Some games can’t be appreciated until some time passes – but let them be for a while and they’ll mature just like a good wine does. In fact, a lot of cult classic video games weren’t considered either commercial success or a masterpiece gameplay-wise at the time of their original release, only to receive a cult status and following several years later.

Here is the list of top 15 cult classic video games you should play right now.

The Best Cult Video Games

GameDeveloperRelease yearGenrePrice
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition - cover1. The Secret of Monkey IslandLucasfilm Games1990Point and Click AdventureBuy
DOOM 64 - cover2. DOOM 64Midway Games1997First-Person ShooterBuy
Fallout - cover image3. FalloutInterplay Productions1997Turn-Based, Role-PlayingBuy
Giants: Citizen Kabuto - cover4. Giants: Citizen KabutoPlanet Moon Studios2000Third-Person Shooter, Real-Time StrategyN/A
Grim Fandango - cover5. Grim FandangoLucasArts1998Graphic AdventureBuy
planescape-torment-04-11-2019.jpg6. Planescape: TormentBlack Isle Studios1999Role-PlayingBuy
Devilman Crybaby7. Deus ExIon Storm2000Action Role-Playing, First-Person Shooter, StealthBuy
Gothic - cover image8. GothicPiranha Bytes2001Action Role-PlayingBuy
Ico - cover image9. IcoSCE Japan Studio, Team Ico2001Action-AdventureN/A
10. Serious Sam: The First EncounterCroteam2001First-Person ShooterBuy
Beyond Good & Evil - cover11. Beyond Good & EvilUbisoft2003Action-AdventureBuy
XIII - cover image12. XIIIUbisoft2003First-Person Shooter, StealthN/A
Psychonauts logo box13. PsychonautsDouble Fine Productions2005PlatformBuy
Castle Wolfenstein - cover14. Castle WolfensteinMuse Software1981Stealth, Action-AdventureN/A
QUAKE III Arena - cover15. Quake III: Arenaid Software1999First-Person ShooterBuy

The Secret of Monkey Island

Developer:Lucasfilm Games
Release year:1990
Genre:Point and Click Adventure

The Secret of Monkey Island represents a popular type of adventure games, which is point and click – moving the character and performing actions is done exclusively by the use of clicking mouse buttons. You click to pick up items, make your character move, interact with nearby objects, and more.

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition - protagonist

During play you will need to solve various puzzles and riddles in order to advance the story and help a young man become a true pirate. The game is filled with humor and funny dialogues for which it’s remembered best – it will keep you engaged and entertained, and as the plot reveals, you will be starving for more.

Key features
  • Epic point and click adventure full of humor – become a pirate
  • Engaging story that will keep you busy
  • Lots of riddles and puzzles waiting to be solved

DOOM 64

Developer:Midway Games
Release year:1997
Genre:First-Person Shooter

If you are a fan of fighting demons combined with a fast-paced shooter action, this classic title would be a perfect choice to pick right now, especially considering the fact, that it recently received a re mastered edition that’s better suited for modern times.

DOOM 64 - kill monsters

DOOM 64 is a sequel to Doom II and it continues the iconic series, retaining most of its core mechanics, while altering certain gameplay elements to make the experience even more enjoyable. All weapons from previous game are present with an addition of a few new ones, including the powerful Unmaker laser that can be upgraded into even more deadly version later on.

Key features
  • Classic first-person action focused on slaying demon creatures
  • Fast-paced combat and fluid movement
  • 32 difficult twisted levels with simple puzzles and hidden areas

Fallout

Developer:Interplay Productions
Release year:1997
Genre:Turn-Based, Role-Playing

Fallout alters the history and provides us with a vision of how the world could look like after a nuclear war, adding certain fictional elements, such as mutated creatures that are a result of animals being exposed to incredibly high amounts of radiation.

Fallout Classic Collection game- fighting

This classic turn-based game started the entire Fallout series that is still being developed, and new games from the franchise are still appearing on the market. If you are a fan of this kind of action and a post-apocalyptic setting, then it could be hard to find a better role-playing title. If you already played it – why not to give it another go?

Key features
  • Open-world environment in the post-apocalyptic setting full of mutated creatures
  • Character customization and development with lots of different options supporting different playstyles
  • Turn-based combat – use melee weapons and guns to defeat enemies

Giants: Citizen Kabuto

Developer:Planet Moon Studios
Release year:2000
Genre:Third-Person Shooter, Real-Time Strategy

This one is an intriguing one. It combines different genres and throws a good dose of ridiculous humor into the mix, which results in a great and unique classic game that is definitely worth of being put on the list.

Giants: Citizen Kabuto

Giants: Citizen Kabuto will take you to a fantasy world where you will be tasked with helping Smarties, small humanoid creatures that excels at building and creating, who are suffering under the reign of Sea Reapers. As you play and the story progresses, you will be able to play as three different beings, including one of the Sea Reapers and the titular giant Kabuto, allowing you to experience the story from another perspective.

Key features
  • A unique and well-executed mix of different gaming genres
  • Humorous story full of funny dialogues and unforgettable moments
  • Lots of missions that will test your reflexes and eye-hand coordination

Grim Fandango

Developer:LucasArts
Release year:1998
Genre:Graphic Adventure

Grim Fandango is a humorous story focused on the fictional company Department of Death company that takes care of souls of recently deceased unfortunates as they travel to a final destination. You will play as one of company’s travel agents, Manny, as he tries to help the soul of a girl named Mercedes.

Grim Fandango Remastered - protagonist and woman

Grim Fandango, just like some other classic games, received a remastered version not so long ago, so that would be a great time to get back to this iconic production, especially considering the fact, that the remaster received some long-awaited features, including a point-and-click interface used in most modern adventure games – the original game was played with use of a keyboard, joystick, or a gamepad.

Key features
  • Humorous adventure with unique art style connected to Mexican calaca figures
  • Amusing dialogues with occasional Spanish words, resulting in funny sounding Spanglish
  • Lots of riddles – talk to people and interact with objects to solve them

Planescape: Torment

Developer:Black Isle Studios
Release year:1999
Genre:Role-Playing

Planescape: Torment is a story-driven role-playing game taking place in Dungeons & Dragons’ Planescape. You will step into shoes of The Nameless One who appears to be immortal.

Planescape: Torment - fighting

He can hardly remember anything, yet it appears that most characters he meets are already familiar with his person, and it will be your job to help him recover his memories and discover his true nature. Although the game wasn’t a commercial success, it still managed to obtain a cult status, and now it’s better time than ever to jump into it, thanks to a refreshed Enhanced Edition from 2017 that significantly improves the gameplay experience.

Key features
  • Deep role-playing experience based on D&D rules with strong emphasis being put on the story
  • Tons of funny dialogues that lighten the dark and heavy atmosphere
  • Real-time combat with active pause – give orders to your team of individuals and make them work together

Deus Ex

Developer:Ion Storm
Release year:2000
Genre:Action Role-Playing, First-Person Shooter, Stealth

Deus Ex is a dream come true for those believing conspiracy theories, as game’s story is build largely around many of these, including men in black, chupacabras, and black helicopters.

Deus Ex - gamescreen

The title tells the story of JC Denton, an agent of the fictional UNATCO agency, tasked with recovering stolen vaccine for a deadly virus. As the story unfolds, he will become conflicted with the most influential people connected to Illuminati, Majestic 12, and Triads. The game puts strong emphasis on freedom of choice – many scenarios can be approached differently, and thanks to the presence of RPG elements the character can also be developed and customized. It’s one of the absolutely classic PC games, absolutely worth checking out.

Key features
  • Intriguing story related to some popular conspiracy theories
  • Character development combined with tactical combat that requires careful approach
  • Many in-game problems can be solved in various ways, giving players a sense of freedom

Gothic

Developer:Piranha Bytes
Release year:2001
Genre:Action Role-Playing

The first Gothic game will always have its place in hearts of old school RPG players. Gothic takes you to a fantasy world that’s almost entirely open for you to explore from the very beginning, but you are encouraged to follow the story and complete main missions instead.

Gothic - protagonist

The controls might feel clunky, especially combat that plays so differently than what you could’ve seen in similar games, but once you get used to it, it starts to get quite fun. The title features three guild-like organizations – you will have to choose one and join it, and depending on your choice you will experience the story from a different perspective.

Key features
  • Classic action RPG with unique combat system and character development
  • Three camps – pick your favorite one and join it for a slightly different adventure
  • Tons of items to find and monsters to slay – use swords, bows, or throw magic at your foes

Ico

Developer:SCE Japan Studio, Team Ico
Release year:2001
Genre:Action-Adventure

Ico is a 3D action-adventure game that received a lot of awards and was considered by some the best game of all times, though it never became a commercial success. It filled a niche in the market of games offering original gameplay and minimal narrative.

Ico - protagonist and girl

The game tells the story of Ico that was born with horns, and thus locked away in fear of bringing bad luck upon his village. Once locked, he meets a girl he wants to save from a truly unpleasant fate, as he learns she is about to be sacrificed in exchange for extending Queen’s lifespan. Ico focuses on platform puzzles and throws a lot of environmental riddles and challenges at players for them to solve.

Key features
  • Unforgettable fantasy journey taking place in an abandoned fortress
  • Unique gameplay that will keep you engaged as you try to solve another challenge
  • Platform action with many environmental puzzles

Serious Sam: The First Encounter

Developer:Croteam
Release year:2001
Genre:First-Person Shooter

2001 was a good year for games and it gave life to many classic and cult titles we still love to play. Serious Sam: The First Encounter is definitely one of these games, so let’s take a moment to remember this old gem.

Serious Sam: The First Encounter - shoot

What originally was meant to be a simple Croteam’s Serious Engine demo, later turned into a fully fledged production that started the entire Serious Sam franchise. The First Encounter is the first episode of the journey where you will be tasked with fighting off a demonic army in order to restore peace and order to the Earth. Doing so certainly won’t be easy, but you’ll have a powerful weaponry at your disposal, which should make your mission somewhat manageable.

Key features
  • Dynamic fast-paced first-person action
  • Hordes of twisted creatures and demanding bosses
  • Dozens of hidden secrets

Beyond Good & Evil

Developer:Ubisoft
Release year:2003
Genre:Action-Adventure

Beyond Good & Evil is quite unique, even by today’s standards. This classic action-adventure title revolves around solving puzzles and exploring the world in search of answers related to a recent alien invasion.

Beyond Good & Evil - fighting

What makes the game unique is presence of a camera your character, Jade, can use to take photos of various objects and animals around her – by taking photos you learn more about the world and environment you’re playing in, and you are also rewarded with some in-game currency you can later use to get yourself a new equipment that should make your journey easier.

Key features
  • Addictive story experienced from a photo-journalist’s perspective
  • Linear nature mixed with quite high amount of freedom
  • Action, puzzles, and stealth elements

XIII

Developer:Ubisoft
Release year:2003
Genre:First-Person Shooter, Stealth

XIII is a fun combination of a first-person shooting action with stealth elements, meaning you will be able to fight your enemies with use of a wide array of guns, but also sneak when necessary.

XIII - shoot

The game stands out from the crowd because of its unique art style – it makes you feel just like a comic character living a story in a comic book, and it’s not even an exaggeration. And because of this specific style of art, the game still feels fresh, even 20 years later. Although the game wasn’t considered a commercial success on release and it received rather mixed reviews, it managed to become a cult game, thanks to the game’s most devoted fans.

Key features
  • Appealing comic-like visuals
  • Dynamic action and enjoyable shooting mechanics
  • 16 deadly weapons and 34 story missions

Psychonauts

Developer:Double Fine Productions
Release year:2005
Genre:Platform

Psychonauts is another example of a game that aged well and with time it even managed to receive a cult status, meaning that if you didn’t play it, you should definitely give it a go.

Psychonauts - cards

In Psychonauts you will be playing the role of a young boy who possesses psychic abilities and dreams of becoming a special agent, a Psychonaut, so he could use his powers to fight the baddies. As the game progresses you will be able to explore not only the physical world, but also the worlds that exist only in minds of other people – this gives you the opportunity to visit some very distinctive and peculiar locations.

Key features
  • Fun platform game with a great sense of humor
  • Silly places and imaginary locations waiting to be explored
  • Several powerful psychic powers that can be upgraded and utilized during play

Castle Wolfenstein

Developer:Muse Software
Release year:1981
Genre:Stealth, Action-Adventure

If you don’t remember how games looked like before Quake, you may want to pay this game from 1981 a visit. There are some old games on this list, but this one is truly ancient (in video game years). Castle Wolfenstein might seem odd to the younger audience, as it looks and plays drastically different from what younger players may be used to.

Castle Wolfenstein - gamescreen

The game focuses on adventures of a spy who tries to infiltrate a Nazi fortress, Castle Wolfenstein, in order to steal valuable plans and make his way out, possibly turning the tides in the Second World War. The game remains challenging and playable, so if you’re in for some old-school fun, this one should suit your needs.

Key features
  • Classic video game at its best – back to the roots of a stealth genre
  • Challenging gameplay that requires fast reflexes, smart play, and a bit of luck
  • One of the first games that used digitized voices, creating a unique atmosphere

Quake III: Arena

Developer:id Software
Release year:1999
Genre:First-Person Shooter

For the final entry on the list of the best cult classic video games we’ve got something no such list would be complete without – Quake III: Arena, a game many of us may remember well.

Quake III Arena - shoot

Focused entirely on multiplayer combat, the game allowed players to participate in fast-paced dynamic battles with use of futuristic weapons that spit out bullets, rockets, lasers, and energy balls. The arcade gameplay is further emphasized by twisted multi-platform level design and fast character movement that allows players to take jumps bigger than one could expect.

Key features
  • Arcade-style shooter with fast-paced combat
  • Extremely fun, smooth, and fluid shooting mechanics
  • Focused entirely on multiplayer – no single player except for versus bot matches

Summary

Classic video games can be considered classic for various reasons – for having unique gameplay mechanics, for telling the story in a creative way, for having exceptionally good visuals or stylized graphics, for standing the test of time, for doing some things in a new way and being somewhat innovative, or for the mix of all. But even once the game meets all of these criteria, it still can be left forgotten after being played once or twice. It can also work the other way around – being a commercial success is not a guarantee that the game will be considered a cult classic in the future. In fact, a lot of cult games were not successful on release, but they started to be praised later.

It’s all really a mystery how cult games are born, just like viral videos are. If someone knew the secret, he’d be probably swimming in some serious cash. All we can do is observe the gaming scene and watch new cult games as they rise, but one thing is certain – we will surely be surprised what games will be considered cult in the next 20 or 30 years.

Let’s wait and see, but while we’re waiting, why don’t you try some of the classics we already know are considered cult? Pick something from the list above and enjoy your time.