Experimental games are a hit or a miss. I’m not entirely sure that you will ever find a near universal opinion on any game but games that find themselves outside the standard mould are especially prone to that. People will either absolutely love new and different games and mechanics or they will resoundly reject them.
I use that as the intro to this review because experimental is an appropriate catch-all term to describe Her Story. It’s a mystery game that sees you dig through old police interrogation videos to determine the truth in a 21-year-old case.
It might not have a proper win state. It might rely on FMV in the style of a, well, 21-year old video game. It might be a game that’s only combat is your brain against itself. But it’s easily the best game I’ve played this year so far.
For the first time, E3 had a dedicated show for PC gaming. At some point, I’ll probably pontificate over the dangers of a marketing event that was put together by a video game magazine that supposedly provides independent journalism at another time. For now, a lot of smaller developers brought their new wares to E3 through this new PC gaming show. If you’re a fan of indies and didn’t like what you saw on consoles, this was definitely the conference for you. If you’re looking for triple-As, maybe next year.
If there’s one complaint that I have as a primarily PC gamer, it’s that there aren’t many sports games on the PC. Sure, there’s FIFA and NBA 2K but there’s no Madden, no MLB (okay, it’s basically PlayStation exclusive but you know what I’m getting at) and no NHL. That last one’s really burning me because I willingly played those NHL game re-skins that EA was putting out for PC from NHL 07 to NHL 09. And, no, eSports doesn’t count because the vs. AI modes of MOBAs and CS:GO aren’t particularly fun and the AI kicks my ass repeatedly at SC2.
And that brings me to ClusterPuck 99. With sports games lacking on PC and licenses for pro sports costing an obscene amount of money, devs have to be creative with sports games. And that’s exactly what PHL Collective have done with ClusterPuck 99. They’ve taken the important parts of hockey and soccer and distilled it down to the essential experience. Then they went mental and added spikes and turbo pads and death. You know, the important part of sport.
Not every football (or soccer, in North America) game is super realistic sim that allows you to take over almost every major club or player from around the world. Not every football game is even about football.
Enter the very poorly named FootLOL. FootLOL is a bit like Football Manager if Football Manager was made by someone completely out of their minds. You don’t lead your team to victory with superior tactics, player management and inspired decisions. You lead them to victory with land mines, artillery and stampeding cows.
One of the terms that I’ve been hearing a lot lately is “experimental gameplay.” The other popular descriptor for games is to refer to some as art. They’re labels that seem to be haphazardly applied to anything that doesn’t conform completely to bog standard gameplay conventions. Gone Home was a game that the critics referred to as both experimental and art. While last week we found out that I disagree with those sentiments, I have found a game that both labels could apply to and certainly qualifies as experimental.
The Stanley Parable is an updated, full release of a 2011 Source engine mod. Like Gone Home, there’s no combat in The Stanley Parable. However, that’s where the similarities end. The Stanley Parable is so experimental, so unorthodox and so brilliant that it certainly earns its place as one of 2013’s best games.
This year’s surprise hit game was a little indie game called Gone Home. The debut effort of a small indie dev made up of BioShock 2: Minerva’s Den devs is in a way inspired by BioShock but much simpler and focused. For many critics, the straight-forward focus on story made it near-perfect and the game of the year. Many gamers, though, didn’t find it as good as it was hyped up to be. So where does it fall on the spectrum?
The first video game that I remember playing was Shufflepuck Cafe on my dad’s old Macintosh SE. Sure, there were other games on there but nothing quite captured my attention like Shufflepuck. It might have been in black and white but the graphics looked fine, it had sound (which was a rarity on that computer) and it was just fun to play. I may have poured more hour into that game during my childhood than anything on my NES.
So when I saw this homage to the original Shufflepuck Cafe pop up on Steam, I had to pick it up, if only for nostalgia’s sake. Fortunately, Shufflepuck Cantina didn’t stop at recreating the original in colour but added some depth to the original.