48. Zeno Clash [official site] (2009)
Developer: ACE Team
Speaking of first-person games which lean towards fisticuffs, the gloriously weird, wonderfully physical Zeno Clash remains the one to beat. A sort of boxing game structured around a fantastical quest, it’s as weird as it is beautiful, and as tactile as it is fanciful. The fights are hard and crunchy, the opponents by turns ridiculous and terrifying, and all told it’s a true original. Zeno Clash punches far, far above its modest weight, and while the shooting aspects are comparatively thin if that’s what you’re after, the consistent level of invention and combat which makes it almost impossible for me to not bust out stereotypical action praise like “bonecrunching” is more than worth the trade-off. I’m not sure I can name a more chilling boss-foe than Father-Mother, either.
Notes: There is a Zeno Clash 2, which attempted a whole bunch of interesting stuff and was a much-expanded experience, but it fell a long way short of being as fresh and startling as its precursor. Never take your eye off developers ACE Team, however.
What else should I be playing if I like this: Man, even the idea of suggesting there’s anything quite like Zeno Clash feels offensive. On the most superficial level, Beast Boxing Turbo will let you indulge a sick love of punching weird creatures in the face, though.