Obviously, Pokemon Go is the biggest and best thing to hit the hemisphere since… the last Pokemon game. But why? If you’re waiting for Pokestops to refresh, or you’ve hit your data cap already and need something else to occupy the long, long hours until the next billing cycle, we got you. Here’s a few video games to keep you busy in between catching ‘em all.
Available: PS4, Xbox, PC, Mac
Released last April, “The Magic Circle” is the kind of clever meta-conversation that could revolutionize the gaming industry, if only it wasn’t too damn smart for its own good.
In this game, you’re a quality assurance tester for a highly anticipated sequel to a cult classic text adventure. Unfortunately, the sequel has been trapped in development hell for two decades.
In the beginning, you’re navigating through a deconstructed version of The Magic Circle’s world. It becomes rapidly clear that the creative vision of The Magic Circle’s egotistical creator, Ishmael Gilder, aka Ish, is clouded by his massive ego (Starfather, the supreme god of The Magic Circle’s universe, is a self-insert). Meanwhile, he’s got gaming great Maze Evelyn trapped – he’s holding her image rights hostage until the game ships, and Maze is doing everything she possibly can to get fired, to no avail. The arrival of hyperenthusiastic intern and full-time Magic Circle fangirl, Coda Soliz, kicks things into overdrive.
Through all this drama, you, Player, are just playing through what exists of the Magic Circle… and are guided into completely reshaping the world Ish has created by a self-aware AI in the game, a former protagonist from one of the game’s infinite incarnations, referred to only as “Old Pro.” You literally become a god. Part strategy, part puzzle game, part indirect combat, the gameplay is interspersed with commentary on fan culture, the relationship between game and gamer, and the ethics of development hell. Check the trailer below:
Available: PC, Linux
This one is a little older and a lot darker, but it’s a great story-heavy black comedy/horror/adventure point-and-click with one hell of an art style.
You follow Susan Ashworth, a solitary, suicidal middle-aged woman whose only friends are the stray cats she feeds. Early on in the game, she commits suicide. However, in a nightmare-world that an entity that reveals herself as the Queen of Maggots forces onto Susan the dubious gift of eternal life; no matter how many times Susan dies, she will be revived, with any injuries she might’ve sustained as a result of her dying healed.
The Queen of Maggots requests that Susan kill five “parasites” – people masquerading as normal humans who cause mass amounts of suffering. A new roommate named Mitzi with a sunny outlook and dark past throws a wrench into the works.
As Susan, you navigate this strange new world, unable to stay dead… despite the fact that, lately, it looks like an awful lot of people are trying to help you out on that front… Check it out:
This starts with a classic scenario: two girls disappear on top of a lonely mountain. Exactly one year later, the eight other teens who were present on that terrible night return to the mountain right before a wicked blizzard, because of course they do, and things get really wild, really quickly.
This BAFTA-winning horror game was billed as a deconstruction of common tropes in the horror film genre, but it feels a lot more like an homage to them. In fact, with its cutscene-copious storyline, it feels like a playable slasher movie – one where you can actually keep the players from going into that dark basement to check out the bump noise, and make sure they avoid that strategically-placed trip hazard during the tense chase scene.
Every choice you make, down to (mild spoilers) deciding whether or not to toss a snowball at a bird very early on in the game, affects the final outcome. No one is safe. The plot, as well as the gameplay, takes an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach; you play as all 8 characters, trying to ensure their survival (or, depending on what kind of player you are, their ultimate demise) as they’re pitted against monsters, killers, and snowstorms, oh my.