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I fired up the PlayStaiton Vita last night to jump into Lone Survivor for the first time. I had gone through “the ritual” before the game ever bothered to ask me to do so, shutting myself away in a dark room with the door shut and my headphones on. This romp into the unknown is the most recent indie game I’ve had the pleasure of playing on Sony’s handheld console, and all signs point to even more “small’ games heading its way in the coming year. And I, for one, couldn’t be happier.
The Vita has led a short and somewhat troubled life so far. The technology packed into the thing is pretty staggering but, being an unproven platform, developers were wary of making games for the thing through its first year on the market. Heck, I’d say they’re still extremely skittish, so long as we’re talking about those studios typically known for pushing out one AAA game after the other.
I don’t know who it was who decided that the Vita’s salvation resided in indie games, but I feel like that person probably deserves one heck of a Christmas bonus.
Up until this point, many of the indie games that are now available on the Vita were only ever published on the PC. As someone who spends the vast majority of their professional life pecking away on a keyboard, face hovering in front of a monitor all day, this was a less than ideal platform for yours truly. I have a pretty embarrassing number of games sitting on my Steam account, for instance, the vast majority of which I know will never get played. As much as I want to get into those games, the simple fact of the matter is that the last thing I want to do after sitting in front of a computer all day for work is sit in front of a computer a few more hours for play. It’s a silly mental block, I know, but there you have it.
In the past several months, I’ve finally been able to enjoy games like Hotline Miami, Stealth Inc, Spelunky and, as of last night, Lone Survivor. This is, of course, partially due to Sony’s newly established stance as a lover of all things indie. I can play most of these games on my home console now, too, but there’s just something about the Vita that lends itself so well to smaller games offering more bite-sized doses of entertainment.
I found last night that that goes double for a game like Lone Survivor. I love me some survival horror, but those creepy atmospheres and spine-tingling soundtracks are made even better when you’re up close and personal with the handheld console, the sound pumping through your earbuds and making sure you’re totally engrossed once that faceless monstrosity comes crawling out of the corner.
And the best part is that it looks like the Vita’s love affair with indies is only just beginning, possibly evolving into an honest-to-goodness relationship as games like Rogue Legacy, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth and Fez (just to name a few) have been announced for the console.
Sure, I’d like to see more big-budget games like Killzone Mercenary and Uncharted: Golden Abyss make their way to the console but, as far as I’m concerned, the Vita has found its niche as an indie platform of choice, and that’s a niche I’d be happy to keep playing in for years to come.