And now for something completely different. Regular followers of my weekly XBLIG roundups will be aware that I'm a militant promoter of Indie Games, and this hasn't changed just because I happen to be surrounded with flashy booths and titanic publishers here at Gamescom. The Indie scene is one of the last true bastions of creativity left in the gaming industry after years of reprocessed sequels- and it doesn't get any more independent than Gotland University. It's a Swedish game design school that holds an annual student competition, and as such, they're free to explore new concepts and art styles without constraints from publishers and the sequel culture. The competition winners have the opportunity to show off their wares at Gamescom as well as various cash prizes... and frankly, they've crafted some immensely promising experiences. Pay close attention, because these three unsung games are quite unlike anything else you'll see in the show.
Developer: Northern Gate
The Indie scene isn't short of a few hand drawn sidescrollers, but Pawns is a thing of genuine beauty. The art style and meticulously crafted graphics are both colourful and incredibly detailed- and I'm not exaggerating when I say that it gives Braid a run for it's money. A huge amount of blood, sweat and tears has clearly gone into Pawns' presentation... and every drop of it is clearly visible.
Gameplay-wise, you control one of two champions sent out by mother nature to punish mankind for their destruction of the planet. Each of the characters can draw on two of the four seasons; with the Stone guardian capable of summoning wintery blasts and life-restoring trees whilst his companion wields raging sunbeams and autumn wind. The brawling action is fast and furious, requiring fast fingers and two-player cooperation to succeed.