Best of 2010 (Top 5):
Oh, brains. You are as delicious (to zombies) as you are useful (to anyone running from zombies). You're also apparently quite explodable, as evidenced in this colorful cartoon-like physics game BrainSplode!. Created by Rust Red Games, all you've got is a cannon, some highly-useful missiles, and a few mid-air power-ups that help you control things. Oh, and an inexplicable hatred of squishy pink brains.
Fitting in is never easy. Especially when you're an octopus masquerading as a human dad! Created by students at DePaul University, the same university that housed the creators of Devil's Tuning Fork, Octodad is one of those games that mirrors itself in the control scheme. Moving Octodad in 3D is an exercise in imprecision and hilarity, as you must pick up and swing each leg individually, sliding the mouse around to gain ground. More often than not, you'll end up in a funky position. Gripping objects is handled in the same manner, and you'll probably knock over more things than you'd care to admit. But it's awesome to play around with, and the story keeps you driven to move forward and explore new rooms. Don't raise suspicion, try to blend in, and you, too, can be a successful Octodad!
Have you ever wanted to tell a story about a kitten? Or an alien? Or a mummy, or a genius, or a demon, or a block of cheese, or a little girl with the magical ability to talk to soap? Well, a little bit of time and effort with Sleep is Death will let you do just that, all in the form of a playable experience for you and a friend.
This is the kind of puzzle game you need to play rather than read about. Figuring out what's going on is 90% of the experience. Figuring out how to do it is the other 10%. And then there's a bonus 10% you're rewarded for actually pulling it off. Do yourself a favor and grab this game if you're even remotely interested. Then, you can peek back here to read about it if you're still stuck. So now: SPOILER ALERT!! You start at the center of the brain as a little spark by the ego. As you move about, you'll uncover new parts of the brain. Stray too far and you'll vanish and respawn. To explore the entire brain, you'll need to use the [z] key to flip neurons to direct the energy sparks around to different areas. It takes some time, but soon you'll dig out even the most remote areas of the brain. And that, dear friends, is where I stop talking about the game for fear of a real spoiler!
In Fractal, a puzzle game by the authors of Auditorium, your goal is to create "blooms" which are composed of six hexagons of the same color. On the surface it sounds like a simple matching puzzle, but the web-like nature of the gameplay and the gorgeous presentation makes it so very much more.