“Toronto’s Long Winter” – A Hot Indie Game Event – Coverage from Evening 3 of 4

On January 11th, 2013, punk band Fucked Up presented the third installment of their Long Winter series, and Toronto’s Great Hall played host to a patchwork throng of enthusiastic party-goers.

The event once again brought together performers, artists, and those who crave Toronto’s eclectic arts scene. The musical guests represented a vast span of styles, ranging from the soothing and ambient Ricercar, to the mosh-inducing hardcore punk band S.H.I.T. Local painters contributed their works which adorned the walls around the second stage area.

The Hand Eye Society, supported by the Toronto Arts Council, presented two playable games from local developers, each of which has music as an integral part of its presentation. Both games were projected against the back wall of the event while the performances played on.

Dyad is a squid-like creature’s transcendental journey through a vibrant series of pulsating wormholes presented amidst trance-evoking music. By rotating the portal left and right, and linking to matching pairs of energy centers, the squid is propelled forward with increasing speed. Considering how the deeply the fourth Doctor Who opening scarred me as a child, this game almost felt like cognitive reconstructive therapy. Dyad is currently available on the Playstation Network.

They Bleed Pixels is a surprisingly deep one-button fighter wrapped in an insidious H.P. Lovecraft inspired platforming side-scroller. After a young girl stumbles onto a blood-stained tome in the library, she begins to dream she has blades for hands, and finds she must hack and slash her way through hordes of dangerous, otherworldly creatures. Unleash deadly combos to dispatch foes, and make use of the perilous obstacles to shred enemies in a glorious, procedurally-generated shower of pixelated blood and gore. They Bleed Pixels is currently available on Steam.

DJ Finish Him, who created the soundtrack for They Bleed Pixels, also blasted out a set of dungeon crawl-worthy chiptune goodness at the crowd via the Pianocade. This synthesizer/arcade controller mashup may look like a tarted-up Hori stick, but in the hands of DJ Finish Him, it kicks even more ass.

Even early on, the event was packed wall-to-wall with revelers, all soaking up the rich array of music and artwork. Both Dyad and They Bleed Pixels captivated onlookers, and volunteers made sure that everyone got a chance to take them for a spin. I also got a chance to speak briefly with Toronto-based developer Benjamin Rivers whose indie horror title Home made our 2012 Game of the Year honorable mentions list.

Though the Toronto winter may be waning somewhat, it is far from over. Fortunately, Long Winter’s fourth and final installment is just around the corner. The Hand Eye Society will be there with another two local games. Come out of the cold and support Toronto’s bustling art and gaming communities at the Great Hall on February 8th, 2013!

Photos courtesy of Matt Fimio. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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