2012 Gaming experiences you might have missed

Luis Badillo, Writer

Courtesy of clker.com


In the gaming industry, December brings about year-end review discussions. Reviewers and enthusiasts alike are working on their games of the year lists, focusing on the best titles of the past 12 months. 2012 was a big year for blockbuster titles, but while outlets are focusing on entries for million dollar franchise, it’s important not to forget some of the lower profile of the year. This list puts together some of the smaller games that were still able to make a big splash in 2012.
1. Slender: The Eight Pages (PC/Mac)
Slender is a short experimental game inspired by the urban legend known as the Slender Man. The game places a player in a forest preserve at night only armed with a flashlight to fend of the Slender Man, a freakishly supernatural being hunting the player.  The only hope for survival is to collect eight pages hidden throughout the forest. As each page is collected, layers of disturbing music are added on as the silent Slender Man stalks you more aggressively in this nightmarish cat and mouse chase. Available at ParsecProductions.com
2. Day Z (PC)
What happens when A hyper-realistic military shooter gets mashed up with the zombie apocalypse? Players get Day Z, a modification to the popular PC military simulator ARMA II. Day Z drops players in a zombie infected island about 140 miles wide. Aside from the walking dead, players stave off death from starvation, dehydration, blood loss, and even catching a cold. Scavenging the island for food, water, vehicle parts, medicine and weapons is necessary in order to survive. The real fear isn’t the undead hordes though. Day Z accommodates up to 63 other players, all of which can fight together to survive, or form bandit groups to prey on the unsuspecting survivor. DayZ is available for download at DayZmod.com and requires ARMA II: Combined Ops to play.
3. Coderunner (iPhone)
Have ambitions for becoming a secret agent? There’s an app for that. Coderunner takes the GPS capabilities of smartphones to envelope players in a story of intrigue and espionage. Using an overhead map of the physical area, Coderunner will give mission objectives to go play 007.  Players will be tasked with walking to locations to hack into databases, crack passwords, trail targets, all while an agency contact is feeding commands and mission intel via earphones. Players who have downloaded the app can create dead drops for fellow spies to go to and perform mission objectives, all with a location and password of the creator’s choosing. NEIU students may find a little surprise for them on campus if they choose to embark on this cloak and dagger adventure. Available on the iPhone app store.
4. Rhythm Heaven Fever (Wii)
With the release of the Wii U, the last year of life for the Wii was scarce with new releases. Luckily for Wii owners, Nintendo released the spectacularly quirky Rhythm Heaven Fever, from the creators of the popular WarioWare series. Rhythm heaven offers a selection of rhythm based mini-games each with a delightfully absurd premise. Keep a tempo with a watch powered solely by the high fives of tiny monkeys living in it. Conduct a successful wrestler post-game interview by keeping your responses in beat. Help an air-pilot cat play badminton in midflight by maintaining a rhythm. There are enough  kooky games to have players of all ages coming back for hours of gameplay. Rhythm Heaven is available in both online and retail stores.
5. Journey (PS3)
Journey is a game that truly understands how to turn a game into a great narrative experience, even if it is only a few hours long. Taking the role of a nameless silent scarf-wearing creature, the game gives almost no context to who this creature is, or what sort of world it inhabits. The camera only points to a mountain in the distance, and the player is left to figure out how to get there on their own. The game’s plot unfolds to reveal the world’s secret history with no dialogue whatsoever. Instead, beautiful level design and musical scores weave the story together. As the lonely pilgrim, the player might also encounter other players making the same quest online. Even with no voice or text chat enabled, these encounters create a brief respite from solitude. Journey’s storytelling method is unique and no other game, no matter how big its budget may be, comes close to it. Journey is available on the PlayStation Network Store, and both online and retail stores.