Considering we find ourselves in what I consider to be the golden age of shock value memes, it is only natural that this trend of the unnatural finds its way into every medium. This is no different for the realm of gaming. Both indie developers and larger teams have found use of the weirdness for standing out amongst the vast ocean of games being released. In the year 2020, over 10,000 games were released on Steam alone. That is not even counting games with independent clients, games released on other platforms, or browser style games with no real client. With such a huge number of games to compete with for the market space, it is no wonder developers have been experimenting with the weird to try and find a niche in the industry.
Much of the time, embracing the weird side of gaming results in a unique experience for the users. Sometimes, however, it just ends up being a catastrophic flop. This article will focus more on unusual games that did well within the market (with a couple of exceptions). If you are looking for some seismic failures, however, feel free to check out A Depressing Analysis of the 10 Worst Games on Steam. With that out of the way, let’s get into seven of the weirdest Steam games we could find. In no particular order, the list includes:
In an increasingly virtual world, the dating simulator genre has seen an increase in popularity as of late. Apparently, this increase is seen in more than just the human species. For those pigeon gamers out there (and humans too, I suppose), Hatoful Boyfriend is a dating simulator in which the main characters are a variety of birds. As big of a meme as this may sound, the game is surprisingly realistic and full of emotional content.
The characters (birds and a few humans) within the game all have developed backstories and creative dialogue that allows you to genuinely connect with them. Going into it, many players see the game as a meme about romantic bird encounters. By the end of it, players are left in awe from the huge number of dark twists and societal parallels. Spoiling any of the twists would ruin the experience, it is simply one of those games you have to experience for yourself to see just how Mediatonic managed to turn a game about pigeons and romance into an emotional masterpiece!
GracetheSpaceCase on Steam writes:
“Me when first starting up this game: Aw this is so cute! I love birds!
Me after 100% completing this game: *heavy sobbing in the dark in the middle of the night while my very soul is being torn out of my body”
Following the trend of non-human dating simulators, Don’t Make Love follows the relationship dynamics of praying mantises. For those unaware, a female praying mantis will quite literally kill the male after the reproductive process. The game explores this concept through the point of view of the praying mantises (male or female, you can play as both) and the complex moral dilemma this would pose if these little green bugs were sentient.
Don’t Make Love parallels the modern dating world and will have you comparing your own romantic life to that of a bug. Don’t let this concept fool you, the relationship you will explore hits the heart in a deep way only in-depth storytelling can. It reflects upon the desires of the flesh versus the pursuit of intellectual connections. It’s a great little game that will leave a much larger impression on the player than they could ever expect.
Shirazmatas on Steam writes about Don't Make Love saying:
“A truly genius indie game exploring the undiscovered genre of romantic mantis games. This game makes you understand the difficulties that every mantis experiences throughout their lives.”
Octodad places you in the world of Octodad, a new father to two beautiful children. The only problem? He’s a sentient octopus in a world full of humans. Mechanically, the game presents a challenge to the player to complete everyday tasks without the usefulness of opposable thumbs. Instead, you have long tentacles that are just as useless for human tasks as one would expect.
In terms of story, Octodad has a meaningful connection to real world human dynamics. It explores, metaphorically, the struggles new fathers face as they try their best to face all the challenges fatherhood presents. These struggles are only further emphasized by the father’s cephalopod origins. Perhaps, one could see these struggles as a metaphor for people who do not believe they are fit to be a parent, or that they do not have what it takes. By the end of it, they’ll realize parenthood is a struggle for everyone, so just enjoy the ride!
Zippertooth on Steam says:
“I have 2 kids, how does my wife not know I’m an octopus? And how do I have 2 kids?
From the creators of Surgeon Simulator, I Am Bread is an interesting physics based game in which the player controls a piece of bread. The player is tasked with the difficult objective of traversing the in-game world to find a heat source to become toast. It is similar in concept to that of QWOP in that the controls of the game are the main challenge. Essentially, a different key is mapped to the corners of the bread. Activating a certain key allows the player to grab with that corner and thus move around the world.
One thing to note, however, is that it is highly recommended to have a controller to play this game. While mouse and keyboard is possible, it is one of those games where the mechanics just seem to flow better and make more sense with a controller.
Lily73 on Steam lovingly writes about the game saying:
“I absolutely love the humour in this game. Yes, it is frustrating, but it just adds to the hilarity. Also, a surprisingly deep story. 10/10 would bread again”
One genre that does not get enough love for the amount of work that goes into development is the Full-Motion Video genre. Gameplay in this genre exists through pre-recorded video files with some dialogue overlaid to present the player with choices. These choices then influence which files are played and thus a story is built by the player.
Press X Not To Die places the player in a survival situation in which everyone around them is attacking each other. Players must react quick enough to avoid an untimely ending, while making the right choices to make their way out of the town full of crazies. Don’t worry if you don’t react in time, watching the actors play out the over the top deaths is one of the best parts of Press X To Not Die!
Stark on Steam leaves a review saying:
“Nonsensical story, bad acting, unexisting fourth wall, ridiculous fight moves, egregious amount of tomato juice... All you could want in a game about games. 10/10 Would press X again.”
For the puzzle lovers out there, Antichamber takes the term ‘difficult’ to a whole new level. The constantly changing game world forces players to adapt to the many challenges the game throws at them. Whatever your initial solution is for a puzzle, it is probably wrong. Antichamber forces the player to throw themselves at the puzzle and learn from their mistakes. The first person point of view allowed the developers to create some clever manipulations. Walking down a hallway just may change everything behind you once you reach the end of it. The puzzles within Antichamber are some of the most unique challenges I have ever seen a game implement. If you enjoy mental exercises and opening your brain to new ideas, Antichamber is the game for you!
Savage Turtle on Steam left a review saying:
“11/10. They didn't just think outside the box, they threw the box into the void, where it belongs.” - Savage Turtle on Steam
Perhaps the least polished game on the list, Brainpipe could be compared to an endless platformer like Temple Run. However, the visual style of the game is vastly different than any platformer you have encountered. The best way to describe it is psychedelic, but even that does not fully encompass the visuals. It may not be the most interesting in terms of story or message, but Brainpipe is definitely worth checking out for the visuals alone. Better yet, it is completely free to play!
Kingpin Jinky on Steam says:
“Sooooo trippy! Spooky view of the inside of the mind. Very disorienting. Fun fun fun.”
The creative minds behind these games were bold in their expressions, resulting in games that are full of character and a totally unique experience. We hope that this article has shown that just because a game may look odd on the surface, does not mean that it should be avoided! Instead, players should jump into the game with an open mind and, who knows, maybe you will find your next favorite game!
Image courtesy of store.steampowered.com