5 video games with unique gameplay mechanics

Higgs in Death Stranding (image by Kojima Productions)
Higgs in Death Stranding (image by Kojima Productions)

Video games in the modern age are always innovating to give players the next best thing. From a heavy focus on narrative to implementing new gameplay mechanics, developers strive to provide unique experiences for games.

Seasoned video game developers like From Software and Naughty Dog have a set formula they abide by and constantly refine their games to keep them fresh. In this era of gaming, video games can become an extremely saturated market. While some exceptions exist, most modern titles have similar mechanics and are easy to overlook.

However, some developers attempt to break away from the norm, and the games that come out of these experiments have the potential to be some of the best in the biz. This article will cover some of the most intuitive and unique gameplay mechanics in video games.


5 most unique gameplay mechanics in video games

1) Superhot

Running and Gunning in Superhot (image Superhot Team)
Running and Gunning in Superhot (image Superhot Team)

The first entry on the list is a relatively small title released in early 2016. Superhot is a first-person shooter that involves time-stop mechanics and puzzle-like combat. It has a simple premise—time moves when the player does. This gameplay mechanic might not have much going for it, but the execution here is superb.

The story for the game is minimalistic, much like the art design. You fight against stick figures and are set against an AI system that has nefarious intentions. As stated before, the story is just a backdrop to the wild gameplay. You can pull off insane bullet-time dodges, perform weapon flicks that require precise aim, and take on a seemingly never-ending mob of enemies.

Superhot is one of those rare video games that has developed a cultfollowing by creating a simple and fun experience. While fans have yet to see something that reaches the same heights as Superhot, they currently have the option of giving the game a try in VR.

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Superhot and Superhot VR are available to play on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC, and Nintendo Switch.


2) Portal and Portal 2

The Companion Cube (Image by Valve)
The Companion Cube (Image by Valve)

Valve has been a titan of the gaming industry for the past two and a half decades. The initial days of their massive success were due to the masterful games they had developed and released during that period. Seen as the underdog compared to contemporaries like Microsoft and Sony, Valve's library of video games is some of gaming's finest.

Their smash-hit success with Half-Life and its sequel revamped the first-person shooter genre. The co-op multiplayer success of the Left 4 Dead series has players still returning to the game even today. And this next entry to the list is also right up there with these greats.

The Portal games were made at a time when simplicity was key. Video game design was centered around this philosophy, and Valve got the formula just right. The main gimmick behind this series was the player had to think with "Portals."

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Described as a first-person puzzle game, Portal and its sequel are level-based games that players have to complete in order to progress. The games also have couch co-cop so you can team up with your friends to solve intuitive puzzles while having a robotic narrator/overseer provide a false sense of security.


3) Dead Space Series

Issac and a survivor on the Ishimura (Image by EA)
Issac and a survivor on the Ishimura (Image by EA)

The third entry on this list might be another first-person shooter, but its unique twist on a classic gameplay mechanic gives it a deserved spot on this list. The Dead Space games published by Electronic Arts span all the back to 2009. The story revolves around a space mystery that turns humans into undead creatures known as necromorphs. The protagonist, armed with their trusty Plasma Cutter, slices their way through haunting set pieces and ravenous enemies.

The gameplay gimmick is quite simple yet devious in terms of game design. Most conventional first-person games ask the player to aim at the enemies' heads or bodies. Dead Space, on the other hand, reverses this simple gameplay loop and makes their enemies keep on ticking, even after being beheaded. Making limbs the weak points, Dead Space stands out as an incredibly refreshing take on an otherwise fleshed-out formula.

The first Dead Space has been remade for the current generation and is available on most platforms. The video game was extremely well received and is a perfect throwback to this unique series.


2) The Last Guardian

Trico and the Boy (Image by Sony)
Trico and the Boy (Image by Sony)

The next entry on this list is a video game that has annoyed players with its quirky gameplay gimmick. The Last Guardian revolves around a young boy and his rather large animal buddy. Developed by Japan Studios for the PlayStation 4, the game has one of the most unique yet quirky mechanics in modern gaming.

The story revolves around the player character who is recalling his childhood when he met and befriended a strange large beast. The plot is endearing for any animal enthusiast, and the beast takes on the role of a canine companion. The player must use precise commands to direct the beast to help solve the numerous puzzles hidden around. There are combat elements to the game that are somewhat tedious to master.

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The Last Guardian was developed by the same studio behind Shadow of the Colossus. Both games feature larger-than-life-sized giants that tower over the player character and are incredibly unique.


1) Death Stranding

Margret Qualley and Norman Reedus in Death Stranding (Image by Kojima Productions)
Margret Qualley and Norman Reedus in Death Stranding (Image by Kojima Productions)

When fans think of a classic Kojima game, Death Stranding isn't the first title that comes to mind, but there is an argument to be made as to why this game deserves its plaudits. Death Stranding is a 'Strand-type' video game that is an absolute marvel at a technical level—the team at Kojima Productions outdid themselves when designing the game engine and the world around it. Alongside a great cast that carries the story, Death Stranding is easily one of the best games to play in this current generation.

The game has an impressive open world that is more akin to a sandbox where players are given the freedom to navigate and modify aspects of the world. Death Stranding has players travel great distances, connecting the few people that remain in the now desolate United States. While delivering packages is a key part of the game, Death Stranding also features a captivating story that has a cinematic feel to it.

The game places a huge emphasis on traversal and stands out from other open-world games in the simplest of ways. As players trudge across the bleak landscape, the terrain itself presents a unique challenge. Much like actual walking, players have to be mindful of obstacles in the way, no matter the size. Death Stranding also allows players to make the world easier to navigate. Vehicles, roads, and bridges are just a few of the many things the player can construct. When connected online, you can upload your creations to help others around the globe.

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The video games listed above have some incredibly unique mechanics that make them stand out from the rest of the pack. While games like these are hard to come by, they will remain cult classics for their genres. Studios and developers are always looking to expand on new ideas, and in this modern age of gaming, it can only spell good news for fans.