Game 148: Papo & Yo
1) Play Papo & Yo
2) Try not to feel
3) Feel a lot
This game has some of the best use of mechanics as metaphor I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a short game, but it has wonderful environments and aesthetics, enjoyable puzzles, and a dark story line exploring the relationship between a child and his abusive alcoholic father, the father clearly represented by the monster itself in the child’s imaginary world that you play through.
Game 147: Rogue Legacy
A game with tight controls, a fun premise, a huge upgrade tree, and a good sense of humor, Rogue Legacy was a wonderful game to play through that constantly provided a fun challenge. With the wonderful 16-bit Castlevania-inspired aesthetics/gameplay and music sounding an awful lot like Danny Baranowsky’s, this game is clearly not above taking some inspirational cues. That said, the concept of how death is handled as you travel through the castle is unique as far as I can tell. When you die you are dead, but your posterity pick up your quest where you left off with a newly-generated castle. Each heir to your family name has interesting traits that affect gameplay such as sucking at casting spells or having OCD and getting mana from breaking everything or even more ridiculous things like fear of chickens or being nostalgic and seeing everything in old-timey vision.
The game is hard, downright brutal at times, but when you die it never feels too disappointing because it gives you the chance to upgrade your skill tree with the gold you earned in the last run. As I progressed, unless my run was downright abysmal I was usually good enough to get at least one upgrade. That said, I did die exactly 177 times before beating the game.
If the game isn’t quite hard enough for you or you’re insane there are challenge mode versions of bosses that crank the difficulty to absolutely insane levels with fixed characters. These are more BS versions of the already interesting and pretty well done bosses (although the second one is already pretty BS).
Rogue Legacy is simple, challenging and if any of this has sounded interested you, go play it. It’s cheap and well worth the price. Go support these guys, they deserve it.
Game 146: Journey
Dear lord this game… this absolutely mindbogglingly gorgeous game. It is likely the most beautiful game I have ever had the pleasure to play.I have been meaning to play this game ever since it came out and I am so glad I finally got the opportunity.
Game 145: Scribblenauts Unlimited
What do you get when you give the player complete omnipotence and try to make your game a fun challenge rather than something to tinker with briefly? Well, developers 5th Cell have been trying to answer that question ever since the first Scribblenauts came out. Each game has had about 3 things to try that will solve almost every puzzle in the game, but Unlimited took a different approach. Instead of having the player simply try to get through obstacles to get the macguffins, they instead have to make people happy by fulfilling their oddly specific desires.
It adds a creative edge to the gameplay and expands the number of possible solutions needed to about 10. In all seriousness though, it really does make the challenges more interesting and levels are more full of quick challenges rather than focused on long ones making the game a breeze to get through and keeps the gameplay well paced due to the number of readily available challenge options at any given point.
Additionally, the gameplay challenges tend to lend themselves to being fun not simply by finding the solution, but by finding the most outlandish solution possible for a challenge. For example, I had to save Hansel and Gretel from the evil witch by distracting her with smells from the oven. I tried a few things I didn’t think would work but would be funny if they did. One of the things I tried was to put a baby in the oven which worked and a flaming baby crawled out of the oven crying. I felt terrible. Kid-friendly entertainment ladies and gentlemen. So maybe that was a bad example, but summoning Cthulu to be ridden into battle by Horus or giving a cleric morphine to heal her adventuring party does lend itself to some silly fun.
It seems like the game series is getting its formula constantly improved and despite the fact that I got very good at typing “immortal superfast superstrong flying” to add adjectives to myself at the beginning of every level and the adjective “omniscient” rarely solved any problems I really did have a bunch of fun with this game. It’s definitely worth tinkering with even if it’s just to ride a dragon into battle against evil Santa and his army of succbi and longcats while backed up by The Village People and God himself armed with a rocket launcher.
Game 144: Proteus
There isn’t much substance to this game so there isn’t really much I can say without stealing some of the experience from you if you haven’t played it. Proteus is a short game that’s based around wandering an island over the course of the seasons. It’s super artsy in its presentation with a huge focus on the musical as you wander the island not really doing much and just kinda taking in the atmosphere.
While a game like this can hide behind the protection of being artsy from criticism, the game does very little to engage the player, especially early on. That said, the beginning helps you realize there is no true goal simply from the lack of direction.
It’s an intriguing game, but not really groundbreaking. It’s interesting to see the island change over time and the ending is pretty beautiful, but, beyond the clever use of sound and small hints at a story here and there, the game simply did not appeal much to me. It’s worth trying if you get a chance, but it’s not really something I would go out of my way for honestly.
Game 143: Mark of the Ninja
To itch that stealth game scratch that hasn’t been satisfied since Arkham City (still haven’t touched or even really seen much of Origins), Mark of the Ninja was a fantastic game. The game is chock full of interesting mechanics for stealthing around including visible sound radii, a grappling hook, and even a teleport later in the game. Every area has interesting challenges that take concentration and planning and feel incredibly satisfying to get through.
Game 142: Gunpoint
Did you like Yahtzee’s stealth game The Art of Theft? Do you like puzzles that don’t feel like puzzles and instead make you feel like the clever bastard that you are? Do you like punchy British humor? I don’t care what your answers are because you should totally play this game anyways.
Gunpoint is a stealth game with an amusingly convoluted plot, great characters, and super fun gameplay involving leaping up buildings to escape guards, wiring motion sensors to trap guards in rooms, punching guards, pushing guards out windows, wiring guards’ guns to shoot each other, and kicking doors into guards.
The gameplay doesn’t have any pretensions about hiding once being spotted and instead when you get found you just get shot instantly. It’s a bit refreshing for a stealth game and allows for fast-paced gameplay when you want it and encourages you wholeheartedly to remain in the shadows.
Despite its brevity, it is thoroughly enjoyable the entire way through and I want to see this man make more games. I wish I had more to say, but this game knows exactly what it is and that’s a silly, well assembled stealth game and I respect and enjoy the hell out of that.
Game 141: Bioshock Infinite
This game was talked about a ton upon release and is still discussed quite frequently now. I had to aggressively avoid anything related to it until recently in order to avoid spoilers and other than a few parts here and there, I’m honestly not sure avoiding spoilers helped my experience too much. The game isn’t as spoiler-laden as I would have expected mostly because I’m still trying to figure out what on earth happened in the ending. That doesn’t mean you should go check out discussions and analyses of it if you haven’t played yet, just don’t expect to come out the other side understanding things.
One thing that strikes me after playing this game is that while it’s very well put together story-wise, but the gameplay seems to be either at odds with the story or at odds with what exactly it wants to be for most of the game, and yet it works. This spoiler-y video by Errant Signal details in many ways why the gameplay simply doesn’t work very well, and yet I found it to be a blast anyways.
Game 140: Rayman Legends
So after a surprising and well deserved amount of success for Rayman Origins a couple years back for being probably the greatest platformer in the last decade at least, the guys and gals of Ubisoft Montpellier were far from done. This game was originally announced as a Wii U exclusive, but after seeing the poor sales of Zombie U, Ubisoft decided to make it for all major platforms, but it is still quite obvious that it was designed with the Wii U touch pad controller in mind.
Game 139: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
It’s games like these that make me appreciate indie developers. This game isn’t too bizarre to be made into a triple-A game if a studio decided to pick it up, but I can tell it would be much different and have a lot less of the subtle atmosphere. I imagine the developers trying to pitch this to, say, EA.
Shadow Planet Productions: We want to make a game where you play as a small creature in a UFO going around his home planet trying to stop an evil force from devouring everything.
EA: Alright, so what were you planning on tying it into? Sounds like a potential spin-off for the Mass Effect series.
SPP: What? No, we were hoping for it to be a new IP.
EA: A new IP, huh? If you really want that to happen *snicker*, then I hope you were planning on state-of-the-art graphics.
SPP: Actually we were hoping for a more silhouetted artistic look to it. Kinda like Limbo with color.
EA: I’m not exactly sure that would work out… But, let’s try to stay positive. What were you thinking of for the multiplayer?
SPP: Multiplayer? Well, we wouldn’t mind doing a little multiplayer if we had time for it. We were thinking of that as secondary, maybe released as DLC down the line for free.
EA: Alright, before I kick you out of my office for wasting my time, I’m curious, what type of game would it be?
SPP: Exploration. Metroidvania-styled specifically.
EA: GET OUT!