September 2011’s Best Xbox LIVE Indie Games

Indie Round Up September 2011

I don’t know what this has been the month of. Maybe it’s been the month of trying to rip off successful iPhone games and failing so spectacularly that if I was given a choice between playing those games and listening to the Metallica/Lou Reed album, I would actually choose Reed. On the other hand, there’s been a couple of ace games that go some way to making up for it, it’s nice to have got DBP out of the way so that a normal release schedule can resume!

You can buy any of these games via xbox.com by clicking the link associated with each game, or on the Games Marketplace on your Xbox 360. Simply enter the marketplace and scroll up to Indie Games, where you can check the top rated titles, the games that have just come out, or “browse” to find the games mentioned in this thread. Indie Game trials last eight minutes, which is often enough to establish what you think about it. Even if you don’t buy any of these games, at least trial them, tell people what you think, get more people trying them.

Go. Play. Enjoy. Tell us what you think! Tell all your friends! Get them to tell all their friends…

(Xbox LIVE Indie Games are available in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States. If you’re outside those countries you can still play these games by setting up a Gamertag for free for one of those countries. It’s worth doing.)

For a round up of previous months, click here.

The Fall of Gods is maybe a controversial choice, with all the love Wizorb’s getting, but for me, it’s genuinely a better game. It’s an action-RPG which, weirdly, I’m going to try and undersell because if you go into it with your expectations too high it can only disappoint you.

It’s not the most polished game ever, it can be a little buggy at times, even, but what it is is full of character. Basically the gods have been fighting, then all of a sudden there’s an invasion by darkness or something and when that happens, what else would a god do but recruit a young boy to save the world?

Nothing. Nothing else. That’s what.

You’re a young boy saving the world on behalf of some gods, and you do this by taking part in an ace action RPG. The game reminds me a lot of Alundra, which happens to be my favourite game ever. If it satisfies me under such circumstances, I don’t see how anyone else could dislike it! It’s much simpler than Alundra is, though.

The puzzles aren’t as hard to work out, though they’re nice and plentiful. The combat isn’t really challenging until much later, but I like that about it. The world is pretty huge and encourages exploration, and there’s nothing that gets in the way of exploration more than pesky combat at every turn. The Fall of Gods knows it’s about exploration, and dammit if it doesn’t let the player explore.

There’s something like 10 hours of game here with loads of NPCs, a ton of secret caves and various other things to find, and I enjoyed pretty much every minute of my time with the game. It’s one of the games of the year, for me. I guess I failed on that “underselling” thing.

Wizorb is ace, but calm down, loves. It’s not the bloody second coming or anything.

It’s just Breakout.

Yes, it’s Breakout in a really beautiful skin, and it’s incredibly playable, but it’s still just Breakout at its core and as good as Breakout is, you’ve played this game before. Many times. It’s the best version of Breakout on Xbox LIVE Indie Games, though. The controls are brilliant, for one thing. The analogue stick shouldn’t be precise but it is and there wasn’t one single time where I died and thought afterwards “that was the game’s fault.” I always was able to put the paddle where I wanted it, and if I lost it was my own mistake.

The RPG elements are pretty much non-existent. You can repair a village which rewards you with a rune which can take you to some bonus levels which unlocks a super attack, but if you’re good enough to beat the bonus levels you’re good enough to beat the game without the super attack, to be perfectly honest. Still, it’s Breakout in a pretty shell. It’s great, but let’s chill out.

HACOTAMA is Sokoban but in the prettiest 3D this side of, well, I dunno. It’s just pretty is all. Everything is sharp and bright and colourful, and the glass balls you can ride around on reflect light in a really beautiful way.

The game itself is fun. It’s really simple to play, all you need is the A button to either push the balls or to clamber on top of them and ride them around. You’ll need both techniques to get the balls to their destination, which is how you complete a level.

The quirk is that, being 3D, the gravity is centred in the middle of the block structure you’re on. This means you can walk all around the level and push the balls all around it to. It makes for some really hard Sokobanning. Yeah. Sokobanning. I went there.

High Gravity Wells is another puzzle game, but in a far more unique vein than anything I’ve ever played before. I’m a complete nerd for puzzle games so it’s nice when this happens.

You control a ship, except you can’t control it because it has no controls. Instead, you have to turn on “gravity wells” which, er, do a gravity thing. Your ship is pulled towards them, and if you leave it on it will orbit it. Your goal is to use such techniques to throw and manoeuvre your ship to a spaceport, thus ending the level.

It sounds more complex than it is, probably, and as soon as you’ve done the first level it feels completely natural and completely sensible. And really fun, too. People will tell you it’s frustrating, maybe the FFFFFUUUUUUU level is especially for them.

Puzzled Rabbit is just Sokoban, but I like Sokoban. This one is just really pretty, has tons of levels, and the quotes you unlock when you complete a level are a nice touch. It’s just a calming experience in general, if you’re tired of shooting crap in the face.

Jellyfish MD is a match three puzzle game but not one like you’ve ever seen before. It takes place inside a 3D jellyfish and you can rotate blocks and pull them forwards and backwards and twist them and it’s basically confusing as hell, but good.

Redd: The Lost Temple is a 16-bit Zelda dungeon as a game. It has issues with what you can see, but it does a lot of stuff right. You can’t really attack in any effective way so it causes you to think differently about enemies, and later on it goes all out bullet-hell on yo’ ass.

Dead Pixels is, well, it’s got pretty awesome presentation is what it’s got. It really looks awesome and has a great feel about it. I found the gameplay pretty dull though in all honesty. Move right and shoot with basically no variety unless that comes long after I got bored. The DLC model is great though, the more copies it sells the more new modes will be added. Interesting.

Math Fighter is cool because it made me feel totally stupid. One of the questions was “|-56|=” and I’m all “what the hell does that even MEAN?” It’s nice to play a game that can teach you stuff. Other than that, it’s obvious what happens, you answer more math(s) questions quicker than your opponent and whittle down their health. Most games like this are full of 3+4 and stuff, and you’ll probably find that here if you play on easy, but don’t write it off because it will be able to genuinely challenge you too.

Robotriot is a 2D platformer with lovely retro visuals and equally lovely music. Search through small levels looking for a thing to destroy to invade a ship. My only concern would be the game’s length, but it’s fun while it lasts.

Some games are bad. Really bad. So bad that they don’t even deserve a functioning link to the Xbox LIVE Marketplace. But if you’re in the mood for some punishment, or just want to be reminded how much better the games above are, check these out, last month’s most terrible games.

Some people might think that calling Angry Fish the worst game in the history of the world is an exaggeration, and to those people I say “oh, you must not have played Angry Fish yet.” It takes all the bugs from FishCraft and rather than fix them, says “screw it” and just adds more bugs instead. Then it takes a third of the levels away. Then it calls it Angry Fish because the morons were too retarded to realise that FishCraft was an Angry Birds rip-off, and they need it SHOVING IN THEIR STUPID PATHETIC FACES.

Pigs Can’t Fly is a Tiny Wings rip-off, and misses the point in a manner that even Fernando Torres would be embarrassed by. It controls horribly, it’s far too heavy meaning you can get basically no momentum, and dumbest of all, there are huge patches of flat ground. Flat ground. If you’ve played Tiny Wings you’ll appreciate how utterly stupid that is.

Avalis Dungeon 2. If you buy every game in the Avalis Dungeon series, by the end of it you’ll probably spend £15 on less than five minutes of game.

President John America is like Dope Wars from years ago but with less drugs and presentation that’s so bad it’s barely even possible to see what the hell is going on.

ZOMBIECRAFTT!!1 SAMPLER is the last game in the Skyfish trilogy, a trilogy so bad that there have been calls to ban anything ever appearing in trilogy form again, lest we get a repeat of this total nonsense.

Falling Blocks is a game where blocks fall from the sky and you have to climb them. Except you can’t, because they don’t fall in places that let you climb them half the time, and even if they did you can’t see a damn thing in the game’s first-person view.

Aaaaaand done.