The sequel to what was arguably last year's Game of the Year leads a week dense with downloadable games as we barrel down the last few weeks of 2013. It's funny, because it's almost like everyone forgot in the hustle and bustle of new console launches and big fall releases that the followup to last year's critical darling The Walking Dead was right around the corner. But here we are with Season Two, Episode 1 ready to be released on the Xbox 360 and PC.
It's interesting how the dynamic of games "sneaking up" on us has become a real sensation over the past few years. Even with this weekly feature, the reality is that by focusing on what's officially on the release schedule, I'm scraping only a part of the overall list of game content available most weeks. It seems I can't fire up Steam without seeing three or four games I've never heard of in their featured list, most of them either early-access betas or independent titles made by a couple of folks with no marketing budget.
And these are just incidental diversions. Games like The Stanley Parable, Papers Please and Gone Home were these little, surprise gems that no one took note of in advance, and yet have helped create some of my most vivid gaming memories of the year. Now there's word that The Novelist, another game I'd never heard of before, is following in similar footsteps.
I know the temptation can be there to roll eyes at games like these, and dismiss them as the hipster nonsense of gamer-snobs. Hell, maybe there's even some truth in that, but in an age where one of the core criticisms has been the homogenization of games, an age of cries of creative bankruptcy, it's wonderful having prevalent games that are stretching their wings to find new ways of delivering story in a unique medium. And I include The Walking Dead, a game which is far more story than game, in that effort.