Indie Games

Independent video game programmers, developers and publishers.

Super Mario Pac

So as you can see in the video you just fly around and shoot water at the turtles as you try to kill the Piranha plant, it’s that simple, but in that simplicity it’s actually fun and it’s free so why not and you get the music and graphics of Super Mario (with a bit of haze in some spots) so why not. [...]

Dark Disciples II

Freeware CRPGs are less common that -say- freeware adventure and platform games, mostly due to the fact that they need to be bloody big to be any good; a simple fact that translates into tons of content, detailed mechanics and buckets of Tolkien-esque words. Enter, Dark Disciples II, the honestly named and vastly improved sequel to the original Dark Disciples. [...]

Phenomenon 32

Phenomenon 32, being Kyratzes’ most ambitious project so far, is much more than the sum of its parts. Besides the beautiful black and white visuals, its atmospheric soundscape and a deeply depressing and simultaneously surreal game world, Phenomenon 32 is an incredibly immersive experience, designed to be savored slowly and carefully. It is after all a hard and demanding game, that simply cannot be completed in one sitting. It also is a game filled with surprises and little touches of excellence, that go far beyond what you might expect from a free game. [...]

Dark Scavenger

You get the usual number-crunching that takes place in this kind of combat behind the scenes. For example, the wolf-like creature you are fighting may be vulnerable to your static gun’s electricity damage, but resistant to another type. Or maybe your weapon and item combination can stun the creature, forcing him to forfeit an attack that round. You do have a health bar, which can be replenished with items as well, and can be diminished by not only combat, but as a result of how you interact with certain environmental puzzles as well. [...]

Cavenaut

The first danger you’ll face are the enemies which can be found lurking on most screens in the form of snakes and frogs. They can’t be killed but move in predictable patterns so they can be avoided fairly easily. There are also a good few obstacles as well. Above ground there are trees and bushes and only the latter can be cleared (temporarily) by smacking them with your shovel. It doesn’t take too much exploration to find the entrance to the caves though, and down in these murky depths there are more bushes and enemies and even more hazards. [...]

Organ Trail: Director’s Cut (Multi-Platform)

I won’t spoil the story too much, but Clements isn’t with you for long, but gives you his diary to help you out, explaining how much of what things you need. You and your party leave D.C. to head cross country with the supplies you’ve scavenged thus far. Just like in Oregon trail, things break on your station wagon, friends get hurt. They may get by a zombie and you may be forced to put them down, or they may get dysentary, or one of 9 other diseases, and if you don’t heal them with medkits they eventually die. As you travel from city to city, you have to scavenge for supplies such as food, ammo, fuel, money, medkits and car scraps and upgrades to survive. [...]

Containment: The Zombie Puzzler

I mentioned this was a puzzle game. You get 4 types of non-zombies: The Soccer Mom (as I call her) dressed in Pink, Army Dude dressed in Green. Police Officer in Blue and Anarchist in Orange. To defeat the zombies, you have to surround on four sides (corners do not apply) with the same color. You can surround groups of zombies. Zombies on the edges only have to have 2 sides (sometimes three sides) before they are killed. The colors vary each time for the fighters. As you use them, they disappear and more fill in from the top. Continue matching colors as you can until you defeat all the zombies. But you have to do it quickly, otherwise the zombies will keep eating your defenders and you will run out of defenders and lose the round. [...]

Snakes of Avalon

Space and even time in Snakes of Avalon is a most relative thing after all, and the protagonist’s warped perception of everything makes sure the game is actually much longer and quite a bit more challenging than its excellent and confined location would imply. As for the puzzles themselves, well, they are at times taxing, enjoyable and -impressively- make sense in the demented game world. [...]

Dead Hotel

The game itself is a menu-driven affair, not dissimilar to Snatcher (sans graphics of course), that puts gamers (or should I say interactive readers?) in the shoes of a former policeman trapped in a hotel and facing a zombie apocalypse. Rather banal, I know, but it is pretty well written, though admittedly very short and obviously not quite complete. It’s more of a demo really. A demo with some interesting and i-f compatible combat mechanics. [...]

Delve Deeper: Treasures and Tunnels

Delve Deeper is an excellent game. It’s smart, unique, easy on the retro-loving eye and, now that the Treasures and Tunnels DLC has been released, pretty huge too. Fresh off the indie forges of Lunar Giant and costing less than one (rapidly devaluating) dollar, Treasures and Tunnels extends the game with 10 new levels -including the brilliantly named Big Orc Candy Mountains- and 25 brand new relics; that is 50% more Delve Deeper maps, 30% more treasure and absolutely no extra fat. Oh, and apparently each level is custom-tailored to be tackled by different teams of dwarfs, whereas each new relic is designed to influence both new and old maps. [...]

Dead Meets Lead

To the game’s defense though one could add that by featuring a shotgun it does turn itself into a rather lovely yet more traditional arena-shooter. One would of course be only partly correct, as the ammunition for the shotgun (and the rest of the firearms that are eventually unlocked) is far too sparse and in certain levels simply absent, which is a crying shame. Shooting the zombie hordes as a cursed pirate on a bleak exotic island is immensely enjoyable and goes on to show how great Dead Meets Lead could have been; especially if it had bothered to include a few save-points in its brutally hard levels. [...]

Cthulhu Saves the World

What’s more the game itself is rather good too, though definitely not exactly my kind of CRPG. It’s pure hack-and-slash with minimal exploration, only slightly confusing dungeons and simplistic combat. If it weren’t for the demented plot, the brilliantly hilarious cut-scenes, the hundreds of hidden jokes, the excellent and deep combat system, and the fact that the game wisely rewards gamers with something different every hour or so, I’d have probably given up on it, and would have lost one of the most ridiculous game finales this side of Monkey Island 2. [...]

Rush Bros

In a nutshell, Rush Bros is a platformer game in the likes of MegaMan, Sonic and even newer indie games like Super Meat Boy. You navigate the beautifully created levels with your little rocker running, jumping and avoiding various traps placed throughout each level. The key is taking in your environment. You can just barrel your way through, especially if you are used to playing these types of games, but if you do you are missing the point and the fun. [...]

Thunder Fleets

I could go on and try to ridicule the thing, but I wont. Sadly knowing that the developers are reading this, I’ll humbly suggest a few things to vastly improve the game and give it a fighting chance in the rich world of commercial indie games, where it will apparently have to compete with such acclaimed games as AI War, VVVVVV, Eufloria, The Dream Machine and Revenge of the Titans. I also promise that should Thunder Fleets get an update in the correct direction, I’ll be more than willing to re-review it. [...]

The Dream Machine

Stunning visuals aside, the Dream Machine is an impressively good and rather traditional indie game of the point-and-click sort, that is less traditionally played via a browser and somehow manages to save your process in a cloud; or was that clouds? I frankly wouldn’t know. Steam also sports some sort of a cloud they tell me, but I’m pretty sure I was once taught clouds are made of steam and, well, did I mention it’s a great game? It is. And it’s got a great and appropriate soundtrack to go with it too. [...]

The Button Affair

The Button Affair is the story of Enzo Gabriel. His quest. To steal the priceless Button Jewel from the infinitely wealthy business tycoon Victor Meirelles. Yes, that definitely does sounds like something taken straight from a ’70s action movie and is perfectly complemented by the game’s beautifully stylized visuals that can’t help but remind me of the elegant aesthetics of Another World. Just have a look at this trailer and you’ll see for yourself dearest reader: [...]

A Valley Without Wind

That’s why I’ve wisely come up with an alternate description too: it is a procedurally generated, side-scrolling, 2D arcade adventure, with strong exploration, RPG and strategic elements, that is sort of infinite. Is this better? Does it make sense? Well, I sure hope so, for I have only entered the still-in-BETA world of AVWW for a couple of hours and am incredibly impressed. I’m also pretty certain that it’s only by playing AVWW that one can properly understand and fully appreciate the thing, but here’s another try [...]

Rad Raygun

“I spent most of my childhood trying to learn anything that could get me in the video game industry, such as programming and 3D animation,” he said. “I can remember being 13 or 14 and wanting absolutely nothing for Christmas. All I wanted was knowledge. I wanted to know how to make games. I would make little text games in QBasic. I would also download other people’s source code and dissect it, trying to figure out how it worked. In 10th grade Computer Science class, I built my first two actual games, a clone of Pong and a clone of Frogger. [...]

Fracuum

Like a psychedelic version of the Atari 2600 Adventure on steroids, Fracuum is a brilliantly designed and utterly mind-bending maze game. It has you navigating a complex and expertly designed labyrinth that feels quite a bit like a zoomable fractal, while avoiding baddies and collecting points and power-ups. Play it and have your mind messed with. [...]

Egress: The Test of STS-417

Eye candy aside, and there’s quite a bit of it as Egress is very good looking first-person adventure indeed, this short sci-fi offering is a also a good and atmospheric game. Set in the outer reaches of space, it follows you, the commander of a two man recon team attacked by a weird black blob, as you explore a mysterious planet, search for you partner (his screaming is rather annoying apparently), try to figure out what’s going on and, quite obviously, save yourself. All this with the help of a pretty standard interface and against some mostly easy but definitely enjoyable puzzles. [...]

At A Distance

At A Distance, you see, is a psychedelic two-player puzzle game that’s been designed to be played on two computers running side by side. It is a game sporting unique visuals, an amazing atmosphere, fantastic mechanics and an uncanny ability to feel like a collaborative board game that has somehow made it inside a computer. It is thus an original and very much indie offering in which the right player will be looking at something like this: [...]

Kinky Island

Basically, Kinky Island will be a game created with the ever-handy and very freeware AGS development tool. It will most obviously be a pretty naughty offering too (rumors speak of -wait for it- full frontal nudity), sporting quite a bit of humor, lovely pixel-art graphics, traditional gameplay, over 30 locations, 20 fully animated characters and some hopefully interesting puzzles. [...]

Atom Zombie Smasher

Killing zombies is part of a gamer’s daily routine, which is all fine and apparently dandy, but I simply can’t stomach another undead infested FPS. Bombing thousands of undead along with some unfortunate not-quite-dead-yet citizens, on the other hand, is another matter entirely and as Atom Zombie Smasher emphatically showed me, a most refreshing and enjoyable, if not downright noble, pass-time. Oh, and it’s a novel way to battle stuff too, though you probably know all about it already, what with Atom Zombie Smasher being a part of the biggest and least humble of Humble Indie Bundles so far. [...]

Martian Marine Lander

Here’s a little indie gaming treat for cheapass gamers like myself: Martian Marine Lander. The premise is simple: guide your Martian spacecraft full of Martian Marines down to Earth so that the invasion can begin. Of course, Earth has defense forces, and they’re keenly interested in turning your craft into space dust, so the lander needs to be protected by dexterously angling your force fields to absorb damage while floating down to the surface. It’s harder than it sounds, as inertia tends to keep your craft rolling in the wrong direction just when you need the shields to be facing elsewhere! And don’t think you can just plummet down at a breakneck pace to avoid all the weaponry altogether: making a run for it causes the Lander to explode into so many little pieces from the stress. [...]

Fate of the World: Tipping Point

I am, after all, most impressed with what Fate of the World actually achieves. It’s an astoundingly simple to play strategy game that manages to be both deep and educational. Let me give you an example of play: you have to make sure that the living standards of Africa rise, while its carbon emissions fall; you thus buy agents for northern and southern Africa (each agent allows one card to be played in the region he/she is stationed); you buy and play an equal number of cards to your agents (cards are usually certain policies); you click the end turn button and hope for the best. Sadly Africa gets destroyed. Well, the first few times you tackle its problems at least. [...]

Wizorb

The levels themselves have had about as much detail packed into them as you would think possible without distracting from the actual gameplay. Each world has a great style and, while some are more colourful than others, all are superbly detailed and full of character. There’s also a lot of nice touches like the pink slimy curses, watching a Magna Orb smash through tons of bricks, or even the old codger himself, Cyrus, who makes a few appearances. All the sprites are detailed and appealing (even the enemies) but Cyrus is my favourite! The audio is also superb with lots of nice effects and some great music. Each world has its own tune (Slime World has the best in my opinion) and there are a few others for the title screen, bonus rounds, boss fights, etc. [...]

Metal Dead

Though pretty short (stopping the zombie apocalypse shouldn’t take more than 5 hours), Metal Dead stays refreshingly silly and engaging throughout and never outstays its welcome, while constantly offering a response for absolutely anything you might think of doing and, of course, something surreal to do. You’ll be talking with the severed zombified head of your best mate (an ingenious hint system), killing zombies, saving doctors, unlocking hilarious achievements and murdering mutated cannabis plants, all the while combining items, engaging in brilliant dialogues and even guessing passwords. [...]

Thomas Was Alone

As for the gameplay itself, things are both straightforward and innovative. You get to control a variety of subtly yet brilliantly animated rectangles, each with its own unique personality, set of abilities, shape and colour, and guide them through an excellently designed set of levels that will mainly tax your brain, but also -a bit- your reflexes. What’s really lovely is just how well each rectangle’s defining ability is tied to its character; what’s downright impressive though is that said rectangles are so much more interesting than your average multi-polygonal mainstream hero. They have a soul and that’s coming from a person who simply doesn’t believe such things exist. [...]

Da New Guys: Day of the Jackass

Being a sequel of sorts to 2004 indie darling Da New Guys, Day of the Jackass is a traditional point-and-click adventure sporting some decidedly non-traditional protagonists and a delightfully dry sense of humour. It plays with its plot, distorts its setting and actually comes up with an enjoyable story that serves its gameplay well. Brain, you see, the worst and most irritating brawler in wrestling has won the title belt and gotten himself promptly kidnapped. It is thus up to his mates, tough-guy Simon and soft-spoken Defender, to rescue him. [...]

Waves

Having played with Waves for over 30 hours (quite an achievement for a game without a single line of plot) I have come to deeply appreciate what Squid in a Box and the ever talented Rob Fearon have managed to pull off. Waves is a beautiful and expertly designed game, sporting excellent controls, intricate yet easy to grasp scoring mechanics, psychedelic graphics, smart smart-bombs, a ton of impressively varied game modes, a brilliant soundtrack and some lovely touches of anarchic humour. It’s even got achievements that will force you to play it in truly imaginative ways. [...]

J.U.L.I.A.

J.U.L.I.A. is a science-fiction game, casting you as Rachel Mannors, the sole survivor of a space expedition gone spectacularly wrong. Rachel, an awkwardly 3D modeled yet decently voiced character, is woken up from cryo-sleep by J.U.L.I.A., the spaceship’s AI, only to discover she’s all alone in a malfunctioning ship light-years away from Earth and apparently stranded in a solar system with dully named planets. What’s more, something has gone spectacularly wrong on said planets. Something that eventually led to the death of the rest of the crew and the endangerment of alien life. [...]

Waveform

Not all is perfect though. Especially as things get more hectic the controls can feel a tad unresponsive. Oh, and despite the variety on offer and even them hidden levels, said things can actually get repetitive, especially when you are frantically trying to play through the game for a review… Then again, and in what can only be considered a showcase of spontaneous dialects, it remains both fun and addictive; a bit like Tetris actually. What’s more, Waveform is indeed something one has to definitely try in order to experience an oddly relaxing yet essentially arcade game. [...]

Spelunky

Spelunky is also an incredible challenge, yet somehow contains enough balance to remain charming. Personally, I am reminded of the very balance that hooked me on games like Lode Runner in the 1980s and the original Prince of Persia in the 1990s. Spelunky joins those titles on a short list of platformer games that have driven me just insane enough to demand that I have to try again, knowing that I’ll do better on my next go-around, only to dodge my previous mistake in favor of making a new one. Passing a level is extremely satisfying, even if you didn’t get any further than you have before by doing so. [...]

Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land

You get your characters, your action points, your experience points, your oppressive 3D terrains, your campy but delightful plot, your spells, your otherworldly monstrosities, your cultists and your zombified soldiers in one of the most honest (and cheap) strategy games I’ve recently played. What you also get is a truly elegant adaptation of Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu rules, the first ever sanity mechanics to actually work in a wargame and a most successful atmosphere. On the downside, this is a really short game sporting ten or so missions, that will last you for roughly ten hours, and, irritatingly, a game with a few control problems. Apparently, its iOS roots haven’t been ironed out, but trust me when I say that you’ll very soon be used to its, uhm, eccentricities. [...]

Independent Adventure Games for the masses

Independent video game developers are like the artisans of yore. They aren’t wage slaves, they don’t exploit anyone else’s work, they are neither masters nor slaves, but creative people who strive for the quality of their product and don’t have to succumb to whatever ridiculous market realities managers can come up with. In short, they are to be supported, fiercely guarded even, as they’re (more or less) involuntary combating dominant modes of consumption and production. Oh, and let’s not forget the fine games the indy/bedroom developers have historically come up with. Games like Another World, Skool Daze, Darwinia, Simon the Sorcererand countless others that are all the proof you should ever need… [...]

The Blackwell Convergence

It has come to my deeply shocked attention that despite the recent Gnome’s Lair reviews of both Blackwell Legacy and Blackwell Unbound, there are still gamers, adventure gamers even, that have yet to try a Blackwell game. How very odd. I mean, it’s not everyday a fully indie, retro-styled, well written and impeccably produced adventure gets made, is it? Of course not. And The Blackwell Convergence is the latest in the Blackwell series, which, as you should have already guessed or known, is an indie, retro-styled, well written and impeccably produced series of adventure games, with Convergence being the third installment. [...]

Versus: Games for the Ages

There are 81 wildly innovative (and plain wild) games available to try, including the incredible AGI Combat for the trigger happy adventure gamer, the rather unsettling A Cure for Friendship, the deeply spiritual Jesus vs. Dinosaurs and even the particularly silly Macig – The Gambling. Expect surreal genre mixes, visuals any indie gamer would love and some truly frightening sounds; all in glorious multiplayer! Here are a few screenshots to spice things up: [...]

Aquaria

Not every game can win an IGF Grand Prize (actually only one game per year can, and that’s ..uh.. not many games and definitely not every; yes) and only one game ever managed to grab the 2007 version of said illustrious prize. It was none other than Aquaria and happily this indie masterpiece is avaiable, meaning you too, and yes that does indeed mean you, can grab a fairly priced copy here or download the incredibly hefty demo there. Now, before going off downloading and/or wisely buying stuff, before even enjoying the sheer beauty of Aquaria’s video teaser, better read a bit of the official word: [...]

Fish Fish Bang Bang

Important thing is Fish Fish Bang Bang is -unexpectedly- almost here and you’ll very soon be able to play its demo and (very soon after that) the complete version in all its indie glory. As for me, I did try the rather impressive early preview build of the thing and can confirm that, yes, this is a single-key arena shooter with surreal melt-o-vision graphics, outrageous sounds, addictive gameplay, unique mechanics and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope. It also is fantastic little game, that can even play itself. [...]

Gemini Rue: A Noir review

I did really enjoy playing through said shoot-outs, (almost) as much as I enjoyed playing through the game without a walkthrough and getting only mildly -and, importantly, very briefly- stuck; never in a truly old-fashioned hair-pulling way mind. There’s nothing in there that can’t be solved with a bit more exploration and some thinking, whereas the only part I disliked was a pretty tedious mechanical little puzzle that was both generic and not that well explained. Oh, and this is wisely sized game too -should take you anything from 6 to 8 hours on the first playthrough- without any boring and/or filler parts. The fact that Wadjet Eye have implemented a fantastic in-game commentary makes a second playthrough necessary… [...]

Skin & Bones

It’s been a while since I played through the truly enjoyable and immensely colourful demo of the newly released Skin & Bones offering, and, well, I thought I’d let you know. It is, after all and as far as I can judge, a lovely platform/puzzle game with a distinct retro 16-bit feel to it and two playable characters. Definitely one to bring back those memories from the Amiga era, then, though should you try it, you’ll probably notice the obvious Head over Heels influences too. Worth a try. [...]

8-Bit MMO

This is pretty cool for fans of classic and indie games. This MMO game allows players to interact in a top down world that is very original Zelda-style. It is pretty much a giant world or sandbox as they call it that allows you to build or movie buildings like castles or homes and fight something they call Lawyercats and there is even PVP. [...]

Tidalis

Tidalis is a block-based puzzle game with casual appeal, hardcore depth, and an addictive new “streams” mechanic. The game is brimming over with riffs and variants on that core mechanic with 20 game modes, dozens of special blocks and items, and 115 levels in the adventure mode alone. [...]

Indie Game Gems: Mr. Gravity

The graphics for a game like this don’t need to be complex yet don’t need to be too simple, and Mr. Gravity nails this aspect to. The fairly simple graphics are given a color vector look and glow, reminiscent of classics such as Tempest and more modern hits such as Geometry Wars. Both characters in the game change facial expressions based on what is going on in the level with a simple yet fun charm. The background music is excellent, especially for an indie game, and adds a great extra element for the player while attempting difficult moves. [...]

Abobo’s Big Adventure

As you begin your game you are instantly bombarded with characters from just about any NES-era game you can name. You’ll have to do battle with those pink sweater-vest guys from Kung Fu, characters from Renegade, River City Ransom and even T&C Surf Designs. You’ll encounter Goombas, Mega Man boss enemies, the masters of the Pro Wrestling ring and so many more. Even the title screen is full of any 8-bit game character you want to name, from the Duck Hunt duck to the Eggplant Wizard from Kid Icarus. Finally I got to live out my life-long desire to punch Kid Niki in the face, even if I had to dodge exploding barrels from Donkey Kong while doing so. [...]

VVVVVV

Well, VVVVVV is an indie platform game with C64 style graphics, a proper chiptune soundtrack and a rather unique lack of a traditional jump button. It also is quite brilliant. Actually make that the best platform game released since Manic Miner, meaning that I actually do consider it a way better game than any Mario offering you’d care to mention, all Sonic the Hedgehogs ever, Castlevania and, indeed, Jet Set Willy. It’s that good, it is. [...]

Chains

Chains, you see, might on the surface seem like another game that uses the rather tired idea of making things disappear by matching them with, err, things of the same colour, but it really has way more than that to offer. It sports a brilliant and very versatile physics engine, that, combined with the excellent level design, make for a rather excellent and quite unique game. Not to mention an addictive one too. And wait till you see them graphics in motion while listening to that utterly brilliant electro soundtrack… [...]

Circulate

And is it a good a game, I pretend to hear you ask again, while thinking I should cut down on the habit. Why, yes, yes it is. Innovative and maddeningly addictive too. The learning curve is just perfect, the controls are intuitive, the levels incredibly varied and more than enough to keep you sleepless for a few nights (there are 120 of them), the kaleidoscopic graphics are beautiful, the music is just fine, the tutorial mode works perfectly and the game is an absolute blast to play. Add the numerous options available, including the one to play Circulate in windowed mode, its modest price and the very reasonable hardware requirements, and you got a game any PC gamer should try. [...]