What is the Independent Games Festival (IGF) 2010? you ask. IGF, to be held from 9-13 March, is an annual showcase of the best independent games available out there and a celebration of all things indie in video gaming. The IGF awards also have an audience award section, where six of the nearly 300 games nominated are put to vote by thousands online.
Participation is free and highly recommended because these aren’t just ho-hum violent video-game titles, but interesting experiments with the form. They’re small, won’t take too much time and might just make you think a little differently about video games.
The audience award for the 2010 edition opened for public voting on 8 February and will close on 5 March. Here’s a handy guide to some of the games on offer and where you can play them. The official IGF page is www.igf.com.
Rocketbirds Revolution is a stylish, cinematic action game that has you playing the role of Hardboiled—a chicken secret agent leading a revolution, a dictatorial penguin army that’s taken control of the town Albatropolis. The game plays like the classic Prince of Persia or Metal Gear series of games, in which you sneak around a large enemy base. You use the arrow keys to move around and jump, and the Z key to use buttons, consoles and fire your weapon. The animation is Pixar-quality and the 3D graphics are sharp and striking. It feels like a thrilling action movie and it’s playable for free in your browser at www.rocketbirds.com.
Today I Die is the most interesting game on the audience award list. In it, you use words to complete small verses of poetry—and the use of particular words triggers changes in the game depending on how the meaning of the verse shifts. It has a great soundtrack and a compelling premise. It’s playable for free at www.ludomancy.com.
Cogs is a puzzle-solving game that plays like a cross between a set of Lego blocks and a sliding-tile puzzle. You slide blocks with bits of machinery on them (gears, pipes) into the correct positions to make contraptions work. Cogs has a flamboyant visual style and the gadgets appear to be straight out of Leonardo Da Vinci’s sketchbook. It’s a joy to play and the puzzles are accessible yet devious. A free demo is available at www.cogsgame.com.
Why is a bear driving a car? Why are there fish and badgers everywhere? Is there a subversive commentary on the nature and cycle of life and the environment? The rest of the game and the answers to the above questions are best left discovered by the player. We’ll only say that it takes 15 minutes to play and can be acquired for free at http://gamejolt.com.
The impossibly named AaaaaAAaaaAAAaa AAAAaAAAAA!!! is a quirky little game from a US-based studio, Debojaan. You play a daredevil stunt master who jumps off tall buildings, performs stunts in mid-air and glides to a soft landing hundreds of storeys down. The tricks involve travelling dangerously close to obstacles en route (girders, for example) and turns and flips of various kinds. A free demo is available at www.dejobaan.com.
Star Guard is the game of the year for veterans who complain they don’t make them like they used to. If you remember the nostalgic days of 8-bit graphics and bleepy sound effects, Star Guard is the game for you. You play a spaceman who has to enter a castle and defeat a wizard. Play it for free at http://vacuumflowers.com.