Even as a supporter of traditional boxed games (something physical for a collector) it’s nice to see so many indie games finding their way online in bundles for less than when bought separately. Of course there’s always something one doesn’t really want, but it’s great value nonetheless most of the time. Steam may be a good way of finding new games everyday, but there are enough people who find it less attractive to have a program organizing all the games.
Indie bundles offer the chance to dip into new genres and try out experimental games one is reluctant to pay for in their original form. One such bundle (which is still running for less than two days) is Bundle In A Box.
Admission nearly free
With less than 1 dollar as a starting point, there are some really interesting adventure games which are usually on sale individually for 5-10 euros (as downloads). If one pays a bit more (around 5 dollars at the moment), two more games are added to the direct downloads, together with soundtracks and a booklet. Anyone complaining about games costing too much shouldn’t find anything to complain about in this package (although liking adventures or reading a lot is a prerequisite in this case).
Both Ben and Dan games (Ben There, Dan That and Time Gentlemen, Please!) are great fun if one likes crude humor and mind-twisting puzzles which are reminiscent of old LucasArts adventures. It’s been some time since I played them, but I’d give them a rating of 7 or 8/10, even if they don’t offer voice acting.
If one likes it a bit cruder and bloodier, Metal Dead should do the trick nicely. The drawings (especially of the characters) seem to be found in elementary schools’ classrooms, but when the bodies start to pile up and the splatter really kicks in you know it’s not really a children’s game. Even with Telltale Games’ recent The Walking Dead I found this indie adventure, even with lots of slapstick humor, captured the zombie claustrophic movies of old from Romero perfectly. Having a whole tower of rooms which are only accessed slowly, puzzles which are not too mind-bending like in most adventure games, this is definitely a title worth every cent. It might be downright silly at some points, but the pacing with the story’s twists and turns makes for an interactive zombie romp which can be rated 9/10 just for its entertainment value.
The Shivah is, like his Blackwell Games another Dave-Gilbert-detective adventure game, only this time with a cynic Rabbi as the main protagonist. Music and voice acting, even with a low budget, are excellent, so are the dialogues. The gameplay is a bit rough around the edges as the puzzles rely too much on finding passwords, but the title again shows that there can be adventure games with a religious background which walk the fine line between entertainment and education. A nice 7/10.
Another game from Gilberts D.I.Y. publishing firm Wadjet Eye Games, but by student Joshua Nuernberger is the the sci-fi-adventure Gemini Rue, a game I already had the pleasure of reviewing at the Adventure-Treff website. A captivating story with strong voice acting, only the characters writing needing some work, it’s another atmospheric thriller which many high-production adventure-games never seem to achieve, making it an 8/10.
Two more games are included in the bundle, one I played a few hours, but which lacks in the story and gameplay department: The Sea Will Claim Everything feels more like an RPG with too many quests without the fighting or a text adventure with too many characters and places to remember. There’s certainly something immersive in the way the music plays and the gameworld is drawn, the philosophical and political underlying message making it maybe more mature than what at first glance seems a generic fantasy scenario. But when one is given a notebook which doesn’t include any specific place references, one more or less clicks away in the hope to talk to the right person. A bit like a casual adventure in the sense of hidden objects. Or maybe it’s also a sort of parody on adventure and RPG tropes? Either way, it’s hard to give it more than a 6/10.
The last game on the list which I only tried out briefly is 1893, partly text adventure with a crime story, partly educational history guide book. Maybe because it’s so much text and I never got into those types of adventure games or because it’s like reading a museum of history website with music which doesn’t really add anything to the suspense, it’s not really my cup of tea, so no rating here.
Highly recommended bundled concepts
All in all, this indie bundle should offer enough hours of suspenseful, funny, bloody, educational entertainment for less than a budget-adventure-title. Directly supporting developers (with the Dev Grant) and charity (The Hellenic Centre for Mental Health and Treatment of Child and Family) is another plus, so make sure to pay-as-you want here before it runs out:
Bundle In A Box