Aug15

AgithaHime Diaries: Indie Halftime

At the beginning of the year I gave myself the goal of playing studying an indie game every month. It’s August and time to talk about the six indie games I’ve been able to play this year! I started off the year being ahead in the game (hehe) then from March – June my free time was spent more out with friends after overcoming what I was going through. Then I was able to get back in my studies during the summer. I’m looking towards a goal completion even though at the moment I am a little behind. However, these aren’t the only games I’ve played this year (more in the next installment of AgithaHime Diaries). 😛

Guacamelee!

This game is widely popular – it’s probably the most fun out of all six games I’m going to write about. You play as Juan, a Mexican farmer who is in love with El Presidente’s daughter. Suddenly a skeleton kidnaps her and murders you, but you are resurrected as a luchador who has the ability to travel between the world of the living and the world of the dead to save the worlds from becoming one!

Here’s a pretty village with houses to barge into and people to talk to.

What I really love is the art style and design of the overworld map, with the inclusion of authentic Mexican culture. The mechanics of this game are brilliant as well. It’s a platformer-fighter, best played with a controller because you’re gonna have to fight the enemies fast, especially since they exist in both worlds you have to swap between! You earn bonuses for combos and you also have to master special techniques you learn during the course of the game.

You can also have Player 2 play as your sidekick in fights like this with too many enemies.

Mark of the Ninja

We travel to Japan next (ha) where you play as a ninja whose clan is under attack from an Eastern European plutocrat. You receive tattoos, or “marks” that give you heightened senses and reflexes, but slowly drives you into madness. Your mission is to kill, and kill stealthily.

You are overlooking some guards and wondering how to get past them.

This is essentially a stealth game. You are invisible in the darkness, and if in the light you can be spotted by guards and shot with their laser guns. Sometimes you can sneak up behind them to kill them silently, but you get more points for getting through each level without killing or being spotted. The art is also amazing because all the characters exist in the foreground while they very nicely include Japanese temples and European buildings as background. I chose this game to be the featured image because it’s my favorite in terms of story development.

Also this game inspired the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles series, if you’ve played those!

Uh-oh, you are visible and the guards are suspicious of your presence!

Papers Please

If I were to give a medal to innovative games, this would take it. You play in the first person perspective of an immigration officer who has to inspect the arrival of both natives and foreigners after a border has opened between the countries after years of civil war. You are given rules for inspection daily – such as required papers, different rules applying to different countries, and even a wanted list to catch criminals. You get to stamp passports and stop crimes and also work with a secret society! Beware though, making mistakes in this game can cost you. There are 20 different endings.

Your desk contains your rulebook, stamps, newspaper, and also keys to two guns because this game is terrifying.

Gone Home

This game received a lot of proclaim in the narrative world, but I have mixed feelings about it. Initially I was required to play this game for my homework in my narrative game studio class. It’s a point-and-click adventure where you play as a girl who has returned home after studying abroad, only to find your parents and your sister missing. You have to search the house for clues to what happened to your sister. It sounds creepier than it actually is. The game has great design – all the items in that house must have taken ages to put together and you can even toss everything around while certain items tell the story. But I was not a fan of how the story ended – I don’t mean for that to be judgmental of the subject matter, but I think it was portrayed too cliche in how things progressed when there are so many stories about that subject that we never even get to hear. I don’t want to spoil what the subject is, but I can say that it is a sensitive topic.

Your sister’s room

The Bridge

This is the one game on this list I haven’t completed because it has gotten tiring. The game’s design is great – it’s a puzzler where you rotate the world to reach the door in each room while trying to avoid the Menace (ball with scary face on it) – and the sketchy art style is wonderfully refreshing. The puzzles get harder and harder and as you progress there are different tricks to the room that will both help and hurt your character. I’m at the point in the game where rotating is tiring because the Menaces defy physics and you have to be super precise to not kill your character. If you’ve played Braid this game shares a similar rewind mechanism.

One of the levels

To the Moon

You play as two doctors performing an artificial memory procedure on a dying man named Johnny. They are told that his utmost desire is going to the moon, and they must travel through his memories to discover why and change his memory to make him believe he has fulfilled his dream when he draws his last breath.

Johnny’s room

This is a very simple game made from RPG maker which is why the art is completely pixel and very generic. However it makes up for it with the mechanism of the game which is integrated into the design! You travel through memories, and in each memory you can collect significant items in Johnny’s life to make the connection to an earlier memory. You discover a pretty deep storyline about his marriage and at times it’s rather heartbreaking. The game is a tearjerker, so play it haha!

Johnny’s teenage memory

All of these games are available for both Mac and PC on Steam! To the Moon does not run on newer Macs (mine is from 2015) as far as I know, despite what it says on its Steam page.

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5 Comments to "AgithaHime Diaries: Indie Halftime"

Cat wrote on 15th August 2016 at 1:53 PM

I love love love Guacamelee and Mark of the Ninja. Those two are on my favorites list! I really like the platformer-fighter mix in Guacamelee, and I thought the dimension shifting was a cool concept. I also think Mark of the Ninja is the best stealth game I’ve played.

I’ve heard good things about Papers Please and To The Moon, though neither interested me enough to try them. I haven’t heard of The Bridge though! That looks cool.

I’m the same about Gone Home. It’s not that I disliked the subject matter, and I get what they were trying to do but… the whole thing was just very anti-climatic? I enjoyed figuring things out, but I felt let down in the end. Wasn’t a huge fan of this one =/

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Liv Reply:

I would really recommend Papers Please because it’s a lot more fun than it looks! To the Moon is kinda like, the game is not that fun to play but the design is innovative and the story is sad. 😛

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Pauline wrote on 19th August 2016 at 3:27 PM

I’ve not heard of most of these indie games apart from Papers Please, my friend recommended it to me and I had a go months ago. I was really fun, I must say! I really liked how it was a little different to games I played before with a more serious side to it too!

Mark of the Ninja looks really interesting. *sigh* Looking at these games reminds me to look at playing video games again – haha, I must set this as a goal for myself 😉

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Sue wrote on 22nd August 2016 at 9:24 PM

These games are pretty different from each other it seems. I think To the Moon is one I would enjoy playing. It seems really original as you are traveling through someone’s memories in the game. It seems really sad, but at the same time that it has a good story, and I like games with good stories. I also tend to like puzzle games though.

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Raisa wrote on 25th August 2016 at 11:58 PM

To the Moon looks really good! I think I’ll check it out. The plot is funny though. How unethical, but I guess it’s for the patient’s best? XD I’ll let you know when I get it!

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