Looking for something fresh and innovative to play over the holidays? How about Minicraft, a self-referential game from Minecraft superstar Markus "Notch" Persson that plays a bit like if Zelda and Terraria were smashed together in 48 hours to become some sort of beautiful 8-bit hybrid. And that's exactly what happened during the 22nd Ludum Dare, which ends today at 6 pm PST.
Ludum Dare is a speed competition of game development that has been a hotbed of indie innovation for nearly a decade now. Participants have a mere 48 hours to create a game which reflects the theme of the present edition of the competition; these constraints encourage simple gameplay ideas and prototyping over feature complexity and extravagant production values. The 22nd iteration of the competition wraps up today with more than 750 entries, all freely available for download and/or browser play. For Ludum Dare 22, voters chose the theme "Alone." Loneliness has always been a core theme in video games, but even a brief survey of the submitted titles reveals some compelling and original ideas beyond simply presenting isolated protagonists. The brief adventure game Quiet, Please! features a heroine who just wants everyone to shut up and leave her in peace, while conceptual mash-up ROM CHECK FAIL WITHOUT A CAUSE deprives Pac-Man of the enemies who have always given his existence its purpose.
Traditional lonesome heroes abound, of course; be sure to check out Last Breath from deepnight, whose Appy 1000mg came out on top during Ludum Dare 20. Another gem of a game that has been receiving some attention since it was featured on the Indie Games Weblog is Jonathan Whiting's Craequ, a puzzle game featuring a rather clever relationship between its mechanics and its environments.
Past Ludum Dare competitions have yielded gems such as Escape (don't play that one if you'd like to get anything done today) and Flee Buster, but, with the entry phase of LD22 only now drawing to a close, it will be another 3 weeks before the participants have had a chance to judge one another, revealing the most worthwhile entries. In the meantime, go ahead and explore the list yourself; you've just received a lot of free games. Let us know in the comments if you've discovered a standout!