Tuesday, 16 August 2016 22:11

Innovative Modern Indie Shooters that didn’t get a fair shake

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The more casual followers of gaming news may think it’s a bad time for shooters. It certainly is for AAA titles, whether it’s the backlash from EA’s “DLC-ifying” the entirety of Battlefield and Star Wars Battlefront, or the massive outcry on the launch of the latest Call of Duty, from fans and detractors alike. It seems the mass market is finally experiencing some fatigue from the generic, semi-simulationist militiary FPS. Titles like Bethesda’s DOOM reboot, Epic’s Unreal Tournament 4, and Blizzard’s Overwatch have stormed the stage of the collective conscious to fill in the gaps left by these mass-produced franchises, and we’re only seeing more innovation in the FPS sub-genre. This certainly wasn’t the case even two years ago, though, and there were many titles that seem to have been left behind in the scramble for the next brown, grind-driven twitchfest. Didn’t matter how innovative or well-executed a shooter was, it just wouldn’t sell if it was not this type of shooter.

This recent uptick in shooter originality has inspired me to look back, at some of the unique, fun, but not commercially successful shooters that came out in the last few years, in an attempt to shine some much-deserved light on a segment of the genre that has been left in the dark for too long. After quite a bit of research, and a few wallet lightening batch purchases, I bring you the games that truly stood out.

Guns Of Icarus Online

Oh dear, where to start. This game runs counter in so many ways to the entrenched mechanics and tropes in mainstream first-person shooters that it’s easier to list what they have in common. The airship you pilot is too complex to control by yourself, so you must team up with five or so other players to control it The goal is to cooperate with your teammates better than the other floating death machines lurking around the steampunk wasteland. You can pilot, man guns, or frantically dart between the ship’s main systems trying to keep it in the air. Regardless of what you choose to do, though, cooperation is key. You can have a blast playing this with friends or strangers as long as you keep this in mind, but hardline Twitch fans should look elsewhere.

Minimum

Minimum is a faithful of interpretation of the third-person arena shooter with a strange twist regarding equipment: you have to craft it during each match.

It sports the now very familiar minimal, low-poly art style to the furthest extreme, and this only serves the gameplay by lowering the burden of knowledge. The game doesn’t stop there with crafting, though. You can build a massive variety of equipment that you can take into each game with you, gaining resources each match to grow your collection. The controls feel tight for a 3PS, gameplay is fast but has no shortage of depth, and there’s a variety of game types to choose from. It’s a real shame it came out at the Height of “CoD fever.”

Sanctum 2

This game is from the same folks that brought us Goat Simulator, and it carries that same level of imagination. The Sanctum franchise transports you to an alien environment where simple bullets are not enough to overcome the problems your character faces. Where diplomacy and full frontal assault have apparently failed, one tactic reigns supreme: Tower Defense. I’ve seen other fusions of the two genres before, but none that pull it off like Sanctum 2 does. The co-op is frantic and relies on fast, concise communication, and you have to make the right moves shooting and managing resources to succeed. I’ve never felt a tower defense game could be aggressively paced until I experienced what this game has to offer.

Ziggurat

The easiest description I can provide for this indie shooter is Quake 3 with magic and dungeon crawling. Sure, it sounds simple and perhaps a bit shallow, but Ziggurat has thoroughly proven to me that you really don’t need anything else to have a good gaming experience. It’s given the platforming, pickup collecting and fragging of the old arena shooter a much needed fresh coat of paint, and added enough local flavor to make it worth your time.

Now that you don’t need 15 camo patterns and bad sniping mechanics to take the market throne, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more games like this on the market. However, these titles, and plenty more like them, didn’t get the attention they deserved in years previous. There are plenty of gems out there already if you’re looking for something different, and my hope is that this gives you some motivation to start your own search.

Twila Froude

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