On the 5th year of esports gaming summit, it looks like the games featured by the indie developers are increasing not only in the amount of polish, but also in variety. As I squeezed my way through the crowd and waited out the lines, the following games managed to leave quite an impression on me. Here they are in no particular order:
I’ve seen promo art of this game and honestly, that’s all I really knew about it before this convention. Having finally tried the demo, I could see strong potential with it’s ideas. Mixing the ideas of deck-building and table-top turn-based strategy, it has produced a unique, potentially intense experience. Think Warhammer, but the games expand at the rate of something like Hearthstone, but you also manage resources like Starcraft, and turns happen all at the same time. Okay, admittedly it sounds a little convoluted, they’re still figuring a few things out as it’s still in early access. But it’s not like fitting a tabletop strategy game in 10-20 minute sessions would be simple in the first place, and I certainly think they’re taking steps on the right direction. I ended up buying an early access key with the intention of seeing what their campaign would be like.
Danmaku (aka Bullet Hell) games are if anything, known to have a very specific cult following. And the mad lads behind this title decided they’d want to make an accessible version of it. I’d argue to say they succeeded. You have your Knight run around in circles where all you really do is press or hold a button to either turn, shoot, or slow down. Survival is the name of the game, as managing to dodge the touhou-inspired salvo of bullets is what really drives your score up. Quickly loading to a recent save point easily keeps you going again after dying. Their current build gives you a total playtime of about 2 minutes, most players needed 10-15 minutes to get through. While it can come off as a one-trick pony, the combination of its simplicity, aesthetics, music, and immediate enjoyment has made it a very memorable experience. And in fact, I wouldn’t mind playing it again.
While they don’t have an official website, they do have an active facebook page.
This title is an RTS that’s constantly putting you against a time limit. Your task, as the evil dark lord of the realm, is to wipe out the humans on the map. Without necessarily having to micromanage everything, it plays out quite closely to popular RTS types like Warcraft. What makes this interesting and the number of ways to your evil goal. Cast disastrous events on their town, sow discord among humans, send minions to slay them, expand your base, upgrade your army, and more. Certainly, Ruinarch can use more aesthetic flavor, but it does present a wealth of scenarios you can play through.
Check out this game’s website.
No Sa Da
What if Dark Souls became a card game? While it sounds pretty difficult to translate the constant movement, spacing, attacking, dodging, and parrying, two decks of cards and a couple of simple, tiny playmats seem to have done a remarkable job. Sitting through one game of this ended up being longer than I expected, though. I think it ended up being a little more convoluted than it needed to be. But it does have a pretty ambitious idea of applying a campaign in a card game, including making bosses for a party to beat.
Playing the arcade game mode on this for a demo was actually pretty fun. It went straight to boss battles and while they were simple, the responsiveness of the controls and options in movement kept the game fun to play. Borrowing mechanics and sensibilities from the souls franchise made this easy to understand and engaging. It makes me wonder how different this is from the actual campaign, and has honestly made me consider picking it up when it releases on Switch next year.
Find more information about Towertale on the Keybol website!
Honorable Mention: Sting-a-Win
This is obviously a game designed for young children and maybe their doting parents. Designed to play out much like snakes-and-ladders with a mix of a simple quiz game, the simple rules makes it easy to pick up and share with others. Having two ways to win adds a layer of dynamic play. But what really shines here is the designers’ passion for raising kids and his knowledge of being a bee-keeper. Having videogames be a fun bridge to a pool of knowledge I wouldn’t really know about otherwise is one of the biggest charms of the medium itself.
This was probably the best and most promising offerings of indie games in ESGS so far, and does make me look forward to how the games may be by next year!