Fridays Top Five: XBLA’s top single player games
Everyone loves playing games with their friends. Some of the best moments aren’t the game itself, but some interaction with each other: the trash talking, the gloating–you know how it is. But let’s be honest, sometimes we want to game solo: just you, your controller and some awesome gameplay. That’s why this weeks Top 5 is all about the best single player games on Xbox Live Arcade. Here are some great experiences that are definitely worth your time, whatever your play style: action, adventure, puzzle, artsy, you name it and it is here.
5. Limbo – Incorporating a new gameplay style dubbed “trial and death” Limbo takes you on the gruesome journey of a nameless child looking for his sister. No real explanation is given to where you are or why you’re there, but it isn’t needed as you soon draw your own conclusions. With nothing more than sounds and a few musical notes to guide you, this shaded black and white world will connect you with the boy in a way like no other. This connection is through death; it’s how awful and saddening and frequent his death is that keeps you pushing till the the end. You never know what the next section will hold. Between ropes, ledges, giant buzzsaws, hell even huge boss type creatures, this game will keep you enthralled till the very end.
4. Orcs Must Die! – This is a third person tower defense game highly focused on the action as much as strategy. You are simply known as the War Mage, the last survivor forced to defend the gateway” from hordes of orcs. One of the best things about Orcs Must Die! is the mass variety of ways to beat each level, keeping the replay value super high. The graphics are bright and fluid, the war mage is rather humorous and killing these dumb beasts some how feels soulfully satisfying. The variety of traps in this game is tremendous: floor, wall and ceiling traps, spikes, arrows and even a swinging mace to name a few.
Though it’s only single player there are leaderboards that allow you to compete against the world. Points are earned by stringing deaths together in combos. Different points are awarded for each kill depending on the weapon used and the amount of time it takes to pass each level. Putting a slightly new twist on a tried and true genre works very well here. It gives this game a fresh fun feel. You’ll keep coming back to beat high scores and sometimes just to watch the orcs die.
3. Braid – Here’s a puzzler action-adventure that put a new twist on traveling through time. Braid sets itself apart from the rest of the world on many levels. Everything in the world feels fresh and original. The story is unique: it’s about a man’s memories (if you will)–of him trying to save his princess. Being it his version of what happened, you constantly question what you think you know. As you journey through this beautiful world you will see each level in a new light. You noticing things with a nostalgic influence, yet it still feels new and different from anything you’ve played. Although it’s short–only 40 minutes or so for a good speed run–the first play through will be challenging and take much more time than that. With a deep, thought provoking story, bright fluid art style and time altering gameplay, Braid will definitely prove worth the time it takes to perfect it.
2. Shadow Complex – What can we say about this game that hasn’t been said before. Nothing. But that doesn’t make it any less impressive or true. Shadow Complex gives you a dark and gritty gameplay experience, pushing you along a 2D path, yet revolving around a 3D world. Pulling from inspirations like Super Metroid and Castlevania: SotN, you get a deep, rich, multi-tiered experience that proves this formula is still a winner.
Playing as Jason, you must rescue your girlfriend who has foolishly ventured off into a cave and come across a secret organizations base. Soon Jason discovers this organization is trying to insight a civil war and vows to bring an end to their devious plans. Ask anyone who has beaten it, this is a game you don’t get tired of, possibly playing through it two or three times in the first few months alone.
1. Bastion – You are The Kid, a survivor in a world that has been devastated by a force called the Calamity. The story is told through dynamic narration, the soothing voice will not only deliver story oriented information, but things unique to the gameplay, such as a weapon you’re favoring or an enemy you’re fighting. You must travel to different locations to repair The Bastion so the world can be whole again. You never quite know what’s next as the world builds itself under your feet. Throughout the game The Kid is Forced to make life altering and morally heavy decisions, coming to terms with what he thinks is best for this world torn by destruction and war. Using a color palette and art scheme all its own, this is a one of a kind action adventure that is meant to be enjoyed by anyone.