Monaco will be the game that people will pop on during parties. Fez should start building another shelf just for all the of the “Best of the Year” awards. And everything from Antichamber to Zombie Grinder is just waiting in the wings for this year to unfold. Yes, 2012 is the year that everything changes as indie games take over consoles, PC’s, and iPhones. Here are just a couple of the titles that you need to know about before everyone else is already talking about them.
The man who brought you so much real-time space combat that it was outlawed in Nebraska is back to tackle the tower defense genre with plenty of treads. Gratuitous Tank Battles puts you in the trenches of this World War nightmare as it clashes with futuristic weaponry. The heavy thuds of mechs and the rumble of tanks shake the ground as they march towards a gauntlet of trenched soldiers, giant cannons, and their awaiting fate. Players will work both lines of the battle as they try to stop the endless waves of attackers or send countless waves of men towards victory. Just as with Space Battle, it’s both the scope and detail of the game that’s most impressive. Zoom out too far and you’ll lose yourself in the chaos of the war. The adaptive AI promises that every battle will be different as the computer learns to counter your strategy. Create the perfect fighter or defense with the custom unit editor. You can also create your own levels with your particular units. When other players upload your map, they’ll be playing against a virtual you in the stage. Gratuitous Tank Battles will hopefully live up to its name once it comes out this year.
Take the look of the first Grand Theft Auto combine it with the madness of Saints Row and you’ll come close to hitting the brilliance behind Retro City Rampage. The game combines such classics at Bionic Commando, Contra, as well as some newer titles such as Splosion Man. While I could tell you about the incredible 8-bit design or over the top story, this game is just a ton of fun. Having played RCR a couple of years ago at PAX, I got a chance to wreck the city, set cars on fire, hop on pedestrians’ heads, and let loose a couple of rockets. The game has only gotten bigger with 50 story missions, over 40 vehicles, biting plumbers, and the ability to play as someone who looks nothing like Batman. For anyone looking for some chaotic fun this year, keep an eye out for this title hitting the consoles later this year.
Bring together some of the designers of games like Mirror’s Edge, Killzone, and Bionic Commando: Rearmed and what you get is an epic trek through a robotic alien world. Pid pits you against robots armed with missiles with only gravity as your weapon. From the brief trailer, you can check out these spots of light that stick to any surface. Stick it on the floor and anything caught in the beam floats upward. Stick it on the wall and object float in the opposite direction. For such a simple premise, the brilliant minds working on this game seem to be able to stretch it to its limit and beyond. The art style blends the right sort of dark humor with the playful sense of the world. Just check out the pair of bosses at the end of the trailer. pid seems to be another potential winner in a field of great indie titles.
The point-and-click adventure is making a comeback in no small part to Amanita Design. Samorost series and the critically acclaimed Machinium not only brought the genre back into the spotlight, but also evolved the game to keep players moving forwards rather than running back to the internet for answers. Botanicula follows much of the same point-and-click dark whimsy. Five friends must save the last seed of their dying tree as invaders aim to tear it down. The rich artwork and animation really comes alive and tells its own story without a single word. One of the real strengths of the Amanita Design games has always been the environments that they create. Both beautiful and haunting, you want to explore every inch of the world to find out what’s hiding underneath or how it works. Botanicula looks like another great adventure just waiting for you to discover.
Cleaning has never been this much fun. This parkour with a broom will put your fingers to work as you try to take out every little bit of dirt in the area without slowing down. Having watched this game develop over the past year, it’s been an amazing experience to watch the gameplay transform to include more characters, quick combat, and even the ability to play as the other side to turn the world into one big pile of dirt. Think of this as friendlier Meat Boy with combat elements. Every trailer that comes out seems to add something amazing to an already incredible game.
Start the Year Off Indie…
You Should Buy: Orbitron: Revolution
If you are a fan of side scrolling shooters, hop on this one. Patrol your base station as you try to delay the inevitable – total destruction. What makes Orbitron unique is the fact that you can flip directions to face opponent coming in from the right or the left. Shoot, avoid, and survive; Orbitron takes it easy for only a little bit before brining in kamikaze commandos, exploding mines, and enough ships on either side to give you whiplash. Players can jump in for a quick three minute game or try for their main mode where you’ll need to protect each section from drills.
You Should Support: Guns of Icarus Online
How is it that no one’s made this game already? You and your steampunk crew fly around on your airship to hunt down and destroy others in this MMO. Players take the role as the captain, engineer, or gunner as you fly the unfriendly skies. Teamwork is essential to survival. Shoot them down, loot vessels, or just get your cargo to port safely. Just twenty bucks gets you the game, soundtrack, and early access to the game.
You Should Buy: Lexiv
Scrabble gets an injection of desktop defense with a smattering of Sim City on the side for a bit of spice. Lexiv lets you build a world one word at a time. Like Scrabble, you get titles with letters to add to the board. Words build homes, commercial areas, or utilities to support either depending on the type of word. Add more words and your city grows. Instead of another player, you face the computer who will send units to destroy you one letter at a time. Setup turrets, collect taxes, and upgrade everything if you hope to survive.