“Worlds” is actually more accurate. As a student at psychic summer camp, Raz is able to dive into the brain of pretty much any character in the game, and each is a unique, fully developed world with its own physics and art design evolved from the characteristics of the mind itself. Accordingly, the uptight Germanic counselor’s brain is a two tone neon box of ever-transforming precision; the paranoic security guard’s head is crammed with shady, faceless men muttering about conspiracy on an impossibly twisted version of Main Street, U.S.A.; and the giant fish-monster’s mind is exactly what you’d expect that to be.
How It’s Art:
Raz’s descent into the world of thought is nothing short of an attempt to suss out the true inner workings of the human mind. As levels shift and flow, illusory as dream, we are faced with the manifold physical manifestations of the metaphysical: the body of self-loathing, the shape of fear, the dark recesses of denial and repressed emotion. We emerge sobered, and ready to explore our own minds with an equal amount of depth and rigor.
How It’s Still Fun As Hell:
Tim Schafer, creator of Grim Fandango
and most every other awesome Lucasarts game, made this one too, which means it’s smart, funny and there’s a move that lets you set squirrels on fire with your mind. Thus, the fabled trifecta has been achieved, and
receives the Michael Swaim official seal of “Best Platformer of All Time.” Let the rabid argument begin!
Modern Artist To Compare It To:
Tough, since each brain has a whole separate visual aesthetic. I’d go with Jacek Yerka
as a catchall, but I’m open to other suggestions.
RUNNERS UP: Bioshock
, Heart of the Alien
, Beyond Good & Evil
, the Metroid
series, Mirror's Edge
and the works of Warren Spector. Just had to stop at some point. Okami
and Heart of the Alien
I don't find particularly fun
(compared to others on the list), but both innovative visually and deserving of a mention. Beyond Good & Evil
are fun as hell, and Bioshock
is just all around phenomenal. Warren Spector = Thief
and Deus Ex
, among others.
The commenters have mentioned a number of great games that could have easily made an expanded version of this list, but I'd like to throw my weight behind Neverhood
as well, especially the latter. Buy it on Ebay
, get the soundtrack, it's all good.
Also, a game being really really good doesn't make it easily comparable to modern art; sorry. And did someone really give me shit for not mentioning Out of This World
when I went to the trouble of mentioning the incredibly obscure Heart of the Alien
? Seriously, man, I'm trying here. Cut me some slack.
When not writing for Cracked, Michael is apparently playing video games as head writer for and co-founder of Those Aren't Muskets!
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