The Maya calendar was wrong, and we’re all still here. But have we learned from our mistakes, have we evolved? Social criticism aside, Indie Royale‘s Evolved Bundle obviously makes indie gaming fun even after the end of the world as we know it.
It seems this time, the team decided for some more art in their selection with the sort-of-horror-kind-of-adventure-all-experimental non-game The Path and platform-puzzler-with-a-strange-name OIO. The latter as well as physics-based puzzle game Unmechanical have already been played and reviewed before here with quite some good scores, so it’s no bad thing to see them together again. Some more puzzle fun can be found in Sugar Cube: Bittersweet Factory and St. Chicken, while Krater offers enough content for the post-apocalyptic dungeon-crawling RPG loving crowd.
Playing the titles a bit and, in the case of OIO and Unmechanical, a lot, here are some thoughts and opinions about the newest indie games bundle…
As the full review already showed, this is both a beautiful and fun little game with only some minor control issues and inconsistencies in puzzle design. Still maneouvering the small robot through a maze of machinery and learning about its connections offers more than enough brain-teasing joy for an afternoon or two.
Just like Unmechanical, the already reviewed platform-puzzler doesn’t reinvent the genre, but gives players a strange world to lose themselves in, plus some mindbending tasks to perform. Again only the spiky difficulty curve makes it unnecessarily frustrating in some places, plus a gamepad option would have made progression a bit easier as well.
Sugar Cube: Bittersweet Factory
(China 2011, developer/publisher: Turtle Cream, platform: PC)
More puzzler than platformer, the main idea of the game is that the world is made up of two sides which the player can switch-change by touching (read: jumping or passing by) the appropriate tiles which are then turned over. It needs some careful planning and precise timing, especially since the stages introduce enemies, traps and some tiles which follow the protagonist with every step he takes.
Even if the game can get a bit frustrating, the cute background visuals, well-drawn cutscenes and fun music will bring a smile on everyone’s face who loves the style of Kirby and LocoRoco, with that certain sweet, colorful flavor.
(USA 2012, developer/publisher: Fresh Aces, platform: PC)
A hybrid between a swimming “platformer” and a puzzle game, the goal of each stage is to eat as many glowing orbs as possible (as a small fish), grow in size and have some baby fish which then have to be guided safely to the exit. But these Lemmings-like creatures have to be kept close and out of danger. If they’re alone or too far apart from the swimming protagonist, they simply fade away.
It’s certainly a difficult game to categorize, and the simple but not always responsive controls plus the sometimes erratic behavior of the small creatures can be quite frustrating. The soundtrack is also pretty repetitive, but with some weird visuals and the addictive gameplay, which is mainly due to the get-them-all collector’s gameplay, it remains a fun experience.
(Belgium 2009, developer/publisher: Tale of Tales, platform: PC)
Like Tale of Tales’ former experimental title The Graveyard, an atmospheric presentation with a haunting soundtrack and visuals reminiscent of paintings and a grain always present like in a movie, there is certainly something very unique about it. The only question is how much enjoyment one gets out of the gameplay which goes against conventions and if it’s a game for everyone.
Playing with the audience’s expectations when using the well-known Grimm fairytale Red Riding Hood and turning it into something unsettling with lurking horror in the woods, but also the unknown beauty of discovering new things which don’t lie on the linear path to the grandmother’s house, obviously offers some intrigue. An experiment with genre templates is well and good, but it also depends on the player’s own curiosity and endurance.
Like the old woman walking to a bench in The Graveyard, following the straight path with one of the many characters can bring the game to a conclusion in less than five minutes, or one can take all the time in the world and look around. Just like life, it’s up to everyone to decide what to do with one’s time and if it’s worth to enter the path at all or choose another altogether. Still despite its open nature and interpretation or maybe exactly because of it, it should at least be played once by everyone, even by people who’re not into gaming.
(Sweden 2012, developer/publisher: Fatshark, platform: PC)
It’s refreshing to see something different than the typical orks vs. humans top-down RPG fare the genre has spewn out over the years. More like Fallout with quite some impressive artwork and lovingly crafted environments, it’s easy to be immersed in a world not unlike one’s own, only set in a maybe not too far post-apocalyptic world.
The (for an indie game) graphic fidelity is supplemented by some good voice acting and atmospheric music as well as some atmospheric sound effects which make traversing Krater’s world that much more fun and believable.
As with all RPGs, it needs some time to find out if quests and character development as well as story progression continue to offer enough incentives to go on. But what I’ve played so far is a very promising start in a genre which is too reliant on the standard fantasy tropes and stereotypes.
Evolved even further
If the amount of gameplay on offer wasn’t enough, there are of course some more extras to complement the package. St. Chicken has already been discussed, but it’s another unlocked bonus which wasn’t in the original bundle. The beautiful dream (or nightmare)-like soundtrack of The Path together with the cheery tunes of Sugar Cube: Bittersweet Factory and some DLC for Krater add to the overall experience, while by paying more than 8 Dollars, CoLD StoRAGE’s SLIPSTREAM Volume One provides some dance-trance-techno party grooves and moves.
All in all, Indie Royale’s latest Evolved Bundle again shows what the indie community can offer in terms of variety and quality, making the entry price of under 4 Dollars more than justified. So head over to their Website and pay, play and support what you want.
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