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Jul 26 2013

The 7 Best “Groundhog Day” Games

spinning_clockWhile Groundhog Day really only spoke of the horrors and social implications of being stuck in a time loop, more fun and interesting methodologies have taken place within the same storytelling concept. It is a matter of changing history through time, but it is also the matter by which the inevitability of the events that take place shape the characters and the role. If I’m some dude stuck in a time loop am I likely to do whatever I want without consequences, proceed to learn all I can about fine arts and history to impress the love of my character’s dreams, or save the world? These seven games follow the idea closely and play with the idea of infinite time and knowledge to solve one’s problems. Turning back the clock was never so easy.

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare

Yeah, this wasn't what I was expecting from a Horror Adventure, no sir.

Yeah, this wasn’t what I was expecting from a Horror Adventure, no sir.

[Ed’s Note: Please note that Matthew’s seemingly dour view of Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is his own and not that of the site at large; that especially goes for me, I fucking loved that game.]

Upon reaching the observatory and finishing the events of this action-packed survival horror game, you find yourself able to access a new reality similar to your own in order to stop the main villain from turning off the sun. He sends you back in time, but at the first moment, it appears that everything happens in the same way except for small details. Your allies only have the knowledge of previous events, so the player is left to do the same actions over again. This feels rather tedious and un-engaging, since you go through the game over again and do the same things. Because the game is also an adventure game, it isn’t as big a deal as it would be in a platformer or other genres. Ask anyone about the dick move Super Ghouls and Ghosts pulls, and you’ll understand why.

Any DBZ Fighting Game

Beams are the prime examples of the Butterfly Effect. After this one, coastal cities were flooded miles away.

Beams are the prime examples of the Butterfly Effect. After this one, coastal cities were flooded miles away.

Were you not happy with Goku dying against Cell? Perhaps, you’d like Piccolo to have beaten Frieza? Perhaps you’d like to make Krillin less sucky in comparison to the rest of his natural existence. This series is the one for you, and it always looks good on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. It gives you a much better feel for the older series and its tense battles, but with the ability to change and succeed where the original heroes failed. At that point, it all really matters on how one likes to proceed. Let Yamcha die, or kill a whole punch of Saibamen and Nappa himself….oh who am I kidding, Yamcha will always suck.

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Radiant Historia

RH

On a non-temporal note: Best sprite work I’ve seen in years.

Many role-playing fans look at this gem of a game, for its very inclusive nature and character growth alongside strategic gameplay, to be the new time-based RPG, the ultimate proof of that type being found later in this article. It follows the personal journey of a military man in a campaign of changing the world from personal and worldly destruction, given more power than any other soldier he knows to change history that could not be favorable to him. The really interesting part of this story isn’t just the time travel, but how even changing something for the better may not have the effect you want or realize….or that some choices are simply inevitable. It really makes you think about the consequences of using time travel and looping to change the world, and what cost it levies upon the user.

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Bioshock Infinite

Nothing screams splinter universes like a coin toss.

Nothing screams splinter universes like a coin toss.

Radiant Historia and Bioshock Infinite hold very similar storyline concepts; in one, you have an experienced soldier become harder but with a deeper empathy and loyalty for his people. Elizabeth has such great power to change and manipulate events, but they leave her cold and increasingly more distant compared to her softer nature at the start. It’s all reasonable through the plot, and incredibly sad. At least, with Infinite, there is a chance of hope for a better tomorrow since there is a sense of normality and peace returning to the world.

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Majora’s Mask

I always wondered how well the mask would work on a Valentine's Day card.

I always wondered how well the mask would work on a Valentine’s Day card.

Three days to save the world, and you cause yourself to loop back in time to work harder and harder in order to prevent it? This deserves a place on the list just for the drama of the last hour of the game before you lose. Have you ever taken a look around Clock Town during that time? People who have stayed have simply resigned themselves, or made their love official through marriage before they all die. Its one of the darkest games in the series, but it also draws the one of strongest emotional pulls that I’ve ever seen in a video game.

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Chrono Trigger

How true heroes saving all of humanity wind down. Accept no substitutes.

How true heroes saving all of humanity wind down. Accept no substitutes.

My personal favorite RPG needs no introduction for its time-travel elements and changing the future. When a giant space tick comes from the past to destroy our future, three teenagers, their pet robot, a cave woman. and an amphibian knight and his tormentor go save the world. Great music and visuals and an intuitive and engaging combat system which supports the growth and connection between these characters and their struggle. In order to save the world in all timelines with such a presentation, the only thing I can tell you to do is play it. Play it, and experience one of the most epic struggles for human and temporal existence that you will ever imagine.

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