Gather 'round, my little kiddly-winks, because it's story time! Except this is no Good Night Moon or Very Hungry Caterpillar, this is narration as handled by Flash games. If you ask someone to tell you their favourite game's story, chances are they wouldn't think to mention a browser game, which is a shame because some of them are telling tales every bit as unique and complex as your favourite PC or console titles, and sometimes in vastly more creative ways! So here are three of our favourite games that each take a very different approach to storytelling, from the subtle to the sublime.
- REDDER - Anna Anthropy's sci-fi platforming exploration adventure about a lone astronaut searching for mysterious gems on an unknown planet is a tricky little beast. It's distinctly retro style coupled with its lack of any real exposition and its simple gameplay means it's one of those games people tend to take at face value. And if you just want to enjoy it as an atmospheric gem hunt, you can absolutely do that... but if you pay attention to your surroundings and the way things begin to slowly change as you collect gems, you'll realise there's more going on than meets the eye. Part of what makes REDDER so successful, then, is because of the ambiguity that lets the player make up their own mind about what's happening and why, and as a result, this game's subtle mood and evocative design means it just may stay with you for a while.
- Viricide - Eli Piilonen's arcade shooter starts simply enough, but may end with you laying your head on the table and staring at the wall for a while. As a nameless user cleaning up EXADI, an advanced AI ravaged by a virus, you'll blast down the green anomalies that attack you and purchase upgrades to increase your ship's abilities. As levels go by, however, you soon discover there's much, more more going on (and at stake) than meets the eye, and the game delivers a serious punch of emotion and poignant introspection made all the more effective for its delivery. It isn't exactly cheerful, but it is smart, memorable, and exactly the sort of thing to show someone who thinks games with such simple gameplay aren't good for anything more than wasting time.
- The Trader of Stories: Bell's Heart - Pastel Games is no stranger to telling tales, and they came up with something really special when they joined forces with Marek Rudowski to make this point-and-click adventure series. Following Myosotis (no, not that one), a young woman who makes her living traveling and buying the stories from the people she meets, though few actually know anything personal about the woman herself. The gameplay is about what you'd expect, except as Myosotis explores, you literally gather bits and pieces of information from your environment that weave a slowly unfolding narrative. From its rich soundtrack to its gorgeous, evocative art, the series is top-notch at spinning a living, breathing world of a rich mythology all of its own, while still keeping an air of mystery around its heroine that ensures players will want to come back for more with each new installment.
While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!