With Christmas rolling in soon and the New Year now only weeks away, it’s a perfect time to look back and reflect on the highlights of the Indie game genre this year.
While originally released way back in 2009, the blocktastic dig-em-up Minecraft was officially released this year after two years of open beta. It was also nominated for Best PC Game in the 2011 Video Game Awards alongside hit titles Battlefield 3, Portal 2 and The Witcher 2. Probably the biggest Indie success story ever, Minecraft has attracted over ten million players over the past two years. An incredible feat for any game, let alone an Indie title.
An action adventure game with beautiful artwork and an incredibly immersive narrator, Bastion has become a huge hit on the Xbox Live Arcade. While Minecraft was struggling to compete for Best PC Game at the Video Game Awards, Bastion was picking up Best Downloadable Game, Best Original Score and Best Song in a Game. Beautiful in every sense of the word, Bastion is a personal favourite of mine that manages to capture the essence of the Indie game scene and shows what independent developers can achieve.
An interesting side scrolling shooter, Capsized sees you battling aliens on a beautiful yet deadly planet after your spaceship makes an unexpected crash landing. While the game doesn’t push any boundaries with its standard run-shoot-jump format, its the fantastic artwork and polish that make Capsized a brilliant Indie title. Solid game design, fantastic production values and great fun, all for half the price of a standard game? Who can argue with that?
A turn based top-down tactical shooter that’s a ton of fun, Frozen Synapse brings the normally slow, plodding, methodical turn based strategy genre into the new era. With a cool art style, great music and game play that feels fresh and new, Frozen Synapse turned out to be one of the unexpected highlights of the year.
What to look forward to in 2012:
If 2012 doesn’t bring the apocalypse with it, then perhaps we can play it out in Project Zomboid. Try to survive in a zombified town as you search for shelter, find and cook food, stitch your bandages and ward off zombies and looters. While the game is playable now and can be downloaded, it is still a long way from completion. Unfortunately, a series of break-ins at the developers’ houses meant their hard drives got pinched and in the process they lost dozens of hours of work. If it ever does get completed, we could have the best ever zombie survival game in our hands.
A game I personally cannot wait for, Spy Party is a two player game where one player takes the role of an assassin looking down the sights of a sniper rifle while the other plays as a guest at a party. The guest is actually a super spy who must perform certain objectives under the watchful eye of the assassin. The guest must blend in with the computer-controlled crowd: mimicking their actions, moving in the same manner and not attracting attention to themselves. If they mess up, the assassin has only one shot to try and win. The game has been through private testing phases and has had almost universal praise. If released in 2012, it may well be the best Indie game of the year.
Image courtesy of Jen Zee and Bastion