Games can be art, but they don’t have to be. Sometimes a game is just a game, and that’s good, but sometimes the ideas of a game can strangely assert or change life. Often times, these titles get overlooked because they may not sound like what most people would consider “games” – but their uniqueness doesn’t make them any less valuable.
We’ve put together a list of five exceptionally moving or challenging games of the year that will make your head spin (or stream tears in your face). Whether you’re looking for a test of your mental prowess or emotional stamina, we’re sure you’ll find something here.
Under your eyes
Unique, Under your eyes is a game played through your PC or laptop’s webcam with blinking eyes (although you can choose to click instead if you have to). For starters, you watch scene after scene of a person telling their life story to a smuggler who takes them to the afterlife.
There is no shortage of spoilers for this game, so we won’t spoil anything, but Under your eyes is as heartwarming as it always is emotionally devastating. This is a great example of how to tell a story, and the basic mechanic works flawlessly because you will have to force yourself through the teary eyes in several places, because if you blink you will miss it. literally.
It’s odd to happily recommend a game that’s almost certain to get the player in an emotional mess, but Under your eyes is a truly unique experience. It’s an amazing title that deserves to be played by anyone who believes in gaming as an artistic medium. Don’t broadcast it unless you want to cry in front of people.
Chicory: a colorful tale
Aspiring to be bigger than we are is a big part of what makes us human. It is also the determining factor of your character in Chicory: a colorful tale. Chicory starts off like a surprising number of titles before it: asking yourself what your favorite food is. You will then be responsible for cleaning up the place where ChicorÃ©e, the colorful artist of the world, lives.
Unfortunately, chicory isn’t placed in the right place, and you end up accidentally inheriting the magic brush used to define the colors of everything around you. With this power by your side, your goal is to keep the world from being consumed by an ancient evil, and you can do that by coloring everything. The world is literally your canvas, and you will unlock new colors and abilities as you go.
Everything is so absurdly healthy, and the tone of the game is so caring and empathetic that it’s hard not to feel good just playing it. It helps that painting a plant before watching it splash that paint on the map never gets old either. Chicory: a colorful tale just makes his player feel wonderful.
There is something special about mastering this feeling of being disabled. Not overtly, but more subtly, and in a much more insidious way. This is what makes social deduction games so enjoyable – because you know there just isn’t something right about a member of your group, but figuring out that can be extremely difficult. Gnosia takes those feelings and puts them into an RPG.
Gnosia is titled for the beings known as Gnosia, who infiltrate groups of humans and slowly eliminate them, one by one. Your goal is to gather as much information as possible, determine who among you is not actually human, and put them to cryogenic sleep. The problem is, nothing is static. Of course, you will come to understand better what is wrong, but the complexity of the people and non-people you will be dealing with will also increase.
Which makes Gnosia really special though, is that you will have to play through loops to figure it all out – but you will also have to work on some stats that will allow you to get other characters on your side. After all, even if you’re right, there’s no point if no one believes you. Gnosia excels at its character design, writing, and that constant underlying mistrust that you will develop both in yourself and in everyone around you.
Art is hard. This is something that anyone who even ventures into the creative space knows. Whether you are just discovering a new talent, trying to rekindle an old passion, or just trying to make a living, creating art is always a challenge. It is this idea that is at the heart of Artistic escape, a game in which a musician tries to find himself and live his life on his own terms.
Francis Vendetti is the classic interpretation of a young musician, with a style that just doesn’t make sense elsewhere, and they spend a lot of time thinking about how to exist. They are the nephew of a legendary musician trying to escape this legacy and do their own thing despite the weight their name carries.
The Artful Escape is a mix of different genres that draws on a heartfelt story and gorgeous visuals to entice the player, and does so with an immense amount of style. It’s less about the gameplay here and more about the vibes, so it’s a great choice for players looking to relax and enjoy a good story, although the writing can regularly be overkill.
The forgotten city
Although it is originally a mod for Skyrim, which is about as far away from being independent as you can imagine, The forgotten city comes from a small team and is now his own game. The forgotten city presents you as a sort of adventurer who must try to prevent a small community from destroying itself. You see, if even one sin is committed among those who live there, everyone will be turned to gold.
Your objective is to get to the bottom of these strange events and try to stop everyone around you from going heavy metal, by investigating this strange place and taking advantage of an unusual time loop to do so. You will have to use all the tools at your disposal to try to solve this mystery and end this strange curse, but you will also have to obey the laws of the land.
It’s a truly fascinating story and an intriguing puzzle game. The slow process of figuring out what you can and can’t do, and what rules can be broken, is what makes much of this game so thrilling – but the writing is also strong enough to carry that odd premise of the game. start to finish. If you are looking for a mystery that relies heavily on your problem solving ability then this game is for you.