One of the most wonderful events of the year is about to hit Los Angeles – INDIECADE!
And knowing how you drag your feet through all the games already out there, you are not ready. Come October 4-7, the galleries of beautiful downtown Culver City will be transformed into a virtual wonderland of indie games, pushing every boundary and, at times, redefining what gaming can do. Some of the greatest minds in gaming such as Steve Russell, John Romero, and Mary Flanagan will be talking about every aspect of gaming, from developing the future of the medium to Kickstarting your own ideas.
So to make sure you're up to speed, let's take a look at five games you should have played through by now. These games are all finalists in this year’s IndieCade competition, and are all equally brilliant. These are not just game you need to play in order to survive the wild indie parties in Culver City. You need to play these games because it’s your right as a gamer to experience something truly amazing.
Turn back those who hate joy, merriment, or the act of a smile crossing your lips. If you tend to break out in a rash when it comes to exploration and discovery, you might want to keep moving. There’s a brown and gray shooter waiting for you right around the corner. For everyone else, your salvation has arrived...and it’s adorable.
Botanicula tells the story of a group of twigs, nuts, and leaves trying to escape with the life essence of a tree in tow before nasties from another world destroy them and everything else in their path. Yes, it’s a point-and-click adventure game, but behind every click, there’s a bit of joy to be found. Bugs sing. Bees dance. The world comes to life every time you poke at it for clues to escaping this dying realm. From the bouncy music to the delicate water colored art on every screen, I dare you to play this game without grinning or getting that warm feeling of discovery underneath your fingertips.
Go. Download. Be happy for once.
At this point, I should really look into some sort of “Christine Love Fan Club.” With the number of times I’ve brought her up talking about Digital: A Love Story, don’t take it personally, Babe, it just ain’t your story, and finally Analogue, I feel like I can get to some chair position such as treasure or master at arms. But that’s neither here nor there. The point is, Analogue is out, and you have no excuse not to have played it by now.
This is the future, and you’re assignment is to find out what happened upon the generation ship, Mugunghwa, as it floats lifeless in space. Aboard, you’ll find the written entries of the noble Kim and Smith families as well as the computer AI. As you read through the entries about the families and the mysterious “pale bride,” you’ll soon discover the culture that arose on the ship over hundreds of years, as well as the fate of the crew aboard. Depending on how you interact with the AI program and what you discover, players will witness one of several endings. Christine’s vivid writing and deep characters make it easy to play through the game multiple times to discover each of the endings.
Don’t take this trip lightly as you’ll move through multiple perspectives, as well as a heavy dose of gender inequality. If you are willing to take the trip through Analogue, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best writing in gaming today and a look into the future of what kind of meaningful stories video games are capable of telling.
This may just be one of the best console games to come out this year that not enough people know about. Sony needs to sing the praises of this game from every rooftop, because once you get your hands on this, you’ll be singing along as well.
One part puzzle mixed with one part racer with just a dash of art and music just to blend everything together, Dyad takes you on a fast-paced trip down a tunnel filled with lights and a shifting list of rules to keep your neurons nimble. With two tentacles of light on either side of you, you can reach out and pull your way towards, and even past, these little orbs or lights lining the racetrack. Time it right and you’ll find yourself flying down this never ending corridor as you try for faster times and higher scores. Speed junkies will be able to feed their need while puzzle freaks will love the way the game keeps you thinking and finding new ways to gain a little more speed.
I’m calling it now: this is the year of the mods. From Day Z to Dear Esther, some of the best stories and experiences in gaming today are riding on the backs of other games and being born in bedrooms across the world. The Stanley Parable has been kicking around for a while now, but that only means that I shouldn’t have to tell you about it.
The plot is simple. You are Stanley, a typical button-pushing office drone who wants little else than to simply do his work. As you go about your day, a narrator fills you in on the rest and how this day is unlike any other. And that’s as far as I’m getting into the main story. Download it now, and you’ll see how the game plays with the concepts of story, free will, and the tropes that we’ve come to depend on when we play a game.
We need games like A Closed World for many reasons. When you hear another developer talk about how games need to grow up, they need to tackle adult themes, and how they need to embrace that ability to transport the player into a different world, this is that game that they want other developers to make.
Go play it now. In the game, you play as someone searching for your beloved in a monster infested forest. Tired of the village’s oppressive ways, they choose to escape into the woods rather than stay. You follow in RPG fashion as you take on these demons one turn at a time. Instead of spells and swords, you attack with logic, passion, and ethics as you dodge the harsh words of others. A Closed World takes on the topic of sexual orientation with refreshing ferocity. This is what gaming can do. Even between the pixels and keyboard, you can still get a taste of a world that you may never know existed around you.