Year of release: October 4, 2011

For a dedicated group of hardcore gamers, it's impossible to talk about the best games of the last five years without mentioning Dark Souls.

It may not have the mainstream appeal of some of the other games on this list, like GTA V, but for those who crave something deeper and darker there can be no other contenders. Dark Souls is so good that other games pale in comparison, and for some fans it can be hard to fully enjoy anything else once its sweet fruit has been tasted. Dark Souls is an evolution of its predecessor, the PS3-exclusive Demon's Souls, which it improved on in almost every way.

It's dark fantasy world beckons players in, then slams the door shut behind them while a half dozen skeletons armed with body-length shivs jump out of the closet and impale them. Players are well accustomed to the ruse by now, but they jump right back in anyway—because unlike other incredibly challenging games, Dark Souls rewards players for every failure with another lesson. You never feel cheated playing Dark Souls; only unprepared. It may not seem that way at first, and it can be daunting for new players to attempt to translate the game's secret language.

But those who do are treated to an incredibly rich and lived-in open world, some of the deepest real-time RPG combat ever devised, truly innovative co-op and competitive multiplayer, and acceptance from a dedicated community of players that, like the game itself, will invite you in, stab you in the back, and then inform you politely exactly where you went wrong.