Indie games to look for at SXSW

Brian O'Kelly

  • South By Southwest’s Gamer’s Voice Award showcases the best of recent and upcoming indie games. Gaming Expo attendees will have a chance to check out these indie titles and vote to decide who receives the award. Here are some games to keep an eye out for:
  • Pinstripe
  • “Pinstripe” is as indie as indie games get. Developer Tomas Brush spent the past three years embarking on a one-man quest to develop a story, visuals and music for the game while working and going to college. This puzzle game follows Teddy, an ex-minister, as he delves into hell to search for his daughter kidnapped by a supernatural creature claiming to be God. The minimalist adventure platformer seeks to place a heavy emphasis on immersion through a rich atmosphere accompanied by a moody, classic soundtrack and Tim Burton-inspired art style.
  • Aztez
  • “Aztez” is a bloody game focusing on the spread of the Aztec empire. Beginning in 1428 A.D., the player takes control of a growing empire and is tasked with pushing out the borders. Unlike a traditional turn-based strategy game, “Aztez” features a real-time fighting sequence. The gory, stylized brawls can be used to squash revolts, assassinate political opponents, coerce the weak and deal with the randomized elements thegame promises.
  • The Town of Light
  • Horror rarely seems to delve deep into depravity. Lazy attempts to unnerve players through jumpscares leave players shaken but never disturbed. “The Town of Light” abandons the supernatural terrors that haunt our fantasies and examines a man-made terror — child abuse. The game explores the story of Renee, an ex-patient of a psychiatric hospital in Tuscany, who returns to the hospital to come to terms with her past. The game’s attempt at a realistic, jumpscare-free take at the horror genre is a reason to look into it more at SXSW.
  • Odallus: The Dark Call
  • Inspired by NES classics such as “Metroid” or “Castlevania,” “Odallus: The Dark Call” features an authentic retro style that maintains a highly diverse and aesthetic appeal. The game follows Haggis, a soldier who must bring order to a world abandoned by the gods. The plot’s simple narrative is elevated by challenging bosses and diverse combat that features the improvements of modern game design. Retro-revival, while not all that imaginative, is generally a nostalgic treat when done well, and “Odallus” is filled to the brim with detail and care that make it worth taking a look at.
  • “SUPERHOT” is a first-person shooter puzzle game meets with a time gimmick that promises to transform the FPS tradition. The gameplay features a simple rule — one hit and you’re out — and compensates the player for this by only moving time when the player moves. This places emphasis on strategy as the player must carefully figure out the necessary steps needed to survive. The end result is a mesmerizing cinematic display of Matrix-esque action.