Publisher: Just Add Water
Developer: Just Add Water / Oddworld Inhabitants
Having played nearly every game that's come out on the Vita to date, I feel comfortable saying this: I don't think there's anything on the system that fits it more perfectly than Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD.
Don't get me wrong, there are certainly better Vita games. If I were putting together a list of must-haves, I don't think I'd put Oddworld alongside the likes of Gravity Rush, Persona 4: Golden, or Uncharted: Golden Abyss.
But in terms of games that that showcase the Vita's graphical capabilities, and at the same time provide an experience tailor-made for on-the-go gaming? Oddworld combines those two things more capably than anything else I've played.
Oddly enough, what makes it work so well is its relative lack of plot. I mean, it has one, of sorts: you play as Stranger the bounty hunter, and you're collecting bounties so that you can pay for some mysterious surgery. But — notwithstanding a bit of a twist near the game's end — that's about all there is to it. Stranger's Wrath doesn't mess around with subplots, or romances, or anything else that could bog it down. You're just running from town to town an Old West-influenced world, capturing bad guys dead or alive.
In other words, it's a plot that lends itself to quick, short(ish) missions — something you can play on your Vita in short bursts, something that won't require you to remember back story or complex gameplay mechanics when you whip out the device for some quick gaming. It's easy to imagine Oddworld becoming horribly repetitive if you were to sit down on the couch and expect it to sustain you for hours on end, but in this kind of context, it works quite well.
The game is helped, too, by the fact it looks and sounds fantastic. Everything about Oddworld is richly imagined, from the wide-open spaces and vast canyons, to the towns filled with quirky townsfolk. Even if the plot probably won't draw you in, its setting does a great job of putting you in the right mindset to enjoy the game as soon as you pick it up.
And if you're a Vita owner, you really should pick it up. It may not be the best game you'll ever play on the system, but it's guaranteed to be one of the games that makes you fully appreciate what the handheld has to offer.