Indie

Meet Aztez, the Aztec-themed brawler with impeccable style

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Ian Birnbaum at

Trends and fads come and go in gaming, just like they do everywhere else. First came the Zombies, then came the roguelikes, then, well… zombies again. If Aztez, an Aztec-themed brawler, is part of a new trend in historic side-scrollers with incredible art styles, then it is a trend I heartily endorse.


Infinite Space 3: Sea of Stars makes the jump to Steam Early Access

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Patrick Carlson at

Indie developer Digital Eel has released the third of its roguelike space adventure Infinite Space series, Sea of Stars, to Steam Early Access. A single-player strategy game with turn-based movement but real-time combat, the move to Steam follows the developer's developer successful Kickstarter funding campaign from 2013.


Architects EP: a free collection of games, songs and general weirdness

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Phil Savage at

Tom Sykes correctly identified Architects EP as containing some of the week's best free games, but, as a fan of Braingale's previous Brain Theatre EP, their follow-up project seemed worthy of some extra attention.

Architects EP is another round-up of short-form games from the indie collective, this time interspersed with music albums and a rather charming train-based animation. All of it is available, for free, as a zip file full of weird experiments and inventive prototypes.


1849: a bustling city management game set in the Gold Rush era

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Tom Sykes at

Something about 1849 really appeals to me as a non citybuilding fan. Is it the California Gold Rush setting, which reminds me of the brilliant sweary-murdery TV show Deadwood? Is it the music in the latest trailer, which makes me nostalgic for a bygone (and almost certainly horrible) world I never knew? Or is it the adorable pixel art characters, who hustle and bustle around pre-rendered buildings, like NPCs in some late '90s Square RPG? It's probably all three, and if your proclivities broadly match up with mine, you're going to want to join me after the break.


Secrets of Grindea demo is nostalgic, loot-obsessed and a lot of fun

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Tom Sykes at

Today is *checks Gregorian calendar* Easter Day, and if you celebrate the occasion you're probably already catatonic on chocolate, lying on the floor under a mess of spent foil wrappers and half-eaten eggs. There's no shame in that - OK, so there might be a little shame - but I have the perfect game to unwind with later on while you try to digest the deliciously terrible thing you've done. That game is Secrets of Grindea, a very Secret of Mana-ish action RPG now with a demo (demos are what we had in the olden days before Early Access). It's a nostalgic (but not suffocatingly so) and tactile thing, boasting extraordinary pixel art and a bunch of modern features like a character creator and online co-op. I've spent some time with it this morning in lieu of eating my own weight in chocolate, and if you like Square's Mana series, I suggest you do the same. You'll find the demo here.


The Best Free Games of the Week

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Tom Sykes at

Some guy once said that the only certainties in life are death, taxes, the endless geyser of internet anger, and good games that happen to be free. I can't do much about the first three (sorry), but I've cherry-picked the best of the last one and stuffed them into this here weekly column for your edification. Read on for a charming fishing game, a maddening rotational platformer, the world's first beard-based puzzle game (I assume), and a safari adventure starring arguably the greatest predator of all: man a marble. Enjoy!


Procedurally generated grand strategy The Last Federation out now

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Tom Sykes at

Arcen Games' The Last Federation only came to light in February, and yesterday the grand-strategy-featuring-turn-based-shmup-combat-bits saw release. One day the secret of Arcen's astounding productivity will leak out - my money's on founder Chris Park owning some sort of Time Turner - but before that dread reveal we have plenty of time to wallow in their copious, innovative, if not always entirely successful output. The Last Federation is now available on the official site or on the Steams, along with your standard slight reduction in price and beautifully impenetrable launch trailer. I have no idea what's going on in the next two minutes, but just look at all the tiny lasers and explosions.


The Flock trailer shows the asymmetrical stealth horror game in action

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Tom Sykes at

As any fool with a spirit level would be able to tell you, multiplayer has never been all that symmetrical, but that hasn't stopped developers from attempting to unbalance it even further. Left 4 Dead's competitive multiplayer, for example, is as asymmetrical as a Shoreditch haircut, pitting a team of zombies against a team of normals and giving each an opposing goal to achieve. The comparatively minimalist The Flock takes things in a tenser, less action-packed direction, using elements of Capture the Flag and Doctor Who's 'Blink' episode to fuel a shadow-drenched horror game for four players. It looks faintly bloody terrifying, as you can see from the first gameplay trailer, below.


Mercenary Kings devs reveal Curses 'N Chaos, a supernatural brawler for two players

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Tom Sykes at

From the looks of it, Curses 'N Chaos is essentially horde mode demade into a 2D, 8-bit-styled supernatural beat-'em-up, and those are some words that look very good together indeed. It's a wave-based survival game for one or two players, featuring cromulent pixel art, an equally cromulent chiptune soundtrack, and hopefully cromulent action that revolves around battering skeletons, ghosts, frogs and, well, pretty much anything that appears on screen. You'll find a bewitching video of Curses 'N Chaos beneath the break.


Hands-on with Darkest Dungeon, the best game I played at PAX East 2014

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Evan Lahti at

PAX East’s designated indie games fiefdom was, unsurprisingly, overflowing with interesting projects. Secret Ponchos. Gods Will Be Watching. Subnautica. Not A Hero. Below. Many of the other games on display were known quantities that we’d either played previously or are playable now in a pre-release form. The one that stuck with me most was Darkest Dungeon, a roguelike that had somehow slipped through my sensor array.

Spelunky world record beaten, $3,109,825 collected over four hours

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Phil Savage at

It was less than two months ago that top Spelunky streamer Bananasaurus_Rex smashed through Spelunky's $3,000,000 barrier to take the high score world record. It's an achievement I thought would hold, thanks to the incredible luck of finding a plasma cannon and jetpack on the first two levels. It wasn't to be, as now YamaYamaDingDong has broken that record by just $3,975. More impressively, he did the majority of the run without the level-blasting power of the plasma cannon.


Below hands-on: lonely, vulnerable, gorgeous

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Cory Banks at

The very first thing I notice when I start playing Below is how tiny I am. Noticing this makes Kris Piotrowski, Creative Director at Capybara Games, extremely happy. "That's the point," he says. I'm supposed to feel vulnerable, miniscule, and alone. Even in a crowd of gamers who are getting their first taste of Capy's upcoming roguelike, I do feel alone.


Even the Ocean: a contemplative, innovative platformer set in two worlds

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Tom Sykes at

My thoughts on Analgesic's Anodyne (which taken out of context sounds like some sort of Victorian miracle cure) were neatly summarised in the form of this review, which used words like "tapestry" and "sentient shrubs" before awarding the enigmatic Zelda-a-like a big fat 84%. You can bet that I'm intrigued by their follow-up, Even the Ocean, a sidescrolling "contemplation of balance" (read: platformer) comprised of two seemingly intermingling halves. A "motion demo" of the in-development game was released a little while ago, a boxy and prototypical build showing off Even the Ocean's unique mechanics without venturing into content found in the actual game. You can find it here.


The Best Free Games of the Week

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Tom Sykes at

This week saw a surprise new Pixel game, a celebration of unsurprisingly good interactive fiction, several smart games that play around with their boundaries, and the sad news that the wonderful Free Indie Games has posted its last after over two dedicated years highlighting excellent and/or interesting free games across the globe. What better way to keep the fire alive than by playing some clever, profound, beautiful or plain fun free games released over the last week or so? Read on for mirror images, multitasking, words arranged in a pleasing manner, and missing presidential documents that can only be retrieved by shooting stuff. Enjoy!


Citizens of Earth picked up by Atlus, coming to a planet near you this September

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Tom Sykes at

We previewed the seemingly pretty cromulant Citizens of Earth way back in January 2013, but the short version is that it's an Earthbound-ish indie RPG that puts you in the role of Vice President of the World, a position currently held by Noel Edmonds I believe. It's obviously not the usual elvey prophecy-laden fantasy affair, so it was sad to see its Kickstarter campaign fall so short of its admittedly rather steep target back in October. Thankfully, Atlus have stepped in and offered to publish the game (they're doing a similar thing with the new Tex Murphy, although that game did reach its KS target). Citizens of Earth is now on track for a September release, and has a new, Atlus-emblazoned video as proof. See it with your own eyes after the break.


Xbox One indie darling, Below, is also coming to Steam

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Tim Clark at

What with its controversial launch parity policy, Microsoft hasn't exactly done a bang up job of wooing indie developers onto the Xbox One thus far. That said, one of the more promising projects which it has managed to sign up is Below from Capybara Games. Previously billed as an Xbox One exclusive, the latest trailer for the game reveals it will also be coming to the PC. I mean, of course it is. Capybara seem like bright people. Why the hell wouldn't it be?


Strike Vector gets free Challenge Mode and map

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Emanuel Maiberg at

Strike Vector is a damn good game. As I said in my review, it’s an old school arena shooter like Quake III and Unreal Tournament, but with quick and brutal aerial dogfights. One of my biggest problems with the game is that it didn’t do a very good job of explaining how to play it. The latest free update might help address that issue.

New Source trailer teases a metroidvania with wings

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Emanuel Maiberg at

You wouldn't know it by looking at it, but Source started out as an iPhone game. As indie developer Fenix Fire explains, it grew from a simple mobile idea to a full-fledged metroidvania, which is now headed to Steam Greenlight. It has a unique and beautiful look that reminds me of something between Tron and Descent. If that doesn't sound interesting to you, I bet the trailer will change your mind.


Goat Simulator dev makes the case for free DLC

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Emanuel Maiberg at

As consumers, we’d prefer to get content updates for free rather than pay for them. Yesterday, Coffee Stain Studios announced that it will patch more content into Goat Simulator for free in May, and according to the developer’s game designer and PR manager Armin Ibrisagic, that's not only great for us, but also good for business.


Goat Simulator gets free maps and multiplayer mode in May patch

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Emanuel Maiberg at

The bad news is that Coffee Stain Studios, developer of Goat Simulator, has announced that it’s not planning to sell any DLC for its not-quite-a-simulation game. The amazing news is that the team plans to add a bunch of free content to the game some time in the middle of May.