The team of Indie Royale doesn’t seem to take a break, and this time there’s even more content in both gaming and extras to please fans of experimental and classic gaming goodness for less than a fiver, all found in the Debut Bundle.
This time puzzle and especially platformer fans are well treated with physics-based Master of Alchemy – Rise of the Mechanologists, cartoony and colorful Wimp: Who Stole My Pants?, jump-in-space 6180 The Moon, 3D-jungle-adventure Isaac the Adventurer and run-and-gun westerner Gunman Clive. Point-and-click adventure lovers will certainly be pleased with the story-driven and puzzle-heavy Cognition Episode 1: The Hangman, while tower-defense-strategy is served with McDroid and arcade action is handled rather nicely with Cloudphobia.
A lot to play with not much time and space to cover in full detail, so here’s a quick rundown of each individual title.
This game has already been covered in full length in a rather long review (with a 9/10 rating), so only a few words will suffice to give a general idea of what to expect.
A classic point-and-click adventure game which hails back to the Gabriel Knight series of Sierra both in tone and execution (with the original creator Jane Jensen helping out with some of the story aspects), it offers a suspenseful story with believable characters and inventive puzzle design which is reflected by the use of specific abilities of the subtitle-giving FBI agent Erica Reed to find out about events in the past, how people remember them and how they are linked together.
It’s simply one of the best adventure games in years (even if the second episode can’t match the first one’s long playtime and general quality in storytelling and puzzles) and is not to be missed by fans of the genre and an audience who genuinely wants to feel part of a grisly, tense, intelligent and touching story.
(USA 2013, developer/publisher: Elefantopia, platform: PC)
Another one of those tower-defense titles, but this time with a unique presentation of celshading graphics and an acoustic western rock soundtrack. Even if the gameplay doesn’t deviate much from the established Plants vs. Zombies template, it at least gives the player the opportunity to freely move around the main robot who can repair his base and defense turrets while using his own weaponry to dispose of the waves of enemies, adding a bit more arcade or RTS action to the proceedings.
Master of Alchemy – Rise of the Mechanologists
(Italy 2012, developer/publisher: DarkWave Games, platform: PC, iOS)
Though the cover and title would suggest another run-of-the-mill RPG-RTS title, this is actually quite a challenging puzzler which is reminiscent of the old Incredible Machine games, i.e. using the right tools in order to make more and more complex mechanisms work. In this case, it’s all about liquids which have to find their ways to the appropriate containers.
It’s a fun and addictive game, even if the learning curve is pretty steep and it doesn’t help much that the fluids start flowing at the beginning of a level without giving the player a chance to plan his moves. There’s also no pause button, which of course makes it more hectic than it should be.
(Japan 2013, developer/publisher: Marsbound, platform: PC)
A side-scrolling shmup with an interesting risk-reward mechanic: With only three minutes for each level, the player’s mech’s speed can be boosted, which of course makes hitting the incoming targets a matter of fast reflexes and maneouvering skills. Missed targets do not only mean a lower highscore, but they directly hit the mothership the player has to protect.
As is typical of the genre, the gameplay can get quite frantic, bosses are pretty big, and the anime presentation (after all, it’s giant robots flying around) isn’t anything to get particularly excited about. Still with its smooth gameplay, an tension-inducing industrial soundtrack, it’s a very nice way to relive those 16-bit days of past glory the older consoles had in more supply than demand.
Wimp: Who Stole My Pants?
(Russia 2013, developer/publisher: Flexile Studio, platform: PC, iOS)
With such a bonkers title, expectations for an elaborated story and character development aren’t very high, so it isn’t surprising that the main goal is to find enough toilet paper to make it through the next glas bottle cube connection thingy. This is done by getting a green blob in another bubble through self-contained levels with lots of enemies, spiky or acid things to avoid, among other dangers.
A platformer which does not only require some dexterity and precise timing while pushing the jump button, but also made quite clever with the ability to attach oneself to surfaces like boxes or rotating planks. As the game progresses, so do more and more hazard environments and its individual creatures demand a lot of lateral thinking.
What makes the game really stand out is its Raymanesque presentation: a fun soundtrack, fluid animations and beautifully drawn characters and environments. It might be over-the-top silly, but with its looks and fun gameplay, it’s sure to please the puzzle-platformer crowd who like their games as cartoony as they come.
6180 The Moon
(Korea 2013, developer/publisher: Turtle Cream & PokPoong Games, platform: PC)
Another title which doesn’t tell much of the genre or general gameplay. Looking more like a typo for the excellent To The Moon, it’s a surprisingly unique-looking-sounding-playing platformer.
Its simplistic black-and-white-lines aesthetics and hauntingly beautiful soundtrack are only a disguise for a very challenging platformer in which the player controls the sun to find its moon. Going through various levels means understanding the concept of momentum the ball gets and how falling through the bottom of the screen results in continuing its descent from the top. A simple, but very effective gameplay idea which becomes quite hardcore in later levels by challenging both brain and fast fingers to complete them.
(Sweden 2012, developer/publisher: beril, platforms: PC, iOS, 3DS)
A sometimes unfair (no checkpoints) run-and-gun game which stands out from its competitors by its great western soundtrack and the sepia-toned graphics which make it visually and auditorily arresting. Like the older 8-or-16-bit classics, dying is a way of learning from mistakes, the same holds true for the enemy patterns which have to be memorized in order to survive each section.
It certainly doesn’t reinvent the genre or try anything particularly new in gameplay terms, but the presentation itself is a selling point which can’t be underestimated.
Isaac The Adventurer
(Slovenia 2012, developer/publisher: Artisiti d.o.o., platforms: PC, iOS)
Another platformer with a pseudo-story which is still satisfying to a certain degree in its gameplay. The simple idea of collecting as many gold coins as possible for a higher score and getting a key to open a portal at the end of the level isn’t really that groundbreaking, but there’s quite some strategy involved with platforms falling down after the player touches them, which can easily lead to dead ends if one isn’t careful enough.
It’s only too bad that the third dimension adds to the typical control issues, even if the camera doesn’t have to be re-arranged. What’s more annoying is how clunky the characters movements are at times, making precise jumps unnecessarily frustrating to execute.
Visually the character model isn’t the greatest, but the backdrops are quite nice to look at, and the music and environmental sound effects of the jungle contribute to more immersion than the background story can provide.
A strong debut with lots of encores
If 8 games are not already enough and justify the price of less than 5 dollars, the bonus content gives more than enough incentives to buy this bundle. A wonderfully drawn prequel comic of Cognition, the catchy soundtracks of McDroid and Wimp plus the atmospheric easy-listener of 6180 The Moon complement the nice package.
Paying more than 8 dollars also unlocks Motorway by chiptune artist Fearofdark, which comprises another great collection of self-made videogame music.
What’s left to say with such a wide range of genres and variety of games than to appreciate how Indie Royale again manages to give its audience countless hours of fun with a low entry price which is hard to find anywhere else. So make sure to check out their website and pay what you want.
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