110 8 Awesome Video Games That Prove Less Is More

We have now reached the next generation of gaming with the release of the Xbox One and the PS4, giving titles a new level of realism that has never been seen before. Accompany this with a nation of gradually-reduced attention spans and instant gratification junkies, and the most plausible outcome is an orgy of high octane, shoot ‘em up, beat ‘em up, blow ‘em up titles where the most sophisticated piece of plot-twisting dialogue borders upon “Where’s my wife!?”

It’s in times like these when we should give credence to that old saying that less is more. You don’t need constant explosions, collateral damage and protagonists who look like a gigantic bicep to make a game great; sometimes it’s the simple games themselves that hold our attention and are the most memorable – whether it be in visual style, gameplay, narrative or thematics.

The best trick that these titles pull off is their ability to make players forget how simple they are; to have them be so absorbed in the game that upon completion they look back and think to themselves “I can’t believe I’ve spend a day playing a game with two buttons”.

From mainstream titles to indie classics, here’s 8 games that prove less is more.

8. Castle Crashers

111 8 Awesome Video Games That Prove Less Is More

Castle crashers is the lovechild of Newgrounds masters Tom Fulp and Dan Paladin.

The 2D beat ‘em up arcade game can be played up to four players both online and locally, and follows four stumpy knights (Red Knight, Blue Knight, Orange Knight and Green Knight) as they travel across the land to defeat an evil wizard and save four kidnapped princesses.

The game incorporates simplistic RPG conventions such as weapon upgrades, a skill tree, individualised magical abilities and unlockable characters. Completing the game with each character will in turn unlock a new playable enemy character who will unlock a new character, and so on. The map is surprisingly large with new enemies inhabiting each region, varying from demons and bears, to skeletons and moving paintings.

Created in the classic 80’s side-scrolling fashion (think Golden Axe or Double Dragon), Castle Crashers is a tongue-in-cheek fantasy arcade hit with plenty of unlockable content and copious amounts of toilet humour.

7. Octodad: Dadliest Catch

112 8 Awesome Video Games That Prove Less Is More

Now this is one of the more surreal entries; developed by Young Horses, Dadliest Catch is a sequel to the 2010 freeware game produced by students of DePaul University.

Octodad’s narrative and gameplay follows a very basic premise; don’t get caught. The story follows an octopus who, tired of his life as a mollusc, impersonates a man to start a life with the woman he has fallen in love with.

Seriously.

Octodad must interact with the world without letting slip that he is in fact an octopus. His wife, kids (don’t ask) and any other humans in the vicinity will start to clock on to his true identity if your actions become too suspicious too, and this is where the challenging aspect of the game comes into play. Intense.

Players can control two sets of tentacles in order to navigate each level, which are Octodad’s arms and legs respectively. The direction of his flailing limbs is determined by the use of both directional sticks, the outcome of which is nothing short of hilarious. This is primarily where the game derives its humour from, as Octodad trying to perform extremely mundane tasks whilst navigating through breakable objects creates a slapstick element that complements the overall silliness of the game.

If you really want to get the most out of this game invite some friends over, as up to four players can take part, each controlling a single limb, adding to the difficulty whilst creating quite the spectacle. You will get a lot of time and a lot of laughs out of this moderately priced PlayStation network title.

6. Portal

113 8 Awesome Video Games That Prove Less Is More

It’s hard to believe that a game that was released as part of a bundle package could be received so positively, especially when part of that bundle included Half-Life 2. However, Valve’s first-person platform-puzzler became such a success that a second game was commissioned and voiced by non-other than the witty genius Stephen Merchant.

Portal follows Chell, a guinea pig testing the capabilities of the Aperture Science portal gun in a series of experimental rooms. The portal gun has very simple capabilities, in which it can fire a blue and orange portal – the combination of which are intrinsically tied and can be used as an entrance or exit and any direction – enter the blue, exit the orange… the rest is up to you – so, walking through a portal against a wall could have you dropping through a portal placed on the ceiling for example.

The only other character in Portal is GLaDOS, an artificial intelligence who guides you through the puzzles of each level, before turning a tad insane and ordering you to incinerate yourself. This simple game not only presents an increasingly intelligent and challenging set of puzzles, a humorous robotic voiceover character but also a dark hidden backstory of which a former test subject has scrawled cryptic messages in hideaways hinting towards GLaDOS’s true nature and her lies of a prized cake you may or may not actually get your hands on.

You’ll definitely have a hard time finding a more engaging and challenging puzzle game than portal. R.I.P Companion Cube.

5. Super Meat Boy

114 8 Awesome Video Games That Prove Less Is More

Another surreal protagonist makes the list with Super Meat Boy – a boy literally made from meat. As Meat Boy, the player’s goal is to rescue his girlfriend Bandage Girl from the evil Dr Fetus (we’re not even joking). SMB is a traditional classic platform game where precise movements, clever use of momentum and perfect timing are key to navigate each levels fatal traps.

With over 300 levels and unlockable “Dark World” chapters of each, Super Meat boy will have you clocking a great number of hours. And as the levels increase in difficulty, they demand higher concentration and patience as they deliver a perfect blend of infuriating rage and untold bliss when finally conquering a challenging level.

Anyone who believes Flappy Bird is a difficult game doesn’t know what they’re saying. Perhaps the most satisfying moment however is after finishing a level, you get to watch on with sadistic glee as all your attempts at the level are replayed at once, and hundreds of Meat Boys fling themselves into the grinders.

With hundreds of challenging levels to choose from and a handful of playable characters to unlock, Super Meat Boy truly has a lot to offer players for a game that’s only controls are run and jump.

4. The Walking Dead

115 8 Awesome Video Games That Prove Less Is More

Fans of AMC’s hit TV spectacular The Walking Dead will be accustomed to an action-packed, gun-toting zombie slaughter-fest show, but for anyone who hasn’t played Telltale’s episodic instalments may be surprised to learn that violence and zombie-killing is not a main ingredient to the game.

Instead it utilises the more powerful aspect of the show; drama. The creators of The Walking Dead TV show have admitted to the series not primarily being about zombies, but rather about the characters who have been thrown into this world with no warning, as well as how they will survive and interact with each other.

This is very much Telltale’s forte. Gameplay is reduced to conversations and quick time events, and honestly that’s what makes it such a good game. Every dialogue option is timed so players must be quick to say the right thing in any given situation, as one misspoken conversation can have disastrous consequences further down the line. Each episode remembers your previous actions and choices, and will punish or reward you for them later in the game, which is why everything is so deliciously dramatic. A lot of thought needs to be placed into each response otherwise your greatest ally could end up hating your guts and leaving you to fend for yourself.

Quick time events as a whole are not greatly received in gaming anymore – generally they are aspects of action games where the playable action takes a significant backseat to letting you essentially control a cutscene by flailing on a command for a few seconds. In The Walking Dead however, you spend so much time carefully picking your words that you don’t see the quick time events coming. Meaning that when they are upon you, you are frantically bashing those buttons out of surprise if nothing else, just to stay alive and save any number of people in peril.

The Walking Dead has done well for achieving so much out of so little, enough to garner a second series, which is also doing extremely well. It’s an emotional roller coaster ride like no other, and if you can complete the finale without getting choked up, then you might just be a zombie too.

3. Shadow Of The Colossus

116 8 Awesome Video Games That Prove Less Is More

We all from time to time like to dust off our ancient consoles and plunge back into gaming of the early 00’s. Whether its Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy or Legend of Zelda, we all have our favourite classics we love to dive back into after a couple of years of stagnation.

Team Ico’s 2005 release of Shadow of the Colossus is such a game. Playing as Wander, a young man determined to resurrect the maiden Mono by evoking the power of an omnipotent power named Dormin who can return Mono’s spirit to her body, he enters a bargain with Dormin who agrees to resurrect Mono only if Wander can defeat the 16 Colossi littering the land.

Besides Dormin’s disembodied bellow during the games introduction, there is virtually no dialogue whatsoever and no other characters to interact with apart from the Colossi (but they’re not really the chatty type). Wander has a task to do so he gets on with it, no complaining, no whining and no faffing about – he’s the blank-slate character we all project ourselves onto the easiest.

Wander therefore traverses across a beautiful landscape to defeat each colossus in turn with nothing but a beam of light from his sword guiding him to each location. As an action/adventure, Shadow of the Colossus comes across almost like a puzzle game. There are no Colossi-killing tutorials or aid when taking down the behemoths, you watch, you learn, you clamber up top and stab your sword through their brains. Simple.

Variety is a key aspect in fantasy games without a doubt. But with modern titles having inventories full of weapons, armour, loot, potions, crafting materials and quest items weighing you down, it is a breath of fresh air to cut the ancillary elements for a change. And that’s exactly what Shadow of the Colossus does, it trims the fat and leaves the juicy meat of the game left for players to enjoy.

2. Limbo

117 8 Awesome Video Games That Prove Less Is More

The best way to describe Limbo is beautiful, as a combination of black and white visuals and minimalist sounds create an eerie and macabre atmosphere.

The game is so simple yet offers complex puzzles, often with fatal consequences. The setting for Limbo is interpretational, but is commonly believed to be on the edge of Hell (i.e. Limbo, the plane between this life and the next). The protagonist is an unnamed boy who travels through dangerous environments to search for his sister who he has been separated from, with the only other humans in the game either attacking you, fleeing or already being dead.

The puzzles follow a pattern of trial and error, as often players will find themselves killed – usually in rather gruesome circumstances – before realising how to best the puzzle. Environments play a crucial role in solving puzzles as pretty much everything in the game can kill you, from bear traps, to giant spiders, to water, you’re pretty much a big bull’s-eye for the games murdering tendencies. Players therefore need to utilise there surroundings in order to prevent a fatality by climbing over, under and around hazards.

It’s easy to be sucked into Limbo whilst overlooking just how little there is in this game. The opening sequence consists of the boy opening his eyes, that’s it. No voiceovers, no tutorials, no helpful text popping up and telling you where to go, just a bleak dark world for you to trudge through unaided.

This is a game that really does make you analyse the situation and rewards you for doing so in its own way.

1. Slender

118 8 Awesome Video Games That Prove Less Is More

Most of you will have at least heard of, if not dared to play yourself, Slender.

Based on Slender Man, the world’s first urban legend spawned purely from the internet, Slender is a simple, single-levelled game in which you wake up in the middle of a forest at night and must collect 8 pages hidden within. Each page has drawings and writings relating to Slender Man and each is located in a different area of the map. As you collect the pages, Slender will begin to follow you around the map. He doesn’t walk, but instead teleports near you at randomised intervals, getting closer to the player the more pages he/she collects.

Players have no weapons to repel Slender Man, and must simply flee to escape him, armed only with a flashlight. To make things even more difficult, not only does your flashlight run out of battery life if you overuse it, but you also have a limited sprint bar that doesn’t regenerate, meaning you must ration it out across the entire game.

An unwritten rule of Slender is that headphones must be worn when playing, as this is what makes the game. You know a game is going to be terrifying when a cranked up pair of cans make the sounds of your own footsteps scary, let alone the high frequency crackle when Slender Man approaches.

Completing Slender will take you no more than 20 minutes, but the anxiety and stress of playing in the dark with a pair of loud headphones will give you an adrenaline rush like no other game can provide.

 

1 Hearthstone: 10 Neutral Common Cards You Must Have In Your Deck

Card games are extremely unique in a sense.

They are a tremendously old kind of game, yet have stood the test of time, either being played professionally for an incentive or together with a small group of friends whilst socialising. Whatever you think of card games, you have to admit there are a huge number of them with several different variations and a huge number of people still playing them – Friday Night Magic anyone?

As technology evolves, so do the games themselves, replacing paper and card with keyboards and pixels – all encouraging a new generation to take to the Internet and play with others.

A great example of this would be Blizzard’s free-to-play ‘Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft,’ offering players a chance to take on the world with their decks full of popular minions from the ever present MMO ‘World of Warcraft.’ While fans have been displaying their creativity by building countless viable decks, there are certain neutral cards that can benefit any creation without being dependant on class or ability.

These cards are free and already unlocked when you first play the game, leaving class-based, rare and legendary cards to one side (for the moment with the exception of one). It is more important then ever to have the correct minions in your deck, for the threat of the ‘Curse of Naxxramas’ expansion looms over the game, waiting in anticipation for its time to strike.

Whilst these cards are popular and achieve great value by trading with the opponent’s minions, it does mean using them effectively, which is vital. Hearthstone is a tricky game with plays that can shift the balance if used correctly and even take out other players with relative ease, but to rush into a situation prematurely when you and your hand of cards aren’t ready isn’t beneficial – you may as well click the concede button.

Baring all this information in mind, it’s time to get stuck in…

10. Faerie Dragon

11 Hearthstone: 10 Neutral Common Cards You Must Have In Your Deck

Whilst this small winged creature doesn’t look like much, it has an interesting ability that allows it to scrape into this list by the tip of its wings.

The cards description states, ‘Can’t be targeted by Spells or Hero Powers’ which as well as being a unique ability, also renders once aggressive, spell-wielding classes into tame and useless decks. Okay that may be exaggerating slightly, but its effectiveness in the early game can lead a player to winning the match up.

Realistically, this 3-2 creature can only be destroyed by other minions through physical combat damage, unless caught in the crossfire of a bigger spell that doesn’t rely on targeting, like a flame strike or a blizzard. This does have a serious advantage against most other neutral minions with the exception of the Bluegill Warrior due to its effective charge, however it is unlikely opponents will remove the dragon without some effort, causing great trades and an unwanted problem for your opponent.

Unfortunately, the later this minion is played the less effective it may be. Bigger area of effect spells become commonplace and enemy creatures will be much more powerful and capable of taking out the Faerie Dragon with ease. This demonstrates the card’s effectiveness is based solely on its position in the deck, yet due to its potential damage and low cost, it is often worth the gamble to implement it within your deck.

8. Spellbreaker

12 Hearthstone: 10 Neutral Common Cards You Must Have In Your Deck

The Spellbreaker is surprisingly effective at breaking apart an opponents’ play in one fowl swoop, yet its appears to be undervalued by many players, often choosing many heavy hitters in its place. This 4 mana card is a 4-3, which is currently bad value by itself compared to other 4 cost yet its ability far outweighs its battling ability.

Silence is a popular technique in the card game for rendering certain cards useless or less powerful. Since some cards have an enrage ability or others may have been buffed this is a handy way of putting a stop to the often inevitable madness. It can also break taunt walls providing an easy way of attacking the hero. This would be perfect against a card like the Ironbark Protector but be advised; it doesn’t destroy the minion, so a high damage Taunt creature can still be a huge threat to you.

Another less common use for this card is to use it on your own minions. Players jump to the conclusion that Spellbreakers are more effective against the enemy, and whilst this can be the case, it isn’t always the correct play. For example silencing an Ancient Watcher will allow it to attack and as you may know, a 4-5 creature costing 2 mana is great value.

7. Stampeding Kodo

13 Hearthstone: 10 Neutral Common Cards You Must Have In Your Deck

Whilst this beast may lack attack capability for a 5 mana creature, it does however enter the battlefield with an aggressive start thanks to an ability to destroy a minion with 2 or less attack when summoned. This may initially sound pathetic and too situational to warrant a space amongst your limited choice but you will be surprised. Some of the best creatures with a wide range of abilities have two or less health, rewarding the Kodo with some much needed respect. Some examples include stealth minions, Armor Smith or even a Gurubashi Berserker.

This card does have some setbacks though; the attack is random so if multiple targets on the field have 2 or less attack then your target may not be guaranteed a quick exit and whilst removing any minion for free is a nice incentive; the unpredictability can ruin a great play. To make a situation worse, there may not be any minions on the opponent’s side leaving an unsatisfactory 3-5 on the field, with many creatures able to deal such damage with relative ease at 5 mana.

Yet, the Kodo is relatively unique, effectively awarding the player with a free spell to remove a minion and although it may have its fair share of downsides, it will certainly contribute to creative plays and removing weak taunts, leaving powerhouse minions to direct their damage else where.

6. Boulderfist Ogre

14 Hearthstone: 10 Neutral Common Cards You Must Have In Your Deck

This is our heaviest and costliest minion in the list. The Boulderfist Ogre doesn’t rely on creative problem solving or special abilities but rather his strength, hitting hard to create an immediate threat for opponents to try and deal with. This 6-7 isn’t your conventional late-game thriller, but instead a card retaining all seriousness in an attempt to intimidate. This guy doesn’t need a special animation like Ragnaros the Firelord or King Crush to prove a point either.

Easily the best part about the Ogre is the 7 health, This can make it difficult for opponents to trade well – if at all – with this monster. While a spell like Deadly Shot would be an ideal choice against this card, many players choose not to in fear of something bigger waiting next turn, which can easily be the downfall for players. As legendaries become popular and increasingly commonplace in every deck it is understandable. The ogre is hardly a threat against a Ysera until you realise with every hit your hero takes, a fifth of your health vanishes.

The card is a perfect fit within a deck thanks to its bulky stats which genuinely make it easy to use in most situations. However due to the mana cost you are limited to the late game where bigger minions can be summoned just a turn after, but with extra help and a spell or two you will have no problem taking out a premium late card.

5. Faceless Manipulator

15 Hearthstone: 10 Neutral Common Cards You Must Have In Your Deck

This card is as effective as you make it. The Faceless Manipulator is more of a tactical play rather then a display of dominance as the card has the ability to change form into anything you or your opponent has on the board, which can create some interesting and devastating results. Due to its nature, the majority of players capitalise on this for aggression, often copying the biggest and most expensive minions possible, and whilst this can be a good play, it is not always the best or most valuable.

Instead, you should use this card delicately with full knowledge of your situation in the game. Whilst the thought of an 8-8 is a great one, you may have to take a step back and look at the board. Are you ahead of your opponent? Do you have many cards in your hand? Can you afford to loose it immediately? If the answer to all these questions is no perhaps holding it would be the best answer, for now. Instead it may be worth investing in a taunt creature to protect other minions or something with an impressive Deathrattle, like Sylvanas Windrunner. This can gain you more leverage on the board or, at the very least, keep you alive a few more turns.

This card is a great opportunity to change the dynamics of the game; however it does have one set back. It is dependent on minions, including your opponents. This can become unpredictable and even dangerous. Just as you are ready to use the card your optimum target could be destroyed leaving your future plays in tatters. It is, therefore safer to copy your own minions but this could be a challenge with a control-orientated deck.

4. Senjin Shieldmasta

16 Hearthstone: 10 Neutral Common Cards You Must Have In Your Deck

This card is by far the fan favourite of the deck due to its effectiveness and shot opening voice acting. The Senjin Sheildmasta is referred to as one of the best taunts in the game. Whilst boasting this restriction to your opponents it’s also a 3-5 costing 4 mana, making it impossible to trade effectively with. Without the use of multiple cards this beast will remain on the board until the end.

This card doesn’t rely on tricks to obtain victory and doesn’t claim any of the victory but the card certainly has a vital part in it. This card is even described as one of the most reliable and effective in the game by some people and when you see what opposition it faces on turn 4 we tend to agree.

The card does unfortunately have one set back; it’s effectiveness after turn 4 can be questionable at best leaving most of its use valueless. Once facing late game threats, its 3 attack is merely a scratch and whilst it can help, it will be destroyed in the process. This means dependency on your deck capability to draw is huge and most of the time you just won’t be lucky enough.

3. Acidic Swamp Ooze

17 Hearthstone: 10 Neutral Common Cards You Must Have In Your Deck

Weapon heavy-classes beware! This little blighter is the bane of most aggressive decks, especially warriors due to the abundance of weaponry in their armoury.

The Acidic Swamp Ooze may not be your conventional game changer yet its ability is unmatched. It can destroy any weapon your opponent is using. Essentially, dependant on how you use this card will reflect its effectiveness. Against a rogue’s hero ability, it would be a waste but faced with a Doom Hammer or Sword of Justice it may be cause for celebration.

This small creature could salvage a horrible situation.

Whilst only costing 2 mana, the Ooze can be used in a variation of different ways and styles whilst still retaining its quality. The addition of being a 3-2 only increases its value, achieving a high damage potential for some excellent trades. A slight problem that doesn’t so much rest on the card but on the player would arguably be the cost. Whilst its optimum play would be late game for bigger weapons and greater value, players too tempted into a growing board presence could be stuck with limited options, meaning the Ooze may be the only sound choice.

Alternatively players may favour bigger late-game cards as opposed to the 2 cost, leaving the green slimy creature remaining in the hand unused, however the card has some great potential with or without its ability, so its appearance in any deck – unless extremely unusual – will need this card.

2. Chillwind Yeti

18 Hearthstone: 10 Neutral Common Cards You Must Have In Your Deck

This card is a dangerous monster in the right hands. The Chillwind Yeti is well known amongst aggressive and control decks meanings it has multiple uses.

Whilst this card has no special ability or hidden attack it is a 4-5 for 4 mana, which is extremely useful. When played early, this card can force some horrible trades for your opponent often having to destroy 2 or 3 of their own minions just to deal with it or use one of their spells that are most effective during late game play. The card has a foreboding presence about it once on the field, knowing that whatever you do will not be enough to trade efficiently with it.

Like many early game cards, they are only effective during small mana turns. Once you rise above 5 mana the Yeti becomes more of an attack card then a trading card. Its 5 health is matched by opponents attack makes trading for it easier. It is unfortunately another card that remains dependant on the deck draw; however it is a good solid card. 4 damage may seem small but in comparison with other 4 mana cost creatures, it is incomparable.

It will allow further plays to be set up and implemented in order to remove late game threats and easily dwarf the battlefield. Many people use this card in their deck and is commonly referred to as one of the best cards in the game.

1. Harvest Golem

19 Hearthstone: 10 Neutral Common Cards You Must Have In Your Deck

Weak but deceiving, this card has overwhelmed players for months including the new and less able. The Harvest Golem has the power to summon a 2-1 creature after its death leaving yet another obstacle for your opponent to face. Whilst this card is relatively small and defenseless, it can force players into stupid decisions and consistently awful trades. The card is a 2-3 for 3 mana which makes it a fairly efficient card with an interesting ability that is shared predominantly with legendary creatures. This allows the Golem to possess tremendous value at such a low cost. No matter how you take this card down, you will be sinking more then two cards into it every time.

It’s effective throughout any game due to its mana cost, making it easy to play with several creatures in the late game, along with the nature of its ability summoning another creature when it exits the field. As well as this, it works well with several combo cards including Warsong Commander or a Flesheating Ghoul simply due to this ability too.

Several new players to the game often decide to abandon the card due to it’s low attack damage and the effortless removal of the second summoned creature due to the Mage’s hero ability but since the games initial beta launch this card has found a position in most decks due to its success and flexibility. This card is well and truly one of the best neutral cards in the game to date, and it’s worth experimenting with many different cards to work out clever combos.