In recent years, triple-A budget studios have been increasingly unwilling to experiment with new ideas, which lead to yearly releases of popular franchises like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed. Luckily, some individuals have taken an artistic approach to the genre by creating some of what are arguably the best games of the decade.
Released on PC and Mac in 2014, “Nidhogg” was commissioned for the annual multiplayer show at the New York University’s Game Center. The goal of this two-dimensional, competitive, swashbuckling arcade game is to be devoured by Nidhogg, the mythical Norse dragon. It’s a strange premise, but the game is fun. Each player is allocated a pixelated fencer with a variety of fencing, disarmament and acrobatic skills at their disposal — skills you use to push your opponent back. This is the type of game that’s perfect for a Saturday night with friends.
“Super Meat Boy,” Team Meat
Released a little over five years ago, “Super Meat Boy” is probably best described as “Super Mario Bros” on radioactive steroids. The game is weird, fast, hard and (for some reason) meat-based. The ultimate goal of the game is to rescue Meat Boy’s girlfriend, Bandage Girl. The game plays on several video game tropes — the damsel in distress, the intrepid hero and the evil scientist, but the game deviates from these tropes in strange ways, the most obvious being that the hero is a cube of meat. The game is fun and will challenge even the best gamers.
“Shovel Knight,” Yacht Club Games
“Shovel Knight” was one of those games that blew me away when I first played it. Never would I have imagined that a game about a shovel-wielding knight could work so well. The controls were tight, the premise was solid and Jake Kaufman’s music sets an appealing tone for the narrative. The game features the occasional difficulty spike, but with interesting character progression and a variety of unique mechanics, players are rewarded for any challenges they overcome. Yacht Club Games’ masterpiece has only gotten better with free DLC and new characters.
“Undertale,” Toby Fox
Holy cow. This game. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I first booted up this game. Toby Fox’s RPG about "LOVE," or "Level of ViolencE," resonates on several different levels. Fox’s inclusion of a manic shooter-like, arcade-styled defensive combat makes up for an unconventional character progression. The game really shines, however, in its character development. The game features three alternative, heart-wrenching endings that display the main character, supporting characters and the world in different lights. “Undertale” is not necessarily just a game — it’ll fill you with "determination."
Yes. You’re looking at that name correctly. Minecraft is probably the biggest indie game ever created. Originally developed by a single man, Markus “Notch” Persson, the game has sold over 22 million copies on PC and Mac and garnered a cult following. “Minecraft” is a simple isometric building game with RPG-lite elements, but the real draw lies in the freedom individual players have with the world around them. The game features several modes including survival, hardcore, creative, adventure and online multiplayer. And players have used this digital sandbox to show their creativity, their artistic ability and their technical know-how. The things people have created in “Minecraft” are astounding, and the list of amazing digital cityscapes, castles and functioning calculators will only grow.