"How to Survive" puts a smart twist on the conventional zombie game adding a survival element to it.
Courtesy of 505 Games
Although this is the season for big-budget releases, gamers should keep an eye on smaller developers and the indie scene. That's where players can find novel experiences when they tire of the deluge of military shooters and hack-and-slash titles.
The early part of the year saw a flurry of good indie games. "Star Command" on iOS lets players take control of their own starship and combat alien races in "Star Trek"-like battles. In "Papers, Please," players take on the role of an immigration inspector who decides who can cross the border to a communist nation.
Recently, a fascinating batch of games has been released: "Fist of Awesome" began life as a Kickstarter project and made its way onto Android, Ouya, Gamestick and iOS. It's a simple beat-'em up that will remind gamers of classics such as "Final Fight" and "Streets of Rage."
Players take on the role of Tim Burr, who discovers that he has a sentient, talking hand. He must use it to fight an army of highly evolved, time-traveling bears (I'm not making this up). Aside from the old-school gameplay, it's the self-aware humor that makes this short but fun ride go. "How to Survive" looks like another zombie title, but Eko Software's latest project adds a clever twist. It's also a survival game, where players not only have to fend off the undead, they have to find water, hunt for food and seek shelter to stay alive. Hunger, thirst and exhaustion affect how characters perform when firing arrows or swinging machetes. In addition, there's also leveling and crafting systems that give the campaign more depth. It makes a game in an oversaturated genre feel surprisingly fresh. "The Stanley Parable" is the most unusual release of the bunch. It's a cross between "Being John Malkovich" and a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book. Players take on the role of Stanley, a faceless drone in a corporation. He happily follows instructions, pushing buttons until one day, he gets no directions at all. That's the premise for a metaphysical experience where players make seemingly minor choices that lead to increasingly bizarre outcomes.
You have to play over and over again beyond the several endings. Do it enough, and at some point, "The Stanley Parable" almost seems alive. The Narrator and the player engage in a struggle that seems bigger than life (and could be). It's a game that ponders the likelihood of free will and suggests the alternative: Maybe we're a bunch of Stanleys being told what to do.
Contact Gieson Cacho at 510-735-7076 or email@example.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/gcacho.