- Portal 2
- Super Mario Bros. 3
- The Stanley Parable
All of the underlying wrongness of Infinity Runner can probably be traced back to Wales Interactive overstretching itself. The game was almost definitely envisioned as something more open and complete, until a lack of money or time forced the developer to squeeze its ideas into the shell of an endless runner. The rigidity of the genre ruins almost every promising aspect of the game - it defangs the antagonist, dilutes the plot to the point of irrelevance, and - most damning of all - makes the fact that the protagonist is a werewolf almost inconsequential.
The developers at Haemimont Games have taken their series apart and reassembled it in a whole new way, and while the result is riddled with flaws, it's also charming, funny, and welcoming to newcomers and veterans alike. As aimless steps away from stagnation go, that's a pretty solid one.
Gods Will Be Watching is one of those rare games that deserves a wholehearted recommendation even though it is definitely not for everyone. It's punishing, occasionally unfair, and relentlessly philosophical, but it's also supremely rewarding and absolutely gripping from start to finish, all for the same reasons. If nothing else, it's a fantastic exercise in how to translate traditionally unplayable scenes into systems of gameplay - and not just token button prompts, but complex, engaging gameplay.
Intentionally uncooperative controls are one of the most difficult ways to engage a player, but Young Horses has pulled it off twice in a row as of Octodad: Dadliest Catch. Aside from a handful of gameplay missteps (heh), the game is sublime slapstick that never stops being funny.
Pillars of Eternity is a rare game that delivers exactly what it promises, all of which are things that gamers frequently ask for: legitimately mature narrative, deep tactical combat, and a genuine challenge free of artificial difficulty. Obsidian claimed the game would relive a classic era, but it didn't stop there. By casting off the restrictions of its inspirations' Dungeons & Dragons-rooted mechanics (and a lot of standard role-playing tropes with them) and building such an intriguing world, Obsidian has made one of the most refined and original RPGs in years.
Luftrausers is a perfect case study for the benefits and limitations of a game concerned solely with fun. On the plus side, it takes all of four seconds to get into the game and start enjoying it. On the other hand, anything that detracts from the fun (in this case, balance issues) damages the overall experience more than it normally would. As a result, all but the most dedicated fans will give up on Luftrausers after a short time - not because the game itself is short, but because it's not fine-tuned enough to maintain interest. However, it must be stressed that before that drop-off point, the game's sharp controls, dynamic presentation, and unique combat options make it irresistibly addictive. Two days' worth of constant entertainment is time well spent, and if that doesn't deserve a recommendation, nothing does.