Many college students have trouble paying for those $60 Blockbuster-release video games, but see no other alternative for a triple-A gaming experience. This is a misconception, as there are many excellent gaming experiences that aren’t even available in retail stores, but are easily attained and affordable, and probably how we will be ultimately purchasing all games in the future: download-only games. Not those puny iPhone or Android games, but for gaming platforms such as PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. These are the downloadable games worth your time and hard-earned money.
“Alan Wake’s American Nightmare” – Xbox 360 – 1,200 Microsoft Points/$15 – For fans of survival horror games such as “Silent Hill” or “Fatal Frame,” “American Nightmare” is a standalone game based on the original title “Alan Wake,” however you don’t need to play the first game to appreciate the unique storytelling and tense gameplay in “Nightmare.”
“Flower” – PS3 – $14.99 – When gamers argue if games should be considered art or not, they point to this game. Developer Thatgamecompany set the bar high for indie games with “Flower.” The player guides a flower petal through drab environments to fill them with color and life again. Everything the petal comes in contact with causes a musical note, making it so if the game is played correctly you are also creating music.
“Journey” – PS3 – $14.99 –Thatgamecompany blurs the lines between gaming and art again with their third release, “Journey.” You start out as a scarved figure alone in a vast desert with nothing to point you in the right direction except a mountain in the distance and, in most cases, random players if connected online. It is an atmospheric, albeit short journey with a rewarding ending that will evoke emotions you never thought you could have while playing a video game.
“Limbo” – PS3, Xbox 360 – 800 Microsoft Points/$9.99 – A creepy but touching side-scroller that focuses on a little boy who’s searching for his sister in limbo. Developer PlayDead relies on the shadows and eerie sound effects to create an atmosphere that is subtly powerful to behold.
“Shank” – PS3, Xbox 360, PC – 800 Microsoft Points/$9.99 – A side-scrolling beat-‘em-up that follows the protagonist, Shank, on a mission of revenge. Using knives, guns, a chainsaw, and whatever other weapons he can get his hands on, “Shank” doesn’t let up on the action until the credits. It was also successful enough to receive a sequel this year, also worth checking out.
“Torchlight” – Xbox 360, PC – 1,200 Microsoft Points/$14.99 – A “Diablo”-style action role-playing game (without the multiplayer) that gives the player hours of content, “Torchlight” is set in a fantasy land where there are numerous dungeons and caves to explore and collect loot from. Fans loved it so much, there is currently a sequel being developed.