16 Innovative Games That Were Way Ahead of Their Time

From 'Herzog Zwei' and 'Winback' to 'Elite' and 'Body Harvest,' these are games that provided the blueprint for today's biggest hits

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Ico (2001)

Released by Sony in 2001 for PlayStation 2, SCE Japan Studio's Ico has arguably been one of the most influential "arty" games of the past generation. It has since inspired dozens, if not hundreds of other game designers to experiment with narrative, communication and structure. Lead designer Fumito Ueda revealed in an interview with 1UP in 2004 that he came up with the co-dependent exploration and puzzle-solving concept for Ico back in 1997, envisioning a "boy meets girl" story where the two main characters would hold hands, forming a bond between them without communication. Through its gorgeous presentation and minimalist sensibility – characters that don't speak, the cleverly ill-defined shadow creatures, the singular environment – it conveyed a rich narrative without using any conventional video game techniques to do so. Marc Laidlaw, scriptwriter for the Half-Life series, commented in a 2008 Gamasutra interview that, among other more memorable moments in the game, the point where Yorda attempts to save Ico from falling off the damaged bridge was "a significant event not only for that game, but for the art of game design".

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