I love indie games. I’ve spoken at length, many times on Words About Games on how I believe that they’re a big part of the future of the games industry. As more and more AAA games are released in underwhelming states, as they all start to bleed into one another offering very little creativity or innovation, we’re seeing indie games taking bigger and bigger risks. This website is littered with examples of the strange, the weird and the wonderful that’s come out of this. Today I present another handful of indie games that have me really excited, for one reason or another.
Allison Road is a horror game created by concept artist Chris Kesler, who has worked on such movies as The Hobbit, Avatar and Guardians of the Galaxy. Kesler began creation of the game after playing the P.T. demo on PS4 and being highly disturbed by it (as were we all). Above you can find a video walkthrough of the suburban British home that will serve as the setting for Allison Road:
“I finished the whole thing the same night, and frankly I was quite… disturbed… after that. I realized two things that night. 1.) My house is scary as hell at night. 2.) You can make an entire short game with only one hallway. Who would have thought? Somehow it never occurred to me that something on such a small scale could totally work, but that night it really clicked.”
Aside from the graphics of the game looking absolutely incredible, the concept behind it is intriguing as well. The goal of Allison Road is to solve the murder of a young woman, following a violent altercation in a neighbouring house, and you only have a limited amount of time to do so. Kesler has assembled a small team to work on the game, which is aiming to ship next year.
Apartment: A Separated Place
|Developer||The Elsewhere Company|
Apartment: A Separated Place is currently on Kickstarter, as I am typing this there are 37 hours left to go before the end of the campaign and it’s sitting on $19,242 out of its $20,000 goal. It’s a narrative driven adventure game that’s aiming for a March 2016 release, and follows Nick, whose girlfriend of four years just broke up with him. You’ll control him as he seeks self-consolation in the apartment that they shared, unlocking their shared history via comic strips (Nick is an artist), eventually venturing outside and visiting his various neighbours.
The game is all about resolutions, and in it you’ll explore the various lives and relationships of both Nick and his neighbours through some quite frankly fascinating gameplay mechanics. There’s a demo available on the Kickstarter page that I highly recommend checking out, or head over to YouTube and see some gameplay footage there. I recommend Kinda Funny’s let’s play. At least until I put together one of my own.
Oxenfree is an upcoming horror adventure game being created by Nightschool Studio, a development company made up of ex-Telltale and ex-Disney developers. It’s aiming to be a slower paced adventure game, grounded in reality with an undercurrent of the supernatural. The idea behind the game is that while there are definitely supernatural aspects to the game, it’s also a coming of age drama with a cast of realistic, relatable characters. “It’s like Freaks & Geeks set against this super fucked up phenomena” as Nightschool CEO Sean Krankel told IGN.
Your interactions with other characters are going to be a huge part of Oxenfree. The lead character, Alex, will have voice bubbles appear over her head during conversations with different choices, which can influence her relationships with the characters around her in vastly different ways. You’ll also be able to walk and talk, continuing to explore the environment while chatting with your friends. The gameplay itself is all tuned into a strange radio in Alex’s possession (pun intended), which she can tune to various frequencies to reveal and interact with the world around her. Nightschool Studio is working hard to release Oxenfree on PC later this year.
Super Slam Dunk Touchdown
Who doesn’t like sports and their associated games? But don’t you feel like buying full priced games of your favourite sports year on year is a drag? Luckily developers Tipping Goat have the answer with Super Slam Dunk Touchdown, a sports game that combines…well, all the sports. Seriously. A multiplayer focused game for 1-6 players, SSDT combines all the sports into one, glorious game. The game serves up elements of American Football, Soccer, Ice Hockey, Roller Derby, Basketball, Rowing, Tennis, Bowling and more.
You assemble a team of characters from various different sports, each with their own special abilities, such as the hockey player who has a weaponised snap shot or the soccer player who can kick field goals. There are different types of balls, different types of arenas and plenty of customisation options to keep things interesting. Also random events, such as a streaker who will invade the pitch and steal the ball. Super Slam Dunk Touchdown successfully passed through Steam Greenlight, and is currently aiming for a Winter release.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
|Developer||Steel Crate Games|
The most fascinating game on this list, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a VR game all about co-operation and bomb defusal. It also comes with a hefty manual. In the game one player wears an Oculus Rift (or other VR device) and has a bomb in front of them, armed and counting down, but absolutely no idea how to disarm it. The other players have the instructions to disarm it, but can’t actually see it.
To be successful in the game, players must communicate effectively with each other, as only by working together can the bomb be defused. Each bomb is randomly generated, and the player with the VR headset on must describe the device to the other players, who must pore through the convoluted manual to figure out how to disarm it. One wrong move and the bomb goes off, take too much time to deactivate it and the bomb goes off. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is being developed for the Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift for PC, with a release date to be announced.
|Developer||Broken Window Studios|
Reflections is a game of choice and consequences, about how even the smallest decisions we make on a daily basis can have huge impacts on our own future. You’ll experience three acts, which will make up various moments in your life, and what choices you make in these moments will radically alter the course of your experience. Reflections is powered by the Storyteller engine, which watches everything you do in the game and changes your experience to suit.
The game also promises dynamic progression, time passes as you play the game, which changes the events that unfold and the opportunities presented to you. Each act of the game begins in black and white, with environments slowly being filled with colour because of actions you take throughout the course of the story. There are potentially hundreds of changes that can be made to the experience depending on your actions, ranging from re-occurring items to character relationships right up to entirely new areas for you to explore. Reflections has successfully passed through Steam Greenlight, and was due out in April, but now its release date is to be announced.
|Platforms||PC, PS4, XBO, iOS, Android|
Submerged is an exploration adventure game that seems to be taking heavy inspiration from the likes of Shadow of the Colossus and Journey. Playing as Miku, you happen upon a half-submerged city in a post-apocalyptic water world. Your goal is to find a way to treat her brother Taku’s mysterious wounds in what is set to be a subtly emotional adventure game in a similar vein to 2013’s excellent Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.
Gameplay wise you will guide Miku around this sunken city, climbing and jumping between submerged buildings being overtaken by nature, finding objectives using her trusty telescope. You’ll also need to make use of your fishing boat to explore the sunken streets of this mysterious city. Submerged is due out later this year and will be available on multiple platforms.