Posts Tagged ‘indie’

Probably Archery Review

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Developer: South East Games
Publisher: South East Games
Platform: PC – Steam

Video games are often hard for people who haven’t grown up with a controller in hand. Those of us who have been gaming for many years often overlook this reality. It’s only when games like QWOP or Surgeon Simulator 2013 come out that both gaming and non-gaming types can be on equal, wobbly ground. Probably Archery is another one of these extremely difficult to control games. Only this time, you’re an archer.

Probably Archery gives players control of the left and right arms of their avatar. Arms are moved pretty freely from shoulders, elbows, and even rotate wrists. Switching between shoulder or elbow control is handled via button presses, as is moving to left hand. The left hand holds a bow which means you often have to get that in the right (or rather, least horrible) position before shooting arrows.

It actually isn’t too difficult to get a feel for the control scheme if you play enough, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be hitting bulls-eye all the time. For me, it was quite hard to gauge exactly how the arrow would behave when launched. Sometimes the arc seemed too high or too low, but perhaps the realization of how it works will come to me in time.

Probably Archery Featured

The best feature of Probably Archery is that the developers crammed in multiple game modes to accompany their silly controls. You can shoot static targets or moving ones, a noose, or a swarm of strange men. Perhaps my favorite mode is where you shoot an apple off the head of a muscular man whose own head is a much larger apple. If you think that’s funny then you’ll likely love the rest of the humor inherent while playing.

With all that said, it does feel like even the variety of modes can’t cover up the fact that it’s a simple archery game with wonky controls. Multiple modes deal with the pinpoint accuracy or swarm style and there’s not much else variety to it. Still, Probably Archery is entertaining. If you end up with a copy then head into online multiplayer so I can finally play with other awful archers!


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Octodad: Dadliest Catch Review

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Developer: Young Horses
Publisher:
Young Horses
Platform: 
PC – Steam

Octodad has been doing a fine job so far assimilating himself into a life with a normal human family. Nobody suspects a thing! Unfortunately, things don’t stay perfect for long. In Octodad: Dadliest Catch, you’re in charge of keeping up the charade.

It’s anything but a simple task, though, considering Octodad’s eight slippery appendages. The main grab of Octodad: Dadliest Catch is its controls. When you want to walk around, you move each “leg” one at a time. Grabbing things and whatnot is done by maneuvering your right arm and executing those sticky suction cups. It’s as hard to describe the whole process as it is to actually perform at first, but it becomes manageable quickly enough (hint: use a controller if at all possible!). With the crazy physics and controls, there is some frustration with getting to certain points and platforms, but that’s what makes Octodad: Dadliest Catch so fun.

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The other half of Octodad: Dadliest Catch‘s appeal lies in its story, writing, and characters. As mentioned previously, as Octodad, you must get through events in his life while maintaining his persona as a normal human. This means going to the grocery store and taking your family to the aquarium (the latter of which Octodad thinks is a crime against sea-manity). All of it is just as wacky as controlling Octodad.

Your initial playthrough in Octodad: Dadliest Catch will probably only last you about two or three hours. Thankfully, there’s always co-op mode, which allows two players to control Octodad, and a plentiful amount of mod levels on Steam Workshop to keep you busy!

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I had a lot of fun during my time with Octodad: Dadliest Catch. Despite my frustrations with getting Octodad to get where I wanted him to go, the humor and fresh concept kept me going and kept me entertained.


Pink Score: 3.53 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Oniken Review

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Oniken Boxart

Developer: JoyMasher
Publisher: JoyMasher
Platform: PC – Desura, Steam

I hate to admit it but I was not raised on the era of tough as nails NES games. Nope, instead I became friendly with an Apple IIe, Atari 7800, and off-brand Pong console. These devices offered their own difficult games but it was quite a different experience when you typically only had one button and a joystick. Missing out on the greats like Contra, Ninja Gaiden, and innumerable others has caused me to wonder what it was like to grow up with them, though. So, from my perspective, it does feel like Oniken is bringing a classic experience to players.

It starts things off on the right food with a wonderfully cliche storyline. The Oniken – bad guys – are attempting to seize control of humanity. A ragtag trio of resistance fighters aren’t having any of it! They jump into action to stop Oniken by any means necessary. Lead character Zaku is armed only with a sword and grenades but will work his way through countless enemies through the game’s six stages.

Oniken Screenshot

As you might expect from a title hearkening back to the NES era, Oniken is a 2D side-scrolling action game. You slash up foes, jump over dangerous areas, and generally kick a lot of butt in order to beat bosses and complete stages. Each area might seem fairly tough the first time but repeated plays make them seem increasingly manageable. For me, that meant maybe ten or so rounds on the second stage, but I’m not as skilled as players actually honed on NES games are. After watching a few people play it, I found that perhaps the game wasn’t even that hard at all – my skills simply weren’t up to the task.

Both the visuals and music seem to accurately recreate the era as well. I can’t say for certain if the color pallete and amount of pixels are right on, but they seem good enough to me! It’s exciting to see that even at this point in time there is still something uniquely engaging about a game that operates with such a bare minimum of keys. Oniken is a ton of fun even for people like me who don’t feel indebted to the systems of their past. Basically, if you’re in the mood for a retro-styled romp then Oniken is a fine choice.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Strike Vector Review

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Strike Vector Boxart

Developer: Ragequit Corporation
Publisher: Ragequit Corporation
Platform: PC – Steam

One of my earliest memories of console gaming was being exposed to Star Fox on the SNES. At the time I was simply astounded. To my youthful brain, this was a game that had CGI on par with films! It just couldn’t get any better than this – could it? Of course, over the years graphics have become much better but there hasn’t been a ton of growth in regards to futuristic aerial dogfighting. Strike Vector is one game that promises an old school feel where fast reflexes are integral. But is it just the game I was looking for?

That question is a bit silly, but only because nothing could stand up to that moment of childhood awe. All the same, Strike Vector has already developed a devoted following of skilled pilots. What have they found so enthralling? It’s likely the high level of skill required to do well in matches. Simply flying requires being able to judge distances while flying through small pathways. Fighting requires much more of the player, such as learning how to make tight turns and dodge enemy fire.

How do you learn the various tricks of Strike Vector? I must advise against jumping straight into multiplayer because you’ll likely die spectacularly (and regularly) without ever getting comfortable. Instead, head into an empty single player map. All maps are available in this mode and have no enemies, human or AI, meaning you’re free to test the capabilities of your craft and its weapons (this also means there’s no single player campaign). It might also help to learn where various item pickups are on the stage as they’ll have the same positioning online. Finally, check out the third person and cockpit viewpoints to see which works best for you.

Strike Vector Featured

Testing out the various weapon loadouts is helpful to make sure you’re comfortable with the configuration. Some people love homing missiles but others prefer to shotgun their way through enemies. Whatever the case, once you figure it out, you can spend more time on how to most effectively use those weapons instead of continually cycling through them, becoming a master of none.

Online play is hard at first because flying alone in a single player map is much different from entering an almost full match with players everywhere. It also is no help to beginners that the stages, as gorgeous as they are, happen to be fairly compact and full of small areas to fly through. There are a handful of online modes and team deathmatch is both my favorite and least favorite. That’s because when you die by crashing into a wall (so, not being harmed by an enemy) it still counts as a loss – and it’s a loss to your entire team. It’s stressful to feel like you’re the one directly contributing to a team’s failure!

If Strike Vector sounds like a ton of fun then you’re the audience they desire. Players must be willing to lose a lot and practice to become truly skilled. For more casual players this isn’t the game to pick up. It’s fast, unforgiving, and even a bit stressful when entering online matches. After deciding which type of gamer you are then you’ll know whether Strike Vector is for you.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Construction Bob Escapes from Hell Review

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Developer: OSP Enr.
Publisher: OSP Enr.
Platform: PC – Direct

Construction Bob Escapes from Hell is a game that grabbed my attention purely because of the name. How could you not want to play something with a title like this? Jumping right in, I found that the game was not entirely what I expected, but an interesting shareware title from the time period.

Basically, it offers three arcade-like stages which repeat over a series of levels. Levels themselves increase the difficulty each time, meaning that getting all the way to ten is tough. Getting past the thirty stages included with a purchase seems outright impossible.

The first stage is like a vertical Frogger. Mine carts run across a series of tracks above Bob and he must jump safely past them to exit at the top of the screen. Hitting mine carts does not kill Bob, but instead makes him fall down to the lower platform. The lowest one is just a steady stream of lava – and that kills you. Second is a side-scrolling stage where you ride a mine cart across broken tracks. Jump the cart over these gaps or rocks to survive. Finally is a sequence of walking across a bridge without letting (what appears to be) water droplets hit Bob.

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After that, the whole thing repeats again just with faster objects and trickier platforms. As you only get three lives to start, it can be tough to progress far. A save/load feature lets you return to the start of a new level at any time. Finally, and most interestingly, a 360 gamepad totally works to control Bob, if you so choose.

Playing Construction Bob Escapes from Hell is an incredibly simple experience. This game is more of an odd footnote of shareware history than a worthwhile waste of time.


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


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Goscurry Review

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Developer: Holoville Games
Publisher: Holoville Games
Platform: PC – Direct

Some video games make you tense, while others make help players unwind. The question is, is it possible to relax right in the middle of a fast, challenging experience? If you think so, then Goscurry is definitely for you. The game is certainly a bit odd, but also an incredibly cool experience. Just make sure you can relax before giving it a shot.

Goscurry is a sort of rhythmic racing game. Players take control of a small craft and fly above polygonal cities and landscapes via incredibly narrow pathways. These air streets build only a few meters in front of you, so you’re never sure if they will keep extending forward or have tons of turns. Turns aren’t as bad as you might think though, as they only go left or right at 90 degree angles. Of course, cruising down the futuristic one-lane highway reveals other tricks…

Simply making precise turns isn’t all there is! Once out of the tutorial mode, you’ll quickly encounter obstacles in the form of walls and gaps. Short walls and gaps can both be jumped over, while walls in the center of a road need to be dodged. It can be hard to get the timing for these down, at least it was for me. Harder modes even change the orientation of the camera, making the once “easy” task of driving around winding paths incredibly difficult again. This is one hard game.

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Unfortunately, there’s not too much to encounter while playing at the moment. There are a handful of difficulties, vehicles, and cities to fly over but it doesn’t feel like Goscurry is quite there yet. All the same, I have had a heck of a time playing it. It’s definitely one of those games that gets you in “the zone”. Once there, it’s possible to rack up higher scores than ever before and beat out (most) everyone on the leaderboard. Secondly, the music is phenomenal and you can purchase the soundtrack for a few dollars more.

Some won’t feel that this isn’t a very feature-filled game and they’d be right. If you need your games packed with content then go elsewhere for now. However, if you’ve ever had a taste for arcade games, experimental rhythm titles, or simply love zoning out with a game then Goscurry is perfect for your needs! Every time I want to put Goscurry down I can’t help thinking “just one more try” and getting sucked in again.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Ballpoint Universe – Infinite Review

Ballpoint Universe Infinite Featured

Ballpoint Universe Infinite Boxart

Developer: Arachnid Games
Publisher: Arachnid Games
Platform: Mobile – iOS PC – Desura, Direct, Steam

 Do you remember the days when you would be too bored in class to pay attention? Instead, you’d doodle away on a sheet of paper. Maybe you still do! Ballpoint Universe – Infinite is a game that transports those kinds of doodles into their own world. But instead of just being within the margins, the entire game is comprised of ballpoint drawings! They’re much better than anything I ever drew in class, too.

It’s mightily impressive. But what is the actual game like? Even that is a bit hard to pin down at first. As a cute, but measly little doodle, you wander around a hub world talking to other doodles. They will offer up tasks and it’s your goal to complete them. However, each mission boils down to basically the same thing – a shoot ’em up level. Sidescrolling shooter segments are what the game is all about.

Once in shooter land, the ship can be customized via ink. Ink is gathered by destroying enemies as well as bestowed upon you by fulfilled mission-givers. In any case, it’s possible to level up weapons and shields or buy entirely new ones to level. There are a great deal of items to choose from and some work better in specific circumstances. It’s always possible to change them out before a mission to give your ship the greatest advantage. Beyond the missions, there is also an infinite mode which works sort of like a boss rush mode.

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Shooters are often great fun, and Ballpoint Universe – Infinite certainly has its heart in the right place. With creatively designed creatures, excellent music, and a ton of ship customization it seems that there’s no way the game could fail. Unfortunately, the shooting itself isn’t that engaging. Instead of feeling exciting, it somehow turns into a chore. At the very least, the ship control via mouse is very responsive. Currently there’s no controller support.

It’s a shame that the main focus of the game isn’t more engaging! By all accounts it should be but for some reason I just wasn’t feeling it. With every other aspect of the game being so stand out though it’s hard to discount this one. Considering the super cheap price, feel free to take a chance on Ballpoint Universe – Infinite. If you’re still unsure, check out the demo!


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Zigfrak Review

Zigfrak Featured

Zigfrak Boxart

Developer: Entheogen Studios LLC
Publisher: Entheogen Studios LLC
Platform: PC – Desura, Fire Flower Games, GamersGate, Indie City, IndieGameStand, Shiny Loot, Steam

Outer space has been the backdrop for many, many games over the years. The 4x genre thrives there and many other games attempt to utilize the immense landscape to their benefit. Most of these titles end up feeling quite dry, though. Zigfrak has a very different tone and ends up being just the kind of space-based action RPG I was looking for.

Zigfrak begins with you being a new pilot on the side of the humans. As you play through missions, your rank increases and your ship gets decked out with increasingly cool wares. There is a story progressing about aliens and whatnot, but it doesn’t feel tremendously important. This is because the gameplay completely overshadows anything else with how entertaining it is.

Commanding your spaceship in Zigfrak is pretty easy. By using either the keyboard and mouse, or just mouse, you can zip around with little issue. Collecting space junk, cloaking, and other features are also simple to pull off. Many missions result in unexpected dogfights which is where the game really shines. With enemies on you from all angles, it quickly becomes a frantic test to see if you can stand against all of them. The music becomes fast-paced in response and it’s extremely cool to see enemy ships explode in ridiculous fashion.

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Even though I wasn’t enamored with the story, the writing is very well done. Instead of trying to be serious, there is a lot of humor involved. I couldn’t help but laugh at a few missions due to their phrasing. When it seems that a lot of space games lately focus on dull specifics, Zigfrak stands out as simpler to pick up and play. The only issues I had were sometimes being confused by how to complete a mission task. Although the game is very good at writing out the steps, some of them came across as unclear to me.

Overall, I don’t know the last time I had so much fun with an action RPG set in the vast expanses of space. I love that Zigfrak doesn’t take itself too seriously and loads players up with exciting firefights, loot, and amusing mission prompts. If you’d like to test pilot the game first, you can download the demo off the official website.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Violett Review

Violett Featured

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Developer: Forever Entertainment S.A.
Publisher: Forever Entertainment S.A.
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – Steam

Violett is just your average teenager. Her parents have forced her to leave her friends behind as they move to an old house in the country. She’s angry and expects her life to be dull from here on out – until she spies a strange charm. Upon picking it up, she gets transported to another world. This Alice in Wonderland-esque adventure definitely wasn’t what she bargained for!

With the game named Violett after the lead character, it’s obvious that we will spend our time playing as her. Gameplay is of the point and click variety, with a few small tweaks. Along her journey, she discovers new powers. The first grants her telekinesis which is indispensable at times.  Continuing along reveals more, as well as a need to collect orbs to power some skills. Orbs decorate landscapes like a hidden object game and you’ll never have to worry about running out.

Violett Screenshot

As would be expected with a point and click adventure game, there are many puzzles to solve. Some are simple while others require a bit more thought. However, they’re often quite fun and unique. There were a few times I got stuck, and unfortunately, the in game “hint” system rarely offers any tangible hints. Those who can’t figure something out will likely find the Steam Community a great resource.

Interestingly, the story is told without much use of real language. Violett and her family speak gibberish as do the insects and other creatures living in the strange world. Still, you can grasp what characters need to solve their problems via illustrations. Adventure fans who love witty writing won’t get that here, but don’t skip it up just yet!

What Violett does so amazingly is create an environment that stands out against the droves of competition. This game doesn’t just suggest Violett is inhabiting a wonderland – it shows you. The inhabitants are unusual and the backdrops are simply stunning. It’s impossible to convey how awesome they are until wandering into new areas yourself. Seriously, it’s been a while since an adventure game required me to fight the urge to continuously save screenshots.

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Music is another high point for the game. Although there are not a ton of songs, each song is great. They all come back to the game’s theme but each do so in unique ways. Also, even though there aren’t a ton of songs, they’re the kind you are excited to hear one more time. Buying a copy through Steam nets you the official soundtrack at no extra cost, which is definitely handy.

There’s a lot to say about Violett. Although it is not a perfect adventure experience, it offers a wonderful time. From the unique and creative puzzles to the gorgeous backdrop and accompanying soundtrack, it’s hard to ignore the game. Start up Violett and you’ll be in for quite the journey!


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Blockland Review

Blockland Featured

Blockland Logo

Developer: Eric Hartman, Ben Garney
Publisher: Blockland LLC
Platform: PC – Amazon, Direct, Steam

Blockland is a game with a long history. Yet, many never even knew it existed until the recent Steam launch! The game first got up and running in 2004 when it was freeware. Around 2006, the developers received a call from Lego, but nothing ever came of it. In 2013, the finished game has finally graced Steam and to many it is being treated as a completely new title. No, it’s not a Minecraft or any other craft clone. For one, it came out long before it, and is quite a different experience regardless.

So what can you do in Blockland? A whole lot of stuff, as it turns out. The game is a tremendous sandbox that grants you a huge amount of blocks that can be used to build things. The blocks look a ton like Lego parts, which means if you’ve ever played with Legos you can grasp how building works here. Well, sort of. The controls for building are fairly difficult to wrap your head around at the start. Eventually, you learn about features such as Super Shift and other ways to expedite building, but until then it is a fairly painful experience. The included tutorial doesn’t explore advanced concepts at all, unfortunately.

Blockland Featured

I learned a fair amount by simply joining a newbie-specific server. The place was full of new players and had someone around to answer all sorts of questions. They also were willing to demonstrate, which was incredibly helpful. Building is just one aspect of the experience, though the wide variety of blocks leaves room for impressive structures.

Players can completely ignore building and instead play a variety of minigames. There are a handful to start with, such as racing, death match, and platforming. There is no offline mode though. You head to a specific server (such as kart racing) and join up with other players there. Unlike a lot of Steam indie multiplayer releases, Blockland has a lot of players online at once (200+), so you rarely have to fear being stuck alone. Many more gametypes are available, but require external add-ons.

Blockland Screenshot

The biggest hurdle with getting new players into this game will likely verge on add-ons. As there is no Steam Workshop support right now, it requires players to go to the official forums and download new stuff (minigames, maps, etc). They can utilize other outside programs such as Return to Blockland to streamline the process but many Steam users don’t wish to do extra work with any of their games.

There is no game in my mind that currently allows for the level of craftsmanship in building as Blockland does right now, thanks to its many block types. However, it isn’t acclimated toward beginner use. The community itself can be very helpful (as in the newbie server) or crass. Since you’ll spend most of your time with them, this is important. Thankfully you can turn off chat. Blockland is one unique multiplayer-focused experience that deserves more credit than Steam users are giving it.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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