The following is a selection of favorite games compiled and reviewed by JIG community member, Wally. It is also one of the winning entries from our previous call for submissions for community favorites, for which Wally will receive some gifts from us of his choosing. Thanks to everyone who shared their favorites with us! Look for more community favorites in the coming weeks.
- Ib - With shades of Yume Nikki, this creepy RPG Maker adventure shows just how effective minimalist gameplay can be. You play as a 9-year-old girl visiting a museum with her parents, when suddenly you find yourself alone in a strange alternate environment. The museum's art is a central part of the journey, which works perfectly given the game's experiential nature. The cold, retro visuals along with the eerie music combine for a more compelling experience than most mainstream horror titles. Ib taps into the nightmarish undercurrents of youth in such a way that it feels familiar, or at least it did for me. The lack of challenge doesn't really detract from the game, instead helping to sustain the atmosphere. With well-written characters and an unsettling tone that knows how to pace itself, Ib is a surreal adventure that places high on my list of odd.
- Hydorah - Ever felt like punching the screen after losing for the 40th time? I have, but in the case of Hydorah, the frustration was worth it. Made by retro-gaming specialist Locomalito after 3+ years in development, this ambitious horizontal shooter hearkens back to the days of arcade quarter-munchers (Gradius, in particular.) Just like in the arcade, there is only one difficulty setting. I thought the first level was challenging enough--but then the second level came around, and I had to forget any notion of a gradual difficulty curve. The game plays smoothly, however, and there are a few save points scattered about which evens out the madness somewhat. The startling amount of polish kept me coming back for more--few, if any, indie shooters reach the standards set by Hydorah. The graphics are a brilliant homage to the late 80's/early 90's arcade, and the soundtrack is easily one of the best ever found in an indie game. Why this is freeware in the first place, I'll never know.
- Botanicula - Not many games can get by with sparse gameplay and practically no written words, but Amanita Design has somehow accomplished that very feat with Botanicula. Charming, beautiful, fantastic are just a few of the words one might use to describe it. Playing as five minuscule forest creatures, you're tasked with finding a way to save your tree from a group of dark, spider-like invaders. As a point-and-click adventure, the mechanics are not very deep, but that's hardly a problem when you're immersed in the incredible ambience of the game world. In virtually every screen, there's something to look at or fiddle with or listen to. The later stages are darker, but nonetheless very intriguing. There's a lot of quirky ideas scattered about in Botanicula, and while most events don't follow logic, it still makes sense in a dreamlike kind of way. I think I'll go back and get lost in it a second time.
If you would like to share your own favorites with us and the JIG community, choose 3 or 4 of your favorite games that have been previously reviewed here and write a short paragraph for each describing why each is on your all-time favorites list. When you're done, send it to our You Are Games mailbox, the address for which can be found on our Contact page. If chosen, we'll contact you and reward you with some nice gifts of your choosing.
While we welcome any comments about this particular selection of games, we do ask that if you need any help with individual games, or wish to comment on the games featured here, please post your questions and comments on the respective game's review page.