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5 indie PC games that ripple with retro intrigue

Carlos Rodela | Sept. 17, 2012
Times are tough. We're all looking to stretch our budgets, so the thought of paying $20 or more for a PC game from a commercial development studio is, well, a tough download to swallow. But in your effort to save money, you need not sacrifice winning gameplay. Independent gaming studios are releasing awesome titles--many with an addictive retro vibe--and their prices range from free to next-to-nothing. Here are five you must check out today.

You Have To Win The Game

You Have To Win The Game (YHTWTG) by developer Pirate Hearts delivers a classic 1980s PC aesthetic. This game is pretty self-explanatory, but it's not that easy.

The game is a retro-platformer that has you running, jumping, and exploring a CGA-inspired world of caves. The way this game is presented, with a look reminiscent of one displayed on a curved CRT monitor, is sort of brilliant. It feels like an old game. An old game that you can't stop playing.

What I liked most about YHTWTG is the simplicity of the gameplay--there's no need to remember eight different button commands and combos. I remember saying to myself "just one more board" because of its simple and addictive style. The completion percentage display at the bottom right of the screen is also a very clever carrot on the stick. You feel inadequate if you can't get to at least 30 percent of completion, or maybe just 40 percent.

See the pattern?

Each room, or screen, is called something different, with some based on movie quotes and other modern references. Additionally, the game doesn't murder you with lousy checkpoints. All the save points seem to make sense, and, with an 'old school' game like this, that's very important. Difficult games can be fun, but difficult games without save points can be maddening.

Intrusion 2

Intrusion 2 by Aleksey Abramenko (yes, just one man) is a side-scrolling shooter that brings an added element of a physics engine to the genre. Obvious comparisons to games like the Metal Slug series and Bionic Commando are challenged by the different way each firefight plays out. With added physics and blow-apart rag-doll action, each battle feels different and unique.

For instance, while playing this game, I shot a tree stump so that it fell into some boulders and pushed a robot that was attacking me off a ledge, where it got trapped amidst the rubble until I blasted it to kingdom come.

It takes a little time to get used to moving with the classic (configurable) W-A-S-D keys and using the mouse to shoot but, once you get the hang of it, the accuracy of how you're shooting the combo is a cool addition to the genre.

What's the story? You are a very awesome Russian guy infiltrating a base that has a ton of robots who want to stop you from doing just that. Oh, and you can ride a wolf! 'Nuff said.


Resonance is a 1990s-esque adventure game that features four characters with intertwined stories. The story revolves around the death of a particle physicist and his highly sought-after technology. The very captivating intro to this game and the mere fact that it involves a particle physicist was enough for me to jump on board.


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