My Top 20 from the Independent Games Festival 2016 (Part 3/4)

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Here it 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 next five games in My Top Twenty of the Independent Games Festival 2016.

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Home Improvisation by The Stork Burnt Down
Though it’s grown a bit more nonsensical since its web-based debut, Home Improvisation remains a hilarious excursion in my favorite new genre: Mundane Excitement. It would probably be simpler to play in VR with those fine Vive motion wands but the awkwardness of rotating on individual axes and trying to shove IKEA-style furniture together is just perfect. Throw in multiplayer for up to 6 and you have a totally accurate recreation of the strife of putting together furniture in real life.

Job Simulator by Owlchemy Labs
The time for poignant, meaningful and insightful VR experiences will come. Here at the launch of all three major VR platforms what we need is the ability to microwave a CD, throw a hotdog into the streets and gobble donuts. These simple recreations of everyday activities are what will help acclimatize people to VR while being unexpectedly hilarious. The fact that there’s a story behind all this is even sillier.

The year is 2050 and human jobs have been replaced by the cold mechanical efficiency of robots. In a sort of museum setting you embody JobBot and reenact what it was like to work in an office, be a chef or run a convenience store so that the children of the future will never forget. I don’t know how long it can sustain the laughs but I desperately want to immerse myself in Owlchemy’s colorful, irreverent and terrible future vision of our everyday life.

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Objects in Space by Flat Earth Games
Don’t ask me why but the concept of running a spaceship like it were a submarine — staring at readouts instead of out port windows — is captivating. Maybe it’s the next step after my time with FTL and maybe I’ll just be terrible at it. The setup is that you’re a space trader piloting a tiny ship that you customize all the way down to the batteries and component adapters. You can go weapons heavy, focus on speed to outrun opponents or spec for stealth and disappear off of enemy radar.

It seems debilitatingly frantic when things heat up in the demo footage revealed so far. But like any good roguelike it’s the satisfaction of threading the needle and surviving what looks like the gnarliest, most unforgiving conflict that has me intrigued.

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Overcooked by Ghost Town Games
This game looks like such fun that I couldn’t wait for the Top Twenty to write about it! If you don’t feel like clicking one tiny little link though, here’s the gist of it: 1-4 players team up to manage the food orders pouring into the kitchen. Grabbing, chopping, cooking and delivering dishes would be best accomplished by delegating tasks to individuals but half the fun looks to be scrambling around and accidentally (?!) stealing ingredients or half finished dishes.

Adding a whole other layer of chaos are the numerous stages. There’s the standard restaurant kitchen with its checkerboard tiles and bright lights but things escalate to a pirate ship with countertops that sway back and forth, a haunted house with poltergeists that rearrange work surfaces and even a pair of food trucks barreling down the road. It has that charmingly colorful and UK indie vibe I liked so much in Flame Over and I can’t wait to see and play more.

Overland by Finji
By now you should be able to tell why I’d take a liking to Overland by its visuals alone. Stark, flat shaded and set on little floating chunks of terrain, I could simply look at this game’s randomly generated landscapes all day. Playing, on the other hand, is anything but pleasant.

Set in a modern world ruined by some catastrophe, you play turn-based strategy a la X-COM combined with the risky resource gathering of a roguelike. Forget plasma rifles and jump jets, your concerns are outmaneuvering enemies just to grab hold of a can of gas or a toolbox. Befriending survivors adds more turns and unique traits to your repertoire but eventually you’ll have to make the hard choices. Do you risk all your fuel to reach a promising, far off destination? Who do you leave behind when there’s no room left in your hatchback?

It looks fantastic in both visuals and gameplay and if I were putting these IGF games in some kind of ranked order Overland would be right near the top. I cannot wait to see more of it later this year!


Check back tomorrow for Part 4 featuring five more extremely awesome games from the Independent Games Festival 2016! Or use these links to jump straight to Part 1, Part 2 and Part 4. Don’t miss out on even more great games from the IGF by reading my posts leading up to the Top Twenty.

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