Indie games serve as a prime example that simplicity is the greatest recipe in making a receptive, fun and easy to play game. No they don’t usually rake in millions of dollars, involve massive, hundred person development teams, or achieve mainstream notoriety, but no one can deny how creatively crafted, unique and charming they are.
Although the organizers behind FanFest may not have attracted the large crowd of attendees they had originally hoped for, I took advantage of the lack of people in order to play almost every one of the 25 or so Canadian indie titles showcased at the events bit bazaar. Although it was next to impossible to decide, here is a list of the ones I felt people should really keep on their gamedars in the coming year.
Bonfire Game’s Pitfall Planet is a love letter to the gaming saboteur who loves to screw over their cooperative partner and laugh at their expense.
The game chucks you head first into a mysterious, unnamed planet containing a stronghold of priceless ores that serve as key ingredients in the production of rocket fuel. You play as P1 and P2, two adorable looking robotic astronauts who have mistakenly crashed their space ship while on an explorative mission. They need to collect all of the precious ore that is stuffed throughout the nooks and crannies of a plethora of puzzled mazes and booby traps found beneath the planets core. They soon find out they are not alone and are forced to adapt and protect themselves from an assortment of dangerous creatures. Form up with a trusted friend and journey your way through a series of 45 beautifully designed and challenging levels using grappling hooks, bounce cubes, slingshots and walk in tanks to ultimately refuel your ship and return home safely.
Originally, the concept of the game was designed as part of a joint art and programming student project between OCAD and U of T respectively. Seeing as the idea took shape into something so fantastic, it doesn’t take an astronaut to understand why they pursued commercially releasing the game to the public. Guy Torsher says that interested gamers can expect to see the already Level Up award winning Pitfall Planet on Steam, Wii U and possibly even PS4 within the next few months!
Our favorite purple haired, gun wielding, incredibly agile and all around badass super heroin Wryn, is back at it again, and in a big way.
Now that she has eradicated the world of the greatest heroes and solidified her standing as the single greatest hero of them all, she’s attracted the attention of some cynical villains who want to knock her off her heroic pedestal and destroy her native world to claim it for their own. Fight through waves of powerful robotic enemies and utilize your triple air dash, bullet deflecting katana, rapid fire dual pistols and time altering powers to defend Wryn’s world from it’s most heinous and notorious evil doers.
Ian Campbell’s Bootdisk Revolution studio is looking to create an experience that revitalizes the metal slug-esque, classic style of game design, with charming 8 bit graphics and musical score. There are a total of 7 levels found in the game, which could allow for a seasoned veteran to beat the game in an estimated 3 minutes, or a total newbie like myself to finish in about 15-20 minutes.
Since the game is so fast paced, Ian hopes that players continuously replay and speed run through the game as quickly as possible in order to showcase their skill and earn their rightful place at the top spot on the game’s leaderboard rankings. Ian hopes to have the game published across most popular platforms by mid-2016!
Quasar from OSnap games is chaotic, top down, visually stylistic, and explosive action taken to an entirely different level. The game pits you in a claustrophobically small procedurally generated arena within the asteroid infested depths of space. Lightning fast ships maneuver through flurries of bullets and traverse through dangerous, war torn environments, where enemy ships and destructive war technology lurk around every corner.
Customize the features on one of 3 models of ships, and utilize different weapons and power ups to gain a tactical team or individual advantage over your opponents. Will you outlast, or outwit your opponents in this unforgiving, hell storm of an environment, or will you and your ship be blown into nothing but thousands of fiery smithereens?
Quasar shows a huge amount of competitive potential as you fight for the top spot on the squadron or solo seasonal leaderboards. As you compete online, players are encouraged to team up with worthy adversaries, form squadrons and fly loyalty flags with pride on the battlefield. Challenge other pilots across the globe in one of four different games modes including free for all, team deathmatch, capture the satellite and attack the carrier. If you’re a fierce competitor, sci-fi fan, or just like explosions, Quasar is your kind of game and it’s coming to Steam very soon!
Vagabond Dog’s Sometimes Always Monsters, is looking to diversify the freedom of choice mechanics, and further deepen the exceptional narrative that made the first game so receptive for fans. Sometimes Always Monsters also rewards loyal fans who have completed the first iteration of the game and wish to transfer their save files into the second iteration. Your character is now living the typical American dream and has life firmly gripped by the balls.
They have a loving spouse, a published and critically successful book, a decent chunk of change in their bank account, an expansive home, tons of dedicated fans and the supportive company of other like-minded individuals and novelists. It almost sounds too good to be true…
The game takes a unique spin on the typical rags to riches archetype, turning it completely on it’s head. All this meteoric success your character accumulates has allowed for them to lead a sustainable life, with its fair share of benefits and consequences along the way.
Toxic jealousy is bred, ego’s become over inflated, finances need to be managed and new life changing decisions need to be acted upon in order to ensure you remain within this bubble of happiness for as long as possible. Yet make multiple rash decisions, and you’ll find yourself back at the bottom of the social hierarchic food chain in no time. Look forward to hearing more about Sometimes Always Monsters within the coming year.
Massive Damage’s Halcyon 6 takes place within the throws of a disastrous intergalactic war, a war in which the human race on earth will ultimately lose in a matter of time. While exploring the darkest depths in the void of space, you and your select group of elite, Terran officers come across an ancient, dilapidated space station, which unbeknownst to them, contains a mysterious and groundbreaking power that could potentially turn the tides of war in favor of Earth.
In a grand, desperate campaign to save the human race from complete extinction, you will trek across a vast, unapologetic universe filled with bloodthirsty creatures, strange alien species, and mysterious ancient artifacts. Rebuild and customize, your recently acquired space station to usable condition and fend off hordes of lethal enemies bent on galactic domination, before earth is obliterated.
Combat is highly strategic both on the ground and in the air. Players are presented with three ships each designated to a specific type of tactical, scientific, or engineering elite officer. Chain certain special attacks in sequence to make way for dealing massive damage, no pun intended. Experience a contemporarily relevant game that’s reminiscent of the classics, and wholly represents Peter and his crew’s passion for Science Fiction and story telling grandeur. Expect to see more on Halcyon 6 within the coming year!
Fortified is quite the challenge to say the least, in fact, it was designed with the intent of making players feel as though they emerged victorious by a very slim margin. Be wary of the fact that this game will entice you to scream at the 2-4 friends you play with, as it involves plenty of critical thinking and real time strategic acting. One wrong move can mean the loss of a round that can have plenty of time sunk into it.
Throughout the game you play as one of 5 standard Science Fiction tropes from the 1950’s, so of course we have our rocket scientist, our captain, our spaceman and our agent on deck. The game itself is set in this era, where a ragtag team of up to four players has to defend the world from an unrelenting force of Martian aliens, who have a hankering for the destruction of earth. If you couldn’t already guess from the title, you can build over 20 fortifications and train and command defensive infantry in a desperate attempt to prevent that from happening at all costs.
The game is quite unique in that it combines multiple genres like third person shooting, tower defense and real time strategy and fuses them together to create a fresh and fun experience for the player. Not to mention, the graphical style of the game is smoothly cel shaded and absolutely suits the old time 50’s aesthetic of the entire game. Look for fortified to be released around February or March of next year!
Brenden Cameron’s Shnipers is an incredibly fun and addictive competitive multiplayer arena game that was ambitiously developed at the 2014 Game Jam held in Toronto. In the game, you play as an assortment of 3D rendered, robotic combatants that battle against each other in a tight and progressively more dangerous playing field.
Players are equipped with missile deflecting holographic shields and a rocket launcher filled with ricocheting projectile ammo that once fired, continuously bounces off structures until they hit an intended or unintended target like yourself. This interesting mechanic choice becomes an integral portion of the game, as it tends to create an increasingly crowded, and frantic playing field. Not only that, but amidst this chaos, power ups spawn at the epicenter of each level, creating tension as players vie for game changing competitive edges over their opponents.
Currently, the game contains two maps and two game modes, but Brenden intends to consistently add new content like more levels, game modes, power ups and character sprites at his own whim and at the request of his fans. Purchase the game for the measly price of 10 dollars and watch it grow into something that is greater than the sum of its parts with your own help!
All of these games painted a stark image of the immense diversity of talent found within the Canadian gaming industry. Whether you’re part of a 1-person team or an a hundred-person team, creators should be encouraged to try new things, take risks and conceive games with an eye for creativity and uniqueness. I personally believe nobody delivers on these goals better than an indie game developer, whose drive to create comes not from the promise of a massive paycheck at the end of it all, but from a fiery passion to challenge the status quo and make games that we as players can appreciate for everything they represent. With games like these to look forward to, and a fantastic year to look back on, never has there been a better time to be a gamer through and through.