Where I yammer on about Indie Video Games.
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed that I support Indie Games. I love them, even if they’re not a game I’d normally play. Yes, I get MORE excited if I have played it or seen it and /want/ to play it. I don’t own a console (really) but I do see a lot of great games which drive me to WANT one. So, most of the games I recommend are on the PC (or your computer of choice). Here are the top games I love or I am looking forward to seeing soon.
Cogs – I first fell in love with Cogs a couple of years ago when I found it on a random “steampunk games” search. I was looking for steampunk-themed games to showcase at the first Steamcon Seattle and fell in love. Lazy 8 Studios founder Rob Jagnow is a smart guy; a very nice one, too!
His passion for creating accessible good games is quite apparent when you meet him. I’ve been able to watch Cogs jump from being PC only, to being developed across many platforms. I have a pretty short puzzle fuse, as it were. But I enjoy that Cogs can be played a variety of ways. I’m much less likely to succeed in a time challenge than one based on moves. Some puzzles are very easy for me (gears & chimes) and some are downright impossible (anything with steam pipes). Still, I fail the puzzle, but I still feel that I’ve succeeded. This is a smart and beautiful game. Please buy it on as many platforms as you can.
Machinarium – I also found this game whilst researching Steampunk games. Machinarium is a point-and-click puzzle game. Now, I’m not normally a point-and-click kinda of gal; Machinarium changed my perception of this style. It is much more than just pointing and clicking. There are a lot of mini-puzzles and certain sequences you have to figure out to move the story along. And the story? Adorable.
Whenever I play, I am always immersed into the story of the little robots. It’s all done with thought bubbles and pictures to convey the feelings of the robots and how to move the story along. My favorite part is the mini-game which you find when you want hints. As a big fan of the Defender & Stargate arcade games, I was tickled to find this wee mini-game. Seriously, just get this. It is fantastic.
Osmos – I’ve seen this style of game before, but I am not sure I have seen one as beautifully done as this. The music is sublime. Hell, sometimes I’ll start the game and just listen while I’m working, doing chores or whatnot. I don’t think I have the words to quite describe why this game is so compelling. Or maybe I just did.
I first saw Osmos at PAX Prime in 2009. Every time I walked by the booth, I was drawn in by the beauty of the game and the soundtrack. One of the things I have enjoyed most about the game is that I have to SLOW DOWN. There’s no race to absorb the motes (mostly) and the slow & steady approach is actually the better one. I’m such a crappy gamer, so I just stumble through games, trying to beat them into submission. This game has helped me relax and focus into playing the type of game I don’t normally play. Which has carried over into the games I DO normally play.
Choice of Games – I first discovered these folks when I finally upgraded to a smart phone (Android,’natch). I wasn’t really feeling a lot of the games out there and was unsure I wanted to /pay/ for games on my phone (I have since changed my mind about that paying part). At the time, they only had one game out, Choice of the Dragon.
Well, I love stories, choose your own adventure AND DRAGONS. It was a perfect fit. I loved that I could promote the game via social media. Also, I loved that they also respond well to constructive criticism. Not only that, they take the discussions of gender and get input from their community! As Adam Strong-Morse writes in his post Gender in Choice of the Dragon
We discussed the treatment of gender extensively as we were planning our first game. I self-identify as a feminist, and I’ve worked to promote equality for the LGBT community in my non-gaming professional life. So I started off with a firm commitment to the idea that our games had to be good on gender issues.
Each game have made has been an improvement on the last. I love what they’re doing so I encourage you to buy their games on Amazon.com.
Winter Voices – Winter Voices is an episodic RPG, told in 7 stories. This is a game you will really love or just not like at all. At least, from what I read in the reviews. This is one of those games I talk about when I’m blathering on about “mechanics don’t matter as much as the story”.
When I am playing, I don’t notice the mechanics some have criticized. I’m drawn in by the story, the music, and the art style. Winter Voices is up to episode 4, which you can buy in numerous places. The game is dark. The tale is dark. The music is dark. And my old elder goth self loves it.
SpyParty – How did I find SpyParty? I stumbled across this article, The Next Smart Video Game Only Lets You Kill Once by Stephen Totillo on Kotaku. What is SpyParty? “SpyParty is a spy game about human behavior, performance, perception, and deception.”
SpyParty is a game for nerds. Game dev nerds. Truly. Chris Heckler’s blogging on the SpyParty site is a luscious treat for design nerds. I am one of the 707 and cannot WAIT to get my hands on this game. Note: The screenshot below is prototype. Not finalized art.
I love watching videos of people playing this game. You can find heaps of them on Youtube. One of the other things I enjoy in the videos is that the audience doesn’t “cheat” for either player. They’re just as immersed as the people playing. This game will take concentration and paying attention to human behavior. Yes, Chris, please let me know when I can throw money at you.
B.U.T.T.O.N. – Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now – I saw this game at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in the Independent Games Festivalarea this year and was in tears laughing at everyone playing. Of course, I did feel sorry for their neighbors because it was pretty invasive to the games on their left & right. You know, watching this game in action is way better than reading me blather on about it.
NIDHOGG – Another game which captivated my attention at GDC in the Indie game area. I want to throw money at this game, too! I loved watching how the crowd reacted while people played each other. When there was a particularly good (or bad) move, the crowd would cheer or let out “Aww man!” type shouts. Lots of clapping & cheering on both players. And, as a game ended, people were happy to pass off the controllers to help others play the game. THAT is what I love about people who play games, make games and promote games. Whilst you may be disappointed in the human race in the gamer space at times, this was a great collective supportive group of folks. I loved it. Pictures don’t do this game justice, it’s all about the music and action.
I think I’m running out of steam (no pun intended). Here are links to some other games I love or am looking forward to playing.
- Dinner Date – Want.
- The Cat and The Coup – Want.
- Amnesia: The Dark Descent – Want.
- Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble – Own. Fun!
- Desktop Dungeons – Want.
- Solace – Have. Beautiful!
- Blue Lacuna – Want.
- AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! — A Reckless Disregard for Gravity – Own. I suck at it. HILARIOUS FUN PLAYING.
- Enviro-Bear 2000 – I make people play this; I have it for the Droid.
There are so many more great indie games out there. Next time you are looking around for the latest and greatest, think about supporting some very creative & talented designers, programmers, artists, musicians and everyone else it takes to make games.