Modern Games That Dare to be Different
Besides my undying passion for music, my other big passion in things media is video games. Recently on my ventures through the wild and crazy world of the internet and video game sites I’ve seen a common topic popping up. There is lots of talk about modern video games lacking originality. Games like Call of Battlefield: Modern Zombie Warfare 3: Dragons Burn Stuff 2 (Deluxe DLC Complete Edition) are overflowing the gaming market leaving those with bright and original ideas in the dust. Well, I digress. Throughout the history of video games there has been the leading ‘theme’ that took forefront and tons of copy cats ran with it. Look at the amount of Super Mario Bros. rip off there are. And amidst these ‘clones’ some really cool and fun games were born. But before I run off topic here, I’ll just say, the video game market has always been flooded by a certain genre. The amount of sales may have been less back then due to video games being less popular than they are today, but the percentages match up.
So, back on point. I don’t agree that creativity and originality are lacking in the video game market. People are just lazy and aren’t looking and making suggestions to others. There are a ton of great games out there, ranging from the AAA to the little indie games. Here are some games I’ve played over the past handful of years that ooze with style, originality, or more or less do something to really show the true potential or artistic merit of gaming. Enjoy and leave suggestions to games that you think are deserving to be on this list. Peace Love and Metal!!!
The Binding of Isaac
This game was my inspiration to this post. Gameplay wise it’s quite simple. Mix the original Legend of Zelda with a twin stick shooter like Smash T.V. and add in random levels, enemies, bosses, etc. so each time you play you get a fresh game. It’s done in Flash so the graphics are simple vector graphics and they all have a cartoony look to them. It’s made by the same guy who did Super Meat Boy, so the art style is pretty similar to that. What makes this game stand out is just how absolutely fucked up it is. The premise is that you play as a young child named Isaac. Isaac’s mother is obsessed with watching Christian broadcasting on television and one day she hears the voice of God. God tells here that Isaac is evil and she must take away all the things that are an evil influence on his life. The God tells here that if she really loves Him, she has to prove her love by killing the wicked Isaac. Poor Isaac escapes into a hidden passageway in his room just as his mom enters with a knife to off him with and from there you need to control Isaac through the twisted chambers of what I believe to be his psyche leading up to the confrontation with his mother.
If that story wasn’t f’d up enough, Isaac must defeat different rooms filled with a wide array of twisted monsters by shooting his tears at them. Some of the things you will do battle with include a walking goatse (if you don’t know what that is, DO NOT Google it or look it up, don’t say I didn’t warn you) that shoots blood like the wall from that one scene in Evil Dead 2 and worms that fling poo at you. There are also special weapons like your mothers menstrual pad which you can use to stun your enemies. Um. yeah, the game is f’d, but in the end all the shock and disgusting things comes off as rather mature. It’s a look into the mind of someone who has been through child abuse and neglect and the things his mind conjured up while going through such a horrible upbringing. And for as twisted as the game is, it’s actually pretty fun to play with a playthrough lasting under an hour. Catch is you have one chance to reach the end, if not Game Over and back to the beginning. As you play new items are unlocked making your next playthrough easier or different really increasing the re-playability. If you are not completely offended by this description of the game, I highly suggest checking it out. You can buy it here.
Quite possibly my favorite game of all time. Everything about this game is perfect and takes the first person style of gameplay in a wild new direction focusing on story and puzzle solving instead of mindless violence and shooting the crap out of things. In Portal you are given a portal gun where you create linked portals to pass through as you work your way from point A to point B. Simple idea, amazing results. The puzzles will almost always tickle parts of your brain that have laid dormant for long periods of time often requiring you to think outside of the box. Things are mixed up with environmental objects and situations that you use in conjunction with your portals to reach the end of a stage. For example there is a part where you must direct special gels that give you a higher jump or faster running speed onto different surfaces to run and bounce over an extremely long gap.
All this great puzzle solving is tied in with one of the best and out right laugh out load narratives ever in a video game. You awaken from a long slumber and before long all hell breaks loose and a simpleton robot AI ball thingy named Wheatly (wonderfully voiced by Stephan Merchant) comes to give you a hand. Then the famous GlaDOS hasn’t forgotten you tried to kill her in the previous game. It’s all twists, turns, and hilarity from there. I never had a game make me laugh as much as Portal 2 and it also had a deeper layer of intelligence to the story which really made it work on many different levels. I will never look at lemons the same way again.
And then there’s the multiplayer which really get the word ‘cooperative’. In order to progress you and your buddy need to be in constant communication and cooperation. Of course you can be devious and do some funny things to your partner, but if you want to advance you’ll have to get along and think together on how to solve the many puzzles presented.
SuperBrothers: Sword & Sworcery E.P.
The best way I can describe this graphic adventure game is Prog Rock: The Video Game. Combining a unique graphical aesthetic of old school 8-Bit and soft pastel colors this game is a beyond pleasing to the eye. That style really helps build a mystical atmosphere as you take you heroine on her way to martyr herself to defeat a wicked evil. The atmosphere and emotion from the game couldn’t have been achieved without the game’s soundtrack (written and performed by Jim Guthrie, who I check into and is pretty damn good if you like mellow folk music) which is as much as a character in the game as the cast in the game. From mood building to being an actual gameplay mechanic this game wouldn’t be what it is without the music. At one point you will be conducting an orchestra of trees and another you will be doing taming wild magic to the rhythm of some spacy prog rock. It is available for PC and IOS. You can grab a copy here(and grab the soundtrack too, it’s worth it).
OK, open world games are starting to get played out, but if there’s one company that knows how to do them right is Rockstar. With L.A. Noire they push the open world genre further by doing away with a lot of the action and mayhem that these kind of games are known for (don’t worry, there’s still plenty of shooting and driving like a maniac if you choose so) and adding a lot of elements of graphic adventure games. The scouring of crime scenes was fun and the interrogations were even more of a blast (yelling at little old ladies will always be a good time, lol).
Rockstar and co. were able to also nail the time period of 1940’s L.A. perfectly and inject a great feeling of film noire giving the aesthetic of the game a heavy Chinatown, The Untouchables, L.A. Confidential feel. The story was mature and memorable with a great focus on character development. You watch/play ex-soldier turned cop Cole Phelps really grow as a character as he goes up the ranks in the LAPD and struggles with the difficulties of his personal life and the horrors of crimes committed on the street. You also meet a likable (or likable unlikable) cast of supporting characters who help the narrative really unveil the tumultuous mind of Cole. While there are a good handful of detective games out there, this one really innovated and pushed the genre further and I hope more games like it come out in the future.
World of Goo
I don’t think I’ve ever played a game quite like this before. You take gobs of black goo (or different colors later in the game) and stick them together to build structures like, say a bridge, to get to the exit point of the stage. Simple to learn, difficult to master (unless you happen to be an architect). A great physics system keeps your structures honest and different environmental hazards make you work your brain. The game also has a cute and cheerful atmosphere and graphic style that could charm even the most metal of metalheads. Packed with tons of levels and challenges there is more than enough game to get a big bang for your buck. A great game for both casual and hardcore gamers and it’s a good game to work with a partner with sharing ideas on how to build the best structure with the least amount of moves. Check it out. It’s available for PC, IOS, and Wii (I highly recommend the PC or IOS versions, I could see the Wii version killing your arm after some time playing. PC version requires next to nothing, so even and XP machine could run it well). You can get the PC version here.
Posted on July 18, 2012, in Videogames and tagged gaming, L.A. Noire, Portal 2, Swords and Sworcery, The Binding of Isaac, Unique Games, Video Games, World of Goo. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.