Games / Indie Games / iPad / PC / PS3

Best Games of February 2013

This year has already been fantastic for games. I’ve already played over a dozen games that were really, really great, and we’re barely two months into the year. I’m already finding it hard to narrow down the games to just the six I use for these monthly posts. Keep ’em coming! Next month is just going to get crazier. I can’t wait.

1. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

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After Bayonetta, I’ve had a bit of a soft spot in my heart for Platinum Games. Vanquish was nearly as excellent, both games filling a love for insane action that I didn’t know I had. With Metal Gear Rising, they’ve gone above and beyond once again.

I laughed out loud at the insanity that happened on my television again and again. You might think that slicing a man into tiny pieces and ripping out his spine would get old after a while. It doesn’t. Every standard enemy is a joy to dispatch, and the boss fights are just as exciting as you expect.

The traditional Metal Gear codec makes a return, allowing you to call your friends and chat whenever you want. There is a ton of optional dialogue to be had here, almost every time you enter a new room you can call and find someone ready to talk about something new (movies, food, science, war profiteering). I think I spent around 4 or 5 hours with this, and I noticed that I never received the achievement for listening to “the majority” of the codec sequences. So there’s a ton of that if you want it.

It’s a bit on the short site, around 5 hours of gameplay, but it’s totally worth it if you want to absolutely destroy a bunch of cyborgs.

Rising is a great enough game to carry the weight of both Metal Gear and Platinum, and you deserve to go cut a dude up into five thousand pieces right now. Happy slicing!

2. Dead Space 3

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The original Dead Space and Dead Space 2 still stand today as some of my favorite games of this generation, and even rank highly of my personal favorites of all time. They’re fantastic pseudo-sequels to Resident Evil 4, each losing a little bit of the horror element but still retaining enough to feel at least a bit scary. Dead Space 3 is a worthy successor, changing things up quite a bit at times while continuing to be just about as good as ever.

FIrst off, it’s the least scary Dead Space by a mile. Sure, there was a pretty big tonal shift from the first game to the second, but Dead Space 2 was still creepy as hell through all of the action. Dead Space 3 is pretty scary at times, but the primary focus is on making aliens explode in the coolest way you can. The ability to roll, and the weapon crafting system go a long way to make you feel more powerful and in control than ever.

The weapon crafting system is the most interesting aspect of the game, you find scrap pieces in the environment an inside enemy corpses that allow you to make almost any weapon you can think of. There are dozens upon dozens of variations on weapons, and whatever you choose to leave a crafting bench with is entirely up to you. As long as you have the materials, you could make a flamethrower that shoots freezing, time-slowing ice, with an attachment on the bottom that shoots trip mines. If you’re like me and stuck with the plasma cutter through most of the first games, you’ll see the first time you ditch the thing completely.

That’s the tip of the iceberg. This system is incredibly complex at first, an it’ll take you a few hours to even get a slight grasp on what you’re doing. Once it clicks, and you can work with it efficiently, the most fun in the game is trying out all of the ridiculous weapon types. It’s a lot longer as well, on Hard difficulty I clocked in at around 25 hours, giving you plenty of time to experiment with and learn the weapon system.

There’s a ton of enemy variety to, requiring you to keep a range of weapons on hand to deal with whatever’s running at you. You’ll learn what weapons work best, and curse yourself as soon as you leave that one important thing behind in favor of something that doesn’t work as well as you’d hoped.

Some of the areas you go through are thrilling to say the least. While the entire game isn’t scary, there are plenty of moments when you’ll be overcome with tension, and very ready to get out into the next, hopefully less scary, place. Some, are sadly not so thrilling though. A few of the optional missions you do are cut and paste retreads of areas you’ve explored before. To make it worse, dozens of enemies are thrown at you before you’re allowed to leave, making for more frustration than fun. Playing on Normal or skipping some of the optional areas would probably remedy these problems entirely, but it sucks when you have to go out of your way to avoid the bad parts.

Not every bad part is avoidable, however. The story is pretty lackluster throughout, delivering a few great setpiece moments every once in a while. But the ending is… not very good at all.

If you’re a fan of Dead Space, the third entry is a fine excuse to blast through aliens and stomp their ugly corpses once again, just don’t get your hopes up for a “thrilling end to the trilogy”. The rest of the game is brilliant, don’t let a few misguided decisions get in your way of enjoying one of the most exciting action games of this generation.

3. Anodyne

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Imagine if Link’s Awakening was remade today with a strong focus on the human condition, and fewer giant magical Eggs. That’s Anodyne.

A stunning tribute to early Zelda with a lot more weirdness thrown in, Anodyne is a game I couldn’t stop exploring. Every area is so unique, giving you wonderfully odd things to see, or some surprisingly smart puzzles to solve. Whenever you stumble upon something new, you’re rewarded with a total change in scenery, probably a joke or two, and usually a great new song to listen to as you wander around. Sometimes you’ll find an area with no enemies, an a lot of people to talk to. Other times you’ll come across a drastic art style change.

You’ll go discover huge new areas through the exploration of a giant overworld, and you’ll discover dungeons and fight some surprisingly fun bosses. For what purpose? Nothing is made entirely clear, and the oddity that is the game’s reflection upon itself, people in general, steps it above other games of its type. Sometimes Anodyne jokingly references pop culture icons, and sometimes it goes down some deep dark rabbit holes about loneliness in the age of Facebook and Twitter. It doesn’t linger on these issues though, give it about 5 minutes and you’ll be right back to swinging away at silly monsters.

The core game takes about 6 or 7 hours to finish, and its definitely worth your time. After you reach the end…something surprising happens. I won’t ruin in here, but  the game essentially allows you to tear it apart to find an entirely new level of secrets. This could easily take another 7 hours or more, depending on how much time you’re willing to give.

Anodyne is a wonderful thing to behold. It borrows so much from established games, but does so much new that it becomes its own beast entirely. Anyone looking for an evolution of old Zelda, Link’s Awakening in particular, should look no farther than Anodyne.

Honorable Mentions:

Destroy the Porn: A short but sweet game about escaping hell to put an end to your earthly deeds.

The King of the Wood: Strongly reminiscent of Gravity Bone and Thirty Flights of loving, you participate in a short story about ending a life.

Year Walk: A terrifying journey into the woods to discover your fate.

Aliens: Coloni-HAHAHAHAHAHA

– Zach

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