Posts Tagged ‘Indie Games’

While the mere thought of indie games on the PlayStation 4 has some gamers generating tons of hate, I happen to disagree with them. Indie games happens to be the popular trend these days, and seeing the visionary ideas that indie developers bring to the table help shape the games we play in the future. Of course there’s also the fact that these games are relatively cheaper and sometimes are better than the big budget blockbusters that get all the attention. PlayStation 4 will be chock full of indie goodness, so I decided to highlight a handful of the indie games that have my interest when the next generation of gaming arrives on November 15. Here are a few of my picks that I’ll be playing.

Helldivers

Expected in 2014, Arrowhead Games has developed a title that in my opinion is a mix of Halo: Spartan Assault for the Windows phone along with the campy Starship Troopers movies. This top down co-op shooter for up to four players is no easy romp. Helldivers will challenge my gaming skills along with my patience with it’s random generated levels making every experience different each time I play.

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Octodad: Dadliest Catch

A game about an octopus posing as a human. Now I would have to file this game from Young Horses under weird, but fun. Dadliest Catch is a sequel to the original Octodad where the main idea is for this octopus to mimic human behavior without raising suspicion that he is in fact an octopus. The premise is absolutely ridiculous, but the idea that the human world has trouble noticing this could make for one of the most hilarious games ever made.

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Outlast

This is probably the one game that I really can’t wait to play. Outlast is a first person survival horror experience from Red Barrels that could bring the scare back into a genre that’s been a little tame through the years. Once I’m inside the Mount Massive Asylum I’ll once again feel the chills up my spine as I discover the horrors that await me. However, once I find the secrets will I be able to find a way out to tell the world, or will they die with me.

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Mercenary Kings

Calling this game a 2D Borderlands does not do Mercenary Kings justice. This game from Tribute (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game) combines the looting elements of Borderlands along with megahit shooter titles including the Metal Slug and Contra series. My mission is to save the world from the evil corporation known as CLAW at a secret laboratory base on a remote island. Taking out enemies will reveal loot that I can use to craft weapons and gear to help accomplish my mission.

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Ray’s The Dead

Taking on the role of a zombie, this Pikmin style of game from Ragtag Studio will have me recruiting fellow members of the undead and create an army all with the purpose of avenging my own death. There’s also that other question of why there’s a lightbulb on top of my head. How did that get there? Lots of questions, but plenty of zombie fun lies ahead.

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This is just a small taste of some of the indie games I’ll be playing once the PS4 finally arrives. Do you have any favorites your looking forward to? Let me know in the comments.

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At Gamescom, the announcement heard around the world was finally made. Gamers including myself have anxiously awaited the news about the impending release of the PlayStation 4. Since E3, things have been pretty quiet at Sony, but there was no reason for anyone to be concerned. Unlike Microsoft that had to change their policies to keep up, Sony stayed the course by sticking to a vision that had gamers in mind as they brought the PS4 to life. The big question we all had was when, and at the closing moments of Sony’s press conference that answer as given. November 15. In less than three months the next generation will officially begin. While excitement rang, there was an ominous dark cloud looming that had some gamers rather upset. Why?

Indie Games

The main reason that had some hardcore gamers a little perturbed at Sony had to do with the large indie games presence at Gamescom. Hardcore gamers wanted to see more big blockbuster AAA first party games that has Microsoft execs busting out of their expensive Don Mattrick inspired jackets. However, Sony wanted to show gamers their commitment to the indie scene by showcasing games that don’t get the large stage, or over the top trailers to bring excitement to the masses. Microsoft may have all the money (due to the $60/year Xbox Live Gold price) to buy timed exclusive games and have DLC first, but Sony decided to flex their muscles elsewhere and give smaller budget game developers the spotlight which has some dishing out indie hate.

Now I’m not a hater when it comes to this subject, because I like what Sony has brought to the table with their endless supply of indie games. It’s one of the reasons why I wanted a PS4 over the Xbox One. Games including Helldivers, Hotline Miami 2, Ray’s The Dead, Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Mercenary Kings, Outlast, Secret Ponchos, and countless others have me more excited than the usual big budget sequel driven franchises including Call of Duty, Battlefield, Dead Rising, Assassin’s Creed, and even Halo. Indie games bring some new visions and ideas to the table that help shape the way we will play games in the near future. Basically, indie developers are willing to take big risks and sacrifices to help broaden the horizons of the gaming world.

Do you want to know what really separates the indies from the big dogs? Allow me share something with you.

Let’s take a look at the big picture when it comes to video games. Big name publishers and developers are basically playing it safe by creating sequel after sequel of popular franchises knowing that they will get your money. Most of these games show up yearly including sports games, Call of Duty, and Assassin’s Creed. These yearly games have either peaked, or they’re past their prime, because these games either make minimal tweaks to slightly enhance the gameplay, or are not willing to experiment with anything new at all. In essence, your just playing the same game with a minor graphical bump to make it look shiny and special. Still excited about Madden 25, Battlefield 4, or Call of Duty: Ghosts?

Indie developers, on the other hand, are willing to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating new and exciting games. These developers will take a concept that you and I are familiar with, and throw a monkey wrench within the programming thereby creating a new way to experience the game. Most will call this weird while others will call this genius.

Everyday indie developers are coming up with new ways to enjoy the genres we love. So why should we hate on them when a company like Sony is willing to invest big on these new and innovating ideas that they create? Sony is bringing these indie developers to the forefront, and not burying them in the back of a marketplace so that we would have to sort through a huge clutter of shit to find the diamonds in the rough. As gamers we should be happy to see that a company is willing to take risks, and not play it safe by buying up timed exclusives just for the sake of sales. Besides, these games that Microsoft has bought as so-called “exclusives” will soon be available on the Sony platform for us to enjoy. Add on all the indie goodness that came before it, and what you have is a win for gamers.

Pros:
2D Deathmatch Gameplay Is Fun
Looks Nice Graphically

Cons:
Limited Maps, Classes and Game Modes
Nobody Online For Multiplayer
Not Much Replay Value

After a brief delay Take Arms was finally released to the masses on Xbox Live Indie Games. One of the final games on the Summer Uprising brings us deathmatch style gameplay all on a good looking 2D plane. With all that said I was really hyped up about the game. Sadly, Take Arms is nothing more than a poor man’s ZP2KX.

Take Arms, from Discord Games, can be considered as a stripped down bare bones 2D version of Call of Duty. In other words you get what Call of Duty is supposed to do without all the extras. The multiplayer based shooter really doesn’t say why your fighting, but then again neither do most other shooters. It’s basically red vs green in the ultimate battle for supremacy. So what color do you want to be?

Featuring three game modes (Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture The Flag), three maps, and three weapon classes it’s safe to assume that Take Arms has the infamous “Rule of Three” down to a tee. For a game of this type I would expect more, but didn’t get it. Maybe it will be DLC. According to Discord Games, you can expect some content down the road. However, I feel that more maps were needed now, because the three that are available will bore you after a few games.

As for the gameplay itself, Take Arms accels with fun 2D gameplay which I found enjoyable. Those familiar with ZP2KX will notice the familiar 2D deathmatch gameplay. It’s actually quite fun and Take Arms does a good job here with it. Your character will run, jump and shoot across large stages filled with bunkers, bridges, tunnels, and so much more. Grenade throwing will become your best friend when characters are hiding in lower levels, and snipers won’t be camping long especially in these wide open environments.

I took a long while to write this review due to the reason that Take Arms is strictly a multiplayer game. You can play alone by choosing bots, but it doesn’t feel the same. One of the game’s biggest setbacks is the lack of online players. I wanted to test my killing skills online, but I couldn’t find one game on Xbox Live where people were playing. Considering the fact that there’s way to many other games out there it’s safe to assume that Take Arms will be hearing crickets online.

Another problem that I have with Take Arms has to do with why they have an XP system. What is the purpose of leveling up? Well according to this game it might just be there to show how good you are. There’s nothing special about leveling up. There’s no perks, upgraded weapons, nothing whatsoever. This is a huge disappointment. There’s no real incentive here to keep playing past a couple of playthroughs.

Overall, Take Arms is a game filled with so much potential, but fails to execute. Graphically, the game is nice. The action is well done. Sadly, everything else is not exciting enough to warrant a purchase. Add on to the fact that nobody is playing the game online makes this the icing on the cake in a negative way. Try out the demo if your feeling froggy, otherwise this game is a pass. Time to go back to ZP2KX.

A big thank you goes out to James Petruzzi of Discord Games for providing me with a review code of the game. Thanks again James. BH

Pros:
Controls Flow Well With The Game Action
Excellent Multiplayer

Cons:
Game Is Too Short
Asking Price Is A Little High

In a world where a mad bomber is hell bent on destruction, one man will be charged with saving the day. He must be strong. He must be brave. He must be fast. He must also have a grappling hook. Let’s welcome Speedrunner to the latest batch of original superheroes. The latest title in the Xbox Live Indie Games Summer Uprising brings us a battle of good vs evil. Sadly, this adventure is over as soon as it starts.

Speedrunner HD, from DoubleDutch Games, is 18 levels of fast paced action as you make your way from Point A to Point B in the quickest time possible. Each action packed level  is an obstacle course filled with jumps, slides and grapple points. along with that comes dangers like gaps, spikes and other obstacles meant to slow our hero down. In between all the action is comic book inspired cutscenes to get you involved in the story. At first I quickly passed through this to go to the stages just to play the game. Later I went back to get myself involved with the story and found the comic fun to read.

As I was literally going balls to the wall through each level, I saw myself getting into the action. Each move you make is fluid and flows nicely with the game. I’ve also had no signs of hiccups in the jumps and slides which is a big plus. With all that said you would think that I thought the game was easy. Well your wrong. The early levels feel more like a tutorial, but the later levels are a true test of patience. Get ready for some trial and error in Speedrunner HD because your going to die quite a bit almost to the point of wanting to throw down your controller in fits of rage.

One area I really enjoyed is multiplayer. You and three other wannabe heroes can jump into some local multiplayer action. Just having a few friends by to play the game made for some interesting competition. I will tell you that the multiplayer action almost felt reminiscent to Mario Kart as everyone was running for their lives in mass confusion while also trying to figure out where to go to reach the goal. This makes for some great party game action.

If there was one thing that I had a problem with in Speedrunner HD it would have to be how quickly the game ended. With the fast paced nature of the game, Speedrunner’s heroic adventures end almost as quickly as it begins. Around 30-45 minutes is all it takes to master this game which made me wonder if players are willing to accept the 240 Microsoft Point ($3.00) asking price. At 80 Microsoft Points however, this game would be a steal.

While the single-player campaign may not be up to speed in terms of length, Speedrunner HD does have an addictive multiplayer component that will make players not think about the inaugural asking price. The game is a lot of fun to play, but don’t expect a lot of replay value unless your a real completionist by saying to yourself that you must achieve that gold medal. In the end, Speedrunner HD is a fun game, but I wish there was more to enjoy.

A big thank you goes out to Casper Van Est of DoubleDutch Games for providing me a review code for the game. Thanks Casper! BH

Pros:
Plays like a combination of Street Fighter and Fatal Fury
The $1.00 price tag is hard to beat

Cons:
Storylines are boring
It’s more an update to a previous release than a new game

The majority of fighting games on Xbox Live Indie Games absolutely suck. They seem to run very slow and their movements are very clunky and unresponsive. While this is a big disappointment, the release of Battle High: San Bruno changed everything with fast paced gameplay reminiscent of classic fighting games including Street Fighter II and Fatal Fury. After playing the game for a few days, I found Battle High enjoyable and fun. Then I quickly ran back to the Street Fighter games.

Battle High: San Bruno takes the classic fighting formula and makes an entertaining game that old school fighting game fans will enjoy. I will say that this game is not the greatest (it’s actually an update to a previous release), but for the price of only 80 Microsoft Points ($1.00) it’s one hell of a buy that’s worth picking up. With that in mind I suggest you brush up on your quarter circle and other charge up moves.

If your looking for a deep intricate storyline to understand what the hell is goping one and why these teens are fighting one another then Battle High will not impress you. The storyline makes about as much sense as Dragonball Z…seriously! As I was playing the game, I did notice that each of the game’s eight characters have their own intersecting text based story which is about as interesting as watching paint dry. Remember, this is a fighting game so storylines take a huge back seat to all the on screen action.

As for the fighters themselves, Battle High features a cast of eight characters each with their own unique movesets that are a balance between the Street Fighter and Fatal Fury games. While some of the characters are a little “emo” in nature, there were a couple that really stood out. One was the superhero wannabe Arvid, the young Balrog type named H.W. and the Jason Vorhees look-a-like names Bryan who has a special that uses a fire axe and chainsaws. No Camp Crystal Lake this summer for these teens.

If your familiar with the typical controls of the Street Fighter games then you should have no problem with Battle High. Each of the moves are pretty simple to execute and super combos work with little to no effort. You don’t need to be a fighting expert to play this game. Better yet, there’s no need for button mashing either. The game does include a training mode to practice moves and also includes a full moves list in the pause menu in case you have a brainfart.

I mentioned earlier that Battle High: San Bruno is an update to the previous game. New to the update is a change to full widescreen support. This is a nice move, but the action doesn’t really utilize the entire screen. The characters feel so small compared to the large backgrounds. Also added are minigames in between the fights. Those familiar to Street Fighter II will recognize the car smashing and barrel busting games (uses balls here). There’s also a tetherball game for two players that’s pretty unique and fun.

Battle High: San Bruno doesn’t really stand out like all the other fighting games that have crowded the marketplace, but for a game that costs only a dollar it’s hard to pass up. It’a fast and furious action with plenty of cool moves that are simple to pull off. It’s definitely worth a pickup for you and some friends to play for a quick change of pace in between all the bigger and better fighters.

A big thank you goes out to Matthew DeLucas for providing me with a review code for the game. Thanks Matt! BH

Pros:
Full Of Obstacle Course Style Action

Cons:
Hiccups In The Jumping Mechanics
Not Much Replay Value Past Initial Playthrough

In the future, the world will look like the movie Tron and it will run on batteries. Who will run the world of the future…Energizer or Duracell? Maybe that bunny who keeps going and going is the president! OK, maybe I’m getting out of hand on this, but my opening comments sum up the look of T.E.C. 3001 on Xbox Live Indie Games. A game that combines the elements of Tron and I Robot into one game. That’s just the surface. The rest of the game…well let’s talk about that.

T.E.C. 3001, from Phoenix Game Studio, transports us to the world on the future featuring a robot on a mission to collect batteries. Each of the game’s race inspired stages will have you running, jumping, and sliding through various obstacles in order to achieve the goal. At first this concept reminded me of the bonus stages in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. What T.E.C. 3001 really boils down to is that this game is nothing more than a standard reflex tester as you’ll repeat some of the same maneuvers over and over again.

So here’s how it all works. Your robot will basically run on a track collecting batteries and avoiding obstacles with the goal of acquiring a certain amount of batteries and crossing the finish line as quiskly as possible. Again, just like Sonic 2. All of the running is done automatically so your main movements will be from side to side. You’ll then come up to obstacles like short walls that you can jump over, walls you slide under, and panels you can smash through. There’s also moments where the track will end and you must jump to another track. Tracks also include speed and brake pads as well as a speed gate which will have you literally running at warp speed.

There was a time while I was playing T.E.C. 3001 that I felt I was in a big budget Hollywood action movie as I would run, jump and slide through any obstacle that was in my way. Then there was the moments where I would throw my controller down in rage because I would miscalculate a jump or fell into the endless void because I missed a track. T.E.C. 3001 is the type of game that will test your patience because you’ll fail a lot when you get past the early stages. This means expect a lot of trial and error all in the name of progress.

Other than drying my patience at times, T.E.C. 3001 does have some faults. One of these issues is when it comes to jumping. There are some major hiccups in this concept. There are times, especially when I was running at high speed, that I was unable to jump at all. Instead of a routine jump I ended up like a Looney Tunes character smashing into a wall foircing me to start all over again from the beginning of the level. The game does have checkpoints, but they’re pretty stretched out. Another issue I have is with replay value. Once you find a way to finish the game there was not much reason for me to go back. Mainly this was due to the the game’s repetitive nature and frustration of finishing certain levels where I died a lot.

T.E.C. 3001 is not a terrible game, it’s more like a decent game just filled with a ton of repetitiveness which could have some people hitting the delete button after one go around. The jumping hiccups are almost enough to ruin the game, but the sheer sense of speed can help make up for it. Somehow, I can expect an update coming to help fix it. In the end, I suggest downloading the demo first before making the 240 Microsoft Point ($3.00) investment.

A big thank you goes out to Phoenix Game Studio for providing a review code for the game. Thanks again! BH

Pros:
Very Addictive Gameplay
Watching These Critters Die Never Gets Old

Cons:
Can’t Share Created Levels Online
What’s Up The Hate Robot’s Obsession With Pinching Nipples?

Do cute little creatures deserve to die? Well obviously that answer is…No! Then again when the time calls for it there’s nothing wrong with sending cute little critters to their bloody death. Now that I think about it, I’ve decided to retract my previous answer. Yes, they deserve to die a painfully horrible death! Of course I’m not the only guy who thinks they deserve to die in Cute Things Dying Violently on Xbox Live Indie Games.

Cute Things Dying Violently, from ApathyWorks, brings an extremely addictive game filled with plenty of cute little blue balls. These critters are more than just little balls with legs. They also have those cute little voices that talk to you. How cute. However, these little critters have a big problem. That would be to escape certain death at the hands of…you. So the big question is do you want to help our cute little blue friends, or send them to their bloody deaths. What to do? Hmm, decisions…decisions.

CTDV is filled with more than 60 levels of gloom and doom for our cute blue critters. Of course it’s all up to you to lead them to that magical elevator or to their death. At first CTDV reminded me of the old school game Lemmings, but after launching a few critters with their cute little voices talking to me saying “Hello” or “Hi” along with other cute little messages I began to realize that this game was much different. Getting these little blue balls to their goal is done by launching them with your target. Using the left analong stick you guide the target to a critter. Then you grab them with the left trigger. Using the right analog stick you choose the direction and how much velocity you wish to use. Letting go of the right analog stick will then launch them to their goal or to their doom. In the beginning the controls will take some times getting used to, but after a few launches you’ll get it down. Mastering them is a completely different story.

Each puzzle filled level features plenty of challenges as well as death traps for our cute friends. You’ll find some helpful items like springs and buttons to clear obstacles. Lets also not forget about the traps ranging from deadly spikes, saw blades, fire and so much more. Anytime one of those cute little critters find their way to these items of death, well then it’s off to the little blue ball colony in the sky. As for their physical body, well let’s just say that it will be raining blood. It’s tough to see a little bugger go out like that, but sometomes it’s all in the name of progress. There’s also one other thing…a very pissed off robot who wants to kill them as well. Why does he hate them so much? Who knows. I guess it doesn’t like cute things.

Throughout my time playing CTDV I couldn’t help but laugh at all the game’s funny moments. Listening to the cute little critters begging me not to send them to their deaths at times made me have a change of heart. However, when a couple decided to call me a “shithead” or told me to go “F” myself well then it was off to the sawblade they go. Watching the terrifying moments of seeing them sawed in half, burned, and even electrocuted made me laugh. Another moment was with the boss battles with the hate robot. While it was trying to kill my cute little friends I did catch him mentioning something about pinching nipples. I don’t know what his obsession was, but I found it hilarious yet disturbing all at the same time.

CTDV is more than just a single player campaign. The game also features multiplayer where you and a friend can save and kill critters to your hearts desire. There is a catch. Like most games found on the indie games marketplace, the multiplayer is local only. I will tell you that it is a lot of fun to unleash carnage with all of your friends. However, if the game had online play over Xbox Live that would’ve put it over the top. What really makes CTDV stand out is with its full-fledged level editor where you get to create your own levels. Here you can let your creativity or your truly sadistic nature go wild. I started creating a few levels including the first boss battle in the original Sonic the Hedgehog except with a few new death inducing features to kill my little critters no matter how much they loved me or wanted to cuss me out.

For the low price of only 80 Microsoft Points ($1.00) CTDV has it all. Here you’ll find love, hate, cuteness, sadness, pleasure, drama, comedy and pinching nipples. What’s not to like about this game? You can’t go wrong when you have it all. CTDV is a must download so I suggest everyone reading this to buy the game right now. The more support you give, the more updates Apathy Games will provide. Maybe even online level sharing? We shall see. Until then it’s time for me to get back to the game acting as judge, jury and executioner to those cute little critters. Now who wants to die first?

A big thank you goes out to Alex Jordan of ApathyWorks for providing me with a review code for the game. Thanks again Alex! BH