Two years ago a tiny indie game developed by a Swedish game development company called Frictional Games unwittingly created a game that took the gaming scene by storm. That little game is called Amnesia: The Dark Descent and not to long after its release became hailed as one of, if not the, scariest games of all time. Gamers long pining for a true return to survival horror gaming rejoiced with glee and Youtubers were quick to start a trend of creating videos of themselves being scared shitless by the game. Even myself, who has extremely tough skin for all things horror, found beads of sweat forming on my brow as I explored Brennenburg Castle and was genuinely unsettled and nervous while playing. To call the game anything other than a massive success would be a gross understatement.
As you may have noticed, I happen to be a big time gamer (as with the rest of us here on Metal State). I started out on an Atari 2600 back in the beginnings of the 1980s and haven’t looked back since. I can not think of a time in my life when I haven’t been completely in love with my digital darlings. Not to brag, but I will, I have played and finished hundreds of games, and not like 100 something games. Roughly counting, I’d say that number is up around the 500 mark. Yet somehow in my ~30 solid years of gaming I have not sat down and tried to make list of the best games I have ever played. So given we are slightly obsessed with lists around these parts, I figured it’s time to do so (my cohorts will be joining in with their lists as well in the coming days). Every single game on this list I consider a must play and highly suggest you check all of them out.
For my own set rules I made the cut-off anything released before 2013 as I still need to let the new releases sink in a bit more and some games get an entry as a series and some games in the series get their own number. If a specific game in a series affected me more than the rest, that game gets top billing and a series gets the number if I feel that the whole series works together to make a cognitive whole. I hope you all enjoy this little list and find some games to either revisit or discover for the first time. And as always, I’d love to hear your favorite games. Even though I have played a lot of games, chances are I may have overlooked a hidden gem and point in its direction is always welcome. Peace Love and Metal!!!!!!
Can the maker repair what he makes?
By now, video games have reached a point where questioning religion, society, war, and other difficult and taboo subject matter have found their way into the subject matter. Dig deep into the lore of games like Portal 2, Bioshock, Limbo, El Shaddai, Deus Ex, Spec Ops: The Line, Metal Gear Solid, etc. and you will find deep and introspective ‘mature’ subject matter. I applaud games like this for giving the medium a much need push forward, and when a game comes out that tackles these type of themes I make it a point to play it. When I first caught wind of Primordia through the Steam Greenlight feature the concept of a post-apocalyptic world where man had become extinct and robots and androids lived on to create their own society where some had began to worship their makers, man, had really piqued my attention. Then quickly seeing it was being co-produced by one of my favorite adventure game publishers, Wadjet Eye (Gemini Rue, The Blackwell Series, Resonance), and newcomers Wormwood Studios, I knew I had to get my hands on this game. Did Wadjet continue their amazing track record, are Wormwood Studios a worthy new dev. team, did Primordia live up to my lofty expectation of delivering quality gameplay as well as a narrative that would tickle my brain? Read on. (note: I’m trying a different style to my game reviews and am now going to add a score at the end :gasp!:, hope you dig it)
Now building quite the resume’ of quality games, German adventure game developer Daedalic Games have crafted quite the reputation among adventure game aficionados as being the modern Lucas Arts. Games like Deponia (seriously go play that game!!!), Gemini Rue, The Dark Eye, and Edna and Harvey they have proven time and time again that they can nail gut-busting humor mixed with stark dramatic themes and engulfing narratives out of the park as well as the Lucas Arts games of the past. Their latest game Harvey’s New Eyes, their follow-up to Edna and Harvey, has recently been released to a world-wide market with its English localization and picks up the tale of mental asylum escapee Edna not to long after the events of the first game transpired. But unlike the original adventure, you no longer control Edna or explore rooms of a lively animated nut house. No, Harvey’s New Eyes puts you in the shoes of the cute-as-a-button, super shy, always a goody-two-shoes Lilli and into the Catholic convent/orphanage to which Edna has escaped and befriended the timid outcast Lilli. Her eventual adventure to aid Edna in a time of need quickly leads to one of the funniest games I’ve played all year. It also leads one of the most twisted and dark games I’ve played in years being able to match the tone of dark adventure games like I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream while still having this bright, happy, and cartoony aesthetic written all over it.
Two genres of games that seem to go hand in hand that I feel get the short end of the stick in gaming are the puzzle and adventure game genres. Both get slammed with that damning label ‘casual‘ and tend to get noses thumbed at them by serious ‘hardcore‘ gamers, who don’t consider them real games (I have a whole rant on that coming up in a future post). Well, phooey to that, great puzzle and adventure games are damn hardcore challenging your mental prowess both logical and outside the box (in the case of some adventure games, really outside the box). And phooey to those who say video games will rot your brain. Many puzzle and adventure games will make your brain work so hard you risk the chance of it reproducing that head explosion scene in Scanners. While both genres of games share the idea of pushing your brain to the max, adventure games often tend to focus more on delivery of a great narrative and often feature puzzles that aren’t as mind bending as their sisters, whereas puzzle games are more cut and dry, but do offer some cool ‘stories’ sometimes too.
Here is my list of the top 5 of each genre. I’m only including games I’ve actually played, so I’m sure I’ve missed some gems. Sooo, if you know of a great puzzle or adventure game shout it out in the comments, I’m always on the hunt for great games to play. Coming up next time on Brainbusters, Strategy Games: Top 5 Real Time and Turn-Based. Enjoy! Peace Love and Metal!!!