This past weekend was the fifth annual Boston Festival of Indie Games, a convention celebrating independent tabletop and video game developers, in the MIT Johnson Athletic Center in Cambridge, MA. Upon entering the venue, I was greeted with the sight of tons of indie game devs waiting to showcase their most recent projects, and when I actually got the chance to experience what these devs were working on, I enjoyed myself way too much. But with all of these games around trying to impress, some stood out more than others to me, be it for mechanics, aesthetic, control, even the people running the booth. So these are my highlights from the Boston Festival of Indie Games 2016.
Now Everyone Get The F%$# Out!
When it comes to Now Everyone Get The F%$# Out, by the fantastic Starcap Games, I’m very well-acquainted. I’ve already played the game various times whenever I go to this great thing in Boston called Game Over, and when I saw it was going to be at FIG, it was one of the first booths I went to. Prior to FIG, only Kennedy and I had played NEGTFO, and now a lot of us here at The Lifecast like it. It’s a card game about getting people out of your dorm so you can study for a final, and you do this by forcing things like a live band or hard drugs onto your opponents to make the partiers go into their dorms instead of your own. You have actions to do special things like reuse cards from the discard pile, and instant actions which let you do something (normally counter a card your opponent plays) at any time. It’s an insanely fun game that gets even more fun with more people, and I play it every time I get the chance to. On top of that, the one running the booth, Pat Roughan, is super cool. Absolutely be sure to check this out; it’s honestly one of my favorite tabletop games. Now Everyone Get the F%$# Out! is available on Amazon and, though currently sold out, will have more in stock later! You can follow Starcap Games on Facebook here and on Twitter here.
Now, let me tell you about a game that I absolutely cannot wait for: Mech Deck. Now, at this point, it’s no secret that I love me some good old fashioned mechs. Be it eastern, western, Gundam, or MechWarrior. I love mechs. I mean hell, my tag online is MechaManDan. This board game was the coolest one at FIG. It sucks that it wasn’t at the showcase and that I was media. Because if I wasn’t media and it was in the showcase, I would have absolutely voted for it as best game. It focuses around free-for-all mech combat. Normally, you draft for parts to your mech, but in the effort to save time, we were given pre-built models. Your parts are split into the torso, legs, arms, and back. Arms are generally weapons, body supplies energy you need to move and do certain tactics, legs give movement perks, and the back, well, I don’t really know, since my back piece was immediately destroyed by our own Greg by the end of the first turn. Each mech has weapons with varying ranges, and when you get within range, you can attack. Combat is resolved by each side rolling 2 6-sided dice, with the higher number determining whether or not the attack goes through (attacker wins ties). Each individual mech’s piece is not just that one piece, though. Every arm, leg, jetpack, body, etc. is each their own part, and are held together through magnets. Meaning for each part you get for your mech, you get to make a piece that truly represents what you have, as opposed to a vague placeholder. Different terrain gives different effects, like defense bonuses or damage. You’ve got a lot of other things to affect your combat as well, like your pilot and their abilities, your Battle Fervor, or as we started calling it, your “Anime Meter”, which you can spend on special skills, and more. This mecha battle royale is insanely fun, and I personally can’t wait for it to come out. Mech Deck is still in development, but you can follow it on Facebook here and Twitter here to keep track of its progress!
GUNGUNGUN, developed by Mystery Egg Games, is a platforming, arcade-style arena shooter. The premise is quite simple: You’re running around this arena, trying stay alive as long as possible, and you do so by shooting everyone who is trying to shoot you. You control your character with the right stick, aim the gun with the left, and shoot with R2. As you kill things, you can use different guns, but they act more as temporary powerups that total upgrades. The controls are incredibly tight and responsive. The main character has a perfect weight to her, and every single gun is satisfying to shoot, and even more satisfying to hit with. In addition to that, each gun feels different from the others in terms of how the shooting feels. Jumping is solid, movement is fluid, and everything about the game just… Works. The music is awesome, it looks really nice, and it’s HARD. It’s super challenging to get a good score in this game. I remember the longest I lasted in one game was about 2 or 3 minutes, and that’s after playing it a bunch of times to get the feel of the game down. But this difficulty is genuine and fair. Every time I died, I felt like it was my fault and not the game’s. GUNGUNGUN is the kind of game you pick up multiple times in a day to try to beat your high score because it’s so addicting. GUNGUNGUN is currently on Steam Greenlight and has recently passed 50%, so please, if you can spare the time, please help greenlight this game for Steam. You can follow Mystery Egg Games on Facebook here and on Twitter here.
Kung Fu: Shadow Fist
VR has always interested me, but up until this weekend, I had never really used it. I played Swingstar at PAX East on a Gear VR, and it was awesome, but I never really experienced a fully VR experience until Boston FIG. Kung Fu: Shadow Fist, developed by Digital Precept LLC, is officially my first “full” VR experience. I’ve got to say, it was pretty damn cool. I strapped on that HTC Vive and let me tell you, that entire experience was freaky. I loved it. Anyway, Kung Fu: Shadow Fist is a VR arcade-style beat-em-up. It’s still in early phases of development, but from what it is so far, I’m looking forward to its release (and my inevitable inability to play it because I’m too poor to afford an HTC Vive). You’re put into this environment where you’re put up against these crash test dummies, and then you give ’em the ol’ one-two. Swing your fists while holding those surprisingly comfortable HTC controllers and then you’ll beat ’em up. Raise your arms to block your face to block, and you can press the huge button in the middle of the controller to do a shadow step, which stops time and puts you right next to an enemy. That’s about it for controls. While playing the game, my reach did feel a bit short, and the sense of depth in the area was a little off, which made me miss some punches. Though that may also just be that I’m not used to VR, but it is something to be aware of. While I do think it is in need of some polish, that doesn’t stop it from being a really cool VR experience, and just being a genuinely fun game to play. It’s definitely worth looking into if you have a Vive. Kung Fu: Shadow Fist is currently on Steam Greenlight awaiting approval, so when you have the time, please help greenlight it for Steam. You can follow Digital Precept on Facebook here and on Twitter here.
Finally, I’d like to give some honorable mentions to games that seem awesome that I just didn’t get enough time with to write well about. First up is Tailwind: Prologue, a shoot-em-up game kind of like a bullet hell, but not really. The gameplay takes place while you’re falling down and permanently shooting, and you need to get behind the enemies to destroy them. It really breaks the standard shmup formula to do what it does, and is a super interesting game that I want to play more of. The other game is a board game that has been highly, highly acclaimed called Dragoon. It’s a strategy game in which you play as a dragon trying to take over the land and collect as much gold as possible to win. You’ve got to capture areas, destroy others, and do whatever you can to collect gold and take control. Sadly I was only able to play one turn of the game before the venue started closing, so I wasn’t able to get much of a feel for it, but from what I saw go down, it seems awesome.
I think the best part about the Boston Festival of Indie Games is that there wasn’t a single bad game that I played there. All of the games that I played, even the ones not mentioned in this article, were good, fun games that I would absolutely play again. The experience overall was really fun, and I am absolutely going to be returning next year to see what new content all of these creative developers can think of.