Diving in Head First
As it turns out, I’m a big fan of immersion; it doesn’t need to have the latest mind-blowing graphics, but if a game can make me feel like I’m part of its story, and if that story is one that sticks in my head after I’m done playing, I’m willing to forgive less than perfect gameplay mechanics.
That said, I’m also a sucker for a game that’s just fun to play, memorable story or not, and if it’s got some clever or unique gameplay mechanics thrown in, even better! Here are a few of my personal favorites from the past year:
A tactical RPG adventure with its own unique world inspired loosely by Viking-age mythology, Banner Saga is utterly gorgeous, with cel-shaded animation and a lush orchestral soundtrack featuring Icelandic choral singing. Its turn-based tactical combat is solid, but it’s the gorgeous imagery and haunting, tragic storyline that makes Stoic Studio‘s debut game such a winner.
Here is my complete review of Banner Saga.
Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)
Created in partnership with the Inupiaq Alaskan Native community, Never Alone makes up for some occasional glitches in its platforming with lovely animations and a plot based on traditional tribal folklore. Short documentary-style films on Alaskan Native life, culture and myth are integrated with the game itself in an unusual approach that manages to educate without being dull or condescending.
Here is my complete review of Never Alone.
Full Mojo Rampage
A roguelike top-down shooter based loosely on the Voudon religion, Full Mojo Rampage is difficult despite its cutely morbid Tim Burton aesthetic, and its treatment of a very real (but often exploited) religious system is clever and humorous without being insulting or demeaning.
Here is my complete review of Full Mojo Rampage.
A thoughtful side-scrolling action adventure in the vein of ’90s classics like Flashback, The Fall combines well-designed inventory puzzles with a darkly philosophical meditation on artificial intelligence and identity that recalls nothing so much as Philip K. Dick.
Here is my complete review of The Fall.
One Way Heroics
Deceptively simple game design belies the depth of this seemingly casual Japanese rogue-like. With death omnipresent but never unfair and a forced scrolling mechanism that keeps you moving ever onward into danger, One Way Heroics is brilliantly addictive.
Here is my complete review of One Way Heroics.
Agree? Disagree? Post your comments below!