Unless you are strapped down to the internet at all times (like me), then you have probably missed some of the best gaming experiences to recently cross your console of choice. This week’s selection covers everything from poetry to bloody explosions. And even if you’re all thumbs when it comes to gaming, I found one you can beat with your feet – or thumbs since you have so many of them. There’s a game out there for everyone. Let’s find you the right one.
High stakes adventure. Danger around every turn. And no — Alvin and the Chipmunks will not be racing The Chipettes in a hilarious musical adventure around the world this time around. "80 Days" takes the classic story by Jules Verne and gives it just enough of a twist to keep you engaged the people you meet and the adventure that lies before you.
Instead of playing at the main character, Phileas Fogg, you get to play as his good assistant, whisked away on the whirlwind trip of a lifetime. You have 80 days to make it around the globe either by plane, bus, boat, or flying ship. Along the way, you’ll encounter people with information about shortcuts or grabbing a little extra cash on the go.
Oddly enough, Inkle Studios (with the help of lead writer Meg Jayanth) manages to make these exchanges so interesting and fresh that you’ll often forget that you’re racing against the clock to make it around the world. Every interaction opens up a new opportunity to help or at times hinder your progress. Poor choices and worse conditions makes for bad company, so a part of your journey will be keeping Mr. Fogg in fine spirits as well as flowing with cash. Elephant rides ain’t cheap.
Keep a pen and piece of paper by your side as you play this. "80 Days" will engage you in multiple ways, from having to pick out the right responses to when to make the right deals. With every path you take, you’ll see what others did and how they’re beating you. Hurry up now, boy! We have no time to waste.
Brace Yourself Games
One of the things that I really love about indie games is the ways that they allow people to play. Even if your thumbs can’t take the pressure of facing down dragons, you can throw on a pair of sneakers and dance your way out of danger. "Crypt of the Necrodancer" may be the only dungeon crawler where you can use a dance pad to make your way through the game.
Instead of taking on the bad guy with a sword and shield, you have only a shovel and a beat to keep you moving through each level of the dungeon. A heart at the bottom keeps the rhythm going for you, even if you have two left feet. You can move and attack in any of the four cardinal directions, but you’ll stall if you miss the beat. The enemies you encounter are also a slave to the music, moving only with each pulse.
To survive, you’ll need to learn the ways they move: Dig your way through to the goal before the song ends, or you’ll land in the next area off step and in plenty of trouble. The game also lets you throw in your own tunes to play with the game, but remember – if you’re a fan of speed metal, prepare to run. Fun, ingenious, and easy to learn, "Crypt of the Necrodancer" may just be the one dance party where busting a move can take down an undead wizard.
Ice Water Games
Did you ever play "Gone Home" and wished that was a wilderness survival element to it? First off, I need you to go play "Gone Home" right now so you can both get that brilliant reference as well as enjoy one of the finest coming of age stories in gaming. Go on. It won’t take you long to get through the house and find all the diary entries.
Once you’re done, it’s time for "Eidolon," which switches out the teen angst for the end of civilization (many would see that as an even trade). The near-empty world you find yourself is both massive and beautiful as you’ll explore every untouched field and abandoned structure to find bits of stories left behind by the former inhabitants of this world. What could have caused all the people to disappear? How do you fit into all of this? You’ll spend your time walking through this beautiful environment and wonder where it all went wrong.
What’s really cool is the way that "Eidolon" wraps this story of survival into a survival game. Don’t worry too much about having to become a pastel-shaded Rambo to make it through the game: You’ll need to eat and rest to make it through this world. Players only need a little bit to make it through, but it’s enough to remind you that nature is far from kind. Respect the world, because the world doesn’t respect you.
We jump over to "The Road Not Taken," an adventure puzzle game that will make you think twice about every step you make. You play as a little guy with a magical stick looking to do a little good in a new town. Every year, a snow storm sweeps over the forest, covering everything and hiding children from their mothers. It’s up to you to help these kids find their way back home by picking them up and tossing them around.
The game is deviously simple. You can pick up anything on the board by standing next to it. Push the same button again and you’ll toss the object. Items sail across the map until they hit something else. The trick here is that you pick up everything around you as soon as you hit the button. Also, moving while holding something in your hands burns life. Run out of life, and you have to start from the very beginning. Maps, enemies and even the people that you meet in town change every time you play the game. There’s also a bit of experimentation involved as you figure out what happens when you throw two things together — for example, three ghosts colliding create an axe. Equal parts dungeon crawler and puzzle game, "The Road Not Taken" is as beautiful as it is mindboggling.
Sometimes movie marketing and video games collide in just the right way to create an explosion of fun. Take "The Expendabros" for instance.
The team over at Free Lives has been working on a game called "Broforce" for some time now, a bit of a throwback to the old days of "Contra," where you run around with unlimited bullets but only one life to live. In this iteration of the game, which is an official collaboration between "Broforce" and "The Expendables 3," you gain more lives by rescuing more bros trapped in caged found around the 2D map. As soon as you pick up a new life, you start playing as that bro.
Meet "The Expendabros": All of the same characters are there, but with the word "bro" in their name: Bro Caeser, Broney Ross, Trent Broser. You even get a little taste of the movie as you try to hunt down Mel Gibson’s character across the 16-bit fields of Eastern Europe. There are massive explosions, the ability to shoot your way through any structure, and the ludicrous amounts of 16-bit blood flying all over the map. It’s popcorn action for your PC — which makes it perfect for an "Expendables 3" tie-in.
Each character comes with a signature weapon and special attack such as fireball grenades or a remote controlled car that explodes on impact. And if you have a couple of bros along with you, up to four people can play along at the same time. You can download the game for free right now from Steam.