The Indie Games Arcade in the Eurogamer Expo is usually the place to see games from designers who dare to go outside the typical template that virtually all big companies use. Here I go to see different adventures, cool uses of graphics, and new ways of presenting games. Here are some of the games that made the biggest impressions on me. Some of these were not presented in the Arcade, but they are considered Indie (at least by me) and fit in this section.
Death Ray Manta (DRM)
This was the first game that caught my eye and when it did, I could not tear away from it without trying it out. It is an intense arcade game, á la Asteroids, but with an extremely colorful and “flashy” presentation style. Unfortunately there were no developer around for this game; usually in the indie scene/place the developers themselves are standing by their games, presenting them and answering questions that the players might have. I would really liked to ask them about the usage of the colors and the flashes and graphical effects in the game. Even though I played many games with different effects and uses of colorful presentations I was anyway almost worried when I played this game, as “will I have a seizure?” because the colors and effects were so intense!
The actual game play were simple, but very challenging at the same time. You have to avoid being hit by enemies and other things around the game arena, while shooting at some enemies. When the enemies are depleted, you progress to the next stage. After a few stages it get very hectic and you have to be alert and quick to avoid being smashed. I am not sure if the final game will be like this, but in the version I played in the expo you only had one life, after that you had to start from the beginning again. It should be difficult, but it would be nice with at least two or three extra lives! Another thing that might have added to the difficulty was that I played with a keyboard’s arrow keys; I guess with an analog stick on a gamepad it would have been easier to control.
This was a game for iOS; it was presented on both iPad or iPod; unfortunately I got to try it on the iPod… It is a fighting game where you have to touch different circles either in a sequene, at different frequency or different speeds. According to these “touches” the protagonist fights opponents. It was a small and funny game, suitable for short game sessions, like when you are commuting to work or school, but I don’t see myself playing it for longer periods though…
The Button Affair
The Button Affair is a game on rail, ie the character moves by himself in a certain direction, but anyway it was a very funny and hard experience. On the two levels that were available at the expo the only actions you could perform (while running) were jump or slide/roll. These actions are used to jump over holes, avoid traps and punch guards that try to shoot you. At checkpoints found during the levels, you have to press the arrow keys in a special sequence. If you succeed, your progress is saved there; fail and you are transferred back to the previous checkpoint. Since the character is always moving forward, running actually, you have to be very good in timing the actions. I think I died at least 20 times during the 10 minutes I played the demo.
The visuals is also very “interesting” as in retro; even trying to add a bit 60’s feeling, á la James Bond. Comparing to other games the movements and visuals resemble the old 2D Prince of Persia and Another World (aka Out of This World). It is a perfect one-more-try game, as you fell that the obstacles are not that hard one by one, although when taking many in a row you sooner or later lose the “rhythm” at some point and hence die.
This is a mysterious game, with a big safe in the middle of a room. There is probably more to the game than I saw at the expo, but it could be that it is “just” this room and that it expands somehow. Of what I played it seems quite promising. You search for clues to try to get further and further into the safe in the room. The safe has many small compartments; for example even the legs have small things hidden in them. After you use a pair of special glasses you will see some strange carvings or patterns on the safe’s wall, revealing further clues about the secrets and hidden places on the safe and around it.
This games feels like a mix of Journey and Dear Esther, although with quite a unique twist. You are playing (in) a person’s dream, and by playing you try to help to solve puzzles and challenges in the dream. I didn’t play it so long, but I started at a “hub” where you could enter a few different areas of caves. In these caves you try to solve puzzles, by using clues found outside and by using your common sense. You can fail by being “encapsulated” by a dark, although invisible being; this transports you back to the “hub” outside.
There are few or none actions that can be performed, except moving around (I didn’t play so long, so I am not sure). You will find clues on papers, signs and computer screens scattered around the dream world. I talked a bit to one of the developers, and if I understood him correctly these clues are put out there so you should be able to “solve” the dreams and help the dreamer in his life. I am looking forward to try this game more, to get more in-depth feeling. It feels as if it could be a very different playing experience, focusing on information, feelings and subtle experiences instead of instant actions.
Do you remember the first GTA game? Probably not; not many people liked it so much, especially compared to the newer ones. Me on the other hand actually prefer that first game, with its top-down view and less obvious violent graphic style. Hotline Miami is a little bit like the first GTA game, but much more explicitly violent, demanding more from you and graphically showing more blood and gore on the screen. It is a very hectic game, where you can get killed by a single hit from almost any enemy. I played it a few minutes and didn’t like what I experienced; although if I play it from the beginning I might have another view…
Look out for the next part in my Eurogamer Expo 2012 report, where I will write about some of the big games on the Expo. Until then, keep playing!