Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 23, 2015

Email: Indie games I really like

Hey Malstrom,

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since you named the four indie games you really liked I figured why not do the same thing myself? So here it is:
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Eador Genesis:
I remember when that game hit GOG out of nowhere, I was curious and decided to gamble the money. I’m glad I did, no turn-based game has managed to glue me to the computer like that, it’s at the point where I’m almost afraid of playing it because I cannot stop the “one more turn” syndrome.
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The game is basically a mix between Heroes of Might & Magic combat-wise and Master of Magic strategy-wise. You move your hero with his army around on the map and engage in combat. On difference to HoMM is that the hero actively partakes in the battle and that units don’t stack, so every unit counts on its own. The strategy part is going around and managing your stronghold and your provinces. Provinces are hat population size, guards, building and the other usual stuff, whereas your stronghold is where you organise your “tech-tree” and hire heroes. One really cool thing is that the game will track your moral choices throughout the match: what units you employ, what creatures you call, how you respond to events and so on. Everything you do has long-term consequences, it reminds me of Ultima IV in that regard.
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The game can be pretty lengthy, the campaign is said to be about 100 hours long. I don’t know if that’s true, I haven’t beaten it yet. There is also a 3D remake, it was horribly buggy at launch, maybe they fixed it by now, I have no idea.
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Dungeons of Dredmor:
This is a true roguelike, but with a quirky twist. Expect the usual: permanent death (can be turned off, but what’s the point?), random dungeons, random loot and lots of dying. One thing I really love is how there is nothing to unlock, the game developers don’t force you to play a character you don’t want over and over again until a random thing happens that lets you play what you actually wanted to be.
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The game is pretty tongue-in-cheek, there are geek references everywhere, and I’m sure I missed half of them. You have usual classes like swords, armour, sneaking, but also weird classes like vampire, pirate, tourist, vegan, communist, mathematician, lawyer, some of which have interesting quirks (e.g. vegans suffer heavy punishments if they hurt animal-type monsters). Here is a video by TotalBiscuit:
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The game is not on GOG, but it’s DRM-free on the developers’ website (via Humble Bundle Store). There are also two paid DLCs and a free one.
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FTL – Faster than Light:
I don’t have anything to add to this one that you haven’t said already on your blog.
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Intrusion 2:
This game has no right to be this good: imagine Contra but with a physics engine. Sounds horrible, right? It kind of is, but in a way that’s pure chaotic fun. The physics allow all sorts of crazy things to happen, but it never gets in the way of the game like it does in other 2D games where the physics are just part of some gimmick. It’s hard to put into words, but the game’s simple premise together with its unpredictable nature keeps it fresh. There is a TotalBiscuit video as well:
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I can without a doubt say that this game has the best boss battles I have ever played, and this game was made by one guy! It’s available on the Humble Bundle Store DRM-free.
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Shank
This is a 2D brawler: fight bad guys, walk right, fight more bad guys. What the developers really nailed here is the feel of the game: everything feels meaty and fluid. The controls need a bit getting used to because the animations are so detailed and fluid, but it’s no big deal. I also love the grindhouse feel and some of the more silly moments (on stage take place in a bar and there are girls dancing like nothing’s happening while you slaughter waves of guards). Video:
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What I don’t like is how overloaded the controls are. Don’t even bother if you don’t have a gamepad, but even with a gamepad I find there are too many buttons: light attack, heavy attack, gun, jump, grenade, block, high grab, low grab. Come on, these types of games were played on controllers with just three of four buttons. The game is not available DRM-free normally, I got my copy in a Humble Bundle a few years ago. Also, fuck Shank 2, they made the controls even worse. Who thought we need separate dodge buttons for left and right?
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Anyway, those are the indie games I really like. There are some game I like as well (e.g. Dust – an Elysian Tail), but I don’t think they have that certain thing that would make me fully recommend them to other people. There are also some games I haven’t yet played enough to make a proper judgment like La-Mulana or Prison Architect. They might make it onto the list, or maybe not. The nice think with indie games is that great games can come from literally anywhere: Eador and Intrusion are basically one-man projects by some Russian guys and Dredmor is made by a small team in Canada. I can’t find where the FTL developers are from, but I know it’s just two guys who used Kickstarter to finish the game.
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Eador I need to sink some time into it. Alas, for lack of time.
Dungeons of Dreadmore is…. too otaku for my taste? I am done with the ‘omg, I am irony!’ type games. Done with the geek crap. You know what I want? Real shit. Older games have charm in that their developers were NOT geeks… or… rather… they were the first to geek-ize. For example, Ultima: Martian Dreams was written by someone who grew up on oil rigs. You don’t have people in game development today with that type of experience. I want developers who have real world experience or else I get nothing but a copy of another game.
Instrusion 2 looks too weird. Keyboard and mouse to play a Contra-esque game? No. Weird physics.
Shank feels like a flash game.

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