Five Indie Games to Watch For
It's consistently impressive how many small game developer studios with meager budgets and limited resources are cranking out such awesome games. Some of the most intriguing and innovative titles to launch this year hailed from the indie scene, and there's a lot of good stuff cooking just below the radar. Looking ahead at 2012 and beyond, quite a few sexy indie games are on the horizon for the PC. Here are five gems you don't want to miss out on when they launch.
Hawken's ultra detailed cockpit HUDs and thundering sound effects deliver the satisfying heft of thumping around in a big metal death machine, but the punchy gameplay doesn't get too bogged down in simulation. These mechs can zip around fast when they need to, and much of the action takes places in the skies as you riddle opponents with bullets and send volleys of rockets up their tailpipe. Think Halo instead of MechWarrior, and you get the gist of the upbeat, strategic pacing the developers are going for.
What's most impressive about this ambitious game is how amazing it looks. Indie titles often get a rap for leaning heavily on retro or simplistic graphic styles, but Hawken rivals some of the best work cranked out by large AAA teams. Considering Adhesive Games is only a small studio, the jaw dropping combat environments and attention to realistic details is a sight to behold. This one has a ways to go until release, but shoving spoonfuls of fiery hell down opponents' throats with giant mounted robo-guns is going to be a real trip when this baby launches. It should be interesting to see what other game modes are woven into the mix as well as any possible single-player components.
Legend of Grimrock
Your band of adventurers starts off imprisoned in the deep labyrinth beneath the nefarious Mt. Grimrock, and the step-by-step trek to escape through winding corridors and deadly chambers pits you against all manner of traps and evil beasties alike. Each of your four party members can be customized with combinations of different classes and races. Feel like making a minotaur wizard or a lizardman thief? You can totally do that. Gear you've picked up can be dragged and drop between characters' inventories, and there's an abundance of weapons and secret goodies to uncover. Throw in a ton of monsters to slay, loot to score, and a cool rune-based spell system, and it's dungeon thrashing time. Here's to what's shaping up to be a slick revival of an oft-neglected gaming genre.
The curiosity to learn more about your uninhabited surroundings, how you got there, and how you can escape drives the adventure. Uncovering voice recordings left by the island's creator offers some clues, and intuitively interacting with and studying your surroundings mixes with the game's unusual puzzle elements. Blue computer panels are scattered around the island's seven main areas, and each holds a maze-puzzle to solve. These seemingly simplistic conundrums are often tied to the world around them, requiring careful scrutiny and examination of each area in order to complete them. The final game will have over 350 puzzles, and they're grouped into different themes connected to the areas you find them in.
Even with placeholder graphics, The Witness delivers a captivating world to roam about in, and the intrigue that surrounds the place is part of the allure. With all the main puzzle elements in place, Blow has beefed up his crew to rework the game world and add more polish to the overall design in preparation for the game's launch sometime next year. Watch for some big, brain-boggling things from this ambitious puzzle effort.
Catapult For Hire
The main campaign has you lugging your huge catapult around the land taking on jobs for clients. This earns you money that lets you upgrade your rig, unlock new kinds of things to fling with it, and construct a mighty stronghold to store and protect your arsenal. Money shouldn't be too scarce, since it seems the wacky local citizens will have plenty of tasks for you to accomplish, ranging from smashing castles and slaying tentacle monsters to tracking down ancient artifacts and finding creative ways to clean up an underwater oil slick.
Then there's catapult fishing, which might just be the coolest way to fish -- short of using dynamite and chainsaws. Wrangling fish for extra coin requires special lures for various types of fish. Attaching other unique parts and munitions to your rig opens up a whole new world of uses for the thing too, and this upbeat indie's well-rounded approach aims to showcase just how far you can push the creative envelope with a giant war machine.
In the role of a spy, you must act with extreme caution as you proceed with your mission. Make any moves that give away your human identity to the ever-vigilant assassin, and you're dead meat. To this end, you have to strike a balance between blending in and faking out your opponent. You have to engage in banter with computer characters and move around the room inconspicuously while planting bugs, stealing items, and working with double agents. As the assassin, you'll study the bustling room carefully and watch for any telltale signs of your human opponent. You only have a single bullet to pump into your quarry, so you have to be 100 percent positive before using it or the game ends.
It's a fascinating and intense exercise that's going to get a lot more dynamic and complex as the game moves closer to completion. SpyParty is in Beta now, and many new elements are planned to be added to both the spy and assassin roles. Expect a total visual makeover too, since all of the current artwork is placeholder.
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