Jonathan Blow’s indie masterpiece would deserve a spot on this list for its gorgeous hand-painted visual style alone, but the game’s wistful story elements and creative puzzles requiring players to alter the flow of time are every bit as inspired.
Pop Cap’s monumentally famous puzzle game is stupidly simple—shift the gems on the board to line up three of a kind—but the execution and concept is so finely tuned that it nearly takes a computer hard-disk failure to pry yourself away from it. Curse the temptation of that high-score leaderboard.
Get ready for a heart-racing survival dash, swooping and looping and dipping and swerving around an endless crushing assault of different neon-colored geometric shapes trying to crash into your ship. If only high-school geometry had offered a fraction of the fun to be found in this gorgeously rendered neon fever dream.
The quality of the illustration in Amanita Design’s latest point-and-click adventure will blow your mind. Every second is a new, desktop-gracing screen capture waiting to happen. Not surprisingly game critics have referred to the title as “a playable work of art.” You control a cute, sullen little robot (perhap's Wall-E's ancestor) who’s been exiled from his city and must make his way through the mechanical slums, solving puzzles as he goes. If you don’t find yourself marveling slack-jawed at the soulful creativity invested in this game, you may have machine parts in your chest where a human heart would normally go.
We’d never gotten choked up while playing a videogame before, nevermind one this short—a scant five minutes from start to finish—with such blocky, retro-looking pixels. But Jason Rohrer’s game about how quickly life gets away from us offers players a deeply affecting reminder of our own mortality and the pain of taking a spouse that you may quite possibly outlive. This is the emotional sucker-punching, videogame equivalent of The Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize?” Play it, now.