The gaming world is abuzz about games of the future being shown off at E3, but you can only spend so much energy pining for Halo 5: Guardians or Destiny so long before you get bored and want something you can play now. With its mix of stealth, survival horror and adventure game aspects, Murdered: Soul Suspect provides that for all platforms that aren’t made by Nintendo. But Nintendorks aren’t out in the cold. There’s the wacky life sim Tomodachi Life for 3DS, and the addictive puzzler Pushmo World begging to be downloaded to the Wii U.
Murdered: Soul Suspect
(PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, $60, Mature)
Dying in the opening moments is nothing to be ashamed of, because that’s when you get to start using your awesome ghost powers. As the spirit of a murdered cop out to solve and avenge his death, you hunt for clues by possessing people, reading their minds, looking at scenes from their perspective and manipulating them to hand over information. You can pass through walls, freak people out by messing with physical objects and, oddly, battle demons by hiding from them and sneaking up behind them for stealth kills.
There’s a ton of promise in the concept, much of which goes unfulfilled. Despite the open world setup, you’re forces to march down a preset linear path to keep the story moving, making you feel like you’re checking off items on a to-do list rather than exploring and using deductive reasoning skills. But powerful voice acting and facial motion-capturing performances go miles toward keeping things gripping, and the twist-filled, film noir-style story never bores. Murdered: Soul Suspect may not be the revelation some were hoping it would be, but there’s nothing else like it, and its flawed brilliance is worthwhile.
(Wii U, $10, Everyone)
The series that tested 3DS owners’ strategic thinking and spatial reasoning skills — think Jenga meets Boom Blox — makes its way to the Wii U, in arguably its strongest form yet. More than 250 increasingly maddening puzzles dare you to push, pull and vault over blocks to clear the way. Even though things can get dauntingly challenging, the solutions are never cheap or ridiculous. Players who eschew walkthroughs and grind away until they come up with the solutions will get the most out of it.
In addition to the campaign, there’s a user-friendly level creator that lets you share your creations and download the work of others. Tinkering with level creation is not only a way to express yourself, but sometimes leads to moments of clarity that inspire you to freshly attack levels you’re stuck on. If the community is willing to put in the work, Pushmo World should prove to be a game that keeps on giving.
(3DS, $35, Everyone)
Those who are into virtual doll house/ant farms such as The Sims or Animal Crossing will be all over Tomodachi Life, which takes the standard formulas and shakes them up with doses of reality TV and bizarre Japanese game shows. I tend to be bored by such games, but this one held my interest, thanks to its unpredictability and wild sense of humor. The game pulls in Mii characters from your system, allowing you to name them, tweak their appearances and assign voices to them.
The characters move into residences and are assigned problems that you deal with. The more characters that get involved, the weirder things get. Romance, rivalries, conspiracies and lunacy develops, and it becomes a joy to open up the 3DS each day to see what sort of oddities the game decides to throw at you. Nintendo has taken flak for refusing to include same-sex romance in the game, so if you want to make Miis of Kate Upton and Scarlett Johansson in hopes they’ll hook up, you’ll have to wait for the sequel.