E3 2011: IndieCade, Desktop Dungeons, and Skulls of the Shogun

I checked out few of the games at IndieCade which, if you haven’t heard of it, is an international festival of independent games. This year was their five year anniversary at E3, and their booth showcased 18 of the games which have been submitted to the Culver City festival in October, including video games, tabletop games, and installations.

Check out the “Twister Race” installation:

All the games I saw were pretty neat, a real breath of fresh air in terms of art and gameplay, after all of the mainstream stuff you see on the E3 floor. I’ll highlight a couple of my favorites after the jump, with more in depth write-ups to come after I’ve played these games more.

One game I tried was Desktop Dungeons, by QCF Designs in South Africa, a game that one of the developers, Danny Day, described as a “sort of coffee break game”. It’s a dungeon exploration puzzle game (if you hadn’t figured that out from the title), where you click to move your character from tile, picking up items, fighting (or fleeing) enemies. It’s the kind of addicting little game you could play for a few minutes or end up playing for hours. You die frequently, but dying is always fun, and the dungeons are only about 10 minutes apiece, so dying is never aggravating. What really shone was the clever and wonderfully snarky prompts from the game makers. I only played through the tutorial, but I hope the great writing continues through the rest of the game.

What was presented at E3 was their upcoming beta, a graphical and gameplay improvement on the alpha version of the game, which is still available to download for free on their website if you want to give it a go (http://www.desktopdungeons.net/). You can also pre-order the beta, and have instant access to it when it’s released. Right now it’s only available on the PC/Mac, but it should be expanding into the Android and iPhone market soon.

I also tried Skulls of the Shogun, by Haunted Temple Studios, an adventure-strategy with some really rad art design. They also swept up a bunch of well-deserved awards at E3. It’s about a Japanese General who dies, and finds out that the wait to get into the heaven is 20 years. He recruits some soldier spirits who are also impatient of waiting and they storm the gates.

When I played it on the floor it was on the Xbox, but it should be a multi-platform release. There’s also 4-player local and networked multi-player campaigns.

Check out the trailer: