Indie and Experimental Games Round-up

Written by Joe Martin

March 28, 2008 // 8:19 a.m.

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

Companies: #games #indie

Experimental Art Games

Now, it’s time to tackle a thorny issue – can games be used as a legitimate artform?

Obviously, it kind of depends on the game and I although each stage of game creation is obviously art on an individual level, I don’t think anyone is reasonably going to argue that Battlefield 2 belongs in the Tate.

That said, there are a few games out there being woven and designed for artistic or experimental purposes. Some of them are deadly serious indictments of modern governments, while others are nought above an attempt to elict a basic human reaction.

Either way, our final focus for this round-up isn’t on games that just try to be entertaining or profitable, but want to be something more meaningful. Take them as you will.

The Graveyard

Cost: $5 for the full version.
Trial version

Indie and Experimental Games Round-up The Best Experimental Games

The Graveyard is one of the most unusual non-games we’ve ever played – and we’ve played some strange games.

The premise is simple. You are an old lady in a graveyard – a rather striking and beautifully rendered graveyard at that. You have two choices. You can sit down on the bench and think, or you can leave. Either way though, you have to make your way there at a painfully slow (and realistically captured) old-lady pace.

It sounds stupid and when you first see it you’ll probably want to turn it off straight away, but if you give it a chance there’s something strangely compelling about the game and sitting on the bench can be a strangely moving and melancholic experience if you open yourself up to it. The whole game plays like a serious and macabre version of Pick Up The Phone Booth and Die! – which you can play here.

One of the things worth mentioning about The Graveyard though is that there is trial and full version of it, with the full version getting unlocked for a $5 donation. The full version unlocks only one feature though; in it, at any moment the old lady may keel over and die. Maybe that’s the point The Graveyard is trying to drive home; would you pay $5 to watch an old lady die?

Seven Minutes

Cost: Totally free!
Play it now!

Indie and Experimental Games Round-up The Best Experimental Games

I’ve been saving this one for last because it’s actually my favourite of all the games here. I love it to bits and it's very, very hard for me to figure out why. I'll do my best to explain though.

Seven Minutes is what I think is best described as an anti-game because, though it’s actually a fundamental and fluid platformer, it deliberately pushes against all conventional trends of game design. The player is cast as a black cube who, thrown into an empty room, is told not to touch the glowing ball in the middle.

But, naturally you do touch it of course. Then Seven Minutes spends the next seven minutes (huh, go figure) making you regret it as you are teased, provoked and goaded by an odd floating head with three eyes who tells you the world will end in seven minutes.

Everything gets turned upside down in Seven Minutes, but in more of a metaphysical way than the literal twisting of Shift 2. You have unlimited lives, but are told you’re about to die. You reach a dead end, but know that it’s the only way forwards. You’re teased for your persistence, but don’t want to give up – it’s compelling, confusing and brilliant.

Seven Minutes is very much a love-it or hate-it type of game and the developer has obviously pruned and shaped it to perfection – the game will push and pull you in every direction. To me, that’s what makes Seven Minutes so brilliant though and so fantastically shareable.
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