Hidden Gems in Gaming


It’s no secret that indie games are claiming a bigger stake in the gaming market.  With greater exposure through programs such as Steam Greenlight, and a few games from smaller companies such as Braid and The Binding of Isaac making big waves, the indie game scene is ready to explode in popularity.  Over the last couple years, as a member of the Super Budget Brothers podcast, I have played hundreds of indie games and found several hidden gems along the way.  And now I present some of those treasures to you on a silver platter.  Enjoy.

The Beautiful World of Red Eclipse

The Beautiful World of Red Eclipse

Run n’ Gun in Red Eclipse

Red Eclipse (RE) is a multiplayer, first-person ego-shooter very much in the vain of the Unreal Tournament series.  RE features a wide variety of weapons each most useful in a specific situation, my personal favorite is the Plasma gun which can fire auto, or secondary fire a large ball of energy which pulls enemies towards it and damages those who it touches.

This game also has an interesting twist when compared to other first-person shooters, you can run on, and push off of walls.  Jumping towards a wall allows you to push off the wall and jump again.  You have a stamina meter which will decline as you use moves.  Running on the walls creates a new level of finesse not seen in other games and allows level changes in mid skirmish, amping up the difficulty level and skill ceiling.

The part of Red Eclipse that really won me over is the amount of options available.  First off, there are an outstanding number of maps.  Most maps in shooters these days seem to resemble one another, but these maps are original and exciting.  Also, there is a level editor, just in case you aren’t satisfied.  The game options include a massive amount of mutators so you can do almost anything you could dream up (My personal favorite is instagib with jetpacks).  And if that wasn’t enough, the source is downloadable and easy to work with allowing for simple modding.

I left out one very important detail, Red Eclipse is completely free!  Go download this amazing indie game here

Race Through Art in Proun

Race Through Art in Proun

Race Down to the Wire

What list is complete without a racing game?  Proun is a racing/time trials game, developed by the one man team of Joost van Dongen, unlike any other racing game you’ve played.  Think Marble Madness meets Jackson Pollock, peppered with competitive play and jazz.  Confused more than convinced?  Let me break it down for you.

Your vehicle of choice is a ball which races down a circular bar.  You have to dodge all manner of walls by rotating around the bar while racing to the finish line.  It’s as basic as any racing game, you get through the course as fast as you can and try to get in first place, but it’s the flair and feel of the game that really makes it stand out.

Racing on the tracks is like cruising through a 3D piece of modern contemporary art.  The worlds are gorgeous and abstract creating an atmosphere unlike any other game I’ve played, much less any racing game on the market.  The music (an original soundtrack created by Arno Landsbergen) is a fun mix of jazz and electronic.  This definitely shows that videogames should be considered art.  In fact, Proun has been displayed at modern art galleries as a piece.  Tell me that isn’t impressive.

Proun also has all the features you would hope for in a modern racing game.  You can time trial, race friends, display the ghosts of your past runs, and compete against the rest of the world on the online leader board.  There are varying difficulties to keep the game fresh and allow you to progress in skill throughout your experience.  And the best part, this game has a “pay what you want” price tag at www.proun-game.com

The Unique Gameplay in Devil's Tuning Fork

The Unique Gameplay in Devil’s Tuning Fork

Experience Unique Gameplay with Sound

This final game is interesting.  I hesitate to include it because I feel it is very polarizing.  The Devil’s Tuning Fork is a first-person, exploration/puzzle game developed by a student team at DePaul University a few years back.  I’ve included this in the list because the style in this game is exciting and unique.

You play as a child who is struck with a mysterious “disease” that has been sweeping across the world, causing you to fall into a coma.  You play in the “dream” world, which is all dark.  You can illuminate the surrounding world in waves through sound (think the terrible Dare Devil movie).  While finding your way through the pitch black world you are attempting to collect stuffed animals and progress to the end of the darkness.

There are many obstacles you need to hurdle to beat this game.  You can use high and low frequency sounds, both show you different characteristics in the surrounding world.  There are floating platforms controlled by switched, falling floor tiles, and mirrors which you use to bounce concentrated sound projectiles, all of which stand between you and returning to your family.

The feeling in this game is great.  The world is creepy and ominous.  You can hear voices of children pleading for help, asking for someone to save them from the monster.  The monster…forgot about that part.

Here is where the game turns you into a critic.  The game shows real promise, in fact, it was featured at the Independent Games Festival shortly after its completion, but doesn’t give the closure you’re hoping for while playing.  The story seems like a bit of an afterthought.  That being said, I consider this one worth checking out.  It is available for free download at www.devilstuningfork.com

These are just a few of the indie games that have impressed, no, blown me away in the last couple years.  They are all cheap/free and illustrate that the rise of indie developers is well deserved.  Pick ‘em up, play, pass them on.

Want more indie downloads?  Check out part 2 here

Are there any amazing indie games we missed?  Let us know where to find them!

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