The first time I watched the “Madness” animation series was back in middle school and back then there were only four episodes. The first was just a short animation of a guy dancing to a cheery internet song and killing anyone who go in his way of doing so, including Jesus? It was weird. Actually it’s still weird today, though not for the same reasons. Back then I thought it was strange because I wondered why all these people wanted to stop this guy from dancing. Now it’s because all I can notice is just how old this animation is. Being pretty close to the dawn of Newgrounds flash animation it’s pretty noticeable just how frame-y it is. The background doesn’t move, the only sounds are the one music track and some stock punching and grunting effects. No one has faces and Jesus is the only one with any distinguishing features whatsoever. It’s very much a remnant of its time.
There’s almost always a certain expectation when you’re the second notable game brandishing a relatively new style of gameplay. When The Walking Dead Season 1 released back in 2012 it revitalized the adventure game genre and added the twist of all your choices having in-game consequences. It was a massive success critically and commercially and for a while no one attempted to take on that concept. Now in 2015 Dontnod decided to go for it and added a few wrinkles of their own.
There’s a very common trope in movies where when an important character dies time slows to a crawl as the camera pulls in close on their face. Soft piano or synth music usually accompanies the moment. I’ve probably seen it over a hundred times now and frankly I think the impact is lessening with each pass.
I’m going to save you the whole dialogue of “2014 wasn’t a great year for games but it wasn’t a bad year for games” and just say that 2014 was alright. A lot of the stuff I liked the most came from smaller developers, new ones, indies, or otherwise anyone who wasn’t okay with shipping a broken game.
This list isn’t my “Best Games Of 2014” list. I didn’t play every game from last year so it’s just one of some of what I went through that I think you should check out too.
It was only recently that I found about the wonderful site itch.io, where some of the strangest games I’ve ever seen reside. It didn’t take long for me to realize that developers on itch seem to carry a different mindset than the big developers on Steam. Rather than making games that try to appeal to everyone with long tutorials and forced RPG level systems, the games I played are about expressing the thoughts and feelings of the creators as purely as possible. This means that some people won’t get much out of these games while they hit all too close to home for others. Here’s the first few I’ve played based off some recommendations and using the “top selling” order.
Over the past few weeks I’ve seen a set of articles go up alongside a slew of Twitter comments that all basically said, “Don’t buy games at launch. There’s no good reason to or here’s a few reasons why you shouldn’t”. While I think that’s perfectly understandable and there are more than a lot of reasons to not purchase video games on launch day (especially triple A releases), I still hold that there are a few good reasons to get them on day one too.
Neverending Nightmares is a pretty good experience and a pretty poor game. It has a fantastic black and white sketch book art style with painted blood red accents. A haunting, yet simple, soundtrack accompanied by the loud footsteps and short breaths of the main character Thomas. And enemies. The biggest problem is that the game has enemies.
A dystopian city etches the background as you barrel down an incline at a breakneck pace. You rush by a set a set of robotic guards and leave behind only their searing hot split torsos. In the distance, a man named “The Barron” assaults the intercom with of rules and regulations for the community. He reminds us to avoid confrontation with the higher powers for fear of punishment. To you, the robots and the humans aren’t frightening. They are barely even a challenge. After all, you are Strider Hiryu.