We don’t often talk about indie games on here, partially because there are simply so many of them it’s hard to sort through the chaff to find the wheat. But here are five recent releases worth picking up, and why.
The Stanley Parable: HD Remix
This first-person adventure game is one we’ve discussed before. It’s essentially a musing on “free will” in video games, and how gameplay and level designers manipulate you to make you think you’re making choices when you’re doing exactly what they want instead.
It’s witty, it’s disturbing, and it’s brilliant. When we talk about “games as art”, this is one of the games you need to have handy to throw in the face of skeptics. It’s coming soon on Steam, but you can play it on ModDB right now.
When Vikings Attack!
This PSN title is a bit like a more mobile Plants Vs. Zombies. Vikings are swarming a modern-day town, and your job is to fight them off by recruiting the townsfolk and throwing things at them. The more townsfolk you recruit, the bigger the objects you can throw… but the slower and bigger you are.
It’s a simple game, but it’s an addicting one, without question, and it gets strategic, fast. What caught my attention the most about it was the fact that anybody can pick it up and they can even understand the strategy, but it’s not condescending or overly cutesy. It’s just pure fun, and that can be rare in games sometimes.
Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller
Phoenix Online Studios got their start making a tribute to the Sierra games of yore, specifically King’s Quest, the pixel-hunting, keyboard-smashing, mock-you-for-dying kind of adventure games. Their tribute to these games, The Silver Lining, was fun but a little too faithful to Sierra’s death-to-customers attitude.
Cognition, on the other hand, is a much more balanced and engaging game. It’s definitely got some of the Sierra “style”, but the “summoning” mechanic, where you use supernatural powers to, for example, restore evidence is used cleverly and there are plenty of assists for those who need them. That said, if you don’t like the genre, it’s not going to convert you, but if you do like the genre, you’ll be glad you played. It’s available from Phoenix Online’s website.
You may have heard of this game, and heard it described as “Grand Theft Auto, only top-down”.
That’s not accurate. Grand Theft Auto, only top-down, more insane, bloodier, and quite possibly from the perspective of a man who on a scary amount of psychedelic drugs is far, far more accurate. This is a game where you murder people wearing animal masks. In fact, everybody, in the game, is wearing an animal mask.
Essentially it’s… Look, here’s a video:
We’ve talked about Receiver before, but since then, Wolfire has overhauled the game quite a bit. It’s still an FPS roguelike, which really should be getting your attention right there: The entire game is rebuilt from the ground up when you die. But Wolfire has added new aspects, such as the ability to pick up a revolver, and the gun is depicted absolutely realistically in all respects.
Indie FPS games are rare, and this one is unique even by that standard. You can get it from Wolfire’s official site.