The closer video games get to telling rich narratives similar to those found in other mediums such as movies, TV, and books, the more serious they become in nature. Recent games like The Last of Us provide horrific tales of personal loss and sacrifice that closely resemble the type of narrative featured in a blockbuster film, and the more serious tone did wonders for the game’s effect on those playing it. Dark and more realistic plots that hit close to home can do amazing things for a video game, but sometimes gamers just want to escape the harsh realities of life to be treated to a respite from the responsibilities and deep thoughts of being a productive member of society.
Luckily, there are still games being made that don’t take themselves seriously at all, yet still provide an entertaining escape from the doldrums of life. Just because a game may feature slapstick humor, or poke fun at itself and game design tropes in general, it doesn’t mean the game is completely juvenile and brain dead.
Three games that have come out in the past year (as in September 2012-2013) have all excelled at providing mindless fun at the expense of their own design. While they may not offer a gamer reflections on life’s lessons, each one provides more than enough laughs and nonsense to make them worthy gameplay experiences for gamers looking to just have fun. All share one common trait, and that’s their ability to not take themselves seriously, while also providing a rich experience.
3. Borderlands 2
One would think a game about a wasteland and the inhabitants trying to survive in it would be overly serious in nature, but that’s far from the case with Borderlands 2. Gearbox easily provided one of the best video game scripts of 2012 with its sequel to Borderlands. New comer Handsome Jack offers some of the cheekiest dialogue in the game, and his rants that air over the radio are full of priceless jokes, barbs, and jabs. Jack’s evil wit is further complimented by the king of shenanigans himself, Claptrap. This R2-D2 wannabe never lacks entertaining commentary. His pathetic birthday celebration epitomizes Borderlands 2’s penchant for humor and self-deprecation, but like Jack, he’s also full of hilarious dialogue.
Quite frankly, that sentiment applies to nearly every NPC in the game, which is why Borderlands 2 is on this list. In fact, if it weren’t for some of the character deaths, which kind of do hit home in a way, this game would probably have taken the top spot.
Deadpool takes the second spot on this list due to its minor technical flaws and unfair final boss fight, but it’s still easily one of the funnier, non-serious games to come out over the past year. The game itself is a parody of video game development, and it reminds you of this from beginning to end. More often than not Deadpool will relate to the gamer as if he and the player controlling him had a personal bond. He’s constantly beckoning the player to progress his progress in the game, sometimes breaking the illusion that an actual video game is being played.
The merc with a mouth also pays off on the monicker by expelling more than enough vulgar commentary to make a third grader blush. The icing on the cake is the fact that industry veteran Nolan North voices Deadpool, so throughout the game his performance shines amongst the duller gameplay tactics, and even adds credibility to the ridiculousness.
1. Saints Row IV
The Saints Row franchise has embraced the concept of not taking itself seriously since the original. It was once thought to be a GTA clone, but fans of the series have quickly come to realize that it’s far from that. In fact, the franchise has created its own niche in the land of insanity, and its brand of action is firmly rooted in debauchery and childish humor.
Saints Row IV takes the franchise’s ability for not taking itself seriously to the max. The game opens with a gang boss as President who just so happens to be able to ride the outside of a rocket like an amusement park ride. If that’s not crazy enough he then proceeds to skydive from space all the way to the oval office in the White House. That may sound like an opening to a COD game, but Volition takes things to the next level by introducing aliens, the President shooting anti-air guns in the front lawn of the White House, and last but not least – super powers!
This game also boasts an arsenal full of weapons that would make a vault hunter blush. Purple Dongs for bats, Merica guns that shoot off flames and other projectiles in a July 4th style, and even a gun that uses dubstep music for ammo.
It’d be impressive if a game came out this year that takes itself less seriously than Saints Row IV. What’s even better about this game and its lack of seriousness is the fact that it’s a blast to play. Sometimes when games go for toilet humor they don’t back it up with stellar gameplay, but that’s not the case with the latest game featuring the Saints. Without a doubt, Saints Row IV is the clear winner when it comes to non-serious games of the past year.
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