SXSW Indie Impressions

Austin: it’s quite a mystical city in the U.S. as I found out during my stay there. From burger joints called “Your Mom’s” to dozens upon dozens of venues for music artists to perform at, it’s a city where a snooze-inducing day is hard to come by.

What makes Austin, Texas an even more enthralling city to be in is the annually-held South By Southwest (SXSW) event, a ginormous festival containing everything from music artists to film creators and much, much more. These events include the SXSW Gaming Expo, a three-day long event composed of all things gaming. It was truly a glorious event for gaming geeks of any degree, and the Indie Corner was no exception. This was an area, rather a literal corner, in the expo where an assortment of indie developers gathered from all over the world to show off their titles. I was lucky enough to get my hands on several different titles, some of which are already available for purchase now.

Note: The links on each of the names lead to the developer’s website, so be sure to support them!

Charlie Shoe

Charlie Shoe is first up on because it was the second time I had ever tried the Oculus Rift. Round two with the virtual reality headset was quite a blast because of how merged I became in the gaming world. It felt like I had been transported from the expo center to the world of Charlie Shoe. In short, if you have a chance to try out the Oculus Rift, take a hold of it and don’t let go. I can’t quite say the same about Charlie Shoe, however. Playing as a boy turned into a ball, I was bouncing my way through Red Ladder Games’ Tim-Burton-like environments, and, well, that was it. I gained a power that let me do a double jump while trying to figure out where exactly I was supposed to go. Without the Oculus Rift, Charlie Shoe is simply a “meh” title. Red Ladder said they were still working out the kinks of their buoyant title, but as it stands, it’s not one I would download when it releases.


I’m a sucker for puzzler titles. My latest addiction has been an assortment of Picross games, including an emulated version of Mario’s Picross for the original Game Boy. Seriously, it’s a disease. It doesn’t help that I stumbled upon Kami at the gaming expo, another puzzle title for Android and Apple devices. Created by State of Play of London, England, Kami is a simple, yet incredibly challenging game where the goal is to make all the paper-like tiles the same color. The catch, however, is to complete the puzzle within a certain number of moves to get either a “perfect” or “ok” sticker. All you have to do is tap on the paper to change the colors. The concept is simple, but it’s by far one of the more challenging puzzle titles I’ve played in recent memory. For $2 on Apple’s app store, $1 on the Android marketplace and free versions on both types of devices if you wish to try it, Kami is well-worth checking out. I myself have already played it quite a bit on my tablet.

Mushroom 11

I am stricken once again with a puzzle title, this time in the form of Mushroom 11. Coming to the PC, Vita and mobile and tablet devices in the later part of 2014, Mushroom 11 has players controlling an “amorphic organism” as it says on developer Untame Games’ website. Using exclusive touch controls, players have to guide this blob-like creature through post-apocalyptic world by slowly eradicating it with the swipe of a finger. However, with each finger swipe, the creature will continually grow back in one form or another. It sounds a bit weird if you don’t see it for yourself, but Mushroom 11 was quite the brain teaser at times, especially during my encounter with the first stage’s boss. Be sure to check it out if you get the chance.


Unfortunately, I had arrived at this booth at somewhat of an awkward time. For whatever reason, whoever was running the booth had to take a brief leave of absence, but in a way, I’m glad they weren’t there in this case because it meant I didn’t have anyone talking in my ear – not that people at the other booths talked too much anyway – which would’ve taken me out of the dark and twisted experience known as Disorder. From the brief bit I played, I was immersed in the darkness of Disorder’s story. You assume the role of an older brother with a dysfunctional home life. As you platform through the dreary levels in a puzzle-solving manner by switching between light and dark worlds, the boy’s story unfolds where he’s narrating the tales of his younger brother and how he is essentially an outcast. It was an incredibly dark story from the short demo I played of it, and I can’t wait to play it once it releases. Go and support Disorder on Steam Greenlight if you wish to see it on the platform. I know I do.


A pure multiplayer-only title, Nidhogg was a neat surprise at the SXSW Gaming Expo. The goal is simple: get your character all the way to the other side of the arena within five minutes. But there is a twist. Your human player opponent is not only trying to prevent you from reaching your objective, but they’re trying to get their own side as well. The only thing standing in their way is you, your fencing sword and a variety of maneuvers from rolling to sweep kicks. Featuring 8-bit visuals akin to those seen on the Atari 2600, Nidhogg is a good ole fashioned two-player fun. My friend who went with me to SXSW and I made it a point to play it at least once while we were at the expo during the three days it was running. It’s a perfect game to gather a bunch of friends together and play using the in-game tournament mode.


Now, this was the only title I had not tried at the expo itself. Fortunately for those who were unable to attend SXSW, or admittedly impatient to wait in the (understandably) long lines, the beta for Broforce – or the “brototype” – is online at developer Free Lives Games’ website. If Arnold Schwarzenneger and Sylvester Stallone performed the fusion dance from Dragon Ball Z, produced a thousand clones of their fused form, then injected each clone with steroids, there still wouldn’t be as much testosterone as there is packed into this 8-bit sidescroller ultra-violent Metal Slug-like indie title. Switching roles between the most recognizable action heroes of the ’80s and ’90s each with their own special abilities and firearms, you and up to three other friends will spend your time blasting through level after level fighting the terrorists for “‘Murica.” Nearly all parts of the game’s environments are destructible. This game is an absolute blast – pun intended – to play with friends. You’ll die a lot because it’s challenging like the 8-bit titles of yesteryear  – and often times because your buddy will kill you by accidentally shooting an accelerating propane tank – but it won’t matter because you and your friends will be laughing too hard to care. Part of what makes Broforce so much fun is being able to plug in three other controllers to your PC and play with your friends locally. It brings a real feeling of nostalgia to those who grew up during a time where there was no such thing as online multiplayer, particularly for those from the 8-bit era of gaming. There will be online functionality in addition to other mechanics in the final product, but the local multiplayer is such a joyful feature worth mentioning.

Have you had the chance to get your hands on any of these indie games? Let us know if you have in the comments section below and tell us what you think.