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Indie Week: Day Six

[Welcome to Indie Week at gameinformer.com. We’ve got a full seven days of indie game coverage leading up to the 2010 Independent Games Festival Awards. Check the hub daily for new previews, interviews and other coverage of the top independent games of the year.]

After five full days of exploring stellar indie games, we’re taking a look at the more abstract titles nominated for the IGF Nuovo award. 

The Nuovo award, created to give “abstract, shortform, and unconventional games” a platform to compete among peers, is judged by a separate panel of experts and awards a $2,500 prize. The titles nominated for the nuovo award challenge the accepted constructs of what a game is, and often are the most intriguing experiences to come out of the competition.

Today I Die
Today I Die is the epitome of an interactive poem. Short but memorable, developer Daniel Benmergui describes the experience as “a game about the prison of worldviews, and salvation in playfulness.” We won’t do a disservice to the game by disclosing the intentionally vague mechanics, as much of the charm comes from learning how to interact with the words and images on the screen. What we will say is that the simple pixel graphics and enchanting music are able to evoke sudden emotion through surprisingly small exchanges – the careful juxtaposition of a word, sound or piece of imagery. 

It takes roughly five to 10 minutes to play through Today I Die, depending on how quickly you grasp the concept. We seriously recommend you take a coffee break to give it a go – chances are you will connect with the author’s message.

[Additional Game Details]

Platform: Flash Release: Available Now Price: Free Website: Link
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A Slow Year


Another nominee proudly adopting the “game poem” moniker, A Slow Year harkens back to simpler times when technological constraints forced game designers to make a little go a long way. An Atari emulator is required to play A Slow Year, and as such the developer didn't include any instructions for the player  – Atari titles didn’t come standard with such extravagant features in order to save precious space.

The game itself is a collection of four exercises, one for each season, which challenge you to sit and observe your surroundings. Intentionally slow, (hence the name) each task requires you to be methodical and patient. We won’t ruin the specific mechanics, but we can say that autumn involves watching a tree, winter, a hot glass of coffee, spring, a thunderstorm and summer, a lake. Developer Bogost is so intent on recreating an experience that would feel at home on classic consoles, he intends to release A Slow Year on an Atari cartridge complete with a poetry set. That’s taking an idea and running with it.

[Additional Game Details]

Platform: Atari VCS, PC, Mac Release: Early 2010 Price: TBA Website: Link

 

Tuning


Tuning is the most bizarre, disorienting and mindboggling platformer we’ve ever seen. More than once you will sit and stare at the screen, simply trying to decipher what you are seeing. The goal is always the same – use the arrow keys to guide a ball to the door – but the level design and presentation changes drastically as the game unfolds. The developers themselves describe levels as “gradually presented weirder and weirder, creating visual puzzles where the player has to figure out what he sees and how it relates to the actions in the game.” No kidding.

Some levels are fairly linear and easy to navigate. Others look like a kaleidoscope and make you dizzy. Some are so hard to comprehend that it takes minutes of trial and error to figure out what is a tangible platform and what is a void. Your ball will roll upside down, clone itself and defy gravity, resulting in a completely nonsensical experience. We’d be lying if we said it wasn’t fun, however. Tuning is a game unlike any other in the competition. Perhaps unlike any other game period.

[Additional Game Details]

Platform: PC Release: TBA Price: TBA Website: Link 

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