My 100 Favourite Games of All Time (60-51)

Welcome back to my 100 favourite games of all time series! Today, I’ll be covering entries 60 through 51.

If you haven’t read the previous instalment in this series, please do so here, and here’s the first entry if you want to start from the entry 100.

Let’s not waste any more time!

SPOILER WARNING!

Just a heads up that there will be full SPOILERS for every game I’m going to talk about in this series, so be careful if I talk about something you don’t want spoiled.

60 – Unheard

Release Date: 29th March 2019
Developer: NEXT Studios
Publisher: NEXT Studios, Bilibili
Platforms: Playstation 4, Windows, Mac
Metacritic Average: 72%

It’s a game about solving crimes with the power of hearing

(From my Game of the Year 2019 article)

Out of all the games on this list, this is the one that I’d imagine the fewest people have heard of, because this almost passed me by too, so let me explain.

At its most basic level, it’s a mystery-solving game, however, the method by which you solve these mysteries is what makes this an absolutely exceptional game in my view. Instead of searching the scene and interviewing witnesses after the fact, you get to see the 5-15 minutes in which the crime happened, except you don’t get to actually see the details. What you get is a floor-plan view of the building in which the crime took place which you can wander around as you play through the events of the scene and the only tool you have to work out what happened is sound.

You can see the outline of where everyone is at any moment, but you can’t actually see their form, you can only hear their voices. Using this information you must work out who everyone is, and answer specific questions about the crime. I can’t really be more specific without giving away partial solutions to some of the puzzles, but the way in which the game gets you to hear every conversation in a level to slowly fill in all the blanks is so very innovative and clever.

The game typically starts you off in each scenario listening to one conversation that will give a rough outline of what’s going on, but naturally, there are other conversations going on all over the scene at the exact same time and each conversation slowly fills in all of the blanks. In every conversation, you listen to you’ll learn something new about the scenario that slowly allows you to draw everything together and hit that euphoria of the “eureka” moment when you nail your target.

The game makes sure to give you just the right amount of information so that everything you need to know is there, but without explicitly giving you all of the solutions. I found myself taking notes on every level, creating a list of suspects and slowly ruling them out as I went along until the true culprit reveals themselves.

The mysteries themselves are very well thought out, for example, you’ll have to locate a stolen painting and work out who stole it, but there are also a number of fakes that other people have stolen, thinking they’re the real deal and it’s your job to use the conversations around the scene to piece together a chronology of who committed the first theft in order to determine who holds the real painting.

At £5 the game is absolutely worth it for the 5 puzzles (plus 1 as free DLC) that total to about 4 hours of game time. This is one of the most enthralling and unique puzzle games I’ve played ever and it perfectly captures the feeling on solving a mystery, so if you’re into that sort of thing, this game is a must-have.

59 – Papers, Please

Release Date: 8th August 2013
Developer: Lucas Pope
Platforms: Playstation Vita, Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 92%

It’s a game about becoming corrupt.

Much like Spec Ops, Papers, Please isn’t a fun game to play, but it’s still a brilliant one. It’s dark and dreary, it feels downbeat and without joy or hope, but that’s the point.

It shows you the mechanics and then lets you run with them, always adding more stuff day in and day out, to the point where you find yourself working through a routine in your head, and about halfway through you realise that you’re treating it like you would an actual job, and that’s how this game sinks its teeth into you.

It uses the monotony of it all as a way to draw you into the world, to make you feel like this actually is your job. It gives you the idea that the safety of your country and your family relies on you. Then, once it’s established those feelings, it throws the moral dilemmas at you hard and fast. That’s what they are in Papers, Please, dilemmas, not choices, because it doesn’t present you with a “choose A or B” option, it ingrains these dilemmas into the mechanics.

I’m going to give you an example here, but I will say this game is so much better if you play it blind, you have been warned. So a woman comes through your checkpoint, and all her papers are in order, so you let her through, but she slips you two notes. One is a business card for a strip club of some description, and the other is a note, naming a man who is behind her in the queue, saying that he’s holding her against her will and forcing her to work in the club and she begs you not to let him in. The thing is, all his documents are correct, by all legal definitions, you have to let him in, and if you don’t, then you’ll suffer a fine, which means you might not be able to buy food for your family. However, if you do let him in, that woman will be forced to work in a strip club against her will, so what do you do?

The game never outright tells you to make this choice, and you’ll never discover the consequences of your actions. No matter what you do, you never see that man or the woman he was holding again. The game is confident enough in its systems and moral dilemmas that it’s perfectly happy to let you sit there and ponder over whether or not you really did the right thing. Paper, Please won’t gratify your moral compass, it won’t tell you if you were right or wrong, because the real world very rarely does.

58 – The Stanley Parable

Release Date: 17th October 2013
Developer: Galactic Cafe
Publisher: Galactic Cafe
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 88%

It’s a game about a man named Stanley.

I’d love to go deeper than that, but for The Stanley Parable saying anything more would be completely spoiling it. I know I gave the spoiler warning at the start, but seriously, if you’ve ever wanted to play this game and somehow haven’t had it spoiled for you yet, keep scrolling, you need to experience this game with fresh eyes.

In the years since The Stanley Parable, there have been many games that attempted the so-called ‘meta-narrative’ to varying degrees of success. While I’m sure The Stanely Parable wasn’t the first, it is undoubtedly the first one to do it at this high quality to bring the concept in the mainstream (spawning a bunch of cheap imitations in the process, but what can you do?).

The idea of it is so straightforward, with the way the narrator tells you the choice you made before you’ve actually made it. Just the simple explanation of coming to a set of two doors and the narrator telling you that you went through the left one. Instantly, everything starts whirring in your brain, surely everyone who played it immediately had that instinct kick in where you don’t want to be told what to do. It’s such an instinctual reaction to go “no, screw you!” and then you’ve fallen right into the game’s trap.

From there, the game will take you on all sorts of adventures. Some funny, some weird and some rather grim. No matter what you do in The Stanley Parable, the game already knows you’ve done it. There are even moments where the game will trick you into thinking you beat it to the punch, only for something to be waiting for you on the other side, putting you in your place.

The Stanley Parable was made by people who truly understood how games traditionally work. The tropes and cliches. Only by having a real firm grasp on those things were they able to deconstruct it entirely to create an experience as mind-blowing and as memorable at The Stanley Parable.

57 – Super Hexagon

Release Date: 31st August 2012
Developer: Terry Cavanagh
Publisher: Terry Cavanagh
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS
Metacritic Average: 88%

It’s a game about dodging lines very, VERY fast.

Super Hexagon hits just the right spot when it comes to reflex games. Not only was it one of the first I played, but its difficulty is perfect for me. I would play it for hours and struggle like all hell, but I’d slowly but surely get better and better until suddenly I could do it. I’m not a master by any stretch, I’ve only completed the final level three times since 2012 (one of which was in front of my whole math’s class in secondary school, which is a fond memory), but I went from being hopeless at the game to being reasonably competent at it at a surprisingly steady rate.

Every death felt like a lesson, and every run got me just ever so slightly better at dodging the obstacles in front of me. The movement of the little triangle is so very precise and nails that feeling of only just being able to dodge everything in time. The soundtrack is a great listen, and it really adds to the chaotic feels that Super Hexagon goes for, the game makes it clear to you that you’re never in control, but at the same time, you never feel hopeless in your pursuits.

56 – Life is Strange

Release Date: 30th January 2015
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows, Mac, Linux, Andriod, iOS
Metacritic Average: 85%

It’s a game about being a teenage girl…with occasional time manipulation.

Life is Strange managed to create a world with countless characters, with varying personalities and colourful traits, which is impressive enough of a feat in and of itself, but what’s truly great about Life is Strange is that all of these characters mattered to me. I didn’t necessarily like all of them, or connect with all of them. Still, every single character I interacted with mattered, even in some of my favourite game stories there are characters I don’t care about *cough*Alfyn*cough* but that didn’t happen with Life is Strange.

It does such an excellent job of capturing the social structure of what school is like when you’re that age. That sense of recognising pretty much everyone, even if you don’t know them, having parents of friends that basically adopt you, or ones you find a bit off. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t long removed from that kind of social situation when I played Life is Strange, but I really found myself recognising so many situations it presents (admittedly not quite to the extremes that it goes too). The time manipulation is a clever mechanic and well-implemented, but that’s not really what everyone remembers about the game.

Those heartbreaking moments when you have to make some tough and horrible decisions in that game are things that stick with you for a long time after the fact. Not to mention the sheer weight of the final choice (and everyone’s reaction to it in all of the Youtube videos) is a moment that will go down in gaming history.

55 – Hand of Fate 2

Release Date: 7th November 2017
Developer: Defiant Development
Publisher: Defiant Development
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 82%

It’s a game about playing a tabletop RPG with a magical deck of cards.

The Hand of Fate games are compelling cases because it’s entirely true that if these games were just a regular RPG, they really wouldn’t be anything special. However, the twist of making you go through a tabletop RPG like D&D, using a deck of enchanted cards to take you through your adventure is such a genius change, and it makes the game so incredibly compelling when I’m going on my adventures.

The atmosphere of the travelling cart where you encounter the hooded & man who has these cards draws me in every time I boot up the game. The smooth and beautiful way with which the cards float their way around the space, shuffling themselves and laying them out before in such an attractive way that you cannot resist.

The scenarios that it puts before you always have a high level of intrigue to them, and every one of them brings you a unique challenge. These adventures are like a scaled-down version of what playing these tabletop RPGs can be like. Only there is the added advantage of the game having total control over the pacing, switching between combat encounters and interesting world-building seamlessly to keep thing varied.

All of the campaigns feel so carefully crafted, that you can tell there’s someone behind it like any other Dungeon Master you’ve ever played with. They keep that warm feeling of something created by someone for the love of creating it, but the medium of the video game allows them to tell it in much grander fashion. Which is what we all want for our D&D stories at the end of the day.

54 – Shovel Knight

Release Date: 26th June 2014
Developer: Yacht Club Games
Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo WiiU, Windows, Mac, Linux, Amazon Fire TV
Metacritic Average: 92%

It’s a game about ridding the world of evil with a shovel.

When it comes to indie games, the phrase ‘retro-platformer’ is always an instant turn off for me. Most of them are just bad attempts at recapturing the magic of the classic SNES games, and to put it plainly, Shovel Knight puts them all to shame.

Shovel Knight takes that idea of the retro platformer and makes it it’s own. The visual and sound design are great at capturing the sense of nostalgia and joy that so many of those classic games had. It doesn’t just copy though, as it’s not afraid to mix in modern techniques and use the advantages of modern technology to refine the edges of the game and get rid of all the unwanted quirks. It doesn’t feel like a cheap imitation because quite simply, it’s not, it’s able to form an identity of its own, while still aping that retro style

On top of all that, Shovel Knight’s main mechanic is genuinely unique and innovative. The titular shovel could’ve easily been a gimmick that worked as a retextured sword, but instead, time & care were put in to make it something that worked in a way we hadn’t seen before. The way you could dig through walls, and use it to bounce off of enemies allowed for some enjoyable puzzle-platforming opportunities. At the same time, the level design absolutely nails the flow and the challenge required to really gain mastery over the mechanics.

Very rarely does a game like Shovel Knight come along, where they seek to ape the style of retro games, while still creating a unique identity for itself. Regardless, Shovel Knight somehow managed to nail that landing…then bounce off of that landing with their shovel over a pit of death onto another landing.

53 – Red Faction Guerrilla

Release Date: 2nd June 2009
Developer: Volition, Reactor Zero, Kaiko Games
Publisher: THQ, THQ Nordic
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, Windows
Metacritic Average: 85%

It’s a game about destroying everything with the sledgehammer.

We’ve got an open world, powerful & varied weapons, and basically everything except the ground being fully destructible. If you’re anything like me, that sentence will have got you very excited indeed about Red Faction Guerrilla, which definitely doesn’t disappoint. The entire game is built around the core mechanic of the fully destructible structures that litter every nook and cranny of the open world. Almost every mission is focused around blowing up buildings in some way, shape or form and the massive variety in terms of both the buildings themselves, and the tools at your disposal ensure it never gets old.

Buildings can be anything from massive skyscrapers to long and wide warehouses that you can just plough a truck into and watch it crumble around you. Then you’ve got the weapons, starting off as the always popular (and extremely satisfying) sledgehammer, moving up to Arc Wielders and Remote Charges, before reaching stupidly over-the-top levels of destruction with Thermobaric Rocket Launchers and Singularity Bombs.

Red Faction Guerrilla simply focuses on making the unabashed destruction that makes this game so fun the primary focus at every opportunity and it’s a game that I will always go back to when I’m the mood for some carnage.

52 – The Binding of Issac: Rebirth

Release Date: 4th November 2014
Developer: Nicalis
Publisher: Nicalis
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS, Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS
Metacritic Average: 93%

It’s a game about using your tears to kill unholy (and sometimes holy) abominations.

The modern roguelike/roguelite genre is one that the PC indie market has managed to completely oversaturate over about 5 years, but The Binding of Issac was one of the first and remains one of the best. Not only is the visual design and general aura of the game so weird and uniquely disturbing, but the gameplay has been whittled down to near perfection for the genre.

The sheer volume of different items and modifiers in the game means that you’ll never have a playthrough that looks even remotely similar to the previous one. It avoids the trap that a lot of roguelikes fall into where I’m able to fall into a pattern for each run by merely giving me completely different items every single time. It forced me to play completely different every time I boot it up.

Then once you think you’ve got the hang of the game, you go online and look at some Youtube videos of people playing the game and you’ll see that they’re in a level you’ve never seen before, fighting a boss you didn’t even know existed with the craziest items you can imagine. I will genuinely never reach the bottom of The Binding of Issac, and I think that’s fantastic.

51 – Prison Architect

Release Date: 6th October 2015
Developer: Introversion Software, Double Eleven
Publisher: Introversion Software, Double Eleven, Paradox Interactive
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac, Linux, Andriod, iOS
Metacritic Average: 83%

It’s a game about building a (mostly) functional prison.

I’d generally consider myself to not be all that big a fan of the modern builder/management sim. They generally require a somewhat creative mind to get some fun out of them, and I just can’t tap into those elements. Prison Architect manages to get around that issue; however, by limiting how much you can do at each step. I know other games in the genre try to do that, but it always feels like it’s way too much. Prison Architect, meanwhile, is very good at holding my hand through the early stages of the game so that by the time it opens up, I’ve got plans and ideas of how to move forward.

On top of that, the system with which you construct all of your facilities is extraordinarily intuitive and has quite a tactile feel to it, which makes it so much more enjoyable to build and manage things. Even though I like it because of its constraints, it can also be an almost entirely open game if you want it to be. I’ve seen people get unbelievably creative with their prisons in this game, and it absolutely blows me away that what seems like such a simple game can produce so much.

Prison Architect really ticks all the boxes of a builder/management sim. If you want something simple to introduce you to the genre, then this will do that for you, but if you’re an experienced player who wants to build some crazy stuff, that’s absolutely a viable option for you too.

And 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! Finally, make sure to come back here ton Saturday, where I’ll be releasing a sequel to my Pokemon music article!

My Favourite Stories in Video Games

Every form of media out there is trying to tell us some form of story. TV, Film, even advertising is there to craft some sort of narrative to sell to us in some way, but I think no medium achieves that better than video games. When I’m playing a game I’m not just watching the action unfold, I’m making it unfold. Actually being in control of what’s going on and how everything plays out gets me more invested in the world I’m in than any other form of storytelling.

So today, I want to celebrate that. I want to talk about my favourite stories that video games have ever told me, and break down just what it is that makes it brilliant and why they draw the emotions out of me that they do.

NOTE: This post will contain both minor and major SPOILERS for each of the games I’m talking about, so be warned.

Bully

Bully is somewhat unique in why its story is so effective. Normally in games, the story of the game serves to build the world, but in Bully I find that the world is what makes the story so much fun.

Setting the game in a school seems like such a simple change from Rockstar’s usual formula, but it completely transforms your attitude towards all of the characters you encounter. It does such a brilliant job of emulating your time in school and capturing that feeling of wandering around a school and recognising all the faces and going to all the classes.

That dynamic creates a weird relationship with the main villain in Gary, because he’s so evil and hatable, but unlike something like GTA, you can’t just go and fight him because you’ll get expelled from school. This causes the story to become more about using the intricate social construct of the school to undermine him and take his power away like that.

It’s exactly the kind of story that you would come up with when in the playground at school, and I think that makes it all the more brilliant.

The Stanley Parable

“Story” may not quite be the right word to describe what takes place in the Stanley Parable, more of an experiment.

That said, there is a very simple story there, all you have to do is listen to the narrator and you get told a simple story about a man named Stanley fighting against the system to gain his freedom. As I’m sure most of you know by now though, that’s not where the brilliance of this game lies.

The Stanley Parable was the first game to properly take the idea of a “meta-narrative” and run with it. There’s been a lot of games who’ve tried since, and many have done a rather good job of it, but I don’t think any have topped this one.

All of the jokes and narrative points are things that can only come from truly understanding exactly how a game works. Anyone can make some jokes about common gaming tropes, but it takes a deep understanding of how a game is constructed in order to totally obliterate it like The Stanely Parable does.

Subsurface Circular

I’ve spoken about Quantum Circular a fair bit in the past, but I’ve never had much of a chance to talk about its predecessor, Subsurface Circular.

This game gives you a very simple premise, and then sends you off to learn all about the world, using the framing of trying to solve a mystery. You then spend the whole game riding around on one train line and encountering lots of different people from all different areas of this society and while interrogating them, they tell you their stories. Why they’re on the train, how they’re feeling about their life, what their goals and hopes are, and the entire game serves as to build up to one of the hardest choices I’ve ever had to make in a game.

We’re going into full SPOILER territory now, so if you want to play the game yourself, then it’s time to scroll down to the next game.

During your investigation, you find about this figure, who is in charge of a rebellion, which is looking to overturn the current government and install a new one, and he gives you a very simple choice. Kill him and stop the revolution, or kill yourself and allow the revolution to take place. I went back and forth on this choice so many times, because I’d spent the past few hours learning all about the world, seeing good people who have had their lives destroyed by the government and good people who rely on this government for their livelihood.

On top of all that, the game doesn’t let you see the result of your choice, which is such an underused, yet brilliant technique. It means there is no “right” choice, the game leaves you to ponder it in your own head and an experience like that is something that stays with you for a long time.

Life is Strange

No points for guessing this one would be on the list.

Life is Strange takes a similar setting to Bully, but goes more down the path of realism, than nostalgia. The characters in Life is Strange are very grounded in reality, even if they do have some more “out there” traits.

It’s another game that spends so much time getting you invested in the world and all the characters in it, only to turn all that emotional investment around on you at key points in the story. I had some level of emotional connection to every character in Life is Strange, regardless of whether it was positive or negative, I cared about all of them in some way, and I could actually remember all of their names, which is a rarity for a game with as many characters as this one.

Then we come to the most memorable point of this game, the final choice. (Full SPOILER territory coming at y’all right now.)

I was in an odd position going into Life is Strange, because I went into it already knowing what the final choice was, and it seemed like an easy choice at first. Then I played through the game, and when I came to the final choice, I suddenly realised just how difficult it was. At face value, it’s a choice between your best friend or everyone else you know, but it’s so much more than that when you look through it all.

For one thing, it’s a problem that you caused which gives you such a huge sense of responsibility and you feel like you need to own up to your actions. On top of that though, you have the knowledge that, by saving the town, so much of the work you’d put towards getting to know people and helping them turn their lives around and become better people will all be undone.

This time, the game does show you a brief look at the consequences of your choice, but it doesn’t really frame either choice as “right”, once again leaving you to ponder your choices.

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky

To those who have never played the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series, this might seem like a strange pick, since Pokemon isn’t exactly known for their high emotion, well-written stories, but hear me out.

PMD doesn’t try to subvert any narrative tropes or try to craft some unique story, however, it uses all of the tropes extremely effectively, and implements them in such a way that you don’t quite seem them coming. The story uses the idea of a world of Pokemon, without any human interaction to great effect and has plenty of mystery to keep you going the whole way through.

I find it interesting how PMD doesn’t stray from the theme that the main series Pokemon games have, and yet the way the narrative is crafted is almost unrecognisable. Spending the whole game building up a friendship with your partner Pokemon is something that the main series try to achieve, but you’re fairly limited when you can’t actually communicate with them at all. So PMD thrusts this character upon you in such a way, that you end up having a fairly similar journey towards friendship with them as your character does in the game; starting off as some slightly annoying, random  character that you wish would just leave you alone, to your best friend that you’ve fought with side by side the whole journey.

You add in all the other mad and wonderful complexities that the Explorers of Sky narrative has to it – which there just isn’t time to go into now – and you’ve got yourself one hell of an emotional rollercoaster ride. Explorers of Sky has a slight leg up on it from its counterparts (Explorers of Time/Darkness) since it has a set of additional stories that gives some background to all of the characters.

That final gut-punch of a narrative point is such a wonderful moment, I well up at games a fair amount, but it takes a lot to make me actually cry at something on a screen, and that’s exactly what PMD: EoS achieved.

Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops is the exception to my key rule of the games I play and enjoy. Usually, my general attitude is that I play games to have fun, and that’s pretty much it, but Spec Ops: The Line isn’t a fun game, not at all, so why is it here?

What happens when you play Spec Ops, is you boot it up, get told the basic premise for the game and are sent to a ruined city to go and shoot some bad guys. Then as the game progresses, the character you play as will start to do some things that you as the player will disagree with slightly, I didn’t think much of it at the time because I often disagree with characters in things and carried on.

The game then continues to reel you in with its generic shooter gameplay and basic tactics and choice systems, as you begin to notice your mission is sliding down a slippery slope. As the other members of your squad start to argue and say you’ve lost your mind, you don’t quite understand what they’re talking about, then the game reveals it’s hand and knocks you the fuck out with what it’s actually been doing the whole time.

(BIG SPOILERS RIGHT NOW)

This whole time you’ve been playing the game and shooting all these people, in an attempt to hunt down the big bad guy. He never existed, the whole game you’ve been killing American troops and civilians, and the game lingers on that fact, it spends so much time showing you just how much of a monster you truly are.

It’s a game that makes you question everything you know about military shooters and also game narratives, it’s thanks to Spec Ops that I now over analyse and instantly distrust decisions that the characters make. It taught me to just not blindly go with whatever the game is telling me and actually think for myself on what the narrative is trying to do.

It’s an uncomfortable and unpleasant game to play through, but it completely changed how I view narratives in games and how I approach a whole genre, and that is a story that deserves all the praise in the world.

Octopath Traveller

I’ve already talked a lot about Octopath Traveller, so I’m going to try my best not to repeat myself when talking about its story.

The thing that’s unique about Octopath, is that it’s not just a single linear story, it’s 8 stories, all technically separate but the way in which you encounter them makes them feel like their interweaving. Each of the stories themselves aren’t anything outstanding or revolutionary, but every single one of Octopath’s characters is so carefully and brilliantly crafted that they vastly increase the quality and impact of the stories they’re in.

Every single character in Octopath feels like a real person, and I feel like I understand them on a fairly deep level. I know who they are, what they want, how they prefer to go about getting it. Then you add on the travel banter scenes where the characters interact with each other and you slowly learn all of the little nuances to them that really make you feel like you’re on a journey with them.

When these characters are then placed into their respective stories, you feel fully aligned with them and ready to charge head-on into achieving their goals. Never once in Octopath did I find myself at odds with one of the characters, I felt like I knew them and thus understood some of their more questionable actions.

That feeling of unity with the characters is something that I can’t honestly say I’ve felt in a game on this level before or since, and it’s something I wish more games could achieve.

Thomas Was Alone

It’s a red rectangle, it can move left, right and it can jump, and it is the most well rounded, well-written character to ever come from a video game.

Made by the infinitely talented Mike Bithell (who also made Subsurface Circular & Quantum Circular), every single part of the design in this game is focused around enhancing the story. Everything is beautifully told through the narration of Danny Wallace, who’s voice creates such a warm and wonderful feeling when you listen to it, to the point where I can honestly say this story wouldn’t be as good with someone else reading it.

Even the visual design of all of the characters contributes to their personalities – despite all just being slightly different rectangles – because that’s exactly what makes this story work so well, the personalities. The characters are all AI’s that were created by some unidentified programmers, so they all feel like they’re just learning about the world. When you first encounter Thomas he’s essentially trying to come to terms with his own sentience.

All of the AI’s have moments like this, as they begin to discover emotions you quite literally see their personalities grow from nothing and form into some adorably ridiculous characters. Such as Chris, who just wants to be left alone at all times, or Claire, who can do something no one else can do so jumps to the conclusion that she must be a superhero.

Then you put these personalities together and you see these characters grow and begin to understand the world around them the more they interact with each other. This naivety from the characters really makes you feel like you need to look after them and you end up caring for them quite deeply. The characters also begin to start looking after each other as things progress, as the puzzles are designed in such a way that none of them can complete a level without help from another.

Never have I ever cared for characters in a game more than I have in Thomas Was Alone, and the world and story the game crafts is just so warm and wonderful that I can’t help but fall back in love every time I play it.

And that’s it! Thank you very much for reading, make sure to share this around of social media if you enjoyed and follow me on Twitter @10ryawoo for more thoughts on both games and wrestling. I’ll see you next time!