There are many games out there which consist of the same old tired and tested formula, from shooters to racers, but sometimes a game emerges which breaks away from it all and provides a truly unique experience which can sometimes be hard to come by.
One game which comes to mind is The vanishing of Ethan Carter. The game revolves around you exploring the environment, solving puzzles and piecing together what happened to Ethan carter. The concept was executed very well due to a few reasons. The puzzles where unique and interesting, with exploring the environment piecing together what happened in the past. One puzzle which comes to mind is where you have to put an abandoned house back together by swapping the rooms around which you can see here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDEPjCn9gs8. The environment also looks incredible, which for a game where you walk about most your time and take things in is important, without this element the game would be a lot weaker. The puzzles themselves can also be completed in any order, so this means that if you get stuck on a certain puzzle you can skip it entirely and come back later, but the major plus to this is that it keeps the pace. Once you have completed all puzzles only then you can move onto the final.
Gone home is another game which tried something different and has minimal game elements in it. It perfectly captures the 1990’s setting by having the player explore the protagonists family home, with the goal being trying to find out where everybody is. The story is told in the form of letters, objects, tapes and environmental story telling which is what makes the game so great. The player just wanders through the house with nothing but there senses to guide them, they could go to any part they want and take it all in at there own pace. The attention to detail is staggering and it is another game which shows you don’t need to go down the typical game convention route to make something entertaining and interactive.
You cannot lose in the game, die, restart, there is no challenge, it is just you, the house and the freedom to explore.
Everybody’s gone to the rapture is a game which like the others does not have to many game elements, but still makes it interesting and interactive which could not be done by any other media. This game consist of exploring a small English village with you trying to find out what happened to its inhabitants. As you explore you will come across elements in which a flash from the past will emerge and you will see the events unfold in that place, but this is the only real interaction with the world. Still the games strength lies with it’s voice acting and environmental story telling which is good to make note for future projects.
One could argue that the interaction is to limited here and I am still undecided on this, it works for what it is but the pacing does take a hit from walking the whole time, still the story and voice acting is what keeps the game unique and interesting.
Papers please also needs a mention for something truly unique. You play as a immigration officer deciding who you let into the country based on the papers they have, it sounds terribly boring but somehow it is not. One of the reasons for this is the fact that the more people you bring in, the more money you get. Which is duly needed to keep your family alive and well, if you don’t allow enough people in then you might not be able to pay for heating one month. The next you earn less and they start to get sick, this all means that you are rushing to check papers and you may let in somebody who threatens the country and the responsibility
The controls mostly consist of picking up and moving papers in order to check information such as date of birth, name, passport expiration and then use the denied or approved stamp. It also has interesting moral choices within the game such as bribery, or whether to let somebody in with incomplete paper work but have a reason for it, but of course they could be lying. Even still, do you let them in? Situations come up like this regularly and having to process all the information whilst trying to earn as much money before the day ends, makes the game challenging and interesting.
Image credit –
The vanishing of Ethan Carter – http://ethancartergame.com/
Gone home – http://gonehome.game/
Everybody’s gone to the rapture -https://www.playstation.com/en-us/games/everybodys-gone-to-the-rapture-ps4/
Papers please – https://papers-please.en.softonic.com/