InFamous: Festival of Blood
Ordinarily, something like InFamous: Festival of Blood wouldn’t get a nod in a rundown like this – but ordinarily, something like Festival of Blood would be DLC. Instead, it’s a standalone game, and as such it’s a pretty fantastic one, offering up a taste of InFamous 2’s gameplay and world (its first island, anyway), while giving protagonist Cole a handful of cool new powers, a new story to follow, new collectibles to ferret out and a ton of oh-so-trendy vampires to fight.
After being kidnapped by a cabal of bloodsuckers on Pyre Night (a dark street festival made up by his buddy Zeke, who invents the story to impress a girl at a bar), Cole is used to awaken a centuries-old vampire named Bloody Mary, before being turned into a vampire himself. If he’s ever going to regain his humanity and lose his taste for blood, he’s going to have to hunt her down and kill her in a matter of hours.
Festival of Blood is short, but incredibly fun within the confines of its short runtime, and the addition of InFamous 2’s mission-creation/sharing tools ensures that players have a reason to keep going back even after it’s “finished.” It also retains InFamous 2’s free-roaming structure, and as the only game on this list that enables players to devour pedestrians, hurl lightning, turn into a swarm of bats and grind on power lines, it’s a must-play for PS3 owners.
Bastion is an artistic wonder, with beautiful graphics and an interesting story that still has us thinking. The gameplay might not be the absolute best this year and the controls aren’t perfect, but, as a complete package, the game is absolutely fantastic.
It’s really the atmosphere and the audio side of Bastion that deserves a majority of the praise – the game’s stellar soundtrack is one of the best of the year, and the voice work for the character of Rucks is absolutely fantastic. While a single character’s voice might not typically be all that important in a game, especially if he isn’t the main character, Rucks is a special exception, as he narrates the entire experience from the moment the Kid gets up to the last second of the game. It might sound like a gimmick, and that’s because it sort of is, but it’s one that adds life to the world, plugging in extra emotion to the beautiful, post-apocalyptic world of Caelondia and making us feel as connected to the characters.
To the Moon
To the Moon caught us completely by surprise. A short, four-hour PC indie game that is more of an interactive story than a videogame, by the time we were through with it, we couldn’t stop talking about it. A beautiful game with 16-bit art and a tender soundtrack, To the Moon tells one of the most memorable stories we’ve experienced in this medium.
The story revolves around an old man Johnny whose final wish is to go to the moon but he doesn’t know why. It’s up to two doctors, Eva and Neil, to get him there by moving through his childhood memories to plant the idea that he must make it to the moon. The journey is not only a remarkable and thought-provoking one, but the game is full of videogame references and hilarious dialogue between the bickering doctors to balance out the heart-breaking moments. To the Moon touches upon mature topics that are often avoided in videogames, but are necessary to tell this engaging tale. While this adventure may not be very long, every scene leading up to the game’s excellent ending is worth experiencing.