Monday, November 12, 2012
My very first post on this blog was about how spectacularly horrendous I am at playing scary video games. Or video games with tricky controls. Or video games with doors. (It's like threading a needle to get a Big Daddy through a Rapture door, I swear.)
That said, I really do like video games, so long as they're not too hard, not too scary, not too violent, and have a compelling storyline.
Which is almost none of them.
Thanks to the fact that I have a gamer husband who is determined to both get and keep me hooked on them, I've tried lots and lots of games. Kids games, puzzle games, indie games you can only get by downloading them, you name it. And while most are busts, I have managed to find some truly stellar examples that I not only love, but managed to play all the way through to the end - which is HUGE.
So if you're like me and can't handle first-person-shooters, scary stuff, or games that just get too hard (I'm looking at you, Psychonauts), but you love puzzles, treasure hunts, good stories, and fun, compelling game play, then these are the games for you:
This action/adventure game debuted in 2009, and it's available on all the different game platforms. It's adorable, beautiful, engaging, and just challenging enough to keep things interesting without getting too frustrating. There's also plenty of complexity to the game, and even our local GameStop guys loved it, so don't think this is just a "kids' game."
My favorite part is that you don't kill your enemies; you just turn them back into the woodland creatures they used to be. Then you can use a spell to become those animals yourself, which - have I mentioned? - is adorable. There's also plenty to find and collect in the game, and there are so many different ways to fight your enemies that it stays fresh and fun. I seriously cannot recommend this game enough, as it's one of the very few I'd actually like to play again sometime.
ICO is an older PS2 game from way back in 2001, but a remastered version was released along with the sequel, Shadow of the Colossus, for the PS3 in 2011.
I haven't played the sequel yet, but I can tell you that ICO is a beautifully haunting puzzle game. You have to escape a vast fortress, leading a young girl through all kinds of obstacles and battling off ghostly shadow creatures. It's refreshingly different and challenging in a quieter, more subdued way than your average adventure game.
Much like ICO, Limbo is a visually stunning puzzle game. It came out in 2010 as a downloadable game through Xbox Live, and then in a retail 3 pack in 2011. It's relatively short, and you die a LOT - but that's part of the appeal. The death scenes are so creative and morbidly amusing that sometimes you want to die just to see what happens. :)
In fact, here's a quick video review to show you more:
The Ghostbusters video game (available on all the game platforms) made a huge splash when it came out in 2009, and rightly so. Dan Aykroyd went so far as to call it "the third movie," as it contains a completely new story set two years after GB2, and has all of the original actors back doing voice work. (Yes, even Bill Murray!)
I really enjoyed the gameplay and story on this, and working the proton packs was surprisingly fun. My only issue, as some of you might recall, was that a few of the scenes were so scary I had to get John to stay in the room with me while I played. (DON'T JUDGE.) That's probably more of a feature for most of you, though, so definitely play this if you're a ghosthead.
Several months back I'd given up on yet another game (Rayman: Origins) because it'd gotten too frustrating, and was despairing of ever finding another game I'd enjoy playing. That's when John bought me a copy of LEGO Indiana Jones. Though technically a kids' game, I've since talked with several fellow adult geeks who adore the whole LEGO video game lineup, so now I don't feel so bad about staying up 'til dawn playing that first night.
These games give you lots of goals: things to search for, things to build, things to buy, and plenty of goofy fighting, funny cut scenes, and challenging levels. Plus there's just something so gosh-darn therapeutic about smashing everything in sight into tiny bits.
Oh, and the two-player option is also ridiculously fun, so I'm looking forward to playing the Harry Potter one with John soon.
I discovered DeathSpank last year while visiting my older brother, who had it on his PS3. I then stole his PS3 so I could continue playing it after we left. :D It's a comedy action/adventure game that debuted in 2010, and it is ridiculously - RIDICULOUSLY - fun. And funny. The dialogue will have you cackling, the fighting is easy and entertaining, and you collect things like Unicorn poop.
After you finish DeathSpank you'll need to continue on to Act 2, Thongs of Virtue. And thanks to my research I just learned there's a third installment, The Baconing, which I am so getting.
Arkham Asylum came out in 2009 on all the game platforms, and it's the game I'm currently hooked on. I'm about 75% through so far, and with only a single rescue from John! (And even that wasn't because it was too hard; I just didn't like Croc jumping out at me all the time - made me too edgy.)
While it's certainly the grittiest and most "adult" of my selections here, Arkham Asylum is surprisingly clean. There's no language, no gore, and Batman never actually kills anyone; he just knocks them out. I was also delighted to discover a whole treasure hunt aspect to the game, along with a huge cache of Riddler riddles that you get to solve along the way. Combine that with a bunch of nifty Batarang gadgets and fighting combos, and this is one super fun ride. (Plus John just told me there's a sequel: Arkham City. Woohoo!)
So there you have it, guys: my favorite, most-recommended games for geeks who don't like video games! I hope this inspires some of you self-professed non-gamers out there to pick up the controller, because once you find the right ones, gaming can be an unbelievably fun way to waste all of your productive hours away. ;)
And now it's your turn: what games am I missing? Know any you think I'd like? Then, please, share in the comments!
UPDATE: Two excellent older games I've been reminded of in the comments: Syberia and Kingdom Hearts! I played both sequels, as well, and have to say the original Kingdom Hearts was best, and one I'd definitely play again. Syberia's gameplay doesn't hold up as well to modern games - it's a bit slow and clunky - but it's a really beautiful steampunk story.
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