As we continue our journey to the Indie Game Challenge
at DICE 2011, we serve up four more piping hot indie titles for you to cast your ever-judging eyes upon. Remember, you hold the power to award one of these games the Audience Choice awards at this year’s celebration. The rest of the developers will receive cucumber sandwiches and flat soda. So needless to say, they’re really counting on your vote. In case you’ve already forgotten who else is in the running
, you can check out last week’s article which is conveniently located around here. Again, all of these games deserve recognition for being simply amazing. Much like Highlanders, however, there can be only one.
smart. Vote S Mart.
What it’s about: You get in. You get out. What more do you want? Okay, we’ll give you a gun, but it doesn’t shoot bullets. It shoots sound. You aim, fire, and sound comes out and bounces around the place. It’s great for distracting guards but bad for just about anything else. But here’s the trick – you don’t need anything else. Not only do you need nothing else, but there are multiple ways to do it. Hide in the ducts or just make a run for it. As long as you get out alive.
Okay, I won’t lie to you. You’re a triangle. The guards are circles. The world you’re trying to escape from is fairly 2D until a window explodes into a million pieces and everyone comes to investigate it. With a little imagination, you’ll be able to see it all. Take aim and let a wave of sound fly: different sound guns let you break glass or hide your footsteps. The guards actually do a pretty good job keeping an eye out and double checking some areas. Subsonic lets you flex your spy muscles in a rather smart way.
Why you should vote for it: You get it. The guard's cone of sight, the little sound ripple that comes from your footstep, even where the sound wave will go once it comes blasting out of your gun; it all comes together through simple shapes and a couple of colors. There’s a brilliance to the design that allows the player to understand how the world works through the most minimal of structures. But that’s Subsonic for you – circles, triangles, sound, and one incredible escape.
What it’s about: It’s not hard to see why so many people compare this to Portal. You wake up in a rather sterile environment only to find a device (gloves in this case) that allows you manipulate the world around you. You have the power to move blocks either up or down. Though there is a distinct lack of smarmy robots, you are seemly on a quest to escape your captives by solving increasingly complex puzzles.
My favorite parts dealt with a little furball that roamed around the playfield. The player needs to crush or trap the critter in order to continue. It takes a bit of planning and timing to make it all come out in the end. Q.U.B.E. doesn’t throw a lot of concepts at you but instead plays around with basic concepts. Getting to the credits won’t take you long but it’s an amazing journey none the less.
Why you should vote for it: “Block goes up; block goes down” should be the new “speedy thing goes in; speedy thing comes out.” Q.U.B.E. embraces simplicity in both form and design. White walls give way only to the occasional colored block. You quickly grasp that blue blocks will bounce you to the next level while red ones will disappear after a time. While not long on content, the puzzles give you a chance to stretch your noodle while playing with cubes.
What it’s about: Welcome to the greatest little show on the virtual Earth. These performers work without a net and often sacrifice themselves for your amusement. Don’t worry though. These smiling and slightly sticky slimes don’t mind sacrificing themselves for your amusement because the multicolored goo that leaks from their broken bodies that will set off the fireworks placed around the arena. Remember that the show must go on – even it’s over your dead body.
Confetti Carnival goes against what you may think a puzzle game should be. In order to get a high score, you’ll need to perform certain tricks that you collect along the way, such as the ability to switch direction in mid-flight or rewind time as you smash into a bunch of bombs. Speed also plays a part by giving you a combo counter: switch from one slime to the next to keep the multiplier going. There’s a bit of trial and error, but when it all comes together, it makes for a great show.
Why you should vote for it: Sometimes it’s the little things that keep us going in a game. Confetti Carnival introduces a new trick to your repertoire with every level you beat. Suddenly, that area two levels back that you hardly got through the first time becomes a breeze once you’re able to shift in mid-flight or make it rain as you destroy yourself against ceiling spikes. The game feeds players new abilities bit by bit and always leaves them wanting more.
What it’s about: Do you remember those little videogames at the bars? No, this isn’t the one where you touch the differences between nudie pictures from the 1980’s. This one follows the game where you move a cursor around the edge of the screen. Players win by completing shapes moving towards the center of the screen. Uncover a certain amount in a certain time and you win the board. There’s more to it, of course, but you get the idea. Fortix 2 works under the same principal – but there are dragons.
Take that bar game and put in a fantasy world where dragons and cannons are out to ruin your day. Instead of trying to take out the whole picture, you want to take over the castle by cutting into its territory. There are other things on the map to help you get through such as cannons to take out the enemy battlements and spells to put a halt to those pesky dragons or just end them all together. Sometimes you have to capture multiple castles. Sometimes new enemies are introduced like the dreaded skull dragon that will find you as soon as you make it out of the edge of the screen.
Why you should vote for it: Just as with Solace, Fortix 2 takes a game mechanic and changes it in such a way to breathe a new air of life into it. The bouncing balls change to become dragons looking for their next meal. The map has become contested territory. There’s a goal, a story, and new challenges that you would never find in a puzzle game of this type. Fortix 2 is both clever and impressive by demonstrating how to infuse storytelling into just about any kind of game.