds took the world with absolute force, we'd have thought you were crazy. Who wants to slingshot birds at pigs, taking out the flimsy platforms they inhabit in the process? Well, everyone does, apparently, and it's not hard to see why: the game is pretty darn fun and really hard to put down.

It's hard to believe that so much fun can be had with a swipe of our fingers, but Angry Birds is just that. A tornado of emotion accompanies every bird we launch: anticipation, worry, sometimes fear, joy when contact is made, and either elation when we've conquered a stage or dread when we had to play it over again for the fiftieth time. It's no wonder the game sold over a bajillion copies.

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Just one more level! The 25 most addictive games of all time (44)

10. Candy Crush Saga

We don't even know why we're so hooked on Candy Crush Saga. It's just matching candies on a board for points! It's no different than what Hexic HD and Bejeweled made us do for years and years! What's so special about Candy Crush Saga? Why can't we stop playing until we finish Level 33 or harass our friends, neighbors, and that girl we met at a bar once for more turns?!

Our phone batteries are white hot, we're logged into Facebook at home, work, the library, and the iPad on display at Best Buy, and we've rearranged the candy at the register of the supermarket looking for the damn striped pieces, but we can't get enough. And as soon as we start to feel good about our place on the social game board, we see that our great aunt is 40 levels above us. That can't be. We're the gamers, not her. Onward!

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9. Call of Duty

A new Call of Duty comes out every year, making slight changes to the same formula, and yet every single year Call of Duty sells like gangbusters. Why? Well, it's simple: the online multiplayer offerings are some of the best that online gaming has to offer. The hundreds of thousands of players logged onto Call of Duty's servers at any given time can't be wrong, can they? Well, we guess they technically could be, but we don't think they are. Not in this case.

It's perfectly crafted to keep us coming back for more. Call of Duty has virtually everything an online shooter fan could want: complete customization of weapons and abilities, a huge variety of different game modes to play, and even some co-op for those who wish to fight with their friends instead of against them. Despite having two separate development teams working on two different storylines at any given time, the series continues to prosper every year. It's just too difficult to not answer the call... of duty.

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8. FTL: Faster Than Light

Hooray indie games! We have a love/hate relationship with FTL. It's a fresh idea that makes us want to play for hours... but it's so difficult that we want to pull our hair out. In other words, it's a typical roguelike, but made in such a way that we simply can't stop ourselves from blasting off into space time and time again.

FTL mixes real-time strategy with space combat in a remarkable way. Trying to keep your ship afloat and the crew (likely named after your friends and family) alive is one of the most daunting tasks a game can throw at us, yet we press on for as long as we can. We've carefully thought out our battle plan and prepared ourselves for any possible scenarios, and yet we still get our butts kicked on a regular basis. Why do we keep coming back? BECAUSE WE HAVE TO, that's why.

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Just one more level! The 25 most addictive games of all time (47)

7. Peggle

If Candy Crush's appeal seems silly, then we have no idea how to explain Peggle. Peggle has us shooting balls at pegs to accrue points, a variation of pinball and pachinko unlike any we've ever seen. However, the ease with which we can get free shots, the crazy multipliers, and the constant use of Ode to Joy gives us such a rush that we have to go on.

Peggle really checks off every box on the "addictive game" criteria: high scores fuel a desire to beat the current score, doing well means playing longer, and the background music can and will empower us to keep Peggleing even after the turn is over. We can't quit Peggle, and with a sequel on the way, it looks like we won't have to for a while.

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6. League of Legends

Perhaps World of Warcraft's biggest competition right now, League of Legends is a pioneer in both the MOBA genre and the free-to-play gaming model. Sure, other games before it took this approach, but LoL turned it into a profit machine with fun gameplay and an array of interesting Champions to control. Simply put, it's a total timesink.

Countless players will say how they sat down to play one match of LoL only to lose hours (or, erm, days) in the process. LoL is the video game equivalent of Pringles: once we pop, we can't stop. We're completely enslaved by this game; we feel like Michael Corleone every time we get pulled back in. It even laughs at our attempts to resist every time we type its acronym: LoL. What are we to do?

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5. Animal Crossing

Catching bugs and fish, chopping trees, planting flowers, sailing to the island, funding a new public works project, starting a new ordinance, talking to the townsfolk, shopping... there's a lot to do in the world of Animal Crossing. We're the mayors of our towns, after all, and we need to be sure that our little slice of the world is in tip-top shape, so we check every day... every hour... every few minutes...

Look, we can't stand when weeds sprout up somewhere in town. We hate when flowers die, when villagers move out, when our town shows any blemishes at all. Plus, there's a museum to fill, debts to pay to the villainous crime lord raccoon, and every Saturday night we can go listen to our favorite acoustically-gifted dog croon tunes. A mayor's work is never done. NEVER.

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4. Civilization V

The Civilization series is another example of a storied franchise zapping billions of hours of free time away from the gaming public. Civilization is no MMO, though, instead bestowing excellent turn-based strategy gameplay upon us heathen unworthy of its splendor. Once you play Civilization for the first time, you'll understand why so many gamers have lost so many hours clicking "next turn" until the sun rose.

Civilization V is the best Civ yet, removing the square tiles normally found in turn-based strategy games and replacing them with hexagons. It seems like a small change, but the difference is uncanny. Couple that with some of the deepest strategy gameplay available, and the result is a masterpiece worthy of all of your time. Which, oddly enough, it will take up once you start playing. There is no "gaming," only Civilization.

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3. The Sims

Ah, The Sims, the video game equivalent of playing God (outside of Black and White, of course). We create the town, we create the members of the family we focus on, we build the house, we furnish the home. Our hands are on every part of the Sims' world, and that's part of the reason why a Sims game will always be installed on our PCs.

We control the fate of our little Sims, and we think that's why the series has been so appealing for so long. We've made our share of mistakes, like sending a Sim with no electrical training to fix a TV (RIP George Washsimton), but we learn and move on with the next creation (Abrasim Lincoln is doing great!). The only question we have is: what's Simlish for "we can't stop playing?"

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2. World of Warcraft

The bane of productivity, natural sunlight, and non-gaming PCs, World of Warcraft has commanded trillions of hours of time from millions of players around the world (no, we didn't fact-check that, but let's just assume it's true). Through the core game and its four expansions, the massively multiplayer online game has been calling players to Azeroth since 2004, setting the table for the modern MMO.

Though the number of players has fallen slightly, WoW's pedigree and longevity make it a prime example of an addictive game. Whenever a new MMO comes out we leave Azeroth and check it out, applauding its brave new mechanics and proclaiming how we'll never go back to the hallowed halls of Orgrimmar... only to do just that in two months.

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1. Pokemon

We started playing Pokemon as impressionable youth, setting on our journey to catch 'em all before we could drive a car. Today, as full grown adults with jobs, houses/apartments, and mature responsibilities, we still can't stop trying to catch 'em all, even if 'em all is, like, 600 instead of 150. Pokemon has a hold on us that we will never escape, and frankly we don't want to.

Look, the reason we keep coming back to Pokemon again and again is simple: we want to be the very best, like no one ever was. The standard Pokemon formula hasn't changed all that much over the years (even if it is finally making the jump to 3D with X and Y in October). However, as the old adage states, why fix what isn't broken? Pokemon is still fun to play, and until that stops we're going to continue to catch 'em all... or, at least, most of them. Or some of them.

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More! We need more!

These are ten games that we can't and won't stop playing, no matter how gray hairs sprout out of our heads. We're sure we missed some of the games that take up all of your time, so leave us a comment below and let us know what we should be playing (or shouldn't, if we value our already fleeting free time).

And if you're looking for more, check out games you'll play all night and best F2P MMORPGs.

Jason Fanelli

WHY HELLO THERE! Name's Jason, hailing from right outside Philadelphia. I've been playing the vidya games for well over 20 years, starting with the NES and making my way all the way up to the Wii U. My mother tells people that I taught myself to read at age 3 using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. I'm the type of guy that will try anything once, but I do have a few favorite genres, fighting and RPG being at the top. I've been writing about video games since I finished my Broadcast Journalism degree at Temple University in December 2008, mostly for www.gamernode.com. Since then I've been to three E3s, two New York Comic Cons, the first ever PAX East, and many more to come (I hope). I hope everyone enjoys my stuff as much as I love producing it. Hit me up on Twitter @bigmanfanelli, I love talking games with anyone and everyone.

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