Most unique games you've ever played?

I've been playing quite a lot of Loop Hero over the last couple of weeks, and I've never played anything like it before. Its hard to explain in simple terms how it works because its so different to everything else.

Historically some of these kinds of games become genre defining, like a Civilization, Wolfenstein 3D, or Dune 2000 (Herzog Zwei :p) but I guess sometimes they just slip past because the concept is perhaps too complicated to be imitated, or iterated upon so easily without being a direct copy. Or it just flat out wasn't a fun idea in practice of course

Games are mostly easily to define using touchstone words, Battle Royale, FPS, RPG, stealth, open world, puzzle, adventure etc. Even games that innovate somewhat usually mash two or more of these concepts together, FPS with RPG elements, 2d Dark Souls, Xcom/roguelike for example. The point is its easy to explain in shorthand to other gamers roughly what most things are by simply comparing to the games/genres/mechanics that obviously inspired it. With Loop Hero it's really a struggle because its unlike anything else.

So my question is: What are some other games you can think of that defy simple definition, either recently or in the distant past ?
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
Sacrifice is pretty original. It's like a real time strategy game... kinda. You're much closer to the action, though, and control just your character directly, though your character can give orders to groups of units just like in an RTS. The way you build up your character is unique, too. You do missions for warring gods and whichever one you pick will give you one new spell and a new critter type to summon. Depending on who's missions you do, you can get very different spells and critters.

Outer Wilds' is a game that only lasts for about 20 minutes before the sun goes nova and kills you. Then time rewinds back to the start with everything just the way it was - except now you know a little bit more about how the solar system works. With each loop you learn more and more about what's going on (and, for some reason, your ship computer is able to store that knowledge - just in case you need to drop the game for a few weeks) and eventually get to the point where you can do quite a lot in your short time.

Egosoft's X games that I always go on about are pretty unique... they're a little like Elite in that you start with one small ship and a few credits then build up from that. However, they take it all much further. You may start with one ship but you'll eventually get dozens: some set for fighting, some set to resupply the fighters, some set to mine, and so on. The economy is a big thing so you're not just trading goods but (eventually) building space factories of your own.

The original Thief games are quite unique, too, IMHO. They're classified as "immersive sims" now and many games have offered sneaky game play as an option to get by various obstacles, but in this game it wasn't an option, it was the only way. I don't know many games that have done that since - probably because a lot of folks don't have the patience.
 
Antichamber. Its a simple puzzle game, but by god it has a lot of ideas and visual trickery that gives it the wow factor.

Something slightly curve ball, but one the best walking simulators (personal fav imo) is Valley. Its great because it doesn't play like one and it gives you a exoskeleton suit that grants you the powers of jesus and the flash combined.
 
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@Zloth I've tried Outer Wilds and I bounced off it, mostly because I couldn't get on with the art style. I might go back sometime as people I know have raved about it to me too and it is a great concept.

I'm also glad you mentioned the Thief games, I'm kind of interested in games that were perhaps the founders or ancestors genres with this post too, perhaps System Shock would have been first though? Warren Spector is quoted on Wiki as saying its actually Ultima 6/Underworld so who knows.

Sacrifice looks weird! It looks like you have Dawn of War style control points and your units are kind of like creeps in a MOBA maybe, except you have some kind of control over them, and maybe its the old polygonal graphics or even just the minimap but it somehow makes me think of Magic Carpet... Anyway however wrong I am its exactly what I'm looking for, I haven't seen exactly anything like it before.

The X games, well... As you say they seem to me kind of like an iteration/expansion of Elite (albeit a substantial one), but I'll allow the mention as you are clearly in love :p

@Johnway Antichamber is exactly the thing, I've wishlisted it for future reference. It looks so out there I have to try it.

I also vaguely remember when Valley came out but watching a video now makes me realize I had no idea what that game was about and now I'm interested to give it a go. It doesn't look that unique on the surface, but the energy exchanging mechanic looks interesting depending on how much it actually effects the world as you go through. Hard to parse after watching a video for 5 minutes.
 
Her Story is quite unique—but I don't play enough to know if it's the first. It's a database of 100+ 2-4min videos which cover 7 police interviews with a woman—she's the only character on-screen, the questions are off-screen audio.

You play by searching for keywords in the DB, which throws up some videos as results, watch one or more, which should suggest new keywords to you.

The point is to figure out what the event is, did she do it, what's her story…

Are Factorio and Untitled Goose Game good candidates?
 
A few come to mind, but I'm too lazy to give descriptions right now;

Black and White is unfortunately unique. Oh how I wish there was anything like it.

As far as I'm aware, there's no game quite like Overlord.

Magicka has a very unique control scheme that works amazingly.

I also can't recall any game that does what Besiege does.
 
Her Story is quite unique—but I don't play enough to know if it's the first. It's a database of 100+ 2-4min videos which cover 7 police interviews with a woman—she's the only character on-screen, the questions are off-screen audio.

You play by searching for keywords in the DB, which throws up some videos as results, watch one or more, which should suggest new keywords to you.

The point is to figure out what the event is, did she do it, what's her story…

Are Factorio and Untitled Goose Game good candidates?


The beauty of her story is that it feels like you're a detective as you ask questions it brings up relevant responses. In a way, almost like you were having a conversation at times. The worst parts of it is that some of the videos are one word answers so you have absolutely no idea what was asked or how it fleshed out the story. The story narrative is pretty strong as well, as it gives you a single hookline which is understand why a murder took place Oh and lets not forget the pissing about aspects of the game, move stuff around, mess in the recycle bin, do some chatting etc.

i hear that crypt of the nercodancer is pretty good. haven't really played it to confirm as i'm rubbish ay rhythm games.


An honorable mention goes to world in Conflict. As someone who finds it an absolute chore to play RTS games sometimes to harvest resources, research etc. The game does away with all of that and just allows you to buy what you want and gives you fire support to get he job done of capturing objects. It isn't the longest gam e but i had a lot of fun with it. Wish there was a WiC2 tbh. Stuff like Ruse/Escalation just doesn't cut it for me.
 
Where is that available? Not GOG or Steam.

Heres the link: https://store.steampowered.com/app/378610/Valley/


As an added bonus, here is my fav soundtrack from the game:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4i7WP8s004&list=LL&index=44


EDIT: Just remembered. I hear that manifold garden is pretty trippy as well. Not played it, but its in my back catalogue of games to play.

There is also the swapper, where you create clones of yourself to complete puzzles. its cool but it can at times feel like you're fighting the physics to solve the puzzle.
 
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Nice suggestions thanks all!

@Pifanjr I was actually thinking of Black and White while I wrote the thread, I think a remaster would be interesting. I don't know if anyone remembers from the 1990's Dogz, I wonder if Peter Molyneux played around with that and wanted to somehow incorporate it as a mechanic. I think at the time the gesture system for miracles was completely unique, could be wrong but its the first time I saw it at least.

@Brian Boru I've heard of Her Story it definitely looks unlike anything else. Maybe some roots in 1990's FMV adventure type games? Maybe that's just me linking it because it has live action video

Goose Game for sure seems unique, I guess its kind of in the same spirit as Goat Simulator except less of a sandbox. Factorio I haven't played yet I'd love to get into it soon. Its another one of those where I feel like I need a 5 hour stretch to get myself into it that I just don't have time to do at the moment. I feel like its spawned a few similar type of games recently so it might well already be a 'touchstone game'.

@Johnway Crypt of the Necrodancer for sure! It was definitely the first time I saw a game incorporate rhythm and music succesfully into RPG type combat, I could argue The Witcher was the first game I played that did that, but it was terrible and also not to music so I guess it doesnt count.

I also liked the Swapper and played a few hours, but I felt the central point of 'is the really clone you' had kind of been done before in science fiction. Its been a long time and I never finished the game so maybe I missed something more juicy though.

@JCgames I'm not any kind of MMO guy but Star Wars Galaxies would have been the one to get me into it. I know so little about MMORPG's, I did play Ultima Online for a bit and I believe there you could also have non combat related builds for smithing etc?
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
Sacrifice is an odd one for sure - a lot of folks really liked the multiplayer but I had quite a bit of fun playing the single player campaign with different paths.

I think X is a lot more original than you think, @Kaamos_Llama - the original Elite let you buy a ship and upgrade it but you were always in that ship. The modern one lets you buy more ships but, as far as I know, you've only got one active at a time. In the X games, you normally start with one but expand into having many, many ships that are all actively doing things, factories producing things, and so on. The actual game play is really much different. (Also makes for one heck of a learning curve.)

Let's see... The Last Remnant had a really original battle system. (Or at least I've never seen anything like it before or since.) The main game is very much a JRPG but, instead of maybe a half dozen characters, you gather a small army of them. In battle, they are divided into squads of up to 5 characters each. The system is turn based but, instead of telling each character exactly what to do, you give each squad a more general order like "attack that enemy squad with weapons" or "heal that friendly squad with potions." As the characters advance, they get smarter about what to do afterwards, too. So, if squad A has fully healed up squad B as ordered, they will then start healing themselves, or maybe start buffing up themselves or the other squad. Here's a video of a fairly long boss battle:
 
@JCgames Nice suggestions, I've actually got Dead in Vinland on my radar, I'm sure its very different but it feels like it might tickle a similar itch to Darkest Dungeon for some reason. I'm even more of a fan of turn based combat these days, as RTS games just seem to make me more tense then before.

You mentioning the time dilation stuff in Life is Strange did remind me about Braid though, that game was definitely one of a kind too.

@Zloth I'm speaking from a place of total ignorance as far as X goes and it shows, I am intrigued by it and if you think it deserves a place on the theoretical list then consider it on there :)

The Last Remnant battle system definitely looks different too. I can see that being translated into other games, wonder why no one has done that since since 2009, or have they? I could see something similar working in quite a few different ways.

Thinking about semi the indirect control of that battle system somehow also segued my brain into thinking about Radio Commander the concept interested me a while ago but I havent picked it up yet. Interesting idea!
 
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I guess both Dungeon Keeper and Majesty have indirect unit control by using gold to incentivise your units to do what you want while you focus on building your dungeon/town, so neither is unique, but I still thought they warranted a mention.

I've also never seen anything like The Guild II. I'm not even sure how I would go about describing it, especially since I've mostly screwed around in it and haven't even touched half of the mechanics in the game.
Though I guess it's somewhat close to Gangland? I've never really understood how that game worked either.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
The Last Remnant battle system definitely looks different too. I can see that being translated into other games, wonder why no one has done that since since 2009, or have they? I could see something similar working in quite a few different ways.
It's kinda funky, standing in the middle ground between total control of characters and something like the latter Dragon Age games where you give characters you don't control general orders and just ignore them while you control your main character. I expect some folks wanted to dictate exactly who did what actions so they could be as efficient as possible and some folks wanted them to just "do something vaguely smart" so they could get through each turn faster. Though I bet more just saw "different," got scared, and played something they were more certain they would enjoy.

Oh, another one from Square/Enix: the combat system in Final Fantasy 12. In that system, you essentially program your own AI. It's been a long time for me but you could tell it to do things like "keep this speed buff going" or "if anyone's HP get under 25% then heal with this kind of potion." You actually have to find the rules (called "gambits" because... reasons?) before you can program them in, which was a bit frustrating but did help with the learning curve. That system isn't entirely unique but finding games like it is pretty rare. It's the only big budget game I can think of off-hand. (Maybe Magic Circle? I always meant to play that one...)
 
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I came here to post Sacrifice but @Zloth beat me to it, it's not just unique mechanically but also stylistically, definitely a must play. The most similar game I've played to that is, inexplicably, the second half of Brutal Legend which takes a hard left turn from free roaming action adventure game into a series of RTS/MOBA style battles.

Vangers usually gets a mention when talking about unique games. It's a top down, vehicular, open world rpg where you take the role of a sentient, organic car in a post-human world shaped like a massive cartwheel. It had deformable voxel terrain and basically it's own weird language. I'm not gonna say it's a good game, but it's definitely memorable.

Outcast is another voxel based, open world game from the nineties which I loved. It had a few interesting ideas, like the way NPCs carried memories of where they'd encountered each other which lead to questioning random farmers to find quest givers, and fairly reactive AI in enemy guards and wildlife. It was also, being entirely voxel based, dependent entirely on your CPU rather than video card which made it pretty hard on the average tech of the time, even on gaming systems. On steam you can pick up either a patched version of the old game (Outcast 1.1) or a complete remake (Outcast: Second Contact) depending on personal taste.

I also carry a massive, throbbing torch for Strangers Wrath, my favourite Oddworld game. I love the wild west style, the unique living ammunition and accompanying gathering mechanics, and the story is surprisingly affecting, and has a great twist halfway through which also tweaks the gameplay in a few small but interesting ways. This one also has an HD remaster on Steam.
 
@McStabStab Duskers looks like something that I'd really enjoy. I'll pick it up on a sale sometime so thanks for that. I already intend on getting Death Stranding when its one sale later one, I'm not a great Kojima story fan so I havent been excited to pay 60 for it.

@Pifanjr Dungeon Keeper for sure at the time! Good memories of that game, I can still here the fart noises and Dark Mistress screams. Not sure why my brain picked those two sound effects in particular to bring to the surface, so moving on.

@Zloth I havent played FF12 but the way you're describing the system kind of makes it sound similar Dragon Age Inquisition's system, unless my memory is failing me ?

@JCgames I have sometimes enjoyed narrative heavy games but I have to be mentally in the right place for them to catch me. I'm definitely going to try Dead in Vinland though, I don't know if its just the Viking theme but the story parts also remind me of Banner Saga which I really liked.
@Mazer Steam is telling me that Vangers is 'similar to games you've played', such as The Witcher 3, and Oblivion :D I guess that's a sign its hard to describe. I don't remember Outcast, but I think I see why as I was running a P100 with 8mb of RAM when it was released. I'm a bit averse to going back to older 3d games as generally I find they don't control well and get frustrating unless there's nostalgia to keep me interested. Having said that Strangers Wrath looks fun, and I might grab it on the Switch sometime.

Great posts everyone!
 
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Zloth

Community Contributor
I've been a little tempted to start a topic on the funniest Steam "similar to" links. Sometimes those things can be insanely off whack.

Oh, you're right @Kaamos_Llama, the Dragon Age games did have some of the same thing! I had forgotten all about that. (I must not have taken a screenshot of it.)
 
Psychonauts - It is unique to anything else been made. Just a fantastic RPG, platform, detective, jumping/puzzle, Freudian meets lawnmower man, shooter, romantic & open semi-world type of game.
 
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OsaX Nymloth

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Didn't see it mentioned yet, so let's add:

Hand of Fate

Tabletop? Check.
Action RPG-lite? Check.
Cards and deck building? Check

There just isn't any game that I know of that allows to build your own deck that isn't just your possible inventory, but also possible encounters (or chain of encounters if you get the right cards). The way your deck dictates not only playstyle, but also what may - or may not - happen during next mission is great. If you want to get everything the game offers, you need to think strategically and sometimes even outside the box.

Also the dealer. THE DEALER.
Seriously one of the best "voices" in gaming ever.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrSC9r4lVYA


The biggest issue for me was it's action RPG elements being very "light". They improved it a lot in HoF2, but fighting never gets really interesting, it's serviceable.
 
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I've been on a JRPG kick lately since circumstances have dictated a lot of mobile gaming, and it's reminded me of Anachronox. It was a sci-fi RPG inspired by Chrono Trigger, made on the Quake 2 engine by Ion Storm. A unique take on old ideas.

And that in turn reminded me of another old RPG which did interesting things with old ingredients, Arcanum: Of Steamworks And Magick Obscura. It's got a steampunk setting with fantasy trappings, so you can play an elven mage, or dwarven gunslinger. It was made by Interplay alumni responsible for the original Fallout, Tim Cain in particular, so it's loaded with similar reactivity and role playing. It's a bit of a slog in the early game, but a definite cult classic.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
And that in turn reminded me of another old RPG which did interesting things with old ingredients, Arcanum: Of Steamworks And Magick Obscura. It's got a steampunk setting with fantasy trappings, so you can play an elven mage, or dwarven gunslinger. It was made by Interplay alumni responsible for the original Fallout, Tim Cain in particular, so it's loaded with similar reactivity and role playing. It's a bit of a slog in the early game, but a definite cult classic.
Shadowrun lets you mix modern and fantasy, as does Elex, but it's certainly rare.

I snagged Arcanum off of GOG years ago for something like a dollar just so I could look at the character creator and it certainly is interesting. You can make insane characters, too, which is another rarity!
 
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