The Best of the Most Recent Steam Greenlight Games

Zombies

Though featuring the word zombies in the title, the developers of this indie project are very insistent on letting everyone know, that this game has nothing to do with the “played out” undead.

Instead this is the isometric adventure of an office drone whose had enough and decides to rescue the innocent people trapped by the zombies of the bureaucratic and corporate worlds, and escape their clutches through extreme violence. Featuring a fun pixelated style and some catchy/trippy music, this could just be the spiritual video game adaptation of the 1993 classic film “Falling Down” that we never got.

Pulsar: Lost Colony

For years gamers have dreamed of the ultimate “Star Trek” game that would allow you and your friends to man a space ship and explore the galaxy. Some games have come close, but nothing so far has truly re-created the experience conceptualized by so many childhood imaginations.

“Pulsar” aims to accomplish just that, and might just have found the formula. Featuring randomized galaxies, you and four friends each take a role with unique responsibilities required to keep your ship afloat. Explore and form away teams as you engage on a variety of assignment, but be careful as the game does feature permanganate death should something go awry. Unfortunately “Wrath of Khan” style space funerals are unconfirmed.

The best part? “Pulsar” supports Occulus Rift

Nihilumbra

Born in a dark void, the protagonist of Nihilumbra finds himself in a world not different from our own and discovers that he can use these newfound colors to access different powers, and manipulate his environments. You’ll need to master these new found powers quickly too, as it turns out the void doesn’t like to have a part of itself separated and is trying to overtake this new world to get you back.

Incredibly dark and amazingly stylish, conceptually this game reminds me of a twisted version of “Kirby.” Innovative 2D games never really go out of style, and from everything that’s been shown so far, this looks destined to be an indie cult hit on the PC, just as it has been for the mobile scene.

MouseCraft

Dubious name aside (it has nothing to do with “Minecraft”) “MouseCraft” may just be the biggest sure thing of the newest Greenlit titles.

In it you are asked to use a series of Tetris like puzzle pieces to complete a path for some rats so they may reach the cheese on the other side. Naturally, the difficulty increases as you go along and new pieces become available to throw a wrench in the works, but even in the early levels demoed show an original puzzle experience that screams addiction. So far this is only set for PC, Mac, and Linux, but don’t be surprised to see this come to mobile very soon.

Hyper Light Drifter

A game that wears its old school action/adventure game love on its sleeve, “Hyper Light Drifter” graphically looks like an extremely well designed Sega Genesis game, and it’s colorful cyber-ish world design immediately makes this game noteworthy.

While it’s gameplay is slightly more mysterious, the developer’s description of it as a cross between “Diablo” and a “Link to the Past” is an encouraging sign it will follow suit and provide an advenure/RPG hybrid in line with so many classic games of past. Simple and addictive old-shcool games of this style are not easy to come by, so if you’re a fan of the genre, this is the one to watch.

A Game About Being a Janitor…In Space

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So let me paint a picture for you.

You’ve just saved the galaxy from a race of the most despicable, vile alien beings ever to cross the threshold to existence. After a long and brutal fight, you’ve finally achieved victory, and can now find a measure of peace while the people of several worlds build statues of you and plan holidays in your name.

However, the job isn’t done yet. See, while you were busy removing the universe of its greatest threat, you were neglecting the removal of the gunk and gore you left behind. Your likeness may be rendered in permanent remembrance, but that mess will not. Someone then will have to clean it up.

This is the rough intro to “Viscera Cleanup Detail,” a game which was recently greenlit by the Steam community for release.

It sees you fill the role of that video game character you may have once considered and pitied, but never really put much more thought into, the janitor. Specifically, you take the role of a space janitor who must deal with the cleanup of a space station that was a part of a scenario similar to the one described. Armed with your trusty mop, your job is to clean up the mess left behind, and get the station looking closer to normal.

A janitor simulator in space, this has to be one of the oddest games ever approved for mass release. Looking at video of the game, it’s difficult to see just where the appeal lies, as most of your activities appear to be just clicking on blood stains to remove them, clicking on clean water to clean your mop, and picking up chunks of alien to be incinerated. Even though it’s only currently in an alpha stage, the game has a lot of issues without clear resolutions in sight.

On the other hand, as titles like “Surgeon Simulator 2013,” “Eurotruck Simulator 2” and the very recent “Papers Please” have proven, taking an unusual or even dull concept and turning it into a video game is not necessarily a recipe for disaster, and can in fact lead to an entertaining experience.

Whether or not “Viscera Cleanup Detail,” is destined for that path is difficult to say. However, if the developers approach this with the right level of humor, and some clever wrench in the cog scenarios, this could become not a case of a game being approved wrongfully as a curiosity, but rather an intriguing prospect on the horizon.

Five Reasons 2013 Will Be One of Gaming’s Greatest Years

While individual  game releases will always (deservedly) get most of the love, there is nothing like a truly great overall year of gaming. Even though it’s never an intended effect, it’s amazing when a group of independent properties come together to create an incredible 365, or 366 if we’re talking leap years, days of gaming. Years like 2001 (“Halo: CE,” “Grand Theft Auto III,” “Final Fantasy X”), 2007 (“Bioshock,” “Portal,” “Mass Effect”), and, of course, the greatest of them all, 1998 (featuring the holy trinity of “Metal Gear Solid,” “Half-Life,” and “Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time”) represent some of the best times ever to be a gamer.

And 2013 has the potential to join, or even exceed, all of them. Thanks to some fortunate timing, and a few delays, it’s looking to be a landmark year of video gaming that will be remembered for many, surely lesser, years to come. While there are many, many reasons for this, here are five that lead me to believe that 2013 in gaming will be one for the ages.

Mobile Gaming is Coming Into Its Own

“Serious” gamers may look down on the mobile gaming market, but it’s time that all gamers realize that we’ve come a long, long way from “Doodle Jump”. Now, instead of being an outlet for puzzlers, tower defense titles, and slightly lesser console ports, mobile gaming is producing intriguing and inventive titles at a rapid pace, due in large part to a sea of developers making use of the simpler programming on mobile devices, and the still interesting touch controls, to provide a constant, and often cheap, flow of amazing games on the go. Since the explosion in tablet sales over the last couple of years, we’re even starting to see more titles developed specifically with their larger sized screens and more powerful abilities in mind.

There hasn’t really been a truly noteworthy traditional handheld gaming system since the Nintendo DS, but thankfully an ever growing community has slowly turned a platform that was only used for brief sessions of “Snake” in your downtime, to one of the most exciting fields for surprising high quality video game releases. Expect this to continue in 2013.

The Next Generation Begins

As the Wii U is proving, a new console doesn’t have to blow minds to still produce some genuine excitement and huge sales numbers. While nothing from the other major gaming companies is official, it’s looking more and more likely that 2013 will bring gamers the next generation of Xbox and Playstation consoles (even if it is only a preview at the least). While that means that gamers will have to soon be plucking down some serious cash on new consoles, accessories and games (not to mention still trying to keep up with the releases still to come for the previous consoles), there is nothing more exciting than the promise of a new gaming generation.

Soon battle lines will be drawn once again as gamers choose their alliances, and new specs and features will again re-shape what we thought was possible in the medium. This has been a great console lifecycle, but it’s gone on for longer than usual, and it’s time for a new day to begin.

People Are Choosing the Games They Want, and What They Want in Games

One of the biggest changes to gaming over the last year or two has been the influence of sites like Kickstarter (or more recently Steam’s “Greenlight” program). Now, developers have open forums where they can present their ideas and let the community decide their interest in them, and even help by directly funding the titles. Even though the road to success is not guaranteed, it’s now easier than ever for a good idea to see life, and for gamers to help make sure the games they want get a chance.

But this isn’t just about sites like those. It’s also about events like “Mass Effect 3′s” optional new endings, or “Bioshock: Infinite’s” alternate cover. Now, more than ever, gamers have the ability to directly influence the decisions of major developers, and have a word about the final product. While this is a controversial move, the fact that the average gamer now has so much power to directly influence the titles available to them will have some major, and intriguing, implications in the coming year.

Influence of 2012’s Biggest Games

2012 was not one of those all-time great years of gaming I mentioned, but it did have some all-time great games. It’s natural to build off of what came before, and in the case of 2013, that could mean some exciting and sweeping changes across several genres.

Particularly, look for the success of “The Walking Dead” to lead to a revival of the traditional point and click genre, as well as a greater focus on the effect of storytelling in games. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the indie hit “Slender” put horror game developers back to the drawing board to come up with some fresh ideas for the genre (and veer it away slightly from the growing action elements), and if the praise that “Far Cry 3” is garnering expands the aging FPS market into more of the sandbox gaming territory.  Other less likely, but equally welcome innovations would be if more all-star developers got together on independent properties like in “Dishonored,” or if other long dead franchises get exciting resurrections like “XCOM,” or even if “Journey” inspires people to look towards developing with art, and not violence, more in mind.

Whatever the final influences may be, 2012 showed there are still some exciting places for gaming to go. 2013 might just take us to all of them.

That Lineup…

Oh sweet heaven, the amazing lineup of 2013. While you can never guarantee that any game will be great no matter how it may look, with 2013 set to deliver no less than “Grand Theft Auto V,” “Bioshock: Infinite,” “Last of Us,”  “Watch Dogs,” “Crysis 3,” “Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time,” “Simcity,” “Command and Conquer Generals 2” and the new “Tomb Raider,” it’s very likely that we are going to get a host of instant classics.

Of course, that’s just some of the games that we actually know about. Many of the best games of this year came out of nowhere, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the best game of 2013 is one that no one is talking about yet. Even in an ever expanding industry, at the end of the day games are still king, and the games set for 2013 are some of the most exciting that I’ve seen in a long time.

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