Nine Exciting Indie PC Games to Watch (Plus One for Xbox 360)

Project Zomboid

From developers The Indie Stone, we have zombie survival game Project Zomboid (PZ). For some of you old-schoolers out there, the first thing you might notice is how much this looks like the old X-Com games. You won’t find a tactical shooter here though. This is a real-time survival game where you’ll need to collect supplies, build barricades, gather allies, and try to stay alive as long as possible. A sandbox world with no active quest system, PZ is in many ways a game about how you die. As stated on the developer’s site: “The goal here is purely to have the most unique and remarkable adventure leading up to your eventual and inevitable demise.” So, we have a mix of sandbox survival, rogue-like danger, slow moving zombies, crafting, role-playing, and something that looks like an updated version of X-Com. All in all, it sounds like a winning combination. You can pre-purchase the game now for as little as $8.25 and play the demo build immediately. These guys can really use your support so check it out.

Overgrowth

Wolfire Games are the wonderful people that bring us the Humble Indie Bundle every year, the excellent “bunny beat-em-up” game Lugaru, and now the very nice-looking sequel Overgrowth. Promising to build upon the frantic martial arts fighting from Lugaru, Overgrowth continues the adventures of ninja rabbit Turner as he beats the crap out of other bunnies, wolves, and soon cats, dogs, and rats, too. If you like brutal combat, lots of leaping about, and a punishing difficulty curve, this may be the game for you. You can get Lugaru for pretty cheap from a number of places, and you can pre-order Overgrowth and get hooked up with the development tools allowing you to mess around with the game’s current build. Great fun to set up a bunch of guys and watch them battle it out.

A Valley Without Wind

In a world covered by snow and ice, scattered life has eked out an existence where and how it could. Now the snows are melting, and those daring enough to venture out are finding an ancient industrial world full of danger, mystery, magic, massive procedurally generated landscapes, and loot. There’s always loot. A Valley Without Wind is an upcoming survival game that offers a post-apocalyptic world to explore that developers Arcen Games promises will be infinite in size. It will be open-ended and, according to Arcen, death will be a bit of a permanent feature, yet we’ll be able to continue playing in the same world over and over. The developers hint at a lot of interesting features, so keep your eyes peeled. This one is just bleeding potential.

Dead State

Similar to Project Zomboid, Dead State is being developed by DoubleBear, a group led by Brian Mitsoda, best known for writing Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. You create a character that has to survive the beginnings of the zombie apocalypse (sure are a lot of those lately). Build up your shelter, gather allies, and fight zombies in – are you ready for this? – TURN-BASED COMBAT! Joy! For some of the older role-players, this is like a dream come true. The game features some of the more modern-looking graphics of the bunch (hey, nothing wrong with pixel art), and has the potential for some really top-notch writing. Also, I really like the character portraits.

From Dust

Back in the glorious ’90s, a game came out that blew many a fragile little kid’s mind with fluid animation, breathtaking landscapes and environments, and a touching story told through movement and action as opposed to dialogue. Another World, or Out of This World as some of us knew it, was the creation of Eric Chahi, who also brought us the thrilling sci-fi title Flashback: The Quest for Identity. His follow-up, titled Heart of Darkness, didn’t do as well, and like some sort of misunderstood genius fleeing a simple world that couldn’t grasp his brilliance, Mr. Chahi disappeared from the world of gaming for years afterward. That is, until he announced what’s sure to be his next masterpiece, From Dust. Billed as the spiritual heir to Populous, the game sees you as a god on a primitive island able to craft the world to suit the needs of your villagers in the hopes of helping them survive whatever natural dangers come their way. It’s best to watch the game in action, so take a look.

Rock of Ages

The Chilean developer ACE Team brought us one of the most imaginative and visceral FPS games centered around brutal hand-to-hand combat ever made, Zeno Clash. That’s a fact, you can look it up. Now they’re working on an altogether different beast called Rock of Ages, described as a combination of tower defense and rolling games like Marble Madness. In parallel to Zeno Clash, this isn’t just an interesting and unique gameplay concept, but also offers a wonderful and imaginative artistic style inspired by the art and architecture of different eras and civilizations. Slated for this summer, get ready to smash many, many things with a giant rolling ball.

Ace of Spades

Ben Aksoy (who I’m guessing is a single guy and not a whole dev team) has been developing this little gem that at first glance screams Minecraft, but soon distinguishes itself as a pretty different sort of animal (in my world, videogames are animals, don’t question it). Randomly generated maps on multiplayer servers allow players to dig and build, much like Minecraft, but with the real purpose of building defenses to help you and your team battle another group of gun-wielding, blocky, pixelated soldiers. Construct towers for sniping, bridges which you can collapse (no floating blocks here), and walled rooms in which to cower in fear. Or, shoot someone in the face! No griefing, please.

Terraria

This game is actually already released, but Re-Logic are adding content to it all the time. What can be described as a 2D Minecraft clone (if you lack imagination and overuse the term “clone”), Terraria is like a 2D Minecraft clone (wait, what?) that also has strong elements of classic side-scrollers like Castlevania and Metroid. Now, whereas the game has plenty of mining and crafting, it also has massive boss monsters, futuristic weapons, RPG elements, and grappling hooks. Basically, all the stuff you can mod into Minecraft if you don’t mind updating all your mods EVERY time Notch updates the game. Word of warning: Terraria can come off as a bit underwhelming when you first start, but stick with it and it gets really fun, both in single player and multiplayer!

Desktop Dungeons

As much as I’d like to, I can’t seem to get into rogue-likes. They can be unforgiving and look downright ugly in this modern age of fancy 3D graphics. If you are anything like me, Desktop Dungeons is the game for you. It takes the elements of rogue-likes, but streamlines them into bite-sized chunks you can enjoy in short bursts. Perhaps the most brilliant part of it all is that Desktop Dungeons plays very much like a puzzler, where every move is one more step in solving some damn hard puzzles. The free version has been out for sometime and is still available to order. But now you can pre-order the cooler-looking paid version for as little as $10!

Fez

This one isn’t a PC game, but here’s hoping it comes into the PC world. Fez is an Xbox 360 title that has breathtakingly beautiful pixel art graphics, an adorable art style and characters, and what appears to be mind-bending puzzles that allow you to “flip” the game world from different 2D points of view on a 3D axis. A door you need to reach too far away? Flip the game world and suddenly it’s right next to you. Item you’re looking for hidden from view? Flip it! This is much more easily understood by watching a gameplay video, so check it out. And please, please, please bring this to the PC!


Comments
2 Responses to “Nine Exciting Indie PC Games to Watch (Plus One for Xbox 360)”
  1. Chad M. says:

    I actually dig Roguelikes (Angband in particular and Desktop Dungeons is…a little too pretty for my taste. In spite of my dislike of zombies, I think my love of turn-based combat will outweigh it when it comes to Dead State.

  2. Erik Johnson says:

    Just came across this, thanks for the AVWW shout!

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