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8 Cool Games We Played at the Montreal Joue Festival for Independent Games

Opening day impressions of indie games, some in release, some -soon-to-come.

The 5th Edition of the Montreal Joue Festival is back, running from February 25th to March 12th. It kick things off with a twelve-hour Independent Games of Montreal where gamers, developers, competitions, and demos are the highlight. We were there.

Independent Games of Montreal started its event at noon on February 25th. Around thirty games were on site to present their titles in various states with playable demos, alphas, betas, prototypes, etc. The developers and studios are all based somewhere from the province of Quebec who were making a variety of game genres for PC to mobile and even Nintendo 3DS. While we weren’t able to try them all out, here is a look at the ones that we did play, followed by an honorable mention and some games that we’ve seen in previous festivals that we still have our eyes on.

Data Defense by 2Blocks

Data Defense is a minimalist tower defense set in cyberspace. The player has to defend a block unit located at the left side of the screen and the right side is where little glitches and bugs with a variety of threats are let out in waves. The tower starts off with an amount of points that will allow the player to construct an initial tower defense with various items that can deflect, attack or slow down. As the enemies are destroyed, the points gather up and more tower defense items can be added in to strengthen the structure. Data Defense is all about strategy, item management and quick thinking. Data Defense is currently available on Android and Apple.

The Grand Block Odyssey by Reality Studio

The Grand Block Odyssey is a 3D adventure puzzle game. The main character has crashed on a planet and needs to progress through the different areas to unlock the story further. However, the only way to get to another area is to deconstruct these puzzles that involve moving boxes onto their corresponding switches. As the game progresses, the boxes have different effects when you move them and needs to be carefully thought out. To reset the level, the player only needs to walk out of the area and come back in to give it a second try. The Grand Block Odyssey expects to launch on Steam later this year.

Abyss Crew by Aquarealms Games

Abyss Crew (previously called S.Crew:Under the Sea) is a strategy and teamwork game with a steampunk style. In this game, you and your friends take on different controls on a submarine as the Pilot, Radio or Gunner. Each of these roles need to work together to avoid dangers and protect the submarine. The Pilot navigates in the abyss, the Radio detects hidden threats and the Gunner shoots obstacles pointed out to them that could be detrimental to the survival of the submarine. While we’ve talked about this game in the Montreal Independent Games Festival 2016 recap last year, the game has reworked some features (added and removed) and at this show, it looks much more polished. Aquarealms Games told us that they are hoping to release at the end of 2017.

Bootleg Systems by Neonable

Set in a neon cyberpunk dystopian future, Bootleg Systems is a first person shooter and puzzle platformer. Perhaps one of the first titles we’ve seen in last year’s Montreal Comiccon at Creator’s Night, Neonable creates an experience where the player obtains a Clone Gun at the beginning of the game. With this gun, they can now scan any object that lights up and that most recent object scanned will be what shoots out whether it is a beam to help cross a gap or defeat an enemy. There is currently a demo available on Steam for Bootleg Systems.

Left-Right: The Mansion by Triple Boris

The most recently released title at the show is Left-Right: The Mansion developed by Triple Boris, a mobile game with a straightforward story, simple mechanics but also with a level of urgency. In this game, you play as a child who has lost their dog in a giant mansion. He starts facing two doors and choose to go left or right. Within one minute, the goal is to guide him successfully through the doors to find the dog. If a door has a scary monster behind it,  the level restarts. Left-Right: The Mansion is a trial-and-error memory game. When the player is sent back to the beginning, they need to remember which doors they went through to avoid hitting any enemies and continuing from where they failed previously. Left-Right: The Mansion was released on February 23rd on the App Store (aka iOS).

Infini by Barnaque

Infini, developed by Barnaque, is a free-falling puzzle game. We control a character that is falling downwards and navigate them through the map without hitting any walls or enemies. Other than controlling left or right and guiding them onto the rolling screens that have no limits, meaning if the character moves to the far left, it will reemerge on the right side of the screen and vice versa, the controls also allow the character to slow down or accelerate. The key is to use them wisely and position the falling character so that there is enough time to shift through the obstacles and reach the destination. We previously tried this game out at the Montreal Independent Games Festival. Since then, there has been a lot more backgrounds and textures from what we remembered before. The game visually looks much more appealing and the controls also run smoother than before.

RotoMagnet by Q8IS Mobile

RotoMagnet is an upcoming Nintendo 3DS game which mixes the mechanics of Puzzle Bubble and Tetris. A truck that moves by itself heads down streets and carries a giant circular magnet that you can rotate. As the enemies fly in, they carry colorful magnetic balls that will float towards your magnet quickly. The goal is to Match 4 to get rid of the magnetic balls by rotating the circular magnet. The levels will have bosses that will throw glowing balls that also need to Match 4 in order to do harm. This is essentially a prototype with further work to be done. It does fit the Nintendo platform in both its animation and concept. Hopefully we will be seeing more of it at future Montreal festivals.


Ultimate Chicken Horse

Released in March 2016 on Steam, Ultimate Chicken Horse developed by Clever Endeavor is a party platformer where you and your friends get to place traps at the beginning of the level to create traps to hopefully eliminate your friends but not yourselves in order to make it to the exit.

Booths preparing for opening at the Montreal Joue Festival, 2017

Games we’ve seen at previous festivals last year:

  • Aftergrinder by Grave Danger Games
  • Mages of Mystralia by Borealys Games
  • In the Shadows by Colorscape Studio
  • Holobunnies: Pause Café by q-bit Games
  • Children of Zodiarcs by Cardboard Utopia (listen to our podcast interview here)
  • Feudal Feud by Urubu Studios (listen to our podcast interview here)

Montreal Joue’s Independent Games of Montreal showed off a lot of game developers and studios and their games in development. A few are already released however, it does show a lot of games with potential and promise. We will be tracking them and hoping to see them in future festivals with more progress.

Montreal Joue Festival is only starting. If you are in the Montreal area, be sure to check out the rest of the schedule here.