In the dog eat dog world of video game publishing, a studio can wait years before they get their hands on an IP that will really launch them into the stratosphere, serving as a foundation to bring more big-name titles to their studio. Many have tried and many have failed to publish that one ground-breaking title that would change everything but in 2017, there was a studio that shot out of the blocks with a multitude of outstanding games, making this company one of the one’s to watch for the future. This publisher is, of course, Annapurna Interactive.
In the gaming industry, when a great game gets produced, the plaudits often go to the developers of said game and rightly so. However, a lot of these games wouldn’t happen if the publisher didn’t take a chance on these plucky little studios with an idea and a dream. Annapurna is an advocate for the little guy, offering indie developers the chance to create absolutely astounding titles and they’ve had great success when scouting out the next indie masterpiece, breaking their glass ceiling time and time again.
This ability to uncover hidden gems and form them into beloved titles has garnered Annapurna a wonderful reputation within the industry and the opportunity to help produce much-anticipated titles such as 12 Minutes with its star-studded voice cast, I Am Dead, a charming looking puzzle title and upcoming PS5 title, Stray. An aesthetically stunning title that will see you play as a cat within an intriguing cyberpunk city.
With all this being said, you may still be wondering, if these guys are so good then what have they done? Why haven’t I heard of these guys? Well, let us enlighten you as we rank every Annapurna Interactive game from worst to best!
With Soulsborne inspired titles such as Nioh 2, Mortal Shell or the much anticipated Elden Ring dominating the headlines, you would be forgiven if you managed to miss this charming Annapurna published title. Ashen clearly takes notes from games from the FromSoftware playbook but manages to deliver it in a unique way with plenty of its own personality on show throughout. In this title, you navigate a newly lit world that was once engulfed in darkness and now you must fight to restore balance and prevent the world from succumbing to the same fate again.
The game has an intriguing narrative that does justice to the unique concept of a sunless world. Plus the aspects borrowed from Souls-like titles such as the open-world environment, the harsh but fair combat and the focus on co-op friendly gameplay is all handled wonderfully to create a game that does it’s inspiration proud while setting itself apart as an inventive and ambitious new IP. This title was even nominated for ‘best independent game’ ‘Most promising new intellectual property’ and ‘Xbox Game of the year in 2019, showing just how well received this title was. So if you’re in need of another Soulsborne fix to tide you over, this might be the one for you.
This is an Annapurna published game that has that same interactive movie feel which games such as Her Story or recent PS plus free title Erica found success with. In Telling Lies, the game will have you living your detective fantasy as you analyse a full motion picture’s worth of video call conversations between four unique characters, being able to track keywords, read body language, compare facts and stories of the featured characters, all in the hope of solving the mystery hidden in these video files.
If you can’t quite picture it, imagine the detective work seen in Rockstar classic LA Noire or playing as Norman Jayden in Heavy Rain but with about ten times the depth and detail. It’s not a format that will suit everyone and if you’re a gamer that needs constant and immediate validation, this one is not for you. However, for any methodical thinker that loves a good mystery, this is a must-play.
Puzzle games have seen a real revival as a genre, with stunning titles such as The Witness, The Talos Principle and Baba Is You receiving tonnes of praise. However, Annapurna published a puzzle game back in 2017 that was criminally overlooked by mainstream gaming. This title was the aesthetically stunning and very relaxing Gorogoa. Within this title, you are presented with four artistic panels and you must combine certain aspects from each to create new images and find the hidden meaning within each puzzle.
It’s really hard to do justice to this format without actually having the controller in your hand but imagine a ‘find the object’ game but with much more depth, structure and complexity. The game wasn’t to everyone’s taste as it isn’t the most challenging puzzle game out there but those that appreciated this game for what it was, a relaxing and artistic take on the puzzle genre, were treated to a game that promises to offer an experience that no game before it has ever produced. For this title, it’s not about the challenge, it’s about the experience.
Annapurna has produced a catalogue of titles that are wildly diverse from one and other and Donut County really exemplifies that. While a lot of their titles focus on artistic and narrative-driven experiences, this title opts for a more light-hearted and humorous approach. To boil this game down to its core, you control a small hole in the ground across a series of cute, cartoonish stages and have to use this hole to accomplish certain tasks. Think of it as Untitled Goose Game with less honking.
These tasks might ask you to launch a hot air balloon, so use your hole to swallow a furnace. Or maybe you’ll need to spin a Ferris wheel so fast that it flies off the rails and destroys an entire castle. You might be wondering how you could use a hole in the ground to accomplish that but telling you would spoil the fun. In short, you’ll be surprised just how much you can accomplish with one single hole in the ground. The aim of the game is to clear or swallow everything in each stage and the puzzles can get very challenging indeed. So if you’re looking for a fantastically funny and charming game to add to your library, you donut want to miss this one.
Now we have a game that throws out the conventional playbook on game development, disregarding microtransactions, set pieces, combat mechanics or any other mainstream game tropes in favour of a game that focuses wholeheartedly on fun factor. Wattam comes from the brain of Keita Takahashi, the creator of cult classic Katamari Damacy and follows that same colourful and crazy blueprint that made that series so brilliantly bonkers.
It’s a game that plays quite similarly to games like LocoRoco, Viva Pinata or LittleBigPlanet as you strive you repopulate a barren world with a cavalcade of wacky and weird items and characters. The concept for this title is outstanding, the sound and visuals are charming and cheerful and if the game could have only produced a more comprehensive control scheme and camera, we would probably be talking about this game much later on this list. Overall though, this is a whimsical and wonderful experience that fans of Katamari will take to in a flash.
Infinite time loops, interplanetary space travel and innumerable ends of the world as we know it. What’s not to love about Outer Wilds? In this title you have a whole galaxy to explore and only about twenty minutes to do so before doomsday begins and time loops, sending you back to your toasty campfire where your story began. Now, this might seem like a nightmare Groundhog Day scenario but luckily, your space ship computer keeps track of your actions before each reset, meaning you can slowly piece together the secrets of the cosmos and figure out how to stop the end of the universe.
If you still can’t picture it, imagine No Man’s Sky but with a much more interesting narrative, planets that are fun to explore and dynamic in nature and design that values quality over quantity. This intriguing galaxy hides a wealth of mysteries and the key to saving humanity from total annihilation, so you’d be a fool not to put on your roundest, bulkiest space helmet and take to the stars in one of the most charming yet ambitious indies ever created.
With a member of staff here at Veryali Gaming that also grew up in Ireland through the ’90s, this one really hits home for us. In terms of interactivity and gameplay, this one is pretty light on that front but for those that value an intriguing, heartfelt and poignant story, you won’t mind this approach at all. In this title, you are reading through the main character Kaizo’s diary and the only thing you can do is erase what you find. This game presents a story set in nineties Ireland which is all about confronting your demons and coming to terms with difficulties from your past.
As you would expect from a game with one mechanic, the art style, sound and the aforementioned narrative carry you through this experience as you form a bond with the title’s deep and wonderfully imagined characters. With every swipe of your eraser, you ironically find out more of the story, begin to heal and in the end, to create new thoughts, feelings and experiences, it becomes clear that nothing can remain if you want to move forward. If your a fan of interactive visual novels we honestly can’t think of one better than this.
Sayonara Wild Hearts
Now moving on to the madness that is the neon crystalline daydream, Sayonara Wild Hearts. This game takes the concept of a continuous runner title you would find on your phone’s app store like Temple Run or Subway surfers, then cranks the style and story up to eleven, offering a game that never lets you get comfortable in its ever changing world. The aim of the game is to ward off enemies with your rockets and rapier, while collecting hearts which allow you to traverse the eighties vaporware inspired stages as fast as possible.
The game plays like the frantic and fast-paced Sonic Adventure 2 opening level but within the confines of a synth-pop heavy, rhythm action-adventure. It even has rankings for each stage for crying out loud. Every moment is precisely mapped, every track matches the setting perfectly and the story held within this title has more emotional value than one might think upon first glance This title is pure poetry in motion so if you have a Switch, don’t hesitate to pick this one up.
Next up is Florence, another title that values narrative over all other aspects, offering more of an interactive cinematic experience than a conventional game. The story follows the life of Florence Yeoh, a typical nineties kid in her mid-twenties trying to break free of her mundane existence and find what life is really all about. So of course, a man comes along, they fall in love and the story unravels from there. It sounds like an over told cliché but we promise that the tight writing, visual presentation and emotional twists and turns are more than enough to set it apart from just your average rom-com story.
It tells a story that’s reminiscent to 500 Days Of Summer, where the love on show isn’t presented in the eternal Hollywood fashion but instead as a fragile and fleeting moment in our lives that we have to cherish while it lasts. Florence captures the essence of this theme and manages to portray a cohesive and touching story without the use of any dialogue or text along the way, allowing the player to put the pieces together and fully immerse themselves in the ecstasy and the heartbreak. It’s an experience that any story-loving gamer should treat themselves to.
Kentucky Route Zero
Have you ever had trouble with directions even with your sat nav right there for guidance? Well, in Kentucky Route Zero, you the protagonist, a delivery driver named Conway must gain access to a mysterious interdimensional highway in order to get a package to its rightful owner. I guess he must have really pissed off his boss to get assigned that one. Across this title’s five acts you’ll gather travel companions, learn their stories, piece together your own and aim to solve the mystery that lurks within the package you’ve been asked to deliver.
This title plays like your typical point and click adventure with a text-driven narrative that will allow you to make key decisions, assess areas and objects you find for clues and explore the 2D cardboard pop up style environments. This game plays rather like Night School Studio produced title Oxenfree due to its excellently written story, simple yet effective mechanics and minimalistic presentation that suits the title down to a tee. It’s your typical Annapurna endorsed game with plenty of mystery, tension and emotional twists and turns that makes this title one of their best.
Now this entry may feel like a cheap one considering that Annapurna was not the original publishers of this game. By this logic, we could have added The Unfinished Swan, Flower and 2012 game of the year Journey to this list but we feel this inclusion is fair considering that the Switch version produced by Annapurna received the best critical score of all versions. Plus it’s our list so we make the rules.
This title was produced way back in 2009 when the walking simulator genre was very much in its infancy. Yet despite the niche nature of this title, Gone Home would offer a unique and intricately put together interactive experience which would tell the stories of the Greenbriar family and most closely following Katie Greenbriar, all the way from her early childhood right through to the dramatic and heart-warming ending of this game.
The story as a whole is a very progressive one, especially for the time of release. Giving representation to the LGBTQ community within gaming and doing so in a grounded and authentic way. There are also intricately woven details that make this game one that is worth playing again to uncover all the hidden stories told by the notes, tapes, and miscellaneous items scattered across the humongous Greenbriar estate. If you somehow went a whole decade without stumbling across this gem, be sure to treat yourself to an indie masterpiece that paved the way for walking sims that we know and love today.
What Remains Of Edith Finch
Could it really have been anything else? What Remains of Edith Finch takes the foundation that games like Gone Home built years before and creates something that is so rich in story, varied gameplay mechanics, artistic flare and shocking moments that it will most likely change the way you view games as a medium forever. If there was ever a debate as to whether video games can be art, surely this game has to be part of the conversation.
Within this title, you will explore the effects of the curse that has been slowing killing off the Finch family, learn the fates of each of the residents and in doing so, witness some of the most imaginative and inspired interactive storytelling sequences that have ever graced our screens. Sure some of the mechanics are a little wonky and sure, the visual details are nothing to write home about but putting that aside, this game can still be considered the best walking simulators ever produced and perhaps even one of the best indie games ever produced.
So that’s our list of the every Annapurna Interactive game ranked from worst to best. How many of the game on this list have you played? How would you personally rank the games on this list? Are you excited for Annapurna’s upcoming titles like 12 Minutes or Stray? Let us know in the comments.
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