This is a no-brainer. To be blunt, if you don’t have this game yet, shame on you. Journey is not only the quintessential downloadable game on Sony’s platform, it’s my personal pick for Game of the Year across all media. Thatgamecompany’s short-but-sweet title holds a thematic complexity that few other games this year even aspire to match. That’s not to mention the beautifully crafted anonymous cooperative mode that can turn a stranger into your best friend over the course of two hours. Austin Wintory’s richly emotional, eventually tearjerking score is the icing on the cake. PLAY THIS GAME.
While Sound Shapes is best experienced on the Vita, it’s by no means a dealbreaker if you only have a PS3; the game is still great without touch control. Moving the little blob through the colorful, musical environments featuring music from popular electronic artists (and Beck) is a complete delight, and the mostly breezy difficulty is tempered by an exceptionally brutal “speed run” mode. It’s a short-lived platformer at its core, but it gains considerable legs through a wonderful, robust level creator that blends music creation tools with a LittleBigPlanet-style object placement mechanic. The levels can then be uploaded to the world. Sound Shapes will glue a smile to your face.
I remember being mildly interested in this when it released in Japan, but I never expected it to be this much fun. The simple premise of guiding an animal through a post-humanity Earth and surviving the rest of the predators roaming the city is made much more entertaining through a satisfying combat system, random rogue-like elements, and a huge variety of playable creatures. These creatures range from the surprisingly powerful Pomeranian, the weak but nimble deer, and the shockingly brutal crocodile, as well as fun DLC such as dinosaurs and joke characters like the businessman. Quests randomly generate through each playthrough, and keeping hunger and stamina in check make for a constant race against the clock. By far the most unique experience of the year, and way more fun than it has any right to be.
Retro City Rampage
Retro City Rampage is the ultimate nostalgia trip. Fashioned as a top-down, old-school GTA clone, it goes out of its way to pack its rafters with literally hundreds of sight gags, inside jokes, references, homages, cameos, and more. These range from having Meat Boy as a character to a set of Back to the Future-themed missions centered around finding a “Flax Combobulator” for Doc Choc’s time machine. There’s quite a bit to do in the city as well, with side missions, upgrades, hidden objects, and a myriad of wild weapons. The amount of love and care put into the project is plainly evident, and it translates into a delightful experience.
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