Every month, as part of the regular monthly meetings of the Austin, TX independent game community JUEGOS RANCHEROS, we do a very casual & chatty rundown of the ten or so games from the previous month for the audience, to give people — especially those curious onlookers from outside the indie community itself — a look at what they may have missed. The featured games are both local and global, and both indie and, on occasion, a bit-bigger-budget — what binds them together is simply that they’re all amazing.
In keeping with the tongue-in-tobacco-packed-cheek tone, we call these run-downs A Fistful of Indies, which are presented here on Venus Patrol for your reference, each fully-annotated, -linked, and off-the-cuff blurbed, in addition to their home on the JUEGOS RANCHEROS site.
Developer: Exotworking | Platform: Web | Play it: Here
“… a brief and clever little short story of a game from Exotworking, a group that includes a guy who’s currently interning at Double Fine, which should give you a hint about the sense of humor you can expect. I won’t go into too much detail & spoil the fun, so let’s just say it’s an exploration of the ethics of the traditional retro platform game & leave it at that.”
“… just recently landed on the 3DS — which is my new favorite way to play it — it’s a serene bedtime story of a game from a Swedish indie called Nifflas, who’s sort of the resident master of quiet, ambient platformers, which is exactly what you should expect from this.”
Developer: The Catamites | Platform: PC/Mac | Get it: Here
“… a 3D dungeon crawler from the same developer of the amazing game Murder Dog. If you’ve played that, you’ll feel right at home with the sort of anarchist punk vibe happening here. If you haven’t, you’ll basically be wolloped across the face by how bizarre and brutalist it is, but underneath the sort of terrifying severity, there is actually a lengthy adventure here.”
Mark of the Ninja
“… a super polished stealth platformer from Klei, and is maybe most remarkable for the fact that it’s the first game that’s given me the choice between pacifism and genocide and I’ve not just chosen but almost like lusted to kill every single person — it’s an incredibly satisfying game all around.”
Developer: Colin Northway | Platform: PC/Mac/Linux | Get it: Here
“… the new game from our friend Colin Northway, best known as the guy with the big mutton chops and a blue safari hat in Spelunky. Like most of his games, this is a heavily physics-based game where you construct your own characters, here by adding limbs & muscles to give them life and solve puzzles. It’s insanely beautiful & super satisfying.”
God of Blades
Developer: White Whale | Platform: iPhone/iPad | Get it: App Store
“This has been featured at a previous JUEGOS, but if this is your first time hearing about it, it’s a pulp fantasy inspired swordfighting game for iPhone & iPad from our own White Whale Games that’s got a ton of soul, and is just about to get a big new dose of content in the next couple weeks.”
Developer: Twinbeard | Platform: Web | Play it: Here
“…basically impossible to describe without ruining it, except to say that I know that based on this screenshot you’re not going to believe me that it’s not just one of the funniest and absurd games to come out in recent memory, but one that basically has the most ideas crammed into one experience. You’ll see what I mean.”
Developer: Honeyslug & Dick Hogg | Platform: PlayStation Vita | Get it: PSN
“… a minigame collection that teaches you about all of the hardware features of the Vita, and also a super funny, absurdist, irreverent game with a ton of unbelievably amazing guest artists. If you’ve got a Vita, you need this game.”
The Unfinished Swan
Developer: Giant Sparrow | Platform: PlayStation 3 | Get it: PSN
“… if you’ve only seen screenshots like this, where you splatter black paint on a fully-white world to explore more deeply, you haven’t seen anything yet. As a sort of magical children’s storybook of a game, it’s just unbelievably completely delightful. ”
Developer: Dennaton | Platform: PC | Get it: Steam
“…an extremely violent and blood-soaked action game that also manages to be both fantastically stylish and awesomely thoughtful in how it handles its violence. Also worth noting is that this screenshot here will be part of an update to the game that should be ready by the time you read this, which lets you play a special level that takes place right here in the Highball.”
See more posts about: A Fistful of Indies, Colin Northway, Dennaton, Exotworking, Frobisher Says, Frog Fractions, Giant Sparrow, Goblet Grotto, God of Blades, Honeyslug, Hotline Miami, Incredipede, Klei, Mark of the Ninja, Nifflas, Night Sky, Richard Hogg, The Unfinished Swan, The Visit, TheCatamites, Twinbeard, White Whale
If there was one game that quietly dominated last week’s stay in Nottingham for GameCity7, it was one that, weirdly, wasn’t present at all, but rather was on everyone’s lips in all the downtime in between: Frog Fractions, the latest web game from Jim “Twinbeard” Crawford.
What was remarkable, though — or, at least, will be until you play the game yourself — was in how little anyone would bring themselves to say about the game, or how little anyone who’d already heard of the game but hadn’t had a chance to play it wanted anyone to tell them.
It was something like a sly wink or a secret handshake — people would only softly utter “have you played Frog Fractions yet?” and wait for the knowing smile back, both too afraid to pry further and spoil something either one might not have seen.
So consider this a sly wink of my own, and a light push to devote your next hour or two to Frog Fractions, if you haven’t already. You’ll be forgiven for that first wave of confusion as you wonder what’s so compelling about what at first glance seems like simple, sort-of precious edutainment parody, as the game then begins to unfurl layer after layer of straight up ideas.