Last week, on Saturday September 29th, the annual Boston Festival of Indie Games was held at the MIT Johnson Ice Arena. Indie developers came from all different areas to show off their new games, and a huge variety of different games at all different stages of development were on display. Here, we round up some of the craziest, most inventive, or just plain fun games at the convention.
DISCLAIMER: The convention floor was so big that there was no way to see and play all of it. As a result, I missed about a tenth of the games available on the show floor, which unfortunately included the game that won the award for the convention’s best game. This list compares the very many games that I got to play, but a couple of titles might be left out, and I hope to demo soon.
Slayin’ 2 – as a sequel to the nostalgic mobile game that I loved as a kid, Slayin’ 2 brings back the fun and makes it a real game. It’s a fairly simple game, but if priced well it will certainly be worth the buy, especially if you played the first!
Red Hot Ricochet – this crazy party game pits teams of three against each other in a field where all the shots ricochet everywhere. Again, it’s fairly basic, but it makes for a fun and easy party game that constantly gives that ‘one more game’ feeling!
The Last Friend – this genre-blender combines a beat-em-up battler with a classic tower-defense, like a Plants vs. Zombies combined with Guacamelee. Your object is to save dogs, just like real life, and the game has a lot of heart to go with its innovative gameplay. The art style is very well-developed and the gameplay is fun, so it definitely deserves a mention!
5. Alike – Alike is a masterfully crafted puzzler in which you control several blocks that move all at the same time. The player has to navigate each one to the goal while avoiding hazards, making for a very complex and fun puzzle game. More than anything, though, Alike is a pinnacle of amazing design. Most puzzles have one solution that can be found with reasoning, but is very difficult to find randomly. Additionally, the game introduces new mechanics in a very self-explanatory way, so each level feels like you’re discovering a solution rather than just being led to it, creating a really challenging and satisfying puzzle experience. Alike is still in development, but you can try out the demo here.
4. BlubBlub: Quest of the Blob – BlubBlub is an adorable, Super Meat Boy-esque platformer made by GirlsMakeGames camp in Boston. It’s absolutely brutal, but the challenges are fair and fun, checkpoints are plentiful, the art is adorable, and the game is dynamic enough to keep you from getting frustrated with continuous deaths. Plus, the game was made by 9-11 year old girls, which seems almost unbelievable at its incredibly high quality. After a successful KickStarter, BlubBlub is being expanded to a larger game, but what exists so far is downloadable here.
3. Super Crome: Bullet Purgatory – Super Crome has the honor of being the only game on this list that I did not personally get to play because the line was so long, but it’s one of those games that you can tell is fun purely by watching it the visually impressive nature of it. It’s a Galaga-style shooter game that’s a nonstop insane bullet hell, but it adds one special mechanic. The ship can dash through bullets over a decently large amount of space, which allows for a much more challenging game because there’s always a way out if you calculate it properly. Although the build at the convention was incredible and very playable, there isn’t a demo or a release date yet, but you can check out its website here.
2. Evergate – Evergate is an artistically beautiful puzzle game with a rich story and an engagingly simple system. Much of the story will not be revealed until the game comes out, but at the time it seems as though you play as a recently departed soul on a quest to reclaim your old memories. The player travels through a huge amount of puzzles in which the object is to destroy floating crystals with your laser-esque attack. However, all crystals must be lined up with a box to be destroyed, and crystals can have different effects, making Everlife an engaging fusion of a puzzle and a difficult platformer. Although an exact date hasn’t been announced, Everlife is slated to release early next year, and you can see more about it here.
1. A Duel Hand Disaster: Trackher – the fact that this game’s prefix abbreviates to ADHD is incredibly fitting. The basic story of Trackher is that a ship has been lost in enemy territory, and another ship is coming to save it. The game is split=screen, but it is not multiplayer – instead, the two halves of the controller or keyboard control either side of the screen. On one side, you control a Galaga-esque ship blasting constant waves of enemies to keep them off the other side. However, this ship is a glutton for resources, so you have to be conservative with how you use it, unlike many other games where you shoot constantly. On the other side, you navigate through hazards to collect materials to help you pull out of enemy territory. To add to the already massive amount of panic that this gives the player, your score is erased when you die, so you also have to decide when to stop playing, and whether to wager your score in another, more brutal round. The game mechanics are numerous and very confusing, and if you don’t know what you’re doing a round of Trackher will be over in seconds. However, with the addition of a good tutorial (or multiple good tutorials), Trackher is a truly great game that keeps you engaged, focused, and scrambling to keep up. Trackher is in Early Access on Steam, and has console releases slated for the future. (Personally, I’m waiting for the Switch release so I can play with detached JoyCons, fitting for the split-screen style, but any controller suits it.) Find out more about it here.