A thousand games have launched through the [email protected] program – hopefully, you’ve picked that up by now. My name’s Glenn and I’ve been doing marketing for the [email protected] program almost from day one, so I’ve been around for the launch of all but a couple of these. (And I have the grey hair to prove it. Seriously, I had no grey hair before I started working on ID.)
Other than my impeccable grammar and stunning fashion sense, one thing I pride myself in is playing (nearly) all the [email protected] games. So, when we got to the 1,000 game milestone I thought to myself, “Hey, Self, I should write an article celebrating all the amazing, landmark, award-winning games in the [email protected] program!” And then I thought: “Meh – that’s exactly what everybody would expect, and [email protected] is about embracing all kinds of games – including new, unique and different games – from independent publishers.” And what I enjoy as much as anything else about working on the ID team is finding strange and usual games that you’d never see anywhere else.
So, here we go – some of the most unusual, strangest, and even flat out weird games that you can find on Xbox One, courtesy of the [email protected] program.
Anarcute – It’s cute anarchy. Get it? Your goal is to assemble a group of cute animals to take on the evil corporations ruling and ruining the world. As you march through the city wreaking havoc you recruit cute companions to join your cause Mob rule has never been so cute! And man is it cute. They make civil disobedience unbelievably cute. Even the music’s cute!
Goat Simulator – In this paradigm of sublime brilliance from the geniuses at Coffee Stain you play (as you might have guessed) as a goat. And you destroy things. And lick things. And when you lick things your goat tongue sticks to things. And can steal Deadmau5’s head. And jump on trampolines (so many trampolines). And you can morph into a tall goat (giraffe), or fancy goat (penguin), etc. And you earn points for doing things. And I guess there are missions – I don’t know, I was too busy licking things.
Headlander – Don’t lose your head over this one! In this 2D puzzle game with some light combat, you fly around as a head on a jetpack thing and suck off the heads of robots, then stick your head on their bodies, thereby gaining control of each robot’s specific abilities. While the “head sucking” premise alone would earn this game a spot on this list, the groovy sci-fi spin on “Austin Powers” kicks it over the edge – we would expect nothing other than something this unique from our friends at Double Fine, creators of Psychonauts, Broken Age, and others.
Level 22 – You’re late for work and you have to sneak to your desk without being seen by the boss or you’re fired! It’s a stealth game set in the world of work which sounds really simple, but it’s actually a pretty complex puzzle game with the addition of vents to crawl through, doughnuts to distract guards with, newspapers and coffee cups and all manner of office paraphernalia. And some of the achievements in this game are seriously meta. This was one of our earlier [email protected] releases and I played this thing into the ground. At work. While I should have been working. Don’t tell the boss!
Maize – I used to live in Iowa and I like corn. There I said it. I’m not sure if that’s why I was drawn to the game or if it was the incredible visuals and beautiful art portraying sentient corn exploring a farm and then a laboratory to unravel the mystery of why sentient corn exists in the first place. And along the way you pick up an obnoxious talking teddy bear robot companion who just simply cannot believe that he’s saddled with being a sidekick to a dumb corn stalk. I mean, can you blame him? If you like adventure games, and corn, and teddy bears, and hysterical writing, and corn, then this is the game for you. And if you don’t like all those things then you really need to put some time aside to reevaluate your life choices.
Roundabout – You’re a limo driver and for some reason your limousine is constantly spinning in circles. Sure, you probably could have stopped to get it fixed at any point – sounds like a transaxle (I have no idea what that means). But you just go with it. With your horribly broken car you pick people up, drop them off and undertake various missions. And it’s all intercut with full motion videos (FMV) of these wacky people you’re picking up being wacky. This one is worth playing for the FMV scenes alone, if not to simply try to find out why somebody would make a game like this.
Thomas Was Alone – Unlike a lot of the other games on this list, Thomas Was Alone isn’t a funny game. It’s a serious game about a group of characters, each with distinctive, well developed personalities and a sophisticated character arc that progresses throughout the story. And they’re blocks. Blocks of different colors and sizes, but basically squares are rectangles. But you really care about those squares and rectangles by the end of the story. You really do. It’s weirdly beautiful.
Soda Drinker Pro – This is the crème-de-la-crème of weird games. This is the Mt. Everest of strangeness. This is the Mona Lisa of bizarre-o land. To describe this game in writing is an affront to the majesty of its absurdity, but with apologies I’ll give it a try. You drink soda. And you’re really good at it. And you drink soda on the beach, in a park, in a city and in various other locations appropriate to the activity of drinking soda. If you have mad skillz you can locate some bonus sodas. Sounds amazing, right? But wait, that’s not the half of it – literally. If you manage to stumble through some texture on one wall in level two you are transported to a completely different game. And that game is… also quite unique. There are some turtles and clocks and… who am I kidding I can’t possible describe it. If you have the chops to be a Soda Drinker – and not an amateur soda drinker – then check it out. (And if you’re from the Midwest and you say “Pop” I guess you’re out of luck.)
And so, that’s my list. There are many, many more strange and weird games that you should check out. Honorable mentions include: I Am Bread, Manual Samuel, Stay, The Magic Circle, Three Fourths Home and so many more. Please, go check out some of the weirdness that the [email protected] program delivers!