Indie bundles are all the rage right now, and with Groupees, it becomes even harder to beat this value for money.
Not solely concentrating on games, but offering a variety of different media like movies, comics and music, the concept is rather intriguing: the more bundles are sold, the more special features are unlocked. In some cases, like the current Clandestine Feeds The Hungry the goal was to collect as much money to buy meals for 500 people. The reward: singer June Park will join the chat and be open to questions of the fans. This goal has already been achieved before the end in 7 days.
We’re in the same indie boat
Something that sets Groupees apart from other indie bundle sites is also the community itself. Unlike the others, contacting the support team is done via direct chat (email is still possible though). The site seems to struggle a bit with providing enough Steam or other codes for people, probably due to the sheer amount of bundles sold. But overall it works quite well (I didn’t have a problem getting all the games) and the team is fast to reply and nice to talk to. Of course it’s also possible to get in touch with other users as one is already logged in after registering.
The Bundle of the Damned in a box…nutshell
The Bundle of the Damned comprises quite a lot for less than 5 dollars: 6 games, 5 music albums, one comic and one movie.
The following round-up will just be a quick glance at the individual pieces, as time and space doesn’t allow to cover all of them in detail. Still some might pop up in future reviews.
Choose your indie poison
Of course with so many things on offer, tastes vary and there might be some things which one doesn’t really need or like. But in the end, for just less than a fiver and supporting charity, one can’t go wrong with this bundle.
Midnight Syndicate – Special Collection
More like ambient music, right on time for Halloween, this is a strange mix of creepy, but still beautiful tunes which could easily find their way into horror adventure games or movie soundtracks.
Mnemic – Mnemesis
A mix of metal and progressive rock with screaming and clean vocals, it doesn’t seem to set itself apart from its many other genre brothers. Still nicely produced, raw at some points and for fans of this kind of music (not meant in a derogatory way; I myself like to listen to it once in a while) entertaining to listen to.
Dawn of Ashes – Collection
A bit of Deftones, Marilyn Manson plus other synthesizer tricks and screaming, whispering or even choir parts, it’s nothing which sets the world on fire with originality, but it still manages to create some rather well-built song structures and ambience.
Like a lot of electronic hardcore rock stuff, styles change fast, so do the instruments and the general speed. Sometimes it feels a bit too much, but all in all there are quite some nice tunes to listen to if one is open to a wide variety of musical influences.
Your typical some-friends-decide-to-make-a-movie-without-acting-or-film-shooting-experiences. Not as terrible as some other amateur zombie movies, but not much good either. Mainly due to some slow pace and endless talking, not a lot of supernatural scenes, the main fun comes from how most of the actors deliver their lines, i.e. too exaggerated or just very wooden. Splatter effects are few, but rather well-made. The demon masks are very Evil–Dead-like, and of course the story could have been told in 10 minutes rather than 80. It’s a shame because the idea of fusing American Graffiti storytelling (different people, same night, come together) would make for some interesting twists. Same goes for one surprisingly atmospheric and chilling scene.
The Deathlings: Anne’s Story #1 52 Page Halloween Edition
(USA 2010, writer: Ian Struckhoff, publisher: Black Label Comics)
Having strange dreams and being killed is not the best way for a young woman to experience her life, especially when dealing with creatures from the other side.
Nicely drawn with some weird dream imagery, three short stories make for 48 pages reading which makes one wonder where to buy the rest of the series and have it in print form.
Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason
(Ukraine 2009, developer: Action Forms, publisher: 505 Games)
A man wakes up in an ice cavern and tries to unravel what happened to him and other people who were on board of a ship in the antarctis.
Some fresh settings can make all the difference. Even without any enemies, the atmosphere in the icy caverns is tense and unlike other FPS or action-adventure games. It has to be seen how the combat and puzzles work, and how the story progresses. But so far, this is quite a unique title which is reminiscent of The Thing and adds an interesting gameplay twist as the player can dive into dead people’s memories.
(USA 2012, developer/publisher: epicycle)
Surrounded by maneating monsters and without eyesight, the player is tasked to find his way by sound only.
A very unique gameplay experience which only uses sound to progress. It can actually be played by blind people as well, as there are only the directional buttons and the space bar to go through the locations, and this is mainly done by listening to sounds. In the tutorial it is even recommended to close one’s eyes in order to imagine the place.
I haven’t played very far, but this is definitely something worth the price of the bundle alone. Originality is not dead, it seems, and there are still games which surprise.
The Hideout Rijn the Specpyre in… Manor of the Damned!
(USA 2011, developer/publisher: The Hideout Games)
A vagabond has to fight vampyres, demons and other baddies.
Old-school top-down perspective dungeon crawler in the vein of the old Zelda titles. How puzzles and RPG elements are like, will become more apparent when playing it a bit longer. First impression: some nice soundtrack, intentionally outdated graphics. Only controls and combat system are a bit off as it’s difficult to hit fast-moving enemies.
Unlike so many first-person adventures, this one looks and sounds rather beautiful which is mainly because of the ability to move freely like an FPS. It only costs quite a lot of graphics and CPU power and in comparison to other high-end graphics titles, it doesn’t really justify the slowdowns. It’s also a bit unfortunate that one can’t change the resolution in the game as it starts with the desktop resolution which can be quite demanding.
Gameplay is also plagued by the same problems of most first-person adventures: not giving the player enough hints what to do or where to go.
Still as first impressions go, this one has quite a unique atmosphere and is worth investing more time (and resource power).
I played this ages ago before sinking my teeth into the great sequel Still Life. Graphics are not that good, but music and sound effects make for a rather immersive adventure game experience, especially in a creepy hotel as the setting. Of course due to the problem which so many first-person-adventures share, it’s sometimes difficult to navigate through the rooms in the step-by-step, click-from-one-screen-to-the-next gameplay.
Still a good way to experience it before getting into Still Life and its sequel (which I haven’t played yet, so it’s a perfect opportunity to revisit this game, and hopefully with a better localisation than the German voices allowed in the version I played).
Having received quite a lot of negative reviews in the press, I didn’t expect much. Sure, the graphics are pretty bad, the story doesn’t make much sense and the controls are a bit clunky, but the first 15 minutes are already a lot of fun with Hollywood-blockbuster-explosions, total chaos triggered by the beasts. It’s a rather unique setting, and even if it doesn’t deviate from other FPS titles in gameplay, it sure wins the prize for its cool premise.
Quite a lot of stuff to listen to, read, watch and play. So make sure you grab the bundle before the offer is not available anymore…which is in about a day!