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Who's the Next Fez? - That Indie Column

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Posted April 17, 2012 - By Rob Manuel


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Fez

With one of the most highly anticipated indie games finally hitting the virtual market, there’s only one question on everyone’s lips, “Who’s the next Fez?”

Actually, everyone’s asking, “Have you been to the observatory in Fez? What’s that about? I brought some of the notes I scribbled down real quick. Do you mind looking over them?”

But soon there after beating Fez, we’re off to look towards that next big indie title to pine for as the release date forever looms in the distance. Somewhere out there, someone is coding our next obsession. One of the great things about these smaller titles is that the next big thing might still be an idea in someone’s head just waiting to get out or a program someone’s tinkering with right now. Today, I don’t just want to give you the next big thing – I want to give you five of them.

Get ready to check out the next five great indie titles you need to wait for their grand release.

Super T.I.M.E. Force

The boys at Capybara know how to twist even the simplest mechanics into an epic adventure. Take the idea of death, for instance. Where in most games you grit your teeth and pound on the buttons with sweaty palms until tasting that last bullet, Super T.I.M.E. Force practically rewards you for biting the big one in their newest adventure. Starting from the last save point, you find yourself back on the same trip, but with your previous play through at your side. Die twenty times and you’re twenty times stronger as you race through the level with your clones beside you.

The boss battle best showcases all the amazing tricks and added depth a single change in the game can cause. In the demo, you need to hit three buttons located on both sides and the bottom in order to open up the top to cause any damage. The trick here is that the top only opens for a couple of seconds before sliding shut. With each death, I gained another hand to blast one of the weak spots to open the top. And with enough men, I quickly demolished the boss with little trouble.

Super T.I.M.E. Force proves that you can put brains behind the blaster. The IGF thought so after awarding it the Microsoft XBLA award. With a release date of “sometime next year,” this gives up plenty to pine for the Contra game for a new generation. 

Antichamber

What ever you think you know is wrong. Antichamber is the kind of game that slaps you across your frontal cortex until you figure it out. You’ll wander around in circles for hours if you somehow miss the subtle clues hidden in plain sight in this museum of game design taken to the next level. The game hides nothing. Often, your own worse enemy is your own assumptions of how reality should work. Antichamber demonstrates the power that games can take us if we only dare to explore the world outside the box.

Spend an hour in the dizzying hallways and corridors that seem to backtrack to the beginning and you’ll see why Antichamber has received so many awards and fans during its development. To tell you any more about the game would simply be spoiling it for you. It’s something you need to play to believe.

FTL

Sometimes a game slips under the radar, even one as big as FTL (Faster Than Light). After getting an honorable mention from IGF for the Grand Prize, the team went for a ten-thousand dollar Kickstarter only to walk away with over two hundred thousand to make this game possible. They describe it as a rogue-like spaceship simulator. I call it pretty amazing.

FTL give you a ship and an ever-changing universe to explore. Collect items, keep your ship running, and destroy anyone who crosses your path. Most of the videos that the team has released have focused on combat between ships and even inside your own hull. Put out fires as you put down the alien scum that board your ship, every jump keeps you on your toes as you manage your crew and power to your vessel. From a simple cross section of the ship, you figure out where you need to move your men as well as areas to lock down once it all goes to hell. FTL proves that even in space, no one can hear your enemies scream for mercy.

With the beta about to launch on Steam, FTL looks to be flying high as well as getting more buzz as fans finally get their hands on the game everyone will be talking about soon enough.

Monaco

I have to admit, I’ve been keeping an eye on Monaco for quite some time. Maybe it’s the pixel aesthetics, the way the world lights us as you turn a corner, or becomes a read blur as a guard unloads into your character. Maybe it’s just because I’m a sucker for a good stealth game where you get in, get out, and leave nothing behind.

Monaco gives players a chance to live out their thieving fantasies through a number of classes with their own unique skills and abilities. Hackers, for example, let you take over alarm systems and cut the power when things get a little too hot to handle. The Pickpock uses his monkey to get those hard to reach pieces of loot. Also, monkeys are amazing. You and your thieving friends can now each get shotguns, smoke bombs, and med kits to keep everyone alive for a little while longer. Play with friends or go in alone, each job presents its own dangers that can be tackled in a variety of way depending on which class you send on this greedy gambit.

The team at Pocketwatch Games has crafted a stealth action game that will entice even the most casual gamer to sneak around with their friends.

The Witness

The Witness

If there was one game that was going to take on the mantle of highly anticipated as well as shrouded in a veil in mystery, Jonathan Blow’s The Witness fits the bill as fans of the puzzle genre devour any scrap of information that he throws their way on his blog. Set on an island filled with over four hundred puzzles already in place and more on the way, players will need to be looking for more than just a mysterious hatch if they hope to escape this conundrum.

Beautiful and yet haunting; the few screenshots released about Blow’s new title pluck at those early memories of exploring Myst for the first time. Puzzles fit seamlessly into the rough walls, structures, and the foliage that seem to be the only inhabitants of this island. While every step in the game unearths a new mystery, the biggest one still remains, “when is it coming out?” Hopefully we’ll be able to get to shore sometime in the coming year.

What do you think will be the next big indie game? Let me know in the comments below.

Who's the Next Fez? - That Indie Column
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