Here it finally, finally is! After being delayed a few months thanks to work, poor health and a vacation, I’m finally ready to run down my Top Twenty games from this year’s Independent Games Festival. I’m going to write a little bit more about each game than I have in the past so I’m breaking it down to five games per post over four days. So in no finer order than alphabetical, here are the final five games in My Top Twenty of the Independent Games Festival 2016.
Peter Panic by Heckle Inc.
I was already sold on a pixelized successor to WarioWare but Peter Panic ties the microgame action together in the most unexpected way possible. In hopes of bringing stage theater back to his hometown, Peter sets out on a quest to recruit the townsfolk by performing odd and bizarre tasks all themed and scored like a musical.
For real, a cast of Broadway performers sang the songs and voiced many of the characters in the game. If that weren’t peculiar enough the game features the first voice performance by Iron Galaxy frontman and “friend” of Giant Bomb, Dave Lang as well as an upcoming level designed by Deadly Premonition director, SWERY65. It is all up my alley but, unfortunately, it’s an iOS exclusive for now.
Shadow Shooter by Masasuke Yasumoto
It seems like there’s at least one highly specialized, augmented reality game in my IGF picks every year. For 2016 it’s Shadow Shooter from Masasuke Yasumoto whose previous creation, Phantom Window, was in the running last year. Utilizing a very custom-made “Electric Bow” that projects a 360-degree world in front of you, the player has to spin around to find approaching enemies and then line up a shot, pull the bow and let the luminous arrows fly. I stand almost no chance of playing this myself but it makes for a fantastic presentation.
Super Rude Bear Resurrection by Alex Rose
I have been known to enjoy a “masocore” platformer in the past but in the last few years I’ve grown pretty far away from the sub-genre. So what’s one of these games doing in my IGF picks? Super Rude Bear Resurrection promises “a super tight masocore platformer that anyone can beat” and that demands a closer look.
Thanks to some gameplay reminiscent of IGF 2015’s Life Goes On, every time you die in Super Rude Bear your dead body remains where it fell. Can’t clear a field of spikes by making the precision wall jumps? After enough attempts your dead bodies will create a perfectly safe path over the spikes. It’s a brilliant spin on platforming tropes that’s even more appealing here than in Life Goes On.
Symphony Worlds by Empty Clip Studios
Empty Clip Studios is on a mission to conquer music. In between their work on ports and game engines they’ve spent years turning music into gameplay. Most recently was Symphony released on PC in 2012 which turned your own music library into an endless top down shooter that took place on a single screen.
Building on that experience, the follow up hopes to pull your songs apart and create entire worlds. In Symphony Worlds your songs create the terrain, the weather patterns and the ebb and flow of the action as you work to free the music. You’re not just blasting enemies to the beat here, there’s strategy, resource gathering and base building involved. The terrain is deformable, the time of day passes as you play and the enemies can target your own base while you’re out picking off their defenses.
It is immensely ambitious and as such it’s taking a good long while to create. Whatever shape it ultimately takes I’m totally on board for this.
Tacopocalypse by Cherry Pie Games
What more can I say, what more can I need than this? It’s Crazy Taxi plus Tony Hawk plus tacos in an apocalypse. Getting the tacos to the drop off is just part of the fun, especially when some destinations require driving up the sides of buildings. Pulling off mid air tricks while driving and hunting for collectables boosts your score to unlock new rides, paint jobs and ultimately new cities.
Tacopocalypse is still in very active Early Access so a lot will be changing but it’s already shaping up like a glorious love letter to the extreme sports and arcade driving games of the 90’s. I can totally get behind all of that!
And there we have it, another year of hundreds of IGF hopefuls whittled down to just twenty that I think are especially special. Of course, that’s just me. Critical darlings like Undertale, SUPERHOT, Cibele and Her Story were among those 775 entrants but for me it’s all about flat shaded polygons, roguelike tendencies, gameplay loops I can beat my head against and even a few VR experiences I think are crucial. Let me know what YOUR top picks are in the comments.
And if you need a refresher, jump straight to Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. I also wrote a few pre-Top Twenty posts that highlight even more games that were in the running.