So, we haven't been reviewing a lot of independent games here because, well, let's be honest. Most of them suck. Now I'm not slighting the creators. Creating games is hard
. Creating fun games is even harder
. Creating fun games on a shoestring budget is near impossible
. So, for the next five days, I'm going to be going through a slew of interesting independent games. Today I'm going to be covering a certain genre. Games that are free that are not shooters. If any of you follow the independent games sector you'll soon find out that it's dominated by 3 things - pixel hunting shit made with AGS (and I mean shit
), vertical and side scrolling pattern recognition shooters, and finally, weird ass Japanese doujin 2D fighters that often share a remarkable resemblance with commercial fighters and popular mangas. Without further ado, I present you with games that may be adventure titles, may be fighters, and games that will not be shooters. One last thing, in each title area I'm going to put "SFW" and "NSFW" (safe for work and not safe for work). But remember, these are games, many of them are full screen and many of them can't be done with the sort of paranoid computer access given to most employees.
Ok. Fine. This one is made by AGS, but I swear it's not shit
. In fact, finding an AGS game that wasn't complete ass wasn't the easiest task. You're obviously wondering, "HAY, WHUTS GOING ON IN THAT PICTURE? R THERE NAZIS OR SUMTHN?" No, there aren't nazis. But the NHS is there. Here's the deal, in this episode you are taken to prison by the NHS for being fat. See, in this "world" being fat is a crime. What do you have to do? Get out of prison. Easy as pie, right? Well, not really. It's an adventure game. An adventure game that's surprisingly clever. In the first puzzle, they throw a pixel hunt directly at you
on an almost all black screen. Yes, the game takes itself seriously, but also pokes good fun at a lot of the failings of adventure titles.
Played with keyboard buttons and your mouse, your job is to get out. That's it. It's completely straight forward. Did I mention it's an adventure title? Do I really need to explain all the mechanics? No? Then I won't. Also, while the game is called "The Farm: Episode One," I couldn't tell you if another one was being made. Independent developers are about as predictable as a tornado. But you already knew this.
made by: Han Hoogerbrugge
Ok, I fucked around with this for more than a few hours. By clicking above, you'll soon find out there are nine episodes. Each episode is insane in a way the Japanese could never, ever be. Here, lemme give you the first episode rundown, nicely packaged in a screengrab.
I'm not even sure how to explain this title. I don't want to call it an adventure title. Nor do I want to call it ART
. But it's definately performance something
. Yes, we've all heard of "performance art." But have we all heard of "performance mental breakdown
?" That's what I'd like to think of this title as. It's all very dream-like. You'll click on some people and while they have a place in each "scene" they'll just sit there and twitch uncontrollably until you click on them again. I can't help but THINK that everything is important, but some things
seem to be just that. Something. Something that happens to be there. There are a Lot of Things that definately shouldn't be there. But some stuff just happens to be there. See what's happening to me? I can't control it.
The game is just that weird
Han (poor bastard) calls this an "interactive tale," the kind of bullshit term that gets tossed around in college classrooms and design courses on digital media. The type of bullshit
that you pay to hear people talk about. No, this sort of thing is a game. And the game here is to, I think
, stop the insanity. I can never be sure though. The world is never made right. It's always wrong. And that's what Hotel
brings to you. A world of wrong.
Alright, so some guy comes up off the street and says. "Hey, I've got this game and here's how it works. You are a guy made up of a bunch of cubes and spheres and you beat up others guys made up with cubes and spheres that may be smaller than you, bigger than you, or have bombs for heads. When you beat up these guys they break apart and fill up an area. The goal is to walk out of that area by walking up the piles of cubes and spheres left behind by beating the hell out of the people that come at you. That's It."
I'm not kidding. That's the whole game. And it pains me to say it, but it's one of the best beat-em-ups I've played in a long time. It's the Katamari Damacy of beat-em-ups. Hell, it's completely cathartic in the exact same way Katamari Damacy is. You're beating the hell out of people and using their bodies as steps
. It's the sort of raw fun that very few games provide. Of course, what comes with those games is the inability to hold your attention for more than 15 minutes to an hour at a time. And that's ok, there isn't enough content here to warrant any more time be spent on this game anyway. Have at'em and in the very least, have fun with the physics.
I wish there was more to talk about with this title. But there isn't. It's nearly completely brainless. Sure, there are "strategies" if you'd really like to use that word. You can force people into corners so the blocks pile up faster. You can use the guys with bombs for heads as a scattering device for moving blocks around. But at the end of the day you're still just being the hell out of flat colored 3D objects and walking on them. And it's awesome
Yay! A platormer! Seriously. It's super cute too. You're Neko (modeled after the classic Maneki Neko
), and you're saving kittens. You have a handful of unique abilities (that you gain as you progress along) and you're fighting the likes of hedgehogs, snakes, fish, squirrels and owls. The milk you pick up serves as coins - get enough, get a 1up. You have to rescue all the kittens on a level and proceed to the finish sign to finish a level. Finally, your ammunition is yarn. I know, I know, you're already swooning. This game hasn't even been featured on Cuteoverload yet. Hell, I'm lucky I even came across it. The biggest problem? No joypad support. But it does have difficulty levels. You can't have everything I suppose.
So, I mentioned "difficulty" earlier. This game really changes. Like, really, really changes. Each difficulty is actually a different set of worlds. You start with easy and progress up. You don't start at hard just because you're "good" at platformers. You'll be in for quite a surprise. It'd be easier, as I said, with a joypad - but it's still completely worth playing. So, download, enjoy, be cute.
...and then the world was consumed by monsters.Download
made by: TAGD
Talk about a game that's fucking desperate for professional handiwork. ...monsters was developed as an entry into the Student Independent Games Festival competition. Last year, this same team released "Ninjas vs. Ninjas." Well, ...monsters is better, so I'm showing you that now. The first thing I want to get out of the way is that this is a game made by students. It is a game made by students that probably had little to no budget. It is a game made by students that is more fun than Neverwinter Nights. Essentially, the world has been taken over by monsters. Some time in the future, you realize they can be defeated. After killing one of the reanimating monsters, a parasite grafts with you that lets you reanimate monsters. You then control them in your party and they help you rid the world of the other reanimators and monsters. Yea, it's a good premise. Sure, it's a decent story/plot. Unfortunately, that comes at a cost.
The graphics are barely acceptable. BARELY. I'm almost completely turned off by them. The music is shit. Much of the art is shit. But the premise rocks. This actually ties right in with the bulk amount of player content I see. It doesn't really matter how great a premise is if the production values are total shit. Thankfully this one passes over the bar, by the skin of it's teeth
Yes, another adventure game. This one is firmly located in the sci-fi horror realm and is (thankfully) not made with AGS. This one is made with the WinterMute Engine - which is far superior to AGS. The pitfalls? The artist sucks at drawing bodies, faces...anything human-like really (he/she obviously has "I want to draw manga" syndrome). It's a rare disease only contract by japanophiles and pokčchildren born during the 90s. Other than that, this game is beautiful, solid, and compelling. It's one of those rare free games that everyone should get into for a bit. I'm not even sure what to say here. The whole game sort of speaks for itself. Download it, play it, enjoy it. It's not every day that decent production values make it into free shit. It's a slow month anyway. Go go E3 drought.
A simple and totally awesome looking game. Grab seeds off of trees and use them to make the world adventurable. Grab seeds off trees to beat enemies. Yup, simplistic gameplay. Total style over substance. It's not even experimental gameplay. It's just generic. But this is just one of those cases where the style makes the game fun (like, ahem, World of Warcraft... for people that aren't me). It's beautiful and reasonably challenging - which is really the most I can ask out of a free game (and when I get more - Neko, The White Chamber, Cave Story, etc), it's always welcome. But this will do just fine. At the very least, you should download this simply to experience it
The above is the "world map" I suppose. Even that's beautiful. hell, the opening sequence for the main menu is beautiful. And to top it all off, it has native joypad support so I was able to use my GamePad Pro (circa Old) immediately. Thanks Gravis! Thanks Snowbeat!
Also, I'm hosting the file here because I fucking hate rapidshare. It's not some sort of official mirror or anything, and if the creators ask me to remove the link, I'll do it. But bleh, no one should have to use those godforsaken download services. Bandwidth is cheap.
So, Noitu Love. A terrible name for a terribly good game. Obviously inspired by the Mega Man series, this little gem of a platformer involves a (for lack of a better term) morphing ninja-thing and melee attacks. It's not incredibly hard, but it's fulfilling and has that old school charm that makes so many independent games more fun than they deserve to be. On the other hand, this game does deserve to be that fun, otherwise I wouldn't have posted it. Not much else to say. Hell, there isn't much to say about most independent games - it's all a matter of fun
or not fun at all
So, for the last title, I simply provide a link. CAVE STORY.Fucking download it!
There's no way enough of you have played it. So I'm demanding more of you play it. It may be one of the finest independent titles to come out in years.
Now, I offer you this. A utility. Yea, it gets annoying quick, but before it gets annoying, it's totally awesome.The Mega Man Effect
Tomorrow, part 2.