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This year's E3 hosted a cornucopia of multimedia artistry, from several avant-garde music games to an adventure allegory that explores a deeply personal narrative. Regardless of if you believe that videogames are true "art" (let's not open that can of worms today), based on the following games we should all be able to agree that they can certainly be artsy-fartsy.
Papo & Yo
Thought the nuclear bomb allegory in Braid was nauseatingly pretentious? Papo & Yo's premise gives it a run for its money. It stars a young boy named Quico, whose best friend is a large, scary-looking monster. The usually gentle Monster turns into a violent fiend whenever he eats frogs, which is a thinly-veiled allegory for the creator's abusive alcoholic father. Yes, the story will probably be touching, even poignant perhaps. But watching all the "games are art" proponents work themselves into a hoity-toity froth over this "indie gem" still makes us gag a little. [Preview]
With an E3 demo so bizarre it was suspected of being an elaborate joke on the gaming press, PixelJunk: Lifelike (styled as PixelJunk: lifelike) is a music visualizer that interacts with the Move controller. To appreciate it, you're going to have to be either really high or just really love getting smoke blown up your ass. [Preview]
From the creators of Flow and Flower, Journey's pedigree alone practically guarantees it a spot on this list. Like Thatgamecompany's previous two games, Journey's gameplay concept is simple – walk across the sand dunes toward the mountain in the distance. But it's not really about getting to the mountain – it's about the journey, man. Get it?! [Preview]
Sound Shapes (working title)
A musical platformer, eh? Sound Shapes looks like merely a colorful platformer on the surface, but it's way more than that – not only is the platforming gameplay based in rhythm and music, but its level creator doubles as a music creator too. We loved creator Jonathan Mak's previous game Everyday Shooter, so we're definitely eager to see how Sound Shapes takes shape. [Preview]
Lifelike is so busy being artsy fartsy that it forgot to actually be a game. Single-named creator Baiyon seemed to be the only one who knew what was going on during the initial hands-off demos at Sony's E3 booth as he showed off his maestro skills to mostly confused press. And even now that we know the gist of the mechanics (press/hold various buttons to make noises, swing remote to manipulate noises and so on), we're still left scratching our heads a bit.
We've seen games in the past that challenge the concept of what constitutes gameplay – adorably meandering Noby Noby Boy is a great example – but Lifelike takes the non-game game concept even further. It's hard to imagine it as more than a novelty to bring out during parties (and then quickly grow bored of it), so we're interested to see if it will end up being more than that.
Most graphics | Coolest character reinvention
Best response to fan feedback
Best trailer | Most satisfying gore | Guiltiest pleasure
Most shameless rip-off
Best new game we know nothing about
Worst first impression | Best game for masochists
Most likely to consume our lives | Artsiest-fartsiest
Might not actually suck | Proof that 2D isn't dead | BEST OF SHOW
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