Indie

Ludum Dare 29 breaks a record: 2,497 games developed in one weekend

Ian Birnbaum at

Ludum Dare 29, the merely days-long game development competition, took place this past weekend. In addition to the usual screenshots, panic, and lack of sleep on display in developer Twitter feeds, this weekend’s Ludum Dare hit a record: 2,497 games were submitted to the competition, an all-time high. The theme for this weekend was “Beneath the Surface,” so most of the games involve mining, digging, or swimming in one way or another. Phil took a look at Beneath The City, but that's just one of the free games to come out of the weekend.

Beneath The City: a free turn-based stealth game inspired by Thief

Phil Savage at

It's been another record-breaking Ludum Dare, with 2,497 games made and submitted for the 29th run of the game-making competition. With so many new games now available to try, it'll take a while longer for the best to be found. Even so, some highlights are starting to surface, of which the turn-based, Thief-inspired Beneath The City is undoubtedly one.


Monochroma trailer sets the scene on a dystopian puzzler

Phil Savage at

It's hard to know the extent to which this "cinematic" Monochroma teaser reflects the final game—especially as its claimed the finished thing will contain no cut-scenes. Nevertheless, I am smitten with the animation, which is what I imagine South Park would look like had it been made in Arstotzka. And the regular art style is no less striking, showing a grey and red world for the story's two brothers to puzzle-platform across.


Rogue Shooter is more interesting than the name suggests, game and demo out now

Tom Sykes at

With all the possible top-down, isometric and platforming roguelikes having already been made, developers have, with some inevitability, moved on to the first-person roguelikes, as evidenced by the likes of Paranautical Activity and Eldritch. Rogue Shooter is perhaps the most extravagant of the lot, despite a name so cookie-cutter it could be used as a Steam tag or to, y'know, cut cookies. It should be called Procedurally Generated First-Person Kicking and Ridiculous Guns Game. We mentioned the existence of Procedurally Generated First-Person Kicking and Ridiculous Guns Game back in August last year, and now Procedurally Generated First-Person Kicking and Ridiculous Guns Game is out on Steam.


The Best Free Games of the Week

Tom Sykes at

Someone must have asciid for an expansive roguelikey JRPG rendered entirely in textart, as we've received one in the form of the delightful SanctuaryRPG. It's a streamlined and grind-free take on Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest and early Ultima and Things Like That, and if I were to hand out badges in this column it would win the coveted Best RPG Featuring Ascii Slimes award (sponsored by that Ghostbusters ectoplasm I used to love when I was a kid). Elsewhere this week: a serene, freeform farming lifesim appeared, along with two very different platformers at opposite ends of the minimalism/maximalism spectrum. Enjoy!


Goat Simulator devs plan new map, local multiplayer, and goat parkour

Emanuel Maiberg at

Earlier this month, Coffee Stain Studios made the case for giving their customers free DLC. Now the goat experts are doing exactly that in the first big patch for Goat Simulator. On its blog, Coffee Stain has detailed what the free DLC will include. Are you ready for goat parkour?


Meet Aztez, the Aztec-themed brawler with impeccable style

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!