I don’t care much for hugs.
Well, I suppose some hugs aren’t so bad. I give my younger brother awkward sibling hugs all the time. For the most part, though, I’m about as easy to hug as a cactus. Hugs are a little too close and personal for me; I much prefer an affable fist bump.
However, I keep bumping into video games that are madly original and gloriously unique, and I want to hug them.
As much as I enjoy video games, I’m disappointed to see so many of them fall into the same clichéd categories. There are Games about Cars, Games with Guns, Games about Sports, Games with Swords and Magic, and games to fit nearly every other exhausted genre. The same problem is found in other media, from books to movies to music. New titles are hardly distinguishable from old ones; there is nothing new under the sun.
It’s important for me to make clear that genres aren’t necessarily bad. In fact, some of the best games I’ve ever played (including most of my favorites) fall into the broad categories mentioned above. All the same, I appreciate game developers who boldly go where no one has gone before, bringing color and creativity to a tired industry.
There are thousands of games about guns, zombies, cars, sports, or princesses in need of rescuing… and then there are a few odd, endearing games like Octodad.
I seldom borrow from other sources when writing for this blog, but nothing does Octodad justice like this understated description from its Wikipedia page: “The game consists of controlling the protagonist Octodad in completing chores typical of the mundane suburban father, but complicated by the fact that he is an octopus in disguise.”
Octodad, wryly subtitled Dadliest Catch, is the whimsical tale of a loving husband and father who happens to be an octopus pretending to be a human being. The fact that “nobody suspects a thing” when Octodad is clearly an octopus only makes the game that much funnier.
Shovel Knight is another title that caught my attention. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a game about a knight with a shovel.
Well, to be more precise, Shovel Knight is a retro-styled adventure game, in the tradition of Mega Man and Metroid, starring a warrior whose weapon of choice is a shovel. The knight valiantly swings, hacks, bounces, and yes, digs his way to victory. Swords? Bah! Who needs swords?
Then there’s Five Nights at Freddy’s and its sequel. These are horror titles, but they lack ghosts, zombies, demons, aliens, or any of the other monsters you’d expect from a scary game. No, these games have those animatronics from arcades and restaurants—you know, the ones designed to entertain defenseless little kids.
In these games, which I’m too nervous to play, the player assumes the role of a night watchman at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza: a restaurant for kids and obvious nod to Chuck E. Cheese’s. The hapless watchman remains in his office, checking security cameras and monitoring the restaurant’s malfunctioning robotic mascots in order to avoid being murdered by them. The game looks terrifying.
I haven’t actually played any of these titles. To tell the truth, I don’t seem to have much time anymore for games what with work, household chores, and sundry commitments. (This blog won’t write itself!) It still delights me to see creative people defying conventions and making awesome, offbeat video games.
In conclusion, the game industry needs fewer guys with cars or guns, and more guys who are secretly octopuses.
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