Hello again! As established early on in previous blogs, I am a console gamer at heart, even though my interest in board games grows daily.
Ask the average person on the street to think of a console game and they will most likely tell you a game that involves shooting, violence, or football/sports. Even though I would consider myself to be a ‘hardcore’ game fan, I very rarely play the kind of things that most people do. I love games because of the amount of variation and wildly different experiences available, and I love finding hidden gems of games that sound crazy on paper, but due to the developer’s genius and vision, actually work really well!. So, without further ado, here are four of this kind of game that are all available right now on current consoles!
1. I Am Bread
Lets go straight in with one of the most off-the-wall game concepts that I have had the chance to play recently.
The name basically describes the main idea – you are bread. More specifically, you play as a sentient slice of bread, embarking on an epic journey to fulfil your destiny, and become toast! Each level is based on a room of a house, starting with the kitchen. Along the way you encounter different hazards, such as rotten fish, dirty floors and sinks full of washing up. If you touch any of these during your quest, your ‘edibility’ rating goes down and you get less points.
As ridiculous as this may sound, the game is really playable and addictive! Half of the enjoyment for me is from the absurdity and just realising that you are actually controlling a slice of bread flopping around someone’s house! In addition to a slice, there are also other types of bread in different game modes, such as a baguette or a speed-run mode with a bagel.
Another added bonus is that since the game is a couple of years old now, it can be found pretty cheap. I picked it up in a recent PS4 sale for only £3, well worth it even if you only get a couple of hours entertainment from it!
2. Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido
This one is a much newer game, just released in June for both of Nintendo’s current consoles, the Switch and the 3DS/2DS.
The game, when you get to the playable part of it, is essentially a new take on the classic colour-matching puzzle genre. The idea is that you are standing in a sushi restaurant with loads of dishes going past on conveyor belts, and battling someone else by picking as many of the same colour plates as you can in one go, eating the sushi, and throwing the empty plates at your enemy!
The gameplay is fun, but what makes it stand out for me is the hilarious backstory. The game is set in a world that has been ravaged by the Sushi Wars, due to a shortage of fish. Now, the evil Empire has banned all sushi, and you as the main character must lead the resistance against them. The story is told in extensive anime cut-scenes, including a lot of classic Japanese style humour, many over-the-top facial expressions, camp, buff bad guys and magical creature sidekicks.
The humour and tone of the game really reminds me of another classic from the Nintendo DS era, probably hard to come by now, called Elite Beat Agents, which itself was a westernised version of Japanese game Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan. These are rhythm games about special agent cheerleaders, which have equally ridiculous scenarios and cut-scenes. If you have played and enjoyed these, you will probably like Sushi Striker.
Even if you only slightly like the idea of this game, there is a free demo available in the Nintendo online shop, so if you have a Switch or 3DS, definitely give it a try!
3. and 4. Flower and Journey
And now for probably the best known games in my selection. They are made by a developer called ‘Thatgamecompany’. They released three games back in the PS3 era: Flow, Flower and Journey. All three were so good that they were re-released on the PS4. I haven’t played the first one, but knowing the others I would recommend it!
In Flower, you play as a flower petal blowing in the wind. You travel through a beautiful environment, touching other flowers and picking up their petals, steadily growing into a giant group of petals. Some flowers will activate other things in your journey, such as splashing beautiful colours around the environment. It is not free roaming though, each level has an objective, and there is an overarching theme of a growing evil as the levels progress.
In Journey, you play as a humanoid being that wakes up in the middle of the desert. Your only guidance is a mountain in the background that has a bright light coming from it. The journey in question is to make it to the top of that mountain. To traverse the landscape you can only walk at first, but as the game goes on you gain the ability to fly for short times thanks to your magic scarf.
In both games, there is a very minimal interface, hardly any tutorial, and no speech. What there is, is a beautiful soundtrack, serene visuals, and gameplay designed to give you an emotional response as you are immersed in the world of their creation. A bonus in Journey is that if you are online you sometimes get paired up with another player who journeys with you. The only way to communicate with them is by how you move, or by sending energy pulses, but this is enough, and it’s great having someone there to show you around and point out secrets, or if you are more experienced, it is also nice to help others if they look to be struggling. If you are lucky enough to be paired with someone for a whole game (it takes about 2 hours to get through), it can make for one of the most beautiful moments in gaming.
I can’t strongly recommend these two games, especially Journey, enough to any PS3 or PS4 owners.
So I have to end this post with a game that is about everything! In this game, you can actually be almost anything! You start as a fairly normal animal , but after playing for a bit you gain the ability to be, or possess, another animal or object smaller than you. When you do this, your perspective shifts down to the size of that object. You can keep doing this to get smaller and smaller, right down to the sub-atomic level of matter! later on you also gain the ability to shift back in to larger things, and literally anything you see in the game, you can be, all the way up to super clusters of galaxies, and beyond!
The game is actually procedurally generated, so each play through is different to the last. There is a vague goal, but most of the enjoyment of this game is just roaming around, discovering all of the environments and things that you can be. As you roam around, some of the objects talk to you. You can also get groups of the same kind of thing to follow you. Every so often you get to hear audio snippets from the late philosopher Alan Watts about life and existence, and this, plus the general experience of the game start to leave you with a different perspective on real life.
This for me is again a game I highly recommend trying out. It is a beautiful zen-like experience. You can play just to chill out, or you can play to explore and try be every object it has to offer. You can even just leave it on in the background and the game will play itself.
I hope that at least one of these games has piqued your interest enough to give it a try, and I hope that you, like me, start to realise that the world of computer games outside the standard samey mainstream ones is a beautiful and varied one that is worth diving into!