Downloadable games get opportunities to take risks that AAA titles can’t take. Downloadable also offer one-of-a-kind experiences for a small price, and this is the place to look for that kind of experience. Downloadable games are perfect to get small doses of great gameplay, but only one can come out on top. This year showed a ton of great games that didn’t even make it onto the list. It was a tough choice, but a decision has to be made.
Vampire Smile is a stylish game that’s both gory, dark, and bursting at the seams with unique art. The story is interesting, the combat is fluid, responsive, challenging, and deep. Smile featured tons of crazy bosses, great enemies to fight, and two whole story modes to go through. Sure it was punishing sometimes, but that’s what made it rewarding. It topped them all due to all of this combined despite many amazing downloadable games this year.
The Dishwasher is a strange name, but the story of Yuki is actually pretty sad and engaging. Yuki dies in the hands of the Dishwasher and is hallucinating. You play flashbacks of her in an asylum trying to find her killer, but then again she’s hallucinating and kills the wrong person. She crash lands on the Moon trying to find the person making her hallucinate and find out why this is all happening to her. There’s a lot of detail in the story so explaining too much will give spoilers. Just know the story is excellent and very engaging.
The game is all about combat which is super fluid, fast, and fun thanks to smooth and responsive controls. You will find different weapons like Cloud’s sword, a hypodermic needle, kamas, as well as having a mini-gun arm attachment. You can use the right stick to use the blood dash to go through enemies and dodge them, but everything is just so fast and fun you just forget the controller is in your hands. You can hit enemies with a light and heavy attack as well as a unique attack with B such as a grab, needle jab, or chainsaw attack depending on your weapon. After you damage an enemy enough they will have buttons flash under them. Hit it and see a brutal execution move that just looks awesome. The game is very punchy, heavy hitting, and powerful thanks to the excellent combat system.
You can equip beads that add attributes to Yuki, you can also use magic skulls that do massive damage to enemies. I just can’t really describe how excellent the combat is until you actually play it. It’s like trying to explain how good Devil May Cry’s combat is. There’s just no way unless you actually play it. Boss fights are also fun and unique but some can be brutally difficult to beat. Dodging and twitch reactions are key to staying alive in the game, so this is no walk in the park. The game will just take your breath away by how fast paced it is, but I guarantee your fingers will ache after a couple of levels.
The art style is just awesome with a very messy, dark, and smeary art style. It looks like you can’t tell what’s going on, but it was done in such a way that you can make everything out just fine. I love how dark and brutal the art is, so it just helps portray how helpless Yuki is. I didn’t really find much wrong with the game except the brutal difficulty. The enemy variety is pretty high and there are plenty of boss fights. After you finish Yuki’s story you can even go back and play the Dishwasher’s side so it’s like two games in one. This is probably one of the best XBLA games I have ever played and it should not be passed up.