Today’s “For Your Consideration” is a little different than most. The original intent of this column was to focus solely on non-film media that should, due to some intrinsic cinematic qualities or ties, be of interest to film fans. I’m not going to lie, though. Today’s selection, as a whole, isn’t necessarily cinematic. It is, however, something you should take advantage of. It’s called the Humble Indie Bundle #3 and not only is it awesome, but it’s for a good cause.
Every couple months, a company called Wolfire Games rounds up a handful of independent games developers, bundles their titles into one neat little package and then puts them up for sale via a pay-what-you-want platform. That’s right—if you’re cheap, you can pay nothing for Humble Indie Bundle #3 and still have permanent, DRM-free access to a half dozen quality indie games. If you decide to not be cheap, however, then you can choose how your payment for the Bundle will actually be dispersed.
The money can go to the game developers, it can go to Penny Arcade’s life-changing charity, Child’s Play (which buys video game consoles and games and donates them to the children’s wards of hospitals around the world), or it can go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (a legal group that exists to fight for our legal freedoms in this digital age). Or it can be split evenly between all three places. The point is, you can spend as little or as much as you like in exchange for games and a little bit of fine charity.
So far, the Humble Indie Bundle #3 has generated over $1.3 million in sales/donations. That’s a pretty damned amazing accomplishment considering this is something you can literally take for free if you want.
But in addition to alerting you to a good cause, there are two very cinematic titles up for grabs. They’re not actually from Humble Indie Bundle #3, however; they’re from #2, but as long as you pay more than the average donation—which is about $5 as of this writing—you get all five games from last year’s bundle, and that’s where today’s dueling FYC selections come into play.
The Titles: Braid and Machinarium
Who Made Them: Braid, developed by Jonathan Blow, and Machinarium developed by Amanita Design.
What They’re About: Braid is a love story told in reverse via tremendously addicting (and often times maddeningly) challenging platform play. Think of it like Super Mario Bros, except whenever you’re about to jump into a hole or run into a goomba, you can rewind time and start over before you made that mistake. You’ll also have to use this time-travelling dynamic to solve puzzles all while uncovering the real story behind the princess he’s trying to rescue.
Machinarium is a point-and-click adventure game where you play an adorable little robot who has to defeat a trio of bad guys who want to blow up a tower in the titular city.
Why You Should Check Them Out: Not only are both of these games fun and delightful, but they contain some of the most impressive art and story work you’ll find in the world of video games. It’s games like Braid and Machinarium that people turn to when they want to defend video games as art. And it’s not just that they look great, it’s that they’re both emotionally moving stories that revolve around love and loss and trying to make things right in the world. They subvert established video game conventions by flagrantly manipulating what we’ve come to expect from platformers or point-and-click games. They’re not made by game studios with hundreds of employees, they’re made by individuals who are making games not because it’s a good business to get into, but because they like the challenge of reverse engineering our expectations. Both of them are exciting, beautiful games that you can play through more than once and still have a good time with.
That’s a pretty good return on a $5 donation to charity, right?