The Lesser-Known TBP

Lots of folks who are fiercely fond of books have the uncanny ability to amass large amounts of the damned things but do not have the time to sit down and read them. This phenomenon (with which I am well acquainted) is the TBR pile: To Be Read.

Probably every author worth their salt has got a TBR list about a half a mile long, and the advent of $0.99 eBook sales is probably not helping things much. I have a very clear awareness that the list of physical books that require my attention is being actively threatened by the list of magical space-books that I have purchased and then downloaded from the Aetherium for perusal on my lightning-powered word-slab.

That metaphor got out of hand. I mean that the number of eBooks I need to read is starting to rival the number of physical books I need to read. ANYWAY.

Thanks to Valve, the Steam service, and a combination of Humble Bundles and 75/80/90%-off sales, it has become possible in the past decade or so to enumerate the number of games that need one’s personal attention but have not yet received it. This phenomenon is well known to all those who love gaming on PC, though perhaps it is less familiar to those who enjoy games on other platforms or those who (gasp) don’t play video games at all.

Regardless, here is a curated list from what I’ve come to think of as my TBP list: To Be Played.

Owlboy

Owlboy gameplay

One of the trends you’re going to notice on this list is that I’m a sucker for visually striking games, especially if there are lots of bright colors involved. I can’t even explain what part of my reptile hindbrain this appeals to; I just know that if I see a game with a consistent and gorgeous visual style, I’m almost always going to want a piece of that action.

Owlboy is really no different, in that respect. It looks like someone managed to dip a physical brush in pixels and then paint a sublime world with it. I have literally no experience with the developers of the game (unlike some of the others on this list), but it looks like they’ve made something that’s really promising. LUCKILY, it’s also available as part of the charitable Humble Indie Bundle 18, which… Wow. I remember buying the Humble Indie Bundle 2, so I’m just going to sit here and feel kind of old for a second.

Mass Effect: Andromeda

Mass Effect: Andromeda

I mentioned previously that I’ve got this game kicking around, but then I got that sinus infection that laid me up and made it impossible to focus on anything more complex than the first generation of Pok√©mon. Like a lot of things that wound up getting dropped around that period, I haven’t gotten back around to Andromeda, even though there’s so much shit to be getting on with. Which might be part of the problem, actually. I think that Andromeda is gorgeous (regardless of what some people had to say about the character animations), and I’m clearly a fan of the previous games, but it’s tough to pick up something that you know is not only going to occupy vast amounts of time but that you’re fully aware will extract your heart like an evil Indian priest and allow divine forces to set it alight even as you watch.

Still, too much of a good thing is hardly a complaint, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to jumping back in with the Tempest crew to save a whole new goddamn galaxy.

Transistor

Transistor's protagonist, Red

Stylish heroine? Check. Art-deco jazzpunk aesthetic? Check. Velvety noir voice-overs delivered by a sentient weapon? Check. Basically, this is everything I could possibly want AND a bag of chips. It’s not easy to boil down the story, but anyone who played Bastion is aware that the developer, Supergiant Games, 100% knows their shit. It’s also useful to note that the music in this game is incredible. Layer all that onto a combat system that combines turn-based and real-time combat seamlessly and rewards experimentation with tidbits of story and you’ve got me and my money.

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

I’m not gonna lie. There’s one reason why I haven’t played this game yet, and that reason is that its predecessor, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, scared the everloving shit out of me. We’re talking sitting in a fully lit room during the day with headphones on and still deciding that crap was just too scary and that I needed a break and probably a cigarette for my nerves before I could proceed to the next section. Descent oozed thick, oily atmosphere and didn’t give a good goddamn if you were lacking in spare underwear.

My hope is that Machine continues that tradition. The problem is finding the spine to play it.


So that’s my current list of games To Be Played. How about the rest of you lot? Has the twenty-first century resulted in a media backup for you as well? What stuff do you have waiting in the wings to experience? Let me know in the comments!