There’s a big celebration about to happen. Awards will be given. Corks will be popped. People who have worked long and hard on their dreams will finally get a little recognition. Of course, I’m talking about the Oscars of hard-working indie game developers. The Independent Games Festival started this week and there are some big awards to give away. You can keep your shiny gold little men. Give me something that says I made an awesome game. With some big games hitting the stage this year, it’s going to be a tough fight just to win any award.
Of course, we here at G4TV.com know that you have a gambling problem. You keep losing. If you kept winning, it wouldn’t be a problem. So how about some help?
We've picked out some of the best bets in each of the categories ranging from audio all the way up to the big prize: the Seumas McNally award. And just to cover all the bases, we’ve even thrown in a dark horse contender in the competition just to cover our butts. Of course, each one of these games beat out hundreds of other titles just to make it this far. When all is said and done, we are all winners to have so many great games in the competition this year. Just remember that if you happen to win any real money by betting on these titles, you’re required to give us 10% off the top. Or else. Read on for our Best Bets for the Independent Games Festival Awards this year.
I see you, Nidhogg but let me highlight another game before you edge out the rest for this prize. Faraway is a one-button game where you shoot for the stars and ride their gravitational pull. On your iPad, all it takes is a tap to send your wayward comet flying in a new direction. With a very handy arrow, you look for the next set of constellations to loop around so you can score points. Everything from the look to the controls makes Faraway easy to grasp yet challenging enough for repeat playthroughs. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to make a game like this look easy.
Dark Horse: Desktop Dungeons
Desktop Dungeons takes the darkened catacombs of a dungeon crawler and twists them around to create a strategy game. Sure, all the ingredients for a dungeon crawler are there – monsters, loot, leveling, and randomly generated rooms. The twist here resides in the fact that with a limited number of monsters and health in each dungeon, practically every step needs to be calculated in order to successfully face the final boss. Switching out class or race presents a completely new challenge for the player to overcome. It’s remarkable for a game to hit so many of the old clichés of a genre yet bring a completely new experience to the player. Desktop Dungeons may only take minutes to play but it will take days to unlock all the characters, dungeons, and game modes.
Ask me what all good horror games have and I'll tell you the same thing every time – great audio. Often it’s what you don’t see that builds the tension and creates an environment ripe for scares. Anyone who’s even been in the same room as someone playing Amnesia knows that the audio is essential for survival as well as pushing the madness. In this game, your character slowly becomes more paranoid and harder to handle the longer he stays in the darkness. It’s the heavy breathing, the lone echoing footsteps through the halls, and even the imaginary scurrying legs crawling across the floor that makes every darkened hallway another nightmare ready to come alive.
Dark Horse: Bit.Trip Beat
Some games let you play around with the music. Bit.Trip Beat makes gameplay the music. When it comes to music and indie games, you can’t go wrong with the Bit.Trip Series and their unique mix of these two great tastes that tastes great together. You play Beat like a one-sided game of pong. Balls come at you as you swing your paddle from top to bottom. Don’t be fooled. These balls swing, stop, and sometimes change course while coming right at you. Keep the beat and you might just have a chance at winning, and making some beautiful music along the way.
While all of these games will keep you busy on the bus, only one will help you make enemies wherever you go. Shot Shot Shoot pits you against the person on the other side of the iPad in a fight for your life. You control a whole arsenal of blocks that spit out a bullet when you touch them. A tap will give you a quick but inaccurate bullet. Hold it down for a better shot. Quick, simple, and a perfect fit for the technology; Shot Shot Shoot attacks the multiplayer problem head on by making you share your playing field with a friend. Strategy is constantly changing. Fingers are flying. If it’s a really good game, someone may even lose an eye.
Dark Horse: Solipskier
You’ve gotten your hands on and played the skier before but have you ever played the slope? In Solipskier, you get to control the very slush beneath your feet in this 2D racer. You need to work with slight climbs and dramatic drops to have any hope of keeping the momentum going. You get rings to jump through, places to avoid, and occasional bottomless pits that you’ll need to keep an eye out for. It’s a racing game that’s more about more than just keeping your eyes on the end of the screen. You’ll need to work with the skier and that nasty thing called gravity if you want to make it through this Winter Wonderland.
Check out our Independent Games Festival picks in Minecraft through Miegakure as we ramp up towards the IGF Awards tonight!