Video games are so ubiquitous and covered by so many outlets that it’s not often that a game falls through the cracks into obscurity. Blog coverage combined with social outlets ensure that if there’s a gem out there you’ll know about it. Depending on when the games comes out and the marketing budget for the game, it’s possible that game that should be on your “cool games to win” list blips right under your radar.
Some of the Piki Geek staff wrote up a few paragraphs on some games that are necessary to play this console generation whether you have a huge backlog or not. They range from completely free but spooky, to a console RPG that only had enough money in its marketing budget for word of mouth. Hit the jump for the list. And hey, if you’ve played all these games let us know of any hip game we’ve missed.
Jeroen Amin – Slender
You’re dropped in the woods with nothing but a flashlight with limited batteries and with no idea what’s going on. You move forward, constantly feeling like something, somewhere is watching you from around the next corner or tree. It’s just waiting for you to come into its grasp. But, instead, you come along a weird structure in this forest and, on the wall, is a note simply telling you to run.
Welcome to Slender. It’s a horror game in the same vein as Amnesia but with a lot less build up or backstory. Built on the modern Slender Man mythos, it does an incredible job of putting you in a state of abject terror where you fear that every corner could be your last. Check it out Slender for yourself. It’s free, go ahead.
Emma Atlas – Atom Zombie Smasher
Current-gen games put a lot of effort into making their casts of characters likeable, special, and at least worthy of a moment’s pause before the player decides whether or not to throw them under a bus. And yet still, somehow, all that effort: the voice acting, careful animation, character development, and cute banter still pales in comparison to the way my heart races, my teeth sink into my fingers, and my mouse hand flies to save one of Atom Zombie Smasher’s cast of humans, represented by tiny, personality-free little yellow dots.
Atom Zombie Smasher’s creator, Blendo Games, managed to lift the terror of Amnesia: The Dark Descent’s chase sequences and carefully plant it inside something resembling, but rather different from a traditional Tower Defense game. They’ve had a great run of indie awards in the past, but has still managed to stay shy of mainstream popularity. The strategy premise is unusual, but makes sense after a few levels: defend the landing site for an emergency helicopter, guide and protect civilians and scientists as they follow the foghorn call of the helicopter, and wipe out scores of undead in the process.
It should follow that responsibility for the teeming masses of yellow dots means that the player feels disconnected from them, or at least less interested in the survival rate on a small family of specks somewhere far away from convenient mercenary positions. But somehow it’s the opposite. I always try to pick up Atom Zombie Smasher the way one would Words With Friends or Draw Something- a quick game to play from Point A to Point B- but inevitably the game sucks me in far deeper than I ever anticipate from an experience this simple. I don’t think I’ve ever found a game, in this generation or previous ones, that has the ability to bait me with the semblance of a casual five minutes of gameplay, then toss me out forty minutes later still grieving at all the tiny little yellow dots zombified by my poor oversight.
Trystan Perry – Valkyria Chronicles
Valkyria Chronicles is set in a world “suprisingly” similar to World War II Europe, with two great nations going to war with each other. Your small, independent nation with a mandatory draft caught in the middle… and they’re battling over a natural resource. Also, genocide. Why do I feel like I heard this story already?
Regardless, it’s a brilliant tactical game. You take control of one character for a short period of time in a third person shooter. They have a set distance they can move, and different weapons they can fire. You move them through the third person shooter section, and that affects their positions on the overworld map.
It’s a wonderful game, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. Exclusive to PS3! HA!
Dan Tallarico – Ghost Trick
I bought Ghost Trick to accompany me on my trip to PAX Prime in 2011. There were a drought of DS games, but I’ve heard some murmur surrounding Ghost Trick. The box art didn’t do it any favors, a guy with his butt poking into the air, but I admire any work done by the team responsible for the Ace Attorney series. Little did I know that this game would ensnare me with its plot twist and absurd puzzles.
I won’t spoil anything about Ghost Trick, but it’s a refreshing take on mysteries. You control a soul that has to figure out who murdered them. You can possess items and manipulate them for your own purposes. Create a path by knocking a bowling ball over which, in turn, knocks over some wood. Not only are the puzzles fun (and practical), but the animation and writing are outstanding. The DS isn’t capable of producing eye-popping graphics, but the animation in this game is smooth, sexy, and fun to watch.