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PAX 2012: Best Independent Games

One of the very first things I did as soon as I entered the PAX show floor was make my way towards the Indie Megabooth where some of the most creative and forward-thinking games could be found. These games did not have million-dollar budgets and had smaller development teams, yet their products showed great promise, gameplay, and creativity that rival those from the big publishers. Games like Capybara’s Super T.I.M.E Force, Klei’s Don’t Starve, and Strangeloop’s Vessel showed gamers that the indie scene is where they’ll find the games that push creativity to a new level.

Of course, it wasn’t limited to the Indie Megabooth. I was able to find other independent tiles across the show floor including the open-world zombie game State of Decay and others that kept my eyes glued to the screen and hands stuck to the controller.

In this article, I’ll discuss what I think were the best independent games at PAX. I’ll also talk about my pick as the Indie game of show. But before I begin, here are some honourable mentions:

  • Super T.I.M.E Force
  • Skulls of the Shogun
  • Airmech
  • Vessel
  • Bust-N-Rush
  • Retro City Rampage

Check out our choices for the best independent games at PAX after the break.

Don’t Starve

Klei Entertainment calls Don’t Starve “an uncompromising survival game” that drops players off into the world with nary an idea or tool on why he or she is there and what they need to do to stay alive. It’s like Dark Souls in that the player will die a lot; however, there’s that sense of accomplishment every time the player survives just a little bit longer, learns a little bit more of the plot, and creates more tools or magic to help him or her survive the next time around.

I’m really excited for this game because it’s a throwback to old-school mentality and game design. The game doesn’t hand hold you or tell you what to do and leaves you to figure it out on your own. This then opens up the game to different playstyles; will you be an explorer and check every part of the map? Will you be a detective and do whatever it takes to learn why you’re there? Or will you be a survivorman; facing the wilderness as you fight to live another day?

State of Decay

State of Decay is an open-world third person survival game that lets players survive the zombie apocalypse as they see fit. Like Don’t Starve, State of Decay allows players with different play style preference to play however they want. They can be a zombie-slayer and take down every zombie they find at the risk of attracting a bigger horde, or they can be a silent collector, avoiding zombies to break in to buildings and stock up on food and survival gear, at the risk of being trapped by hordes of zombies in those buildings.

In addition to that, the open-world generates reactions based on players’ actions in the game; so every choice the player makes has an equal reaction. For example, if a player calls one of his fellow NPC survivors to grab food and survival gear from a building that isn’t clear of zombies, that NPC can: a) get killed and lost a playable character b) survive and bring inventory to the camp that severly needs it, or c) barely survives an attack and hates the player for sending him to die. He can also accidentally bring the zombie horde with him to the camp as he tries to escape. Every one of the player’s choices matter not only for his or her survival, but the survival of everyone they meet around them.

EDITOR’S CHOICE: Best Independent Game At PAX Prime 2012

State of Decay

Now I love Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead and I love the gameplay possibilities of Don’t Starve; however, an open-sandbox zombie apocalypse where every one of your decisions can help your fellow people survive or lead them to absolute death sounds like tempting buy to me. And from what I’ve played at PAX, there’s so much to do and discover in State of Decay that I think players will be playing for a long time just to see how their characters relationships flourish or degrade depending on their actions. And because the world is generating content even when the players’ Xbox 360 is turned off, a lot of things can happen while they’re gone; and that opens up a lot of gameplay and story possibilities for each playthrough.

Which Indie games are you most excited for? Let us know in the comment section below.

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About janhutchings

Canadian Game Industry Blogger / Contributor for @Sonyrumors & @ShogunGamer / Communications and PR Professional. Voice of Canadian and Indie Gaming. http://jtmgames.com/

Posted on September 12, 2012, in Event Coverage and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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