My main platforms are Xbox, Mac and iPhone, all of which boast a rich and diverse collection of indie games. The Xbox Marketplace supports emerging talent and encourages gamers to check out lesser-known titles. The iOS App Store makes indie games as readily available as sponsored apps, and even Apple’s own software. As for PC gaming, we have the Humble Indie Bundle – a fun and creative way to promote new games and their developers as well as helping charity. With the biggest games companies trying to make as much money as possible out of their customers, and threatening to abolish the trade-in system we have all grown to love, it’s refreshing to see that small companies with creative and exciting ideas are being so vehemently supported.
Grimm: Ride of the Perambulator
This is a ridiculously pretty and charming platformer by ROBOX Studios in which you are trying to get a baby back to its careless mother who left it at a train station, whilst escaping the clutches of a creepy old villain. You play as a little old-fashioned pram, and the strange concept married with some Burtonian art makes this a game that really appeals to me. I must admit, however, that it feels as though the developers championed style over gameplay. The controls feel loose and at times clumsy, and as a whole the game is one of the least challenging I’ve played. Still, for 99p Grimm makes it into my list for visuals alone.
Available on: iPhone
Not to be confused with the dance-fitness craze, this game was on my second hand Xbox Arcade and I have become slightly obsessed with it. It’s the most basic concept of shooting coloured balls to eliminate blocks of that colour before your screen fills up, and it is addictive as hell. The theme song quite literally plays in my head over and over. Although it is by prominent developer Pop Cap, Zuma costs just 200 Microsoft points (at gold level) and I would definitely buy it should it ever disappear from my hard drive.
Available on: PC, MAC, PSP, PSN, Xbox 360, iPhone
Although it isn’t the cheapest game, I’m including it here as it was in this month’s Humble Indie Bundle 5. The first title from Playdead, Limbo is another dark and macabre title where you play as a young boy who was woken up in a mysterious forest and is looking for his sister. It’s a logic-based puzzle game with beautiful silhouette-based art and graphic, bloody deaths – some of the conundrums will have you shouting at your monitor, so be warned. The only downside to this game is that it has massive spiders in it and I am severely arachnophobic, but for you normal, rational gamers out there this shouldn’t pose too much of an issue.
Available on: PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac
World of Goo
This is another game that I picked up in a Humble Bundle, developed and published by 2D Boy. It’s a cute puzzler where you have to build structures to get across levels whilst rescuing little balls of goo. Again, it’s a visually pleasing game that is also engaging, with the most basic controls that allow any user to pick them up instantly. Whilst I play this on a computer, I can imagine that it is equally great on tablets and phones. The gameplay is very simple, but the levels are varied and challenging which avoids any potential tedium. I’d say that World of Goo is definitely worth the iTunes price of £2.99, as it’s a sophisticated title with a mid-level price tag.
Available on: Windows, Mac, Linux, Wii, Android, iPhone
Haunts: The Hanse Macabre
This may be classed as cheating because technically this isn’t a game yet. I heard about this project on the “My Brother, My Brother and Me” podcast and was immediately intrigued: a turn-based strategy game with artwork inspired by Edward Gorey? Yes. Players can choose whether they wish to haunt or be haunted, and there are numerous options in terms of goals and maps that make the game re-playable. The game is being developed by Mob Rules Games, and you can find their project on Kickstarter where every $5 you pledge – which I believe is under £3.50 – buys you a copy of the game. I sincerely hope this gets the funding it needs to happen, as it looks gorgeous and sounds really fun!