The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 13
I have a confession to make. I'm getting tired of most AAA home console releases that crop up. A dangerous confession to make, especially on a gaming site, but one that needs airing out nonetheless. There are some games that have been making far more of an impression on me than the next iteration of Mass Effect or Halo. Games from smaller developers on PC. Handheld titles found via recommendation through a DS backlog a mile long. Wherever they may come from, these smaller titles have been making far more of a mark on me lately. Handheld and indie, these are the two words that have been defining a majority of my memorable, more emotional gaming experiences lately. Why is that? Let's explore my reasoning and find out a little more of my long, strange journey into becoming a gaming hipster.
First of all, I don't want to take anything away from AAA gaming. From the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series to Bioshock and the Arkham games, they've provided me with some of the most satisfying experiences I've ever had gaming. And yet, while they still have emotional appeal, I feel there is a heart and soul that is far more prevalent on the pulse of handheld gaming and indie development. More low-risk ventures that allows the developers to let their imaginations soar, and allows them far more freedom to do what they want with the software. This I presume is why I'm finding a much preferrable niche apart from the crowd pleasers AAA developers need to craft to keep consumers happy and recoup their investments. I love them to death, but the bottom line is there IS a bottom line, one that needs to be kept satisfied to keep them in business.
Alright, now there isn't really a lot for you all to go on at the moment, so I believe it's time to describe which experiences have been enrapturing me recently.
An indie game I was repeatedly nagged at by a friend to purchase as soon as it arrived on Steam. I had no idea what to expect, but I came out of this experience almost feeling like I had been CHANGED inside, the product of despair at the hands of the Scythian's woeful journey. From beginning to end, it was a surreal gaming experience the likes of which I had never had before. From story to music to aesthetic, it all meshed to create one of the most satisfying experiences it has ever been my pleasure to go through.
I can pretty much guarantee my experience in this was much different from the average players, as I played through this at the same time as one of my friends and we bounced puzzle-solving ideas off of each other, enriching the playthrough. Aside from this however, the core nugget of emotion to take away from this will still be relatively the same for anyone. A haunting melancholic atmosphere underlies a grim gameplay mechanic of learning from gruesome deaths and trying to rectify your mistakes next time. The sounds are minimalisticc, and the aesthetic is shrouded in silhouettes, which all together fuses into one of the most enjoyable platforming experiences I've had in recent years, Mario be damned.
- Castlevania: Dawn Of Sorrow
A handheld game I picked up at a friend's urging (noticing a pattern here?) I've been working through this game, and it is an amazing experience. Shame me all you want for having never played a Castlevania game before, this is a great entry to the series for me. The story is fairly intriguing if nothing else, and the gameplay, music, and exploration are utterly top-notch to me. The second screen adds a readily available map for exploitation at all times that comes in handy (no more pausing every time you need to see it). Also, you can use the touchscreen to interact with battles and exploration in certain ways. Long story short, my first glimpse at Metroidvania style gameplay has left me hungry for more.
- The World Ends With You
Yet another game I picked up on recommendation, it has been repeatedly blowing my mind, and violating the remains in ways that would get it arrested in 47 states across the contentinental US. Music, gameplay, visuals, each and every piece of this game has been nothing less than stellar. Coming from a little developer I'd never heard of named Jupiter, it's delivering near Rocksteady-quality as an up and coming studio. I keep listening to the music, wanting to shove in one more battle before bed, hunting down pins and trying them out, in a way that hasn't happened to me in a long time. I'm not done with the story yet, probably not by a long shot, but I have no doubt this is going to be a serious contender for best handheld game I've ever played. It is going to end up on my favorite games of all time, and will also earn a permanent spot on my games shelf next to Chrono Trigger.
So what do these have that I feel is missing in the next Gears Of War or God Of War or Great Old Warbuff or whatever GOW acronym you wish to pull out? The answer isn't really clear-cut, but I believe the primary answer belongs to the fact that these are small developmental teams pouring everyone ounce of passion into their craft, working to create the greatest experience they possibly can. There's a drive to prove themselves, to come out swinging with enough energy to cement themselves in everyone's minds. As any industry proves, large amounts of investment expect safer product to assure them that they'll turn a profit. Game investment has become a risky venture, one that needs millions of copies sold to break even, and that's why the heart and soul is often mired under a bureaucratic carapace. So, while I understand that these still provide amazing experiences, I'm on the path of no return with my very essence being snared in games such as TWEWY that tug at my emotions and leave me with an experience I won't soon forget.