The surprisingly good game. It’s a rarity these days for a game to come from nowhere with little fanfare or hype yet still manage to make a splash. With the hype machine jammed to 11 several months before a games release we’re very used to being told “There is a game coming. You will like it.” So it’s always extra sweet when something we didn’t even know was on the menu ends up at our table tasting extra-delicious. The three games below are our favourite surprise gems from the year so far.
Surgeon Simulator 2013
Surgeon Simulator is possibly the funniest game in existence. Born as a 48-hour game jam in January, the game was developed further and fully released on Steam in April. The game takes QWOP-style muscle control to the next level by having you perform life-saving surgery on unsuspecting patients by controlling your arms, wrists, and every finger. It is impossible not to laugh as your patient’s inside becomes a cocktail of medical implements, guts, and a small radio.
To begin with every successful lift of the scalpel (or hammer…) feel like a victory. As you flail around, sending shards of glass directly into your patient, you slowly learn intricate mechanics until you manage to botch your way through your first heart surgery (A+!). Later levels even throw in the threat of a moving ambulance and zero-gravity to test your nerve. All-in-all, Surgeon Simulator was a grand surprise this year and the fun its creators had while making it really shines through.
State of Decay
Undead Labs’ XBLA entry may have been one of the finest games to appear on Xbox 360 this year. It would be something of an understatement to say that Zombies are overdone; While Resident Evil continues to take the “survival” and “horror” out of “survival horror”, State of Decay introduces a twist to both concepts.
State of Decay’s survival element comes from the fact that when you die, the character you’re using is perma-dead. Forever. Couple this with the fact that you will be earning skills and abilities for every character, losing one due to a poorly thought out food run is a real blow. The horror element comes with the overwhelming sense of dread that hits you as you realise a situation is not playing out as well as you hoped it would. Hundreds of thousands of players have been enjoying State of Decay’s terrifying sandbox world and if you haven’t yet, then you should too!
Our final pick is Klei Entertainment’s whimsically charming survival game, “Don’t Starve”. The game casts the player as Wilson, a scientist, exiled to the woods by a gentleman-demon. From here the player has one goal: Survive. The game blends survival, crafting, and exploration to form a brutally difficulty yet incredibly addictive concoction.
The forest contains many rewards for those brave enough to venture into its depths and face the strange creatures within. Expect to spend your time battling living trees, running from a giant Cyclops, and taking down ghosts all in the name of spending one more day in hell. Just as you begin to find your bearings the game introduces seasons into the mix to increase the difficulty even further. Klei Entertainment has been inspiringly dedicated to its creation delivering constant updates and new content since the game’s launch in April. Don’t Starve is not for the faint-hearted but if you can stick it out, expect a ton of fun.
The above three games are our surprise picks of 2013 so far but there are plenty of other contenders worth a mention. Follow us on Twitter and let us know what yours are!