SAN FRANCISCO -- Indie games are known for thinking outside the box when it comes to gameplay mechanics. However, some go above and beyond the call of duty. Case in point is Homies, an independent title created by artist/game designer Sam Sheffield. I happened upon this quirky jewel while roaming the GDC 2015 show floor. A fairly straight forward concept, the game has you match a series of shapes as the whiz by on the screen. The trick is you do so while wearing a mask.
Homies doesn't use a normal controller. Players must don a wolf mask to navigate the game world. Tilting your head up and down, you move the current symbol up or down trying to make a match with quickly scrolling shapes. Once you make a pair, you have to howl, literally. Yes, you have to unleash your best howl to score points in the title.
When I spotted this game, I was hungry like the wolf -- for some indie action. After I donned the large mask, I was prompted to stare directly at the screen and howl to start playing. Once launched, I scrambled to match various stars, moons and planets with spastic head movements. I finally got a match after a few attempts and let out a triumphant howl, scoring 20 points. If you miss four times, the game ends and you start this surprisingly addictive title again. At the end of my demo, I managed to score 180 points, which isn't too shabby for a noob.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Homies as it offers a high level of innovation wrapped in good, silly fun. In its current form, I can't imagine Homies will ever make it to mainstream audience or even Steam Early Access. However, with the motion controls built into next-gen console controllers, I would love to see a toned down version of the game make it to Xbox One or PlayStation, at least. However it's not going to be as fun without the wolf mask.