Games that are enough critically recognized as to be ranked on metacritic/gamerankings and are far from critically acclaimed but would certainly get a higher review score from me if I were to review them. Well not necessarily, but all of these games have a special place in my heart and didn't get very good aggregate review scores, even if some of them are indeed critically acclaimed nonetheless. Most of these games mostly focus on story and narrative, to the detriment of graphics, sound, and general production values.
Pathologic (66%) 10/10 - my score
One of the most astounding and intriguing gaming experiences in my adult life. I'm awaiting the remake with anticipation, which will have a better translation/localization and more resources for the technical side of things.
Dear Esther (71%) 10/10
Very beautiful and haunting, even more so with the updated graphics of 2012. The music still rings in my ears.
Unrest (69%) 9/10
An adventure RPG which has some of the most intricate political intrigues I've ever seen, and you're dropped right in the smack middle of it all. But it's not just clever, there is actually a lot of wisdom in the game as well. It leaves much to the imagination, but I can live with sparse graphics and a lot of text when it's done this nicely. I'm awaiting the first AAA-title with this kind of narrative ambition and focus.
Consortium (66%) 9/10
This one's fresh, so I might be infatuated beyond the point of reason right now. It's a very suspenseful one-room (or rather one ship) title with lots of depth and interactivity. The characters may look alike, but they are very fleshed-out due to backstory, the events in the game, and the voice actors. The sci-fi mystery of the game is super exciting, the lore is well-written, but perhaps the game doesn't have much worthwhile to say in the end. It's leaves one puzzled in a different way than say Pathologic or Unrest, two titles which are really existentially relevant for me. And it doesn't touch me the way games such as Dear Esther or The Novelist do for example. Maybe it's a case of having more style than substance, which is definitely the case with Device-6, an awesome experience, but yeah, I wish it would lead to something more in the end.
Knock-Knock (57%) 8/10
From the creators of Pathologic, this kickstarted experiment is definitely something else. I didn't even understand all main gameplay elements (how do I progress in the forest?!), but the experience in itself was different and worthwhile, always leaving things unsaid, the mystery unresolved. Maybe it attempts something similar to P.T, a game which has murky affordances, players never sure why they got a specific ending or how they made the game progress. There is potential in that kind of experience, and some of it is realized in Knock-Knock.
The Novelist (69%) 8/10
A game about responsibilities, about marriage, about child-rearing. A sober yet affecting story about the inadequacies of people and life in general. Main mechanic of the game is kinda forced (why would I be a ghost in a game that has nothing to do with ghosts otherwise?) and doesn't need to be there for justification, but I was touched by the fates of respective family members. It's not as fresh, well-made and designed as Gone Home, but there is a moving story here too.
Journal (59%) 8/10
A game about a young girl and her troubles, with divorce, disease, school, etc. Slice of life game with much warmth.
Due to nostalgic blindness:
One of my favorite games from my childhood. It's an ok dungeon crawler but these are dime-a-dozen. Still, I love it.
Castlevania 64 (72%)
I realize it's not the best game out there, but it's actually still one of my favorite Castlevania games, up there with Symphony of the Night. Another case of just having the game and loving it at a time where quality wasn't as important for enjoying myself.
Because the score isn't all that low:
Jazzpunk (75%) 9/10
Super childish game which made me laugh out loud quite a lot of times. That doesn't happen often, so I have to commend the game!
Because the game isn't all that good:
Contrast (64%) 7/10
Even though I would only give the game a 7, my seven is probably much more worth than the seven of the general video game community. The game had its magical moments and touched me with its story and presentation of it. But, as often is the case with the games on this list, the technical side of things wasn't very good. Buggy as hell.
Dark Eye (67%) 7/10
A pain in the ass to play, since progression comes down to clicking all interactable items on all screens quite often, and you get stuck because you can't find all items to click on, basically. No really, it's horrible. But if you manage to get the tempo up and play through it, it's certainly one of the most chilling subdued horror games I've played. The slowness of it all almost makes it more creepy.