The 2014 FIFA World Cup is almost over—and sadly, many dreams have been crushed over the course of the knockout round.
We’re gonna miss the World Cup when it’s gone. Now, we could tell you the best way to remember the World Cup is to play FIFA video games. Solid idea, right? There are loads of them, and they’re pretty good.
But no, that would be too easy. The World Cup is all about different countries striving to put their best face forward. People of different cultures all bonding around the same love of sports.
Well, we all have a love of games, too. And in the USA, it’s pretty easy to miss out on all the great games coming from other countries. Let’s take a look at 14 games from the 16 countries that made it into the knockout stage of the World Cup. (I tried—I really tried—but I couldn’t find a single game company from Algeria. If you know any Algerian game developers, give them a shout-out in the comments below!)
Behold is a Brazilian indie game company that is responsible for Knights of Pen and Paper, which won the International Games Festival Student Showcase in 2013. The Story of Choices, also from 2013, is a dialogue-driven adventure story about a knight who has to deliver a message from his king to another king. It’s a simple concept that plays out very satisfyingly over the course of this short game. It’s the kind of game you can play multiple times to see what effect your choices have, without having to sink hundreds of hours into it. The Story of Choices is available for free on Google Play and the App Store.
Chile didn’t make it to the finals, but that’s no reason to not appreciate their games. The weirdly hilarious Rock of Ages puts the player in charge of, well, a huge rock. Basically you’re using your boulder to destroy the enemy’s castle gates, while placing obstacles to defend your own.
This crazy boulder-rolling adventure (which promises many rock puns) is available on Steam for $9.99.
Grabbity is an app (an incredibly popular one in Mexico) that has you tilting your device to move the Grabbians through a dangerous underground world in an effort to get back your stolen energy. The art style of the game really stands out, with its clean lines and bold colors. Unfortunately, only the first 20 levels (of 80) are free to play. But at least that means there’s no harm in giving it a try.
Ironhide Games drew the attention of the New York Times in this article about Uruguay’s ascending game industry. This three-man studio is respoonsibile for Kingdom Rush Frontiers, a tower-defense game for Android, Apple, and Amazon devices. It’s gotten rave reviews for its gameplay and addicting complexity. It’s not a free game—and in this case that means it’s packed with tons of content. You can find it on the App Store for $4.99.
Reus is a very short game in which the player controls nature gods to build a habitable world. People will inhabit your world, but you have no control over what they do—you can only shape the land they live on and hope for the best. The game is complicated (maybe a bit too complicated, according to some reviews), but that complication can translate to engaging complexity with a bit of practice. You can find Reus on Steam for $9.99.
Mexico’s game industry is still ramping up (you can read an essay about the history of video games in Mexico here). Their Little Heroines series is about magical girls kicking butt. In Star Heroines Call, you’re protecting the city and collecting stars using touch controls. It’s rare to see such a girl-focused fighting game that’s also so cute, so check it out. These games are available in English on the USA’s App Store, as well as in Spanish on the Mexican App Store. There’s a free version, and a full version for $0.99.
Tree Interactive is an indie game studio from Costa Rica that has a few games online right now. One of these is I Am A Brave Knight, which originated in the 2014 Global Game Jam. Unlike some of the other apps and games on this list, I Am A Brave Knight is very simple—but also very powerful. It’s functionally a typing game, where players input words related to the events of the character’s life, but it’s so much more than that. Players have praised the emotional pull of the game. You can play and download it for free right here.
Greece had a rough time in the World Cup, and it’s had a rough time in the gaming industry too. In 2002 the Greek government passed a law banning electronic games—it was soon repealed, but the Greek game industry is nowhere near as booming as in some of the South American countries featured here. Fortunately for Greece, Adventurine has been around since 2003 and put out the massively multiplayer online game Darkfall Unholy Wars. It’s a sequel to their first MMO, Darkfall Online, which shut down in 2012. The game focuses on player versus player combat and exploration in a fantasy world. You can learn more about it on Steam.
Wakfu is a massively multiplayer online game with turn-based combat. It spawned a French animated TV series, as well as comics and trading cards. It’s all part of an ongoing story, but that’s not necessary to enjoy Wakfu. With 14 classes and goals like destroying the ogre that nearly destroyed the world, Wakfu gives players lots of options. It also has an interesting environmental twist; if you harvest too many trees or kill too many animals, you risk making everything worse. Try the game for free here.
Nigeria is a veritable titan of African game development. Unlike many companies that aim for an international (read: generic Western) market, Maliyo Games focuses on Nigerian experiences—and they’ve garnered international attention for doing so. Okada Ride is probably one of their most popular games, in which you dodge traffic and other obstacles on the busy Lagos streets to reach your destination. Check out Okada Ride on their website, as well as their other games.
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams – Black Forest Games
Giana Sisters is an intense platformer with a female heroine. It’s a successor to a Commodore 64 game from the 80s, reimagined for a modern audience. Giana, the main character, has two forms: cute Giana and punk Giana. The environment of the game changes depending on which Giana you’re playing as—and her powers change too. It’s a cool concept that’s gotten great reviews, and you can pick it up from Amazon for $14.99. Steam has it too, for the same price.
Mundo Gaturro is a free-to-play MMO for kids. “Gaturro” is the feline main character of a popular Argentinian comic strip. In the game, kids can dress up their character, decorate their house, and play with friends. Like Club Penguin, Mundo Gaturro has pre-made chat options, and is heavily moderated for safety. It’s all in Spanish, but honestly I would recommend this one even for kids who aren’t fluent. There’s nothing like interacting with native speakers to motivate language learning. You can play Mundo Gaturro online.
Drei is a strange gem of a multiplayer game that connects users all over the world. Your goal is to build a tower—but you’re building it with complete strangers, who may not speak your language. Drei offers 18 different language options, with new phrases unlocking as you progress in the game. Whatever you say translates automatically for the person you’re playing with, and the gameplay is in the international language of touchscreen physics. It also won an award from the Swiss Arts Council in 2013. Find Drei on the App Store for $3.99.
Last but not least (but also not making it to the final…) is Belgium’s Larian Studios with their successful Kickstarter-funded game Divinity: Original Sin. It’s a roleplaying game with turn-based combat and a sprawling, engaging story. Best of all, it has co-op as well as single-player options, which means you can jump in with friends or family. You can buy Divinity: Original Sin on Steam for $39.99.