Indie games are somewhat lost in the sea of big budget, hyped up, blockbuster games that populate our living room shelves. However, what some people don’t realise is that there is a wealth of talent behind the scenes, to be found in the form of indie games. Games which are made with little thought given to advertising; these guys just want to make good, unique, quality games. And because there is such little advertising room for them, they do have to make sure that their games are top notch- they can’t just rely on a fancy trailer and a big name. So what are our top picks? Check them out below.
This music game didn’t define the rhythm game genre- but it made it a lot of fun to play. Instead of pressing keys to match on-screen prompts to hit the right notes of a selection of tunes a la Guitar Hero, Audiosurf is quite literally what it sounds like- surfing your music. It reads whatever music files you have on your computer- iTunes music, mp3’s, whatever, and allows you to jump between coloured blocks for points while racing down a tunnel at varying speeds. The great thing about this is that it allows both hardcore thrill-seeking, leaderboard-chasing gamers and more relaxed casual players to enjoy the game how they like it.
This indie game is a perfect demonstration of how a simple concept can be so much damn fun. The premise is simple; take control of Goo balls, and use them to build various wobbling constructions; bridges, high rises, walls and so on. You then lead other Goo balls from one end of your makeshift assault course from A to B. And that is World of Goo in a nutshell. What makes this game a standout though, is its incredibly unique level design, fun gameplay and an often hilarious touch of class.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if the world suddenly simplified into an 2D universe, where only tiny flat people existed? Well, no, actually you probably haven’t. Nevertheless, Darwinia is all about 2D people in a universe. 2D people who are in fact at war with each other. You effectively become the God of a group of Darwinians, who have unwittingly let hundreds of viruses into their world, and your job is to guide them in a mission to eradicate their enemies.
Originally a game made for the XBLA, the success of this fun little platformer eventually pushed the developers to porting it to both the PC and PS3. Arguably the best independent game of 2008, Braid plays out like a slightly slower-paced, more puzzle orientated version of Super Mario Bros. However the main draw of this platformer is the ability to manipulate time; you can slow it down, reverse it or even make yourself be in two places at once. Using a retro yet timeless art style and fun yet challenging gameplay, this melancholy platformer again shows simplicity is best.
Desperate for Diablo III, but can’t stand the wait? Well here’s Torchlight, and it’s a worthy substitute. Torchlight plays out like a slightly quirky take on the dungeon crawler genre; you play from an isometric perspective, battling your way past creatures using copious clicks of the mouse. It’s full of gore and loot as you battle your way through the depths, making it a satisfying game to play. The graphics are nice, and the generally old-school approach to things makes Torchlight a refreshing break from the recent influx of first person shooters.
If you ever seen the movie WarGames, this should all be familiar with you. You control any one of several (real) continents, and proceed to wage global thermonuclear war with them. There is no campaign as such, but where this game shines is the multiplayer. It can be incredibly tense as you enter DefCON 1- the moment you can launch your missiles- as you never know when an ally might stab you in the back. Another nice feature is the Office Mode, which allows you to instantly pause and minimize the game to the taskbar should the boss come around!
Having won many accolades and awards, this indie game is certainly an oddity amongst the rest of the games on this list. That’s because it was not made for the PC- it’s a PS3 game. Consoles lack indie games for the simple reason that it is not cheap to have content published on a console, whereas anyone can create a PC game (with the right knowledge). Nevertheless in this calming and soothing game, you simply control the wind as you blow a petal over vibrant, lush fields and meadows. Granted, it is a short game, but the luscious visuals and unique gameplay make it all worthwhile.
So what is the total cost of all those games? $57.
Total cost of Modern Warfare 2? $60.
Now, argue all you like about the merits of Call of Duty, but as you may have guessed- wthis article isn’t about that. It’s about the developers who put an incredible amount of blood, sweat and tears into making these games what they are. Maybe it’s time that developers went back to their roots though, like these guys. Because, wouldn’t everyone benefit if games were better made, more thoroughly tested, and developed more?
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