Upcoming indie games provide new, unique ways to play

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Throw Trucks With Your Mind
True to its title, “Throw Trucks With Your Mind” allows you to throw trucks in-game with your mind. Using NeuroSky’s MindWave EEG headset, which is noninvasive and does not require applying gel or other substances, the game translates your brain waves into inputs to the game. “Throw Trucks With Your Mind” uses two metrics to measure your brainpower: focus and calm. The more focus or calm your mind produces, the stronger your abilities — such as throwing crates or picking up cars — become. The demo was multiplayer-focused and utilized Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3. Considering the fact that you can kill other people with your mind, it’s one of the coolest tech demos available for less than $100. The MindWave EEG headset will include “Throw Trucks With Your Mind” as a pack-in game.

Full Bore
“Full Bore” is an exploratory puzzle-adventure game that’s as adorable as it is enormous. You play as a boar who discovers an underground complex and a possibly sinister company that is staffed by various other animals and runs a colossal digging operation. Movement is grid-based — meaning traversal through the world requires more puzzle skills than platforming skills. From the start, everything is explorable, and every part of the map is accessible. Instead of gaining abilities as you play through the game, you learn more about how the world and different tiles and matter work. As a result, every place you think you can’t access leads to a moment of revelation and exhilaration. Paired with a sharp pixelated aesthetic, cute character animations and a fantastic blues-chiptune soundtrack, expect to be charmed when “Full Bore” comes out later this summer.

The Novelist
“The Novelist” has you playing as a ghost trying to fix the lives of a struggling writer, his artist wife and their son. As a ghost, you have to remain hidden from them as you explore their house and try to find out more about their lives. Stealth, however, is not a main mechanic. Instead, there is a larger emphasis on ambient storytelling and world-building. Each family member has his or her own insecurities and failures, and your role is to understand specific problems and solve individual issues. However, at the end of every chapter, you are limited to helping only one of the three family members, creating a dilemma about who you think it is most important to help. Still in its early stages, there is plenty that might change between now and the game’s final release, but “The Novelist” has plenty of promise for hope and heartbreak.

7 Grand Steps
“7 Grand Steps” is a game about family, culture, lineage and legacy played in a board game-like structure. Each session, estimated to be around 10 to 15 hours long, takes place on a single screen as you guide your family through the board game to create your lineage and legacy. While each individual game-play mechanic seems simple, there’s a complex and addictive tone in the game similar to aspects of “Sid Meier’s Civilization,” where the urge to play one more turn will quickly overcome any urge to satisfy necessary bodily needs, such as sleeping or eating. “7 Grand Steps” is coming out next month and is priced at $15.

Cave shooters, akin to the arcade classic “Asteroids,” are a dying breed, but “Retrobooster” remains faithful to the genre while adding some modern updates. The game has you flying through isometric 2-D levels with the same basic abilities seen in cave shooters: You can shoot, activate shields, thrust forward and backward as well as rotate your ship. “Retrobooster” has a steep learning curve; new players will most likely end up constantly crashing into walls. But for those looking for hectic fun, “Retrobooster” will also sport a four-player split-screen mode, which is perfect for more casual players.

The Swapper
Though “The Swapper” boasts playful mechanics at the surface, it seems to be much more sinister at its core. You play a stranded astronaut who wields a device that can place clones of himself anywhere in his line of sight, and you can swap control between each of the clones. You always control a “main” version of yourself, but your movement is mirrored by your clones. While in the demo, this gameplay mechanic was used to solve basic puzzles and traverse the environment, the thought of constantly cloning oneself without thinking of the consequences is unnerving. All of the art in the game was constructed using clay models and environments, and as a result, the visual aesthetic fits the playful yet distressing tone. Set to release this week for PC, “The Swapper” seems to be more than just a set of interesting mechanics, and it should be worth trying out.

For “Gorogoa,” what you see is what you control. The screen is cut into four pieces to create four or fewer distinct environments or scenes. These scenes can then interact with each other to create different scenes or solve puzzles. For example, one puzzle might require you to remove a door “layer” and add it to another panel so that a character can use that door to enter an abstract new environment. Made entirely by one person, “Gorogoa” is impressive both visually — everything is hand-illustrated — and as a feat of programming. A demo is available online, but expect the full experience later this year.

Contact Art Siriwatt at [email protected]. Check him out on twitter at @artsiriwatt.