Knowing that the most of the video variant of gaming is mostly brainless (gearing only to the reflex oriented) – it has come to my attention that there is another genera or more than just the normal brainless shoot fest. There are more choices to make, more dilemmas to think about in most games… not just the popular ones.
In no certain order, these are my list of the best thinking persons video games:
1. The Myst series (Myst, Riven, Exile, Revelation, End of Ages)
The adventure games that started the helped bring about the CD-Rom drive into the popular eye. In fact the original myst was the number one selling game until the Sims. In these games the player (as an unnamed silent protagonist) travels to different world through ‘linking books’, solving puzzles and at the end of every game facing a tough decisions that could end the game in 3 different ways.
What makes the Myst series so interesting is that even if we ignore the mind bending puzzles, the choice at the end of every game (not sure about Uru though) is a tough one. The strongest game, in my opinion, is the fourth – Revelation – as it concludes the main plot-line in the three previous games.
A story of betrayal, discovery, and salvation with intricate puzzles and hard choices.
2. Civilization (all of them, but the 4th is my personal favorite)
The definitive 4x game. Taking control of the culture and guiding them through the ages while collecting food, technology, population sounds like a hearty task. While this sounds overwhelming, there is little analysis paralysis mostly there is the one-more-turn issue (that was parodied by 2K games – the publisher). Like most turn-based games this one can last late into the night.
Every turn the player is faced with the choices that can and most often will have repercussions to the end. Choices like should I increase my army to defend my land, or should I research food technology now. Another game like this is Galactic Civilizations 2 and it has the same praise.
System shock 2 is the most scary game I have played. Not because of the jump scares – which it really has none, nor the monsters – not really, it is scary due to the weakness of the player and the omniscience of the true villain.
Dues Ex is another game by the same developers that is actually a story driven shooter that tells a technological story dealing with the end of the world. With so many twists and consequences that carry over throughout the whole game.
Bioshock although also being a shooter is a rare breed – being a philosophical shooter. Challenging the player with a Ayn Rand world and objectivism shaped villain/victim while the player’s character is trapped in his path makes the helplessness of this dystopia seem real.
A platformer puzzle with a time element. Every ‘world’ has a different concept to overcome, but once a player does he feels like he is the king of the world … until the next one. A bit pretentious but the mechanic is amazing. Hard to explain so here is a video review of it.
An opus that combines dark humor, physics, and a unique discovery into a tight package. The main mechanic is the bridging of two points on the level through placing portals (by a portal gun). Of course the momentum the player has carries through the portal so when the player falls into a portal on the ground, he will shoot out of the exit portal at the same velocity. Look before you leap…