Honorable Mentions (con’t)
Original US Release: June 20, 2012
In his original IGR review of Intrusion 2, Callabrantus wrote:
“Any gamer hungering for a quick dose of crazed, over-the-top gameplay need look no further: Intrusion 2 brings more than enough fast-paced armed conflict to scratch any itchy trigger-finger. It also comes wrapped up in a stunningly crafted battlefield populated with some inspired enemy designs. Playing through Intrusion is thoroughly engrossing, and is generously peppered with Keanu Reeves’-level ‘Whoa’ moments.”
HappyWulf adds: “I picked Intrusion 2 because it’s what Contra 3 would have been like if it had physics and destructible environments. And I don’t think anyone would say that Contra 3 is not a great game. It’s cool, smart, fun, and the big bosses are ‘epic'”
Galaxy on Fire 2 Full HD
(Fishlabs Entertainment GmbH)
Steam Release Date: Aug 21, 2012
Galaxy on Fire 2 Full HD is a sandbox game that has taken the best aspects of games like X and made the journey smoother and more streamlined. Originally released as a game for iOS devices, Galaxy on Fire 2 (originally released Oct. 27, 2010), and subsequently Full HD, which we are reviewing here, became a force to reckon with.
“…What I loved (and still love) most about the game is how easy it is to get to the good part. I like shooting stuff, frankly, and I was able to acquire a pretty ridiculous heavy fighter outfitted with some shockingly damaging weapons within a few hours of play. Mind you, this didn’t make combat a push-over as I’d feared. Granted, it does mean that when I inevitably shoot neutrals or friendlies, my relations with that faction drop pretty fast…”
– From the original IGR review of Galaxy on Fire 2 HD by Bill Whorton
While Galaxy on Fire 2 Full HD does not offer the same dizzying level of depth as some other titles in the genre, it combines just the right balance of core gameplay and gorgeous cinematic-level visuals to fire the imagination for a good many hours.
Original US Release: June 1, 2012
This game by Toronto dev Benjamin Rivers kind of came out of nowhere, but in a year where the indie horror genre had a huge burst of activity, it creeped me out more than any Slenderman or the otherwise excellent Lone Survivor managed to. In fact, though I am not likely to forget my experience playing the game for a long long time, I hope to not have to any time soon. It takes you into an emotional and psychological space that is very difficult to come to grips with.
In essence, a string of gruesome murders have taken place and you are trying to remember why something about them seems familiar. As you instinctively refute clues that may implicate you in the crimes, you are slowly pushed towards a form of denial and even guilt without remembering where along the way you became morally gray. And though it falls more in the “interactive narrative” category that also made a splash in 2012 with games like Dear Esther, it does have enough causalities based on your decisions to earn the categorization of a game. An powerful work. – Indie Game Freak
Read the original IGR review of Home by Indie-Game-Freak
Original US Release: Oct. 24, 2012
Sliding into everyone’s line of sight right at the end of the year, Frog Fractions was a seemingly unassuming edutainment title that slowly revealed an entirely different soul at work below the surface. We can’t tell you just how far this insane romp through the imagination goes, but suffice to say it was a brilliant sleight of hand that made everyone wake up and pay attention again to the possibilities when one is not worried about breaking ranks with the status quo.
Play Frog Fractions for free in your browser by clicking on its title above.
Original US Release: February 14th, 2012
Broadening its audience reach since its first conception as an experimental Half-Life mod, this acclaimed commercial title from thechineseroom became a touchstone for anything like it that followed. With input from development heavyweights like Jonathan Blow (Braid, The Witness) and Richard Lemarchand (Naughty Dog), this walk through a Hebridean island under a cold gray sky is a meditation and a mystery. It requires little more from the player than taking the time to go for the walk, gazing occasionally at visual details, until a sort of inevitable arrival at a beacon at the top of a mountain.
In fact it is not too dissimilar to what games like Journey and Home also presented to us, although each commanded interactive storytelling in its own distinct way. These are altogether artistic forms of expression that demand from us to be self-reflexive about the particular experiences in emergent mediascape, and equally demand self-reflexivity about our own thoughts and identities.
IGR writer Tanya Kan aka Darklights made the following argument for Dear Esther:
Unlike most other game experiences, even those shortlisted for top honors, Dear Esther has shown the capacity of a game to share personal and intimate life trajectories and the phenomenological feeling of being in a world that seems larger-than-life. In this sense, Dear Esther is beyond melodrama, but evokes varying tonality of expression to speak of, or obfuscate about, personal discoveries that can only be accessed through a brush with the metaphysical and the allegorical. Stripped down to the barest of user interfaces but buttressed by a wholly beautiful world and poetic narrative, Dear Esther shows what it is like to be in control and be controlled by some outside force all at once. It is a scripted experience, but one that leaves behind a mark so indelible because it presents a vision as merciless as it is full of humanity. It is a mark that many an artwork strives to leave with its viewers and participants.
Read the the complete original IGR review of Dear Esther by Tanya Kan
Go to the next page to see even more incredible indie games that made our short list in 2012!