Playing PC single-player games is perfect for when we don’t want to have to deal with the hassle of the day and just want a chance to relax in our own way. They allow us to be taken to another world, become other people, and do things that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to do in our normal lives. We can be cowboys, ghosts, spaceship pilots — all of these and more. We want to be taken in by rich, deep storytelling with complex characters and compelling goals, with gameplay that makes you want more and more. And on the PC, you can have all of these, and so much more.
For this list, we’ve chosen the single-player games on PC across generations. Every game on this list offers something unique, and it goes to show that while some single-player games may walk the same roads at the time, their paths are all their own. Representing both the best, the most creative, and the most harrowing, these games are all about what single-player can offer a gamer, and all the strange, strange worlds we can see through these single player games you can play on PC.
The Best PC Single-Player Games
15. Hollow Knight
Developer: Team Cherry
Publisher: Team Cherry
Descend into the vast, ruined underground world of Hollow Knight where danger waits around every corner. The player character, the Knight, must venture into an underground maze to uncover the mystery behind the desolate kingdom of Hallownest.
As the Knight, use your trusty nail to fight off insects and learn new abilities to traverse the environment in this Metroidvania. Avoid danger, collect items, upgrade your gear, expand your map and dive further underground. But be warned: in Hallownest, there’s no telling what’s in the next room.
Hollow Knight takes you deep into a 2D, side-scrolling game in a haunting, atmospheric underworld where each step could be your last. But if you’re clever, lucky, and more than a little determined, you’ll discover the reason for Hallownest’s ruin, learn the truth behind the Hollow Knight, and why you set out on this quest in the first place.
14. Sid Meier’s Civilization V
Developer: Firaxis Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Have you ever wanted to guide the history of the world? Perhaps forge your empire, your nation? Well, in Civilization V, you get to do just that in this turn-based strategy game where you oversee one of several nations and guide them as you see fit. From the Stone Age to the Industrial Revolution, experience the dawn of history in this award winning game.
But you’re not alone in this world: other nations have sprung up, and what you do with them reflects on how your civilization will develop. Will you be kind, and negotiate with your neighbors to achieve progress? Or how about enticing them to come over to your side, and merge them into your growing economy? Or will you crush all under your heel in military conquests that the world has never seen before?
Take your nation from the beginning of humankind to the modern age and even beyond. How you do so is up to you, but fair warning, other civilizations are going to be right next to yours, and they’re not always going to be happy. Looking at you, Gandhi.
Developer: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Publisher: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
If you’ve ever wanted to go scuba diving in a hostile alien world, this game is for you. Take the role of an unlucky but resourceful survivor after their spaceship crash lands on an ocean world teeming with life. Subnautica will make you feel the majesty of the ocean planet, and maybe make you want to go for a swim yourself.
In this open world survival game, players must explore the depths of the ocean planet to gather as many resources as possible that they can. Create new equipment, build underwater bases, contend with giant underwater beasts, and try to signal a rescue as soon as you can. But be warned, the ocean planet has more than just sea creatures. Ancient ruins dot the ocean floor, and tell of a virus that wiped out the Precursors, and now you’ve been infected with it as well.
The only way to survive is to explore deeper into the ocean depths and discover the cure. Time is running out though, so ready your scuba gear. In Subnautica, dive to the deepest depths and learn what mysteries lurk under the sea.
12. Nier: Automata
Developer: Platinum Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Become as gods in this surreal third-person action RPG from Yoko Taro and take the role of Yorha Combat Android 2B and Scanner 9S. A sequel to the original Nier, Automata takes you to a world that doesn’t turn, a nameless city, a vast desert, and a tower in the stars.
Explore the desolate Earth either as 2B or 9S as they struggle against the Machine Lifeforms that have invaded the planet. Experience a strange, compelling branching storyline that makes the player weep, laugh, and fear as they see the events of Nier Automata unfold.
In this tragic tale with a somber soundtrack, addictive gameplay, and many different “endings”, Nier: Automata makes a fine collection to any gaming library.
11. DOOM Eternal
Developer: id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Why you are here doesn’t matter. How you got here doesn’t matter. All that matters is that there are demons you need to kill. In this first-person shooter, step into the boots of the Doom Slayer, and get ready to raze Hell.
Experience a fast-paced, demon-slaying, bullet-pumping, chainsaw-revving adventure as you single-handedly fend off the demonic invasion of Earth. Become what demons fear and get ahold of high-powered weapons to quell the demonic hordes as heavy metal beats in your ears. Tear apart the slaves of doom with your bare hands to recover health and ammo in this energetic shooter that will have you ripping and tearing your way through Hell on Earth.
Shoot, sever, and slay. id Software’s 2020 FPS shows why Doom is the grandfather of all shooters, and DOOM Eternal earns its place in the blood covered hall of fame.
10. Deus Ex
Developer: Ion Storm
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
In a chaotic world, can you save what remains of society? In the cybernetic shoes of JC Denton, you’ll be forced to ask yourself that question as you explore society at the breaking point, uncovering a conspiracy that threatens to tear apart the fragile strings that hold it together.
A first-person shooter with stealth, hacking, and social elements, Deus Ex is a unique blend of gameplay mechanics that allows the player to play in any way they want, be it as an in-your-face cyber commando, a digital ghost, or a sweet-talking tech sleuth. As the plot unfolds, you must expand your skills and arsenal to learn more about the truth behind the curtain, the people you work with, and, at the end of it all, even yourself.
And, while it’s old, Deus Ex has a strong modding community who have created a truly remarkable number of mods, add-ons, and features. The most famous of which is the Give Me Deus Ex mod, which revamps the game with new graphics, systems, interface, and weaponry. In a genre defining experience, play what is possibly one of the best storylines ever developed in a video game, one whose themes about power, poverty, and who is really in control are still relevant even today.
9. Persona 4: Golden
There’s been a murder in the sleepy town you just moved to, and what’s more, there’s a entire world inside a TV As you explore this TV land, a voice rings in your ears: “I am thou, thou art I.” With your Persona unleashed, enter the world of Persona 4: Golden and learn the truth of the Inaba murders.
Play the role of a player-named protagonist as you go about your day, be it expanding relationships, battling the Shadow creatures in the TV world, or just trying to earn a quick buck. Mix, fuse, and capture Personas together to create the ultimate other self in this award winning game developed by Altus.
Plan your team in a likeable cast of characters, grow your abilities with a deep battle system that encourages experimentation, Persona 4: Golden lets you plan your days and activities in an addicting way that keeps you coming back for more.
8. Horizon Zero Dawn
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Your name is Aloy, and you have three goals: find the people who attacked your village, find the man who killed your father figure, and learn who your true mother is in a world overrun with cybernetic dinosaurs, fearsome bandits, and hostile zealots.
In this third-person action game from Guerrilla Games, explore an open world where cyber dinos, bandits, enemy tribes and fanatics roam the land. Hunt them with your bows and catch them with your traps. If you’re fast enough, you may be able to hack one to serve as trusty robotic steed. Experiencing a gripping story about family, traditions, and whether the past should remain buried.
The ruins of the world may be dangerous, but in Horizon Zero Dawn, it’s just as beautiful, and just as fun. With tight controls and an easy to understand gameplay loop, this new addition to the PC crowd will be a great way to pass the time.
7. Dark Souls
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Prepare to die in the game that solidified the Soulsborne genre. Step into the role of the Chosen Undead, a being cursed to never be laid to rest as you explore the unforgiving land of Anor Lando.
Die, die, and die again as you traverse abandoned towns teeming with the undead, survive rotten underground sewers, and storm fortresses filled with unyielding and deadly traps, all the while trying to uncover the mystery of the First Flame in this third-person RPG. Play however you want, be it a sorcerer, a speedy rogue, a walking tank, or a half-naked man with dual greatswords.
The world is unforgiving, but if your undead will is strong, you might make it to the end. When you do, what will you think, and what will you do? Just be sure to praise the sun, and don’t go around a corner without checking it first.
6. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Step into the world of survival horror once again as Ethan Winters, an average joe who wants nothing more than to find his missing wife. The problem? She’s gone missing in an abandoned Louisiana farmhouse next to a swamp, and the Baker family seems to have a few screws loose.
Resident Evil 7 is a tense first-person survival horror game dripping with atmosphere in which you must brave the Baker home and survive the strange infection that has spread throughout the Baker family. Jack is a relentless monster, Lucas is a remorseless sociopath, and Marguerite is a horrible, unholy combination of a queen bee and a human being.
Still, with wit and will, you may make it out, just be sure to watch your step, and don’t lose your footing — literally. In this big change in focus for the series, Capcom returns to its roots as masters of terror.
5. Half-Life 2
The Combine has overtaken the Earth, and there’s only one man who can save the day: Gordon Freeman, a scientist with an orange power suit and one hell of a crowbar arm. In this legendary shooter from Valve, use the robust physics engine to climb, shoot, and lift stuff with the gravity gun to free Earth from the clutches of the alien menace.
Half-Life 2 takes you through a wild ride of canals, a zombie-infested town, coastal cities, and a giant, atmosphere scraping tower. As Gordon Freeman, you need to manage your health, ammo, and your HEV battery to survive every encounter and gunfight against a variety of enemies. In addition, Episodes 1 and 2 add new gameplay mechanics and continue the storyline, making them a valuable addition to the Half-Life collection. And with a large modding community that’s still active today, there will be many enjoyable hours spent on this game.
Half-Life 2 was a groundbreaking game in its first release, and even now, 16 years later, it still holds up as a solid first-person shooter on PC. If you haven’t had a chance to play it before, now’s the time.
4. Disco Elysium
A fractured mind for a fractured city, but someone must solve a strange murder in Revachol, and that someone is you.
As a homicide detective with one hell of a shattered psyche, you have voices in your head, and each one has something to tell you in this “Thought Cabinet.” Too bad they’re all crazy. But even so, it’s your job to solve the case while struggling to uncover your own forgotten identity.
In this award-winning game that blends surreal comedy and deep lore, use the dialogue system to delve deeper into your fractured brain to solve the murders cases around the city of Revachol. With 24 skills to choose from, you must decide whether you can trust the residents of Revachol as you uncover a mystery that will take you from dirty harbours to derelict churches.
Still, if you pay attention, and trust those close to you, this crazy story might start to make some sense. Disco Elysium is a strange tale with many twists and turns, but it will make you laugh, cry, and marvel at how it comes together in a way that will leave you speechless.
3. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Developer: CD Projekt Red
Publisher: CD Projekt
You are Geralt of Rivia, a witcher, and in this open world RPG, you have a simple goal. Find your adopted daughter Ciri, and save her from the phantom army, the Wild Hunt. Too bad that simple goal is complicated by the fact Ciri doesn’t want to be found, and every step of the way seems steeped in monster guts
Explore the war-torn lands of the Northern Kingdoms, take up monster contracts to earn a steady keep, chat with the locals, and find old friends in your quest to find your missing daughter. Arm yourself with silver and steel to cut down anyone who stands in your way but know that every choice has a consequence in this award-winning RPG.
Life as a witcher is never easy, and the world doesn’t need a hero, but you are a professional. Oil your sword, hop in that saddle, and get riding, witcher — you’ve got work to do.
Developer: Supergiant Games
Publisher: Supergiant Games
Zagreus only has one goal: to escape from the Underworld and his father Hades with the aid of his family on Mount Olympus. But, there’s one slight problem: the entire Underworld is in his way, and every time he dies, Zagreus must start all over again.
Explore the Underworld in Supergiant’s Hades, from the fields of Asphodel to the River Styx, all the while gaining random boons from the Olympians that will change an ever-evolving playstyle. As you smash, cut, and burn your way through the game with the Infernal Arms, listen to a soundtrack that will get your blood pumping.
This god-like roguelike has a captivating story with charming characters and dialogue that will have you both laughing out loud and cursing in despair as you navigate the shifting chambers of the Underworld.
1. Red Dead Redemption 2
Developer: Rockstar Games
Publisher: Rockstar Games
It’s 1899, and the west is dying. Step into the cowboy boots of Arthur Morgan, one of the last outlaws of the Wild West and the right-hand man of Dutch van der Linde. On the run, strapped for cash and supplies, you must do what you can to support your family of misfits, outlaws, and outcasts as you travel frontier lands.
Learn the ropes, or saddle in this case, to survive and hopefully thrive in a land on the fringes of civilization. But the law is on your tail, and you can’t stick around for too long. What’s more, your gang of outlaws and misfits has a traitor in their midst, and your loyalty to family will be tested in this groundbreaking game.
Red Dead Redemption 2 has won numerous awards, from game of the year to best storyline, with a wide open world you can get lost in. For one last time: draw your gun, dawn your hat, and ride your horse into the setting sun.
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