Haven’t got time to preamble. Too many games to cover.
It’s that time of year again. A time for quiet reflection. A time for looking ahead. A time for staying up super late and celebrating solar mechanics. Most importantly, though, it’s a time for reminding ourselves of some awesome games we played in the last 365 days – measured in the gaming world as “the time between the releases of Retro City Rampage and Dr. Luigi.”
Some years there are games that characterize my gaming experience. That sum up everything that was most memorable about that year in gaming. Other years, like this one, it’s hard to point at any one title or experience. This last year was, for me, more of a tidal shift. I’m a lot more of an indie player than I was twelve months ago (though that’s a highly relative thing). For probably the first year ever, the pinnacle of my gaming experience didn’t come (at least not definitely so) from a console release from a major publisher. That’s not to say I’m shelving my PS3 and swearing off the AAAs, but the reality of how much they’re losing their power really struck home for me personally, rather than just academically, in 2013.
FORCED, as it’s listed in block caps in my Steam library, isn’t just another ARPG or dungeon crawling hacking and slashing click-fest as you might first assume. In a nutshell FORCED cleverly combines the puzzle-y goodness and seductive challenges of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, the less-is-more customisation and twitchier targeting-based combat of Bastion, and the kind of frantic survival co-op madness reminiscent of Magicka and Alien Swarm. I love that it has no loot to tediously sift through and sell, no inventory Tetris — hell, no inventory — no experience points, no leveling, no grinding, no unwieldy hotbars chock-full of timers and symbols, no woefully unsatisfying stat increases like +1% chance to critical or +5% resistance to fire damage, no specialisation that irritatingly locks you in for the rest of the game, no convoluted skill trees, no mind numbingly inevitable dungeons, no quest drudgery and the typically awful (and pointless) dialogue accompanying them, no long-winded time wasting story that takes itself too seriously — FORCED just lets you get straight down to what matters: the trials and working out how best to conquer them.