Here’s your excuse to stay in one night this weekend: three ringing indie game recommendations by a superficial stranger. Don’t say I never did anything for you.
The “abstract racing game” is a long-standing trend I am fully behind. Not many racing games are known for their realism, so fully abandoning that for geometric shapes and jazzy music has my semi-permanent stamp of approval. Proun has been exhibited in modern art museums, and it’s easy to see why. It’s even easier to see why if you see it in motion.
For being pay-what-you-want (starting at $1.00), Proun packs a helluva punch. That includes a range difficulty settings, multiplayer capability, an unflagging soundtrack that you will hum for days, and a fine little library of user-created levels. It’s dizzying and addicting to race along and spin around that cable (or, more accurately, spin the world around you). But even with Proun’s general flamboyance, the little touches, like being able to hear the platforms whoosh by, don’t go unappreciated.
Proun is a PC exclusive. When I heard about Proun, I had an almost-working PC. By the time it launched, I was on a Mac. It’s been a long year waiting to get my fingers on this game, and I may have had to buy and download it on someone else’s computer to do it.
It was worth it.
Q – Compressing the Heart
Q – Compressing the Heart makes about as much sense as its title. It’s a short point and click adventure that will leave you wondering. I don’t mean to say it’s a symbolic journey that is purposefully above our heads…I think it is what it is: a weird game with cool art. (Don’t try to tell me it’s an exploration of the morality of the modern man or something; that will just ruin it.)
QTCH is laced with eerie shadows and undulating flora, and while the obvious comparison is Limbo, QTCH lacks Limbo’s “emotional touchstones.” All the shadows can’t mask that the player character is a bit of an asshole, progressing through the game at the expense of others. It makes sense, maybe, as he is literally lacking a heart per an earlier encounter with a baddie.
QTCH won’t enlighten you, but it will surprise you. It’s short and free to play—enjoy it ASAP.
Auditorium is at the bottom of the list because you probably already know about it.
As the screenshots above clearly demonstrate, Auditorium is sexy, but its real beauty lies not in its sights but in its sounds. The thrill of solving a puzzle in Auditorium is more than just feeling clever and getting to move on—you get to direct symphonies.
Even sparser than Auditorium’s graphics is the amount of direction it provides the player. It’s a smart move, though—exploring and understanding each tool is part of the fun. Sharing an overview of the controls was against my better judgment, and trying to write that overview (“you drag, expand, and collapse the circles to direct the light/sound to the audio containers”) made it even clearer that the game can’t be explained as easily as it can be experienced.
So, as with all my recommendations, I want you to experience Auditorium. The delight of playing with a new tool, the downfall of one of your audio containers going silent, the frustration of coming back to the game a year or a day later and having no clue how to solve the puzzles again…just do it.