After the explosion of triple A games late last year, I’ve finally cleaned through them and started playing a wider variety of games. A bunch of friends have recommended some awesome games, that I thought I might share with you.

  • Legend of Grimrock: Old-school dungeon crawler with some modern graphics. You run a band of 4 adventurers thrown into a dungeon carved into Mount Grimrock. You have to descend to try to get out and solve the mystery of the Legend of Grimrock. Some of the interface takes getting used to, but it’s a neat game with lots of fighting, puzzles and secrets.
  • Gemini Rue: An adventure game that is a gentle blend of sci-fi and classic noir. Kinda like a less fluorescent Blade Runner. Great atmospheric music and sound effects (the opening scene was pretty awesome). Voice acting is quite good and extensive for an indie game. The puzzles are fair, action actually quite gripping and the story not too bad.
  • Lone Survivor: A survival horror adventure game that messes with your head. While I wasn’t really happy with the visual style at first, it grows on you. The special spooky effects are quite awesome. I think I understand the game loop so far, but have little idea where I’m moving to -for good and bad. There’s certainly a lot of mystery and weirdness going on, but I’m finding the main day game loop is getting shorter and shorter. Definitely recommended though, especially while it’s only $7.99 on Steam.
  • Analogue: A Hate Story: Spartan but efficient anime visual novel game. You’re bouncing through log messages, trying to figure out what’s happened on this space ship, whilst interacting with an AI with a secret or two. The story is great, with expert drip-feeding of mystery and information. If you stand back, there’s not a lot to the game, but it really makes full use of its interface for gameplay and story. Recommended if you don’t mind a gentle pace and lots of reading.
  • Orcs Must Die!: Yet another tower defence game, but you are part of the real-time defence! There’s a lot of character in this game, and I liked all the different traps. As it goes on it becomes more of a puzzle game since you definitely don’t have enough resources to make the default setup trap-laden. In the end you have to guide the flow of orcs into your much cheaper (and hopefully more efficient) meat grinder.
  • Dear Esther: If you want to be gaming literate, you need to play Dear Esther. It’s far removed from being a traditional game but still excellent and definitely suited to its gameplay. You can’t run, jump or shoot. There’s no inventory. In a sense there isn’t even a straight story. But it’s excellent and some of the visuals are breathtaking.
All of the above are available on Steam for $15 each at most.

If you didn’t catch all the triple A games from before, I heartily recommend (in order of recommendation) Batman: Arkham City, Mass Effect 3, Saints Row 3 and Skyrim. Serious Sam: BFE is good if you’re nostalgic for that sort of thing, but after a while I found it an adrenaline-filled game that was somehow simultaneously boring.

Do you have any recommendations for lesser-known but still excellent games?