Osmos is an odd puzzle game. Admittedly any game in which you play a single-celled organism is going to be slightly odd.
With the simple mission of growing by propelling yourself at smaller organisms, Osmos offers a quaint escape from hard-core, mainstream games. It is beautifully crafted and sneakily difficult at times but sadly offers very little variety.
Unfortunately, after playing for a few hours, you give up hope that the game will develop into anything more complex. Whilst gorgeous to look at, it is hard to imagine who would pay for a disappointingly straightforward puzzle game when there are floods of similar games on the internet for free.
Machinarium is a point-and-click adventure from Amanita Design. Made for only $1,000, the game was showered with game awards and five star reviews in 2009.
The story of a little robot’s adventures in a dilapidated mechanic city is told seamlessly with gameplay. More impressively the game is visually stunning, appearing to be the lovechild of Tim Burton and Pixar’s Wall-E.
Regrettably however the game’s beautiful design often gets in the way of gameplay. On more than one occasion, objects you need to pick up are indistinguishable from the background and you find yourself randomly pressing the scenery in hopes of making something happen.
Considering what an immersive game Machinarium can be, this problem breaks flow with an incredible clunk.
Revenge of the Titans is a tower-defence game with aspects of real-time strategy from the relatively unknown developer, Puppy Games.
The premise centres on saving the planet from monstrous aliens and unlike many other games, Revenge of the Titans seems to have a sense of humour about itself. The game is designed with a cartoon sensibility and its simple game mechanics make it easy to pick up.
Sadly the RTS element is not what you would call “perfected”. The game gives you little explanation for what you’re doing and the player is mostly dependent on guess-work which, by the time you find yourself up against a real challenge, rarely pays off.
Grouped alongside these three independent titles, platformer Braid seems to stick out like a sore thumb.
With developer, Jonathan Blow, forking out $200,000 of his own money into the project, you start to wonder whether it’s right to compare Braid with its indie competitors. Maybe it’s fairer to put it up against the godfather of platformers, Mario.
Surprisingly Braid seems to win in both cases.
Expertly designed, the game melds together its platform foundations with a range of impressive time-based mechanics. The soundtrack is beautifully put together, perfectly reflecting the game’s delicate and charming style.
At points Braid can be painfully difficult but the pay-off is one of the greatest in gaming and should not be missed.