indiegames

Here are five PC indie games of 2012 that serve as important counterpoints to the Halos and Mass Effects of the mainstream gaming world.

Hotline Miami:: This top-down 2D shooter by Dennaton Games is more a puzzle than an action game; you're a hit man who must organize each of his hundreds of kills with calculating precision. The bright neon levels and pumping synth soundtrack draw you in by making murder seem like forgettable fun, but the game soon forces you to notice this unfolding nightmare and its effect on the protagonist's psyche. | hotlinemiami.com | | READ: "Hotline Miami and America’s narrative of masculinity and violence"

They Bleed Pixels:: Spooky Squid Games' platformer about a young girl who dreams of growing a pair of claws for hands and slaughtering monsters has a deceptively simple combat system that will delight and frustrate you in turns. It's a refreshing change to see a young schoolgirl character in a heroic protagonist role, rather than as a damsel in distress. | theybleedpixels.com | | READ: "Heroines of horror games: Lollipop Chainsaw vs. They Bleed Pixels"

Thirty Flights of Loving:: This sequel to Blendo Games' Gravity Bone (2008) is a first-person shooter presented out of order, mostly in flashback, with dreamlike cutscenes interjected amidst the action. It's short, but each moment feels well placed. | blendogames.com/thirtyflightsofloving

dys4ia:: Anna Anthropy's stirring narrative of her experiences with undergoing hormone-replacement therapy, as well as with social exclusion and transphobia in her day-to-day life, is structured as a series of short mini-games during which the player will fail again and again, thus experiencing Anthropy's frustrations. | auntiepixelante.com

Howling Dogs:: This interactive fiction game by Porpentine describes the occupant of a futuristic cell-like apartment who owns a virtual reality console and little else. As the protagonist's life falls into a poverty-stricken shambles, the virtual world becomes the only place that feels real. | aliendovecote.com

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