What are some of the most intriguing indie games of 2015?

Big blockbuster games are dominating gamer’s consciousness. Star Wars Battlefront looks epic, yeah we know. Metal Gear Solid 5 The Phantom Pain looks amazing, well obviously. We don’t need to address this. Those games are trending on Facebook and Twitter whenever a minuet bit of information is announced. It is now time to let the indies also have their moment to shine amongst the titans of gaming such as Halo, Uncharted and Fallout. Sony and Microsoft gave us a tantalising glimpse into some visually striking games with unique gameplay concepts at E3 2015. Here are some that caught Breakthrough Gaming’s attention.

1. Cuphead

Heavily inspired from those kooky 1930’s Disney cartoons, Cuphead may look cutting edge but the game has been painstakingly brought to life by hand through cell animation. This is a phenomenal feat in games design that has never really been seen before. The gameplay however doesn’t operate as a traditional sidescrolling platformer, this would’ve been too much of a challenge to create hand drawn. Instead, the game operates as a kind of boss blitz mode in which you fight one boss after another. It has been reported that Cuphead will also be very challenging as well as incredibly zany, delivering on the old school Disney vibe.

 2. Beyond Eyes

There maybe tears ahead after playing Beyond Eyes, a game where you have to guide a young blind girl through unfamiliar territory to find her only friend, a lost cat. It is no doubt that Beyond Eyes will be full of emotional heft through creating this isolating experience. The games watercolour aesthetic is refreshing and is totally fitting in replicating the gameplay style of not being fully aware of your surroundings. Sherida Halatoe, the games developer described to Gametrailers that the game was a one-person project and was influenced from real life experiences, Beyond Eyes is very much a passion project in this sense. What makes this indie title so intriguing is the clever sensual experience the game delivers from first hearing the sound of water trickling and assuming it to be a water fountain at first and then through closer inspection the running water was actually a mundane drain pipe. Playing as a character as unique as this vulnerable girl really breaks the mold of traditional gaming.

3. No Mans Sky

Created by 13 developers based in Guildford, England, No Mans Sky is going to be one of the biggest and most ambitious games ever made. Consisting mostly on exploration through the vast reaches of space, No Mans Sky has scope to spare, especially for an indie game. The developers still remain tight-lipped in what you have to do in the game. All we know is that your goal is to reach the centre of the universe, all the while satisfying your curiosity by landing on planets to roam around them and taking part in space skirmishes.

4. Firewatch

With no conflict involved in this first person psychological thriller, communication is the main aspect of Firewatch. Delivering a mysterious yet kooky narrative completely through radio chatter, Firewatch plays on the player’s emotions. A solid cast, which includes Mad Men’s Harry Crane who delivers the conversations with wit, intensity and intrigue. Developers Campo Santo Productions, hope to deliver an engaging story full of twists set in the hauntingly beautiful wilderness. Overall the suspense and the strange intrigues, despite what little story details we have got we know that mission objectives involves patrolling the woods and that the voice acting is some of the strongest seen in an indie game.

5. Ashen

Ashen’s unrealistic blocky character textures don’t hold this game back from being a stunning game visually. This open world adventure puts emphasis on co-op exploration and puzzle solving. You play as characters that have no facial features but instead use body language to express themselves. Set in a world inhabited full of strange creatures where there is no Sun, Ashen will be a truly haunting experience for players. The game is already compared to Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, two games which proved the artistic nature of video games. Ashen will most likely be held in that regard too when it comes out for Xbox One.

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition Review

The game that packs a saucy punch.

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Image Source: Wikicommons

Some say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This is most certainly the case for video games with Nintendo effectively writing the rulebook for innovative titles. Drinkbox studios convey lots of fondness in there Mexican themed platformer for the early breakthrough days of Nintendo and package it into a humorous and cheeky game that also spans multiple genres.

Guacamelee is effectively a 2D beat em up, platform game with puzzle elements, in a maze like environment. This is Guacamelee’s greatest strength in making all these gameplay elements mix together to create a wholesome experience that is familiar yet fresh, much like the taste of guacamole itself.

The game is effectively a love letter to the old Nintendo classics. Avid fans will pick up some of the subtle background references while others are more apparent. If you have played any game from the Metroid franchise Guacamelee will seem very familiar to you. Seeing that Nintendo haven’t released a Metroid game for a while, Guacamelee is the next best thing.

Players take up the role of Juan a plain and ordinary Mugabe farmer who from an unusual turn of events becomes a Luchador. With no voice acting, Guacamelee relies on character models to define their personas. Juan’s body language is slouched with a miserable expression on his face but from his radical and quite ludicrous transformation, becomes a strong confidant protagonist. The villain of game, an evil skeleton man named Carlos Calaca also has a hilariously tragic backstory.

The art style takes Mexican culture’s vibrancy and turns it into a fun visual aesthetic which is very reminiscent of a 90’s Saturday morning cartoon. It is clear that Guacamelee is fuelled by nostalgia through both its gameplay and visuals. Guacamelee is also respectful to Mexican folklore and is never ridiculed to the point of insult.

Guacamelee is however very much one of those ‘where the hell do I go kind of games’ which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea because of the amount of patience needed in navigating through the multiple paths. This non-linear structure is both a blessing and a curse, providing the player a plethora of options of where to go while being hard to know for certain which path is needed to progress. This may try certain players patience.

What makes Guacamelee carve it’s own space from the Nintendo classics it pays homage to, is the Luchador themed combat. Pulling off attacks doesn’t require perplexing button inputs and is immensely rewarding performing grapples and throws. Additional special moves are progressively taught to you as you play through Gucamelee, allowing a variety of moves to be mastered.

Later on in the game, Guacamelee provides some interesting platforming sections that require flipping between parallel worlds to advance through the level. It all gets quite mind-boggling but the ingenuity in the game design can be admired at its most here.

Guacamelee is a joyous mash em up full of upbeat adventure. It’s controls have a lot of depth but are easily accessible. Deciphering where to go and what to do is an additional challenge that may hinder the experience for some but overall it’s a great game kids and their parents can play together with Guacamelee providing a co-operative mode. Checking out this kooky 2D sidescroller is a must for those longing for little bit of retro in there modern day gaming library.

Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition is available now for download on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One for £11:99

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Guacamelee has been awarded the following badges:

Badge icon "Strength (4754)" provided by Sergey Krivoy, from The Noun Project under Creative Commons - Attribution (CC BY 3.0)Badge icon "Clown (2624)" provided by Simon Child, from The Noun Project under Creative Commons - Attribution (CC BY 3.0)