A FISTFUL OF INDIES: APRIL 2015


4.6.2015

Brandon Boyer

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Every month, as part of the regular monthly meetings of JUEGOS RANCHEROS, we do a very casual & chatty rundown of the ten or so games from the previous month for the audience, to give people — especially those outside the indie community itself — a look at what they may have missed. The featured games are both local and global, and both indie and, on occasion, a bit-bigger-budget — what binds them together is simply that they’re all amazing.

In keeping with the tongue-in-tobacco-packed-cheek tone, we call these run-downs A Fistful of Indies, which are presented here for your reference.

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Veryman

Developer: ??? | Platform: Web | Play it: Here

“…extremely stupid in a surprisingly compelling way, this is a web toy in which you simply toggle & slide around variables to change the appearance of your Veryman, to the point where it’s entirely corrupted and unrecognizable.

The primary reason I’m sort of obsessed with it is that I still haven’t figured out who’s behind it — it’s ostensibly from Japan, based solely on some of the variable names, but all that anyone seems to know for sure is it was commissioned by Adult Swim. If anyone’s got any leads on whose mind this came from, let me know…”

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Ice Vine

Developer: Powerhoof | Platform: Web | Play it: Here

“…from Powerhoof, the team behind Crawl, it’s an incredibly tiny little game inspired by an actual Vine of the team getting actual Ice from an actual Ice Machine in their hotel during the Game Developers Conference.

The objective here, as with actual real Vines, is to grab the most entertaining six seconds of video as you can, and rack up as many loops as possible after uploading it.

I dunno if y’all know, but I’m super into Vine… And I had no idea I wanted a game about making Vines as much as I did until I played this, and now I want a million more…”

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Höme Improvisåtion

Developer: The Stork Burnt Down | Platform: Web/Windows/Mac/Linux | Get it: Here

“…you — and up to three more of your friends — have to assemble increasingly complex boxes of Ikea furniture, all of which came home missing the instruction manual.

In the case of this Lack above, it’s obviously pretty straight-forward, but everything goes a bit more nuts from there on out. This actually does work best as a multiplayer game, with everyone sort of chaotically simultaneously slapping pieces together…”

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Naut

Developer: Klondike | Platform: Windows/Mac/Linux | Get it: Here

“…from Klondike — a new-ish indie collective out of Paris that’s one of my new favorite groups to keep an eye on — this is a pretty restrained little experiment, made up primarily of tooling around the surface of Mars in a bitchin’ convertible as violent thunderstorms light up the sky.

For as small as it is, it’s got a ton of confident style and highlights why I think Klondike are super exciting as a group…”

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A Way To Go

Developer: AATOAA | Platform: Web | Play it: Here

“…utilizing 360 degree Street View-esque technology, the game — for something that for the most part only allows you to move forward along a pre-determined line — manages to eke out a fantastic amount of good emotional beats & surprises along its way…”

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Apocalypse Gardening

Developer: moppin/nemk | Platform: Windows | Get it: Here

“…a twin-stick shooter in a sense, only here you’re armed with both a gun and a watering can, one of which holds back the enemies constantly swarming toward you, and the other one which maintains flower patches which restore some of your life bar.

It’s super simple but super effective with a lot of the same sensibilities that makes your average Vlambeer game feel great, made by two of my favorite new devs out of Japan…”

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Captain Forever Remix

Developer: Pixelsaurus | Platform: Windows/Mac/Linux | Get it: Here

“…a new, remixed version of a game that was already one of my favorite games from 2009, the team have taken the extremely simple vector aesthetic of the original and has turned it into a Saturday Morning Cartoon, with actual characters and real dialogue, making it about 100 times more approachable and less opaque.

The objective here is to pilot this craft in the middle, which is made up of replaceable engine, gun & shield parts which snap together and apart like Lego, and fight off these other ships you can see closing in, collecting and scavenging their parts when they’re defeated.

The idea of remixing an earlier game this completely is actually pretty novel and intriguing, especially as this new version isn’t at all meant to replace, but instead sits super nicely alongside the original…”

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The Writer Will Do Something

Developer: Matthew S. Burns | Platform: Web | Play it: Here

“…from a writer who for the past many years has been one of the games industry’s sharpest commentators, it’s a game made up of that same biting wit & insight. In it, you’re put directly in the middle of an emergency meeting of triple-A devs, who — having just received disastrous feedback following their first playtest — have to quickly decide how best to salvage a multi-million dollar sequel that’s headed directly for disaster.

It’s equal parts funny & gut-wrenching, as you’re constantly very keenly aware that the absurd situations & conversations portrayed here are very definitely not as fictitious as hope they would be…”

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Little Party

Developer: Turnfollow | Platform: Windows/Mac/Linux | Get it: Here

“…a self-described short story of a game, where you play as the mother of a teenager who’s having some friends over to record her first EP.

What’s interesting here — apart from this really beautiful & strange cartoonish art direction — is in what little interaction you have on the world. Like any good and supportive mother, your impact on the outcome of this game is, for the most part, limited to making sure the kids have a nice bowl of guacamole and otherwise stay out of the way of their way as they create their teenage passion projects.

Super simply & very nicely observed, and delivered from a vantage point that’s honestly quite rare in games…”

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Gardenarium

Developer: KO-OP Mode | Platform: Windows/Mac/Linux | Get it: Here

“…from one of the newest members of the KO-OP Mode collective, Paloma Dawkins, it’s a first person exploration game that takes place in a super fantastic psychedelic garden world which — if you’ve encountered any of her animation or tiny games work before — is very singularly her in the best possible way…”