Most of my exposure to indie games thus far has been through GameCola—between Paul Franzen’s “Minus the Pudding” column, the review copies our prestigious Internet institution occasionally receives, and the GC staff’s wide taste in weirdness, I’ve at least heard of every single indie game that GameCola has ever talked about. Yet, I’ve never actually played an indie game, save for Braid and Hamlet, which don’t really count, because they don’t resemble “overpriced versions of Flash games you can play online for free,” which is my official definition of indie games.
Clearly, someone was not pleased with my definition of indie games, because I received nearly two dozen of them for Christmas: My Backloggery is now bursting with indie games from The Humble Indie Bundle #2 and (as a surprise thank-you-from-the-developers bonus) The Humble Indie Bundle #1, along with everything from the Indie 2D Pack and the Indie Adventure Pack on Steam. I hear there are a few games included in these bundles that are so in-progress that they haven’t even been completed yet; I paid nothing for these gift bundles, so I can’t complain about them selling a product with missing parts, but I still wouldn’t go flying around in a Humble Indie Airplane.
Thanks to my friends’ generosity, my current working definition of indie games is, “absolutely free versions of Flash games you can play online for free.” I feel like I’ve learned something. However…I still haven’t played any of the games.
OK, that’s a lie. I’ve played several rounds of Galcon Fusion, a game where you strategically smash spaceships into planets…but that’s perfect review fodder for another time. I’ve read about Aquaria, Gish, VVVVVV, and Samorost 2, so I at least have a good idea of what I’d be getting into there. As for the others…well, I have no idea whatsoever. Which is why I’m about to make something up.
Based entirely on the name, shortcut icon, and whatever teensy bit I may have heard or read in passing, I will now predict what these games will be like:
Bullet Candy – ZOMBIES!? No? Good. Rival gangs are vying for control of the headquarters of a moribund Mafia family…and the headquarters happens to be the largest candy store on the East Coast! The floors will run red with blood and colored sugar.
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved – You are Pythagoras. Lead your army of mathematicians into battle against legions of Charles Darwin’s 8-bit apes!
Jolly Rover – Ahoy, salty sea dog! Join Captain Calico Jack Russell’s canine crew and take to the high seas in this hilarious treasure-hunting adventure! Looks like the captain will need all the help he can get—he can’t even tell the difference between fore and arft! Har har har!
Lugaru – This isn’t actually an indie game; it’s a cleverly disguised virus that will shut down your virus scanner after you install it and hold your computer hostage until give it your credit card number, or until you do a System Restore and delete all the offending files from Safe Mode. Seriously, how else could I have gotten that virus?
Machinarium – Humans were wiped from the face of the planet by some fascinating catastrophe that isn’t mentioned anywhere in the game, leaving only their robot servants behind. Now only a few robots remain, gathered together in the city of Machinarium, and you’re a cute little emo robot who embarks on a puzzle-filled journey to get the heck out of there so he can be alone forever. Aw, now I’m sad.
Mr. Robot – Mr. Robot, who looks suspiciously like Robo from Chrono Trigger, has gone haywire. Can you destroy humanity before you come to your senses? The official prequel to Machinarium.
Osmos – All the stars in the sky have turned into letters! Build an entire galaxy by spelling out the names of various celestial bodies, but make sure you don’t have any letters left over, or else you’ll come up with doofy almost-words like “osmos.”
Penumbra Overture – The first in a trilogy of vampire-themed music games. In this game, you conduct a vampire-hunting orchestra that travels the world, playing terrible music to drive vampires out of the shadows and into the burning sunlight.
Super Laser Racer – It’s like, uh…has anyone ever seen the movie TRON?
World of Goo – It’s Gish meets LittleBigPlanet meets that scene from Ghostbusters II where Peter MacNicol is dripping with goo, and he says in that hilarious accent, “Why am I drippings vith goo?” Really, I’d spoil it for you if I said anything more.
So…uh…I’m gonna actually play these games now.