Indie game news, reviews, previews and everything else concerning indie game development.


Steam Summer Sale Indie Roundup – July 16th – Day 5

We’re halfway done – how are your wallets holding up? It’s the fifth day of Summer sales over on Steam, and this means that a metric ton of indie games are going to be very cheap, although usually for only one day at a time. IGM are here to help you pick out the wheat from the chaff while the daily deals are active.

Today’s Individual Deals:

  • Dear Esther75% off – The biggest controversy surrounding this is whether it’s a game at all. Whatever it is, it’s beautiful, in a grey and wind-chilled way. Formerly a mod for Half-Life 2 and now a standalone experience, it’s part virtual sightseeing, part poetry reading, part tragic mystery. Short, but with a little bit of replay value due to the fragmented story being pieced together from a series of random but related snippets. At this price, it’s fairly easy to recommend.
  • Iron Front: Liberation 194433% off – A surprisingly low discount on this, especially given how mixed the reviews so far have been. Like Dear Esther, it was originally a mod, although this one is more ‘ultra-realistic WW2 military sim’ in the Arma 2 engine than a meandering prose simulator made for HL2. In all honesty, you’re probably better off getting Arma 2 with all its expansions – not only will you get a better simulator experience, but also access to the ridiculously popular Day Z.

Today’s Flash Deals – They’ll Be Gone Soon!

  • Cave Story+75% off - 6 hours and counting down on this one. – One of the best freeware games ever made, polished, re-drawn, remixed and with a few extra modes for this commercial update. A throwback to the SNES era in many ways, but it honestly doesn’t play quite like anything else. Charming character, rock solid platforming and a ridiculously catchy soundtrack all add up to make this one special. An indie classic.

Today’s Indie Bundle (75% Off When Bought Together):

  • Audiosurf – Dead simple, but shockingly effective. Insert your personal music collection, and Audiosurf turns them into levels for this block-stacking puzzle game. Coloured blocks timed to the beat roll towards you, and you steer your little spacecraft to collect them and shift them into sets of three to be cleared out. Good fun, and the action syncs up to the music very well.
  • Gemini Rue - An excellent indie point-and-click adventure, with a very Blade Runner-esque atmosphere. A conspiracy story wraps itself around the two playable characters – a retired assassin turned private investigator, and an amnesiac patient trying to escape a sinister government medical/prison facility. Occasionally weakened by some ill-advised action segments, but otherwise well written, well designed and beautifully drawn.
  • Greed Corp – A board game, dressed up to look like a polished piece of desktop gaming. A pretty good board game, though. Best played with friends (liable to become sworn enemies), your goal is to harvest as many resources as you can from the playfield. Every turn you spend harvesting, the map lowers a bit further. At its lowest level, chunks of the map fall off into the bottomless void below, forcing players closer and closer to each other each turn.
  • The Tiny Bang Story – Can’t say much about this one, other than that I’ve heard that it’s rather good, at least as far as hidden object games go. Beautiful hand-drawn art and some cute concepts, but it’s in a game I’ve not played, and in a genre I have no personal interest in, so I can’t really recommend it one way or another. If you like hidden object games, though, I’ve heard this one is surprisingly fun.
  • Ys: The Oath in Felghana - This one is really stretching the concept of ‘indie’, as it’s by Falcom, a long-running Japanese multiplatform developer, but the updated and localized PC version probably feels fresh enough to pass for a modern indie release. Addictive, fast-paced and polished arcade-action-RPG stuff. Some great boss battles and a cheesy and enjoyable cheese-rock soundtrack. It might not be indie, but it’s easily recommended.

Not a big day, with a couple of questionable choices, but a generally good range of games. There seems to be a focus on co-op games, so bring a friend and things get even better. As with the previous Winter sale, the previous days core deals are available for a few hours more, so snap them up if you missed any you wanted.

A bit of advice: As with all big Steam sale events, if something you want isn’t a daily deal today (or you missed out on the day that it was) then put it on your wishlist and hold onto your cash until the final ‘encore’ day of deals. You never know what’ll be featured! Shop smart, and you’ll come away from this with a fat sack of games to last you until Winter. And then the cycle begins all over again. Ain’t gaming great?

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Steam Summer Sale Indie Roundup – July 16th – Day 5


Gemini Rue to Get a Collector’s Edition Retail Release

Big news for fans of the excellent adventure game Gemini Rue as it looks like you’ll be getting the chance to have a physical trophy, of sorts, to mark your love of the game. According to a press release sent out this morning, Gemini Rue ill be launching to retail stores on February 10th in a special Collector’s Edition series for £19.95. No American/Canadian/Euro price was set.


A Bundle of Information on Indie Royale [Interview]

Last week, and Desura presented a new fortnightly event called Indie Royale. For those who haven’t checked it out yet, the idea is pretty simple. A bundle of 4 games are presented for a price of $2.00. As the bundle sells more the price steadily increases. But if users pay more for the game than the minimum the price will be reduced.

It’s definitely interesting to see how the indie games bundle market has expanded since the Humble Bundle started the trend a couple years ago.


Indie Royale Launch Bundle Surpasses 35K Sold, Sale Ends Later Today

Let’s talk some Indie Royale in a sec, but before that why don’t you pick up their launch bundle while it’s still available. You have less than six hours at the time of writing to make your purchase, as the four-game offer ends today at 11 AM Pacific.

The non-fixed price is hovering at $5.18 at the moment, a fantastic tag indeed for a quad-ling of awesome indie titles; and if you demand perks on top of getting games on the super cheap, you’re in luck! You greedy son of a bitch, you.


A Less Humble Bundle – Indie Royale launches for $2 and rising

How do digital versions (in Desura, Steam and direct download formats) of Ares: Extinction Agenda, Gemini Rue, Sanctum and Nimbus sound to you? Nice? Well, how about $2 for all four together? Great? Well, you’d best get moving fast, because Indie Royale looks to be taking a slightly different approach to indie bundle packs. With each sale, the minimum price – this is a pay-what-you-want sale, primarily – creeps a little higher.


Sci-fi Noir adventure Gemini Rue lands on Steam

Tis’ a good time to be indie. Not too long ago, it would have seemed an unrealistic dream to launch a low-fi point-and-click adventure on a major digital storefront. Now? Well, highly regarded adventure Gemini Rue has just landed on Steam, and is currently selling at a 15% discount.


Story-Based Sci-Fi Indie Bundle: Lots of Interesting Words 50% Off

This poor man from Gemini Rue appears traumatized that his game’s price has been slashed in half. In fact, four great games are now available for half of what they used to be. The sale has five days left, lasting until July 10. If any sci-fi adventure fans are reading this, your summer bundle has arrived!

I imagine that even if you own one of these games, you can easily gift one of them to a friend. While not the cheapest sounding bundle, the games are 50% off each. What was once a collective $80 purchase is now a nickel shy of $40. With a rhetorical drumroll, here are the games:

  • Gemini Rue:  Award-winning oldschool sci-fi adventure game (previewed by DIY, created mostly by Joshua Nuernberger and published by Wadjet Eye Games)
  • Date Warp:  Sci-fi visual novel with captivating and mysterious plot (created by Hanako Games, who made this)
  • Bionic Heart:  Sci-fi visual novel with 24 different endings (created by Winter Wolves, covered by Dejobaan’s Indie Superstar)
  • Planet Stronghold:  Sci-fi roleplaying game with over 50h of gameplay and high replayability (also by Winter Wolves)

The order page didn’t seem to allow me to choose between platforms. Winter Wolves confirmed the platform availability: Gemini Rue is PC only. For all the other games, just ask developers to get the other platforms (Mac and Linux). Click here to save and order!



Gemini Rue [Preview]

Gemini Rue 1by Igor Hardy

Igor Hardy is the co-designer of Snakes of Avalon, and creator of the indie adventure games blog A Hardy Developer’s Journal.

How many genuinely gritty looking cyberpunk games we have there to play? I mean games that not just showcase flashy, futuristic tech, but get that ruined, bleak world of the future look right. Not many, that’s for sure! But Gemini Rue seems to truly deliver that experience – perpetual rain, flickering neons, rusting machines, crumbling skyscrapers… And shady characters in trenchcoats! All this and more presented in glorious pixel art with hand-drawn locations, wonderfully animated weather effects and hard-boiled faces grinning from close-up portraits during conversations. But still that’s just what this game is on the surface, and Gemini Rue is much more than that.

Gemini Rue 4Being an adventure game Gemini brings the plot to forefront and offers an ambitious, hard-core sci-fi story about some specific aspects of human psyche. I shouldn’t reveal too much as the whole is meticulously constructed, but I can say we’re dealing here with two interchanging, not clearly related storylines, each with a distinct central character.

One of those is an ex assassin called Azriel who arrives in a mining colony on the planet Barracus to contact an old friend and maybe even find out something about his long lost brother. Azriel’s plot thread introduces a city where the filthy, rain-filled streets are
roamed by agents of the Baryokudan syndicate. Normal citizens are constantly terrorized and have long given up hope for better life. Even the technology you’ll find around looks exploited, corrupt and degenerate. The vibe of those sections of the game is that of Blade Runner, but with less flash and more noir. Don’t get me wrong though – there’s action, danger, sabotage, numerous break-ins and break-outs. Explosions too!

Gemini Rue 3Then there’s the other player character – Delta Six – who finds himself in a mysterious rehabilitation facility where he is kept prisoner. That part of the game with its clean white corridors, standardized rooms and people referred to us numbers can remind strongly of works like THX1138 and 1984. Delta Six will need to elude despotic doctors, save himself from brainwashing, and figure out whom to trust.

While Gemini Rue is primarily a detailed and uncompromising point & click adventure game, it also offers some important twists on the genre. For example, your characters are bound to participate in occasional shoot-outs realized as very interestingly conceptualized action scenes. In a nutshell, you must master the timing of when to shoot at your enemies and when to take cover, but in practice it’s much more complicated than it sounds. The transitions between these scenes and traditional adventuring are seamless and their integration adds a lot of dynamism to the proceedings.

Gemini Rue 2Another unusual feature is the option to interact with the environment not only with your hand, eye and mouth, but also with your foot! Contrary to what images this immediately brings up in everyone’s mind, kicking stuff (and people) rarely solves actual problems. More often the foot icon serves for situations where a handy leg can create additional balance and support for the player character’s body. And those moments feel actually surprisingly intuitive while remaining creative – after a while it starts to seem strange those 2 spare appendages were so underused in adventure games until now.

All the time the player is accompanied by the excellent music of Nathan Allen Pinard. Very appropriately resembles the aetheral electronic sounds of Vangelis’s Blade Runner soundtrack. As such it works perfectly at conjuring the kind of melancholic-futuristic
atmosphere that classic movie did so well. Another thing worth mentioning is that Gemini Rue is fully and professionally voiced – the benefit of being published by Wadjet Eye Games responsible for such high quality indie “talkies” as the Blackwell series and Puzzle Bots.

Gemini Rue 5And one final thing I really like about the game and can’t stress enough is that none of its visual elements show overdesign, but rather the prevalence of old tech and junk. It’s a consistent and focused vision of an used-up, tired world of the future – instead of a festival of gadgets.

Gemini Rue was created almost single-handedly by Joshua Nuernberger and is to be published in less than 2 weeks by Wadjet Eye Games (with a special limited edition available during the pre-order period). Based on the preview version I can safely say that at the very least it’s a complex dark sci-fi not to be missed by people looking for games with atmosphere and depth.


Don’t Rue February 24th: Gemini Rue Comes Out

Gemini RueWadjet Eye Games has announced that long gestating Gemini Rue has an official release date: February 24, 2011.

Developed by Joshua Nuernberger, the game was featured at last year’s IGF Student Showcase and you may recall the conversation I held with Josh around the same time. The game was originally called Boryukudan Rue.

The game will retail for $14.99 for a digital download or $24.99 for a CD version with free shipping. As you can see from this shot, new art has been added to the overall experience.

Here’s the most recent trailer for the game:


In-depth Analysis: The Eurogamer Expo’s Indie Games Arcade 2010

indiegamearcadeWith so many indie gaming related events going on throughout the year in the US, like the Independent Games Festival and PAX, I sometimes get pretty jealous over here in the UK. So thank the heavens for the Indie Games Arcade, a yearly event that’s part of the huge Eurogamer Expo in London.

I was down at the event at the weekend and played my way through the 11 games on display. The atmosphere is buzzing around the indie section, and I talked to plenty of people who told me that the Arcade was their favourite part of the whole show. At a time when mainstream gaming is looking rather grey, brown and/or shooty, indie games can feel like quite the breath of fresh air, especially to those who don’t play them often.

So without further ado, here’s my round-up of the games on show.

Gemini Rue

screenshots5sd0Originally known as Boryokudan Rue, Joshua Nuernberger’s point-and-click adventure was recently renamed Gemini Rue. I like to think that it was because I couldn’t say the original name, let alone spell it, and Joshua somehow heard my thoughts and decided to help me out.

Gemini Rue is set in a futuristic, film-noir setting, and you control Azriel Odin, a police officer on the way to extract a crime ring defector. The story also jumps to a mysterious man known as Delta-Six every now and again, and eventually the two protagonists’ stories become entwinned.

There’s some lovely storytelling, and when I played through the game a few months ago I was hooked from start to finish. Apart from the adventuring, there are shoot-out sections in which your main character can in fact die, adding a little tension to the mix. Being an adventure game, there wasn’t such a crowd around the game at the Arcade, as it’s not exactly an experience you can pick up an dive right into. Still, definitely a game to watch out for in the coming months.

DIYGamer past coverage of Gemini Rue


fractal_2From the guys who brought us Auditorium comes Fractal, a sweet little puzzler which is far more slow-paced and tactical that it first appears. Players push hexagons around a grid, creating ‘blooms’ and watching things go boom all over the place.

It all looks so gorgeous, and as with Auditorium, music plays a huge part – as you string together more combos of blooms, more layers will be added to the track currently playing until there is a smooth melody playing in full. Not that you’ll be picking up huge combos later on, as the action gets very difficult as different colours and hexagon types are added.

Surprisingly, there didn’t seem to be much interest for the game at the Arcade – you’d think that a puzzler like this would attract the punters, but this appears not to be the case. Perhaps the game looks too much like a match-3 type of puzzler, and a genre that the usual hardcore gamer who would attend this type of event would usually steer clear of. Whatever the reason, you should definitely check it out.

Past DIYGamer coverage of Fractal

Frozen Synapse

frozensynapse1The Mode 7 team had a nice little trick up its sleeve with its Indie Games Arcade offering – with four computers set up, players were able to play Frozen Synapse against each other and get the full ‘online’ multiplayer feeling via LAN.

For those not in the know, Frozen Synapse is a turn-based tactical, top-down team shooter, in which players give their troops orders, hit the go button, and watch the action unfold. With a single-player currently in the works, the game is shaping up to be something very special indeed.

Frozen Synapse was so popular at the Expo that part-way through the weekend, the team managed to acquire an extra computer and was able to drag even more wanderers into the fray to try out its game. Very popular, and with good reason.

Revenge of the Titans

titansPuppy Games has been working on Revenge of the Titans for quite some time, so it’s great to see it getting the recognition it deserves. It’s a real-time strategy, tower defence mash-up with striking visuals, tons of upgrades and lots of evil-looking aliens.

There’s plenty of depth bundled in there, and throughout play you’ll come up with your own special strategies for taking out each type of baddie. Using your collected cash to upgrade your defenses is the key, and you’ll have to survive many an onslaughter to come out victorious.

With a fair bit to learn about the mechanics of the game and how everything works, it’s understandable that a lot of gamers were checking the title out, giving it a few clicks, then walking about bemused. Not to worry, though – once it’s released, we’re bound to see the game’s popularity rise.

Tiny and Big

tinyandbigTiny and Big was definitely one of the biggest surprises for me – not because I didn’t like the look of the game, but because I hadn’t really heard much about it before checking it out. You take control of Tiny, a rock-cutting robot, on his quest to get his underpants back from a childish guy called Big.

Set in a 3D world, you can aim next to a rock, hold down the right mouse button, drag across a rock, let go – then watch Tiny laser the rock exactly along your line. The rock will then break in half, potentially allowing you to pull it into place and use it as an extra platform. It’s a really neat mechanic and works wonderfully.

Punters on the show floor appeared to be loving it to, and the majority of people I talked to said they’d definitely be interested in checking out the full release when it’s available. Score one for Black Pants Game Studio!


scoregasmYou can’t miss a game with a name like that! Scoregasm was easily the most pick-up-and-play-able game at the Indie Games Arcade, being a twin-stick shooter and all. This isn’t just any arena shooter though – it’s one of the most mental I’ve seen in a long while.

This is due to two factors: 1) the bullet hell sections which see you hammering the special shield button to bash away as many enemy missiles as possible, and 2) the insane level design on certain stages. Shaving a beard off a face? Being shot at by cabbages? Helping lead a mouse around a mouse! Why yes please, I will have some of that, thank you very much!

If you’re into twin-stick shooters, this will be for you. If you can’t wait, there’s the option to pre-order the game and get the beta right now. Go go go!


nidhoggI enjoyed every game on show… but Nidhogg was easily my favourite. Two player only – at least at the moment – Nidhogg sees two friends facing it off in a fencing match. Strike your opponent down with your sword, then run off in the correct direction quickly before they respawn. Whichever player manages to push the action all the way to one particular side of the action wins.

The key factor is that there’s just so much depth to it. Players can run and slide on their knees, through the legs of their opponent and continue on their way. You can even throw your sword at your opponent, although this will leave you with no weapon – unless you grab a fallen one off the floor, that is. I could go on, but it’s pretty much impossible to fully explain this game – you really need to play it to understand just how amazing it is.

Don’t believe me? Well, the game was handed Rock Paper Shotgun’s indie game of the show award, and the game had constant streams of people around it who all desperately wanted a go, so you’ll need to argue with them too! Can’t wait to see this one released.

Skulls of the Shogun
skullsAnother game that completely swept me off my feet, as I hadn’t heard much about it beforehand. Skulls of the Shogun is a turn-based strategy game with some very interesting ideas on the menu, and lots of skeletons to boot.

Players use their turn to move their skeleton army around, haunting areas for rice and attacking the enemy for skulls. Eat enough skulls and you’ll turn into a demon, causing far more damage and earning big bonuses. Use your rice to build even more units, then kill the enemy general to win the game. It’s a bit like Advance Wars, but with more freedom of movement.

Very cool stuff, and you could see players really getting into it on the show floor. I fought an epic, half-an-hour long battle which ended with my general facing off against the enemy general, and losing by a slight margin. Looking forward to this one immensely.

BUTTON001We’ve covered B.U.T.T.O.N. before here at DIYGamer, but there’s no better place to check it out in full glory than an expo floor. The game pits four players against each other in a button-bashing, elbow-smashing stand off.

Four players step away from the screen, then read the instructions and follow them. They can be anything from ‘do not press your button’ to ‘press your button 14 times before anyone else’. Commence with all four players rushing to the controllers and hammering away at both their own and their opponents! It’s utterly mental stuff, although I wouldn’t like to guess how many controls have been broken through playing the game!

At one point, I watched Mark Morris and Chris Delay of Introversion pushing and grabbing at each other and they both desperately tried to hammer the buttons on each other’s controllers. As I’m sure you can guess, it was rather hilarious. For this reason alone, I cannot wait to see the final version of B.U.T.T.O.N. released to the masses.

Swimming Under Clouds
swimmingunderclouds2Swimming Under Clouds was perhaps the game I was most interesting in seeing at the Expo, as I knew barely anything about it, except that it looked very lovely indeed. The game puts you in control of a fish who is situated in a bubble of water, and you need to help him reach the end of each level while making sure he doesn’t lose his watery shield.

While rolling around, there are platforms to roll onto and jumps to make. Momentum is the key, and spraying water can also be used to make jumps – although this will use up some of the water shield. Touching spikes will also reduce your water, and if you lose too much the fish will die.

Swimming Under Clouds feels great to play, and received a warm response from players at the Expo. Yet another game to look forward to from this year’s indie batch!

hohokumLast but by no means least, Hohokum from Honeyslug and Richard Hogg is quite a way from being ready for release – possibly a year or two away, in fact – yet it’s already looking the part with some very interesting ideas on display.

Players take control of a strange, flying worm-like creature in a colourful world that is under attack by unknown nasties. You cannot be hurt, and must use this invincibility to safe the little people of the world by allowing them to hop on your back and ride to a safe drop-off zone. Saving as many people as possible in the world is the aim, and you’ll need to dodge around the baddies as you fly your little guys to their destinations.

The build available at the Expo was a very early one, but was already full of vibrant colours and brimming with personality. It’ll be interesting to see how Hohokum progresses over the next year, and hopefully we’ll be able to bag a preview build again sometime into development.

So there you have it – the 11 finalists in full, and what a bunch they are. Not a single disappointment in the pack, with every single one providing plenty of entertainment, and all worth penning into your ‘must check out’ games list. Roll on Indie Games Arcade 2011!