DeadCore was a bit of an impulse buy. I watched the trailer, thought it looked neat and bought it on the spot. It’s a first-person platform game that requires the utmost of skill and timing, and it’s a blast. Levels are sprawled across landscapes with jump pads, lasers and loads of obstacles to get through. It almost plays out more like a puzzle game in many parts because you have to figure out how to complete particularly tough sections. First-person platform games are a bit of a rare genre, so it’s awesome to see one come out that executes its formula really well.
DeadCore is available for Windows PC and Mac.
The $15 price tag or retro Atari graphics may have scared you from playing Nidhogg, but that was a mistake. Nidhogg boasts some of the best local multiplayer action this year. Each player is on a 2D plane as a lethal fencer trying to get past each other, whether that means killing your opponent or running from him. The visual style and music really pull it all together to create one of the best local multiplayer experiences.
Nidhogg is available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows PC and Mac.
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze
Many people picked up their Wii U systems when Mario Kart 8 came out in May, and chances are that many probably missed Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze because it was released in February. Honestly, this game is one of the best modern day platform games to ever be released if you give it the time it deserves. New variables and styles of levels are constantly thrown your way, and the ability to play as Dixie Kong or Cranky Kong was great. I’m also a sucker for difficult games, and Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze definitely delivers in this department.
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is available for Wii U.
Puzzle games are a dime a dozen these days, so it’s rare that one grabs my attention for so long. The key for a good puzzle game is that it spaces out long periods of thought followed by that “Eureka!” moment of epiphany. Pulling and pushing out squares to get to the top of a colorful image is a great idea that lends itself well to a balanced puzzle game. Pushmo World also expanded on its 3DS cousin with the great addition of allowing you to create and play other players’ levels.
Pushmo World is available for Wii U.
Divinity: Original Sin
In an era of games that hold your hand and baby you through the story line, Divinity: Original Sin completely smacks that idea away. It’s a brutal, classic role-playing game that boasts as much freedom as you can ask for. Don’t have a key for a door? Just break it down. There are many situations like this that just make sense logically, and that was a nice change of pace compared with most games these days. Also, the turn-based combat is some of the best that I’ve ever played. Environmental effects play heavily so that every move has to be crucially thought out. If you’re a hard-core rol-playing game fan, definitely check out Divinity: Original Sin.
Divinity: Original Sin is available for Windows PC and Mac.
Crypt of the NecroDancer
Crypt of the NecroDancer is probably the most unique game that I’ve played all year. It’s a procedural dungeon crawler with the emphasis on music. Every move has to be in accordance with the beat of the music along with attacks on enemies. It’s difficult at first, but getting down enemy moves while swinging with the beat started coming naturally. You collect gold, buy upgrades and try to dance your way to the end, and it’s downright fun. While it’s still in early access, I feel that the game right now deserves a major mention due to its pure brilliance and innovation.
Crypt of the NecroDancer is available for Windows PC.
Out of all of the games on this list, it still shocks me that Velocity 2X hasn’t received more praise and recognition. You control a ship as you blast your way through greatly designed levels. It combines elements of shooting, puzzle solving and quick reaction time. It expands upon Velocity Ultra by adding in side-scrolling sections where you play on foot that really scratches that twitch-based game play itch. If you have a PlayStation 4 or PlayStation Vita, play this game. Seriously.
Velocity 2X is available for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.
Lords of the Fallen
While relatively new, I still feel that Lords of the Fallen has been largely overshadowed by other big-name releases this fall. It is an unabashed copy of the Dark Souls formula, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I love Dark Souls, so it was great to get to play another game that tinkers with the mechanics. Lords of the Fallen is a much slower game than Dark Souls, and it also adds enough of its own flair to make it stand out. While not quite reaching the dizzying heights of its inspiration, Lords of the Fallen is a great first step for the new series that role-playing game fans should definitely check out.
Lords of the Fallen is available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC.
Strider is the reimagining of the old arcade game, but in a big way. It features fast-paced combat with smart platforming that just hits all the right notes. There is also a large element of Metroidvania with exploration being important as you unlock more moves. These moves are helpful in combat as well as in exploration, so everything just naturally clicks. Strider is the perfect combination of a set of mechanics in one tightly knit game.
Strider is available for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Windows PC.
Super Time Force
While the humor may not be for some – like me – Super Time Force is a highly innovative take on the 2D shooter. You control a team of heroes as you save the world in different time periods. The hook is that, in combat, you can rewind a few seconds to try again if you die with your ghost who died previously now being alive to help out. It sounds complicated, but it’s loads of fun to plan all of these attacks with multiple clones.
Super Time Force is available for Xbox 360, Xbox One and Windows PC.
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