The International Festival Of Independent Games fast approaches, happening at the beginning of October. And the Indiecade 2012 nominees have been announced, and it's an exceedingly eclectic mix, from traditional games to physical fights, board games to books about role-playing. So what more could you ask than my listing them all for you below, with links to those on PC you can play right now? WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME?
The PC finalists:
A Closed World - MIT GAMBIT Game Lab FREE DOWNLOAD
MIT's Singapore-based centre is generating interesting stuff. It's always worth heading to the GAMBIT page to see what can be played. Amongst that is A Closed World, a game looking at queer issues, from a project designed to have the creators encounter the complexities of the subject matter, and why it rarely appears in games. It's also an RPG that uses Passion, Ethics and Logic instead of combat. I played it briefly earlier in the year, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to be working today - pressing Esc to start the game isn't happening via my keyboard.
We've written a lot about Love's RPG-cum-VN, and you can read Alec's amazing choose-your-own adventure review of it here. I'd suggest this is a pretty strong contender in the list.
A board game, and an unpublished one at that, so you'll not be having a game any time soon. It's about the conquest of space, with dice used as player units, apparently based on a 1930s thing called Armada Decision Matrix Six. I'm not sure I believe them.
Talking of brilliant, this is an absolutely exceptional project currently available on Desura. A graphics-free 3D adventure in which you explore via audio through headphones. It's stunning, and it's my oversight that I haven't written more about it on the site - I will rectify that soon.
I'm not sure how anything else can beat this one for World Design and Visuals (nrrggghh - don't say "Visuals"). Tiny tree creatures are on a journey to try to rid their home of some horrible black spiderthings, via Amanita's sublime exploration of environments. Even my game-hating wife loved this. It is just utterly fantastic, a truly wonderful game that if you've not played, I'll slap you on the elbow until you do. Here's my review.
Cart Life - Richard Hofmeier FREE DOWNLOAD
Available to download now, it's a retail simulation. No, really. A black and white, pixel-presented street vending experience. See:
Dreams Of Your Life - Hide & Seek FREE WEBGAME
A very interesting sister project to Carol Morley's documentary, Dreams Of A Life. You share information with it, in order to learn a story. All the while the background almost imperceptibly advances through the seasons. It's quite some experience.
Find Me A Good One - Andy Wallace FREE DOWNLOAD
A surreal puzzle platformer that's all about exploring how you relate to NPCs. As you play, you have to determine how much you're going to have to help your in-game brother, without assigning a value to either action.
Another very strong contender I imagine, especially in Technical. If you want to learn more about a spaceship sim/roguelike, you can read Adam's impressions here, and Craig's interview with the team here.
I don't think I can out-describe its own description: "Gorogoa is a lovingly hand-illustrated world suspended inside of a unique puzzle. To solve the puzzle, the player rearranges a few tiles on a simple grid, placing them next to or on top of one another. But each tile is also a window into a different part of the game world--or perhaps into a different world--and each window plays like its own little game. Even so, the key to progressing never lies within one tile, but in the connections between tiles..." Its website appears to suggest it's available to play, but I can't see how.
International Racing Squirrels - Playniac FREE WEBGAME
A Channel 4 funded project aiming to teach young people about finances and running a business. A tough call for a game, but one Adam mostly agreed worked pretty well. You can read his impressions of it here.
Beginning with composing the music, and then running with the first concept that came into his head, POP is a minigame collection based on the music. It's currently available on a pay-what-you-want model, with a generous enough purchase scoring you a present in the post. The minimum price is $2. Or you can just buy it through Desure for £4.
Prom Week - Expressive Intelligence Studio FREE WEBGAME
An exploration of social interactions, which allowed Craig to unleash his cruelty upon Flash-based cartoons - you can read his experience here.
A stealth-adventure in an Arabian fortress, "sealed in-between worlds". It's too rarely that you get to play as an invisible fiend, but here you get to, and solve puzzles and riddles. Based on Arabic and Persian folklore, and clearly inspired by One Thousand And One Nights, it's currently available for pre-order at $7.50, with a purchase getting you the beta version from Indievania.
An incredibly difficult puzzle game about experimenting with microbial doodahs, attempting to reshape strands of cells to match a given pattern. I found it far too difficult when I tried it earlier this year. You can see if I'm just rubbish by picking it up for around a tenner from various places.
Played on PC with 2 to 4 360 controllers, it's a co-op twin-stick shooter, about competition, cooperation and communication. And "the democracy of physics". As you shoot asteroids from turrets on a ship, you propel your ship in the opposite direction. So you have to work together with chums to keep it going the right direction.
The Stanley Parable - Davey Wreden FREE DOWNLOAD (requires Half-Life 2)
Unmanned - mollieindustria FREE WEBGAME
It's a day in the life of a drone pilot. Which happens to be a droning life. As you play you start to uncover his inner monologue, but the less you know before playing the better. Craig wrote about his experience with it here.
An action platformer that just happens to be released today via Desura. Of everything in the list, it's by far the most recognisably regular game, and one I'm now intrigued to check out since it's received this nom.
The absolutely brilliant Beat Sneak Bandit sadly isn't on PC at all, but I bloody love it and you should get it for your iThing right away.
An iPad game for two to four players, where everyone is trying to tap tiles at once. Clearly a game to play with someone whose hands you want to hold. Kissing is inevitable.
Chroma Shuffle - Sifteo
I've not encountered Sifteo cubes before. They look a bit like witchcraft to me. Three blocks with a screen each, able to interact with each other. And one of the games they offer is Chroma Shuffle, an "abstract puzzle game". Those block things look fun, but they also look $150.
Contre Jour - Maksym Hryniv (iTunes link)
A beautiful-looking project that really bloody well ought to be on PC. It's all about morphing landscapes to move a character.
A PS3 only game, calling itself "an interactive mind altering substance absorbed through your thumbs, eyes and ears." Er.
Guacamelee! - Drinkbox Studios
Still in development, and looking like it might be PS3 only, it's a metroidvania platformer in a "magical Mexican-inspired world".
Currently hidden away on the Xbox Live Marketplace (come to PC!), this is a local multiplayer game of hide and seek, where you attempt to have your character blend in with NPCs on the screen, but while trying to complete given goals. All the while you're trying to spot which other characters on screen are controlled by people sharing your couch. Which is a bloody brilliant idea.
Hacking wireless doorbells, this is a real-world game in which two players wear a hat with a button on top, and then try to hit the other's. It's somewhere between fighting and hugging.
Multiplayer minimalism, originally developed for a gallery space. It's played on 360.
Another gallery game, this time intended to be in museums, it's made of five steel walls, each 10 foot by 10 foot, hanging suspended from the ceiling. Players move wooden pieces around in a "simple strategy game". But a home version seems a touch unlikely.
Another real-world project, this time re-imagining Pong, played on a miniature court with no bat or ball. Instead you have to work out where the ball might be based on auditory information, with Kinect tech figuring out if you hit it/.
An ARG that took place in the USC School Of Cinematic Arts, officially unacknowledged by administration, that lured students into solving clues that led them to an office, where they were given a set of cards that brought them deeper into the game.
Shown off at GDC this year, this is a game designed to be played on cinema-sized screens, with around 100 players each armed with laser pointers. And it works, bringing a huge crowd of strangers to work together on rebuilding a spaceship via waggling red dots.
Yet another physical world game, this time far more sporty than the rest. Two players attempt to score goals with a ball in a small court, but can only move when the ball is in motion.
An iPad game that looks gorgeous, offering exploration adventure. And I want that on PC too please. Now please.
Really stretching the definition of game, this one's a book. A book that guides people to creating their own cities for role-playing.
A dance battle game! You complete in pairs, with iOS devices strapped to your arm (hopefully phones rather than iPads then), with scoring dictated by the accelerometer data. The aim is to create something more social than current dancing games, along with something requiring an MC.