This week I’d like to give you something to think about. These recommendations will all be titles that will keep your mind fresh, and entertain you at the same time.
Catherine is a game I like to play every so often. It’s part Japanese visual novel, and part horror puzzle game. It’s the latter part that I’d like to focus on here… while the story of Catherine is entertaining and will keep you guessing until the big reveal near the end, it is the gameplay that really works your mind.
The puzzles in Catherine are fast paced, brutally difficult, and require you to think on your feet. Moving blocks has never been so invigorating, and the satisfaction of completing a particularly difficult level is only rivaled by the satisfaction of going back to that level and perfecting the solution to get a perfect score. Trust me on this, if you’re looking for a fast paced puzzle game, Catherine will deliver, both in the core game and in the Rapunzel minigame, which uses the same mechanics but without the time limits.
The Saga of Recluce (Books)
I’ve spoken high praise both of Recluce’s magic system as well as its fascinating world before… and it is the perfect series to pick up if you’re looking for something a little more pensive to read. There isn’t a lot of action to be found in most of the recluce books, but the incredibly intricate level to which you get to know the characters and the world over the course of this incredibly long series is amazing. I’d say more, but I’m not sure what I could say that I haven’t already said time and time again!
Record of Agarest War Zero (Game)
It may seem strange to call a game that has so much fanservice in it a ‘thinker’… but when you really get into Agarest War Zero you’ll see what I mean. This is a game that I frequently want to go back to because there is a level of strategy here that I haven’t really seen in any other RPG. From a planning perspective, you have to pick and choose what types of combo abilities you’re going to aim for, because each character has a distinct set of ability slots and they often only have supercombo abilities with one or two other characters. It takes a long time to plan out your characters, equipment, and most notably skill slots even before you ever get into fighting the game’s enemies.
But that’s only the beginning… Agarest Zero is not a game about speed, it’s a game about efficiency. You want to do as much damage as possible in a single turn, that’s all that matters. Your goal is usually to deal twice an enemy’s health in a single turn to get the ‘overkill bonus’. In order to accomplish this, especially in difficult encounters, you can spend literally 10-15 minutes planning out a turn to make sure you’ve lined up your skills just right to get the maximum output without leaving yourselves too exposed to any remaining enemies retalliations. There are also bonuses you can get for achieving certain damage and hit count thresholds, bonuses which can be extremely helpful in the long run – so you have to work on getting to those as well.
Blast of Tempest (Anime)
Blast of Tempest is a show that fits the bill here. The show has very little actual action in it, and most of the time conflict is resolved through outsmarting one’s opponents. Many of the show’s biggest moments come accross as little more than debates. Through interesting characters, absurd logic, and clever use of dramatization they manage to make debate and logic constantly interesting. Exciting even. It’s an impressive accomplishment, and the characters are some of the best I’ve seen overall.
Once again, if you take any of these suggestions, let me know what your experience was like! Or feel free to share your suggestions below.