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New South Wales, Australia
Game Developer, Composer & Gamer.

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PC Steam
My upcoming reviews are subject to change & availability, so i won't be listing them anymore

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Review #6: Christmas Indie Games Special


Platform: PC/Steam    
Type of controller: 360 Controller/Mouse+KB    
Install time: Various  
Dependancies (Included in installation): DirectX, VC Redist 2008 etc  
Notes about installation: None    

Game website: http://store.steampowered.com   

Well hasn't this year gone by fast again... seems to get faster and faster as you get older!

This month's review is going to be a little different from the last, instead of reviewing one game i thought i would review 10 indie games instead!

Now because of the amount of games in this review, and because of their nature i won't be doing the deep review type stuff i normally do with the bigger name games, instead i will just give a brief synopsis of the game, what i found fun and not fun, and whether or not it was worth buying.

Ok for first up we have Chime.
This game took me by surprise, i was disappointed with the small amount of levels, but i really enjoyed this. If you have ever played Lumines or Tetris and enjoyed them, you will most likely find this enjoyable too.
Basically this is a beat/music game but like Lumines the beat of the music and the matching of blocks is not critical to the game, it's more of a secondary background feature.
Also it has a the Portal theme song as the final stage, which when you have the rounds set to 11 mins, can actually go for up to 14mins!
Overall this game was definately worth the couple of dollars i paid for it, which i got more enjoyment out of than say a cup of coffee (and i love coffee so that's saying something!)
Total: 7/10

Second on my list is The Undergarden.
No beating around the bush here, but this game is shit. Well to be fair the developers have done a good job on the art style, but my fairness ends there. This game was probably made for kids, which also makes it worse because the actual gameplay objective is still something i don't quite understand. I think you have to grab these glowing plant parts to use as weights with this bubble thing that grows around you when you press a button so i guess you could call this is a physics puzzler but i was so bored by this i gave up after the first 2 or 3 levels. This probably wasn't worth the couple of dollars it cost me.
Total: 3/10

Third one on the list is Zombie Driver.
I've actually had this game for quite some time now but it has been in my "pile of shame" for months and months, i didn't even open it up until a few days ago when the Steam Treasure Hunt objective came up i thought it would be a good chance to check it out.
The one thing i have a problem with in this game is the view, more times than i would like to admit, i felt that queezy motion sickness coming on and had to stop playing for 5mins and get my bearings. If you could imaging an RTS diagonal top down view fixated on your car, that is what the view style is on Zombie Driver. You speed through the pretty awesome environments splattering any zombies that get in your way, rescuing survivors from arbitrary numbers of zombies is a specific area. That's pretty much all there is to it, if i could get past the motion sickness feeling it might be a much better game!
Total: 5.5/10


Alright fourth one down we have The Polynomial.
Now this game is one for the trippers! Haha..
It's hard to actually class this is a game, it's more of a hybrid between a simple space shooter in 3D and a fractal generator/3D visualiser.
I have mentioned to a few friends of mine this game would be perfect for VDJing, because you can turn off all the 'game' elements and you fly around the awesome fractal visuals in first person.
As mentioned previously, you can also generate and save your own fractals as rendered images. Overall this game is hard to say if it was worth buying, if i ever had a party i would definately put this on a big screen and load the playlist of songs inside the game :)
Total: 6.5/10 (Hard to score this, i would say as a game itself 4/10 but as 3D visualiser 9/10)


Number five on my list is Droplitz.
This game was hard to get used to at first, but it's reminiscent of some games that have "hacking" puzzles to open doors and stuff, and by hacking i mean plumbing skills.
Basically you rotate discs on the board to get the balls to flow from the top 2 output pipes to the bottom 3 pipes. Once you have successfully made a connection, it locks those discs and once all the balls reach their destination, those discs are eliminated from the board and more "drop" down in a bejewelled type manner.
This game was alright i guess but overall not very entertaining and i would probably play it only if i had nothing else to waste time with.
Total: 5/10


Ok up next for number 6 we have Poker Night at the Inventory.
This is basically a celebrity poker game with 4 different video game celebrities from 4 different aspects of video gaming. You have Max from Sam & Max, Strong Bad from the Homestar Runner web comic series, The Heavy from Team Fortress 2 and Tycho from Penny Arcade.
This game is difficult to score because first impressions were awesome and the novelty of the dialogue between the characters wore off more and more as i played it more and more. If you can afford to spend the money to buy this game i would say its worth it just to hear all the banter between the characters once, but as a poker game itself it's not the best out there. I love Texas Hold 'Em poker but this game makes that style of poker look too easy. The computer characters hardly ever bluff, they are way too predictable but at the same time they can throw a curve ball and be very unpredictable, that would be ok if there was more of that unpredictable type stuff but it doesn't happen too often, and when it does no doubt you have bet all your money on your hand without realising that (most of the time Max) has a royal flush or something crazy and rare like that.
If you asked me to review this the day i got it i would of given it alot of praise, but after a while the dialogue repeats itself too much. (I want DLC characters for this!)
Total: 6/10

Seventh on my list is Bejewelled 3.
This is the superstar of all things Indie. I"m not sure if you could class this as Indie anymore, when bejewelled first came out the small Brittish studio/website Popcap were only just finding their feet in the casual market, now Bejewelled is their biggest seller and a multi million dollar franchise. I've only put this game on the list because it's basically the AAA version in the Indie game category.
If you have played Bejewelled, you will know what to expect from this. I will say that the new things they have added have been given alot of thought and they are executed well. The addition of being able to swap gems as the next lot of gems are falling has given the game a new "speedplay" angle where you are matching gems faster than the game can restock the board with them. There are some other gameplay modes added, like a campaign/quest mode, but i think this was added purely to bring people back from Puzzle Quest, which is my favourite derivative of Bejewelled (It's also made by Aussie developers -- "Infinite Interactive" !)
Overall this game was worth the money, even if i won't play it all the time, it's a great time waster and very addictive once you get started.
Total: 7/10


Ok number 8 we have AaAaAA!!! A Reckless Disregard for Gravity.
This is a strange game. The objective is to free fall through plates and rings until you reach the bottom, it reminded me alot of Pilot Wings on N64 but without the terrible graphics and handling. I'm not sure if i get this game, it's attempt at humour while sometimes amusing can be too obvious and it literally has signs saying "LOL LOOK HOW FUNNY WE ARE!!!111!ONE"
Ok fair enough i'm paraphrasing with that last one but they use that internet vernacular that some of us have grown to hate over the years, so be warned that this game is set for that special group of people who find that stuff funny or else you're going to be rolling your eyes more often than not.
Humor aside, the gameplay is good but the objectives can be very challenging and the controls don't help much either.
This is a game for people who love to fly through rings and stuff and play a whole game based around that concept, or else you won't find this very enjoyable.
Total: 4/10


Alrighty second last on my list for number 9 is Bob Came in Pieces.
Refer to my Undergarden review above. No actually to be fair this is a bit better than The Undergarden, at least this is slightly more challenging and visually simplistic and the goals are clear. You fly around in this little space ship, in a platformer type world, collecting parts for your space ship that you can interchange to help solve different physics puzzles in the levels. That's about all there is to it, and like The Undergarden, is probably aimed at a younger audience.
One thing i should mention was while using the 360 controller for this, my mouse was very buggy ingame, because when you try and attach or detach ship parts, you can't use the 360 controller, and the mouse was all screwy at the ship upgrade screens.
Total: 4.5/10


Ok last on my list is Shatter.
I think it might be best to break this mini review into 2 pieces, one for the story mode and one for the bonus mode.
As with most of the game above, i bought this game because of the Steam Treasure Hunt. Now i'm not saying that i bought all of these games simply to get the objective, but it was incentive to dive into the Indie game scene and checkout some of the lesser known titles. That said, the objective for this game was so 'balls ina  vice' difficult that i gave up after about 115 attempts, so in that respect it wasn't worth buying, however;

Story mode: This was pretty awesome, i have to say i'm so glad the game made you play through most of the story mode to unlock the bonus mode, or else this would of been a very short and derogatory review. The story mode in this game is basically like Peggle/Pong but with a twist, each level is designed very nicely, and the "balls" (i've heard them referred to as 'Spermoids') obey gravity and can be slightly controlled after you bounce them off the paddle. The graphics are quite good, almost like Geometry Wars but with solid textured objects instead of wireframe. The levels are challenging but not too difficult, and overall it was quite fun.

Bonus mode: Ugh well i really have to hold back with the swearing here, because this bonus mode is nothing short of ridiculous. Basically there are no blocks to 'shatter', and you start with 3 balls that get faster and faster with each paddle hit, you get 100,000 points for each time one of the balls hits the paddle, but because the paddle is curved, and because the balls obey gravity, soon enough you have this mess of speeding balls that you have to be so good with reflexes, but also your cognitive abilities need to be quite high to be able to track and predict where each ball is going to bounce, and where its going to be in the paddle end. Some people may find this thrilling and some may find it fun but the majority of what i've seen and read, most people find this frustrating and alot of those people are screaming on the forums that it's all down to chance/luck. In the game's defence, that's not entirely true, and also the people who are actually good at this mode claim it's all about reflexes which isn't entirely true either. It's a combination of your cognitive processing abilities, your hand eye coordination, luck and reflexes thrown into one, which for the average gamer like myself is too much to handle. I think Steam set the bar a little too high with the objective for this game, as 11 million points spread across 3 different maps with 100k per hit of the paddle sounds easy enough on paper, but that means you have to score an average of about 4 million points per map, which is 40 hits of the paddle. After about 20 hits the balls are going so fast that 98% of the time for me, i lost 2 or more balls around that 20th hit.

If you are going to get this game, disregard my Bonus mode review, and don't play it. Story mode is where the fun is at, and is the main feature of the game.
Total: (5/10 for story mode, 1/10 for bonus mode) 4.5/10

Alright that brings me to the end of this mini review set and to the end of the 2010 reviews from me.
I would like to also mention that i have been playing Metro 2033 lately and could possibly be my first review for 2011, we'll see.
I have also just purchased Bad Company 2 and a couple of other games during this Steam Christmas sale, and that i might be also reviewing them next year.

2011 is going to be an awesome year for gaming so i can't wait to review things that i am actually looking forward to, like Homefront, Brink, Deus Ex 3, Future Soldier and more!

I would also like to give a special thanks to Steam/Valve for making quite an innovative scheme with the Treasure Hunt, it has been a good excuse to checkout some of these Indie games, some of which i was quite pleasantly surprised with.

Also a special thanks to all my readers, have a safe and awesome Xmas, and hope to see you in the new year!


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