Game news 10 student video games that outperform the pros!
Published on 01/11/2022 at 08:30
Tomorrow’s developers have talent. No need to be a graduate to make great games. Between the prototypes that have given rise to acclaimed games and those that have the potential for real indie nuggets, here are 10 impressive student projects.
If you are curious to discover the projects of the developers of tomorrow, do not hesitate to take a look at itch.io. You can find many student games there for free (including some of those located below) or discover the prototypes made during the many student game jams.
It’s a very dark and somewhat special platformer that the students of DigiPen offered us in 2014. While platform games are used to offering us vast and free movements, this is not the case. of Chained. As its name suggests, the title offers you to embody a character chained to a ball, which therefore hinders his progress and his movements. Another platformer approach coupled with a serious subject dealing with addiction. A storyline that is both abstract and powerful, which won him a prize at the International Serious Play Awards. find it ici.
France is not outdone when it comes to student play. To salute the future generation of French developers, the Pegasus ceremony has also chosen, from its first edition, to reward the best student game of the year. And the very first title to have received this title is none other than Don’t Look, developed by CNAM Enjmin students. This is a horror game using a particular technology: eye tracking. Impossible to look away to avoid fears since it is he who allows you to control your flashlight and therefore move forward in the dark. An ingenious and original principle that fits perfectly well with the horror genre. find it ici.
We stay in France but this time on the side of the school of Valenciennes, Rubika. Appointed to the last Pegasi, Life takes us to a fantastic world where a very tragic catastrophe has taken place. A cataclysm has indeed forced an entire civilization to flee its native land. Aélis, an intrepid youngster of the clan capable of manipulating water, then decides to go in search of a legendary cathedral that could well save them all. Between the atmosphere and the controlled light effects, the rendering has something to impress, especially for a student project carried out by a dozen developers in the making.
It was only in 2017, three years after the first edition, that the Game Awards decided to honor the most successful student projects through a new category of awards (since abandoned). That year is Level Squared which is honoured, a real gem of ingenuity. If at first glance, the principle of the game and the artistic direction are quite elementary (just move a square over the levels), the projection system and the level design are devilishly well thought out and effective. And that was the case even before the game was over. Indeed, the Game Awards only rewarded a demo of the game that you can also find ici.
During the last edition of the Pégases, there was a student game that set the bar very, very high: Lysfangha. This hack ‘n’ slash presents us with a fantastic universe mixing temporal powers and monsters to slay. If we manage to overcome the slowdowns and technical defects of Lysfangha, the title is no longer a simple student project. Ambitious, rich and detailed, it has a certain potential to become a very good independent game. At least that’s what SFL Interactive, a French publisher of independent video games co-founded by Michael Sportouch (formerly Activision-Blizzard), thought. Lysfangha will therefore be the first ISART Digital project to benefit from this brand new partnership and to be offered a commercial release. In the meantime, you can find the title ici.
Narbacular Drop is a real textbook case. Because if you don’t know this student project released in 2005, you necessarily know the game that it later became: Portal. It was indeed students who developed this portal mechanism that made the timeless success of the Valve franchise. At the time, no robots or cake on the horizon, but a princess by the name of No-Knees. The latter can place portals as she pleases to advance in the hostile dungeon Wally. Visiting the DigiPen school, representatives of Valve then see the project. Seduced, they offer students to join the box to develop their game under a brand new engine and market it. Thus was born one of the most emblematic games of the 2000s. Find Narbacular Drop ici.
Risk of Rain
We continue with another game, certainly less known, but which also took its first steps as a student project: Risk of Rain. It all starts at the University of Washington where two young students, Duncan Drummond and Paul Morse, to create a game inspired by their favorite titles. Thus, Risk of Rain will be a hybrid title, mixing action, roguelike and platformer, all sprinkled with a small permanent death mechanic. The project begins to interest people and the students decide to create a studio to set it up. In 2013, the game was released. In 2014, it won the award for best student game at the Independent Games Festival. And in 2019, it will experience a particularly acclaimed sequel. A great story for this student project.
Video games as student projects are not new. Moreover, what some consider to be the very first video game was a student project. Of course, this project is not the result of studies in development, but in science. We are in the early 1960s. A brand new computer has just made its debut in MIT’s electrical engineering department, the DEC PDP-1 minicomputer. Students and employees of the American university therefore come together to find a project to highlight the capabilities of this PDP-1. Three of them then propose Spacewar!, a 2D multidirectional shoot’em up. Note that Tic-Tac-Toe and Mouse in the Maze were also created under these conditions.
We come back to our time with a student project that may not mean anything to you like that, but which nevertheless led to the development of one of the biggest independent nuggets of recent years: Spaceworthy. The year is 2012. Alex Beachum, a student at the University of Southern California, must produce a game prototype as part of his master’s thesis. He then opted for “a first-person space exploration game designed to create the feeling of hiking in space. If Spaceworthy does not look like much, Alex has an atypical concept that he will deepen to arrive at a popular independent game: Outer Wilds.
Finally, there is another French project. Direction ISART Digital, particularly fertile ground for future developers. In 2020, a small team of students from there unveiled a graduation project as poetic as it is pleasant to watch: Symphony. In the shoes of a violinist, you are invited to walk in the footsteps of ancient musicians and reawaken an ancient city. Everything takes place in a platformer which of course puts the music in the spotlight, whether in terms of the soundtrack or the gameplay. Between its mastered artistic direction, its magical atmosphere and its pleasant gameplay, it fully deserves its title of Best student game 2020. Find Symphonia ici.
For his artistic direction: the game of differences SymmetrainFor its concept: Perspective’s trompe l’oeilFor exhilarating gaming sensations: the racing game Nitronic RushFor its enchanted atmosphere: the nature of Douse