E3 2013 has come and gone, bringing with it all the usual hullabaloo that makes gamers go nuts. New systems were announced, and by now, everyone knows Sony dominated, Microsoft stumbled, and Nintendo just went about its business. All had great consoles, games, and peripherals, and though fans and news outlets keyed in on the major games, we thought we’d focus on ones that aren’t getting as much attention as they deserve.
There are hundreds of first-person-shooters out there, but we can’t understand why the bulk of them are so popular. Whether it’s capture-the-flag, team-based, or one-on-one, unless the game offers something unique, it’s pretty much useless. Expected to be released this summer, Payday 2 from Overkill Software is different, with every level mimicking one of the best bank-heist scenes in cinema history: Heat (1995). Working with a team of fellow “robbers,” each player has a different set of weapons and skills, and as usual, cash is the name of the game.
Survival-driven horror games have come a long way since the original Resident Evil, but more often than not, they’re a mishmash of ridiculous characters, weapons, and plot devices. Nonsensical metal blades in weird traps, the visceral disemboweling of stock non-playing characters, and the played-out mental asylum all make us roll our eyes. Then there’s Outlast from Red Barrels, scheduled to be released sometime this year. The game doesn’t just demand that we kill some psycho with limited bullets. Instead, it asks us to simply survive — run, hide, or do whatever we can using investigative tools like a video camera with night vision and limited batteries. In a world of slasher games with sloppy sounds and over-the-top visuals, Outlast actually does a lot more with much less.
One of the hardest things to find today is a relaxing casual game that doesn’t just involve killing things. Developed by Compulsion Games and published by Focus Home Interactive, Contrast is a beautifully rendered, cinematic passion project/puzzle game set in the 1920s. Also from Focus, there’s Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments , with both titles slated for release this fall. From Daedalic, there’s 1954: Alcatraz , which takes place in San Francisco in the year, you guessed it, 1954. It’s an artistic, plot-driven adventure with a beautiful soundtrack and alternate endings (the release date is as yet unannounced).
Meanwhile, Jack Keane: The Adventure Within is a clever adventure with a love triangle to boot, on sale June 28. And finally, The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief is a point-and-click mystery about a sophisticated art burglar set in 1960s Europe. It’s a three-part series with a new episode released every month, beginning July 23.
All of these games have stunning visuals, intelligent writing, and challenging gameplay that provokes an emotional response from the player besides just anger and frustration. It’s all part of a developing trend in the video-game industry that brings us a new style of narrative, filmic gems that aren’t just about street-racing or first-person shooting, and we’re excited to see what lies ahead.