There's a lot more to gaming than just the big guns.
If you're sick of glossy, soulless triple-A shooters or annual sports refreshes that do little more than update the player line-ups, never fear: at Gamescom we were reminding that there's an incoming barrage of indie games delivering innovation, creativity, wit and whimsy, often for low, low prices.
Here are our favourites from the Cologne show floor.
Inspired by the developer’s nightmares and creepy on a par with Alien Isolation and fellow indie pant-browner Slender, The Intruder is a quiet, cold place full of things that will follow you, staring with unblinking eyes. Many of the Things will only stop chasing you when you turn and shine your torch at them, and then they’ll wait in the most unsettling possible way for you to get freaked out, run for it and die. The Intruder is available on Steam Greenlight now.
You can already play a browser-based prototype of this ludicrously fast-paced multiplayer run ‘n’ gun from British developer Robo Pixel, but the PC (and eventually console) version is newer, faster and gunnier. Up to eight players can join in, and you’ll need at least a couple of pals: wave after wave of enemies pour onto the screen from all sides, and your only option is to hose them with bullets until the pile of burning mush and robot parts is so deep you have to shoot your way out of it. Huge fun.
If you like artful, mysterious indie games, you are going to love this Metroidesque exploration game from Italian developer Mixed Bag. Its illustrated style is made up from layers of vector graphics which create an alien landscape of weird contrasting colours. The premise is pretty compelling, too - you’re a tiny probe searching for an energy source for your mothership on a mysterious dead planet. We’re really looking forward to playing this on an iPad, but it’ll also be out on PS4, Vita, Wii U, PC, Mac and Linux later this year.
The sequel to iOS hit Drei is... well, basically it’s the same game. You play a kind of floating carnival hat, or something, that can pick up geometric objects and build them into towers. It’s pretty good fun for a few minutes, but the sequel adds an important development: other people. Randomly matched co-op players can now join forces, exponentially improving the playability and your chances of getting that triangle thing to balance on the oval thing. Left a bit… there.
At some unspecified point in the future, the rich have stolen the clouds, hoovering up all the water into their special rich people’s cloud city while the rest of us die of thirst in the desert below. Now, there’s still a chance that might not happen – although let’s face it, it probably will – but Cloud Chasers is a good way to get some practice in, just in case. You play a father and daughter team wandering through a procedurally generated desert; the people and situations you encounter form a kind of interactive fiction game, but you also get to take to the air in a makeshift glider and hunt some clouds.