The Toronto Darkcade – Where games go bleep-blip in the night.
Recently, the well-known Toronto After Dark Film Festival had its 7th annual installment where indie directors were able to display their creepy, comical or sometimes just downright strange films (I mean this in the best way possible of course). However for the first time in the festival’s history, the indie video game community was being celebrated right alongside it.
The first annual Toronto After Darkcade was unveiled this year, and with a fair amount of success. Set up by the Hand Eye Society, Darkcade showcased a variety of games; two different games were on offer each night for the festivals week-long schedule, making for a total of eighteen indie games on display throughout the week.
I was given some more insight to the event when I spoke with one of the senior programmers of the Toronto After Dark festival, as well as one of the main coordinators of the Toronto Darkcade, Peter Kuplowsky:
IndieGameReviewer: How did you want to tie-in the Toronto Darkcade with the After Dark Festival?
Peter Kuplowsky: The Toronto Darkade showcased games who’s themes coincided with the themes of the movie that played that night. For example: if the movie was action oriented we displayed games such as Strike of Rage
IGR: How many Games were actually submitted for the festival?
PK: In total there were over fifty Games submitted from around the world, with a total of eighteen games being selected to coincide with the After Dark Schedule. Half of the games showcased ended up being Toronto-based, however we also had games on display from around the world, coming from places such as Sweden, France and Finland. The Digipen school itself submitted five different games.
IGR: How successful has the event been?
PK: It’s been very successful. Some nights have been slower like the first Sunday night (It was incredibly cold that night), but we have been experiencing great run off from the films, on top of the interest that’s been generated from word-of-mouth and through social media postings such as Twitter and Facebook. The event seems to be slowly building steam with every night.
At that point, Peter got back to setting up the event, and I checked out the two games on display that evening: Man VS the World and McPixel.
Man vs the World is an incredibly over-the-top side-scrolling shmup, with a focus on ridiculous amounts of action. It plays from the perspective of games like Gradius, however it incorporated a surprisingly fun feature which allowed your character to hop from ship to ship when the one you were currently piloting was inevitably shot down.
McPixel is a whimsical point-and-click puzzle-based adventure, that pits you against a variety of simplistic scenarios that frequently end in hilarity. It basically spoofs MacGyver, (or MacGruber, take your pick really), and throws in a ton of pop-culture references and other irreverent wit.
The hours for the Darkcade were 11 PM to 2 AM (starting when the films from that day concluded). While it certainly kept true to the After Dark claim, it would have been nice to have the games available for longer each day. Still, as I left the festival that night I definitely noticed that the attendance was fairly healthy, and it was nice to see such a large crowd (both gamers and non) engaging in the thriving indie scene.