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Lately games made by independent developers have been all the rage. It all started with Braid. And the success of the game sent the whole industry into a sticky-fingered fervor, where everyone was trying to achieve the same “arty-ness” that Braid had managed to nail down. I for one, think the trend is stupid. My opinion is this: Most indie games are shit and only get attention because they’re made in some artistic manner. Now, that’s not to say they’re inherently bad and that people shouldn’t like them. All I am saying is that I don’t like them. It’s my opinion that indie games tend to get away with a lot simply because they’re indie, and “they’re supposed to be that way”. Well, that’s bullshit, so without further ado, here are two indie games I love:

Mount & Blade

In Mount & Blade you start out as a guy (or gal) in one of the five kingdoms of Calradia. And after that, you’re pretty much free to do whatever you want. M&B is a sandbox game at heart, and after you start out you simply set off into the world and start carving a name for yourself. You could compare the game to Heroes of Might & Magic with a third-person perspective. You level your character, equip him, gather allies, level them, and then you can choose to join a kingdom and eventually become a vassal with your own keep. In battle you not only command yourself and your horse, but you can also give orders to your infantry, cavalry and archers, thus giving it a tactical aspect. There are no specific classes but as you level up you can specialize in all manner of skills ranging from horse-archery, lances, trade, capturing prisoners, two-handed weapons etc. etc. It’s safe to say that there are countless possibilities for your character to progress to suit your play-style.

This mix of gameplay elements come together nicely making Mount & Blade a satisfying experience. But the true joy lies in combat, if I’m to be completely honest. Mount & Blade has like no other game managed to nail down riding. It’s difficult to explain the feeling you get when you impale a Rhodok Crossbowman on your lance, or when you manage to put an arrow into a knight’s head while in full gallop on your courser. But let it be known, it’s hella rewarding. The game simply has that “it” thing you look for in combat. Mount & Blade is at its core a game that has successfully managed to implement impact and momentum to create a great ssense of realism, which many big dev companies have failed to do despite of their budgets. And no screenshot is going to do this feeling justice, so you’ll simply have to try it out for yourself.

Flotilla

My all-time favourite strategy game is Homeworld. I can think of no other game in the genre that can compete with the sense of awe I got from sending battlecruisers into combat accompanied by a full wing of fighters and frigates. Ion cannons, plasma torpedoes and hyperspace gates. To me, it was the perfect game. And after the release Homeworld 2 there were rumours of a sequel. But nothing happened. Still today I hear the whispers, but alas there seems to be less and less of a chance for Homeworld 3 to see the light of day.

Because of this I was overjoyed to see Flotilla. It’s a game where battles take place in a FULL 3d environment, where you have battlecruisers and frigates, and where space-elks commandeer the starships of the federation. While lacking the serious tone of Homeworld, Flotilla is still a fantastic game. The premise is this: you’re a flotilla commander and you have a terminal illness meaning your life will end in seven months. Because of this unnamed deadly disease you set off on one final adventure. You travel from planet to planet, acquiring gear to outfit your ships, new cooler more powerful ships, and meet some interesting people who you can either destroy or help (in some cases, you mostly destroy them). You can have your merry way in space until your time is up, and you die from the disease. This limit in time means you can never make a huge fleet kitted with all the cool gear, so the scope of the game is rather limited. But it should be noted, the game’s focus  is topping the high score so the time-frame is understandable. And while I wish they’d patch in a sandbox campaign to the game, it doesn’t draw from it being an enjoyable experience. If you want to fight panda bear pirates in space, or be the karaoke champion (you can become the champ in the game, but there are serious consequences…) then you should buy Flotilla. Get it for just ten buckaroos here.

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