I completely understand the situation. Turkeys take forever to roast, holiday flights need to be booked, and those damn Riddler trophies just won’t find themselves. It’s those damn shutter doors that keep closing before my batarang can get through. The vent should be spewing out broken bat junk by now for as many as I’ve thrown in just to hit that question mark. So if you need a break from the hustle and broken batarangs of the holiday season, I picked out some great indie games you probably overlooked during this busy time of the year.
Eufloria : PSN
This minimalist strategy game finally hits the PSN as you try to root out the infectious opponent one planet at a time. Your two resources here are time and spores. Sacrifice ten spores to lay down roots on a planet. Spores act not only as builders, but as your army, spies, and whatever else it takes to hop from planet to planet. Each orbiting body contains their own unique features to create different spores for you to order into battle. More life, faster ships, or just better weapons; Eufloria proves that you reap what you sow. Simple controls along with elegant design helps to bring a casual feel to a rather deep strategy game.
Breakout just went LARPing and this is the outcome. Wizorb pits your steel ball against monster, bosses, and a ton of bricks. The cartoony 16-bit design makes this breakout-clone one of the best looking indie games on Xbox Live. Cast spells to shoot brick destroying fireballs or take control of the ball for a limited amount of time. Spells don’t come for free so you’ll need to stock up on potions and lives whenever you can find a shop or collect them from falling blocks. The ball speeds up with every hit so you’ll need to keep wits and reaction time up. For fans of the original Breakout, it’s a fun throwback with enough twists to make it feel like a whole new game.
Jetpack penguins, mind mites, and a chicken with music videos for flashbacks; Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is certainly a shooter with style and imagination. Dropped behind enemy lines, you must take out the dreaded penguin leader to stop their evil assault. While not perfect, bits of brilliance such as taking over enemies with mind mites or jetting around the sky with a rocket strapped to your back shine through the sometimes muddled controls. The animation and aesthetics are both horrifying and hilarious taking the worse of worse of World War II and coating it with feathers. Download the demo at least to give it a shot.
The 90’s were all about flannel, mumbling through songs, and a small army of nasties coming your way with only a shotgun between you and oblivion. Serious Sam is looking to make a comeback and he’s bringing along some of the most creative indie teams as backup. I got my grubby little hands on two of the titles – Serious Sam: Double D and Serious Sam: The Random Encounter
Give Weapon of Choice a spin and you’ll see why the developers picked Mommy’s Best Games to take on the Serious Sam franchise. They stripped out one of the dimensions and added in the ability to attach a gun to another gun. And attach a gun to that gun. And another gun. And another gun. Much like facing hordes of headless men with bombs for hands, Mommy’s Best ups the ridiculous ante by allowing you to wield towers of guns against oncoming foes. Oddly enough, these towers of shotguns-rifles-chainsaws create their own strategy to the game by creating combinations better for some jobs than others. From the simply amazing creature designs to the fast paced platforming, Double D should be in that virtual checkout cart for any gamer who hungers for the insane.
Much like Mommy’s Best Games reconfigured the game into a plaformer, Vlambeer goes in a completely different approach – the JRPG. From the guys who brought you Ridiculous Fishing and Super Crate Box, this small team of developers gives you all the action you need in five second bites. All encounters start with you and your teammates running backwards as you face an on coming horde. You can attack, switch weapons, or use an item within those five seconds. Moving up and down dodges, but much like the actual game, there’s very little between you and foe. Through a little trial and error, you begin to understand it often takes the right weapon to get the job done – and splatter it against the wall.
Game developers by day and dominatrix by night, Edmund McMillen continues to enjoy administering a little suffering with his new game that combines rouge-like dungeons and something akin to Zelda. You play as a naked boy escaping from his delusional mother as you make your way through five levels of your basement. Every playthrough presents a completely new scenario for you to battle your way through with only tears to smite your grotesque adversaries. Though you’ll pick up coins, bombs, items, and other assorted goodies along the way; you only have one life to live. That’s it. You don’t get your hand stamped to come back. Isaac encourages multiple playthroughs to see all the endings and collect all the goodies. Already, there’s a Halloween Update that adds more of everything you could want – just no pants.
And now for what you should be doing…
You Should Buy -- The Humble Voxatron Debut
Haven’t heard about Voxatron? That’s not a problem. This stylized 3D shooter-platformer hybrid happens to still be in its Alpha stages, but by picking it up now, you get all the future updates included with your purchase. As with all Humble Bundles, a portion of your donations goes to the Child’s Play Charity. Throw in more than four bucks and you get Blocks That Matter and Binding of Isaac along with your donation. Don’t be cheap. Humble Bundle makes giving easy when the receiving is this amazing.
You Should Support -- Indie Royale
On the heels of Humble Bundle, Indie Royale wants to give you some of the best games for some insane deals and one unique idea. When they launch a new bundle, the price starts around two bucks and starts to rise with every purchase. If you throw in more than the given price of a bundle, you knock down the price for other needy gamers. This sliding “pay-what-you-want” sold nearly 40,000 bundles of ARES, Gemini Rue, Sanctum, and Nimbus. At most, you’re forking over about six bucks which I would pay for any one of these games. Keep your eyes on the site for the next bundle heading your way.
You Should Play – Realm of the Mad God
We are but gamers in the realm of a Mad God - and that’s not a bad thing. Forget that whole installing, updating, and loading mess. Realm of the Mad God gives you all the MMO goodness in a browser. Though the pixel graphics may not have the shine of some other MMO’s, this browser games gives you quests, loot, leveling, and the ability to play with others if you so desire. For such a seemingly small game, you’ll find that this realm is rather vast with diverse bosses, character classes, and unique armament. With quick saves littering the world, you can jump in and out at your leisure.