Is it only me or have all games recently just focused on the dark, apocalyptic hypothesis of the future? There are some rays of light anyway for the gamer who prefers the more positive, philosophical and bright side of gaming life! I have picked out three games that will bring some light and hope to your screen in the near future.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White witch
It has been a long time since I was looking forward to a Japanese role playing game (jrpg), but this game suddenly has gone to the top position of my most-looking-forward game of 2012. Ni No Kuni is a game made under supervision and influence of Studio Ghibli, the film making studio of Hayao Miyazaki which has given us animated masterpieces such as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (actually made before the forming of the studio), Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. Personally I hold these films as the best ones when it comes to giving me a nice feeling in my heart and nurturing a nature loving spirit.
So, what kind of game is Ni No Kuni? From what information I have been able to gather the play style seems to be a quite typical jrpg (a big map, points of interest that you can enter and fighting with menu options), but if you don’t like jrpg:s, don’t make that let you down. This game looks awesome thanks to the graphical style of Studio Ghibli which seems to have been implemented very colorfully and lively, exactly as the movies of mentioned studio. Another similarity to the movies is the focus of youth, children and Japanese fantasy; the main character is a boy whose main companion is someone with a lantern attached to his nose (see images below).
I cannot avoid making parallels to my favorite game series, The legend of Zelda, and it’s green and lively game world and style, but in Ni No Kuni the transition to a movie and handing you the control of the characters is stronger than said game. It will be cool to play this game and explore the “Ghibli”-world; I’ve been dreaming of this since the day I saw Spirited Away in the cinema!
Have development time for games gone up recently or is it just that some companies and developers have been too eager to show early iterations of their creations? For all the news hungry gamers this can be a double edged sword. Reading about or seeing a cool trailer about a game too early can, when the game is finally released years later, have killed the hype and desire for the game, although most companies seem to have strategies for this fortunately. Fez is one such game; I heard about this game quite a while ago but it has been delayed over and over again. 2012 seems to be the Year for it to be finally released (at least if the “slated for release in early 2012” from the official website can be trusted).
So, on to the game! Fez adds a cool twist to the much loved 2D-platformer genre. It adds an extra dimension; although not fully unique (think Paper Mario), but in this simple yet challenging platformer it seems to be done in a way that the dimensions are not swapped (i.e., you cannot play in 3D) but instead you rotate the world in 3D until you find the 2D view you like and can use it to solve puzzles and challenges.
The world is built up of platforms that hang or float; these you must traverse and explore to proceed. Visually it seems to be a cute blend with some nice additions and borrowings from some much loved game series. Designer Phil Fish said in Edge, # 235 p. 54, that the game is a “[…] Mario-Zelda-Ico-Myst mashup” and that adds a lot to the hype! I’ve always been a platform lover and I am looking forward to this game, which seems to be very un-violent, making it almost unique these days.
<iframe src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/15468407?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0″ width=”400″ height=”225″ frameborder=”0″ webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe><p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/15468407″>FEZ GAMEPLAY VIDEO TWO</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/polytroncorporation”>POLYTRON</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
This game has to be mentioned when talking about games that give you hope, feeling of tranquility and shining light out from the screen. I tried this game at the Eurogamer Expo 2011 (read about that here) and I am still looking forward to play it more.
Joining the above game, Fez, in its uniqueness as a non-violent game among today’s action packed creations, this seems to be even more relaxing than Fez. You can say that Journey is about the passage or “trip” itself, but for me it also appears to be about inner journeys. It will be interesting to see if they have managed to capture the feeling of tranquility in a video game as this is a quite tough task to complete. At its best it will be a game where you walk through beautiful landscapes laid out before your eyes while your mind is also taken on its own journey to hopefully tranquil and relaxing destinations. If this can be done with this game I for one will surely love it!
If you prefer to something more dark then read this about some light shunning games.