While indeed most games we as gamers play are made with bigger budgets, studios, and dedicated teams, today I’m paying my respects to the little guys and gals out there who have made some fine games.
5. Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures
In the stylings of old NES/Super NES, this trip back to the past brings all the frustrations possible: Cryptic level design, annoying traps, and unfair bosses. Each stage is mostly an archetype of a particular game genre, or review that James Rolfe had done as the Nerd, like the level Assholevania. While this game is mind-numbingly difficult, it does offer good entertainment value, with many in-jokes, easter eggs, and nods to other games. If you’re a glutton for punishment, or simply a big fan of the review series, I’d say pick it up.
Antichamber is a great puzzle game in the same vein as Portal was. Antichamber does feature many unique mechanics not found anywhere else. Bridges can materialize around you, optical illusions can hide or illuminate different paths, and the level design will blow your mind. The simple act of going up or down some stairs can turn into an endless climb, but simply turning around will reveal the way back has changed entirely. After a short while, they do introduce the “Cube Gun” (yes I’m sticking with that) and throughout the game will see it undergo some upgrades the let you solve more and more puzzles. This little adventure is charming and keeps your brain stirring for more creative solutions. I’d recommend this title to fans of Portal, or any gamers who want a challenge of unique non-linear level design.
3. Papers, Please
This is a game that I found hard to describe genre-wise, but luckily, the creators have got us covered. A “Dystopian Document Thriller,” Papers Please stands tall in its own little corner of the gaming community. With very oppressive visuals, I couldn’t help but think of George Orwell’s 1984 type of society. So the gist of this game is that you have been selected to run an entry booth on the border of fictional country Artstoska. As the rules and regulations stack up, you’re there to permit valid entry into your country. With a small margin of error, you are encouraged to work at your quickest pace, as your family relies on your meager wage for heat, food, and rent. As more people come through your booth, a few events do unfold, and you might feel obligated to help certain individuals, which you certainly can, at the cost of deducted wages. While not revolutionary, this title is charming, and had me playing for hours. If your looking for a small piece of entertainment, you may get a laugh or two, but for the most part is a very somber story.
This title is a lot of fun. Rogue Legacy is a side scrolling “rogue-like” in which you are to explore a dangerous castle and defeat various bosses. The big draw for this game is how it handles death, and the level design. So every time you die in Rogue Legacy, that character bites the dust and you get to pick between 3 different descendants to once again, raid the castle. Between your choices however, each of these new characters can have many traits such as dwarfism, colorblindness, OCD, or IBS. Anothert thing to make each character unique, is that there are many different classes in the game with many traits distinct to each class, so each character feels fresh, and kept me on my toes during my time with the game. Now for actual gameplay, it is simple to grasp, but the game will throw some ridiculous situations your way, and the difficulty, oh the difficulty.
This game is along the lines of AVGN type of frustration at times, but does encourage players to keep going. Each trip through the castle is new and inventive, as it changes each time you switch characters (or can stay the same for a fee). Rogue Legacy is fun, challenging, and compelling.
1. The Stanley Parable
As far as games go, Stanley Parable sits in an odd genre. The closest I could describe it would be to say it is a choose your own adventure in a video game. In The Stanley Parable, you take control of the titular Stanley and after a brief introduction, you take control in an abandoned office with only the narrator to keep you company. To this game’s credit, it is worth the price of admission alone to hear the hilarious dialogue from the narrator. Half of the time I was playing, I would try something just to see if he would comment on it, and to my surprise he most certainly does. Visiting the broom closet and break rooms proved to be hilarious as I stood around with the narrator becoming flustered at my disobedience and staying in arguably the most unimportant rooms in the game.
Following a particular path in this game will lead you into one of the very many endings built into the game. As the narrator puts in a closing comment, you are put right back in the beginning again, with another opportunity to try a different path. While there’s admittedly not much to the game, maybe a few hours of content, I still think anyone who can run it on Steam should check it out. It is a unique experience not found anywhere else, and a good showpiece to any friends that come over.