I don’t like lists of games that name “the best”, “the greatest” or “the most influential” games ever made. That approach has several inherent problems, the chiefest among them being the fact that no critic/youtuber/basket-case has played every single game ever made, or has even likely played all of or most games of note to be even close to thorough and respectable when they declare that “Goldeneye 64 is totez the best FPS of all time dude”. The opinion can’t help but be upstaged or declared flawed from the get-go by the mere existence of another title that the voter hasn’t played/heard of.
Therefore, when I make a list of great games, I try my level best to not declare any entrant superior to all of the others. I have my favourites, of course, but the job of a critic is not to play favourites, but to analyze to the best of their ability and lay out the results for scrutiny. So when I make a list of great games, I actually list great games instead of an ever descending scroll of arbitrarily worsening titles until a victor emerges.
With all of that in mind, here are ten games that I believe exemplified the weirdest and the most complete experiences available on the Xbox Live Indie Games Service. I do hope you enjoy!
10.The 4th Wall
An absolutely bizarre entry into the Emergent Exploration genre (topped in insanity levels only by LSD: Dream Emulator on the PSX), The 4th Wall is best described as a lucid nightmare. In its short playing time (about 20-30 minutes), you’ll experience anxiety, unwholesome sexual urges and an absolutely surreal sense of Deja’ Vu.
A welcome throwback to the years of the sega genesis, updated for the modern age mostly by adding kittens (our glorious overlords) and some of the smoothest controls you’ll experience in an arcade shooter. With a lovingly crafted soundtrack and a heavy dose of challenge, this is a great way to kill an afternoon, or perhaps bond with your irritable cat.
Imagine a puzzle game series where you play as the devious developers creating the puzzles? While the Quiet Series may not have you creating said puzzles, it is still a fascinating insight into the mind of the really cruel and possibly insane human beings who created the adventure games of our youth. With the 4 games in this series (Candy, Please, Quiet, Please, Quiet Christmas and Vacation Vexation), you may indulge in your inner jerk with glee.
The graphics are downgraded from the PC version, but the solid design of this puzzle game remains. With a set of wonderful mechanics to solve the nefarious puzzles, and an eye towards sadistic melancholy (?), this is a great way to fulfill your goat cosplay fantasies. Also, there’s an adorable mouse, just thought i’d mention that.
While this adventure-horror series may get bogged down ocassionaly with tonally dissonant arcade elements, it is still easily the most unnerving release on the XBLIG, a platform rife with Slender clones. Relying less on jump scares and more on establishing an unsettling atmosphere as you venture to stop a serial killer, this game practically oozes fear sweat.
5.Arkedo Series-01 JUMP!
Many people may have affection for the PIXEL entry in this series, but I was less than impressed by its sharp difficulty spikes that threatened to become a motive for property destruction. JUMP, with it’s gorgeous pixel art and incredible music, deserves the lion share of affection. That it pays tribute to old-school arcade shenanigans with a set pool of lives is somehow even more endearing. On that note…
4.Aban Hawkins & The 1000 Spikes
One temple, one dude who looks suspiciously like Indiana Jones after a drunken binge, 1000 lives. As you make your way through the deviously designed levels, you may find yourself questioning why anyone would subject themselves to the myriad insta-kill death labyrinths of this game. You will then look at the ever-dwindling pool of remaining lives, notice you are halfway to the end and wipe away your misgivings. A classic that will pull you in and never let you escape unscathed.
3.Cthulhu Saves The World
Some may prefer Breath Of Fire but Cthulhu Saves The World has the advantage of starring…well, Chtulhu. As he goes forth to recover his might, in an ingenious inversion of the standard hero tropes of most RPG’s, he will encounter danger and adventures unlike anything he has ever experienced, also he will be annoyed by his companions and the narrator. Don’t mind if I do.
2.Super Amazing Wagon Adventure
In the 8-minute demo I played to decide whether to purchase the game I encountered: A herd of Unicorns, a Dragon, giant crabs and got my wagoneers gored by atomic bison. Needless to say, I was hooked. While many rogue-likes embrace difficulty just for the sake of it, Super Amazing Wagon adventure never takes its tongue out of its cheek, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
1.One Finger Death Punch
If I were to tell you that one of the most exhilarating action games ever made uses only two buttons throughout its 8 hour+ length, would you believe me? One Finger Death Punch is a masterclass of pulse-pounding game design, a punch above other contenders for any list of great action games. A killer soundtrack, solid perk system and a seemingly endless stream of ways to knock your opponenets senseless made this is easily my favourite game on the XBLIG platform. Even without it being my favourite, I can easily sing its praises. This is a masterpiece.