The Boston Festival of Indie Games was held last Saturday, and I somehow managed to check out every single video game there, warts and all. Here are a few of the indie games that left great impressions, and that you should look out for in the future.
Breakers Yard by protophant
With a style reminiscent of the weirdo RPG “Space Funeral” (which itself is a riff on the classic “Earthbound”), “Breakers Yard” immediately set itself apart with its clean and distinctive art style.
Developed by protophant, who are located here in Boston, “Breakers Yard” is a dual-stick shooter set in some kind of post-apocalyptic world where, no surprise, robots have taken over. Players are tasked with survival, and “Breakers Yard” features a gamut of weapons that stack on top of each other a la shmup games to aid them in that task.
My short time with it highlighted the very quick and chaotic combat, destructible environments and fun two-player co-op play. The levels are procedurally generated, so the experience changes each playthrough. The game has already been greenlit by the Steam community, and you can check out their Steam page here.
Inversus by Hypersect
“Inversus” is a lovely example of minimalism in both its art style and gameplay. It stood out as one of the few polished games at BFIG, and it seemed very solid all around.
“Inversus” has two players face off in a black and white arena, and in it movement is limited to the player’s color. However, if the player shoots and hits the opponent’s color, it turns into their color. Of course, this mechanic also inhibits the other player’s movement by changing the tiles to the opposite color, creating exciting strategic opportunities for both players. As a result, each game becomes a kind of puzzle shooter that looks to reward both sharp reflexes and strategic thinking.
“Inversus” also features a single player arcade mode. Hypersect is planning on bringing “Inversus” to PC and consoles soon, and you can check out their site for updates here.
Space Jammers by Spread Shot Studios
Citing “Diablo II” and “Hotline Miami” as inspirations, Spread Shot Studios has already put together an impressive top-down roguelike shooter. Playing as the (admittedly silly) rock band Space Pirate Kittens, one to four players go around shooting up space ships in order to find loot that will fund their rock tour.
The individual levels are pieced together similar to how “Diablo II” randomizes levels in order to increase replayability, and each small section of a level is handcrafted by the developer, and then randomly stitched together in order to keep a consistent overarching level design. On top of that, enemies drop different weapon types by the boatload, and each character in the band has their own skills. There’s some interaction between the different weapon types, too – for one, I noticed that a player with a sword was able to hit my weapon’s large plasma-ish bullets, and I’m sure there’s plenty more to see.
Spread Shot Studios only has one employee – Sorob Raissi, who you can follow here. It’s impressive that he’s been able to put together “Space Jammers” in only six months, and it looks to be a very promising game. “Space Jammers” is also on Steam Greenlight, which you can find here.
Super Slime Arena by JellyTeam
I’m a sucker for fighting games, no matter how small they are. I had a chance to try “Super Slime Arena” before and during BFIG, and both times were hilarious fun.
“Super Slime Arena” is a party fighting game with roots in “Super Smash Bros.” and references to many different fighting game franchises. The player takes on the role of a slime with a unique attack, of which there are at least a dozen, whose attacks range from typical fighting game moves like shoryukens to odd, interesting moves like summoning spikes that emanate from the ground, killing anything above them. The game supports up to 8 players with broad controller support – at a certain point people were playing with a NES pad, a DJ hero controller, an N64 pad, and more.
The two developers at JellyTeam are Northeastern students, and the concept was born in one of their game interface design classes. “Super Slime Arena” looks like it’ll be a blast with friends, and I can’t wait for a future release. You can check out their dev blog here.
Nothing Good Can Come Of This by Cartwheel Games
One of the more thoughtful games of the BFIG was “Nothing Good Can Come of This”. It’s a very simple game – two players spawn in to a 2D room that contains a chute in the ceiling. After a small amount of time, a loaded gun falls down the shoot in front of the players. What happens?
Well, as Michael Consoli, the sole developer at Cartwheel Games, expected, people go for the gun and shoot each other. Or they fight over the gun, and they eventually shoot each other. This small game is an exploration of how people interact when not given an objective. You can get the game, which is already released, here.
Trouble Shooters by PugHammer
“Trouble Shooters” is in a very early state – it’s only been in development for a few months, there’s only one stage, and there’s not much to do except shoot a couple of robots. However, the little that was in the current build still got me excited.
It’s a game with an objective similar to “Killing Floor” – survive the current swarm of baddies, save up some money, buy weapons, and repeat. The difference is that it’s a one to four player 2D game, and the screen is shared so you can see all the characters at once. These characters are all alone on a ship in the middle of nowhere, and atmosphere quickly establishes itself as oppressive. Each character has their own brand of personality that is obvious in their art. I also love the glitch aesthetic for the enemy robots – they really come alive when they move, and they’re just creepy enough that killing them feels good.
While there’s not much to see now, I’ll definitely stay tuned to their development blog, which you can check out here.