IndieCade East: The indie games you'll be playing next
IndieCade East took over the Museum of the Moving Image last weekend in New York City. On hand were dozens of indie games, including current titles like Cart Life, Thirty Flights of Loving and The Stanley Parable. Among the various game demos, panels and activities, there were some games that are still on their way. These are the indie games you might be talking about soon:
Let me just say, this is a game you’ll probably want to play with a friend. Not to say there’s anything bad about Guacamelee! by yourself, but this is a fun, beautiful, funny game that seems far more enjoyable with a buddy. Together, you’ll brawl, explore and even take on some Super Meat Boy-esque platforming, complete with Mario references and the ability to turn into a chicken at will.
The demo didn’t reveal anything remarkably unique about Guacamelee! beyond the art style, but even if it doesn’t have surprises in store, it looks to be a pretty fun time.
Hokra / SPORTSFRIENDS
I had an opportunity to play Hokra with three other players at IndieCade. This is definitely a game I’m looking forward to breaking out with some friends. It’s essentially a modern take on the old sports games of the NES era.
Four players split into teams of two with the goal of grabbing the ball and putting it in their goal zone. While in the goal zone, a meter fills up, and the first team to completely fill the meter wins. The controls are simple: one stick to maneuver, one button to boost or tackle, and the boost button doubles as a shoot button when you have the ball.
The rules are simple, but this elegant design opens up some really unique possibilities. During a Hokra panel, game developers Margaret Robertson and Kevin Cancienne explained how a good Hokra strategy required trust in your teammate and patience. Not going for the ball can be more important than ball-hogging, especially if you provide a chance for a clear pass and some good scoring.
As part of the SPORTSFRIENDS compilation, this game joins the likes of Johann Sebastian Joust, Super Pole Riders, and BariBariBall. This successfully funded Kickstarter project will be heading to PS3, PC, Mac and Linux in Fall 2013.
Tengami attempts to tell an interactive story through impressive flip book aesthetics. You’ll pull and flip pieces of the environment and watch as they move and expand, just as they would in a real flip book.
The visual effect is impressive, and it’s combined with a chilled atmosphere -- complete with muted colors and howling wolves. Tengami is a game I can see myself getting lost in, but I also worry it might be a game that will put players to sleep. The amount of walking, accomplished with a simple tap of a touch screen, became arduous before I completed my short demo time.
The short puzzles offered in the demo were very simple -- perhaps too simple. Personally, I hope Tengami is a bit more engaging when it arrives on iOS, PC and Mac, but I suspect it’s just the kind of game you need to be in the mood for.
Gorogoa has a demo available on its website, gorogoa.com, and you should absolutely check it out. This puzzle game was lovingly crafted, and was one of the most promising demos at IndieCade. The art style and atmosphere is already on point, and the conceit surrounding it all feels completely new and refreshing.
Here’s the premise: your screen is split into four panels. At the outset, one of these panels will have a scene in them. You can drag and drop the scene into the empty panels, but nothing happens. By pointing and clicking your way through the scene, you’ll eventually reveal some kind of threshold -- like a doorway -- with another scene behind it. Now, by dragging and dropping the doorway, you’ll reveal the scene in the background and will be left with two separate scenes. Eventually, you may take that empty threshold and put it on a third scene to create a totally different interaction.
Once that concept is covered, Gorogoa wastes no time in playing with perspective in several other ways. This is no one-trick puzzle game; my mind was blown multiple times by the end of my demo. This is one to look out for and worth trying right now!
You can actually be playing Rakete right now, but it’s so strange I had to mention it. The setup at IndieCade required players to line up in front of five foot-pedals, spread around the floor of a movie theater. Projected on the screen was a slightly more-detailed version of Lunar Lander, where the lander features five rockets for control.
In order to land on the various platforms and collect the necessary items to advance through each level, the group of five players have to coordinate, controlling each jet through their personal foot-pedals. This turns what was once a solitary experience into a collaborative effort for five players.
It helps that this simple game is strangely beautiful. The aesthetics is something like the early days of CG visuals combined with a spacey soundtrack that totally works. Through some finagling, you can get the Windows or Mac version of the game to accept iOS and Android devices as input.
It seems to me that a game like Rakete is the essence of smaller events like IndieCade. You’re not going to see the next big thing like you would at E3, but you’ll play things you’d never have known existed otherwise, in unique ways you never would have imagined.
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