By Rick Warren / Gfn2112
Whether it's something specific like Simcity or a platform like Project Spark, creative games span multiple genres and can be widely different from one another. They do, however, share the same main trait that makes them special. That is, they give the players a set of tools and the freedom to make whatever they want. They're the ultimate way to kill time and relieve stress, providing a platform for those with and without real world artistic talent. Now, let's take a look at five of the best creative games out there!
Terraria is certainly an interesting game. Often, it's thought of as 2D Minecraft (and Minecraft even has "Try Terraria" jokingly pop up on its menu screen from time to time). Yet despite being the common comparison, and on an initial look, an accurate one, the statement does not embody everything that Terraria is.
Yes, there is plenty of building, but the game is equally focused on the combat side of things. There are many bosses and creatures to fight as opposed to the limited possibilities in Minecraft, and it’s always fun to do so with friends. There are dozens of weapons, different armor sets and various NPCs to work with. While there's no denying that it took inspiration from the creativity of the beloved building block game, Terraria took equal inspiration from side-scrolling games of the past. As an odd blend of Minecraft and games like Castlevania, it’s a randomly generated world that I never thought I'd wanted. With this unique blend of creative options and old school video game mechanics, Terraria takes a spot on this list.
Next up, a forgotten gem from the PS3 era...
4.) Modnation Racers
Yes, there's actually a group of people out there who remember Modnation Racers fondly. I'm one of them. When LittleBigPlanet Karting was announced, everyone was quick to call it a cash grab and a Mario Kart ripoff. The reality, though, was that it was more of a ripoff of a PlayStation exclusive game that came out years prior. Modnation Racers was that game, and this under-appreciated 2010 title was packed with creativity.
Releasing a year after the original LittleBigPlanet, the goal of the game was to bring LBP's "Play, Create, Share" mechanics to the racing genre. It succeeded, albeit quietly. Players could upload tracks, carts, and racers online and others could download them at any time. There was a neat creation hub area. The racing mechanics worked well. The art style was charming. Even the reviews were on the positive side. Yet despite having all the tools for success, Modnation Racers never took off. Whether it was due to poor marketing, a poor release date or something else, this game is largely forgotten about today. Still, I'm happy to put it here because I think it deserves the attention.
In the #3 spot on the list, a series that changed what it meant to be a creative game...
3.) The Sims
When talking creative games, it's impossible to ignore The Sims. It's a series that has spawned multiple sequels and expansions, and deservedly so. Prior to this game, the genre had been entirely focused on creating cities, zoos, or theme parks. The Sims decided to focus on the people occupying its world instead. More specifically, it let the player focus on them.
The Sims focuses entirely on character creation and interaction. Players create their character(s) and are dropped into a world that is theirs to shape. Anything from jobs to hobbies to homes can be designed by the player. Love it or hate it, The Sims is essentially the ultimate "life" simulator. Whether players want to take the game seriously and make the life they wish they had, make a complete joke out of it, or create their own fictional world, they're completely free to do so. I appreciate the near-limitless possibilities of The Sims games, and I'm glad that they exist. Whenever I get the chance to play one of them, I always have a great time.
In the second spot sits a game that literally everyone knows about...
Recently when talking with a few friends about having too many games to play, one of them brought up Minecraft. He said that Minecraft isn't just the game you go to when you have nothing to play, but it's "the game you play when there's too many games to play". Having spent the past two years struggling with my video game backlog, I couldn't agree more. Occasionally, I get a sudden urge to play Minecraft. When I start, I get hooked for days, regardless of what I was playing at the time.
This is a game that's legitimately impossible to avoid if you're a gamer. Even if you don't play Minecraft, I can guarantee that you know multiple people who do. It's constantly in the news and constantly ends up as one of the best-selling games every month, even though it's been out for over 8 years. Why is it so popular, though? Why do I feel compelled to play it so often?
Well, the answer is pretty simple: it's addicting. One moment you can be building a house, and in the next moment you're starting on a massive castle or statue. To build these things, you obviously need to gather lots of materials, either from mining or from various activities above ground like chopping wood. The majority of Minecraft is inventory management and resource gathering, so it should be a boring game. Instead, it's simply relaxing. You can hold down a button and chat with your friends or zone out to the calm soundtrack. You could think about what cool new thing you're going to build, or just forget about everything while you're playing. Multiple times I've set out to do a simple thing, then found myself losing track of time and seeing that hours have passed. The common saying "time flies when you're having fun" matches Minecraft. Building amazing worlds with friends or relieving stress alone never fails to be a nice experience, and Minecraft's consistency makes it one of my favorite creative games ever.
In the #1 spot sits a game that placed a huge emphasis on community...
I was late to the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 generation, and I didn't get my console until Christmas 2009. Basically, I had plenty of gaming to catch up on. The Metal Gear Solid series had dropped a fourth game. New series had started, like Uncharted and Assassin's Creed, and they had already released their critically acclaimed sequels. Yet, there was another game that interested me. It was called LittleBigPlanet. I loved the blend of various art styles, and the game seemed like a fun and colorful platformer. When I started the game, I had no real idea of the game's creative aspects, and when I found out I was blown away.
I played through the charming story, enjoying the different level types and locations as they came. It was only after that when the scale of LittleBigPlanet opened to me, though. I found out about level creating, and was shocked at how much freedom I had. Hundreds of tools were given to me, letting me make any object and any type of level I could imagine. I had access to everything Media Molecule did, and if I was skilled enough, I could make great things just like them. Admittedly, I never did. I totally sucked at level creation. Instead, my love for LittleBigPlanet developed due to the share and play features.
When told about the limitless potential of LBP, I figured it was just something said to build hype. It was meant literally, though. I quickly found never-ending pages of levels. Anything from people re-creating their favorite moments from their favorite series to entirely original mini-games. Searching virtually any word or name would lead to a series of levels created by the community. I didn't know where to start, so I used the dive-in feature that would pair me up with random players in a random level. Through this feature, I would eventually find some of my favorite levels and some of my greatest childhood friends.
Creators were only limited by the tools at their disposal, so Media Molecule corrected that with an even better sequel. Players began creating full movies and could expand beyond platformers to create shooters and puzzle games. Original music and costumes could be made and shared, too. It was incredible. For many of my early teenage years, I played LittleBigPlanet daily. There was always something new to see, whether it be a new costume for Sackboy, a new level pack, or one of the many player creations. Today, the series has three mainline entries and multiple spinoffs for different PlayStation platforms and attachments. The LittleBigPlanet community has created and shared over 10 million levels spanning those games, and nobody will ever be able to come close to seeing all of them. While I don't play nearly as much LittleBigPlanet as I used to, I'll never forget it. LBP was an experiment that tested what it would be like if regular gamers could make games. I would certainly say that it paid off.