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5 Hidden Indie gems you must play

5 Hidden Indie gems you must play

5 Hidden Indie gems you must play

Gaming Week 2014 Following on from his earlier blog in the week, Rhys from Sumonix.com has returned into the Plusnet hotseat. He says his favourite character is Garrus Vakarian from Mass Effect and the first game he ever played was Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Today he’s bringing our gamers the best five games indie you need to play if you haven’t already…. IT'S no secret that the indie gaming scene is booming in 2014, with many games such as Braid, Dust: An Elysian Tail and Amnesia: The Dark Descent enjoying critical acclaim normally reserved for time-tested classics. In such a vast market of games, there are naturally a bunch that are left at the wayside, many of which are worth playing. Without further ado, here are five hidden indie gems that are certainly worth your time.

5. ARES: Extinction Agenda

This action platformer puts you in the role of the titular Ares, a combat robot tasked with rescuing the survivors of a violent outbreak of malicious machines. The game features elements of Megaman and Metroid with its changeable suit that grant a variety of powers and its focus on exploring an environment where everything is out to kill you. There's also a crafting element to the game that allows you to increase Ares' power even more as you progress through the game. With a soundtrack composed by the incredible Hyperduck Soundworks, ARES: Extinction Agenda hits pretty much all the marks required of a great game, and is sure to satisfy fans of high-octane, run n' gun action.

4. Pineapple Smash Crew

A top-down shooter with a strong focus on throwing grenades, Pineapple Smash Crew combines the thrills and difficulty of Smash TV with the careful planning and tactics of Cannon Fodder. As a team of four marines who move as one unit, you're tasked with clearing out spaceships overrun by vicious creatures and robots, armed with machine guns and capable of picking up a variety of grenade types. These include homing grenades, grenades that transform into missiles and make a beeline for the enemy, and special grenades that heal your units. Assigning various grenades to your squad is crucial to your success as it's very easy to die, and once a team member is gone, they're not coming back, and will be replaced with a new member once the mission is over. Pineapple Smash Crew is a fun, unique take on the top-down shooter subgenre and should appeal to players that love fast-paced action and strategy.

3. Cloudphobia

Cloudphobia is a side-scrolling shoot-em-up with a rather unique central mechanic: each stage has a very limited amount of time in order to complete it, as in too little time to reasonably finish the level. Of course, it wouldn't be much fun if the game was impossible, so you're able to activate a booster that will zoom you through the level at intense speeds. The trade-off here is that you're naturally more vulnerable to enemy attacks. However, you can't just boost to the end of the stage without a care in the world; you have to make sure you're shooting down enemy ships as if they pass you, it'll damage the mothership you're tasked with protecting. If you or the mothership runs out of health, it's game over. This interesting mix of mechanics makes for an intense experience that'll have you on edge at all times. It helps that the game is also rather gorgeous to behold, and the design of the ships is creatively elegant.

2. Iji

Akin to a side-scrolling System Shock 2, Iji is probably the best game ever made within the Game Maker engine. You are the titular Iji, a young woman whose life is thrown into turmoil when an alien race exterminates most life on Earth, so they might make it a home for themselves. Iji is given multiple cybernetic augmentations in order to save her life, and she is tasked with finding out why these aliens have wrought such destruction on Earth. The story is actually a lot deeper than it sounds, featuring a very compelling narrative that encourages the player to complete the game in its entirety. As a shooter, the game is unique in that you can choose which level of aggression with which to take on your enemies with. Going in guns blazing is of course the most obvious way of progression, but Iji may also take a more pacifistic approach, and the choices she makes in this area affects the events of the story. Iji was one of the first games composed by the epic Hyperduck Soundworks, crafting a soundtrack that's both memorable and leaves a powerful impression, much like the game itself.

1. The Knytt Series

Developed by Nicklas “Nifflas” Nygren, the Knytt series of games focus on exploring a hostile environment for power-ups in order to further progress through the world. The games are very simple and have a Metroid style of progression; traverse what you're able to until you come across a power-up that allows you to travel across even more terrain and explore the world at a greater degree. There is no combat, just the ability to explore and take in the surroundings. Above all else, it's the series trademark presentation that makes it stand out. Featuring a variety of tranquil and often sombre locales, the series takes you through lush fields, ancient temples, quaint villages, lava-filled canyons, abandoned laboratories, polluted factories, firefly-lit forests and much more; and this is what makes the games such a joy to play. They require very little of the player, yet at the same time present an exploration-based experience that's completely immersive from start to finish.

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Not exactly hidden, as most of them have a fairly hefty following, however here are a few of my faves. I've linked to Steam, but some of them are available for consoles too: The Binding of Isaac - Rougue-like designed by Edmund Mcmillan. I have 'wasted' hours and hours of my life playing this (and I'm still playing it regularly now). There's a remake just round the corner too - http://store.steampowered.com/app/113200/ Super Meat Boy - Another Edmund game. Certainly not hidden, but one hell of a Gem! - http://store.steampowered.com/app/40800/ Fez - I absolutely adore this game. It's really clever (if you invest enough time in it, some of the more advanced puzzles are insanely difficult). Well worth the controversy and the four years+ it was in development - http://store.steampowered.com/app/224760/ Limbo - Gorgeous and sinister platformer - http://store.steampowered.com/app/48000/ Retro City rampage - 8-bit GTA-esque frolics with a generous dose of 80's nostalgia - http://store.steampowered.com/app/204630/ DustForce - Tricky to master but beautifully presented 'sweep-em-up'(!?) - http://store.steampowered.com/app/65300/