Previously when I explained my favorite games, I avoided spoilers. This time spoiling is unavoidable. Also last time the games were fairly old. Instead, these are recent. If you like, read this as my “favorites of 2012” list.
Proteus: I’m not a spiritual person, and I’m even less religious, but there’s something to Proteus I can’t explain. It’s a meditative experience. It’s a mirror for introspection. It’s a simple game, but I’m awed by the simplest sights: an apparition, a giant tree, statues that change the sky, and mushrooms that change the sound. With subtle musical interactivity, even common things—rain, snow, the cycle of day and night—make me grin. Proteus makes me feel like a kid jumping in puddles.
Beyond these simple moments, I think there’s a greater metaphor in the seasons of Proteus for the seasons of life. The first time I completed the game, I rushed to see all of the “content,” and then it was winter and it was too late to return. In playthroughs since then, I’ve forced myself to slow down and appreciate the many strange little things (bees!). I can’t guarantee everyone will have the same experience with Proteus, but I know it’s made me a better person.
Thirty Flights of Loving: When I watch action movies, I want the escapism of unreality, but also something tangible. This balance is difficult, or so the average (awful) action movie would suggest. I think that’s why the heist and spy subgenres are so successful. There’s inherently more human drama than in most action movies. Thirty Flights fits in these subgenres, but it’s more successful for juxtaposing the extremes of reality and unreality through its montage of interactions. Action movies say that happiness is explosions, riches, and sex. Thirty Flights says that happiness is peeling oranges, riding motorcycles at dawn, and examining museum exhibits. It tells me, “don’t wait for big moments to be happy; little moments are beautiful too.” These simple, even mundane, human experiences are delivered so powerfully, Thirty Flights is worth your time.
Note: I know. I’m hopelessly sentimental.