Steam Greenlight. Various bundles. Massively discounted sales promotions. Developers belonging to the indie scene have tried everything to get their games noticed, but sometimes, it is still not enough. Some of the staff here at TPG were asked to give their opinion on one indie game they felt needed more than just a passing mention. Here are seven games that made our personal list.
Armaan Khan – Seduce Me
Seduce Me will forever be known as, “the sex game that got pulled from Greenlight.” This was a tragedy. To be fair, the game’s developers share some of the blame for that, because their marketing material made it sound far more gratuitous than it actually is, and failed to adequately communicate where the game’s magic truly lay.
The heart of Seduce Me doesn’t revolve around sex, but on relationship-building. You explore a seaside manor and engage in conversations that runs the gamut from small talk to intimate chats to argumentative confrontation. There are five conversation types in all, and each is represented by a different card game. It’s these games that make Seduce Me special, because they represent best abstraction of interpersonal communication I’ve ever experienced. This is because, unlike every other game in the known universe, the objective in Seduce Me isn’t to completely dominate your opponent. Instead, your goal is to remain within a certain distance of your opponent’s score, and that means winning some hands, and losing others.
That’s exactly the way real-life charm works: you need to be smart and confident and funny, but not too much so, otherwise you become overbearing. Real relationships are about give and take. Real relationships are about putting yourself in the background every once in a while in order to let the other person shine. Seduce Me is the first game I’ve ever played that captures this subtle aspect of interpersonal communication. It will also, probably, be the last.
John Williamson – 99 Spirits
99 Spirits is an obscure and totally unique JRPG which has been criminally overlooked. The story revolves around an ancient concept where everyday objects transform into vicious demon spirits after 100 years. I found the narrative to be exceptionally charming and packed full of detail. Unlike any other game in the genre, 99 Spirits contains a combat system which is based on vocabulary guesswork. During each battle, your attack motions will provide clues to an assailant’s name. After you have discovered the identity of this object, more traditional combat mechanics are applied.
These puzzle elements feel fulfilling and add a new dimension to the JRPG genre. The sound design is quintessentially Japanese and stays with you after a prolonged play session. Supporting 99 spirits also gives a nod to the niche Japan-centric games in western territories. We as consumers need to encourage the Japanese PC market through existing products. 99 Spirits is currently struggling to be greenlit and needs your help.
Phil Cordaro – Silent Storm Gold
Silent Storm Gold just came out on Steam and I’m not sure if that counts (because what is indie really? Please tune in tomorrow for a 5,000 word essay by Johnny Gamejourneaux) BUT it’s one of my favorite turn based strategy games ever made and I’m kind of shocked it didn’t become this ultra hit. It had a really interesting take on the tired World War 2 storyline, great production values for the time, a colorful cast of characters, and was just incredibly fun to play on top of all that. PLUS you could play as the Axis powers, which owns.
Adam Ames – Beast Boxing Turbo
My pick not only is drastically unappreciated, it lives in a genre which is equally as neglected on the PC. Beast Boxing Turbo is an homage to classics like Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. Char has been a boxing fan her whole life. She spent days thinking about climbing into the ring, but living in a beast-filled world where humans are looked down upon, that was dream was impossible. Until now. By masquerading as one of the beasts, Char begins her quest to be the best boxer on the planet and prove humans are not a lesser form of life. Beast Boxing Turbo is a rock solid PC port which includes a nice story and challenging gameplay. Any fans of the boxing genre or sports in general will find this one worth every cent.
Thomas Faust – The Sea Will Claim Everything
When I say that there’s nothing quite like Jonas and Verena Kyratzes’ The Sea Will Claim Everything, it’s more than just an empty phrase. This adventure game is such an exceptional experience, and it really saddens me that it didn’t sell better. It also exemplifies something I love about indie games in general: so many of these smaller games have a singular vision, a distinct voice that is just missing from big budget productions with large teams. Here, you can actually feel what you’re playing was shaped by the creator’s experiences, their unique way of telling a story, and by the crazy world around them. Which brings us back to The Sea Will Claim Everything. A deeply political game that mirrors the ongoing troubles in Greece and the Arab Spring without ever being preachy.
Instead, it might be one of the most gleefully silly and tongue-in-cheek scenarios ever conceived. But still – as you can see, it is also a game of opposites – the Lands of Dream feel like an actual place. I like to think they are. If not, they’ve been masterfully crafted with a lot of love, care, and a sense of wonder you won’t find anywhere else. If you want to pick up The Sea Will Claim Everything for 50% off ($5), it’s currently on sale as part of the Not On Steam sale.
David Queener – Drox Operative
Drox Operative is the best social networking experience you can have on your computer without an internet connection. Diplomacy, politics, and simple favors are the tools of your trade, among tight action and perilous galactic exploration. Drox Operative is what happens when STALKER and Master of Orion take Diablo into a back alley and teach it a thing or two about game mechanics. Drox Operative is the indie title that bears none of the baggage of indie. It has no quirks, no genre bending. What it has is excellence in mechanics and a unique talent for being itself, without ever imposing that identity onto you. It is just a great game to play.
Steven Smith – Constant C
Constant C is one of those titles that make you remember why puzzle platformers are fun to play. The game takes place on board a science station, where the latest experiment has gone horribly wrong. Time has completely stopped and only a specially built robot can navigate this temporal void. You must move from room to room collecting memory modules to place in the main computer so that it can piece together exactly what went wrong. At first, you must find a way around objects stuck in mid-air during a fall. As you progress, you get a temporal field surrounding your character that will cause time to restart for objects near you, even pieces of scenery, but only when they are within that field. Automated platforms and floating boxes will start moving once you are near them, then stop again when you move away. This makes for some very interesting puzzles, but they get better once you get the ability to manipulate gravity itself.
Hold down the gravity button and then hit a directional key, which ever direction that is becomes the new “down” and you will start falling. By combining both abilities you are able to maneuver yourself and other objects through each level. This game requires some quick reflexes and quite a bit of thought about time, gravity and inertia. About the only negative comment I can make is that none of the rooms you are in make sense as part of a space station, but I was having so much fun playing that I didn’t notice that until about halfway through the game.
Now that you have read our take on this subject, what are some of your unappreciated indie games?