Sunday, December 22, 2013

2013 in Review: #14-10

In this series of articles, I'll be listing and discussing my top 20 indie games of the year. While many indie GOTY lists I've seen tend to focus on the most popular and well known indies released in 2013, I hope mine represents a well-rounded look at the year's best.


14. Full Bore
PC, Linux (Site) | Watch the trailer
Defining Moment: Due to the freeform nature, it was tough to pick one that encapsulated the whole game, but for me, no moment was more exciting than that first fall in the beginning, as you plummet deep underground and pass all the different layers and levels you'll come to explore later.

Full Bore was a pleasant surprise. After Escape Goat, I was eager to play another block-based puzzle platformer. Full Bore isn't a platformer. You can't even jump. Instead I found challenging puzzles set across an expansive and intriguing world, stretching from the sunlit surface to its dark lava-filled depths. And while the sense of exploration and discovery is fantastic, the puzzles, charming graphics and animations, and just the sheer amount of gameplay is even better.

13. One Finger Death Punch
PC (Site) | Watch the trailer
Defining Moment: OFDP is a game that really needs to be played to see the appeal, but what’s better than finishing off a perfect round by punching the last enemy’s heart out of his chest?

Visually OFDP doesn't seem like much. But sometimes what matters is the gameplay and in that aspect, OFDP is king. It's one of the most addictive games I've ever played and the simple controls hide a surprising amount of depth. The smooth animations, the number of upgrades, variety of round types, the sheer over-the-top spectacle of every fight, and the feeling that you're an utter martial arts badass grants OFDP that one-more-go appeal.

12. Assault Android Cactus
Browser (Site) | Watch the trailer
Defining Moment: The thrill of threading your way through a horde of enemies and countless bullets to snag a battery moments before you die.

Dual stick bullet hell chaos. That's what you find when you play Assault Android Cactus. Enemies and bullets flood the screen from every angle. Levels shift and change at a moment's notice. Turrets emerge from the floor. Bullets and missiles fly everywhere. It's mayhem, but you're always in control, thanks to the tight responsive controls and the different character load-outs that offer new and varied ways to take on the mechanical hordes.

11. Running With Rifles
PC (Site) | Watch the trailer
Defining Moment: Inching up the street as gunfire and grenades go off around you, your fellow soldiers dying at your side, feeling like victory is close at hand...and then a tank rumbles around the corner

Running With Rifles proves that an indie title can portray the chaos of war better than AAA shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield. And it didn't convey this with photo-realistic graphics or scripted moments, but with its overall atmosphere and gameplay. You're just another soldier on a living battlefield, who can die in an instant from a stray bullet or mortar fire.The battles in RWR are hectic and ruthless, but also tactical and offer depth and strategy. It's these elements that make Running With  Rifles superior to the myriad console "military shooters" and a worthwhile experience

10. Fez
PC, Mac, Linux (Site) | Watch the trailer
Defining Moment: The first time I entered a world and found a narrow tower to climb, only to rotate the level and realize that this tower was merely the side of an entire building

Mechanically Fez isn't a very difficult game. Death or failure doesn't have much consequence. But when playing Fez, perhaps it's best that you're not thinking about pixel-perfect timing and precision jumps. Because then you wouldn't be able to fully appreciate the unique art style and the perspective shifting mechanic that, at least for me, never gets old. What's more, Fez's depth is more cerebral than most, due its weird ciphers and language to interpret and solve.

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