As the year draws to its close, we must do our duty as a blog to summarize the things that happened through the year. In addition, considering that I snoop around the PC gaming part of things all around, this post will mostly be about that. As the title says, these are the top 5 PC Indie games of 2011. The PC part is quite important in that all the games have versions made for a personal computer running Windows 7 or Vista (but seriously, why would you be using Vista?). Moreover, each of these games has affected me in one of many ways; from being extremely addicted to it, to playing it for casual fun, to eliciting intense emotional outbursts from the normally stoic person that I am. So, without further ado, here is the list.
5. The Binding of Isaac
Equal parts shooter and roguelike RPG, Edmund McMillen (of Team Meat fame) has come up with a truly wonderful and grotesque creation known as The Binding of Isaac. You play the titular Isaac who is going to be sacrificed by his mother to appease her god. Thus, to escape her insanity, you dive into the cellar and find that your tiny home’s cellar is in fact an infinitely long dungeon with creatures both ugly and macabre roaming its cavernous depths. Each dungeon is generated randomly and indeed each time you save, quit and reload, the dungeons are randomized again making no two playthroughs exactly the same. The difficulty, therefore, is not linearly scaled with Isaac finding bosses instead of treasure in one room and being forced to fight said boss. It constantly keeps you on your toes right before opening a door to a new region, adding the thrill of the roguelike with treasure and level-ups into the mix. The game, with its convoluted connotations of religion, genre-breaking game mechanics, and simple cartoony gore is a blast to play. Buy The Binding of Isaac here.
4. Frozen Synapse
Although my real play of the game has slackened off in the months after its release, Frozen Synapse is nevertheless one brilliant tactical game that must not be forgotten when we are dealing with great indie games of this year. With the minute tactical and strategic thinking of a traditional game such as Chess or Go coupled with frantic shooting and explosive rocket blasts, this simultaneous turn-based strategygame deals with you guiding your soldiers through many randomly generated levels, picking off the enemy soldiers and completing objectives on the way. The game is well made for those who like to play in short bursts, with mechanics made to match the play-by-email style of play native to online Chess or Risk, and matches with 8 or more complete turns take days to finish between to equally matched opponents. A wonderful multiplayer matching system as well as a video-recording of the game provides a fertile ground for passionate strategic players to push their foxy plans into fruition. The game’s futuristic neon tones and sublime electronic music works well to enrich the atmosphere. Buy Frozen Synapse from Mode7 games here.
I must confess that my own play time of Terraria does not match up with those of the previous games. However the time I have spent looking at YouTube videos of the endlessly beautiful creations of this labor of love have been much greater than a lot of time I have spent on complete games. Terraria is wrongly being accused of being a Minecraft rip-off. Sure, it is a sandbox game. Sure, it also involves blocks and crafting and monsters at night. Yet, there is a greater difference between the 3D voxel-based Minecraft and the 2D pixel-based Terraria. While Minecraft focuses on the crafting part – to build new things in a virgin world Terraria has definite Role Playing elements, especially when one plays with friends. The fact that one can play for hours and hours based on just the overworld (to say nothing of the dark and dank underworld) is testament to the great game that Terraria truly is. With a tiny 16MB download, one cannot go wrong with Terraria. Buy one for yourself and one for your friends and you are all set to roam around a colorful pixelated world full of things to discover.
I cannot stop talking about this wonderful, colorful, heart-wrenching little game from Supergiant Games. Bastion has a soul that very few games of this era have one that briefly joins with you every time you do anything in this game. While it is at its heart a hack n’ slash adventure game, what makes Bastion brilliant is its narrator and the extremely poignant music. I never skipped a moment of conversation in the game, mostly because of the old narrator’s voice that was simultaneously warm and pained with sorrow. As the Kid trying to save a broken Caelondia, you will go to different places of your land, fight monsters and rebuild Bastion, the one place everyone agreed to go to in the time of the Calamity. You get to upgrade your weapons and buy new bonuses, but the crux of the game lies in whether you can truly build your world anew. Featuring a lovely soundtrack one that has been on repeat in my music player for a long while now Bastion is one of the must-play titles released this year. Read our review here to know more.
1. To The Moon
It is not often that a piece of art is made from cheaply available tools with an amateurish look and feel to it go on to redefine the medium and successfully bring it into the forefront as a vibrant and true medium of art. This is pretty much the definition of what To The Moon actually did. It is sad to know that it has less of a fan base when compared to the previous indie games in this list. At its heart, To The Moon is a point-n-click game made using RPGMaker that is set somewhere in the future when science has sufficiently advanced to change a person’s memory at his or her dying stages. The game follows the quest of two such science agents who go into an old, dying man’s mind because he wants to go to the moon as an astronaut in his memories. Yet he does not know exactly why he wishes to do so. The two agents go back into his younger years to find the source of this compulsion and make startling discoveries. I can freely say that the last part of the game literally made me cry and that has not happened before with any game (Planescape: Torment came close). It is the best game that I have played all year, and you must buy it from the brilliant developer.
Minecraft: Well it released this year but it is still more or less the same game as the alpha as far as game mechanics and enjoyment are considered.
Gemini Rue: A dark, neo-noir point n click game that took storytelling to a whole new level.
Limbo: Though released for the PC in 2011, the game was developed last year for the XBLA.