Posted by Foxillusion (150 posts) -

During one of our weekly phone conversations this year, upon me mentioning how moving I found Telltale's The Walking Dead, my mother scoffed at me for suggesting that games could have any kind of emotionally engaging narrative. They're just games.

My mother has never at all taken well to my hobby, but I like to think that I have enumerated the benefits of the medium, and showed her many examples of how great it can be. So I took a moment when she said what she said to reflect on my own failure as a son.

As her child, I believe one of my duties is to share my life and my passions with her, so she can better understand the things I do and the things I like. I believe I owe her that (and many other things), as she is responsible for making me exist. But after twenty two years of living with me, I had not been able to show her why this medium can be so gripping, especially in a narrative sense. Now that she doesn't see me day-to-day anymore, I feel as though my opportunity to show her this has been missed. I understand that many sons and daughters the world over might throw up their hands in defeat upon reaching this level of resistance, but I refuse to. I will not give up yet.

So, this list will contain mostly games that don't just (or may not) give you something fun to do, but actually make you feel something, or mean something. I enjoyed Borderlands 2, XCOM, Diablo 3, Sleeping Dogs, Far Cry 3... and they were some of the best... but those won't be on this list, because they didn't really mean as much.

1. The Walking Dead

Writing this brilliant can't happen in the same way in other media. More than those, a game's protagonist has to be an appropriate vessel for the player. Lee was an amazing character, with just the right amount of malleability in the dialogue, allowing each player to take his relationships in the directions they would if they were him. Add Clementine to that, probably the best-written child character I've ever seen, and a full cast of believable survivors, all with absolutely impeccable voice acting every step of the way. I think for sure one of the more overlooked but biggest reasons for this story's success is the solid vocal performances put out by every single member of the cast. When it was over I wanted to go hug everyone I cared about. If journey made me appreciate my own life, this game made me appreciate the people that I care about, and to not take them for granted. None of the people I care about play games (I don't really have any gaming friends at all)... so most of them were very confused at my sudden, sharp increase in affection toward the end of the year. These games are why. These games are incredible.

2. Journey

This game is a direct personal parallel to my own year. I ended up completely switching careers; I used to work in advertising in Toronto, and I was on the brink of making a move into a bigger position in that industry. Instead, I moved out west to Vancouver BC to work for a university doing LMS dev/support work. It was a clutch decision, but I'd been looking for a career that offered more rewarding work than... just, making money for the sake of making money. At the school, the work I do makes people smarter, pursue knowledge for the good of all people. So the game had a hilarious coincidental parallel with an important time in my life, when I reached one of my own mountains (...literally, and metaphorically), and get to fly back across the sky, looking back on all that's happened to get me here and just being happy. I think that's it more than anything. This game makes me happy, and appreciate all the amazing things I've gotten to do in my own life, not in the game. Plus it's gorgeous and with any luck, the soundtrack could bring in a Grammy. So all that's pretty swell, also. But this game makes me appreciate life in a way I never thought possible. Making a pixar-esque film of this story might have had a similar effect, but actually going through the struggle yourself, with a stranger along with you to lean on, just hits home so much more.

3. I Am Alive

I think I'm the only one who liked this game. It controlled pretty horribly at times, and it ended badly. It was a poor victim of a game, cut short of its potential as something great. But, I found a lot worth spending time on here. It had a haunting world, with a great sort of dissonance in everything you did, saw, and heard. Like in the apartment building when I was attacked by, and had to kill, a group of squatters who were defending their territory and got violent; then went up a level to find a whole floor of friendly folks, containing one child who asked, "Have you seen my parents? They went downstairs a while ago." It was very unsettling at times, and I loved the idea of having to so tightly conserve the little provisions, bullets, and arrows you had. It wasn't about shooting people (except when it was, but that wasn't as often as other games). It was about thinking about whether to shoot people. Even if people were just defending their turf, for survival, maybe you need that health kit on the table behind them. Maybe you do put your second-last bullet in their head so you can make sure me in such a dog-eat-dog survival mode like that one did. I really hope Naughty Dog's "The Last of Us" will take ideas like these to a new height. In any case, I and those I played this with were really rocked by I Am Alive, despite everything.

4. Miasmata

That monster... it invokes something primal. It's just barely foreign enough to be a complete mystery to any person. When you lock eyes with it, what do you do? Hold your ground? Throw rocks to distract its attention (perhaps its eyes aren't very good, it uses its ears)? Just run like mad? In the moments when you're staring it down and it knows where you are... and you know it knows... and for a brief moment you're locked into inaction, staring each other down before one makes its play... those gave me a huge rush of adrenaline. Until the creature glitches out and runs in circles in front of you without attacking. While I'm at it, why can't I pick up more than one flower of the same type? Why can't I carry any more than one dose of medecine? Why do I, in the dead of night, hurl my torch away when I examine this object on the ground (oh, it's just a rock), and am incapable of relighting it despite having a lighter in my pocket that I pull out and use when I drop the torch again? Because it's an indie game made by a pair of dudes, that's why. So I learn to forgive all the crappy things for the stuff I liked. Maybe I'm better at it than most people (see #3 on this list)... but I think these games are more worth paying attention to as the ones that actually meant something to me this year, because they did.

5. Slender: The Eight Pages

I know, I know. It's not even really a game. I hesitate to include it on this list, but it was very important. Indie horror got a complete shock to the system this year when Slender had its brief popularity spike. This was a game that got several things right that most scary games don't: pacing, atmosphere, a gradual escalation of tension. The ideas weren't new but they'd never been quite so successfully combined. Another part of what made it worth mentioning here was it sharability. It runs on mac and pc, and costs nothing. It was easy to download and show to friends, have them play on a dare, alone in the dark on a cold autumn night. It wasn't universal; not everyone finds it scary. But most people find it stressful to play, in a way that makes you queasy and constantly uncomfortable. Scared or not, most people I showed it to didn't want to finish the game. They just quit because it was just like that. It makes people uncomfortable, even when they aren't people that really get into games. Its atmosphere is just something else. As usual, sequels are in the works and many offshoots and imitations have appeared twice the world over, but none of these things will be able to do what this game did the first time. This game should instead be used as a lesson. Horror, and scary games in general, can learn so much from the way it ramps up.

6. Mark of the Ninja

Mark of the Ninja could have been higher up on the list, probably. I enjoyed it a lot from a gameplay standpoint, I love stealth and this hit all the right buttons. The game does a good job of making you feel horrible even when you do a decent job. If you kill even a single person, one end game bonus has a big, unsightly red line through it. OBJECTIVE FAILED. It's also easy to get spotted and if any more than one dude is in the room with you, you generally end up riddled with bullets. OBJECTIVE FAILED. What makes this awesome is that it wasn't annoying, it was a challenge. Do it better. Be quieter. And when you nail those stealth moments and completely nail a level, man does it feel good. When we talk about a game having flow, this game's got it; it brings you in like no other. In terms of narrative it didn't do a whole lot for me (it felt a bit boilerplate), but even the world's best ninja movie would never make me feel like a ninja. This game actually managed to do that. Oftentimes, a clumsy, reckless ninja, but a ninja nonetheless.

7. Spaceteam

"iPhone games don't count!" nah, I'm afraid they do on this list, my commutes are filled with phone games - who has time to lug a goddamn DS around? That thing is an airplane system - so several games on this list are gonna be phone games. This one was deployed at parties, not commutes. But it brought more life to it than most party games in our arsenal. This made even the quiet/strangers in the group shout at everyone else as if they'd known them for years. Everyone's equal when you're trying to get someone to engage the quadtunnelling converter or any other switch of whateverthefuck on your dashboards. Games that can bring that kind of fun out of people are something pretty special. Johann Sebastian Joust just funded its Kickstarter, so it's coming out next year, and you can bet it'll probably be on my list then, for the same reason. Like Slender, it was also easy to share; it's free and works seamlessly on all IOS stuff we tried it on. So any iPhone/iPod friends just downloaded a copy and we went to town on wifi.

8. Asura's Wrath

God, why is this game even here? On this planet? Usually I don't buy into Japanese ridiculousness in animated stories. Dragonball Z? Didn't do it for me. But this... I don't even know where to begin. For some reason, this game does it better than any I've seen. His anger is so well deployed, and the incredible, cosmic things going on on the screen accentuate how angry he is. When there are twenty onscreen prompts at the same time screaming at you to push the analog stick right, you push that motherfucker right. And twenty arms sprout from his back and punch a dude on the right. It is... better deployed craziness than most craziness I'm used to seeing. It's also a nice blend of narrative and action, and the whole thing is broken down episodically so it's easy to jump in and out of the game at frequent intervals (complete with "previously on..." recaps before you settle back in). It's a game that got me really, really pumped. It was fist-pumpingly good.

9. Trials Evolution

This, like super meat boy, is the game I really regret having to put on a year-end list, but I just have to despite myself. I play games for different reasons. Generally, I have one reason, and be damned with the others. If I'm playing a game to see the spectacle or the story, and to feel cool about it, I usually ratchet the difficulty down to normal or even easy. I don't want me failing over and over to mess up my experience. Then, when I'm in the mood for something soul-crushingly hard, I play Trials. It's a good difficulty curve upward with absolutely no end in sight. I'm never going to finish it or beat every challenge. There's just no way on earth. And there's a swarm of user-made levels to consider on top of all that. No, Trials will always be around when I need to kill some time and I want to improve my hand-eye coordination, pattern recognition, my ability to repeat small delicate commands frequently and my anger management issues, all at once. It doesn't hurt that the game is incredibly well made, either.

10. Puzzlejuice

iPhone games count, I already said it! This one especially. There's a lot of tetris knockoffs but this so, so isn't that. It's great because it combines multiple mindsets. It uses two different parts of your brain, and is enough of a dick to make you switch between them, gradually more and more quickly until you can't handle it anymore. It's great brain exercise; I liked using it in the mornings on the way in to the office. I don't drink coffee and never want to, but this has a pretty similar effect on me insofar as waking me up and getting me alert. It also has one of the best gradual learning/difficulty curves I've seen, and it's easy to stay at a level where you're comfy experimenting with the flow of the game until you're ready to take things to a more complicated level. I challenge you to be good at this game.

#1 Posted by Foxillusion (150 posts) -

During one of our weekly phone conversations this year, upon me mentioning how moving I found Telltale's The Walking Dead, my mother scoffed at me for suggesting that games could have any kind of emotionally engaging narrative. They're just games.

My mother has never at all taken well to my hobby, but I like to think that I have enumerated the benefits of the medium, and showed her many examples of how great it can be. So I took a moment when she said what she said to reflect on my own failure as a son.

As her child, I believe one of my duties is to share my life and my passions with her, so she can better understand the things I do and the things I like. I believe I owe her that (and many other things), as she is responsible for making me exist. But after twenty two years of living with me, I had not been able to show her why this medium can be so gripping, especially in a narrative sense. Now that she doesn't see me day-to-day anymore, I feel as though my opportunity to show her this has been missed. I understand that many sons and daughters the world over might throw up their hands in defeat upon reaching this level of resistance, but I refuse to. I will not give up yet.

So, this list will contain mostly games that don't just (or may not) give you something fun to do, but actually make you feel something, or mean something. I enjoyed Borderlands 2, XCOM, Diablo 3, Sleeping Dogs, Far Cry 3... and they were some of the best... but those won't be on this list, because they didn't really mean as much.

1. The Walking Dead

Writing this brilliant can't happen in the same way in other media. More than those, a game's protagonist has to be an appropriate vessel for the player. Lee was an amazing character, with just the right amount of malleability in the dialogue, allowing each player to take his relationships in the directions they would if they were him. Add Clementine to that, probably the best-written child character I've ever seen, and a full cast of believable survivors, all with absolutely impeccable voice acting every step of the way. I think for sure one of the more overlooked but biggest reasons for this story's success is the solid vocal performances put out by every single member of the cast. When it was over I wanted to go hug everyone I cared about. If journey made me appreciate my own life, this game made me appreciate the people that I care about, and to not take them for granted. None of the people I care about play games (I don't really have any gaming friends at all)... so most of them were very confused at my sudden, sharp increase in affection toward the end of the year. These games are why. These games are incredible.

2. Journey

This game is a direct personal parallel to my own year. I ended up completely switching careers; I used to work in advertising in Toronto, and I was on the brink of making a move into a bigger position in that industry. Instead, I moved out west to Vancouver BC to work for a university doing LMS dev/support work. It was a clutch decision, but I'd been looking for a career that offered more rewarding work than... just, making money for the sake of making money. At the school, the work I do makes people smarter, pursue knowledge for the good of all people. So the game had a hilarious coincidental parallel with an important time in my life, when I reached one of my own mountains (...literally, and metaphorically), and get to fly back across the sky, looking back on all that's happened to get me here and just being happy. I think that's it more than anything. This game makes me happy, and appreciate all the amazing things I've gotten to do in my own life, not in the game. Plus it's gorgeous and with any luck, the soundtrack could bring in a Grammy. So all that's pretty swell, also. But this game makes me appreciate life in a way I never thought possible. Making a pixar-esque film of this story might have had a similar effect, but actually going through the struggle yourself, with a stranger along with you to lean on, just hits home so much more.

3. I Am Alive

I think I'm the only one who liked this game. It controlled pretty horribly at times, and it ended badly. It was a poor victim of a game, cut short of its potential as something great. But, I found a lot worth spending time on here. It had a haunting world, with a great sort of dissonance in everything you did, saw, and heard. Like in the apartment building when I was attacked by, and had to kill, a group of squatters who were defending their territory and got violent; then went up a level to find a whole floor of friendly folks, containing one child who asked, "Have you seen my parents? They went downstairs a while ago." It was very unsettling at times, and I loved the idea of having to so tightly conserve the little provisions, bullets, and arrows you had. It wasn't about shooting people (except when it was, but that wasn't as often as other games). It was about thinking about whether to shoot people. Even if people were just defending their turf, for survival, maybe you need that health kit on the table behind them. Maybe you do put your second-last bullet in their head so you can make sure me in such a dog-eat-dog survival mode like that one did. I really hope Naughty Dog's "The Last of Us" will take ideas like these to a new height. In any case, I and those I played this with were really rocked by I Am Alive, despite everything.

4. Miasmata

That monster... it invokes something primal. It's just barely foreign enough to be a complete mystery to any person. When you lock eyes with it, what do you do? Hold your ground? Throw rocks to distract its attention (perhaps its eyes aren't very good, it uses its ears)? Just run like mad? In the moments when you're staring it down and it knows where you are... and you know it knows... and for a brief moment you're locked into inaction, staring each other down before one makes its play... those gave me a huge rush of adrenaline. Until the creature glitches out and runs in circles in front of you without attacking. While I'm at it, why can't I pick up more than one flower of the same type? Why can't I carry any more than one dose of medecine? Why do I, in the dead of night, hurl my torch away when I examine this object on the ground (oh, it's just a rock), and am incapable of relighting it despite having a lighter in my pocket that I pull out and use when I drop the torch again? Because it's an indie game made by a pair of dudes, that's why. So I learn to forgive all the crappy things for the stuff I liked. Maybe I'm better at it than most people (see #3 on this list)... but I think these games are more worth paying attention to as the ones that actually meant something to me this year, because they did.

5. Slender: The Eight Pages

I know, I know. It's not even really a game. I hesitate to include it on this list, but it was very important. Indie horror got a complete shock to the system this year when Slender had its brief popularity spike. This was a game that got several things right that most scary games don't: pacing, atmosphere, a gradual escalation of tension. The ideas weren't new but they'd never been quite so successfully combined. Another part of what made it worth mentioning here was it sharability. It runs on mac and pc, and costs nothing. It was easy to download and show to friends, have them play on a dare, alone in the dark on a cold autumn night. It wasn't universal; not everyone finds it scary. But most people find it stressful to play, in a way that makes you queasy and constantly uncomfortable. Scared or not, most people I showed it to didn't want to finish the game. They just quit because it was just like that. It makes people uncomfortable, even when they aren't people that really get into games. Its atmosphere is just something else. As usual, sequels are in the works and many offshoots and imitations have appeared twice the world over, but none of these things will be able to do what this game did the first time. This game should instead be used as a lesson. Horror, and scary games in general, can learn so much from the way it ramps up.

6. Mark of the Ninja

Mark of the Ninja could have been higher up on the list, probably. I enjoyed it a lot from a gameplay standpoint, I love stealth and this hit all the right buttons. The game does a good job of making you feel horrible even when you do a decent job. If you kill even a single person, one end game bonus has a big, unsightly red line through it. OBJECTIVE FAILED. It's also easy to get spotted and if any more than one dude is in the room with you, you generally end up riddled with bullets. OBJECTIVE FAILED. What makes this awesome is that it wasn't annoying, it was a challenge. Do it better. Be quieter. And when you nail those stealth moments and completely nail a level, man does it feel good. When we talk about a game having flow, this game's got it; it brings you in like no other. In terms of narrative it didn't do a whole lot for me (it felt a bit boilerplate), but even the world's best ninja movie would never make me feel like a ninja. This game actually managed to do that. Oftentimes, a clumsy, reckless ninja, but a ninja nonetheless.

7. Spaceteam

"iPhone games don't count!" nah, I'm afraid they do on this list, my commutes are filled with phone games - who has time to lug a goddamn DS around? That thing is an airplane system - so several games on this list are gonna be phone games. This one was deployed at parties, not commutes. But it brought more life to it than most party games in our arsenal. This made even the quiet/strangers in the group shout at everyone else as if they'd known them for years. Everyone's equal when you're trying to get someone to engage the quadtunnelling converter or any other switch of whateverthefuck on your dashboards. Games that can bring that kind of fun out of people are something pretty special. Johann Sebastian Joust just funded its Kickstarter, so it's coming out next year, and you can bet it'll probably be on my list then, for the same reason. Like Slender, it was also easy to share; it's free and works seamlessly on all IOS stuff we tried it on. So any iPhone/iPod friends just downloaded a copy and we went to town on wifi.

8. Asura's Wrath

God, why is this game even here? On this planet? Usually I don't buy into Japanese ridiculousness in animated stories. Dragonball Z? Didn't do it for me. But this... I don't even know where to begin. For some reason, this game does it better than any I've seen. His anger is so well deployed, and the incredible, cosmic things going on on the screen accentuate how angry he is. When there are twenty onscreen prompts at the same time screaming at you to push the analog stick right, you push that motherfucker right. And twenty arms sprout from his back and punch a dude on the right. It is... better deployed craziness than most craziness I'm used to seeing. It's also a nice blend of narrative and action, and the whole thing is broken down episodically so it's easy to jump in and out of the game at frequent intervals (complete with "previously on..." recaps before you settle back in). It's a game that got me really, really pumped. It was fist-pumpingly good.

9. Trials Evolution

This, like super meat boy, is the game I really regret having to put on a year-end list, but I just have to despite myself. I play games for different reasons. Generally, I have one reason, and be damned with the others. If I'm playing a game to see the spectacle or the story, and to feel cool about it, I usually ratchet the difficulty down to normal or even easy. I don't want me failing over and over to mess up my experience. Then, when I'm in the mood for something soul-crushingly hard, I play Trials. It's a good difficulty curve upward with absolutely no end in sight. I'm never going to finish it or beat every challenge. There's just no way on earth. And there's a swarm of user-made levels to consider on top of all that. No, Trials will always be around when I need to kill some time and I want to improve my hand-eye coordination, pattern recognition, my ability to repeat small delicate commands frequently and my anger management issues, all at once. It doesn't hurt that the game is incredibly well made, either.

10. Puzzlejuice

iPhone games count, I already said it! This one especially. There's a lot of tetris knockoffs but this so, so isn't that. It's great because it combines multiple mindsets. It uses two different parts of your brain, and is enough of a dick to make you switch between them, gradually more and more quickly until you can't handle it anymore. It's great brain exercise; I liked using it in the mornings on the way in to the office. I don't drink coffee and never want to, but this has a pretty similar effect on me insofar as waking me up and getting me alert. It also has one of the best gradual learning/difficulty curves I've seen, and it's easy to stay at a level where you're comfy experimenting with the flow of the game until you're ready to take things to a more complicated level. I challenge you to be good at this game.

#2 Posted by SomethingClever (419 posts) -

Good list. I had a discussion with my mother years ago but she simply couldn't see games as anything more than an idle passtime. Certainly no redeeming value or reward could come from them. But I've told her stories from some of my favorite games over the years, disguised as books I was reading. When she would get all excited and ask what it was called so she could go get it for herself I would say "well, actually that was a game called Bioshock" Or Red Dead Redemption. Or Mass Effect. Even Left 4 Dead. Now she realizes games can be as 'important' as films and books. So I figure I did something pretty great there.

Also, the reason I actually wanted to comment... I really enjoyed I Am Alive too! It may have been a little bit broken in some ways but the atmosphere was so well realized that I came to really care about the story and love the game. That scene with the kids upstairs from their parents, man that really got to me. I put the controller down and actually sat there for what felt like an hour thinking about my actions and why I didn't just sneak around them. I played through again on Survivor mode and really tried to only kill when I had to, to sneak around more and it made the experience more meaningful. I was afraid of encounters, not because I thought I might be killed but rather because I was afraid of having to kill someone who is possibly just as scared and trying to survive as best they can. I got into the characters head. Few games have done that to me. People looked down on that game but they really should give it a chance.

#3 Posted by JazGalaxy (1576 posts) -

I, for the life of me, can't figure out why in the world people are giving such acclaim to the walking dead. Is it a neat cartoon? Sure. But it's gameplay basically boils down to a choose your own adventure book mixed with the jr high favorite " would you rather?" "Would you rather drink puss out of a jr high boys face, or slice your own skin with a razor blade from shoulder to fingertip? You have to choose one!" Praising the walking dead for forcing you to make ridiculously concocted decisions while overlooking games that allow you to make the much more broad choices that would keep you OUT of those situations seems backwards to me.

#4 Posted by 49th (2732 posts) -

I stopped talking to my Mom about games when she shouted at me for telling her about Warioland 3 and how you have to roll down the slope to break through the blocks. I was probably around 9 years old :(

#5 Posted by Little_Socrates (5675 posts) -

I don't know if my mom really gets how the stories in games have gotten better, but she's been willing to try to engage with them my whole life. The last time she really enjoyed a game was Rock Band, and she kind of misses playing it when I'd have my friends over.

This is a great list. I wish I felt the way everyone else does about Mark of the Ninja, but it's just too easy for me to get the "best stealth ever" tag people are throwing at it. Maybe it's because I've been a stealth guy for a while?

But it's full of games nobody else is going to put down, and the reasons are well-articulated.

Side-note: have you started watching all the YouTube Slenderman series that Slender is based upon? A couple of them are pretty goddamned incredible, even if the best ones seem to be on hiatus and the next-best seem to be in a rut.

#6 Posted by Foxillusion (150 posts) -

@JazGalaxy: You're looking at it solely from a gameplay perspective which, you're right, it's a pretty shit game if that's what you're playing it for. But the acclaim I give it is twofold; the writing and the characters (the voice acting, specifically). They gave Lee just the right amount of malleability. It's pretty hard to step into the shoes and imagine yourself as someone with binary morality like Cole or Sheppard, who either burns an orphanage down or saves kittens from drowning in a river. It doesn't take much interaction at all to imagine yourself as Lee.

These characters are believable people and that's a massive feat, from a writing perspective.

#7 Posted by Sploder (917 posts) -

Good list but I haven't played much from it unfortunately. In fact I don't even think I've played ten games this year.

Walking Dead

Max Payne 3

Far Cry 3

Ass Creed 3

Disgaea 3 Return (holy fuck so many threes)

Pokemon Black 2

Everybody's Golf Vita

... And I'm getting Xcom for christmas. I didn't have much money to spend this year until I got a job last month :p

#8 Posted by Picsl (201 posts) -

Not a lot of retail games on that list, which I guess speaks to the quality of downloadable games that came out this year.

#9 Edited by GetEveryone (4455 posts) -

@JazGalaxy said:

I, for the life of me, can't figure out why in the world people are giving such acclaim to the walking dead.

Because the relationship between the characters felt genuine, and I wanted to see the end of their tale.

It paid off, that's about all there is to it. I play games for various reasons and investment is one of them. I was heavily invested in TWD from the outset, regardless of the lack of gameplay.

Here's where I think I draw the line between what is a game and what isn't. Standing around the motel in episode 3, I had the option of talking to everyone, but I didn't need to. I walked around chatting, but not necessarily exhausting dialogue options, doing so until it felt natural to end the conversation. Carley told me to come talk to her, that she had something to say, and it just so happened that I never did. Shortly after that she was murdered by Lily and I felt a genuine remorse for not having talked to her before she died.

Other people may have had that conversation, and while the story itself would have played out the same, regardless, my perception of the event was changed. I didn't unveil the mechanics at the end by reading about branching paths (or lack of), because I wasn't necessarily interested in how the story could have been different (if at all) and I fail to see why that is of any importance. I had been invested in my time with the characters and that was enough.

That's a small example, but it is those kind of experiences that lift the game into something greater than an interactive movie, and I'm sure the many others who enjoyed it felt similarly.

#10 Posted by gamefreak9 (2358 posts) -

Good list for the criteria you put forth.

I have trouble engaging my mom in games as well. I once wanted to get her into Final Fantasy 9 but she seems to procrastinate too often on her cellphone and other similar shit. I think my mom just has too short of an attention span(this also occurs in movies)

#11 Posted by JazGalaxy (1576 posts) -

@GetEveryone said:

@JazGalaxy said:

I, for the life of me, can't figure out why in the world people are giving such acclaim to the walking dead.

Because the relationship between the characters felt genuine, and I wanted to see the end of their tale.

It paid off, that's about all there is to it. I play games for various reasons and investment is one of them. I was heavily invested in TWD from the outset, regardless of the lack of gameplay.

Here's where I think I draw the line between what is a game and what isn't. Standing around the motel in episode 3, I had the option of talking to everyone, but I didn't need to. I walked around chatting, but not necessarily exhausting dialogue options, doing so until it felt natural to end the conversation. Carley told me to come talk to her, that she had something to say, and it just so happened that I never did. Shortly after that she was murdered by Lily and I felt a genuine remorse for not having talked to her before she died.

Other people may have had that conversation, and while the story itself would have played out the same, regardless, my perception of the event was changed. I didn't unveil the mechanics at the end by reading about branching paths (or lack of), because I wasn't necessarily interested in how the story could have been different (if at all) and I fail to see why that is of any importance. I had been invested in my time with the characters and that was enough.

That's a small example, but it is those kind of experiences that lift the game into something greater than an interactive movie, and I'm sure the many others who enjoyed it felt similarly.

I guess I feel like people unfairly compare it to Bioware games when people intentionally Min/Max bioware games and destroy the experience for themselves. I played KOTOR, Jade Empire, and Dragon Age as if I was literally in those situations. I behaved like I would in real life, as opposed to what I thought would give me "good" points or "evil" points. As a result, I had the same experiences people are lavishing praise on the walking dead for.

The only innovation The Walking Dead brings to the mix is not having those decisions affect gameplay because there IS no gameplay to effect. If THAT'S the genius of the game, I get it, and maybe that's worth talking about. But I feel like it's getting praise for innovations it doesn't earn.

Deus Ex 2, one of my favorite games even though people hate it, made me put down my controller for 30 minutes and sit in front of the tv and think about the final decision I made to end the game.

And more than that, the decisions I made in the game really affected the game wold insomuch as what weapons the badguys were using against me were directly influenced by choices I made in the game.

I know this sounds like I'm just ranting against the game, but it's not that. I just really have a problem when gamers giving tons of credit in the grand lineage of games for innovation in games that aren't doing anything new. It's like when people write greatest album of all time awards to albums that were all released in the last 5 years.

Maybe walking dead is one of the best experiences of the year. But when, while people are explaining why it's the greatest game of the year, they start talking about all the things it does that no game has ever done before, I chafe.

#12 Posted by Ben_H (3343 posts) -

Puzzlejuice is pretty awesome. I got my mom addicted to it. Though now she can kick my ass at it.

#13 Posted by CornBREDX (5110 posts) -

My mom plays games constantly. I think shes in her room now playing Mass Effect 3. Or Mass Effect 2. One of the Mass Effect games. That's her current game so she keeps playing the different mass effect games. 
 
Nice list. I disagree, but that's not really the point. =)

#14 Posted by Foxillusion (150 posts) -

Thanks so much everyone for the responses! Very appreciated!

, haha, it's pretty unusual for a child to call out one of their parents for having a short attention span.

, one of my buddies taught bejeweled 3 to his mom and now she can wipe the floor with him at it... gotta be careful!

, disguising them as books is actually a pretty smart approach. I should try that sometime... and I'm glad I'm not the only one that liked that game. But I can understand why other people can't put up with it long enough to see the stuff we like it for. Parts of that game were nigh unplayable until I learned the ass-backwards way to get through it.

, do you mean the Marble Hornets stuff? Yeah, I started digging into it; it's pretty easy to lose a few hours to it if you're not careful. I haven't looked at any other series besides Hornets...

#15 Posted by UitDeToekomst (709 posts) -

NIcely written and obviously heartfelt list/post. I disagree with almost everything you say and most of the games on your list, but it's just that sort of difference in tastes and opinions that is part of what i think makes the Giant Bomb community so great.

#16 Posted by Little_Socrates (5675 posts) -

@JazGalaxy: Yours is the most well-written and well-conceived rebuttal of The Walking Dead I've read on this site. Thanks for that.

@Foxillusion: I was referring to Marble Hornets, but they're one of the next-best series stuck in a rut lately. If you ever have the time, there's one called "Everyman Hybrid" that is too damn good. It's the only one where we don't know a ton about its actors and writers, so we get the feeling it might actually be some Hollywood come-ups rather than film students like in every other series.