I claim this Vault in the name of King Jay and Queen Dora! You know, it's tough being a casual-gaming pathfinder, heading deep into the archives to bring back quality games of all genres from whatever godforsaken rock they're hiding beneath. Fortunately, there are quite a few that have taught me the ways and means of exploration, and they've served me well in my journey. Come now and check out a few wonderful works about charting exotic new places, meeting fascinating characters and then, most likely, shooting them with a laser gun.
- The Dreamerz - Even wonder what would happen if Eyezmaze and the Samorost guys teamed up to make a point-and-click adventure game? Well, 2010's The Dreamerz is probably the closest we'll ever get to that dream-team, and the fact that it's all the work of RobotJam is definitely deserving of the slow clap. There's so much to find and interact with in The Dreamerz's multiple tiny worlds, it really does give the sense that a dream has come to life on your monitor. However, as ethereal as the experience is, the surreality never gives way to nonsensical puzzles or unsatisfying interactions. The Dreamerz is a game as comfortable and refreshing as a perfect nap.
- K.O.L.M. - Exploration has a dark side. The different and uncharted is also the strange and unfamiliar, and there's only the finest of lines between trailblazing and becoming hopelessly lost. The robot protagonist of K.O.L.M., a 2010 metroidvania platformer by Anthony Lavelle, wakes in a world he can barely see and barely move in, with a voice overhead constantly reminding him of his incompleteness. At first, he moves, because that's all that he can do, while others watch and judge him. But his exploration gives him efficacy over his surroundings, and it's as empowering to the character as it is to the player. Discovery begins to stand for something more: escape. K.O.L.M. is a quiet masterpiece about the struggle to figure out where you belong and, not to mention, a killer action-adventure.
- William and Sly - Of course, exploring doesn't have to be about far off planets or technological dungeons. It can be as simple as your own backyard through another's perspective. Of course, the backyard in William and Sly, a 2009 puzzle platformer by Lucas Paakh, may have more gnomes and fairyflies lurking about it than most, but the atmosphere remains the same. It gives the feeling of finally exploring every nook and cranny of a clearing that you've walked through a million times on the way to something else, and uncovering something fantastic that you'd never expect. It is, in a word, magical.
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!