I know what you’re thinking. What on earth is a dollhouse game, and how does it incorporate survival elements? Well, to put it short — a dollhouse game is a combination of enormous visuals and minuscule protagonists. Whether the plot is set within an actual house, or around an entire overlapping world — dollhouse-style games are built to make us feel small, and the shifting landscapes around us feel colossal. Finding the ideal balance of both, however, can either make or break an experience.
Many developers have looked to find ground with dollhouse types of games, but only a few have made a mark amongst best-selling genres. Very few make it to the spotlight in this day and age, and a lot of strong candidates are overlooked by renowned streamers. That being said, there are many fantastic games out there that have so much charisma and potential. These five, in particular, are the ones that have acquired a following and are very much still harvesting fame. So, shall we take a peek through the door?
5. This War of Mine
Where most (if not all) war games tend to focus on the frontlines, This War of Mine aims to draw us to the world that unfolds behind closed doors. With survival being the primary objective in a decaying town, 11 Bit Studios looked to expand on the dire consequences of having to live through a war-ridden home.
As the surviving citizens of a fractured sanctuary, you must fight to stay alive by any means necessary until there is a declaration of a ceasefire. However, in order to keep warm and see the storm through, you must tackle harsh conditions and heartbreaking decisions that can truly disband your faction. But providing you play your cards right, you might just live to hear the piercing drums of war vanquish. Do you have what it takes to survive the agony of war?
Cranking things up a notch with some monochrome visuals and thought-provoking puzzles is Darq, the powerful entry that evolves around lucid dreaming. While not one of the most celebrated dollhouse-style games on the market, Darq offers a rather unique concept with some intriguing level designs packed full of psychological elements. Plus, with developer Unfold Games consisting of a rather small team, Darq is made just that little bit more impressive for its design. Also, we can’t fault the sound design, either.
Every step, every hallway and every puzzle extracts a real level of fear out of us — and we’re forever left wondering what lurks between every spiralling silhouette. So, are you convinced? Are you ready to shut your eyes and immerse in the dream world? Darq awaits.
Leaping away from the horror scene for a moment and we’re suddenly left bundling around a warming campfire. Speaking of which, Oxenfree, although possessing some rather dark moments, is more or less a story that you’d share with a few friends over a dozen roasting marshmallows. Admittedly, you’d have to be a pretty powerful narrator to tell a story like Oxenfree — but we’d admire anyone who can without losing the hook. That’s basically because Oxenfree tells a very unique tale, that is known mostly for its twists and turns, as well as implementing rash decision-making and cryptic endings. That being said, we think this is a story that you’ll need to dive into blindfolded in order to get the best experience. Trust us, okay? You don’t want to give this one a miss.
From the dark minds that brought us one of the most critically-acclaimed hits, Limbo comes a follow-up chapter that takes originality to a whole new level. Inside, which was one of 2016’s best puzzle-platformers, has become a remarkable achievement on Playdead’s slim but sensational portfolio.
With a combination of eerie environments, unsettling level designs and a boatload of emotionless canvas faces — Inside becomes a must-play for any fan of the indie platform. Plus, as a winner for best art direction at The Game Awards 2016, we think you’d be crazy if you passed up the opportunity to delve deep into this charming nightmare. And, if this doesn’t end up on your 2021 to-do list — then we’ll be very upset.
1. Little Nightmares
While on the topic of nightmares, we thought we’d share with you one of the most renowned tales of them all. Little Nightmares, which is notably known for its Studio Ghibli influences and creature design, is one of the most respected titles to ever cross the dollhouse platform. With a genuinely fascinating narrative that gives almost nothing away, Little Nightmares becomes a truly addictive experience that leaves everything open to interpretation.
From the way you traverse the world as the mysterious Six to the methods you take to overcome the dismal environment; Little Nightmares leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat for its jampacked five-hour playthrough. All you have to do is play it — and you’ll see exactly what we’re talking about.