Here we are again. It’s early in another new year and I’ve gone through all of the entrants in the Independent Games Festival. There were 639 games entered for 2015 and I wound up with a “short” list of 93. From there I hemmed and hawed for a while and ultimately decided on just 20 that I think are the specialest. Today I’ll post the first ten (in alphabetical order) and finish it up with another post tomorrow.
Against the Wall by Michael Consoli
It may not have been on my Top Twenty list last year but I am all about it in 2015. I played the alpha version again, climbed as high as I wanted to and said “enough, enough now”. I need to know that whatever happens next is final release before I go any higher.
C-Wars by Onipunks
What looked so fascinating in Crystalides has been refined and distilled into C-Wars and… I’m not sure I’ll love it. The demo build is very rough but it holds the same pixelart cyberpunk vibe I’ve been into since 2012. It’s now equipped with an FTL vibe where you choose to confront or avoid conflict, a leveling systems and a peculiar real time strategy combat mechanic. It’s still promising but far removed from what I was originally so in love with.
Captain Forever Remix by Dean Tate and Brian Chan
I first discovered Captain Forever in 2012 and obsessively played the web demo version but never bought into the expansion. This has been corrected now that I’ve pre-ordered the reimagining that is Remix. Crazy new art accompanies what will be a deep, terrifying hole of frantic ship building and salvaging. Everything I loved about the original with a hopeful glut of new stuff on top.
Chained by DigiPen Team Those Guys
I’ve found my mini trend of the year and it’s ‘gameplay mechanics that help as well as hurt’. In the case of Chained it’s a ball and chain attached to your character that you use to demolish your way through an already distraught dreamscape. The modeling and animation are fantastic while the platforming sections are augmented just enough by the ball and chain physics to be interesting.
Cosmonautica by Chasing Carrots
When they say a “fresh, funky and funny blend of space trading and life simulation” they look to deliver. It’s The Sims in managing your crew’s needs and making sure your ship has all the rooms they need. It’s also got a Spreadsheets in Space economy and FTL’s real time terror combat that I love to hate. Soon as it’s out of Early Access, I’m all in.
The Curious Expedition by Maschinen-Mensch
I told myself I wasn’t going to get into more procedurally generated, roguelike adventures but The Curious Expedition has super sweet pixelart. Thankfully, it’s top-down, hex-based perspective and party management are equally enticing. Like Gods will be Watching you have to manage your crew’s emotions as well as the external forces threatening to end your expedition with each move. It also looks like you can discover dinosaurs!
Donut County by Ben Esposito
I do-nut what to say about this one. You control a hole that gets bigger as it swallows up colorful scenery and ridiculously cute critters. Very much what I’d call Noby Noby Boy meets Katamari. It looks perfectly, magically insane.
Fort Meow by Rhys Davies
It’s like Angry Birds in reverse. You’re the one building forts out of furniture to provide solace for a young girl from needy, clingy cats. Between waves you can scavenge the house for new items — some provide unique bonuses, some are just hefty — to fend off an increasingly persistent array of felines. It’s a downright pleasant experience from the art to the adorable cat animations to the endless purrs you hear on the game over screen.
Hero Generations by Heart Shaped Games
I came across the beta of this game years ago on Facebook and played a ton of it. Not long after the beta was taken down and promises were made that Hero Generations would reemerge. I’m still waiting (but it’s finally very close).
The concept is simple and grand: each square you move on the map is a year in your life. Youth, middle age and elderly phases have their own benefits and drawbacks. You’re out to maximize your time adventuring (and pillaging and fighting) while also winning over a quality mate. Because when you die you take over as your child with inherited strengths, weaknesses and inheritance. It’s roguelike, terrifying and awesome. I can’t wait to play it again!
Hex Heroes by Prismatic Games
Much like the FPS/RTS mashup, Savage, Hex Heroes aims to do some unique stuff with co-op. Potentially a Wii U game I’d buy a Wii U for, the player with the GamePad is given a top down view of a strategy game style map. They command up to four other players on the TV who have their own roles to play; be it combat, resource gathering or dispelling the fog of war over the map. I doubt I’d ever get together with enough people to make it work but it’s a fantastic idea and I’d love to see it happen.