Where Indie Comes to Shine
It’s no accident: if you’ve played an indie game that has made the leap into mainstream consciousness, there’s a good chance it got its start at IndieCade. The festival has consistently brought attention to avant garde titles that are just a little bit more jaw-dropping, head-scratching, and pulse-pounding than their contemporaries.
This year will be no exception with more creative titles for the tabletop, the grassy field and the virtual reality headset alike. After all the incredible work that IndieCade’s staff and volunteers have put into making their selections from thousands of submissions, we are further parsing it down to a select group that we feel are worthy of your attention at this year’s festival.
It needs to be said – for all the wonder and chaos that independent video games can induce, there also a lot of clones out there that bore us to tears. It is important to support and highlight the ideas that trudge off the beaten path, so that we can keep refreshing this incredible platform for expression, interaction, learning, fun, innovation and imagination. So here are games we feel that somehow introduce something new, something legitimately different, or repurpose things in a novel enough way to make this list and garner your attention.
IndieGameReviewer.com’s Must See/Play List – IndieCade 2014 Edition
by Somek Friends
A virus outbreak rocks Los Angeles, half of the city is in turmoil. You are a FEMA relocation agent tasked with determining why a group of displaced victims have suddenly dropped off the radar. Use the Oculus Rift as a high-tech set of goggles that will provide information that the naked eye can’t detect.
Having the Rift as a second set of eyes makes for an intriguingly novel spin on the mystery genre. We’re interested to see how the transition from 3D to 2D affects the overall feel of the game.
by Game Oven
You need two people to play this game, both of whom must hold on to a single touch screen. As you both move to keep the game going, you are guided along in a dance. Your smartphone becomes your choreographer in this eclectic exploration of time and space.
Take on your friends in combat to the death! If you play the hero, you must plunge the depths of a randomly generated dungeon, all the while fending off the attacks of your friends, who will attack you as monsters or spirits. Spirits are able to possess objects around the room. Each monster has his own special attacks. Should you manage to bring down the hero, you take his place in the proverbial hotseat.
Another hyper-minimalist approach in this text entry game. Explore a surreal take on human relationships, with barely hidden undertones of abuse.
by Etter Studio
Sporting a style not unlike those adorning titles such as Hohokum and Katamari Damacy, Drei brings together 3 players who – without the ability to directly speak to one another – must find a way to construct various structures. Abstract, floaty, co-operative goodness.
The trailer is as startlingly impressive as ray-tracing demos were when the Commodore Amiga first came out – just, uh, 30 years later.
by Pete Bottomley
Ether One has already set itself apart in 2014 as one of the most critically lauded releases from the indie scene. Indiecade will continue drawing attention to this title that may remind some of Dear Esther in that it’s a “First Person Shooter” about the fragility of the human mind. The two paths through the story are fairly non-linear and you don’t have to deal with puzzler speedbumps.
Aesthetically it is gorgeous and an overall well designed release. perhaps what makes Ether One most interesting, however, is that it almost begs you to expand your gameplay off the screen – to take stock of what is unfolding around you, take notes, think and dream on it, much like Infocom games did with little more than great imaginative writing, marvelous worlds and some chutzpah.
The interactive narrative genre gets a massive technical shakeup in Framed. The film noir-esque caper unfolds, but can be changed to effect a slew of different outcomes. It’s as simlpe as swapping one frame of the storyboard with another. Finding a happy ending won’t be easy, but with a countless number of different stories emerging on the way, it has the potential to be a wickedly captivating experience.
by Phosfiend Systems
Take a tour through a visually stunning hidden realm created using sound and rhythm. As you discover and solve musical puzzles, you’ll begin to strengthen your own set of music-building skills. Use these to forge your own tunes, which you can then share with the community. And wow, did we mention it’s an awe-inspiring thing to look at along the way?
Hyper Light Drifter
by Heart Machine
This action RPG wrangles up the best aspects of the action RPGs of yesteryear, and gives them both a massive mechanical upgrade, and a loving coat of highly-stylized pixel art. With visuals inspired by the films of Hayao Miyazaki, Hyper Light Drifter is as beautiful as it is difficult. Boasting an open world, numerous treasures to discover, and a wide array of creatures (ranging from tiny in size to massive), the game looks poised to go down in history as one of the great retro-style RPG reboots.
Don’t worry, you won’t miss it – it’s going to be released on PC, Mac, Linux, Steam, Playstation 4, PS Vita, Xbox One and Wii U.
Developer site: http://www.heart-machine.com/
by Necrophone Games
An astonishingly unusual take on cold war-tinged espionage in a Dadaist reality soaked through with equal parts Ian Fleming and Terry Gilliam through the cracked sunglasses of a Harajuku shopping junkie.
Check out Eric Weiss’s complete review of Jazzpunk
by Dinosaur Polo Club
A beautiful demonstration of flat design to create a minimalist strategy sim. Simply draw lines between stations in your blossoming new metropolis – Paris, New York, Tokyo, etc to start your trains running, and then refactor the routes as new stations open up. Zen and the art of civic travel route maintenance.
Museum of Simulation Technology
by Pillow Castle
For anyone who thinks that gaming in 3-dimensions just doesn’t go deep enough, there’s Museum of Simulation Technology. Move throughout the museum, and line up objects by positioning yourself near them. Now switch of that pesky spatial awareness you so readily apply to dealing with a 3D-seeming 2D plane, and just let the forced perspective take over.
A life-sized apple becomes a giant rolling boulder once its forced into the same space as the pillars far in the background. Reach up and touch the moon. No seriously…do it. Now pocket that glorified marble. It’s not so much “what you see is what you get” so much as it is “what you see is what can be.”
IGR staffer the Indie-Game-Freak is a sucker for Altoid tin dioramas, so it forced me to include this title iOS title in our best bets for 2014.
“Papercade is an online arcade where a community of mobile players can easily craft, play and share personalized mini-game dioramas.”
I mean, come on.
by Slacker Games
This ambitious title attempts to bring players into the realm of the point and click adventure genre by means of the the Oculus Rift. Amnesiac and bound to a wheelchair following an accident, you must explore your surroundings to uncover clues to your past. Once a memory is reconstructed, you can explore that moment of your history.
By playing as a person bound to a wheelchair, your movement is limited. This forces the player to keenly explore the nearby surroundings.
by DigiPen Team Mocha
Is this your color blue, or mine? This co-op experience as two players viewing the same world, but from starkly different perspectives. You and your partner must assist a boy and a girl – brother and sister – through a stylish, bizarre landscape. Each player wears a different pair of color filtering glasses (your daddy’s 3D, yo…) allowing them to see some parts of the world, but hiding others from sight. To make it through this trippy realm, you’ll be forced to communicate verbally.
Learn more at the official site.
Walden, a game
by USC Game Innovation Lab
Live deliberately; be a part of nature, not apart from nature. This was the philosophy of Henry David Thoroeau, a man who set out to live in the woods surrounding Walden Pond. His writings inspired many, and this latest iteration of his stories is designed to capture the imaginations of a new generation of budding young nature lovers.
from the maker of Threes – one of the most addictive iOS games of 2014 comes another exercise in hyper-minimalist addiction-building…
Our list certainly doesn’t cover all the games on display at IndieCade. If you’re at the fest don’t miss these titles. You never know when a hidden gem is due to be unearthed.
We will continue to update this article as we learn/play more. Stay tuned!