9:13 pm

XBOX Live Indie Games: the Saga Begins

The time of transitions has come. The consoles that have sustained my gaming desires for the last near-decade are slowly passing into the wild blue yonder as the spotlight fixes itself on their replacements. The Playstation 4, for all intents and purposes looking like something out of 2001: a Space Odyssey. The XBOX One, complete with needlessly confusing name and Betamax-retro casing. Kinect 2 cries quietly in the corner, buried under the ocean of fucks that no one gives. The Wii U, following closely in the footsteps of its predecessor by failing to come within 6 nautical miles of the hardware specs it should have. Also as before, it's the only place you can play Mario, so suck it up shitlord.

And so, as these brave new heroes take their first real step into the hearts and minds of consumers, graphics slipping out of their shirts and framerate issues falling out of their panties, I'd like to take a look at something very special to me that may not be around forever. I'm talking about indie games. No, not the ever-expanding genre of creative, enjoyable games that break new boundaries in design and aesthetics. I'm talking about XBOX Live Indie games, where you can buy at least five apps that make your controller vibrate for a dollar each. Where sharks will hunt your potato-faced, bikini-wearing ass without a shred of mercy. Where terror lives in watermelon-sized cleavage. Where slideshows are passed off as games. Where misshapen dolls float through the textureless ether as you take a deep, deep look at what you're doing with your life. Or maybe that's just me.

You know what the greatest thing about XBL Indie Games is? It's completely unmoderated. Oh, sure, the games are given "scores" on violence, mature content and sex (some overlap there, guys), 3 being "muchos gracias for the titty-flavoured nightmares" and 0 being "let the kids play it, but only if you hate them." But in terms of making sure the games are fit for your consumption? Absolutely fucking nothing. XBLIG will let you pay a dollar for a game that only "works" in the sense that it doesn't force your XBOX to spontaneously combust upon startup if you're stupid enough to do it. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, motherfuckers, and Microsoft don't have no time for your crybaby shit. This is capitalism, baby. You're gonna have to live with your purchase of Bikini Butts 2: Supreme Climaxxx Edition. You can delete it from your hard drive, but you can't delete the shame in your soul.

XBLIG's greatest strength is its greatest weakness, and vice-versa. Since the barrier of entry is so mind-numbingly low, that means you get miles and miles of exploitative, glitchy, borderline-unplayable garbage, as far as the eye can see. That is how unholy things like THIS can come to exist:

You thought I was kidding about the terror, didn't you.

Wait, no, please don't close the tab yet. Finish cleaning up your projectile vomit, and I promise there's a good part.


We good? No stains? Alright. As I was saying, the comparative ease of publishing via XBLIG is a double-edged sword. Here comes the good edge. For every 500 developers who try hard and fail harder, for every 500 that probably own more onaholes than you do paperclips, for every 500 who are maybe, probably, no, definitely serial killers, for every 1000 who just couldn't give one half of a lonely sad shit, there is one (ONE) developer who used their near-absolute freedom of expression to make something worth your time and money. I want to help you find those few worthy games. I want to help you laugh at the kind of game a compulsive masturbator with a basic grounding in coding and a doctorate in not giving a fuck creates, without having to play it yourself and risk infection. I want to show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

This, my friends, is a guide. A treasure map, as it were. Together we will brave stormy seas, calm waters, dangerously pixelated jungles, and the twisted landscape of the human mind itself to find the legendary El Dorado of XBOX indie games. I can't promise that you'll keep your sanity. I can't promise that you'll keep your faith in humanity. What I can promise are two things: One, you'll never be able to call videogames "art" again without bursting into sad, bitter laughter. Two, and I swear with all my shriveled, blackened heart: it's worth it. Probably.