- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 20 April 2017
- Written by JOHN MORANO | STAFF WRITER
Gamers are increasingly turning towards the growing indie games market for fun, affordable games. Unfortunately, for every diamond indie game, there’s a lot of rough.
One brief point before getting into the true gems, in a previous story I cautiously recommended Ark: Survival Evolved as a promising early access title. Unfortunately, I find myself regretting this recommendation, and, at this time, would like to caution potential buyers away from Ark. While they’ve certainly produced a very fun game, Ark’s developer, studio Wildcard, embodies several of the worst qualities that can be seen in the indie games industry. They ignore player feedback and regularly break their game, while hiding behind the fact that it’s an early access title. They also put a system in their game which promotes unhealthy sleep habits, sold pay-to-win DLC, and illegally poached another indie developer’s talent... So much of this is unethical, and believe me, I’m only scratching the surface, I could write a whole story on this dev’s questionable business practices.
Slime Rancher is in many ways the polar opposite of Ark. For starters, it has an overwhelmingly positive rating from those who have played it. The developers are constantly improving this title and building on core features, rather than investing energy in questionable spinoffs.
The premise of Slime Rancher is simple; you, the player, run a unique kind of farm. On this farm you’ll grow crops, raise chickens, and improve facilities all for the purpose of breeding a creature called slimes. There are numerous species of these slimes, which can be varied even further through interbreeding.
Slimes produce a valuable waste product, “plorts,” which can be sold for profit. I found Slime Rancher to be somewhat dull, as combat is simple, but I have several friends who love this game.
Dungeon of the Endless is another engaging indie I’d recommend. It’s a co-op (cooperative) procedurally-generated roguelike; this means that the mission changes every time you play it, and sessions aren’t meant to be more than a few hours. The premise is simple; players are thrust into a labyrinth of rooms, with the goal of finding a hidden door, powering it, and opening it. To do this, they will have to survive numerous alien attacks through the strategic positioning of available characters and deployment of defenses using various available resources. This game regularly surprises players and requires complex strategizing; if you’re playing with others, effective communication is a must, and half of the fun.
Fractured Space is a free indie that some may find to be worth a look. The game plays something like a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) with a bit of a twist. The arena is space, and players control sci-fi battleships. There are numerous classes for ships, support, and tank, just like one would expect in a MOBA spinoff. Due to space being three-dimensional, there’s also a sense of verticality which helps to set this title apart from others.
Fractured Space also features dynamic targeting, which makes individual skill count for more in combat. Some may find Dreadnought coming to mind after reading my description of Fractured Space, however, despite it being the higher-profile title, after playing both, I’ve concluded that Fractured Space is the better option. This is mainly due to game balance and the fact that Fractured Space is out of early access whereas Dreadnought has spent a worrying amount of time in early access.
Warframe is a game I’ve mentioned before, and I stand by my previous recommendations. This game may have launched four years ago, but due to constant optimizations and updates, it hasn’t aged a day. At this point, calling Warframe an indie title is probably a stretch. It was definitely an indie at launch, but with a massive developer team and regular updates, it feels more polished than most AAA titles.
There are over 30 unique warframes (character classes) and 300 weapons in the game now, and more coming. Recent updates added randomly generated mods – riven mods – to the game, these allow for deeper weapon customization based on player preference. Gameplay is third-person action, with an emphasis on mobility. As a side note, I’ve introduced eight friends to this game, six of whom have broken 100 hours, and still play it regularly. Considering that Warframe is free, on top of having tons of content and an ethical dev team, it gets my strongest recommendation.
Golf With Your Friends is a game which I’m surprised to find myself recommending. Golf With Your Friends is basically exactly what it sounds like; you play virtual mini golf with a few friends on a number of diverse mini golf courses. Obviously, being a video game, this title throws in a few additional options to mix up the mini golf experience. Gravity and golf ball size/shape are customizable (good luck hitting that hole-in-one with an acorn-shaped golf ball).
If people told me last semester that I would be recommending a browser game, I probably would have laughed at them, but here I am. Town of Salem is the first browser-based game I’ve enjoyed in years. Gameplay is similar to the board game Mafia, with different players being assigned to different factions, all with the goal of wiping out the other factions. In Town of Salem, players are typically assigned to the town or mafia factions. Players are then given a role, a Mafioso specializes in killing townies, whereas a sheriff investigates players, to figure out what faction they belong to.
The goal of the town faction is to try and hang all the mafia, whereas the mafia try to stealthily wipe out town members. Strategies can be incredibly complicated, and the game itself is very amusing. Name choice, for example, can have a bearing on success. I remember when one player named himself after a prominent politician and was killed by the mafia, a town member, and a serial killer simultaneously on the first turn of the game. If you’re into these sorts of games, Town of Salem is guaranteed to be good for some laughs.
IMAGE TAKEN from www.mobygames.com