Now said to be quite a rare game, Vib Ribbon was an original PlayStation release that again, wasn’t afraid to be something a bit different. You play as Vibri, a rabbit-type, line-drawn character that simply has to navigate through, over, and under obstacles whilst being guided across the black and white stick path. What makes this so original is that the player would be able to play their own music CD into the game and the path would adjust its obstacles to match the beat and tempo of the songs.
The fact that this game would always give you a different experience with every track you played and that it essentially could never be completed meant it was a great go-to game that never really got boring. It was the perfect combination of listening to music and playing on the PlayStation.
Due to it being a PlayStation 3 Network release, a lot of gamers missed out on Rain, and it’s definitely worth the time to check it out. With hints of Ico throughout, the beautiful storyline between a young boy and a mysterious girl is matched with immaculate graphics and a melancholy yet uplifting atmosphere throughout.
The story is told silently with simple text paragraphs that float across the scenery as you play, and whilst it’s quite peaceful and relaxing for the most, when you are threatened with Unknown creatures, you have to use logic and skill to remain unseen. A true work of art, Rain is a game for any age and will make you feel things you haven’t felt before.
Myst is a first-person, 3D puzzle adventure that could put modern day gaming to shame. Released in 1993 and with breathtaking graphics and innovative gameplay, Cyan’s Myst was clearly way ahead of its time. Despite breaking into high sales numbers on release, it was overtaken by The Sims, and a lot of people that did own it didn’t see it through due to its unusual (for the time) gameplay.
With puzzles similar to those in ‘escape the room’ style games, Myst is a peaceful, yet challenging title that gives a different ending depending on the paths you choose – a concept rarely done in its day. Highly recommended if you want something that will test your logic without threats from enemies and health bars, where completion of the game makes you feel similar to finishing a really good book.
Back in the 70s, there came along something called an interactive fiction computer game, and one of the first of these was a little game called Zork: The Great Underground Empire: Part I.
The gameplay is quite simple: no videos or pictures. Just text. You play an unnamed explorer who is delving into a deep underground empire in search of treasure and adventure. Similar to a lot of today’s horror games, you are often faced with extremely dark surroundings with different light sources to help you along the way. However, if it is too dark, you often find yourself being killed, so there’s a constant element of fear.
The thing that makes the Zork series (and other interactive fiction for that matter) so fun is the fact that it is, quite literally, all text. It’s up to you to draw up a map or do whatever you need to remember where things are and, in the same way a good book keeps you engaged, your imagination will take the lead and give you a gaming experience like no other.
The Stanley Parable
Despite getting a large following on social media for breaking boundaries of gaming and creating its own rules, not many people have played The Stanley Parable. The abandoned office block that you find yourself in at the start gives you the same eerie sensations that you get when playing Half-Life 2 – probably because The Stanley Parable was built on its game engine.
The game is very unique with a simple structure, however its big, defining twist is that when the game tells you to do something, or expects you to take a certain path, you can in fact disobey it and do something completely different. This is all part of The Stanley Parable’s aim to removing strict rules from games and allow the player to have more control than they should probably have. Filled with dry British quips and confusing contradictions, it’s a gaming experience that’s not to be missed.
Back in the 90s, the PlayStation was crowded with third-person 3D adventure games, often family friendly and quite jolly – such as Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, and Croc. So when the creepy Sir Daniel Fortesque came along in the shape of MediEvil with its dark colors and many resemblances to The Nightmare Before Christmas, a lot of people left it on the shelves.
Sadly, these people were missing out on a highly entertaining game with a perfect balance of comedy and combat. MediEvil gave the players control, allowing them to use in-game treasure to upgrade or buy new weapons, and if that wasn’t enough, Dan could even remove his own arm and use that for combat. Although there are other games available today with similar humor and character design, MediEvil is a classic and definitely still deserves a play.
Another game with its fair share of British humor, Starship Titanic was a PC game by Douglas Adams that boldly took you where no gamer had gone before. You are asked to help fix the Starship Titanic, which crashed into your living room, as everyone aboard has apparently gone ‘doolally’. You are immediately greeted by the DoorBot, known as Fentible, who introduces you to the most unique feature of the game: the PET (Personal Electronic Thing).
Highly original for its time, you are able to talk to pretty much all of the Bots that you meet on the ship by simply typing into the text box for them to reply. AI was highly intelligent and able to understand a great deal of inputs, even when they weren’t related to the puzzles or storyline. The missions and challenges were very unorthodox and extremely difficult without walkthroughs or guides, yet the game was filled with a dark comedy that kept you going as well as a beautiful soundtrack and stunning visuals. If you’re a fan of PC adventures and enjoyed A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, this one is most definitely for you.
The Broken Sword series as a whole is actually very much a hidden gem that many gamers haven’t had the pleasure of playing. However, the third installation was very different and didn’t show its face in the gaming charts for long, meaning even fewer people experienced how fantastic it was.
The first two episodes were designed as 2D point-and-click games with a dash of Monkey Island and a sprinkle of Grim Fandango. But the third took a completely different approach and became a full third-person 3D adventure game. The story was actually extremely dark in places, with terrifying scenes such as hiding from deadly criminals in a dilapidated theatre whilst maniacal screams come from a locked door in the basement, to finding mutilated bodies on the floor with good enough graphics to find it disturbing. The combination of the creepy storyline and amusing comedy throughout creates the perfect juxtaposition and makes it game that very few others can be compared to.
Outcast was a PC game released in 1999, and was known for being one of the first games to allow the player to freely roam an open world map. It was set in the alien parallel world of Adelpha where you are pretty much able to do as you please.
The game’s intelligence was documented through the characters of the aliens – or Talan – that resided in Adelpha, and their ability to respond to your actions. Going out of your way to do favors for the Talan would have a large impact on the AI and ultimately the style of gameplay. While you could work your way making friends, almost anyone or anything could be an enemy in Outcast, so you would always have to have weapons prepared or crafted.
Sadly, very few copies of this game were sold and as a result, the developers, Appeal, went bankrupt and were forced to cancel the planned sequel.
Despite the psychologically unnerving concepts within the game, such as getting inside other characters’ heads and expanding on their deepest and darkest memories, Psychonauts has a young and ‘trendy’ vibe to it with edgy graphics, cartoon-like sprites, and bright colors.
Players have the unique ability to vastly expand protagonist Raz’s abilities – going from basic movements to being able to use invisibility and telekinesis, amongst others. These controls can be expanded through the successful completion of missions, or trading in arrowheads that the player can find in exchange for a new power.
Keeping to the psycho theme, there is also an alternate world that you can explore called the Dream World, where you become situated in the minds of the characters throughout the game. Confused yet? Psychonauts takes everything we love about puzzle adventures and adds its own unique, yet dark, spin and creating an experience like no other.
Do you love a game that no-one else seems to have heard of? Did we miss your favorite from the list? Let us know in the comments!
This post was originally written by Claire Pulpher.