Welcome back to the series! Today, I’ll be covering entries 80 through 71.
Let’s not waste any more time!
80 – Morphblade
Release Date: 3rd March 2017
Developer: Suspicious Developments
Publisher: Suspicious Developments
It’s a game about building a board of hexes with which to murder bad guys.
Morphblade fits into that category of games that are entirely designed to be played for about 5 minutes at a time when you’ve got nothing better to do. However, it shows that games of that ilk have to be mindless trash like we see all over the mobile market.
Morphblade is so simple, and yet every time I play, I find myself blown away by the level of depth it has when you take the time to understand how it works. There are 6 different types of hex that you can have on your board, some are weapons, while others are utility tiles. The idea is that you start off with just two tiles, and with every wave of enemies you defeat, you get to add more to the board. Since every tile does something different, and they can all be upgraded to do different things depending on what is adjacent to them, it creates a virtually endless set of possibilities.
Since it lets you gradually build it up, it means you slowly develop a new strategy as you progress through each game, even if every game is only about 5 minutes long. There are some tactics that you can rely on, but there’s just enough randomness mixed in there to get you to try new things as often as possible. Then it does it’s best to throw a spanner into your plans with armoured enemies, or enemies that destroy your tiles. It’s exceedingly tricky but twice as compelling, so it fits into the casual game market perfectly.
79 – Rumu
Release Date: 12th December 2017
Developer: Robot House
Publisher: Hammerfall Publishing
Platforms: Windows, Linux
Metacritic Average: 78%
It’s a game about a robot vacuum cleaner who wants to meet its owners.
The first game on this list that I’ve already reviewed, Rumu is one of those games that takes you places you’d never expect. I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoiling it, but Rumu is one of those games that reels you in with charm and then sucker punches you with emotions.
I ended up playing through the whole of Rumu in one sitting because I found it that compelling. It started me off by letting me tell a toaster that I love it or to “initiate toast” and then it took me on a journey that is a mixture of puzzle-solving and storytelling that hasn’t been done quite like this before.
I’m trying to give away as little as possible, but the game always kept me guessing. It plotted out its mystery in such a smart way that meant I’d have a couple of theories as to what was going on at any one time. It then paces out the big reveals in the plot to perfection, so that you don’t realise what’s really going until the game wants you to.
It’s a game that is only a couple of hours long, but in that time, it drags you in, chews you up and spits you back out again in such a satisfying way that I can’t help but love it.
78 – Saint’s Row The Third
Release Date: 15th November 2011
Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Linux
Metacritic Average: 84%
It’s a game about gangsters…in a roundabout way.
For many years, Saint’s Row was seen as the doppelganger to GTA. Where GTA looks to ground itself in reality (for the most part) with its stories & characters, Saint’s Row goes in the exact opposite direction. Saint’s Row will usually take the realistic setting and blow it wide open, sure it’s a regular city, but it’s full to the brim with ridiculous weapons, over the top villains, zombies and mutants.
It would eventually take this idea too far and ruin it in Saint’s Row 4 and Gat Out of Hell, but I think Saint’s Row The Third is where the balance is just right. It gives you some fun and stupid toys to play with, but it doesn’t go too far, all of the characters and the world still feel at least somewhat grounded, which gives the wackiness the reference point it needs to even seem whacky in the first place.
It’s a game where the comedy is laced throughout and is pitch-perfect pretty much the whole time, admittedly it gets a bit hokey when it tries to be serious, but that’s a rather minor factor in the grand scheme of things. The world also has a tonne of stuff to do, without doesn’t feel too big, with plenty of activities and side quests to complete, you’re always busy but aren’t overwhelmed by how massive the world is.
Saint’s Row will probably never reach these heights again (if another game is ever even made), but this game and predecessors will undoubtedly stand the test of time.
77 – Bully
Release Date: 17th October 2006
Developer: Rockstar Vancouver
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Platforms: Playstation 2, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Windows, Android, iOS
Metacritic Average: 87%
It’s a game about what your grandparents say their school days were like.
When I was talking about Rumu, I touched on its charm, and Bully has that oozing out of every aspect. It was a game that made me feel nostalgic for a time that never was. When I was in school, I never beat up other kids or snuck into places I shouldn’t have, but Bully was able to throw me back to a fictional time where I’d done all of those things.
The world design is exceptional, with kids that you would recognise, and classes that you loved, and classes you hated it was able to capture the essence of what being a tweenager in school was like in the most fun way possible. Once you’ve played Bully enough, it genuinely begins to feel like you used to when wandering around your school, being able to recognise everybody as you passed them in the hall. Even if you’ve never spoken to them or know their names, you still recognise the faces.
No game has been able to draw the feelings of nostalgia out of me as Bully did, and I doubt any game ever will again, it is a truly unique game that uses its setting to its advantage in a way no other high-school game has done to my liking.
76 – Sniper Elite 3
Release Date: 27th June 2014
Developer: Rebellion Developments
Publisher: Rebellion Developments
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, Windows
Metacritic Average: 71%
It’s a game about sniping.
Like many games on this list, Sniper Elite takes a singular core mechanic and focuses its entire game around that, and most of the development is clearly spent refining that mechanic to a point.
The sniping in Sniper Elite is absolutely amazing, with realistic physics that provide a proper challenge as you sit atop your perch waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. Everything in the game is attempting to make you feel like a sniper would in those situations. It forces you to think three steps ahead at all times, and you need to be completely aware of your surroundings.
I’ve chosen Sniper Elite 3 over the others in the series because that’s where I think the level design was at it’s best in the series. It gave you wide open spaces to let you see across the whole battlefield and take everyone down from one position. Still, at the same time, it wasn’t afraid to force you into claustrophobic areas where you are constantly at a disadvantage and having to be always on the move.
The customisable difficulty level let you fine-tune the experience to be what you were comfortable with. Though, of course, no talk of Sniper Elite would be complete without mentioning the brutal kill-cams that let you see the bullet travel through your enemy’s body. Seeing just what organ it was that you blew to bits helps give you an incredible sense of satisfaction when you nail a shot.
75 – Omensight
Release Date: 15th May 2018
Developer: Spearhead Games
Publisher: Spearhead Games
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows
Metacritic Average: 81%
It’s a game about preventing the apocalypse after it’s already happened.
Omensight is a game that’s very clever with how it tells its story. Presenting you as a being that is called upon after the world is destroyed, you get the chance to go back in time and try and figure out how to prevent the apocalypse. The catch is, you have no idea what actually caused it and the only way you can interact with the world is by following one of four key characters on the final day.
Living the final day over and over again allows you to get to grip with every detail of what happened during that final day. In addition, revisiting places several times breeds a sense of familiarity that causes you to grow somewhat of a bond with your surroundings. The way the mystery unravels as you progress is so satisfying as every re-run of the day gives you more clues to piece together how the end came to be.
The combat system is relatively simple compared to most other hack and slash games, but the movement is so fluid. It’s that sense of effortless movement that, when combined with the variety of abilities the game gives you, causes every fight to become so much fun.
74 – Wario Blast: Featuring Bomberman
Release Date: 10th August 1994
Developer: Hudson Soft
Platforms: Nintendo Game Boy
It’s a game where Wario and Bomberman try to blow each other up.
A game that is pretty much on here entirely for nostalgic reasons, Wario Blast is perhaps the first game I ever really loved. Part of the reason as to why I love the villainous, bumbling idiot is in large part down to this game.
Going back and playing it now, I still think it holds up as a pretty fun game to play. It hits that mark for a casual game perfectly, as it allows the skilful players to do skilful things, while more casual players can still understand and play it with relative ease.
Everything feeds in to create a very tactile experience. The plodding movement that speeds up as the game goes on, while the music and level layout all come together to give the feeling of playing out some grand strategy, even if you are mostly just making it up as you go along. Every level has it’s own unique variants in its levels as well which means that you can never really settle into a single tactic since the game keeps changing things on you.
The boss design is also fantastic, with each boss expanding on your knowledge of the one that came before it, means that your tactics against every boss are different and continuously evolve over time. It’s the kind of game that I won’t play often, but I always enjoy when I eventually go back to it.
73 – I Expect You To Die
Release Date: 13th December 2016
Developer: Schell Games
Publisher: Schell Games
Platforms: Playstation VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest
Metacritic Average: 82%
It’s a game where you get yourself out of all the classic deadly spy situations.
Our first venture into the world of virtual reality on the list, I Expect You To Die is able to capture a couple of different feelings really well. The first of which is the spy movie vibe, it puts you through a charmingly fun musical opening, like from a James Bond movie. In addition to its humour being presented in just the right way to give you the feeling of a cheesy spy movie, without straying into parody territory.
Then there’s the actual gameplay and puzzle design. It provides a quick and easy way to do what is usually quite a fun experience on your own, in your home, which is, of course, an escape room. Every level is essentially a 10-minute escape room that you can play through in your own living room, which is the kind of experience that only virtual reality could really provide.
There are a whole bunch of escape room VR games out there, but I Expect You To Die’s style combined with its short playtimes make for what I think is a better, and more fun overall experience, which takes full advantage of all the opportunities VR provides.
72 – Trine
Release Date: 3rd July 2009
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 83%
It’s a game where you take three unwilling participants on a fairytale adventure.
Trine is something a bit different for this list, so much so that I’d argue there isn’t anything else out there quite like it. While it takes lots of ideas that have all been tried and tested before, it meshes them all in a way to make something that feels brand new and most importantly, fun to play.
Regardless of whether you play co-op or single-player, the level design is done in such a way, so you feel like you’re on an adventure. With a mostly linear path with the occasional secret, the focused experience that Trine provides is something that continuously engages me no matter how many times I play through it.
The storytelling is also a big selling point. While it’s not exactly one of the greatest stories to ever be placed in a video game, but the comedic tone throughout is just enough to keep me smiling as the characters interact with each other and bumble around the temples and caves you traverse in the game.
Trine is a franchise I love mostly because of its charm, which all feeds back into its gameplay to ensure that the whole thing is an enjoyable experience, and certainly something a bit different.
71 – ICEY
Release Date: 17th November 2016
Developer: FantaBlade Network
Publisher: X.D. Network Inc.
Platforms: Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac, Andriod, iOS
Metacritic Average: 84%
It’s a game about following the arrows.
Ever since The Stanley Parable popularised the idea of the meta-narrative, many copycats popped up, and almost all have failed. It quickly became apparent that it was going to take something a bit more innovative to be anywhere near as good as the original, enter ICEY.
Turning heads in 2016, this game takes the idea of a narrator who talks directly to the player instead of the character, refined it a bit and put it in the context of a 2D hack and slash. It’s a melding of genres that I didn’t think would work initially, but it came out fantastic. The writing of the narrator is just as good as in The Stanley Parable, letting you go to uncomplete levels, debug menus and making the narrator so annoyed they hack into the game just to call you a pig.
On top of that you throw in an incredibly smooth and meaty feeling combat system with a complex series of moves and combos to pull off, and ICEY becomes one of the best entries in two of my favourite game genres.
So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what you think of all these games, either in the comments below, or on Twitter @10ryawoo. The next entry in this series will be uploaded next Wednesday, but in the mean time, come back here on Saturday, where I’ll be diving into the world of 3D Sonic games!