I love listening to the gaming podcast Isometric (if you love video games, you should check it out!). One of the popular refrains on the show is that violence as a primary game mechanic is getting really, really old. I whole-heartedly agree, and have a rather long list of other things that I’m also tired of in games, such as wizards, spells, dudes with swords, dungeons, the mere mention of mana, and the bastardization of any verb to make it sound like “flappy” (i.e. crossy, jumpy, etc.).
I know I just described the entire fantasy RPG genre and pretty much every iOS game, but bear with me.
There’s been an interesting resurgence of point-and-click adventures games lately (which I realize aren’t for everyone). Games like Broken Age and Armikrog are funny, poignant, and visually unique. In a world where everyone and their dog is making 8-bit retro dungeon crawlers, achieving uniqueness shouldn’t be that hard. And yet.
I was scrolling through my RSS feed this morning for the first time in a few days and decided to start with the 140 unread articles from TouchArcade. As I scrolled through the new and upcoming iOS game releases, I was struck by how many of them just looked the same to me. I swear some of them even have the same hooks:
- Battle epic bosses
- Over [insert stupidly high number] challenging levels
- Collect treasure
- Unlock [number] unique [characters, levels, modes, etc.]
- Customize your hero [this usually means “buy new outfits via IAP” and also the hero is probably a dude]
Obviously, there are plenty of games that don’t slavishly follow this formula and for those I am thankful. And I’m not saying that Corgi Corral is some sort of amazing innovation—it’s not. In fact, it’s already been done. But it seems like video games are stuck in an endless cycle of nostalgia, with every new creation paying homage to some beloved childhood experience. There has to be a way to break free of that.
With that said, here are 3 games I’m looking forward to that don’t remind me of anything from the past:
- Night in the Woods. Is NITW a point-and-click adventure or a platformer? The answer is yes, and also, who cares? It features animal people and seems to nail the feeling of living in a small, dying town (which is a pretty common experience, but who makes games about rural communities? nobody, that’s who).
- Home Free. There are games out there where you can play as a dog, but none that are nearly this ambitious. I just hope that the developer digs deep in his heart and decides to add corgis to the game, even though we didn’t meet the short-legged dog stretch goal. ;)
- Wandersong. I just backed this one today, because it looks really interesting and fun. Music-as-a-mechanic is way more appealing to me than just another run-of-the-mill hack-n-slash.
I was about to say “I’d love to see more games like these,” but that’s exactly the problem (everyone copying each other). So I guess I’ll say that I’d like to see even more games that take risks in terms of visuals, story, mechanics, and length. For all of you working on something you think is totally weird: keep up the good work!
Disclaimer: Every night, my husband and I play Call of Duty multiplayer for a couple hours. And you don’t even want to know how many hours I’ve sunk into Guild Wars 2. So it’s not like I’m totally anti-establishment or whatever.