A journey to the moon might be a long way off as a vacation spot, but thanks to Indie Royale’s latest Lunar Bundle, at least there are some otherworldly, stellar games to enjoy for less than a fiver before this becomes a reality.
This time, there are an impressive number of indie games on offer with Limbo-but-more-cheery-style puzzle-platformer Pid, arcade-y Cargo Commander, cinematic point-and-click adventure Back To The Future: The Game, rhythm-puzzler Dungeon Hearts, experimental adventure-meets-RPG The Sea Will Claim Everything, sports simulation International Snooker and brain-teaser Micron.
With a bit more time to play (thanks to an extended offer period), the following short reviews will be more in-depth than in previous articles and will hopefully do justice to this awesome package.
(Sweden 2012, developer/publisher: Might and Delight, platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3)
Being at first reminiscent of Limbo with its boy protagonist in a hazardous environment which is full of platforming and puzzling to traverse, it also becomes clear that this is a much more story-driven game with characters to talk to and special abilities to unlock.
The presentation is also much more colorful, as black and white is replaced by some beautifully drawn backgrounds and imaginative character models, even if voice acting is reduced to a fantasy language.
Still this is not an accessible game by any means when it comes to the learning and difficulty curve. Even if there’s an auto-checkpoint system, restarting some screens because of instant deaths can get rather frustrating. But it shouldn’t put off platformer and puzzle fans who like their games with a wonderful presentation.
(Netherlands 2012, developer/publisher: Serious Brew, platform: PC)
Drilling one’s way through cargo containers before being blown out into space is quite a thrilling experience, even if the difficulty is a bit lower, as there’s usually enough time to get to another one or back home before the air-meter runs out.
The overall idea is certainly inventive enough for the first couple of minutes, and planning ahead which parts of the cargo to drill through (taking into account that gravity can work against the player sometimes) is key to rack up the most points. As with most of these arcade-like games, it can get a bit repetitive after that, so it’s nice to see that the developer included an email system to further develop the main character.
Still there’s more arcade and action than a real puzzles or adventure elements which, coupled with some cheerful country soundtrack and cartoony graphics, makes this an entertaining game in quick bursts.
Back To The Future: The Game
(USA 2010, developer/publisher: Telltale Games, platforms: PC, PS3, Wii, iOS)
Before Telltale hit the jackpot with The Walking Dead and rose to both critical and commercial acclaim, they were already well-versed with adapting popular licences. Back To The Future was one of their first attempts to put something from the big screen on the PC gaming (and later other consoles) platform.
Nostalgia works especially well for fans of the movie series, as many jokes or references are lost in translation without knowing the source material. As a story, it fits surprisingly well into the canon of the original, not only because of the voice acting of Christopher Lloyd among others.
The only problem the game faces is in its gameplay, or more specific in its puzzle design. Compared to Sam & Max the inventiveness isn’t there anymore and what’s especially disappointing is how the complexity of the puzzles doesn’t do the time travel idea justice. The old Day of The Tentacle showed so much potential in that area which simply isn’t reached in this highly promising series.
Despite some gameplay flaws and an outdated graphics engine, great storytelling in both characterization and humor more than make up for it. Not to forget the playtime of 2-3 hours with each of the five episodes. Still for those adventure fans who want to have more interactivity and puzzles, this might be one of the last compromises between accessibility and head-scratching difficulty.
(USA 2013, developer: Technobabel, publisher: Devolver Digital, platform: PC, iOS)
The Match-3-of-the-same-color puzzle pattern has been around for some time and has been popularized by games like Puzzle Quest, so it’s no small surprise that this game has a fantasy setting and offers an upgrade system. The only major difference is that it’s much faster-paced.
More like a rhythm-action game in the vein of Final Fantasy Theatrhythm (only with the heroes on the left side and one enemy to defeat on the right side), the stones come quick and fast, and even the levelling up procedure can be quite frantic, as fast reflexes are key to survival.
With more and more extra stones introduced, the task at hand can be overwhelming at times and is therefore more for the experienced puzzle fan than the casual crowd. The gameplay is as addictive as ever, but some time to breathe or get involved in the story would have been nice as well.
The Sea Will Claim Everything
(Greece 2012, developer/publisher: Jonas Kyratzes, platform: PC)
While reviewing the first Bundle In A Box, I already had the chance to play this for quite a while, without really getting all of it.
Seemingly a mixture of text adventure (read: a lot of dialogues and descriptions of places) and light RPG elements (read: quests), it’s much more about visiting different places, speaking to illustrious characters than actually following a plot or solving intricate puzzles.
At times it also feels more like an experimental parody on what the player expects, with an inventory which bursts from its countless items, a quest log book which gives more and more tasks than can actually be completed. So it’s more about the atmosphere, the setting, the music which turns the game into a journey unlike any other, defying genre conventions.
Or some especially fun trailer which doesn’t show anything from the gameplay 😉
(UK 2012, developer/publisher: Kiss Ltd., platform: PC)
I have to confess I’ve never been much of a sports fan and I found watching a game of snooker on the TV as boring as playing it on a small PC screen, even if trying it in a real pub is pretty fun nonetheless. So yes, maybe it’s simply not for me to decide if this is a good simulation.
Suffice it to say that both (female) commentator and the audience add to the realism while scoring points to buy better equipment is another incentive to keep on playing. A multiplayer game might even be more fun if one finds someone like-minded with time on his or her hands.
All in all, it’s a bit weird to find this sort of game in an indie compilation which usually tries different sorts of things with innovative gameplay or a unique presentation.
(Canada 2012, developer/publisher: Apparition Games, platforms: PC, iOS, Android)
The concept is not the most original, as it has already been done in stand-alone puzzlers or mini games, but this doesn’t mean that using a limited number of deflecting mirrors to let something go from point A to point B can’t be mindbendingly difficult and fun at the same time.
In this case, it’s not a ray of light, but a ball which has to be guided to the exit. But the added difficulty is that more than one are sometimes necessary to break through certain walls or that buttons have to be pressed in order to open doors.
Something quite unique is how the soundtrack is created with the way the balls hit their targets. Just like a rhythm-action game, in some levels it’s absolutely essential to both listen to and watch the balls patterns with care in order to proceed.
To the moon and back with some gaming goods
Indie Royale’s newest entry in their ongoing series of indie bundles is without a doubt one of their strongest yet, especially when it comes to playtime. The price of admission is already justified with the five episodes of Back To The Future, but the other titles are genuinely fun to experience as well (even if that snooker game feels a bit out of place) and will last more than a couple of days until the next wave of games arrives.
Even if there is only the soundtrack of Cargo Commander to unlock, the number of games more than makes up for the lack of extras. Paying more than 6 Euros will give you some Amiga tunes goodness with TDK’s Reawakening.
As the offer will expire in less than a day, make sure to pay Indie Royale’s website a visit and get this cool collection of indie games.
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