Games feel bad

Published on May 14th, 2013 | by Joe-Lou


Five “Artsy” Games You Might Have Missed

I’m pretty exhausted with the “Are games art?” argument. Most of our readers should reply with a resounding “Yes, of course they are!”. So with that in mind, why would I bother to identify some games as “artsy” while ignoring others? I do believe that all games are art, however, the motivation behind each title isn’t always the same. Most games are specifically designed to be fun. That is their core mechanic. While others might focus on simply engaging the player and perhaps tackling some emotional issues. It’s in these types of games that our traditional idea of “fun” might take a backseat in favor of something a bit more abstruse. This short list highlights those types of experiences.


Radiator1-2 (it’s free w/ Half Life 2)
This was supposed to be a three-part series, but much like it’s host engine, the Half Life 2 Episodes, I’ve lost almost all hope of ever seeing the third and final chapter. Well, at least we’ve got two amazing games to play! The first of these two mods, Polaris, puts you in the shoes of a woman on a date with a guy. Not only is this the first time I’ve seen sexuality or general attraction told from the female perspective in a game but its also goes deeper than some would be comfortable with. Even better, it gets right to the point, with little introduction you are dropped into the scene with your date, pointing out stars on a open campground. The actual gameplay feels a bit scattered, but with a quick runtime and multiple endings you’ll find the time to get the most out of it.

The second title in the series is Handle With Care. This is where stuff gets heavy. It’s a museum-type game where you control the pacing and order of difficult memories to bring up during a marriage counseling session. As the player, you get to pick what sort of issues fire off during the counseling session. Interactivity may feel a bit minimal, but I couldn’t  help but feel engaged all the way through this roller coaster of relationship disasters.


Everyday i dream the same dream (it’s FREE!)
A game about mediocrity sounds about as fun as counting sand, but things get pretty interesting when the world starts to fall apart. This 2D side-scrolling adventure game moves at a very slow pace. Things are minimal, miserable, dull and dreary. This sort of melancholy is evident in every aspect as you decide what to do with your last few days on earth. If you’ve wasted your life stuck in traffic at a dead end job, what sort of quirky things would you begin to notice as the world starts to die off? This is a game that suits a very particular mood. Play this when you’re feeling relaxed and particularly curious. It can be one heck of a thoughtful ride.



The Path
I’ve taken a lot of flak on the Brain-Freeze podcast for liking this game so much. Honestly, I can’t blame people for not getting into it. The Path is extremely high concept and requires a large suspension of disbelief with a huge disregard for practical thinking. This Tale of Tale’s adventure game is an odd twist on the story of Little Red Riding Hood. You play as one of seven little girls who must make their way down the path to get to grandma’s house. The Path is easy, but if you simply walk straight to the house, the screen turns black and it’s “game over, try again”. The point of the game is to get lost, discover clues and eventually meet your own version of the wolf. Each girl has a different backstory with a unique ending that’s only flushed out if you actually spend a LOT of time exploring. There is no real challenge or skill in The Path, just commitment.  So it’s no surprise that this game wont please everyone, but I felt like Tale of Tales gave back just as much as I put in. Through it’s interesting concepts and brilliant explosion The Path more than delivers a deep and meaningful experience. Wandering aimlessly through the woods isn’t always fun, it’s not event that engaging at times but the payoff for each wolf segment feels well worth it to me.



The Company of myself (it’s FREE!)
Most of the games on this list don’t have much in terms of gameplay, opting for strong narrative over mechanics. The Company of myself, is the opposite. The written narrative is interesting but its the gameplay that helps drive the emotion. For those who don’t play a lot of games, it can be a bit tedious and very frustrating at times. But Nintendo kids of the 90’s will have fun putting their platforming skills to the test in this damp dark world.



I wish I were the moon (it’s FREE!)
The actual concept of this game might just sneak up on you. Re-arrange characters and object to see the result. Then reset and try again. It’s a very simple idea that gets a bit deeper as you play.  There’s a boy, a girl and the moon. They all want to fall in love and it’s up to you to play with their hearts. If you can find all seven endings you’ll have a better understanding of why this relationship is so tragic. This ones a nice little quickie, about 5 minutes should do the trick. Indie game designer Daniel Benmergui has also made a handful of other goodies that are sure to make you think.


Short list of other “artsy” titles you should probably check out.

  • Shadows of the Colossus& ICO HD collection
  • Journey,Flower & Flo
  • Little Big Planet 2
  • Portal 2
  • Walking Dead
  • Passage & Sleep is death
  • Dear Ester
  • Fascade
  • Kentucky Rt.Zero
  • Anti-Chamber
  • Thomas was alone
  • Bioshock:Infinite
  • Year Walk

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About the Author

is an offbeat musician from Providence RI. His real job involves designing exhibits, but by night he does this stuff.

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