You know what one of the best parts about the Game Developers Conference is? Indie games! This year’s GDC has been no slouch in bringing an abundance of self-published titles to the forefront, and Microsoft threw a special event showcasing some of the indie titles on the Xbox One horizon. There were over 20 games available for folks to get their hands on, but there were several that undoubtedly stood out above the rest. If you like indie games, immense fun, and own an Xbox One, keep reading to get a glimpse at several titles you’ll want to be on the look out for.
At first glance, Screen Cheat looks like your generic split-screen first-person shooter: a game with twitch mechanics, varying reticules, and your weapon of choice within your field of view. And it would surely be easy to chalk this one up as just another FPS game in the over-saturated genre, except for one small but paramount detail: you cannot see any of your opponents through your own screen.
Screen Cheat takes one of the most despised and unsportsmanlike maneuvers in split-screen gaming, and makes it your only means of survival. Basically, the only way I could locate where my opponents were on screen was to look at their screen and see what room they were standing in. It’s like Goldeneye, but with everyone playing with cloaking abilities for their characters. The rooms are colored differently and furnished with abstract objects to make pinpointing the location of your enemy a possible feat–though, you’ll still find yourself playing the guessing game quite a bit. I realized several minutes in that fragging an invisible target may be more gratifying than taking down someone I can see.
If you’re wondering how this will work online, that’s easy: the split-screen perspective is still maintained when playing against players who aren’t local. Though I didn’t have a chance to try out the online, I can say that the game itself is a fresh take on first-person shooters, and a game you’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for.
Lordy, lordy, pass the Swordy! This 8-player physics-based combat game pits players in a topdown, weapon-riddled arena, and forces them to mercilessly maim each other until there’s only one fighter left standing. Well, maybe calling them “fighters” is a bit to gracious: the characters you control are goofy, unorthodox, and very difficult to control. This makes for hilariously frantic battles to the death that are sure to create some exciting moments, especially in the party atmosphere.
Though the character models are rendered in 3D, the game reminded me a lot of Nidhogg in the sense that the bloodshed came in the form of color-coded pixels. Unlike Nidhogg, however, I don’t think this game requires as much skill, nor cat-like reflexes. So if you’re looking for a fun, evenly-balanced competitive game to spruce up your game nights, Swordy is most definitely a title you’ll want to add to your list of games to pick up.
Fortified is a mixture of third-person shooting, tower defense, and real-time strategy. The objective is to defend your base from waves of alien forces by setting up turrets, anti-air assault units, and various other defensive structures/weaponry. I was a big fan of Brutal Legend back in the day, and this game definitely made some of the more promising elements from Tim Schafer’s timeless classic and made them its own.
What makes Fortified even sweeter is not only its smooth and fast-paced gameplay, but the fact you can enjoy said smooth and fast-paced gameplay with up to three of your buddies for some tower defense co-op shenanigans. Even if tower defense isn’t your thing, tackling this genre of games with friends makes for a much more enjoyable experience.
Mighty No. 9
I’m sure many of you have heard about Mighty No. 9 at some point. The Kickstarter-funded spiritual successor to Mega Man–that’s being helmed by the renowned Keiji Inafune– was out and in full force at the event. There’s not much new to say about this game: it’s still looking like the Mega Man game we’ve been craving.
Staying true to the form of its predecessor, the Might No. 9 is extremely hard! But it’s a welcome challenge that provides that same rinse and repeat style of gameplay we’ve always loved, followed by that gratifying sense of overcoming the game’s impossible bosses. I failed miserably during my time with the game, which I look to one day redeem myself for when it officially launches. It probably didn’t help that Keiji Inafune himself was standing directly behind me either, judging my every move and failure. No pressure…
Here we go! My favorite game of the event by far–which I haven’t been able to shut up about– was Studio MHDR’s Cuphead. Styled like a vintage cartoon, Cuphead is a collection of the most epic and challenging part of your traditional 2D side-scrolling titles: the boss battles. You read that right, folks– Cuphead is a game about fighting bosses, some of which seem very impossible to beat, and are extremely gratifying to take down. Without giving too much away–because I believe figuring out the game’s ins and outs was part of the joy in playing it– you play as a teacup-headed hero who squirts liquid drops from his finger, and has an affinity for the color pink.
I was left couch-locked by the game’s intuitive controls and engaging counter system, with each boss presenting a fun new challenge that I couldn’t wait to dissect and conquer. I’m sure this game will draw many comparison’s to Mega Man for its difficulty, but I believe Cuphead cuts out the fluff of “stage progression” out and throws players straight into the arena with menacing bosses that want to put a nice long crack on the side of Cuphead’s top. Just wait until you face off against the “giant frogs” if you want to fully catch my drift. If the art style isn’t enough to make you give this game a try, just take five minutes to see what you think of the gameplay. After you do, feel free to send your “thank you” to me directly on twitter, @Malik4Play.
Do any of these indie games sound interesting to you? What are some upcoming indie titles that you’re looking forward to. Flip your comments down into the comments below.