10 Great Games You Probably Didn’t Play in 2011, But Should
8. Orcs Must Die
Part tower defense, part third-person shooter, Orcs Must Die has you defending a special magical … thing in each of its levels from hordes of angry orcs. Fortunately, you have a lot on your side to help in the defense of the magic thingy — namely, spike traps, explosives, booby trapped walls and the help of archers and knights. You also get a sword and crossbow of your own, as well as other handy implements that let you join the fighting on the ground.
Orcs Must Die has a bit of a wry sense of humor, an easygoing, great graphical look, and plenty of orcs that absolutely must die. It successfully mixes strategy with the kind of do-it-yourself third-person action that makes games like Gears of War so much fun, and it can get pretty intense when you realize you should have spent your tower money a little better and have to deal with 20 orcs on your own. Better still, it’s relatively cheap both on Steam and Xbox Live.
7. Hector: Badge of Carnage
Telltale Games is known for its quality point-and-click adventure titles, of which Hector: Badge of Carnage is one of the better. It’s extremely British, extremely raunchy and, at times, pretty hilarious. As Hector, the worst police inspector in the fictional, awful English town of Clappers Wreake, you’re tasked with stopping a hostage-taking terrorist through the solving of tons of puzzles. The game takes you through a church-turned-brothel, a crazy town fair, a boutique hair salon/gun store, a disgusting meat-only French restaurant and tons of other places that are gross, ridiculous, and funny.
Spread across three episodes, Hector: Badge of Carnage has challenging, sometimes highly intelligent puzzles, mixed with the kind of low-brow adult humor that we could stand to see more of in our everyday gaming lives, if you ask me. If point-and-clicks are your bag, this is a solid one.
6. To The Moon
To The Moon is more of a story told through video gaming than it is a video game. Much of the game itself is just walking around, interacting with people and watching the story unfold. That said, it’s still worth your attention because it’s likely the best-written game available in 2011, and it has a genuinely touching, funny and original story to tell. To The Moon is worth experiencing because it uses the language of video games to tell a story, and because of that telling, it really is a singular experience — even if it doesn’t require a ton of puzzle-solving, bad guy-shooting or door-unlocking on your part.
With a 16-bit, old-school RPG graphical style reminiscent of the best the Super Nintendo had to offer, plus a lot of great original music, To The Moon is the kind of game that makes a pretty solid argument for video games as art. It’s also an indie, extremely cheap and a quick, worthy play.
5. Cthulhu Saves the World
Speaking of old-school role-playing titles, there’s also Zeboyd Games’ Cthulhu Saves the World, which made the jump from Xbox Live to Steam this year. It’s a turn-based RPG with 8-bit graphics that’ll take you back to some of your earliest days of video gaming, but it brings a lot of modern sensibilities along with it — namely, a smart, funny writing style that pokes fun at RPG conventions even as it revels in them.
You play Cthulhu, the evil Lovecraftian monster, who is stuck saving the world before he can effectively destroy it. He starts to pick up a party of heroes (as RPG stars are wont to do) along the way, including one who’s basically a Cthulhu groupie, and you’ll find the kinds of things that all old-school RPG fans will remember, like random battles and heavy inventory management. But the best part of Cthulhu Saves the World is its writing, which is often hilarious, from the dialog to the enemy descriptions.