2013 IGF Finalists: Nuovo

Wondering what the most promising indie games might be? Have no fear. Each day this week we are covering a different category of IGF finalists and why they deserve to be played.

The Nuovo awards are for games which tend to push the boundaries of what it means to be a game, and these titles certainly don’t shy away from being odd. These are the strangest games I’ve played in a long time. They are certainly not fun in the traditional sense, but what they lack in established game design they more than make up for in changing the way you feel about games. Each one of definitely worth your time.

This list does not include Cart Life, Little Inferno, or dys4ia. You can go to the articles where those games are discussed by clicking on their names.

7 Grand Steps

In some way, all videogames are based on the design and function of board games. Sure, we’ve managed to set up real-time interactions like platforming and shooting guns, but at their core they are still board games where the rules can’t be changed by the player. 7 Grand Steps is a videogame that wants to be a board game, and in the process ends up excellent at being both. This is a game I wouldn’t mind owning and cracking open whenever friends come over, and it is also a good timesink for those playing on their computers.

7 Grand Steps follows the fortunes and missteps of a dynasty originating in ancient times. As parents grow old and master their crafts, they give birth to the next generation of people and life continues onward. Of course, nothing is quite that simple, and neither is 7 Grand Steps. Hungry crocs, poor fortunes, and awful events all serve to hold your family back from true greatness. The human spirit can’t be stopped by that, however, so your descendents push ever onward, learning how to sail and create pots and performing engineering feats in the name of continued life.

What makes 7 Grand Steps especially interesting is just how well it abstracts the course of a person’s life. You progress by spending tokens to move to a tile icon. Each of these tokens also doubles as a job, which depicts your couple as they work and work to provide for their family and pass their skills to the next generation. Random events pop up and give characters unique names and reactions, thus humanizing them beyond the little pieces moving around on a board. It’s unusually effective at telling distinct, human stories, and that’s wonderful. 7 Grand Steps is being prepared for a future release.

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