And so, with 2011 drawing to a close and 2012 and the supposed end of the world looming ever closer (not before I get to play Bioshock Infinite I hope!), it is time to kick of the 2011 Kami’s.
The rules of this are simple. The games must be available to download by all (so no Nintendo Ambassador games!) and have been released from January 1st 2011 to December 24th 2011.
With that, let’s get this ball rolling.
5 – Dungeons of Dredmor (PC/Steam)
It’s been a while since I played a really good Rogue-like, and Dungeons of Dredmor is as fine an example as you will see. It’s still a collectathon, still about descending as far as you can without dying, but it is warm, witty in a Monkey Island sense and truly addictive. It is really great to see Indie studios putting out quality goods like this!
4 – Bastion (PC/X-Box Live Arcade)
Arguably one of the finest narratives I’ve experienced this year, Bastion is a beautifully simple concept executed with near perfection. It’s the end of the world, and it needs to be put right – but not without some twists along the way. Narrated throughout with the kind of husky, wilderness-driven tone of a Wild West cowboy, Bastion is beautiful, entertaining and very, very good.
3 – Terraria (PC/Steam)
Take Minecraft, make it 2D and make it a little more of an RPG at heart, and you have the delightfully addictive Terraria. It may not appear to be much on the surface, but dig a little deeper – literally – and suddenly this randomly-generated world of crafting, building and defending springs to life, sucking up the hours like they were canapes at some big swanky do. Excellent.
2. Pullblox (3DS)
It’s not been out long, but long enough for me to put it straight in at number two. This is Nintendo at its best – simple, clever design executed with charm, wit and a precise logic that makes it deep and rewarding. As I said previously, if this is the kind of thing Shigeru Miyamoto wants to do more of, please Nintendo, let him do it. More of this will make the 3DS shine!
And the winner of best indie/downloadable game of 2011 is…
1. To The Moon! (PC)
To The Moon owes much to the Super Nintendo RPG’s of yore. And yet, it is so very much more than that. It’s a delightful game that explores concepts and ideals that most games wouldn’t dare touch.
The tale of two scientists who are granting a man retrospectively his dying wish – to be an Astronaut and visit the moon – is warm, sad, bittersweet and uplifting. It’s a game with fantastic art direction, a warmth and soul that is lost on so many indie attempts at the RPG. It’s script writing is of the highest calibre, and it genuinely makes you care about everyone, and their day to day problems.
To The Moon is indie gaming at its peak – taking the best ideas of the past and daring not so much to reinvent, but remaster a bygone era. Anyone who loved SNES RPGs, and loves a great story, will adore To The Moon!, and many who didn’t may find the great humour, fantastic dialogue and lampooning of certain genre cliches to be a fantastic sweetener to the deal.
Indie gaming at its finest. Bravo Freebird Games.