I've been pointed to a pretty cool game concept by Abandon Interactive that seems to include the sort of replayability I often talk about. There's a trailer for Freaky Creatures here.
I'm impressed by how unique the game is. Most of the game elements can be found elsewhere, but it's an interesting combination of features.
It's basically a PC-based 3D online fighter game (I'm guessing it's turn-based, but I could be wrong). The hook is that you create your own character through both visuals and skills.
Starting with a basic creature of your choice and a color scheme, you can cycle through a number of head ornaments, body ornaments, and select a weapon for each hand. Weapons have stats, so that selection is not just visual. Next, you select five skills from a list. Then, name your fighter and give him or her a themesong (how exactly that works, I don't know yet).
Finally, you enter a lobby and battle other players' unique creations. Victories win you Creature Credits, and your creature levels up.
You can create a lair for your creature and interact with it, if you want to. There's also a chat window. And players can form teams, too.
From the trailer, it seems the game is aimed primarily at kids, but I expect that's only reflected in chat moderation and lack of gore. I've never played a fighter game on the PC before. And this is unique as arena games go, so I'm curious how this will turn out.
Abandon says there are "over 3.2 billion creatures" possible, so my main concern at the moment is the game's pricing model. How vital are purchased add-ons to gameplay? The game comes on a reusable USB flash drive "bundled with collectible action figures" for 20 bucks, which makes me think of collectible card games.
The Freaky Creatures site has some browser-based mini-games up, including a fun air hockey game (with some cool, if rudimentary, dynamics added). That makes me wonder if players can interact through their creations in ways beyond fighting and chatting. Wouldn't it be great to play air hockey and other mini-games with the same avatar you use for deeper 3D gameplay?
If you're not familiar with the company (I wasn't), Abandon co-published Dark Age of Camelot. They're also behind the upcoming Max Payne and Alice films.
They're taking beta signups now. Abandon expects the game to release sometime next year.
Freaky Creatures might be worth keeping an eye on. What do you think?