It wasn’t so long ago that the names of people who designed games weren’t marketed, weren’t important, were unkown.  Aside from a few exceptions there was little authorial control in the world of video games.  Fans recognized characters and franchises more than the people who were working on them.  That’s changed in the last few years, and I think the indie game scene has had something to do with it.

With the rise of developers like Team Meat, Jonathan Blow, Tim Schafer, Hideo Kojima, and MIke Bithell we are starting to more commonly attach people to their work – charting the efforts of creators rather than franchises.  Going a step further, we definitely associate developers with projects more than ever before.  We care about SOMA because we know the name Frictional Games, when The Chinese Room releases a new title we compare it to their history of design.  When we see a game like Cuphead we want to know about the people making it.

This week’s Simply Steam features three games from individuals and developers who have an established history of work fans will recognize.  We may still see the name on the box first, but we care about the names in the credits more than ever before.  On Steam, the developer’s name is right on the game’s home page, a authorial stamp to let people know who did the work.  From the household names making blockbuster titles like Hideo Kojima to someone you’ve never heard of making a small ten-minute game for free, their name can still be found in the same place.  

 

Shadowrun: Hong Kong

In Their Own Words:

Shadowrun: Hong Kong is the third standalone game in Harebrained Schemes’ critically-acclaimed Shadowrun cRPG series. Experience the most impressive Shadowrun yet with an all new crew, expanded magic and cyberware, a revamped Matrix, an upgraded Shadowrun Editor, and much more!

 

In Our Words:

When Hairbrained Schemes released Shadowrun Returns, the product of a $1.8 million Kickstarter success story, it was greeted unenthusiastically.  The game lacked the relationships, the compelling story, and a few of the tools (like manual saves) one would expect from a cRPG set in one of the most popular pen-and-paper universes.  While the reaction to Returns was lukewarm, Hairbrained really took fans and critics alike by surprise with their expansion-turned-stand-alone entry , Shadowrun: Dragonfall.

Dragonfall boasted compelling writing, dingy mercenary work, and a more confident tone.  While Returns was the game Kickstarter fans had received, Dragonfall was the game they deserved.  The commercial and critical success of Dragonfall helped put Hairbrained Schemes on the map as a rising developer and gave them the fan-cred to run another Kickstarter for a third stand-alone expansion: Shadowrun: Hong Kong.

What’s perhaps the most impressive about Hong Kong is how it is delivering on its promised August 2015 delivery date.  We often see Kickstarted projects delay themselves or release in a weak backers-only fashion, but here we are with time to spare and Hong Kong is ready for you to purchase.  Hopefully, the visual flair of shifting the series to the far east makes the outing the strongest Shadowrun outing yet for Hairbrained.

 

Volume

In Their Own Words:

Narrative stealth action from award-winning game designer Mike Bithell. Enter the Volume to halt the corruption of Gisborne Industries and train the masses to rob from the rich in this reimagining of the Robin Hood legend.

 

In Our Words:

We’re in a fascinating time where many of the breakout indie success stories from the last decade are finally having to prove their chops with a sophomore effort.  What is equally interesting is how much of a departure Volume is from Mike Bithell’s first outing Thomas Was Alone.  While Thomas was a cute, 2D, narratively engaging platformers, Volume is a 3D stealth game telling a cyberpunk version of the Robin Hood legend.  

Be sure to check out Dakota Corley’s review, where he call Volume, “a simple yet thought-provoking stealth game with a fantastic story and the possibility for a large amount of user-made content.

 

Fingered

In Their Own Words:

FINGERED is a “whodunit” hyperrealisic police sim where you must finger the guilty and clean up this darn city using the descriptions of the local busy bodies. but everyone’s perspective is different: one man’s fat is another man’s sexy!

 

In Our Words:

If nothing else, we own Fingered a debt of gratitude for getting Edmund McMillen back into designing games.  One half of Team Meat, and also the man behind the bizarrely beloved Binding of Isaac, whenever McMillen’s name is attached to something you gotta take a closer look.  

Fingered looks like it will be right at home in McMillen’s library: mechanically interesting, visually off-putting, and totally weird.

 

The Static Speaks My Name

In Their Own Words:

A dark/sad/weird/funny first person exploration game. You play a man on his last night alive as he obsesses over a mysterious painting. More of a story game in that it emphasizes mood and character over gameplay.

 

In Our Words:

First of all, take a moment to appreciate a title as good as The Static Speaks My Name.  In a world where we have to deal with titles as bland as Battleborne, Battlefront, and Battlefield, it’s nice to see a title as bad ass as “The Static Speak My Name” grace the Steam Store.  

The game is a mix of tones that a blended together in a delightfully melancholy cokctail.  It deals with the fatalism of following a character through their last living moments, and attempts to tackle the concepts of obsession and depression in an absurdist ten minute tale.  

Oh yeah, and it’s free.  

About The Author

The Glorious Predecessor

As I write this, I am listening to Striking Matches and eating a blueberry muffin. The music is good, the muffin is even better. I dance when I drink and have been known to occasionally free-style rap, none of which benefits society.

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