Since jumping into the MMORPG fray back in high school, I’ve had an on-again-off-again relationship with standard single-player campaign games. Without the infamous “carrot-on-stick” and character persistence that MMOs give the player, I found it hard ever make it past the prologue of most single-player games. This problem is multiplied when I know I have a good 15-30 hour en devour ahead of me, as I’ve experienced with pretty much every Bioware/Bethesda RPG that I’ve tried to play this generation.
Noticing my lack of follow-through completing these $50-$60 games I was investing in, in relation to my growing Steam library backlog, I decided that this year I would start keeping track of every game I “beat.” By beat, I mean completed the campaign and/or story, but not necessarily going after every achievement. Making a mid-year look back at this list of mine, I noticed a trend of shorter and more instant-gratification games being the ones I enjoyed the most.
Hit the jump for my thoughts on each game I’ve beaten (in rough chronological order) in 2011.
Chime: Not much to say about Chime. I didn’t enjoy it all that much, probably because I didn’t take enough time to really get the hang of it (and it made me feel stupid), but I played it enough to beat the handful of songs that were the game and I donated to charity at the same time. Two birds with one stone?
BIT.TRIP Beat: I love the Bit.Trip series. With BIT.TRIP BEAT being the original of the series, it’s also the simplest, but not to a fault. Have you played this little indie game called Pong that came out a few decades back? It’s kind of like that. On acid. And strobe lights. With electronic music.
Portal 2: I beat Portal 2 on April 19th. Portal 2 launched on April 19th. I think that speaks volumes to how amazing Portal 2 is. Until this last week, this was my game of the year so far for 2011 (see the last game in this list). Portal 2 is an ingenious blend of creative story-telling and perfectly balanced puzzle design.
Puzzle Agent and Puzzle Agent 2: If it wasn’t for Ryan Davis, of Giant Bomb fame, I would have never given these witty puzzle/adventure games a shot. I’ve never been a fan of adventure games in the past, finding them too slow, with too much reading. The Puzzle Agent games break this mold (at least for me) by giving you fantastic voice-acting performances, clever dark humor, and a charmingly befuddled protagonist named Nelson Tethers. Oh, and there are some puzzles thrown in there too, but I honestly kept playing for the plot — the puzzles were just a means to that end.
Limbo: I had been dying to play Limbo ever since it debuted to great reviews on XBLA. I love, love, love side-scrolling platformers, so one with a mysterious story and name, with a beautiful monochrome art style sounded like heaven. That said, Limbo turned out to be more puzzle-platformer than platformer (giving me bad flashbacks to frustration playing Braid), but the beautiful visuals and platforming (away from the puzzle sections) kept me engaged long enough to beat it. I was a bit disappointed with Limbo, but you should never hold what a game isn’t against it, but rather take it for what it is. I still consider this $9.99 well spent.
Bastion: I’ll keep it short and sweet since I intend to write a full review of this masterpiece of modern gaming. Bastion hits all the check marks of a good game, but then turns the volume to 11. You know when you’re a teenager and you swear that one song speaks to you, as if it was made just for you — that is Bastion for me.