I saw quite a few indie games at E3 2015 this year. This didn’t really come as a surprise, given the increased focus on indie development that’s currently heating up the industry. What did come as a surprise is the gradual break from indie trends. For instance, there were expected Metroidvania clones and certainly bunches of roguelikes, but I don’t think anything was described to me as “like Dark Souls” once. Progress, people.
Don’t get me wrong – I love blockbusters, too, and will anxiously await final copies of sure-fire hits like Star Fox Zero and Guitar Hero Live. But they don’t need our attention the way certain indies do!
Given my penchant for taking on all challenges with nary a whimper, I was keen on taking in as many of these indie treats as possible. It’s my way and I wouldn’t have it any other. That said, let’s talk about some of the indie games that impressed the show and surrounding environs.
Diluvion: Underwater FTL
Diluvion features a really cool behind-the-sub view that defines the game in screenshots and video and looks absolutely fantastic in motion. I can’t say much about how it plays, though, since the build on offer wasn’t ready to be touched just yet. Still, based on looks alone, Diluvion seems fantastic – and who bases their judgments on anything but looks? Not me, that’s for sure.
A Postmodern RPG: You play as a hipster and run around beating monsters with an LP via a turn-based combat system. I’m sold.
Eon Altar: So what we’ve got here is a turn-based RPG where players control their characters using an app on their cell phones. If you’re familiar with the old Gamecube RPG Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles you might have the idea here – players are given their own objectives and secret information, and the phone-based controls are a method to keep that information private. This is the kind of game that’s hard to get a handle on based on a brief look at a show, but the concept is certainly innovative.
Here’s a sort of procedurally generated take on Quake or Wolfenstein; you’ve got a squad of punks that you send on missions which play out as an old-school FPS level. Successful missions advance your punks’ rebellion against the establishment, as well as earning you new punks. This one wins the prize for having the best handout I saw at E3: the creator actually designed and printed an in-universe zine that serves as an introduction to the game. It’s pretty awesome.
You’ve got a triangle. So do the other players. You’re all able to shoot little blasts around, charging up for more powerful shots if you’d like. The goal is to use your shots to push a ball into the other team’s goal via physics, teamwork and unnecessary triangle-based roughness. Way more fun than it has any right to be.
It’s an FPS where all your opponents are invisible. Sounds difficult, right? Well, the game’s split-screen (even in online multiplayer) and you can look at their screens to get an idea of where they are. It’s actually not any less difficult, but it’s still pretty hilarious.
Two teams enter, one team leaves. How do the winning team leave? They ride a moving platform to the opposite end of the level and grab the capsule sitting there. Naturally, their opponents are trying to stop them by blasting away with chargeable lasers, so the proceedings amount to a platform-based tug-of-war. Extremely frantic, so much so that it can be easy to lose your place onscreen, but a great time regardless.
Songs and Shadows: Journey through a world where masks offer the wearer magical abilities, serving as both a status symbol and a source of power. As always with RPGs, it’s difficult to make a sweeping judgment about the game based on a quick look at the show, but the concept is interesting and the graphics look fantastic. There’s a really neat looking conquistador aesthetic here that grabbed my attention from the first look.
Amplitude for the drum-and-bass set. Looks to follow fairly standard rhythm game mechanics, but the choice of music means that those of you with a decent subwoofer are going to keep the neighbors up for days. Maybe stick with headphones if you don’t want to be evicted.
Play as a slugcat, which is probably the most adorable digital animal on the planet, and traverse a hostile world full of both rain and danger. This Adult Swim Games title uses an interesting procedural animation system to make your slugcat and the many things that want to eat him look more alive than you might expect.
Jenny LeClue: Detectivú
Very pretty point-and-click adventure starring what amounts to Encylopedia Brown. Again, you can’t really discuss how good a long-term game like this is going to be based on a show demo, but you can certainly make wild, unfounded statements! Here’s an example: I loved the part when Jenny turned out to be the Terminator, that was crazy. Er. Yeah. Game looks nice. Point-and-click fans will probably love it.
Kind of like Super Smash Bros. mixed with the NES Rescue Rangers game. You can grab stuff from the surroundings, including the floor itself, and throw it at others in order to knock them off the stage. Every win gets you closer to winning the coveted first prize: one of the few remaining hotel rooms. Pretty fun for a few minutes.
Imagine if Minecraft featured customizable giant robots. Er, I mean Minecraft without mods. And also it’s third-person with a top-down perspective. And there’s quests. And you also have to manage your temperature because otherwise your giant robot might burst into flames or stop moving from the cold. Also a greater variety of enemies, weapons and things to do. I guess at that point it’s not very much like Minecraft at all, huh? Whatever Whalebox Studio has in store for us, it’s definitely unique!
This is by no means an exhaustive list – there were plenty of other indie titles available, and I’m sure Popzara will be bringing you coverage of all of them in the coming months. And by Popzara I probably mean “me”, as I’m likely to hoard them all for myself. From my cold, dead hands, people…just you try!