Four Minimalist Ludum Dare 26 Titles You Should Try

Indie Gems is an ongoing feature in which we highlight small groups of similar indie games, often united by a single theme, that are worth your time and attention. Think of this as your weekly Indie Game Playlist.

The latest 48-hour Ludum Dare game development competition — LD26 — finished recently, kicking more than 1,600 new games out into the world in a single weekend.

The latest competition’s theme was minimalism, with titles ranging from those polished to a mirror sheen, to a few unplayable messes. And unfortunately for prospective players of all these new indie titles, there are only screenshots and a badly-ordered list to guide them through chaos. With so many great games buried under mediocre and bad ones, we’ve sifted through and find four titles that you should definitely try immediately.

Geneva Convection
Developer: Tyler Glaiel

Created by Closure developer Tyler Glaiel, Geneva Convection is the most polished and entertaining of the LD26 games. You play the manager of a secret laser base that is holding cities ransom with its massive death ray. Unfortunately, valves across the base are breaking and disrupting power flow. You must maintain power at the appropriate levels (blue for little power, red for more power), build up the base infrastructure, and annihilate every city you can.

Things get tough as you work to balance power levels with overheating. Each valve control how much power goes to a room, and the more power a room has, the faster it overheats — and eventually explodes. If the facility overall blows, it’s game over. You can, of course, offset this with upgrades to the valves (preventing them from breaking so often) and the rooms themselves. Once you have committed a genocide of the entire human race with your fancy death ray, you’ve won!

Geneva Convection is one of those games that punishes you harshly for failure, but dusts you off and sets you back on your feet shortly afterward. While one mistake can cause your entire base to explode, getting back to where you were doesn’t take much time, and the thrill of discovering why each base room is important through repeated failure keeps things fresh.

Feint Signal
Developer: brxtr

If there is a game best described as “Super Hexagon’s little brother,” Feint Signal would be it. It’s very simple, but the strong execution and engaging visuals keep it fun.

Your goal is to survive as many “walls” as possible. You move your block up and down a series of concentric rings, and hitting a solid block causes you to lose. The game gradually gets faster and faster as you play, with survival becoming more a matter of luck than skill after a certain point. It’s a well-executed concept, and while it doesn’t quite have the polish of Super Hexagon (especially in music; the track gets a bit repetitive), it’s a good start for a future game and fun for casual play.

Developer: ZYXer

Milton combines resource management with maze navigation, and is my second-favorite of the LD26 games. It’s a very straightforward game, but holds a lot of potential.

You play Milton, who accidentally lost his way while moving through some underground caverns. The only thing he has to guide him back are a limited supply of torches. You must place torches in a maze and then use the light to find your way back to the exit. There is no penalty for Milton moving through the dark, but the inability to see is likely to get you lost. Each level is a continuation of the previous, so using too many torches on early levels can come back to hurt you later. It’s a short game, but the resource management aspect gives it decent replayability. It’s also very nice-looking; lighting effects are well-done, and the pixel art is minimalist without being ugly.

Developer: TheFuntastic

While Synesthesis doesn’t look like much, its combination of cellular automation, well-crafted puzzles and pleasing audio will keep you hooked.

Synesthesis is an abstract puzzle game in which you connect various nodes to each other in order to produce tones. The puzzles revolve around creating a regular “beat” that lasts a certain number of iterations as it travels through the connected nodes. It’s a simple concept, and with only three node types it never gets terribly complex, but the strong design keeps Synesthesis from becoming too boring. Many puzzles also have more than one solution, which is almost always the hallmark of an excellently-made puzzle game.

While Synesthesis has less universal appeal than other games on this list, mostly due to how ugly it is, it manages to meld “toy” and “puzzle” together in a surprisingly effective way.

Know of an indie game worthy of our attention, either from LD26 or elsewhere? Let us know in the comments!

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