I’m interested in lesser-known games.
One of my favorites is Weave by Jay Iles (@Jay)
Matching Hearts, a French Game Chef winner by Damien «Rahyll» C., is really good. It’s a two player game inspired by Mirror’s Edge, where you run through this futuristic city writing each other short messages and using real artwork/music. Link: http://www.game-chef.com/2016/09/23/your-international-game-chef-winner-is/
Until Dawn by Wilhelm Person. It’s about a group of bored kids who break into peoples’ homes while they’re gone. The gameplay revolves around discovering weird shit about the family whose house you are in. Like a good teen horror movie, it starts kind of lighthearted and joke-y, but gives way to the sinister.
I really like Masters of Umdaar for its weird aesthetic and for the term “archaeonaut.”
A small horror game about escaping the orphanage where the main mechanic are the cookies at the table.
One of my most favourite cyberpunk games ever. Basically you all live in a Coffin Hotel and everything is run on minutes on your phone. You want to leverage the power of your brands in order to get involved with get rich quick schemes to maybe, one day, get out of this place.
[Metropole Luxury Coffin]
The Orpheus Protocol is a horror-espionage game in development (and a really good podcast). It has an interesting set of resource mechanics that make missions tense and increasingly risky. The premise is really cool too: you play as spies with supernatural powers trying to shut down cults and other eldritch evils. More people need to check it out!
My Daughter the Queen of France. A weird little hybrid of larp and tabletop about a playwright bringing his friends over to rehearse scenes from his play about the breach between his daughter and himself.
I’m a huge fan of Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures for one shots, first timers who want to play D&D, and short campaigns. It’s a YA fantasy OSR game with really cool semi-randomized character creation that ties the party together really well. It also has zero prep GM scenarios that I generally ignore because I like making my own stuff up, but it’s a nice little game. The few other books for it are really cool too.
I’d love to read more about why these individual games are your favorites. What is it about them that push all others below them in your lists?
My favorite freeform is Deranged, which is about the tortured emotional lives of the German Romantic composers, and is packed with mechanics I’ve never seen anywhere else. It was a huge inspiration for me for the structure of Grandma’s Drinking Song (from Codex: Joy 2).
Weave is my favorite because I love the idea of clothing based magic. Also, it includes a lot of complexity in such a little game. Multiple factions! Exploring different cultures! Examining what it means to be a tourist!
Forsooth! Even though it was a Game Chef winner, I’ve only ever heard of one other person play it. I’ve run it a whole bunch of times (even a live action version) and it has my favourite way of representing characters ever.
By Hook or By Crook is, more or less, playing The Prisoner by way of Cthulhu Dark. I’ve never seen anyone online talk about this game, but that’s a pairing of two things that I love, that go great together.
Vermin Gods by Jay Iles does some really cool things with apportioning out authority over a scene, and seems like an interesting game in play.
I’ve not played either of those games, but they’re on my list of things to try.
Alienor by Maracanda - about life as one of Eleanor of Acquitaine’s waiting ladies. It is lovely game, with beautiful art and foregrounds interesting friendships and relationships between women. In fact I should get around to playing it again sometime!
I’m a fan of two two-player games: Cold Soldier (oop as far as I know) and Showdown (criminally under-loved, but still in print).
I love Spindlewheel! It uses the same format as a tarot reading, in that gameplay is pretty much focused on free-associating a story out of the themes of the cards and their placement in the spread. It has a unique rhythm to it that’s really refreshing.
SkipJack by Leo Marshall. A game about character creation. You discover new things about your protagonist as you play out scenes.
I love Immortal: the Invisible War. It’s a mess of nineties-style trenchcoats, terrible mechanics and pretentious setting material. It’s probably essentially unplayable (though I have played it a few times). I just really love the ideas in that game, and want to write a tribute to it one day.
(In fact I’ve already run a hack of Exalted - a game I do not like - reskinned as Immortal, because I love it so much.)
I’m unbelievably excited about @Nickwedig’s game Rusalka, which is really clever and good. You play both murderous mermaids and the poor, doomed villagers who have to deal with them. Elegiac and sad and oh so good.
Matthijs Holter’s game Draug II is also amazing. You play rural Norwegians in 1800, on the cusp of modernity but not … quite … there yet. It’s a fascinating lateral expansion of the core concepts behind Archipelago.
Mark Vallianatos’ Heads of State: Nine Short Games About Tyrants is brilliant and epic, hitting a sweet spot for me between historicity and genuine innovation in form.
I always thought Black Seven had some clever ideas and solid take on the Splinter Cell, stealth shooter genre.