Indie Games

That Indie Column -- Sanctum, Natural Selection 2, The Ship, Intrusion 2, Airmech

Getting people into indie games can be a complicated thing. Describing most games will often leave you sounding like Gary Busey on a caffeine kick in the middle of an earthquake.

With so many games often borrowing from so many genres, you often find yourself rambling on about one aspect of the game while completely forgetting another. Triple-A titles just seem to have it easy, often painting in broad strokes or having a marketing team that can walk you through the basics. And then it hit me. Why not explain games with games?

Names like Call of Duty or Gears of War instantly conjure up images of the game, but mention Natural Selection 2, and you’ll often wind up with blank stares. For this little experiment, I picked five big indie titles along with five games that use similar mechanics.

If you like one, I’m sure you’ll love an indie game.


If You Like: Gears of War Horde Mode

You’ll Love: Sanctum

Sure, Sanctum doesn’t have chainsaws on guns, but when you have hundreds of bodies hitting the floor, you won’t have time to care. Tower Defense mixed with a heavy dose of shooter action, Sanctum puts you in the middle of the stampeding horde and a couple of feet above it as you run from tower to tower blasting demons and letting your sentry guns play cleanup. Before each wave, you use the blood money from the previous round to set up new turrets, upgrade the ones you already have on hand, or give your collection of guns a shiny new upgrade with more firepower and secondary fire.

While you still have to place towers in certain sections, the sheer scope of the field makes it easy to come up with dozens of different tactics and strategies to clear out the scum coming your way. From little runners to heavy brutes, you’ll need to be flexible with your tactics and handy with a gun if you want to make it out alive. Better yet, bring along three other friends to give your trigger finger a rest. Sometimes the most heated battles come from arguing over the best place to put down a turret.

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Beyond Good and Evil

Beyond Good & Evil HD is coming to Xbox 360 this September. The updated version of the PlayStation 2 action-adventure game will be bundled inside The Xbox Live Hits Collection, comprised of Beyond Good & Evil HD, From Dust and Outland. The collection will be out on September 21, but we haven't heard a price point yet.

From Dust
is a first-person sandbox game where players must nurture a tribe through power of nature. Check out our From Dust review for more info. Additionally, Outland is Ubisoft's 2D open-world platformer where players have to use the powers of darkness and light in order to move and attack.

Unfortunately for PlayStation 3 users, we haven't heard any news as to whether or not the pack's coming for you, but we'll keep you in the loop if we hear. After all, Gamescom is coming up, maybe we'll hear something then?

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Deadlight is the fast-paced 2D survival shooter from Spanish studio Tequlia Works. It resembles a grittier version of Shadow Complex, but instead of exploring and upgrading your character, you'll spend most of your time relying on only a handful of weapons and running away from the undead horde. Here's a snippet of our Deadlight review.

"Deadlight's control scheme could not be more appropriate for fast paced 2D survival. When much of the objectives involves running away, being able to dash is obviously helpful, not to mention the ability to cushion building-to-building roof landings by rolling upon impact. When Wayne comes across a door boarded up with thick planks, he doesn't take each plank out one at a time; he simple barges through them by dashing. He also has a realistic wall jump, just not with the acrobatic excess of Ninja Gaiden and Batman in the NES games. Further adding a sense of realism is the fact that some of these moves expend stamina, which is replenished when those moves aren’t used."

For more, check out our full Deadlight review.

 Everybody's Gone To The Rapture: A New Game In The Works By Dear Esther Developer thechineseroom

Indie developer thechineseroom, masterminds behind Dear Esther, have announced their new game, Everybody's Gone To The Rapture. If you're not familiar with Dear Esther, it's basically more of an experience than a traditional game. You wander around a remote island, take in your surroundings and piece together clues that eventually blossom into a coherent story.

In Everybody's Gone To The Rapture, thechineseroom have expanded their open-world and are testing traditional gaming philosophies even more. In every playthrough of Everybody's Gone To The Rapture, you'll only have 60 minutes to explore, experience, and achieve everything you want to do. That time is your story, explained thechineseroom in an interview with Beefjack. Once your 60 minutes is up, you can then go back to the start and see the stuff you missed. According to thechineseroom, it's a game designed to be played again and again.

Those playthroughs will all be different based on who you choose to interact with. Rather than being stranded on a remote island like in Dear Esther, there will be characters in Everybody's Gone To The Rapture that you can either choose to influence or not. According to thechineseroom's creative director Dan Pinchbeck, you can sit still in a certain spot and the six characters in the game will still live their lives effectively. But if you choose to interact with them, those choices will have effects on the world.

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is due for PC in Summer 2013.

Source: Beefjack

Because Attack of the Show blogger/amazingperson Moye Ishimoto is such a hipster, she sometimes sends me awesome videos from indie bands you probably haven't heard of. Like the video below.

I Love Lightning Bugs are obviously huge fans of indie platformer Limbo, and have created an inspiring video based on the game for their song "Not the Hopeless Kind." Not only is it based on Limbo, but it has tons of cryptozoological imagery. I dig it, daddy-o. You can buy the album here.



It’s time to catch up on all those indie games you’ve been ignoring all year. While the bigger developers take a breather, the diligent workers behind some of the best games you’re not playing are still out there churning out more titles. At this point, I could use a vacation just to put a dent in my indie backlog.

Forget ever seeing sunlight ever again. I’m going to get a tan from my PC monitor.

Just to start you on your own indie backlog, here are five titles you need to start playing now. You know, before A Virus Named Tom comes out next week or Torchlight 2 finally arrives.


It comes from the Greek origin meaning “two” or a “dual pair.” While you ponder the meaning behind the name, you should at least start downloading one of the best PSN to hit the system in awhile. Described as a “tunnel racing puzzle shooting” game, Dyad encompasses much more than its moniker leads you to believe. Both beautiful and challenging, Right Square Bracket Left Square Bracket Inc. (yes, that’s their real name) created a game that can be embraced by all levels of gamers.

Imagine the style of Tempest mixed with musical mayhem of Rez and you’ll start to touch on the feeling you get when you play Dyad. Streams of color and sound whiz past you as dual tendrils grab onto a random color ball zipping down the tunnel. Stare into the void long enough and you might find yourself entranced by the music and the flying lights. And that’s all right. Dyad starts you off slow, building the game through bits and rules as you pass each stage.

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Cleaning Up With Smudged Cat Games -- The Adventures Of Shuggy, Gateways, And Being Indie

You might not know Smudged Cat Games, but you’ll be hearing more about them soon enough. This very small development team is better known for their highly imaginative yet challenging games such as The Adventures of Shuggy and the new Gateways. Rising from the depths of XBLIG, they’ve made a name for themselves and a place on the Steam market page.

Pick up Shuggy and you begin to get an idea of what this small team is capable of doing. One room, one screen, and over a hundred of ideas later; Shuggy pushes the limits of creativity by creating room after room of fresh challenges that use mostly the same simple platforming mechanics. Each stage brings a refreshing blend of old-school mechanics as well as a twist that often has you thinking before you leap.

With this new title, Gateways, Smudged Cat Games goes after two different properties – Portal and Metroid. In this 2D puzzle platformer, you must make your way through your lab to collect parts to upgrade your portal opening device. New abilities make traversing through the enemy territory easier and allow you to access additional areas along the way. While borrowing from some well-known titles, Gateways feels completely unique with new challenges behind every corner.

I was lucky enough to catch up to David Johnson, the man behind Smudged Cat Games, to talk about developing Shuggy, how he tackled the expansive world of Gateways, and what it means to work indie.

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Awesomenauts "Coming to PC" Trailer »

Awesomenauts is coming to the PC via Steam "really soon." The hit indie multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) title from Ronimo Games was previously released on XBLA and PSN to rabid fan support and jealous PC gamers who wanted their chance to play too. Ronimo listened and assured us that the game will be out in no time.

Awesomenauts is one of my favorite indie games to play with friends. If you're curious about the title, read our Awesomenauts hands-on preview to get more of an idea about the game.

Have something to share? Sitting on a news tip? E-mail me. You can also follow me on Twitter!

The Steam Summer Sale Is Finally Here -- Cheap PC Games Every Day Through July 22

The Steam Summer Sale is officially here, fellow PC gamers. Get your poor wallet ready, because some of these deals are way too good to pass up.

In addition to many extremely popular games going on sale for up to 90% off (!), Steam's offering deals on packs of games, sick flash sales which only last for a short while, and this time around, Steam's even letting you choose which game you want to see on sale next. With its community choice voting system, only the games with the highest vote after eight hours for will be featured on sale.

Here are a few examples of why Steam sales are so amazing: today you can get Portal 2 for 75% off ($4.99) or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 at 50% off ($29.99). Steam sales are also a great way to check out the games you've been wanting to try as well, like Terraria, a wonderful little indie game that's currently 75% off ($2.99).

There will be new steam deals each day through July 22, so keep checking the Steam Store to get the deal you've been waiting for. 

Boxer8 has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Ouya (pronounced ooo-yah), the Android based $99 video game console that will allow curious gamers to try any game on the set for free. The company needs to raise $950,000 goal by August 9, 2012 which doesn't seem like it'll be a problem since they made made more than $422,000 in under two days. It seems as though gamers are making their voices heard loud and clear.

UPDATE 11:17am, 7/11/12: And the donations just keep on coming, as Boxer 8 has now raised $3,117,157 thanks to the contributions of 24,612 backsers. With 28 days to go, there's really no telling how high the earnings will go. But I'm guessing it will be enough to buy at least 18 boxes of Cracker Jacks.

UPDATE 3:20 PM, 7/10/12: Boxer8 and Ouya have officially reached their $950,000 goal in less than 24 hours! Currently the total money raised is at $1.2MM and Boxer8 still has 29 days to coax more backers in to supporting their console. You can back the Ouya at its Kickstarter page.

You may still be wondering "What's an Ouya?" which is to be expected. The recently announced Ouya will be powered by Android and every game on the console will have to have some sort of free component. Other impressive specs that the Ouya boasts include a Tegra3 quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, an HDMI connection to the TV, with support for up to 1080p HD, 8GB of internal flash storage, and it'll come with a wireless controller complete with a built in touchpad.

For more on the Ouya, keep reading.

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The Journey Down

There’s an indie revolution occurring in the adventure gaming scene, and The Journey Down: Episode 1 may just be one of the best examples of the creativity and ingenuity that’s giving this worn-out genre a second golden age.

You follow the misadventures of Bwana and Kito, two brothers down on their luck ever since the disappearance of their father, Captain Kaonandodo. Their lives get turned upside-down with when a beautiful stranger appears looking for help and passage into the mysterious Underland. Painted in shades of noir and comedy, The Journey Down never fails to surprise at every turn.

Maybe it’s the look of the characters or the slow Jamaican sway of the sound track, but The Journey Down is the kind of game that stands out immediately from the very beginning. The game’s aesthetics blend this sort of gritty city feel with a slow African beat as the character’s over-sized tiki faces seem to express as much as the words rolling off their tongues. Even in the darkest moments, there’s still a playful edge that keeps you moving and looking for that next item.

As with most adventure games, there’s a reasoning to figure out behind each of the puzzles. With colorful characters and plenty of items around, the game constantly feeds the player new information to keep the flow moving from one puzzle to the next. You might not remember picking up the shirt or paintbrush, but you often figure out what you need to do once the puzzle is presented to you. The game even nudges you towards the right direction once you’ve clicked on the same item a couple of times.

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Fingle is an iPad game that is probably best described as "uncomfortably social," a "social" game in the truest sense of the word. Instead of demanding asynchronous, pseudo-intimacy over the Internet; this game asks its players to engage in something considerably more primal: Actual human contact.

A thumb thrusts against the interspace of your fingers. You close your palm across the back of another's knuckles, your digits wiggling through the gaps to make contact with cool glass of the iPad. There is no mistaking what the motions are alluding to. Nervous giggling entangle with the suggestive, 70's-style soundtrack. A telltale moan, one that leaves nothing to the imagination. You move to the next stage.

Developed by Game Oven, Fingle is kind of like Twister for the hands, except with moving boxes and cheesy 70's music that would make Austin Powers proud. It's a game that's probably inappropriate to play with an errant grandmother. (Unless, of course, you enjoy the idea of geriatric hanky-panky. We're not judging. Honest.)

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Learning To Crawl

Whether you’re playing through Diablo III on Nightmare or getting tired of the same old grind, indie games can feed your dungeon crawling sweet tooth with some of the most inventive and entertaining games that won’t break your wallet.

Passion drives each of these developers to create a game that demonstrates what made them fall in love with these darker RPGs. Maybe it’s time we take a look at some of the best ones lurking around, and shine a light into some of these games to find out what makes them tick.


Somewhere in the wilds of a post-apocalyptic Sweden, the former land of meatballs and IKEA, a roving band of heroes find themselves looking straight down in the mouth of a massive, mysterious creator. Krater gives you that dungeon crawling fix you crave, along with tons of items to scavenge, and the haunting weight of permanent death hanging over your head.

Explore the world with a trio of your choosing. From Slasher to Healer, you choose from four classes to mix-and-match their abilities. Each character comes with two special skills that you manage from the top of your keyboard. Gaining experience unlocks slots that enhance both your character's abilities and themselves with stronger attacks or more life. Swing away at those soft fleshy bodies, and you’ll find plenty of loot to collect. One of the main mechanics you’ll find behind this beautiful title is the ability to craft the weapon, ability, or augment you need for about half the cash of buying it outright. You'll need stuff to craft; stuff you only get through killing lots of enemies. The circle of looting never ends in Krater.

Of course, it’s a good idea to keep those blueprints handy. You know. In case one of your minions bites the big one.

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Limbo Developer Working On Project 2, A Game That Looks Like Limbo 2

Limbo developer Playdead has confirmed that they're working on a new game entitled Project 2, a game that, from the above screenshot, looks like it could be Limbo 2. According to the Danish Film Institute's website, the game will be a 3D platformer revolving around the story of a little boy's struggle to escape from people who are experimenting on human bodies.

Project 2 currently has no release date, but when it does come out you'll be able to play it on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, and Mac.

Source: Danish Film Institute

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The Potato Sack Reunion Sale -- 13 Indie Games For $20

Remember the Potato Sack ARG campaign Valve threw last year leading up to the launch of Portal 2? Valve's celebrating their cleverness with the Potato Sack Reunion Sale, offering 13 hit indie games for one low price of just $20. Some of the games includeSuper Meat Boy, The Ball, AudioSurf, and Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Plus, if you already have one of the games in the bundle, you can gift the extra copy to a friend. Isn't that nice?

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