One game has dominated this month for me. It took most of my time, and permeated my conversations with friends. It’s a game that was my biggest time sink since Animal Crossing, and is one of the most rewarding gaming experiences I’ve had all year. But we’ll get to that later. This October was excellent at providing a variety of games for almost every kind of player. We had puzzle platformers, robust online worlds to race through, experimental narratives, updates to modern classics, portable masterpieces, the return of a couple of the best developers in the business, and the invention of what I hope becomes a brand new genre. Sometimes with dozens of rehashes around us games can feel a bit stale, but after a month like this it’s hard to ignore how many fresh and exciting ideas are still being brought to us all year long.
If I haven’t already said enough about them, Pokemon X and Y are fantastic. I’ve enjoyed just about every Pokemon game so far, and these are improvements in almost every respect. X and Y have more Pokemon than ever and make it extremely easy to have a communal experience. Friends and strangers are always waiting on the bottom screen to battle and trade. It’s tough to run out of things to do with the massive number of combinations of teams, moves, and items at your disposal. I’m only now nearing the end of the game, 60 hours in, and I plan on playing well into the endgame. Despite a few technical issues, I’ve had more fun spending hour after hour in Pokemon Y than I have with anything else in months.
Stanley stared at the screen in front of him. He had just read a wonderful paragraph about a game in which the protagonist enslaves wild beings into spherical containment cells. “That sounds fun!” Stanley thought, as he headed on to read about the second best game from October. “Wait a second,” Stanley pondered. “This seems a bit out of the traditional format for this site’s structure, doesn’t it?” Stanley’s rhetorical question went unanswered, and he glanced at the title next to the line that delineates the second best title of the month. “The Stanley Parable? Why, I’ve never heard of that.” Stanley then noticed a piece of colored text, hovered his mouse over it, and pressed the left button on his mouse. “Why is there a voice in my head narrating everything that I’m doing, and sometimes suggesting things that I could do, but don’t plan on doing?” Stanley pondered the silly question for a moment, and then let it go. Stanley did as he knew he should, followed the hyperlink into the unknown, played the demo, and then made a wise purchasing decision that lead him to having one of the most subversive gaming experiences in years. Stanley did exactly as he was told, and Stanley was happy.
The good parts make up for the bad. Now, hold on. I realize that’s not the best way to start, but trust me. Don’t go into Beyond expecting a narrative masterpiece. Go in expecting a handful of really great scenes glued together with awful dialogue and some unbelievable characters. Beyond isn’t a perfect game by any stretch, but it’s one that merits a playthrough just because of how ambitious it is. It tries a lot of things, and gets some of them right. Its spiritual predecessor, Heavy Rain, was a great game with some faults. Beyond is a good game with a lot of faults. If you’re looking for something that’s sometimes beautiful, sometimes awful, but completely different from anything you’ve played, give it a shot. If nothing else, you’ll get to see some amazing scenes with Willem Dafoe, and that’s all that really matters.
Device 6: An amazing new way to tell a story. It’s a book, a game, a House of Leaves style piece of art. If I don’t see a dozen things like this in the next year, everyone is missing out on my dollars. Simogo is made of geniuses.