A sense of wonder. An elation from figuring out a strange puzzle. Bumping into a game-breaking bug and feeling it tear through your perfect play through. These are all memories you make at Indiecade, a festival that celebrates and cultivates a community of experimental individuals. Games that wouldn’t have a voice find their home in this event and the turnout this year was more than ever before. There were some amazing panels too with topics ranging from diversity in games to the history and even some to help you make them. In a place where fun is king, these are the games I found to be the best of show:

Affordable Space Adventures by KnapNok Games -For the adventurer on a budget ASA puts you in a ship that is barely running. Forced to explore the world you crashed on, every puzzle pushes your pathetic ship to the brink of its existence. Management is key as you have to adjust energy levels for different parts of the ship to keep the ship stable as well as avoid enemies that can hone in on certain readings. Multiplayer feels like a completely different beast. Each additional player controls their own aspect of the ship. Communication becomes key if you want to so much as move it. ASA is from the same people who brought you Spin the Bottle- Bumpie’s Party and that same spirit of experimentation was present throughout what I played. This is a great Wii U indie title to keep an eye on after the coming drought after Christmas.

PARTICLE MACE by Andy Wallace- Sometimes innovation comes from tweaking a small aspect to completely change how it is played. PM looks like any other top-down shooter when you boot it up until you realize that you don’t shoot your weapon, but rather drag it behind you. Suddenly the entire way you interact with hostile ships changes since attacking them head-on isn’t an option. Instead you have to rely on the physics of your “mace,” hurling it around in a simple-to-learn but hard-to-master massacre. While single player can be highly addictive, multiplayer was just as intense as four ships vie for supremacy. PM will find it’s way onto Steam, Mac, and iOS and is currently in alpha.

Classroom Aquatic by Sunken Places- Cheating will only get you so far, unless you’re a diver crashing a school for dolphins. Getting that perfect score is worth it though as you try to do whatever you can to get the right answer without leaving your desk chair. You can try to lean over to peer at another student’s paper or throw an eraser at them as a diversion. All that work would be for naught if the killer whale teacher manages to catch you trying to scam your way to an easy A. CA is an immersive experience that made me forget I was demoing a game out in public. With student alliances and bullies along with a host of other features planned, it might be worth the asking price for an Oculus Rift all on its own.

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