Independent and loving it!
Why drop $60 for games when $20 has gotten me classics? I discuss how two indie games made my weekend completely magical and recommend both to everyone.
I didn’t spend this past weekend playing triple A titles or getting any multiplayer action in Call of Duty. I didn’t spend this past weekend worrying about whether people were talking to me or interested in my surroundings. I was too busy being engaged by brilliant indie titles to care about anything else.
“Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP” and “Lone Survivor” are easily some of the best games this year. I’m almost ready to consider Superbrothers my GOTY and Jasper Bryne’s “Lone Survivor” is so engaging and frightening that I couldn’t put it down for more than an hour or so. It’s telling how, even while spending time with a friend, I was eager to rush back home and finish these games.
While I could chat about the specifics of each title, I think part of the enjoyment factor is learning them. Both games couldn’t be farther apart from each other in genres, but their approach to tutorials is very similar. Neither game gives much in the way of explanation and coming to terms with figuring out how the mechanics work makes you feel like a genius when you finally progress.
The first half hour of Superbrothers is like watching a lost puppy try to figure out its way home. I was clicking and holding keys and getting a bit frustrated. The game wasn’t prompting me with anything and I was wondering why Destructoid’s Jonathan Holmes was so engaged with it. Then I heard the first song.
Once those chords struck my eardrums, my judgmental attitude completely evaporated and I was awestruck. Not only were the graphics gorgeous in their pixel art, but the pure atmosphere dripping from the game world was second to none. I certainly played titles similar to Superbrothers, but nothing that combined music and art so well.
Fell in love with the girl at the rock show!
During the next two hours, I mastered the title. Little more was told to me in the game, but pure determination to finish this title and my exhalation of pretentious hate just let everything sink in. Not only was I at peace, but I felt like a child discovering the wonders of Monkey Island again.
The narrative also takes a lot of jabs at the silly things adventure games usually make the player do. You’re given a key and the games narrator goes, “I have no idea what that is for.” You click on some sheep and your main character questions, “Why am I doing this?” Even the damn dog sidekick waxes philosophical. It’s hilarious.
What spruces up the adventure segments a bit is an actual combat system. Similar to “Punch-Out,” Superbrothers has the players attacking in rhythm with their enemies. You need to watch their strikes and time your shield, or risk taking damage. Again, not original, but every entertaining.
After I battled one character and finished the first session, I immediately told my friend to get the game. Just like Jonathan Holmes said to me, I told him, “It’s Monkey Island meets Punch-out.” I also mentioned how some of the art made me think of Zelda.
Just like Glass Joe!
When all is said and done, the game clocks in at around 4 hours long. This would normally be a complaint, but the journey through those 4 hours is so strong, vibrant and jovial that I played it again. I mean, why wouldn’t I? Nothing released this year even compares.
As for “Lone Survivor,” well, it’s certainly not as happy as Superbrothers. Still, Jasper Bryne’s title is very well crafted and intriguing. From both a technical and narrative standpoint, “Lone Survivor” had me begging for more.
The first hour was rough. I couldn’t come to grips with the limited controls or the awkward map and I was struggling to discover exactly what the game needed me to do. As I kept exploring, though, things became clearer.
The subtle hints and extreme logic placed into the puzzles makes progression in “Lone Survivor” feel earned. Puzzles aren’t as obscure as to require MIT degrees and the atmosphere and environment are crafted in a manner that progression is impossible without exploring every nook and cranny. It is difficult to get totally lost in this game.
It’s also difficult to make the small steps, though. To me, it seems that this is part of the plot. The main character is thrust into a situation where he is the only one alive. He’s obviously wrought with depression and I know exactly how that feels. Taking small steps towards recovery feels immensely remunerating when things click.
Well, I definitely feel accomplished after battling my way through the hell of “Lone Survivor.” Monsters are freakish, battles are often one-sided against you and the psychological trauma going on makes understanding the story very challenging to do. The only easy thing is giving up, which is absolutely not rewarding.
I have a new found hatred of darkness.
After you play for awhile, though, you finally understand exactly how the game works and what you should be doing. That is when you grab the proverbial bull by the horns and throw it to the ground. You’ve finally conquered that fear of the dark and you proceed to seek your resolve.
While my particular ending wasn’t the most hopeful of outcomes, knowing that different paths and ending exists intrigues me so much that I’m dying to try again. Not all of the pieces came together, but just enough to make me question my own sanity and actions in this world. It’s profound and deep, all without being pretentious or elaborate.
I just cannot recommend these titles enough. While there are definitely specific audiences for adventure or survival horror games, both are so well made that they are must owns. Even if you don’t enjoy the respective genres, the creators are small scale, indie devs that could use the money.
I just find it odd that I’m getting sucked in by such low-budget games while all of the high-tech dazzle and wonder of blockbuster hits is leaving me cold. Maybe I’ve finally moved on from caring what others think about my gaming habits, or maybe I just appreciate a good game? Either way, this past weekend was one of the best I can remember.
It also doesn’t hurt that I spent time with a pretty girl. That’s a completely different tale, though…
If you’re a big fan of Superbrothers or Lone Survivor, why not give me some plot theories on my twitter @KingSigy? We can discuss some of the deeper meanings behind mental illness or laugh about how dumb those sheep are. Martyrdom might come up, too.