Top 10 Strategy Games in my Steam Backlog (2020)
Looking at the immensity of my Steam backlog recently, I had an interesting thought. Top 10 lists are fun to make, but I can’t make another “Top 10 Games in my Steam Backlog” list until I finish all the games in the first list. But while that list is focused on the overall most interesting games I haven’t played yet, what if I could get around this self-imposed restriction, and make a list of the top 10 games in my Steam backlog in a specific genre? That brings us to here, now, with this list of the Top 10 Strategy Games in my Steam Backlog!
One thing I realized in making this list, the “Strategy” user-defined tag on Steam is used very broadly. It’s applied to basically any game with turn-based combat, but I tend to think of games like Fire Emblem, or Age of Empires II when I think of strategy games, and not games like Earthbound or Final Fantasy VI. Anyway, you’ll see real-time strategy games, strategy RPGs, and other twists on the strategy genre in this list. Just because this is a list of strategy games doesn’t mean it lacks variety!
10. Shadowrun Returns
I haven’t played either the pen-and-paper RPG or any of the previous video games based upon it, but Shadowrun Returns sounds and looks pretty intriguing. The Shadowrun universe is all about a fusion of cyberpunk and fantasy. Magic exists in the world alongside cyborgs and other futuristic elements. The videos for Shadowrun Returns on the Steam store page give me classic Fallout vibes, given the isometric perspective and turn-based combat, as well as some dialogue options having skill checks.
9. Phantom Doctrine
Phantom Doctrine seems like a version of XCOM set during the Cold War, with stealth and espionage mechanics. As such, it’s played on a grid, turn-based, and features guns and a cover system. You also customize the operatives under your control, and I’m always game for character customization systems. The single player story campaign is touted as lasting 40+ hours, so Phantom Doctrine clearly has a lot to offer.
8. Children of Zodiarcs
This game would probably be a decent enough strategy RPG without any extra gameplay mechanics, but developer Cardboard Utopia didn’t stop there. On top of the turn-based SRPG system, there are also deck-building and dice roll mechanics. Attacks and abilities are executed by drawing cards from your deck which control what options a character will have each turn. Once a card is drawn, you roll dice to add additional modifiers to the attack or ability. This sounds super unique, and all of that is on top of a story set in a fantasy world about rebels overthrowing a corrupt system.
7. Tooth and Tail
Tooth and Tail is a real-time strategy game where you lead your chosen faction of anthropomorphic animals against the other three factions. Interestingly, it has full gamepad support, as well as split-screen multiplayer. I think that’s what initially put it on my radar. I mean, how many RTS games offer local split-screen co-op? I’ve played my fair share of Age of Empires II, but that’s the only RTS I’ve really gotten into, so I’m definitely curious to see how Tooth and Tail compares.
6. Sword Legacy: Omen
A re-imagining of the tales of King Arthur, Sword Legacy: Omen follows Uther in his quest to find Excalibur. Uther’s journey will be bloody as he navigates the dark and deceitful Broken Britannia. Gameplay takes place on a grid, and features turn-based strategic gameplay with RPG elements. The Steam page says it’s a brutal experience several times, so I’m expecting it to be pretty challenging. I don’t expect the story and tone to be similar, but If the gameplay is anything like Level-5’s Jeanne d’Arc on PSP, then I’ll probably really enjoy this game!
5. XCOM 2
Sequel to 2012’s acclaimed XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and building upon the legacy of the renowned strategy series that began back in 1994, XCOM 2 sees you fighting to liberate Earth from its alien overlords. In the name of this mission, you’ll recruit soldiers to your cause, developing their skill trees, upgrading their weapons and armor, and take the fight to the alien menace through turn-based guerrilla warfare. From the sound of the Steam page and the user reviews for the game, XCOM 2 has an incredible amount to offer, and the gameplay is simply top-notch. This will be my introduction to the XCOM series!
4. Invisible Inc.
Here’s a turn-based stealth tactics game from the same developer as Don’t Starve, Klei Entertainment. You control a team of secret agents infiltrating various dangerous corporations in a futuristic, high tech world. I’m looking forward to seeing how the stealth-focused gameplay works out in a turn-based game like this. It features randomly generated elements as well, so it should be pretty replayable.
3. Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun
Described as a hardcore tactical stealth game, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun plays in real-time, where you command several different heroes with unique abilities. You’ll guide them to stealthily climb over rooftops, evading or eliminating enemies in your path depending on your play style. The game is presented from a bird’s eye view, and reminds me of Age of Empires in that regard. It’s set during the Edo period in Japan, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the architecture of the period, and stealthily making my way through some beautiful Japanese landscapes.
2. Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
Edit: I’ve played through Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden on Normal difficulty (the easiest option), and I enjoyed it! It’s a fun, tactical RPG, and fairly short too. Besides the battles, the stealth and exploration elements were pretty interesting too. You can read more about my playthrough here!
Assuming I follow the priorities set in this list, this will be the second XCOM-style game I play. Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle was the first. Evidently, it’s based on a Swedish pen-and-paper RPG called Mutant: Year Zero. The setting is post-apocalyptic Sweden, after humanity has nuked themselves to death and only mutant animals and humanoid creatures remain. Besides the turn-based, tactical combat, I’m also looking forward to the exploration and stealth elements here. It should be pretty cool!
1. Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark
Edit: Finished my first playthrough! It was a solid SRPG, as I said in my Now Playing posts about it, I’d definitely recommend it to SRPG fans. Read more about my thoughts on it here!
I’ve said it before and I’ll said it again: I love Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. As of this writing, I still haven’t played Final Fantasy Tactics, but I’m sure it’s excellent as well. What does all this have to do with Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark? Well, when I first saw screenshots and read a little about the game, I was instantly reminded of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and deeply curious to see how apt the comparison might be. The Steam store page even mentions Final Fantasy Tactics, including the Advance and A2 games, so I really can’t wait to give it a try myself!