09 IGF Winner in the Audience Choice and Technical Excellence Categories
This is retro. It's a sidescrolling combat game with graphics that look out of the early 90s, a very classic look in turn-based strategy (which this is not), with little soldiers gunning at each other in what at first glance looks a bit like a cannon game, but isn't.
This is novel. Everything is destructible, the control system is original, you can switch bodies instantly while setting other bodies to routine tasks (like patrol or defend), and the physics feels real.
This is frustrating. It's a WASD interface, but "W" really means "fly with my jetpack," not "up", so most of the time you're tapping W while using A or D to fly -- and aiming and facing with the mouse. It's an interface that takes some getting used to, and I suck at this kind of thing anyway, but if you spend the time to get good at it, it's quite flexible.
This is deep. A huge variety of weapon systems and tools are available, which can be used in a wide variety of ways which, coupled with the ability to shift bodies quickly, creates a large number of potential tactical approaches to the game. It's "Cortex" Command because somewhere you have a bunker containing your naked brain (which you use to control one body at a time), and the ultimate objective is to find the opposing player(s) bunkers and destroy their brains; it provides a bunker-construction system which is flexible and large, and similarly offers a wide range of potential strategies. You can see that you could play this game for years, and still discover new strategies, and be surprised by the strategies of others.
This is a work in progress, as the developer warns you -- seven years in progress, apparently, and still on-going. And it shows; AI pathfinding sometimes causes opponents to pile up at obstacles, and in general, computer opponents aren't too smart, but on the other hand, they don't have any problems manipulating the awkward interface, so I guess it balances out.
The campaign game is well conceived (though not many levels are yet extant), and skirmish against AIs is fun, but it looks to me as if the multiplayer skirmish game could be brilliant -- deathmatch with far more strategic options than the limited verb-set of FPS titles allow. However, there are some problems here: multiplayer is at a single machine (no net version planned, apparently), with the screen split ala multiplay on a console -- and since there's no support for multiple mice, you pretty much need to have multiple gamepads connected to your PC, which for sure I don't have.
This is what indie games ought to be -- quirky, a little retro, highly imaginative, original, and pressing the envelope of what games do.