Monday, 1 August 2016

Recommended Indie Games p5

Once every few months I post a list of recommendations of games which are indie, overlooked, and underrated. This is now part 5 of this series of lists. If you've missed the first 4 parts, be sure to check them out as well for some great indie games. For now, here are some new recommendations of games I've greatly enjoyed recently.


Murdered: Soul Suspect

Developer: Airtight Games
Publisher: Square Enix

All right, so this one is not exactly indie, but I was surprised by how underrated this game is, considering it's very gripping and immersive. It might be light on game mechanics, but it does a fantastic job with its narrative as it takes you on an investigation of your own death through a dark, rundown town, and that's exactly where the focus of the game lies.






Ghost 1.0

Developer: Unepic_Fran
Publisher: Unepic_Fran

An excellent and highly entertaining metroidvania style platformer where we play as a female cyborg and infiltrate an enormous space station. Stunning visuals, nice music, abundant humour, challenging boss fights, and an ability to possess other machines - all make this game a great experience.



Blues and Bullets

Developer: A Crowd of Monsters
Publisher: A Crowd of Monsters

A deeply cinematic detective game with a gritty and morally grey story, really unique-looking visuals and a memorable soundtrack. The game is episodic in nature and only the first 2 episodes (out of 5) are currently out.





Earn to Die 2

Developer: Toffee Games
Publisher: Not Doppler

A fun sidescrolling driving game where your goal is to improve your vehicle so that you can drive further past a plethora of obstacles and zombies until it breaks. After every few checkpoints, you unlock new vehicles to tackle on harder tracks.




Bastion

Developer: Supergiant Games
Publisher: Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment

An isometric action hack and slash with RPG elements, pretty visuals, nice music, and a cool narrator. An awesome variety of weapons and special skills make this game a load of fun.



State of Anarchy

Developer: Andrew Jr
Publisher: New Reality Games

A short, light-hearted top down shooter in the style of old-school GTA games, but with a twist. The visuals are all made to look like kid's drawings and all the sound effects use mouth noises.



Friday, 1 April 2016

Recommended Indie Games p4

Been a little while since the last list of indie game recommendations, and I started to lag behind on my gaming lately, but fear not - here are some more recommendations of games I enjoyed since the last part. Don't forget to check out the previous 3 parts if you haven't yet!


Darkest Dungeon

Developer: Red Hook Studios
Publisher: Red Hook Studios

A very challenging dungeon crawling management simulator with a dark, Lovecraftian theme, and a captivating art style. Recruit mercenaries and send them into gritty dungeons to loot for treasure and defeat nasty beings that plague the land, but take heed - your heroes are human beings. They can get stressed and develop quirks, catch diseases, or even end up as mental wrecks.



The Cursed Crusade

Developer: Kylotonn Entertainment
Publisher: DTP Entertainment, ATLUS

Follow a story of Denz, a templar who is looking for his father, and Esteban, a gold-hunting mercenary. Both carry a curse that condemns their souls for eternal damnation, and Death itself is constantly on their heels. In this game, you'll be getting headfirst into epic visceral battles during the Fourth Crusade. Learn new moves, kill, watch Denz and Esteban exchange funny conversations, kill some more, have your weapons broken, use curse mode, oh and don't forget to kill.



Distance

Developer: Refract
Publisher: Refract

A fun driving game. Distance has you control a state-of-the-art futuristic car that can boost, jump, flip, fly, and sustain crazy amounts of damage as you traverse through spiralling, twisty roads full of saw blades, laser beams, and death drops. Very slick and fun. Still in Early Access, but already delivers tonnes of fun.



The Last Federation

Developer: Arcen Games
Publisher: Arcen Games

You're the last survivor of a recently extinct alien race and your goal is to unite the remaining 8 races in the star system into a single federation. To do so you have to win their trust and gain influence. However, each race is vastly different, and methods that work on one, might not work on another. It's a deep strategy game with a lot of options to try out, as well as a bullet hell spaceship combat system and a great soundtrack.



Dungeon of the Endless

Developer: Amplitude Studios
Publisher: Amplitude Studios

A strategic dungeon crawler. Pick a team and venture into a 12-level dungeon filled with dark rooms and nasty monstrosities. Your team is vastly outnumbered, and the only way to make it through the dungeons is to gather resources and build small fortification. Charming pixel art visual style and nice music included.



Starward Rogue

Developer: Arcen Games
Publisher: Arcen Games

Another Arcen game on this list and is hugely different to The Last Federation. This one is a fast-paced overhead-view dungeon crawler. Pick a mech of your choice and you're good to go. Gameplay consists of bullet-hell style battles, light RPG elements, and challenging but super fun boss battles.



Alpha Prime

Developer: Black Element
Publisher: Bohemia Interactive

A simple sci-fi FPS with a decent plot and characters. Fairly short and very challenging, but worth playing through if you're into FPS games.



Anomaly Warzone Earth

Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Publisher: 11 Bit Studios

A reverse tower defence game where you're taking the role of the attackers and must strategically lead your military vehicles through a warzone consisting of deadly alien towers. Has some unexpected difficulty spikes, but a nice concept and worth checking out.



Monday, 7 December 2015

Recommended Indie Games p3

In these lists of indie game recommendations, I'm hoping to bring light on some great games I've enjoyed recently by smaller and lesser known developers. Now with Christmas sales coming up, there's no better time to pick up some of these. Check out part 1 and part 2 as well!

Orcs Must Die! 2

Developer: Robot Entertainment
Publisher: Robot Entertainment

Last time I recommended Orcs Must Die! 1, and since then I got a chance to try out its sequel. Needless to say, it matched up to the fantastic quality of the original, now with a whole lot of new levels, new traps, 2 playable characters, and even a co-op mode.
10/10

Full Review



Crypt of the Necrodancer

Developer: Brace Yourself Games
Publisher: Brace Yourself Games, Klei Entertainment

A very challenging, but incredibly addictive rogue-like dungeon crawler with a rhythm element. Keep moving to the beat of the song and learn enemy attack patterns. Very light-hearted atmosphere, charming art style, and out of this world soundtrack.
9.5/10

Full Review





Bionic Dues

Developer: Arcen Games
Publisher: Arcen Games

You have 50 days to save your city from an incoming robot invasion! Do whatever you can to prepare your mechs and weaken the enemy. Spend your days wisely, for each one brings you closer to the final confrontation at the end. Great game with a turn-based on-grid combat, rich customization of your battle units, and an incredible soundtrack.
9/10

Full Review




Project Temporality

Developer: Defrost Games
Publisher: Defrost Games

A really well-executed sci-fi themed puzzle game that uses a concept of time-manipulation. Create alternate timeline clones of yourself to help you solve the game's puzzles. The puzzles are all well-designed and provide a nice sense of reward once you've figured out a solution.
9/10

Full Review 




Binding of Isaac

Developer: Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl
Publisher: Edmund McMillen

A fun and addictive rogue-like dungeon-crawler with a huge variety of enemies, lots of items to find, simplistic but rather unique visuals, and over the top cartoony gore.
9/10

Full Review




To the Moon

Developer: Freebird Games
Publisher: Freebird Games

A short but very emotional interactive story that lets you traverse through a man's memories and to witness which people and events have had an impact on his life.
8.5/10

Full Review



Project: Snowblind

Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Eidos, Square Enix

Although this game has been published by a big name, it seems to be fairly unknown and overlooked. It might not be a grand epic, but it's a nice little FPS game set in a dystopian future that was originally planned to be a part of the Deus Ex series.
8/10

Full Review




The Stanley Parable

Developer: Galactic Cafe
Publisher: Galactic Cafe

A fairly short but a very interesting parody game that pokes fun at various aspects of player choice mechanic in gaming.
8/10

Full Review



Defense Grid: Awakening

Developer: Hidden Path Entertainment
Publisher: Hidden Path Entertainment

A gritty-looking futuristic tower defence game with some tough enemies and a somewhat quirky A.I. narrator.
7.5/10

Full Review



Fort Defense

Developer: 8floor Ltd, Creobit
Publisher: 8floor Ltd

A pretty standard but well-put together naval-themed tower defence game. Fortify your base with guns to fight off those persistent pirate ships!
7.5/10

Full Review



Unpossible

Developer: Acceleroto Inc
Publisher: Acceleroto Inc

A very nice-looking and challenging game to test your reflexes and precision.
7.5/10

Full Review



Thursday, 24 September 2015

Recommended Indie Games p2



At last, here’s part 2 of my list of recommended indie games. If you haven’t yet seen part 1, check it out here. In these lists I try to bring attention to some fun games by smaller and lesser known developers that I’ve enjoyed playing recently.

Without further ado, let’s get going, shall we?


Alien Robot Monsters (ARM)

Developer: Kraftix Games
Publisher: Kraftix Games

A top-down sci-fi themed tower defence game spanning 37 stages across 5 different biomes and containing a large variety of towers for you to build and enemy robots to encounter. Very fun, addictive, and provides a nice challenge. Highly recommended for all tower defence fans.



Orcs Must Die!

Developer: Robot Entertainment
Publisher: Robot Entertainment

Another excellent tower defence game, though this one is controlled in 3rd person. You are a War Mage tasked to defend various fortresses from orcs, ogres, and other nasty creatures. At your disposal you have a variety of ingenious traps, spells, and weaponry. Set them up in clever ways to make sure no orc gets through to the rift.



Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death

Developer: Zootfly
Publisher: 505 Games

3rd person adventure meets B-movie action with lots and lots of crazy fights and explosions. It’s the underdog hero vs an evil corp boss who wants to unleash evil powers and rule the world. Very cheesy, but also very funny, and the combat and platforming are both top notch and fun.



Lethal RPG: War

Developer: EyeSpyda Games
Publisher: Black Shell Media

Charming art and music, and well-made turn-based battles akin to many of the old-school RPGs. Face a wide variety of enemies and challenging bosses, assemble a team of heroes, craft weapons and armour, and save the world from impending evil.



Star Crawlers

Developer: Juggernaut Games
Publisher: Juggernaut Games

This game is still Early Access, but I thought I’d mention it because it already feels like a fun and polished game. It’s a first-person sci-fi dungeon crawler with turn-based battles and lots of customization of your team and abilities.
-No Review Yet-



The Swapper

Developer: Facepalm Games, Curve Studios
Publisher: Facepalm Games

A fun and rewarding puzzle game with a simple but well-executed mechanic. Use a cloning device to create clones of yourself and swap bodies with them in order to solve puzzles and make progress through a dark and eerie space station.




The Expendabros

Developer: Free Lives
Publisher: Devolver Digital

A short and sweet free game done in the same style as its older brother, BroForce. This game has you play as the cast of Expendables 3 and complete several missions by blasting your way through camps of enemy soldiers and challenging bosses.




Iron Brigade

Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Double Fine Productions

A third-person mech shooter with tower defence elements. Play solo or co-op, and annihilate hordes of tubes that want to wreck your base and rule the world with their broadcast.




Invisible Inc

Developer: Klei Entertainment
Publisher: Klei Entertainment

Pick your missions and acquire assets in order to build a powerful team of spies. Fans of challenging stealthy dungeon crawlers should enjoy this.



Monday, 29 June 2015

Recommended Indie Games p1



It’s been a long while since my last blog entry here, but perhaps now is as good time as any to recommend some more games.

In this series of lists I want to bring a spotlight on some fun games that I enjoyed recently. The games mentioned here will be by indie developers and smaller, lesser known companies, the games that I think deserve some more attention.


Axiom Verge

Developer: Thomas Happ

This is an incredible game that takes a lot of inspiration from the Metroid franchise. Not only does it offer a fun gameplay with non-linear exploration, but it manages to greatly improve on the Metroidvania formula and adds some of its own personality to it. The game offers a decent level of challenge that will leave you buzzed at the end whilst still keeping it fair. And in addition to its addictive fast-paced gameplay, it’s full of superb music tracks in each level and some great backstory concepts. The fact this game was developed by merely one person makes it all the more impressive. For fans of Metroidvanias, this is a must play.



Of Orcs and Men

Developers: Cyanide, Spiders
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive

Through a collaborative effort of Cyanide and Spiders studios, we got ourselves this pretty cool game set in a dark-ish epic fantasy world, except with a twist – our main protagonists are a goblin and an orc. The two leading characters, Styx and Arkail, are very well-developed and lovable. With hilarious dialogue exchanges between the two, as well as a challenging combat system that makes you think before you act, this game is well worth checking out for all fans of RPGs.



Mars: War Logs

Developer: Spiders
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive

Another game by Spiders studio, except this one takes place in a dystopian sci-fi setting with a post-apocalyptic feel to it. Mars: War Logs takes us to a colony on Mars with an oppressive government and very low standards of living. The game has a really well executed crafting mechanic that allows you to customize your equipment with a variety of bonuses, and a fun, fast-paced combat. Despite the ending feeling slightly rushed, this game was a load of fun to play, and I am very much looking forward to the sequel that’s been in works for some time.



Apotheon

Developer: Alientrap

Apotheon stands out first and foremost with its unique visual style that resembles Ancient Greek pottery decorations, but there’s a lot more to this game than just unique visuals. The game features an open world with big, non-linear levels, a tonne of weapons to collect, and plenty of secrets to find. Ascend Mt Olympus and challenge the gods!



T.E.C. 3001

Developer: Phoenix Game Studio
Publisher: BulkyPix

If you’ve ever wanted something challenging with a great sense of speed, this might just be a game for you. T.E.C. 3001 has you control a robot inside a virtual reality simulation and chucks you into a variety of stages – some being high speed lane running, others taking a form of a drag race, and thirds being completely open and having numerous paths through the level. Watch your step out there!



Dex

Developer: Dreadlocks

With its lovely art style and incredible musical score, Dex can easily immerse us in its cool cyberpunk setting. The story might be pretty standard for this genre, but it offers some interesting story choices, as well as a load of sidequests. It does have a few small bugs and odd balance issues here and there, but it’s no doubt a very immersive and addictive game that’s worth a look.



Betrayer

Developer: Blackpowder Games

Eerie, atmospheric, and mysterious. Betrayer takes us to the coast of America at the start of 17th century. Upon arriving, the player discovers that the colony (aside from one person) is gone and every location is empty. Your job is to find out what happened. The game has a semi-open world with a lot of exploration and a somewhat tough combat, since every enemy poses a real threat and needs to be approached with great care.
 


Nihilumbra

Developer: BeautiFun Games

A beautiful 2D platformer with a heavy emphasis on puzzles. Nihilumbra has you traverse several different areas, each one introducing a new colour which has to be used creatively in order to overcome the obstacles ahead. As the player collects more colours, the puzzles and enemies require more thought and several colours to be used at once.



Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Review: Dishonored


Based in a fictional setting of Dunwall, Dishonored tells us an interesting story of political corruption, betrayal, oppression and resistance, and of course lots and lots of death, whether it’s at the hands of the plague or the never-ending conflict that goes on. The immersive setting and nice story-telling are then assisted with gameplay that gives the player a chance to tackle every challenge in their own way.

What I greatly enjoyed about Dishonored is the diversity in which it allows you to approach its challenges. It’s a similar style of gameplay as the Deus Ex games. The player can go in with stealth, or they can go guns blazing, or maybe to try some diplomacy, or even to mix and match all of those. Even the primary targets can be handled in ways other than violence. That’s right – it is possible to complete the game without killing any major antagonist.



Depending on how the player handles each mission, they will acquire either high chaos or low chaos. Being merciful, using non-lethal ways of taking down regular enemies, and not triggering alarms all lead to low chaos, which in turn leads to a good ending. The opposite leads to high chaos and hence a bad ending. This greatly adds to the replayability of the game and makes it interesting to complete it at least twice.

Apart from standard weapons and equipment used in each mission, the player also learns supernatural powers throughout the gameplay. They can do so by acquiring special runes which are found in many areas of the game. Many of these powers are very interesting and provide excellent opportunities to try out new and creative ways of getting past a challenge at hand. Perhaps the most commonly used power is Blink, which allows the player to quickly teleport short distances from one cover to another, which is extremely useful for stealthy gameplay. There are several great powers to use, but the ones that stood out the most to me were Possession, which allows the protagonist to possess rats and other small animals and to get through small crawlspaces this way, Dark Vision, which allows the player to see nearby enemies through walls, and Bend Time, with which the player can temporarily slow, and with an upgrade completely stop, the time.



There are few minor things to criticise about Dishonored, like the lack of ways to take out the enemies non-lethally (sleep darts and upclose seem like the only ways), or how sometimes enemy AI and behaviour can be a bit unpredictable. The ending also felt a bit rushed, but once I got to the end of the game, I realised that it’s not so much the ending that’s important in games like these, but the journey itself. All those are just small drawbacks and were nothing compared to the unforgettable experience the game as a whole provided to me. A single playthrough may go for only 15-20 hours, but each minute of that playthrough keeps you fully immersed in the game’s rich and somewhat gloomy steampunk setting, not to mention its great replay value.


My score: 9.5/10


Monday, 20 January 2014

Review: Antichamber



A game that is surely likely to mess up with your mind. Antichamber can easily boast with its unique art style and rather mind-bending environments. It presents itself as one enormous labyrinth full of various puzzles. However, the puzzles often require you to think outside the box and a lot of the time do not follow standard rules of physics. You could end up in a never-ending corridor, or you could turn around and realise a completely different way has opened up than the one you came from. Sometimes you’d end up walking in circles, other times confronted with branching paths.

The style of presentation in Antichamber is definitely commendable, but is it really fun? The mind-bending environments are interesting at first, but the novelty wears off very quickly and instead you start wishing that the game would just stop misleading you all the time. The game has a very non-linear approach to it. A lot of the time if you’re stuck, you can simply return back to the ‘lobby’ area and pick a different path and solve the puzzles along that route. Eventually all routes are meant to be important, or at least that’s what I’ve gathered anyway.



One of the problems about this approach is that as you go on through the labyrinth, you will acquire certain devices that will allow you to pick up and place cubes of different colours in your environment and are meant to be used to solve some of the game’s puzzles. This means that at times you’ll be coming across puzzles that you can’t yet solve until you’ve gotten the right device, which can at times be annoying because there’s no way to tell whether a puzzle in front of you can or cannot be solved at the time. A lot of the game’s ‘rules’ don’t seem to make much logical sense and require a lot of random experimentation. For example, walking over some of the drops will create a path in front of you, or trying to pick up green cubes from the middle of the structure they’re in will cause its ends to disintegrate, leaving you with less cubes to work with.



Throughout the game there is also a number of philosophical quotes scattered about. However, most of those quotes don’t inspire much thought and instead are a collection of common sense mantras that you’re more likely to teach your kids. It’s stuff like ‘sometimes you’ve got to go backwards before you can go forwards’. As you go collecting each quote, they all compile on a huge screen in the lobby area. To what end I am not sure, because I didn’t collect them all, but it seems as though it tries to draw a diagram of a person’s life and some of the time they seem relevant to the puzzle in a nearby room.

Overall the game’s setting is way too abstract for my liking. I couldn’t get much satisfaction from solving the game’s puzzles, because every time I solved a tricky puzzle, the game would either take me back to where I’ve been already, or bring me to one of the puzzles that I cannot yet solve. The sense of progression is not felt and there is little to no incentive to keep going through the remainder of the labyrinth. After several hours in I got tired of coming back to the same puzzles over and over again, so I ended up giving up on the game. I think Antichamber is the kind of game that you either get it or you don’t. It stands out with its unique art style and unorthodox way of puzzle solving, but it’s hardly rewarding for the player and I couldn’t get much fun out of it.

My score: 6.5/10