Indie and Experimental Games Round-up

Written by Joe Martin

March 28, 2008 | 08:19

Tags: #art #experimental #free #graveyard #homebrew #physics #safari #zero-punctuation

Companies: #games #indie

Trilby: The Art of Theft

Cost: Totally Free!
Play it Now!

Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw has shot to Internet fame lately with his Zero Punctuation video reviews, but what few people know is that Yahtzee has also tried his hands at game design and was well-known to us long before Zero Punctuation kicked off.

Yahtzee’s games have typically been solidly wedged in the adventure game category and it is in that genre that the trilby-wearing Croshaw introduced his most established and self-inspired character; Trilby the gentleman thief.

Although Trilby has his own trilogy of core adventure games, available from Yahtzee’s official site, Art of Theft stands slightly apart from its siblings as an attempt to take Trilby to another genre – that of the action stealth platformer.

Now, if we’re going to be completely honest and put our fear of Yahtzee’s haltless and hilarious ire to one side, then we’ll admit that Art of Theft isn’t a perfect game. I didn’t personally find it all that gripping or involving – but I can appreciate what it represents.

Indie and Experimental Games Round-up The Best Free Indie Games

And what does The Art of Theft represent? Guts, that’s what. It represents experimentation and guts because, after Yahtzee hit the fame motherlode, he was going to be the obvious focus of criticism from some people who wanted to know just who the hell he thought he was. By taking Trilby from his point and click roots and adapting him into a retro-feelin’ stealth-centric platformer, Yahtzee shows that he's got the guts to put his money where his mouth is, while at the same time broadening his horizons. That, combined with a few genre-blurring twists, is what makes The Art of Theft worth a look.

Shift 2

Cost: Totally Free!
Play it Now!

We heard about the original Shift game a while back via our pals at Rock, Paper, Shotgun and were delighted to find out the free flash-based platform puzzler has since had an expanded sequel produced.

Shift 2 is blatantly inspired by Portal in terms of tone, but has its own unique gameplay mechanic to wrap it around – that of shifting.

Indie and Experimental Games Round-up The Best Free Indie Games

Players control a person being pushed through a series of tests by some mysterious, malevolent presence and key to their escape is mastering the mind-boggling abilities at their disposal. Here, that ability involves turning the entire level upside down and reversing the colours of everything and, because the game is done in stylish black and white only, this means that platforms will suddenly become air and vice versa.

It’s a little difficult to explain and slightly frustrating when you find yourself stuck on an especially challenging level, but Shift 2 is perfectly fair at all times and gives you plenty of time and hints to solve the levels with.

If you’ve played the first Shift already then you may be tempted to discard the sequel straight off the bat as just more of the same by the way, but we’d advise you not to. New items and challenges have been worked into this baffling little mind-bender, often twisting gravity around without altering the polarity of the level and the result is a game that offers some entirely different puzzles to the original.

Shift 2 is an odd game to get to grips with, combining high-tension gameplay with some brow-furrowing level design, but it’s the latter point that makes Shift 2 worth playing. You’d think there’s only so many ways you can prolong a game with just one single idea behind it like this, but if you let Shift 2 prove you wrong then you won’t regret it.
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