1) Guild of Dungeoneering
A very cool little turn-based card combat game with an extremely unique graphical look that closer to living pen and paper than any other style, great sprites and game-play mechanics that are unique to the title, such as instead of controlling only your hero, you also must build the dungeon around him/her, providing near-endless replay value, the simple character sprites even change appearance to match equipped gear, a nice immersive feature a lot of indie titles forget to include, the dungeon creation/modification aspect is handled correctly and captures the D&D dungeon master vibe.
Why is it surprising? The Singing narrator is frankly perfect, very much reminiscent of Monty Python-style humour it was the main reason I wanted to keep playing, so I could hear more of the barb filled bard narration!
2) Vanguard Princess
Low budget anime games mostly suck, but Vanguard Princess seems to push that stereotype to near parody levels with bizarre music, art and story-line the game while a solid combat title offers some of the worst backstories I have ever seen with an incredibly strong emphasis on the words “The Government” every-time it appears in text.
Why is it Surprising? I am used to Anime games being cringe, but this title takes that cringe and magnifies it with the power of a thousand suns, it also has a rather disturbing emphasis on magic young girls, all well and good in a game targeted to girls under 10, but for a game targeted to the male-dominated fighting game genre, its frankly creepy.
Earthfall is a prettier Left for Dead 2, and while it lacks the massive map variety of LFD2 workshop the game-play itself is incredibly solid, the launch, however, was horrific which leads to the low CCU, overpriced at both early access and full launches, suffering from tiny content that was poorly optimized at Early access launch, its near demise is not a mystery.
Why is it Surprising? Despite all of this the dev team have stuck to it with great dedication, the soft relaunch was one of the best I have seen in gaming on par with the changes between Original FF14 and Realm reborn, sadly however the Developers raised the price at full launch and what little traction it may have gained was lost, it currently rests at 64 peak ccu for the day with an overall peak ccu of under 600 and looks unlikely ever to become a real contender in the co-op shooter genre.
4) Citizens of Earth
Yeah, pretty much the whole thing is surprising.
This game looks like it should be a crappy dollar tier bundle filler, and at first glance, it is, however, there is more to the game than what meets the eye, and it is an excellent and well-made title with witty writing and solid mechanics.
Everything from the dialogue to skill names is perfectly fitting to the campy side of politics, mechanically it’s a solid card/turn-based combat title, which you will find yourself wanting to complete a few times if only to collect all the possible supporters and perks.
5) Rollers of the Realm
While not everyone’s cup of tea it is a very well made story-driven pinball game, while the genre doesn’t have that much competition it offers decent mechanics, a nice art style, and a slightly cut and paste fantasy plot, overall it’s not a bad game and one you may enjoy if you are a fan of generic fantasy or pinball.
Why is it Surprising? Someone sat down and said.. hey we need to mix generic fantasy and pinball into a story-driven game.
A game about mayhem and murder is not uncommon, however the entire game basically sets you up as a terrorist slaughtering villagers who have come to try to defend their homes, when you defeat each team their entire village and families are nuked, its needlessly edgy and offensive and looks like the product of a disturbed 12 years old’s mind.
Why is it Surprising? In a post 9-11 and Isis world, terrorism and genocide are simply far too taboo to use for cheap gags and thrills, an edgy game for edgy people I cannot recommend it.
A decent Playstation 2 style action RPG with character swapping, the plot is solid, and while it is needlessly sexy, the character models are adequate for its age, combat is surprisingly good for the lesser-known title.
Why is it Surprising? As I just said, the Combat! Pay attention sheesh.
8) Scribblenauts Unlimited
Somehow the boring school games from your youth have found a way to be fun, yep its pretty much a learn to spell game but it’s so dang fun with such great game-play it can provide hours of fun for all ages, from spawning in tanks to modifying your horse to have wings and guns, its a lot of fun for all ages.
Why is it Surprising? On paper, it sounds very dull, but once you start playing, you will discover it has a depth that you would not see at first, and some of the puzzles can be fun brain teasers, great for children and adults who want some lighthearted spelling fun… yes that is possible.
9) Alien Rampage
Dos games rarely fill me with much nostalgia as honestly, I didn’t start PC gaming till the glorious windows 98 era, that being said alien rampage reminds me very much of the classic MegaDrive titles of the period, with decent but simple combat and far too many jump puzzles for my taste, alien rampage is a perfect homage to the year 1996.
Why is it Surprising? After a few minutes of play, I didn’t even take notice of the incredibly low rez which looks to be somewhere between 360 and 480. Instead, i become focused on only playing the game.
This is a sign of a quality game many people would enjoy playing.
10) Harvest Moon: Light of Hope
I love the harvest moon series, from my first HM on the Playstation 1, all the way to the later entries on Gamecube and beyond I found the series enjoyable, witty, charming, and I have longed for a PC harvest moon for a very long time, not even the “Harvest Moon-like” games hit the spot for me, I wanted the real deal, when Harvest Moon: Light of Hope was announced my excitement was palatable.
Why is it Surprising? Harvest Moon: Light of Hope is surprisingly bad, from the weird sounds and boring mechanics to the charmless 2D RPGMaker style characters you engage with during conversations, the charm of the old 2D art washed away by the “magic school girl” anime-style graphics which many RPGMaker games use.
While not a terrible game, it is a terrible Harvest Moon game and one which I would not recommend.