There's always something unexpectedly brilliant brewing in the indie community and when an event like Ludum Dare actually challenges all the talented designers out there to produce playable snacks at a rapid pace there's an overwhelming amount to keep up with. That's my excuse for missing the two winners of Ludum Dare 22 during my two previous pieces on the competition. Didn't play them, didn't notice them. But now I have, because they have been crowned and even I am not shortsighted enough to miss a coronation. If you are utterly myopic, however, you may not have played Frostbite or Midas yet. Read on!
Frostbite, which won the traditional 48 hour competition, is a side-scrolling ghost-shooter/survival game. Isolated in a guard tower during a blizzard, the aim is to head back to the city and find out whether the ghosts are hallucinations or SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY. Such as ghosts, perhaps. They could have sprouted from all the dead people littered about the place.
You'll have to play through in one sitting, since pressing escape doesn't take you to the menu screen or pause when you need to alt-tab into your browser to send an important email that really can't wait, meaning you have to start all over again, which causes you to rush through the first few screens and die of hypothermia before even reaching the point that you were at when you accidentally quit. So, yes, avoid doing something stupid like that.
Dying of hypothermia is just one of the hazards facing our lonely hero. You can discover the rest for yourself though. It won't take long to complete and it's not particularly difficult, provided you grab rations whenever you can. Download it for free here.
Midas won the Jam competition, which is a kind of Ludum-lite with some of the rules softened. Designers have 72 hours instead of 48 and are allowed to collaborate and use assets they have designed previously.
Midas is a pleasing brainscratcher, with simple but clear presentation, clever puzzle design and extremely brief but effective textual links between levels. Blocks turn to gold when the greedy-beard touches them, unless he can first neutralise his powers by touching a blue block. Why would he want to do so, you ask? To hold his daughter once again, of course. And to stop the world collapsing under its own weight. Both are understandable ambitions.
Before I leave, I shall recommend Abandoned (2nd place) and Last Breath (3rd) again, both of which I have mentioned before. I'd forgotten how beautiful Last Breath was until I loaded it up again a few minutes ago.
I reckon some of you will appreciate Solitary Sand as well. The less I say about it the better - you'll want some stereo headphones to enjoy it fully and quite a bit of patience. The concept outshines the particulars of the design and it's easy to become frustrated, but you can play it in your browser with minimum effort and it might well make you go 'aha!' which is a good thing to do at least once a day.
That concludes my Ludum Dare 22 coverage. The next one will kick off April 2012 when the event will be celebrating its 10th anniversary. Grand. Next up on my cog-encrusted steam-powered indie calendar-clock is the announcement of the IGF finalists which is due January 10th. Waitaminute...