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Indie Games of 2011

Frozen Synapse

Developer: Mode 7
Platforms: PC Exclusive
Release Date: TBA 2011

Frozen Synapse’s beta alone was one of the highlights of last year. Mode 7 took a very simple premise – simultaneous turn-based combat – and funnelled so much depth and attention to detail into it that we couldn’t stop singing Frozen Synapse’s praises for a full month.

Alas, most of our raving was met with mystified looks and grumbled confusion – ‘ simultaneous turn-based combat? What does that mean?’. Decode the jargon, though, and Frozen Synapse is incredibly easy to understand. Two players face off against each other in randomly generated maps and set about planning how to move squad members, telling each man where to duck for cover, where to aim and when to wait. Then, when both players have finalised their plans and pressed PRIME, a few seconds' worth of the plan plays out before everyone is kicked back to the drawing board to plan the next few seconds.


Frozen Synapse

What invariably happens at first is that confident players end up rushing in the wrong direction or foolishly storming secured buildings. However, it isn’t long though before Frozen Synapse becomes an incredibly tense and engrossing experience, with players spending hours trying to get each move pixel-perfect. That’s why it’s good to have multiple games on the go at once, flicking between them as you wait for your opponents.

Mode 7 has been hard at work on Frozen Synapse since we last looked at the beta. New game modes have been added, such as hostage rescue, and the singleplayer campaign is shaping up nicely too. There’s still no official release date announced for Frozen Synapse, but it can’t hit shelves soon enough in our opinion.

Rock of Ages

Developer: ACE Team
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Release Date: TBA 2011

ACE Team’s last game, the Source-powered brawler Zeno Clash, may have suffered from repetitive gameplay in the later stages, but there’s no denying that it was one of the most artistically astounding games of 2009. That alone has put Rock of Ages high on our Most Wanted list.

ACE Team hasn’t disappointed either, having recently unveiled that its next game will be part ball-platformer and part tower defense game, inspired equally by historic paintings and Monty Python. It’s an unusual and quite possibly brilliant combination, if you ask us.


Rock of Ages

Two players square off against each other, each determined to squash the other's castle but limited by the wonderfully contrived geography that sits between them. Player One moves first, laying insane defences down across the board – buildings, blockades and enemies designed to fend off opposing forces and keep them away from the castle gates. Player Two, however, has a secret weapon – a giant rolling boulder that can smash its way through. The only problem is that the other player has it too, with each taking it in turns to build defences and play with their balls. Um.

It’s an inventive and interesting setup, but what really makes Rock of Ages stand out is the artwork that ties the action together. Each battlefield is taken from a different artistic period, such as the Renaissance, before being given a wickedly humorous edge. In short, Rock of Ages will be the only game where you’ll be able to flatten famous Greek statues that scratch their noses when they think nobody is looking.