In my humble opinion, Xbox Live Arcade revolutionized gaming and paved the way for modern-day titles. Without the platform, developers would be stuck creating triple-A, full-priced games, always tied to certain formats and genres with no room to explore.
I honestly think we take indie games for granted. I mean, think about it. Where would gaming be without Bastion, Fez, Super Meat Boy, or Trine? We’d be stuck in the gutter eating up first-person-shooting tripe with no hope of variety.
And you know what they say. Variety is the spice of life.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent solidifies my argument. I’d go so far to say that Amnesia revolutionized horror titles as we know them. The game’s atmosphere and creative setting opened the minds of fans and developers alike. The whole “By the way, you have to run away from everything” aspect was just genius. That sense of utter despair and helplessness made it a smash hit on Steam and rightly so.
Sure, blockbusters like F.E.A.R. were released well before Amnesia, but what did F.E.A.R. accomplish? Jump scares caused by the girl from The Ring? Frictional Games (the developers of Amnesia) also made Penumbra: Overture, which is seemingly the game that inspired many of Amnesia’s mechanics. Penumbra was a little rough around the edges, but it was still piss-your-pants scary, all while being a low-budget indie game.
And who could forget Bastion? The game took storytelling to a whole new level with its vibrant world, soundtrack, and characters. The narration was probably some of the best I’ve ever listened to, and the movement and combat were fluid and relaxing. Popular distribution services like Xbox Live Arcade and Steam made Bastion possible. To be quite frank, I can’t imagine a world without that release.
Indie games feel like my bastion. It’s my strong belief that they keep the market fresh with new ideas that entertain us through the laborious tasks of day-to-day life.
Of course, more premium-quality indie experiences are out there, but half the fun is finding what’s right for you. These releases represent a step toward a new era of gaming where Call of Duty doesn’t dominate the market, and bigger titles are created with the same love and passion as their less-mainstream counterparts.
That, my friends, is the true meaning of indie.