In an age of games released for the Christmas sales, it is incredibly refreshing to stumble across something unique. It's not a regular occurrence, but there have been a few releases over the years that have turned the games industry on it's head, and made everyone else assess what they were doing. We've tried to get a good mix of AAA games and indie games, and tried to avoid going too obscure and niche, so here's our list of the most the innovative games to ever grace the market.
Whilst it may not have been the first globally, Fahrenheit was the first AAA game to focus primarily on the story rather than the gameplay. There was no action, very limited interaction, and a strong focus on dialogue, character and plot progression, and helped dawn the age of "interactive films" that the likes of LA Noire, Alan Wake, Heavy Rain and more have followed.
9. Shadow Of The Colossus
Potentially the only game of its kind, Shadow of the Colossus did away with the hoards of enemies that had become commonplace in other games and opted instead for just 16 killable critters. The twist? Well these ‘enemies’ ranged from the size of a large elephant to the towering height of a sky scraper. As the protagonist your job is to fell these beasts and resurrect your dead love. Interactions with the creatures is broken up by journeying to their locations but once you come across one the level and the enemy become one in the same as you cling on for dear life as these colossi attempt to shake you off.
Whilst Spore may have fallen to "the Molyneaux effect", suffering from incredibly high expectations that it could only ever fail to deliver, it's ambitions bought it a spot on this list. Spore covered a huge variety of genres, including action, RTS, RPG, and many more, and followed the full train of evolution from micro-organisms through to intergalactic species. It was incredibly open ended, and let the player define their full evolutionary path from start to finish. Of course, these open ended games are never as good as they sound in concept, but Spore was a trail blazer which helped expand the ambitions for AAA games.
Created by That Games Company, Journey is intended to be just that, a journey. From the incredibly beautiful graphics to the simplistic gameplay everything is designed to be admired like a visual masterpiece as you travel along. Uncongenially this game is not populated with enemies for you to destroy but companions for you to interact with, learning more about your world with their help and then parting ways to continue on. That Games Company sought to create a game that would touch people emotionally and they certainly succeeded.
The beauty of Minecraft is its simplicity. You are thrown into a randomly built world made up of hundreds of thousands of cubes and instructed to dig mine and build to your heart's content with whatever materials you can find. Enemies do exist in the world but they can be turned off to allow you to play free of worry. Minecrafts’ simplicity lends to its scale as you genuinely feel as though you inhabit a gigantic world that would take a significant amount of time to explore.
5. The Graveyard
We debated as to whether this game could even be included, as it's developers don't describe it as a game. Despite being made inside a game engine and requiring mouse and keyboard input to explore, The Graveyard was described by Tale of Tales as "an interactive painting". You take the role of an old woman walking through a graveyard to a bench while a song plays, and that's it! The game comes in two versions, free and paid for, and the only difference between the two is that you can die in the paid for game. An incredibly weird concept, but a refreshing twist nonetheless!
4. Papa Sangre
This is the only game on the list not made by a games developer. Made by sound production company "Somethin' Else", Papa Sangre has no visuals and gamers must rely purely on sound to navigate this horror experience. Created purely for iPhone, this game also took advantage of a relatively new platform and created something completely bespoke for a new generation of gaming.
Portal is a name that most gamers are familiar with and it speaks to Valve's prowess as a games company that they can make something so unusual and have it become so popular. The premise is that you get given a Portal gun with two portals, one orange and one blue. You have the ability to fire these portals onto two different surfaces, go through one and come out the other. No concept is without its inspiration and Portals game mechanic can be traced back to Nerbacular Drop a student made game where instead of using a gun, portals were placed by the player.
2. Devil's Tuning Fork
Created by students at De Paul University in Chicago, Devil's Tuning Fork is the 2nd game on this list to rely heavily on audio. Inspired by M.C. Escher's optical illusions and the sonar system found in numerous animals, Devil's Tuning Fork allows the player to explore the world through echo location. It's visually fantastic, and provides an interesting insight to a world without sight.
From first glance you would be forgiven that Perspective was a Portal derivative and in some ways it is but the outcome is quite different. Similarly to portal orange and blue are used to denote difference, in this case it is the difference between two types of geometry (blue is passable orange is not). The idea is to control the camera angle to (from the cameras perspective) create paths for your character. Similarly to Portal you can jump from one side of the room to the other instantaneously but the methodology is quite a bit different.
What is the most innovative game you've played? Did we miss something, or do you feel one of our picks was a poor choice? Let us know in the comments!