What's the last game you played that didn't come from a disc or online version of a disc game? For some, that's an easy question to others. But, if you're like me, then you may have to think for a bit. It's very easy to get caught up in the AAA games that headline review and news websites. However, sometimes a player needs to take a step back, or rather deeper, into the network marketplaces of their consoles to find some real treasures of games.
Some may be surprised to find just how many options one has to get a game on the Xbox Live Arcade or the Playstation Network. These sites, along with Steam, have become lush playgrounds for upcoming game developers to make their ideas come to life, but these iterations sometimes get overlooked in comparison to big names such as EA and Ubisoft. Even in the indie game circle, some titles get much recognition, while others become small titles that a minority of people discover. These titles should be explored by more than just the serious gamer.
Take Journey, for example. Winning many awards, this simple game from thatgamecompany involves nothing more than a simple run and jump mechanic. But, through stunning visuals and a moving soundtrack, the developers create atmosphere, and this drives the gameplay forward.
In a much more action-based setting, Dead Nation, a zombie shooter developed by Housemarque, offers a fluid, third-person view of a single survivor in a zombie apocalypse. Like Journey, this game does not have much in the way of complicated game mechanics. It just offers players a satisfying time of killing the undead without having to be good at it.
These are but a few examples of indie games that offer much in the way of experience, and that's one advantage of playing these games. You get a certain gameplay feeling that can be different from the normal console games released monthly. Also, one gets value in their purchase, both in the kind of game it is and the price it costs. Many of these smaller titles cost about as much as a hearty meal at McDonald's. Trust me, you'll get more satisfaction out of the game than the food.
Finally, you are getting one more thing out of the game, and this may be the most important part of it all. You're getting the chance to critique, to analyze and to help out developers. Upcoming game creators need experience just as much as they need funding or ideas. Even if you end up hating the game, give it a review somewhere. You could go one step further and make this review on the developer's website or blog. Knowing where one's weaknesses are can make the next project so much better, if given the chance.
With big titles like Call of Duty: Ghosts and Destiny being released soon, much focus is spent on the next big thing to buy, especially with the holiday season fast approaching. But, what if you took the time to explore the little games too? I challenge you to find one or two in the next month and try them out. Most of these games have demos, so you don't have to pay anything at all. Discover something new, play it and critique it. Also, if you wondering what to get a gamer for a birthday or Christmas gift, get them gift cards to the PSN or XBLA, but make the amounts small enough so that they can't buy a brand new game online. They may find something big that comes in a small package.
Check out sites like Gamespot and IGN for info on release dates for independent games. Enjoy!!