This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, otherwise known as C2E2. The event was held at the McCormick Place Convention Center in beautiful Chicago, Illinois. While C2E2 leans heavily on comics and movie/television entertainment, there is still a great offering to those looking to get their gaming fix. Of course we got a glimpse of Marvel Heroes and the newest DLC for Injustice: Gods Among Us, but I also got to catch up on the developing indie game community that has been growing steadily in the Chicago area the past few years.
I am sure many of you have heard of the indie success Organ Trail, available for both PC and mobile devices, which is a parody on the classic Oregon Trail with the twist of the undead. The game has received favorable reviews and currently has a score of 86 on MetaCritic. Organ Trail was developed by The Men Who Wear Many Hats, a Chicago-based group of indie developers. I finally got a chance to play the game this weekend at C2E2 and thoroughly enjoyed shooting down undead in place of wild buffalo that I sure as hell would not be able to carry back with me (infinite zombie meat!). And I may or may not have gotten an opportunity to play a copy of it on the new Ouya (insert winky face). Needless to say, I see what all the hype is about, and it appears well-deserved.
Another game that caught my eye was Delve Deeper developed by Lunar Giant, another Chicagoland-based indie dev studio. It’s available now on the PC (for just $5!) and soon to be released on Xbox 360 sometime in July. The game takes you on a strategic and adventurous treasure hunt deep within the earth, mixing in some RPG elements as you command Dwarves to mine the depths in search of some sweet treasures. Not to mention, you can delve with a friend, as this game can support up to four players to command the miners, and strategy is built in for those looking to play and take advantage of a multiplayer adventure that pits you against said friends.
The art style is old-school pixel meets new age technology, as depth of the characters on screen becomes apparent when battling the monsters that lurk below. Mix in some humorous dialogue and endless re-playability, and this game has the potential to garner a good time. If you want some more info on Delve Deeper, or looking to play a demo, you can delve into it (yes, pun totally intended) on the Lunar Giant website .
I also got my hands on another impressive game that looks to cater to fans of the classic RPG stylings of Final Fantasy and Earthbound called Boot Hill Heroes, developed by Experimental Gamer. From the demo I played, I was beholden to a pixelated spaghetti western combined with familiar RPG storytelling elements that is not only a single-player experience, but can also incorporate up to four players to join in on the adventure, which was something I was really impressed with.
Experimental Gamer lead developer Dave Welch took me through a short but fun play-through that reminded me a lot of one of my favorite old-school RPGs Earthbound. We fought some wild animals in the desert, shooting pistols, shotguns and arrows at our foes, to which Dave was quick to point out the hat-based job system that was in effect for our characters. This means that the abilities each character has are based on the hat they wear and these hats can also give the characters new abilities, therefore Doc (who reminded me a lot of Blondie from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), the character I was playing, could use the special ability to constantly pump his shotgun before it was his turn to shoot, significantly increasing the damage that I laid into an incredibly angry bull. Pretty sweet.
Boot Hill Heroes is still available for pre-order, and you can even save a buck if you decide to do so (only $4)! Head over to the Experimental Gamer website for more info.
All in all, it’s great to see a group of talented individuals making games in a city not very well known for game development. My thanks to Jay Margalus at Lunar Giant Studios and Dave Welch at Experimental Gamer for taking a few minutes out of a very busy weekend at C2E2. Can’t say that I saw these guys taking a break the whole time I was there, as there were many interested attendees playing these inspiring games.
For more information on the local Chicago indie game developer scene, be sure to check out http://indiecitygames.com.
And thanks to Andrew Burrage for fighting some angry bulls with me.