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  1. #1
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    Best Indie Puzzle Games?

    I'm putting together a mini games expo in a couple of weeks and I'm really keen to know what your favorite indie games are from the last 2-3 years. I know this is a massive question, but I'd really like to know if there's a general consensus on any "must play" games.

    I don't really want to say what my favorites are at the moment, but I'm mostly looking for puzzle games (ok, Braid is definitely one of my favorites) and beautiful, concise masterpieces (low-fi is fine). The expo is part of an art exhibition and its a really earnest attempt to introduce a contemporary art audience to indie games. This is an audience with a perception of games dominated by blockbuster FPS titles and I really want to show them how varied the indie scene is at the moment.

    Aside from sheer originality, some of the other selection criteria will be:
    - They encouraged me to re-evaluate my assumptions (in one way or another) in order to progress
    - Their ingenuity is game-specific (the focus is on interactive/procedural innovation, rather than a beautiful story or amazing graphics, although these are bonuses!).
    - They should run ok on a 3-5 year old laptop pc

    I'd love to know what your top 5 are, along with any other opinions on this kind of project.

    Its going to be happening in London, 3rd and 4th June. If you want to get involved, or if you want to know more, feel free to contact me!

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus b0rsuk's Avatar
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    DROD - formerly Deadly Rooms of Death. A fiendish puzzle game where you play a dungeon exterminator with a really big sword.
    http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewsitepage.php?id=90294
    Lots of variety, level editor, etc.

    Oasis by Mind Control (winner of Independent Game Festival 2004) is not very hard, but it's a 2 minute imperium builder for 1 player. It has that distinctive puzzle game feel.

    Fish Fillets
    http://fillets.sourceforge.net/
    A block pushing game with tricky physics, silly remarks, an ability to switch between 2 fishes. Very nice presentation (music, animation, unique level gfx). Hard.
    Last edited by b0rsuk; 26-04-2012 at 09:41 PM.

  3. #3
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    Legend of Grimrock is an obvious recent one.

  4. #4
    Network Hub ZamFear's Avatar
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    SpaceChem is a wonderful brain-breaker.

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Lambchops's Avatar
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    SPACECHEM! Ahem. Perhaps the best puzzle game of all time never mind the last few years.

    Braid is a good shout, Portal is another fairly obvious one to choose methinks.

    A lot of the other puzzle type games i've enjoyed I don't think quite fit your criteria. The block matchers and line fillers just don't seem to be quite what you are looking for. Puzzle Quest for instance was great fun and a massive timesink but was neither original, or cause reevaluation of assumptions. Same goes for Tidalis and Lumines.

    Moving away from matching games I also really enjoyed Toki Tori and Professor Fizzwizzle but again I'm not sure they are the type of thing you are after.

  6. #6
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    World of Goo

  7. #7
    Activated Node qizarate's Avatar
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    I got an awful lot of enjoyment out of wind and water: puzzle battles. It was a commercial release for the dreamcast by a small Costa Rican indie dev that was made freeware for windows last year (i think). There's some great spritework and some mildly entertaining fourth-wall breaking humour. The gameplay offers a surprising amount of depth, and typically of the genre it's rather addictive.

    Here's some coverage from tigsource: http://www.tigsource.com/2011/02/08/...uzzle-battles/
    Here's the official site: http://www.wind-water.net/

    Edit: Now that i've read the first post more carefully, i don't think it's quite what you're looking for. It's hardly very 'arty'. As for games that do fit your remit, i've always thought that Increpare was the lord-on-high of thought-provoking, left-field indie-games. Of particular note is Opera Omnia, where you play as a government historian tasked with coming up with convenient theories for past migrations (http://www.increpare.com/2009/02/opera-omnia/), and also Mirror Stage (http://www.increpare.com/2009/03/mirror-stage-done/), which is a 2d game with a portal mechanic of sorts, which involves navigating abstract geometry. Both games also have quite haunting, minimal narratives. They're both fucking great actually, increpare just seems to churn out incredible games without missing a beat.
    Last edited by qizarate; 27-04-2012 at 12:51 AM.

  8. #8
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    Spacechem is great, I put many hours into it, but the difficulty is humbling and severe.
    I've tried to get a bunch of friends to play it who mostly quit rather soon.
    I think the big weakness of the game is that the difficulty ramps up far too quickly -- they should have much more content graduating between the simple beginner levels and the brutal levels that start soon thereafter.
    My favorite aspect of the game is trying to tweak solutions to make them more efficient.

    I finished Toki Tori, but I can't particularly recommend it. "Rush" by the game company was better.

    Braid creatively introduced some great ideas and mechanics, was very well done.

    I recently finished MacGuffin's Curse, a new game on steam. Kind of a cross between Chip's Challenge and Sokobon.
    It was pretty good for a few bucks.

    Limbo is a very nice short puzzle game, a little hard in places. Good dark and mysterious atmosphere going.

    Tiny Bang story is ok but a few of the hunt-and-find click fests were undoable without a guide.

    My patience for Machinarium/samrost is limited, probably just personal taste.

    I'll probably get shouted down for trying to include it in a puzzle category, but Solar 2 is worth a look.

    The best puzzle game I've played this year by far was "stacking".
    http://store.steampowered.com/app/115110/
    The free included dlc was very high quality also.

    You can get stacked as part of the "double fine" pack for a good price sometimes, which is a great deal because psychonauts & costume quest are also great games.
    Last edited by BenWah; 27-04-2012 at 01:23 AM.

  9. #9
    Lesser Hivemind Node icupnimpn2's Avatar
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    Puzzle games... hard to tell if you mean match 3, tetris type stuff or if you mean any kind of game that has a puzzle emphasis, which could include platformers (like Braid), adventure games, or practically anything else. Problem is, for games that have an "Aha!" moment, it is hard to share that moment with others. Trying to rack my brain for games that meet your rather specific criteria.

    Maybe Bit.Trip Beat? It has some parallels to Braid... Braid is a subversion of regular platforming mechanics ala Super Mario Brothers. Bit.Trip Beat is a subversion of Pong, basically. And I don't think arty farty types are going to care about either, since the nuances are really only apparent to people that speak the language of games in the first place.

  10. #10
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    Cept it's not a puzzle game so...

    I've gotten a TONNE of fun out of Puzzle Dimension - it's brain-breaking in a good way (wheras SpaceChem is brain-breaking in a bad way in that a lot of the challenge comes from it's deliberately obtuse presentation and decidedly below-par explanation of how to play it). There's always a clue as to where to go with Puzzle Dimension...

    I also like Critical Mass and Everyday Genius:Squarelogic contains more KenKen puzzles than the mind could ever dream of solving :)
    Last edited by trjp; 27-04-2012 at 03:20 AM.

  11. #11
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    One more vote for Opera Omnia, Spacechem, and World of Goo

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus jnx's Avatar
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    Spacechem is magnificient. It manages to make me feel both stupid and genius.
    Twitter! Occasional impressions on random sim games.

  13. #13
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    +1 for Spacechem. The greatest feature for me are the plots after you solve a level, where your efficiency gets compared to the results of all the other players. It always pushes me to improve my design. I find it difficult to minimize both the number of cycles and the number of elements, but it's great fun trying. (still need to finish it though, stopped at the space station when something else got my attention)

  14. #14
    Lesser Hivemind Node ado's Avatar
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    World of Goo, Braid and Spacechem for me as well. If for nothing then just for the sheer difference between the three. Shows how rich and potent the puzzle genre is.
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  15. #15
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    Amazing! Its really good to find games that I haven't heard about before. I'm yet to play through most of the suggestions, but I'm looking forward to it.

    Perhaps I managed to mislead myself by asking specifically for "puzzle games" (after all, the focus is on the variety that the indie world has to offer). Perhaps I should have said "games that don't take more than 20 seconds to get into" as this is actually the big limiting factor here. That would (in my mind) exclude any really long FPS/RPG's or games that start with a long pre-amble/story, but leave most other things open. The "re-evaluating assumptions" criteria is also key.

    I'm sure I'm not just saying this because I saw Proteus (http://www.visitproteus.com/) on my searches yesterday and I really REALLY want to include it in the expo.

    Thanks for the suggestions, I'm going to see how many I can play in the next 2 hours.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by yusefkerr View Post
    Amazing! Its really good to find games that I haven't heard about before. I'm yet to play through most of the suggestions, but I'm looking forward to it.

    Perhaps I managed to mislead myself by asking specifically for "puzzle games" (after all, the focus is on the variety that the indie world has to offer). Perhaps I should have said "games that don't take more than 20 seconds to get into" as this is actually the big limiting factor here. That would (in my mind) exclude any really long FPS/RPG's or games that start with a long pre-amble/story, but leave most other things open. The "re-evaluating assumptions" criteria is also key.

    I'm sure I'm not just saying this because I saw Proteus (http://www.visitproteus.com/) on my searches yesterday and I really REALLY want to include it in the expo.

    Thanks for the suggestions, I'm going to see how many I can play in the next 2 hours.
    In that case... One of my favourite indie games is Beacon by Chevy Ray Johnston - http://indiegames.com/2009/08/freewa...acon_chev.html



    Download - http://gamejolt.com/profile/chevy-ray-johnston/244/

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Berzee's Avatar
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    "A Day In The Woods" isn't the most mind-bending puzzle game ever, but is Just Super Nice in many many ways =)

    http://retroepic.com/a-day-in-the-woods/
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  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Voon's Avatar
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    I've actually enjoyed The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom although, I've just played the demo. I've heard some good things about Hoshi Saga too.

  19. #19
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    I've had an excellent few hours playing through many of the suggestions here and contacting the developers. Obviously I've only scratched the surface of many of these games, but they are really impressive. Fingers crossed that they'll be able to make the games available for the expo.

    In particular, the Increpare games were personal favorites. I couldn't believe how many games their were on the site. Also Limbo had absolutely amazing production quality and a great atmosphere. World of Goo is also really high quality all-round. DROD probably gave me the most giggles.

    Perhaps I can say a bit about the current list I have. Not all of these have replied yet, but these are the games that I really want to show at the mini-expo.

    Definitely want:
    Braid
    Passage
    Antimatiere
    Spectre Spelunker Shrinks
    Proteus
    Spacechem
    World of Goo
    Beacon
    Opera Omnia/Mirror Stage
    Limbo

    Considering (mostly due to either potential issues of accessibility to non-gamers, or because I haven't found a demo yet):
    Stacked
    Solar 2
    Bit.Trip Beat
    Some others??? (there have been quite a few)

    I'd be interested to know what thoughts people have on this list. There aren't many/any block-matching or traditional puzzles there. Mostly because I have a feeling that alot of non-gamers will pass them over with a "oh, this looks like tetris, I know tetris...". Although I'm probably just trying to surpress my own preferences. I played through the whole of the Critical Mass demo, which was really addictive but I wouldn't describe it as particularly mind-bending.

  20. #20
    Lesser Hivemind Node squareking's Avatar
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    You should investigate Knytt and Within a Deep Forest. Technically platformers but with a heavy environmental-puzzle bent...more on the Metroid side of things in terms of exploration. Incredibly charming and beautiful sound design.
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