Indie games have always been one of my favorite things. When you don’t have the pressure of a studio like EA or Ubisoft breathing down your neck to make a commercially successful game, developers can really let their hair down and go wild. You want to make a game about sentient oysters taking over Manhattan by forming a ska band? More power to you, my friend. I’ve spent countless hours surfing the web for the weirdest, wildest and woolliest indie games I can sink my teeth into, so I thought I’d round up seven of the strangest (one for each day of the week, or one for each of your seven evil exes) and let them loose on you, Dedicated Reader.
So, if you’ll be so kind as to join me, let’s take a walk together down Indie Game Avenue and peek in on a few of the most off-the-wall moments from these top seven oddballs.
CRYPT WORLDS: YOUR DARKEST DESIRES, COME TRUE – Don’t ask me what this game’s about, because I honestly don’t understand it. If I have the basic grasp on the story that I think I do, you’ve been given an epic quest from the Goddess Moronia to collect five relics before Dendygar takes over the Crypt Worlds. It’s a pretty standard video game narrative that quickly devolves into confusion and bewilderment. Televisions can talk, although they don’t have anything interesting to say. An entire community of the undead living under your feet worship a deity of fast food. Golden bugs can be collected by using holes in the ground as a bathroom, and there’s an entire crew of archaeologists working in your basement. Keep in mind, this is the normal stuff. At one point, the game glitched out and I entered some kind of otherwordly glitch kingdom. When I came across the Big Glitch, I pushed him off into the abyss and everything turned into cowboys, including most of the objects in the debug maze I found under my house. Everything tipped their hats at me. It’s worth pointing out that this game comes packaged with another, smaller game called Horrible Screaming Murderer IV, which is equally as puzzling in form and function. Combine the two, and you’ve got an experience that’ll leave you scratching your head for days and wondering what the heck is going on.
JAZZPUNK – Oh, boy. Oh, Jazzpunk, how I love you. You take on the role of Polyblank, an extraordinary spy living in the year 1959B, tasked with infiltrating various locales and going on all sorts of wacky adventures. It’s overflowing with a style that’s equal parts James Bond, Looney Tunes, kustom kulture and bathroom signs. This is one of those games that you can breeze through in your lunch break, but you’ll be missing out on so many goofy easter eggs and hidden gags if you only complete the main missions that you won’t see even a fraction of what this game has to offer. Wander off the beaten path, and you’ll encounter an eccentric billionaire with a serious addiction to “aerosol fromage,” a multiplayer shooter called Wedding Qake, pigeon pheromones, the sneakiest hobo in the world, a frog that’s intent on stealing the bandwidth from Starbucks… it’s one zany moment after another in a fast-paced adventure that I’ve never seen the likes of before. I’d highly recommend Jazzpunk to anybody with a sense of humor… there’s no pressure to achieve much and there’s no way to lose, it’s just charming, kooky and wonderful, wonderful fun.
KEYBOARD DRUMSET F***ING WEREWOLF – Yeah, that’s the name of the game. I swear I’m not making this up, and the real thing doesn’t come with stars in the title. It’s a crazy little gem that was slammed together in three weeks by our old friend Cactus, half of the team behind the beloved Hotline Miami. The game plays a lot like WarioWare, tossing you into simple mini-games with basic controls and absolutely no explanation as to why you’re collecting blocks or sawing people apart with your werewolf spin attack. Avoid barrels and bombs. Collect a skeleton and cobble the bones together into a spread gun to face off against an enormous unicorn head. It’s really just an interactive music video for F***ing Werewolf Asso’s song Keep My Adresse To Yourself, Cause We Need Secrets! and the song’s just as hemorrhage-inducing as the game is. It’ll only take you three minutes to play the whole thing (assuming you can beat the Nintendo-hard final boss) and it’s well worth all one hundred and eighty seconds of it.
ROOM OF 1000 SNAKES – I don’t want to spoil this one for you. There’s a room, and you’ve been promised a lot of snakes. One thousand snakes, in fact. The rest of the scene unfolds accordingly.
WHY NOT – I first came across this little gem at a Glitchmark event here in Melbourne. It’s one of the more simple indie games I’ve played… it’s a classic choose-your-own-adventure tale, with two possible options at any given time. Sounds normal enough, right? One minute into this little spitfire, and you’ll have forgotten what “normal” means. You’ll find yourself making out with trees, becoming a skeleton, getting into a deep philosophical debate with your narrator, drinking pints of gasoline, visiting ironically named cafes and breaking every last bone in your body. You might die. You might fly. You might end up tossing thousands upon thousands of dollars into a crack in your floorboards. In any case, you’re going to have a lovely time doing it, and I can just about guarantee you’ve never seen a game like this before.
I AM BREAD – Here’s one of those perfect examples of a title that delivers exactly what it says on the tin. You are Bread, and that’s the way things go. It’s brought to you by the same developers who made the profoundly strange Surgeon Simulator, and it lives up to their name… you’re going to weeble-wobble around the house, sticking to various surfaces and flinging yourself about in your quest to become toast. Hitting the floor or touching any of the gross obstacles in your path will make you less edible, and you’re able to stick various things to your wheat-based body to make yourself even more delicious, sticky or slippery. Somehow, this game actually pulls off a story involving the owner of the house going completely mad because of your toasty behavior. The controls are maddening, and you’re likely to snap your keyboard in half before you complete the first level, but it’s just so damn fun that you’ll want to play each level a few times over until you’re golden brown on both sides and crispy in just the right way.
SUCCULENT – Now, I’m not even sure what I can say about this game. I hesitate to call it a “game,” but it’s just too banana-sandwich mental to take it off the list. Boot it up, and you’re met with three men that all look exactly the same standing around in their underpants. Move the mouse, and the one in the center starts to suck on an orange popsicle while the most uncomfortable electronic music you’ve ever heard blasts in the background. The more of your popsicle you eat, the more reality begins to warp into a Lovecraftian horror, until you’re watching two of these terrifying men twist inhumanly and the one with the popsicle’s face melts off into a nightmarish, yawning chasm of teeth and artificial sweeteners. That’s it. There’s no real gameplay, and there’s no point to anything you just witnessed. I do not recommend this game, and my life would have been a lot more peaceful if I’d never played it. Here’s the link, anyway. May God have mercy on us all.
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