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Game Theory, Porn Stars and Mexican Wrestling: Kill Screen’s IndieCade superlatives
10.10.12

Game Theory, Porn Stars and Mexican Wrestling: Kill Screen’s IndieCade superlatives

This past weekend in downtown Culver City, indie games had their Oscars. IndieCade, in its fifth year, celebrates the best forty games built outside of the major studios. The games were displayed in an open fire station, and gamers, developers and enthusiasts alike wandered from table to table, meeting game creators and playing their games. We played damn near every one, and these were the ones that we can't forget.

MOST FUN: Super Space _______. In this four-player local multiplayer shooter, each player controls one gun on a spaceship. Everyone gets points for shooting stuff, and the only way to move the ship and dodge debris is through recoil from your shots. In other words, each player is in competition and cooperation at the same time. It’s frantic, it’s funny, and it will be one hell of a party game when it’s released.

 

MOST POLISHED: Guacamelee! From the Canadian indie Drinkbox, this game oozes class. Its art style, part Mexican mythology and part lucha libre, is vivid and confident. Its combat will remind you of classic brawlers like Streets of Rage and Final Fight, and its structure hews to the classic exploration of Super Metroid. This is a game that could make your Vita worth the money.

BEST MANUAL: Qasir al-Wasat: A Night In-Between. This stealth game is inspired by One Thousand and One Nights and made by the Brazilian student studio Aduge. It might be most notable, however, for its gorgeous, sewn-bound manual, which would not look out of place on your coffee table. To get an idea, you can download it here.

MOST PROFOUND: Hidden in Plain Sight. In this game, four players blend into a group of about twenty characters racing across the screen to a finish line. You can walk or run, but you don’t want to stand out until you’re sure you can make it to the end, because each player controls a target reticle with a single shot that can kill you. It feels like being a subject in a really fun and mildly sadistic game-theory experiment.

MOST APROPOS: Cart Life. Richard Hofmeier describes his game to the uninitiated as “like Farmville.” Yes, it’s like Farmville in the same way Requiem for a Dream is like Toy Story. The black and white, point-and-click game is about being hungry, poor, and tired in urban America. The goal of Cart Life is to survive, and make a little pocket money if you can. This is the kind of game that everyone should play and that no one will, which is a crying shame.

 

BEST ART: Vornheim. Not a game, exactly, but manual for a city-based Dungeons and Dragons game, this book from the artist and porn actor Zak S features wonderful gothic illustrations. I don’t know shit about D+D, but this book actually made me think, for the fleetingest second, that I should. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that Zak S has made porn stars a big part of the conversation, I swear.

 

PRETTIEST: Tengami. The team at Nyamyam studied the properties of Japanese papercraft and actually built these into the game’s engine. It’s all surface and no depth, and that’s a compliment.

MOST PRETENTIOUS: Bientôt l’été. Here is a description of this Belgian game from its website: “Take long walks at the seaside, thinking about love. Meet a stranger. Go to the café, sit and drink wine and talk. And then you are silent. And you start longing for the sea.” Jesus Christ, who ordered the game based on Nights in Rodanthe? The game itself looks like Assassin’s Creed if it took place in Danielle Steele’s brain, and that is not a compliment.

MOST CREATIVE: BlindSide. No, it’s not about a rich Republican family adopting a poor giant dude because he can play football. It’s an audio-only iOS horror game. Everyone, including you, is blind, and you have to use aural cues to avoid being devoured. For fans of Day of the Triffids.

MOST VIOLENT: Bloop. Each of four players has a color. When your color appears on the surface of an iPad, you tap it. Whoever taps the most panels, wins. Forty fingers and flashing panels: a recipe for handfighting.

MOST SATISFYING: Kachina. You play as a hole in the ground. Stuff falls into you, and you get bigger. Move around to get more stuff to fall into you. I don’t know why, but it just feels so damn good.