At this stage of the game (pun not intended but welcome nonetheless) you pretty much know what to expect when popping in the latest game to hit your console. Today’s video game scene is dominated by the usual suspects, genres that continue to be cranked out one by one with slight variations to the original. It’s a circle of life so-to-speak that while predictable does work for video game companies because it ensures that they can confidently make sales. The barrier for risk is very low because to risk is to risk losing profit, and very few established businesses are in that game. But how then do we inject fresh blood and new life into the game playing equation? There are many new untested ideas out there, and given a chance they just might catch on. If not the major studios, then who can save us from Halo 22?
Enter Indie Games.
Where the business of large studios is to maintain what they’ve already got, the business of smaller upstarts is to innovate to grab a foothold and build on that. A small studio has less stake because it has less to lose so it can be more open to try new things and (fingers crossed) find a way to stand out in a crowded field. Often these innovations in the games goes unnoticed by the public, but other game designers do take note. And then, when developing the next big franchise sequel, some of these ideas or designs from the smaller players might just find their way into the bigger ones.
In a perfect world, the thoughtful craft that is put forth in Indie games would be just as valued and celebrated (we’re talking monetarily) as the bigger studios. In what often amounts to art, these games attempt to appeal less to base emotion and more toward a higher sensibility. It’s not to say or undervalue the sheer unadulterated fun of of Grand Theft Auto, or the often thoughtful interpretations of genres such as The Last of Us, but Indie Games takes the idea of change and cranks it up to 11.
Here are a few games to check out and see for yourself.
This War of Mine
War games are a dime a dozen, but we often forget that life goes on even in the midst of war. This War of Mine explores that concept as a civilians must survive against the backdrop of fighting.
Want to go on a great adventure, but also want to have an infinite amount of choices? 80 Days puts you in the driver seat and takes some amazing first steps into the world of fully realized immersive gaming where choice is more than just an illusion and it can affect the outcome.
Speaking of immersive, it doesn’t get more involved than this. Think the Twilight Zone meets a Sunday Drive, Glitchhikers sees you venturing out onto the open road to encounter the sometimes mundane but always unknown. What’s the point of it all? The question that you ask about the game is actually what the game forces you to ask about life itself. Completely free, you should definitely check this one out.
An oldie but goodie the strength of Limbo is in its stark design and use of darkness and shadow to contrast the light. A simple side scrolling game with puzzle elements, you can’t help but get lost in this world for that evokes a hint of terror. Taking a leap into 3D gaming as well, you can’t go wrong with this universal thriller.
What are some of your favorite Indie Games of the past and present? Let us know in the comments.