Lost in the rapid overturn of the XBox Live Indie scene was a beautiful, polished titled called Sequence. It had everything a self-proclaimed "hardcore" gamer should really care about: innovative gameplay, professional production values and quirky sense of humor that distinguished it from mainstream titles. It wasn't an "app," disposable and universally accessible. It wasn't "new IP," relentlessly focus-grouped and designed to recoup an 11-figure budget. It was a video game; the kind of game I grew up on. It's a title that deserves our notice today.
On its surface, Sequence is your standard mash-up. It takes elements of JRPGs (level grinding, item collecting, an indulgent storyline) and blends them with rhythm-game conventions (falling streams of arrows, frentic techno beats, 100-note combos). The collision of these rather stale genres, however, makes for unexpectedly immersive experience. I'll spare you the gameplay details, but suffice it to say that the game involves juggling three separate note streams and should challenge even experienced DDR-nuts. The music is top-notch and never gets old despite numerous listens. Between struggling through song-battles for items (with names like Cape Cod Cod Cape), the player is treated to a captivating and poignant narrative. The protagonist, Ky, is thrust into a futuristic tower and forced to do battle with a hilarious rogue's gallery. These enemies provide much of the game's charm. They're gorgeously drawn 2D sprites in similarly beautiful backgrounds and voiced by pros who would feel more at home at EA than Indie. Ky progresses through the tower, meets a snarky love interest and eventually discovers the tower's secrets in a legitimately shocking twist. The entire enterprise screams "creator-driven." It is the gaming equivalent of a garage band. Playing it reminds one of a time when games were made by nerds, for nerds. A time when "gamer" meant someone who drove to dingy game shops to dig up gems that couldn't be rented at Blockbuster, not the person atop an online leader board.
Sequence was obviously created by somebody who loves video games. Someone with a new idea he wants to share with those of us who profess to love them as much as he does. Someone who's given us the production values of a AAA title and the charm of a homebrew. And he's offered it to us with a $3 pricetag. If a community that purports to recognize video games as art can't embrace such a title, we don't deserve better than the industry of $.50 apps and space-marine franchises we're currently bankrolling. Give it a shot!