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indie

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Imagine, you’re just chilling in your village. Then, all of a sudden, you’re told to go to the town hall for something stupid that you did. You and a lot of people are then told: “You are all hereby banished from the village!” It comes as an unexpected surprise to you, and you do not know how to react.  If this situation happened in real life, it would be more likely for one to get the ultimate punishment instead.  Banishment still is a bummer, though. Try as you and the others might, you cannot escape your fate. So, all of you must gather the little items that you have and go out into the world, knowing that you can never return. Meh, it was a crappy village anyway (yeah your village sucks).

Here seems good

Banished is a build simulation game, where a bunch of banished folks have to build a brand new village in the middle of nowhere. Doesn’t sound too complicated right? You also need to keep an eye on a few things. These include but are not limited to: Hunger, Freezing, Population Loss, Population Growth, Fire, Natural Disasters, Disease, Accidents, Homelessness, and Aging. Most, if not all, of these can result in certain death.

The village is based on the number of citizens and jobs. These jobs start off small, like gathering resources and buildings. Once you build a certain building of sorts, you then assign much more important tasks. These tasks range from wood chopping, keeping the village warm, farming, fishing, gathering, and hunting to keep your village fed. Since your resources and people are limited, you must decide on which job is most important for you to assign to your citizens.

Always keep an eye out on your population. You might end up with a bunch of builders with no resources because all of your resource gathers died, and you forgot to assign some builders to gather or vice versa. You might also end up with less people then you started with because single people don’t have enough homes in which to get married and start a family in, or all of the population is too old to start a family. At this point, you just watch as the remaining population dies out. After your third attempt, you might get it right (goes to the corner in shame).

I call thee..Home

Banished has a sense of gameplay that immerses you by watching the village, that you took the time to grow and nurture, unfold before your very eyes. The sounds, graphics, and gameplay coincide together to bring you a world you can spend hours playing. It may take some time and practice, but eventually, you do get a village in which you are proud of.

You can find Banished on Steam and Windows.

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Indie games are on the rise, but why? What makes indie games so special compared to games worked on by hundreds of people? To find out, let us think about the indie games that have come out in the past few years.

A few examples of indie games would be the new cult classic UndertaleHarvest Moon-esque Stardew Valley, the gritty sci-fi game Transistor (a personal favorite), and the hilarious The Stanley Parable. Why are games like these so popular? What’s the appeal of non-AAA games? I’ve got a few answers.

Price

First off, everybody likes a bargain. As a college student, I like them even more. It is hard to justify paying $60 for one game, but $5 or $10 is an incredible deal in comparison. Most indie games are under $20, even less if you get them in a bundle or when they are on sale. When you can still get a quality game for a lower price, it makes the indie genre more appealing. You can justify it even if there is a chance it may not be a game you like. Who cares if it was sub-par or not what you were looking for because It only cost $5 anyway. This means more people will at least try indie games, even if they are unsure about them. If the price is right, indie games are likely to, at least for some gamers, be curious enough to try.

Originality

How often do you see AAA games having interesting mechanics and taking risks by doing something strange? It is not very often. AAA games are made for the masses, meaning that those developers are less likely to make any sort of innovations or risks in their games. An example of an indie game that takes risks and has interesting mechanics is Undertale. For instance, this game allows you to go the whole game without fighting a single battle. Sure, a lot of big games have more passive options, but the entire game? Who in the game industry would pitch, “Let us have a game where you have the option to just walk through the world, die a lot, and fight no one if you want to get the happy ending. It will have names with bad puns, dogs whose heads go to the moon, an evil flower, and even a celebrity robot.”

Maybe someone would take it—someone took on Pac-Man after all and that had to be a strange pitch—but big companies are more concerned with making lots of money.  Larger developers often choose the same mechanics over and over again because they still work, and they know they can milk it. Indie developers, more often then not, choose to be risky.  The Stanley Parable is basically a walking simulator, but it works at keeping people coming back for the strange and interesting story and because it is not complicated.

Photo courtesy of “https://gamersrant.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/game-review-transistor/”

Relatability

When you think of companies like EA or Nintendo, who do you imagine working there? Many likely imagine big-shot CEOs out to make money, even if the game quality has to take a hit. Now, imagine the kind of person working on an indie game. They are a regular person who is passionate about games. They care about their fans and take pride in their games. It is a whole lot easier to relate to an indie developer and even give them a bit more leeway in the process. If, for example, there is a glitch on level 3 on some indie game, you are more likely to feel like reporting the issue. It might still take awhile to fix some glitch for a small team, but it is more likely that it will be addressed. You might even feel like harmless glitches add character to the game.

On the other hand, you expect big-shot game companies to get it right, and if they don’t respond immediately, it feels like they just do not care. Aren’t these AAA developers supposed to have the greatest resources? Being able to relate to indie developers means you and I might still like their game better despite glitches and other problems. We understand that it can happen. Big companies do not get that kind of leeway.

Now you can see why indie games are growing in popularity right now, and I see them being popular for a long time. With the ability for developers to purchase game engines and even VR equipment for a decent price, it makes it possible for indie developers to keep finding ways to make games interesting. I look forward to the next batch of indies that 2017 will bring.

Know any other reasons why indie games are so popular? Do not hesitate to mention it in the comments below!

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Originally released last year on the PC and now available on consoles, FEIST is a side scrolling action game that combines complex physics and dynamic gameplay. You play as a little fur creature trying to rescue its mate from a savage unpredictable world. As you make your way across a mysterious forest, you come in contact with bigger foes and challenging escape routes that depend on precise movement and decisions.

In FEIST, all elements interact with each other in the game, making for some really interesting and unpredictable situations. I was very impressed with how complex the enemy AI are. The flying bugs for example, chased me down relentlessly, forcing me to take cover when I could and take action when the timing was right. Their movement was always unpredictable. Sometimes they would swoop down to attack and sometimes they would hover, allowing me to move and then they would shoot stingers at me from a distance, which are very accurate by the way. The spiders were even more relentless, chasing me down no matter how far I ran and they would accumulate in numbers the more I ignored them. It would start with 1 or 2 spiders chasing me and then before I knew it, there were quadruple that amount and I was done for.

Itsy Bitsy spiders aren’t so Itsy Bitsy

The enemies were so unpredictable, it made every encounter feel different. Even though the enemies were in the same spot, their movement varied and any mistake I made, they made sure I paid for it. It was frustrating at times because I found myself thinking a lot of this depends on luck, since the enemies were so unpredictable in their aggression and attacks. However, the more frustrated I got, the more and more I was impressed with the AI and FEIST all together.

Not only are the enemy AI very complex, but the physics of my character and the environment was even more impressive. I found myself having to be very precise when maneuvering my way through the forest. If my jumps were too aggressive, I fell. When my jumps were too soft, I fell. Also, there are moments where I stood on boxes and tree trunks that hung by ropes and had to use my body to swing them back and forth to make it to higher ground. Sounds easy enough! Only, it wasn’t that easy and really required precise movement of my body weight to make it swing how fast and high I wanted. There are also sticks, rocks, and pine cones that you can interact with by picking them up and using them to hurl at enemies or use to jump on to get to higher ground. It was very fascinating to see how well the environment interacted with my character.

Through the rain, through the mud, we will find our mate no matter what…

Developed by Swiss Studio Bits & Beasts (Adrain Stutz & Florian Faller), FEIST has won multiple awards for its beautifully handcrafted action and I can completely see why! I was very impressed with FEIST and would recommend it to anyone, especially if you are into side scrolling indies that have a lot of challenge. It’s beautiful to look at too, with its very unique art style and vibrant colors. The sound effects and music are also done very well. Check out FEIST! It is now available on PS4 and Xbox One for $10.

Have you played FEIST? If so, what did you think of our review? If not, will you be picking it up? Let us know!

Having a bad day

Imagine being accepted to work on the Aurora, an enormous ship for data collection. You are super excited for this opportunity to be able to work and live on this amazing vessel. Once on board you probably are having the time of your life or not.

It was just another day onboard the Aurora when all of a sudden something goes terrible wrong. The Aurora begins to crash into an unknown planet. You quickly follow the emergence evocation procedure to the life pods on the ship. As you jump into a life pod and begin evacuation, an expulsion causes you to black out.

After regaining consciousness you open your life pod and find yourself on an unknown planet. Not just any planet, but one that is surrounded by nothing but water for miles. This is just the beginning of your new life in Subnautica.

Water: It’s everywhere, try not to drown

Subnautica is an early access survival game that takes place underwater. The main objective is not only to survive, but to explore all that there is in this alien ocean. Let’s start with trying to survive. We need to keep an eye on our health, food, water, and most important air.

Air and health are easy to look after, or so you may think. Sometimes when you go exploring you may forget you need to breath every once and a while and…. (Blop Blop Blop), so be very careful. You may be able to extend your air by crafting air tanks. This will help to explore deeper terrain and biomes in Subnautica.

Food and water are also relatively easy to watch. When you start off with just the basics you will have some food and water on hand in your life pod, however you might want to start trying the local “cuisine” as soon as possible. Air-sack anyone? How about laser Pepper? And my personal favorite, Remington mixed with Hoverfish (just kidding, you can’t mix the fish….yet). For water you can use a certain type fauna to filter water into drinking water. Eventually you will be able to craft water from other materials other than that fauna.

Wonderful game and awesome when finished

Subnautica so far is shaping to be an excellent and exciting game to play. The way that the creatures interact throughout the game is very interesting and will have you searching for certain types of creatures to see if they like you, mind you, or want to eat you. The main gameplay is to explore.

There are some many things to explore in Subnautica, from the different types of biomes to explore to the amazing fauna all around. Be careful however as there are some fauna that are very dangerous to be around. Some of them are mild and annoying, but some of them are huge and deadly and not all of the fauna are implemented in the game yet. There is also the aspect of finding out what happened to the Aurora crew you were with, but it seems not all of it has been implemented yet as well.

This game, when finished will become an amazing adventure to go on. I can’t wait for the developers to finish, but in the mean time I will continue to explore the game as it updates. Also keep in mind when you play this game that your saved game will become obsolete with each update, so play at your own risk.

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Stardew Valley is a 2D RPG fantasy farming simulator game that is reminiscent of Harvest Moon. The game centers around the player’s character who leaves to start a new life on the farm they inherited from their grandfather. Stardew Valley is a surprisingly popular game, reaching Steam’s “top sellers” list when it released on February 26, 2016. The game was entirely developed by one person known as ConcernedApe. So what is it that makes this indie game such a huge hit?

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Watch out for that bomb!

Imagine that you are a wonderful husband with a wonderful life. It’s a wonderful day in your wonderful house with your wonderful wife and 2 wonderful children. Then all of a sudden, an alarm sounds and suddenly your wonderful life just turned upside down. Wonderful! You have just enough time to pack up the family and some supplies to take to your emergency shelter before an atomic bomb makes contact with your home. How much time do you have? 60 seconds. That’s right, 60 seconds to get everything you need. Be very quick if you want to get enough to survive. And don’t forget your family!

Surving in a Shelter With You

Alright. You’ve made it into the shelter with (hopefully) all of your family members and supplies needed to survive for who knows how long. Let’s do checklist, shall we? You have your map, radio, flashlight, gun, axe, cards, board game, suitcase, a lock, your med kit, etc., but most importantly you have water and tomato soup! Yummy! Tomato soup is what you will be enjoying throughout this entire survival period. Isn’t that great?! Once you enter the shelter, you must make decisions based on what supplies you have brought with you to continue to survive until help arrives (or you perish). Ration food, look for supplies up top, keep the kids from driving you insane, try to stay sane, keep everyone healthy, and most important – TRUST NO ONE (except those willing to help)!

Good Luck Surviving!

60 Seconds is an interesting point and click survival based game that can be incredibly challenging, but fun. The art style is a mixture of 2D/3D perspectives giving the iconic aesthetic choices of the 50’s. The styles coincide with one other which I think is pretty cool. 60 Seconds compels you to keep trying to survive longer every time until you beat it. I have yet to, but maybe you guys can.

Watch my playthrough as I try my luck. Good luck out there!

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While some might criticize the game market for being saturated with high testosterone shoot-em-ups meant to appeal to the base desires of the masses, Broforce brings a thoughtful, complex, and intricately crafted masterpiece to the table that….pffffffff, sorry, I can’t even finish that sentence.

The second annual PAX South has come to an end, but with it kickstarts another exciting year of Penny Arcade Expo’s around the world. What was once simply a small web comic has exploded into one of the most inclusive, important, and flat-out entertaining places to be for gamers of all shapes and sizes. If you don’t know how PAX works, it’s essentially 3 days of big developers, small indie developers and gamers from all over coming together to share their passion for gaming. It’s only the second year of PAX South in San Antonio, but it’s already growing into a permanent staple to the San Antonio gaming community. This year was noticeably larger than last, and it shows no signs of slowing down. My personal favorite aspect of PAX is getting surprised by upcoming indie games that you’ve never heard of before, but that you can’t wait to play again when they release. There were a number of these this year, and these are three of my favorites.

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My experience with the Bit.Trip series pretty much started and ended with Runner 2 on the 360 awhile ago. The game was fantastic; a mashup of automatic runner and rhythm game that I was addicted to for about a month before putting it down and never picking it up again. Maybe I got stuck, maybe I had more pressing matters at the time, but the memory of all the fun I had came flooding back when it was announced that The Bit.Trip would be coming to PlayStation.