game recommendations for the lazy gamer

I don’t know if you judge games like I do — that is, if you focus more on the story and the writing than the puzzles. I don’t play games often, and I don’t follow the game blogs and the reviews, so you’ll have to forgive the misuse of jargon. What I’m saying is the games I usually play are slow and boring (compared to games like Borderlands 2) with huge blocks of texts and minimal gameplay. And by “minimal” I mean mouse clicks. Maybe click-and-drag when I feel magnanimous. The thing is, I am impatient, I have horrible hand-eye coordination, and I am lazy. To give you an idea, I tried playing a sample of the first-person survival horror game Amnesiaand quit after three minutes because I can’t open the door, and I can’t be bothered to learn how. (Sorry.)

So if you’re like me, you’ll love these games:

My Father’s Long Long Legs (Play Online) – Created by Michael Lutz. Protagonist’s father loses his job and locks himself in the basement, digging for years. I’ve played a handful of online interactive horror games before, and this is the best I’ve seen so far. Great writing, great use of the medium, with a story that gets under your skin.

It begins:  My family lived on the southern edge of a certain Midwestern industrial city in an old house, old enough that its basement still had a dirt floor.

I was not yet old enough to openly question a parent’s behavior, but certainly old enough to recognize its oddness, when my father began digging.
Analogue: A Hate Story (Get on Steam) – Visual novel created by Christine Love. An interstellar ship called the Mugunghwa reappears after hundreds of years of disappearance, and you, the investigator, is tasked to find out what happened. You will do this by reading log entries and interacting with *Hyun-ae or *Mute, the ship’s two AI, who withhold or reveal information based on their biases and loyalties. It tackles the effects of tradition, misogyny, homophobia, loneliness, and scientific ignorance on families and individuals. Love based characters and circumstances in Analogue on the Joseon Dynasty, which reigned in Korea from July 1392 to October 1897 and is known for its dehumanizing treatment of women.
I got the game as a gift, and didn’t know anything about the plot. Powerful stuff. It affected me more than I expected.
Note: The following games I played with J.
Walking Dead: Season One (Get on Steam) – Developed by Telltale Games, based on Robert Kirkman’s comic book series. The story unfolds based on your choices, and you can choose to say nothing at every turn. Are you going to save the little boy, or the man who helped save your life? Will you choose to leave someone in order to save the group? Are you going to tell the man that you were on your way to prison when the zombie attacked, or are you going to lie?
The developers get the flavor of Kirkman’s comic book series right, focusing on the characters and the relationships rather than on the shock value of zombie attacks. (Something the TV series is clearly enjoying, with their million-dollar budget on special effects. Yeah let’s tear open another zombiedude’s abdomen while this character’s story arc crashes and burns why don’t we.)

To the Moon (Get on Steam) (Listen to the soundtrack) – Created by Canadian designer and composer Kan “Reives” Gao, produced by Freebird Games. A cross between Inception and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. You control two scientists who are hired to create a dreamscape for a dying client that will help him die happy. The request involves going to the moon, but the client himself can’t tell you why he has such an intense desire. The task is to find out, and make it happen. It’s a story of love and memory that keeps you guessing, with a clever and effective gameplay. Poignant and heartbreaking.

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