Why Double Fine Stands Out
While Double Fine has not had the large market successes that typically define a solid game company, it still manages to stand out among the crowd of competitors. The company has entered the public consciousness more because of their wildly successful Kickstarter campaign that set a record for the highest-earning video game project on the site.
Over the years, Double Fine, led by Tim Schafer (you might know him from his involvement with games such as Grim Fandango and The Secret of Monkey Island) has produced innovative games that manage to tell great stories while simultaneously being engaging and, this is probably the most important part, fun to play.
Double Fine is probably best known for two of its larger projects: Psychonauts and Brutal Legend. Psychonauts consistently ends up on many “best of” lists for the Xbox, and is about a kid named Raz running away to attend a camp for psychics. It’s an action-adventure game, and it is fantastic. Brutal Legend is probably more known for being a game that Double Fine fans really wanted to like, but couldn’t. The game suffered from a lack of focus on gameplay and meandered through RTS and sandbox alike. That said, I would rather play a missed-the-mark-Double-Fine game than pretty much anything else.
The games that often get passed over by when people talk about Double Fine are Stacking and Costume Quest. Both games are examples of what you can accomplish when you think outside of the box. They both feature exceptional gameplay and rich storylines. In Stacking you are a Russian stacking doll, and the game incongruously features child labor and cruise ships. In an innovative mechanic, your character must bounce into larger stacking dolls to successfully complete puzzles. It’s probably the most fun you can legally have while discussing child labor. Costume Quest is a Halloween themed RPG and my first introduction to Schafer and Co.
Double Fine consistently shows that you can innovate without being dry, that you can create something worth playing without falling into a formula, and the games they craft are all the more fantastic because of that. There is a reason fans where content with shelling out the amount of money they did for the Double Fine Kickstarter. They know, even in the game (now known as Broken Age) isn’t great, it’s still going to be something worth playing. They know that even when Double Fine misses, it doesn’t crash.