We are currently in the middle of an AAA game release storm. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate came out two weeks ago and in the week just gone; we have seen both Fallout 4 and Rise of the Tomb Raider. While these are highly enjoyable experiences, it is also good to take a step back and look at the smaller, independent releases. Today, I would like to share five of my favourites.

  1. The Curious Expedition

Curious expedition

There once was a time when the cool thing to do was to set out into the world and discover its secrets. In The Curious Expedition, you play as a one of a number of famous historical figures as you race to successfully complete six expeditions with the highest score at the end. You move your intrepid party around a procedurally generated map, encountering wild beasts, natural landmarks and native tribes. However, it is a risk vs reward game and you must keep an eye on your sanity meter, which is depleted through movement. Bad things begin to happen if you continue to travel on zero sanity. The graphics are wonderfully retro and the cast of playable characters is diverse.

  1. Renowned Explorers: International Society

Renowned Explorers

Fancy your exploration a little more Oregon Trail? In Renowned Explorers: International Society, you build a three person team from a choice of twenty characters are set off to become the world’s greatest explorer. You have five expeditions to do it in and each ‘level’ offers two new expeditions to choose from. You attack in turn based combat in three areas- physical, devious and friendly which give buffs and debuffs depending on your overall attitude vs. your opponent’s attitude. As with Oregon Trail, Organ Trail and Orion trail, you come up against adventure wheels which add flavour to your expeditions. The cast of characters is quirky and each character plays in a different way. The game is also genuinely challenging, meaning that you will have to sit back and think rather than rush in and attack.

  1. The Flame in the Flood

The Flame in the Flood

Survival games are meant to be challenging and in a similar vein to The Long DarkThe Flame in the Flood will challenge you. You play a young girl called Scout and have traverse a river on a rickety raft, stopping off at isolated islands to find supplies. Easy enough right? No. Because EVERYTHING WANTS YOU DEAD. Any injuries or ailments you receive must be received as you only have a limited amount of time before the thing worsens. Untreated cuts become infected; untreated gut pain becomes intestinal parasites. If you do not invest in this game, it will unforgivingly punish you. However, the fun lies in the challenge and the gorgeous artwork of this early access game. If you concentrate and conserve and plan, you will do just fine…probably.

  1. Guild of Dungeoneering

Guild

Ever played D&D and wanted to skip four campaigns so you were in charge of your own guild of exploration? Well that’s what Guild of Dungeoneering allows you to do. You start a rival guild to a successful existing group and proceed to work your way through dungeons with a group of walking archetypes. You build a deck on each level and use the cards to dispatch monsters, which you choose where to place as you build the dungeon card by card to suit your specific needs. The artwork is simplistic yet effective and the narrator is so sassy you will want to beat him with his damn harp…

  1. Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)

Never Alone_20141116230236

I love this game. I find the Native American/First Nation cultures absolutely fascinating. However, they are rarely depicted accurately in popular culture or even widely discussed or known about outside the United States. Never Alone follows the beautiful myth of a Native Alaskan girl who must find her way home after a great blizzard, along with the help of an artic fox spirit. The cut scenes take the form of animated illustrations as the story is slowly unfolded and progression through the game provides access to clips from a short documentary about Native Americans in Alaska. The game is absolutely stunning and can be played in local co-op as well. Furthermore, it is isn’t a simple walk in the park and provides a manageable yet achievement-providing challenge.

I would like to close with a brief statement completely unrelated to today’s topic. As many of you are aware, I am not one to keep my opinions to myself and have spoken about politics and world issues on this blog before. This is why it may surprise some of you that today’s blog is not about the tragedy in Paris that occurred on Friday night. The simple reason is that I have no words to describe how I feel. Sure, I could write hundreds, maybe thousands of words about the situation and my personal opinion but when it comes to a tragedy of this magnitude, I would prefer to keep my opinion to myself.

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