While there’s always been games that do something old in a new and interesting way, or are totally unlike anything that came before (such as the original SimCity, Katamari Damacy and even Super Mario Bros. 3… which is apparently considered one of the best video games of all time. Who knew?), the sheer volume and variety of games that are artful, experimental, political or just plain weird and wacky has exploded in the past few years, largely thanks to the rise of indie games.
So, a colleague of mine who hadn’t gamed in 10 years asked me to recommend some titles to get him back into the game (see what I did there?)
Here’s what I recommended and the platforms you can play them on:
- 80 Days (iOS/Android/Kindle Fire) — a gorgeously written round the world adventure, set in an an alternate past where the world was not colonised by the Europeans
- Kentucky Route Zero (Windows/Linux/OS X) — a beautiful, surreal adventure game without the usual puzzles, just a fabulous story told in a world crafted from reinterpreted old polygonal art
- The Long Dark (Windows/OS X/Xbox One) — a survival sandbox set in the north of Canada after a geomagnetic disaster. Bonus: this is on Steam early access, which means its still in development, so you can actually watch and contribute to the game’s development
- Gone Home (OS X/Windows/Linux) — “a story exploration video game” where you arrive home from university to find out your family is missing, set in the 90s (the X-Files are mentioned) with strong and compelling female characters.
- Papers, Please (Windows/OS X/Linux/iOS) — A deceptively simple fascist border control simulator where you are forced to make interesting and challenging moral and ethical choices
- LUFTRAUSERS (Windows/OSX/Linux/PS3/PSVita) — I’m not a fan of shooters, really well done shooter with satisfying controls and grimy retro video game art crossed with old World War 2 propaganda.
- Don’t Starve (Windows/OS X/Linux) — If Tim Burton made a survival game, it’d be this. I spent Christmas 2013 addicted to this game.
- You Must Build a Boat (iOS/Android/Windows/OS X) — puzzle game meets RPG dungeon crawling meets all the addictive bits of free to play games, but done in a really awesome, 8 bit graphic, pay to play package. If you have no idea what these words mean, play it anyway.