Action games are often like rock music: it’s hard to pinpoint one definable essence, and most borrow liberally from other genres. That said, the genre is often at its best when you don’t have too many mechanics to memorize, and can mostly rely on your wits and your reaction time to get through each challenge.
No list of action games will be perfect, but this group of 17 is sure to have something for everyone. Some might blur the lines a bit, dipping into a bit of RPG mechanics here and there, as well as elements of other genres like survival horror. Some are fun, others are serious, but each one is a trip well worth taking.