The Independent Games Festival has just posted all of it's entrants - and there are 173 of them. With a burgeoning indie game scene and tools to allow artists to create a wider range of styles for games, it's no surprise that aesthetics are being pushed beyond the usual clean 3-dimensional look associated with the medium.
Crayon Physics is playful and childlike, generating much of it's artwork dynamically from lines and boxes the player draws.
Flipside lets you "see the world through the eyes of a madman", exploring an idyllic, hilly terrain, then letting the player switch into a dark alternative - filled with a dying sun, black tones, and a "hero" that's just revealed a nasty streak.
The Glum Buster entry comes with no website, no developer contacts - almost no information at all, apart from this visually strong image of a bleeding tree, and a mysterious phrase: "Cheer up, dear friend, or they may come, And take you where the glum is from."
Aureia Harvey and Michael Samyn are entering "The Path", a dark twist on a Red Riding Hood type fable with a compelling visual style concocted from a witches brew of Twin Peaks, the Blair Witch Project, and M. Night Shyamalan films. What's interesting is that visual style and content are intertwined - an innovative, unique aesthetic is a catalyst for new forms of play, and sets up expectations for players to expect something different. Harvey and Samyn as a case in point don't just break the mold in their visual style, but also in fields like gameplay mechanics, interaction, and goals. "There is one rule in the game. And it needs to be broken. There is one goal. And when you attain it, you die."