Dutch glory in a series of unique titles
After two years of COVID vicissitudes, the Dutch game development industry is slowly coming back to life. Of course, not only the big names are active. For many independent studios, it is time to share their passions and work with the world again. A winery in Amsterdam-Noord changed last week at the initiative of Thomas van den Berg (Noio) and Robin Ras (Rusty Lake & Second Maze) to an atmospheric Indie Showcase with more than enough attention to fill a good evening.
The basement of the A-Lab in Amsterdam-Noord is full of creativity. The practical use of black lights and the retro arcade style create an unmistakable gaming atmosphere. Combine that with sofas, tables, chairs and beanbags and the effect is an almost homey whole where, in addition to unique games, fun is also of the utmost importance. No paperwork or procedures: just enjoy the indies and the people behind the games during the Indie Showcase.
the past inside
Teamwork, ambient, and surreally creepy – developer Rusty Lake is clearly familiar with these terms based on The Past Within. In the game, you use a series of puzzles to uncover the mysteries surrounding Albert Vanderboom. You can’t solve these puzzles alone – you have to rely on the skills of your fellow player. For example, you need to set a clock, move pieces on a chessboard, or enter codes based on advice from your fellow gamer.
As you explore the world, mysteries form and unravel all around you. At first it doesn’t seem like much is happening, but play five minutes later (or half an hour if you’re not very good like me) and the situation has completely changed. The power of this point and click game is in the mysterious and surreal things that happen around you, so I can’t give too much away. In any case, the need to unravel the mystery makes each successfully solved puzzle feel tremendously good.
Robo Maestro is a godsend for anyone who wants to sit down for a few hours and compose music in peace and without pressure. Artificial intelligence is not necessarily a traditional game, but rather a practical song editor. When you launch the software, you can choose a simple starting point, which you can then organically expand in all sorts of ways. For example, add a nice bass line or remove the net. Or give your song a power boost with a BIG Dream.
In this sense Robo Maestro is pure empowerment† Without having to understand music, you can do everything possible with your own melodies. However you decide to change the melody, the editor is set up in such a way that you will never be able to compose a misshapen cacophony. You can also use advanced options, such as adjusting time signatures and chords. As an aspiring musician, you can also export the songs you compose for further editing in other programs, so who knows, the software may be the center of your future songwriting career.
Independent Summary I
So many beautiful games full of passion, so little space. The Indie Showcase was packed with unique and exciting content, including the following games.
Milo & the Magpies is an atmospheric point and click adventure. In the game, guide Milo the cat home through a series of Dutch backyards through puzzles. The main draw of the game lies in Johan Scherft’s engaging, hand-drawn art style, which gives you, the player, a good insight into the daily lives of different people during your journey.
The Fair Grounds, from the art project De Koude Kermis, is a full VR experience at a traditional Dutch fair. From the merry-go-round to the claw where many children lost too much money, this experience transports you to a completely different world where time seems to have stopped. The creators opted for an interesting combination of a high-tech world with traditional culture, which is manifested in virtual reality.
Whirler’s 2D world is a reminder that a game doesn’t necessarily require a lot of complex mechanics. The world style resembles the world of Limbo. In this dark whole, you have to make your way through the manipulation of yourself and various objects. The entire game revolves around making objects grow or shrink to outwit the world and the monsters in it. The interaction with which you can interact with the world, the controls and the art style make the Whirler a pretty picture.
once upon a time there was a jester
Most of the Indie Showcase games had something eccentric about them, but once upon a time there was a jester takes the cake anyway. In the small town of ‘Dorptown’, the two main characters, Jester and Sok, try to take their theater career to the next level. It’s your job to figure out with Jester what kind of show your audience wants to watch, create beautiful promotional posters, and act like stars.
The structure of this game already provides a healthy dose of hilarity. What makes the game even better is the wonderful amount of dry humor in the actual dialogue. As you talk to the villagers to find out what kind of show they want to see, the dialogue never bores you. The performances are also brilliant. You get various options for dialogues that quickly make the screen chaotic and therefore fun. The drawing style, missions, conversations, and voice acting all work very well together to create an immersive whole.
Mail Time is a relaxing nature game with lots of positive vibes. In this charming game you deliver cards to forest animals that live in all corners of the world. Fortunately, this game isn’t just about being sent from one pillar to another: there are side quests and collectibles everywhere. All residents have their own challenges that you can help them with.
As you deliver letters and help the inhabitants of the forest, you have the opportunity to explore the wonderful world. You are even smaller than a mushroom, so there is more than enough to explore in the forest. Using smooth controls, you run, jump and float around the world to admire the beautiful surroundings. You have all the time and space for that, as there is no timer and you can’t turn yourself off.
Independent Summary II
After ten years of development, Pocket Quest is finally available! In the game, you must tactically use the cards at your disposal to build the ideal team of knights, wizards and monsters and outwit other players. The further you progress through the game, the more hectic the rounds become, so be tactical with the resources at your disposal.
Dance like nobody’s watching! Or no, not really exactly. In Secret Shuffle, everyone dances to the music in their ears, but not everyone dances to the same tune. The game includes a mode where you have to find the person who dances to the same tune as you, and a mode where some people don’t hear anything and have to fake their dance moves. This Jackbox-type party game can be played by up to sixty people, making it ideal as a party game.
He steals food in a sleepy Italian seaside town. And then also as a possum! Pizza Possum is the kind of game you start on a lazy summer day. This game requires almost no explanation: collect food and stay out of sight of the guards. You can hide in the bushes and if you have eaten enough, start the next day. Go for that high score!
we were here forever
We Were Here Forever is the fourth installment in the popular We Were Here series from developer Total Mayhem Games. In the game, they must work together to make their way through all sorts of visually stunning puzzles. The puzzles are quite a challenge, so luckily the controls and communication work very well. The gameplay is so rewarding that you want to keep going. After a hard puzzle, you deserve to successfully complete the mission!
The game is graphically impressive. For example, one of the puzzles is a large cosmic space in which decorated medieval pentagons must be joined. Working together, more and more pentagons are added, until finally you end up on the inside of a twenty-sided die. Cutscenes look seamless, too – it looks like the fourth part of the series has a lot in store for fans as well.
They were the beautiful games from the first Indie Showcase in Amsterdam! May many more follow. What games do you think are interesting to play? Tell us in the comments!