9 | Costume Quest
A Halloween-themed adventure game seems like it'd be a flash-in-the pan idea, but Costume Quest manages create an experience that works no matter what the season. This mini-RPG is simple and short, but the hilarious dialogue from the studio run by veteran funny man Tim Schafer (famous for his work on Monkey Island and Psychonauts), makes it more than worth the price of admission.
You play the game as a child in search of his kidnapped sister, but unlike typical RPGs, costumes take the place of your standard weapons and armor. Each unique outfit you find bestows both different battle powers and opens up new avenues in the world to explore. And when you go into battle, the power of your characters' imagination changes them from tiny tots decked out in cardboard boxes and bits of string into 50-foot-tall, comically detailed versions of their costumes.
Charming artwork, easy-to-learn gameplay, and a delightful story make Costume Quest a terrific title, whether or not you'd normally call yourself an RPG fan. And if you couldn't get enough trick-or-treating, the game continues in the Grubbins on Ice expansion, which takes the same themes and RPG elements, but sets everything in the North Pole.
8 | Super Meat Boy
Team Meat’s sweet meat-themed indie platformer, Super Meat Boy, is as simple as video games get. As the titular Meat Boy, players navigate their way through over 300 short levels that are riddled with buzz saws and other obstacles hazardous to meat men. Super Meat Boy’s straightforward level design, charming music, and 8-bit inspired visuals all make for one of the best games you can get for $10.
7 | LIMBO
There are a lot of words I can use to describe PlayDead Studios’ LIMBO– genius, eerie, and haunting, for instance—but the more I think about this incredibly crafted game, the more I realize that all those words simply don’t do enough to describe the essence and feel of this Independent Games Festival standout. More than anything else, LIMBO struck me as being wonderfully macabre. It seems almost obsessed with the idea of death, not as a punishment for failure, but as a necessary and inevitable tool I needed to inch forward through each difficult task. In one weekend, I’ve seen the nameless child hero of the game electrocuted, dismembered, ripped to shreds, drowned, and beaten to death, which would almost be funny if it weren’t so unsettling.
It takes a powerful game to cling to your emotions long after you’ve turned the console off and gone about your day-to-day life, and in that respect, LIMBO is indeed mighty. As I played through the game this weekend, I eventually realized that the dark, dreary monochrome world in which LIMBO takes place was actually depressing me. The entire world of LIMBO, and the darkness, violence, and silence it contains, helped make LIMBO a downright chilling experience.