Shooting in video games is fairly common and, from a programming perspective, it's easy to see why. Shooting involves hand-eye coordination and is an easy task to simulate in a game environment. It can force you to manage resources and test your reflexes in a understandable way. And, heck, most of our favorite games are shooters. Still, there are definitely (and increasingly) days when we don't feel like playing a shooter, which can be a problem when so many games out there are shooters. Here's our list of eleven games to play when you don't feel like playing a shooter.
How long has it been since you played Portal 2? Whenever it was, I bet you've forgotten about some of the best elements of this game, like the multi-colored goo, or the extended potato sequence, or the great singing turrents. One of the best games on any system, Portal 2 gives you the portal gun and sets you through a series of challenges as you and your robot companion Wheatley attempt to overthrow the evil AI GLADOS. Then, even crazier stuff happens. Just as great as the single player campaign is the cooperative adventure of two robot buddies on a mysterious quest for GLADOS. The game has three of the best voiceover performances in gaming history and some of the best puzzles we've ever seen. If it's been a while for you, pick up a portal gun and remind yourself why this is one of the best games of all time.
Stick It To The Man
We've loved Stick It To The Man for a long time and we highly recommend this funny platformer for anybody needing a pallet cleaning experience out there. It's hilariously funny, it has an amazing visual style, and it has very forgiving platforming (seriously, the 1 second delay between missing a ledge and returning to the game should be taught in all programming schools). In the game, your hero meets an alien who provides him the power to grab objects out of the air, letting you move objects around, grapple up handholds, and even plant objects into character's minds. The puzzles this mechanic allows you are great, the graphics are unique, and the story is hilarious. Again, the perfect pallet cleaner.
We loved our experience with Her Story earlier this year. The game allows you to solve the mystery of a murder through video recordings from interviews filmed years previously. As you play, you acquire search terms that unlock additional footage and the mystery expands and becomes increasingly complex as you learn more and more. Fans of Serial will LOVE this game. There's no defined ending to the game, you just stop playing once you figure the mystery out and feel satisfied with what you've learned. But even though you get to decide when that is, whenever you stop, you'll feel satisfied with the experience.
Okay, 80 Days is a vast and sprawling adventure and while we're pretty sure there's no gunplay in the game, it's entirely possible there's a quest somewhere along the line that we've missed. But from what we've played, 80 Days lets you travel through a reimagined 19th century Earth populated by steampunk style robots and technology. The adventures are very well written and the different events you can get caught up in - solving murders or battling slavery or whatever - make each trip a unique and fun experience. Even if you've made it in 80 days, I bet you haven't seen Madagascar, or Belarus, or New Orleans. That's the great thing about the game, there's always more to see.
The Stanley Parable
There are few games as funny as The Stanley Parable, a game about freewill and choice and how that screws up the narrative of video games. The game looks like Halflife or Portal and the gameplay will be very familiar. But as you explore down the game's guided path, you'll start to wonder about defying your narrator's prescribed path and the temptation to rebel is hard to resist (and exasperating to your narrator!). The game has a lot of content and commentary on the role of the gamer and the programmer in games but, as cerebral as the questions can get, the game is hilarious throughout.
Fez is such a beautiful little game with relaxing music and laid back puzzle solving. Your character and the NPCs are all heart breakingly cute and the levels have enough variety to keep a casual player interested. The scope of the game's adventure can be pretty vast and the environments - all 8-bit style - are remarkably varied. Sure, we get a little confused by the extensive mapping (this game gets crazy complicated) but it's hard to think of a game that provides a more peaceful experience than Fez.
This IOS game is so simple and addictive and gorgeous that it has lived in our Iphone ever since we first found it two years ago. If you need a game to play for 5 minutes, this is the one. You play a skiier tasked with catching your escaped llamas as they flee down the mountain. As you race down the mountain and unlock new abilities, characters, and powerups, the game expands and becomes even more entertaining. It's an extremely pretty game and absolutely worth its $2 price tag.
Bully is a violent game, but it's a kid's level of violence (okay, admittedly much of our violence in games seems kind of childish). Most of the violence in this game is focused on childish pranks and adventures. You beat up bullies and thugs but nobody gets killed or shot. You hero attends classes, romances other students, and explores the nearby community. We particularly loved the seasons that pass in the game as Bulworth Academy celebrates Halloween and Christmas and other holidays. If you feel like expressing some aggression without actually hurting some NPCs, Bully can be just the game to play.
PaRappa the Rapper
Is there any game that can put a smile on a face as fast as PaRappa? You play a spunky little rapper who take karate lessons, learns to drive and eventually finds the girl of his dreams. It may take you a few rounds to get the rhythm matching down, but once you do (and once you master freestyling), this game has a lot to offer. Seriously, if you're in a bad mood, play through the first stage of PaRappa and watch your smile wash over your face. Few games are as fun, happy, and relentlessly positive as this one.
Grow Home is a game we haven't beaten quite yet but are enjoying. The game is extremely cute as you play a robot using plants to climb high into the sky. The gameplay takes a little while to get used to as you have to plant your robot's hands with the controller's triggers and then move each hand individually as you climb. But the game's polygon graphics are pretty and the colors are vibrant. Your hero is, of course, insanely cute and guiding him as he uses plants to climb higher and higher is a very comforting way to spend an afternoon.
ToeJam and Earl 3
Any Toejam and Earl game is a fun way to spend the afternoon, but the split screen adventure you can have in TE3 is one of those rare, woefully underrated experiences we like highlight on the site. This is the only game that's cooperative on our list and one of the few cooperative games that doesn't involve smashing badguys or shooting aliens. Here you persuade Earthlings to "join the funk" (or just not be a jerk) as you explore various levels and find parts of your ship. Toejam and Earl was a great game that did cooperative gaming very well and, when we get sick of shooting soldiers and aliens, we think it's a great way to play a more peaceful adventure.