After a short trip to the moon with its excellent Lunar Bundle, it seems that time wasn’t nice at all to Earth, considering most of the thematic games in Indie Royale‘s newest Mayhem Bundle show a rather desperate struggle for humanity to survive.
On offer this time around are arcade zombie shooter Burn Zombie Burn!, alien shooter Primal Fears, RPG sci-fi horror shooter Alien Shooter 2: Conscription, all in the same top-down fashion, while adventure game Lucius puts the splatter and horror into the tried and tested point-and-click and stealth genre. Some war horror is encapsulated in the RTS-with-ships title Ironclads: Anthology, while multiplayer-robot-action Plain Sight is in stark contrast to the only game without any bloodshed in this bundle, the puzzler Droplitz.
With quite a lot of games to cover, fortunately one (Lucius) already given a full length review treatment and unfortunately two with some personal gaming issues almost unplayable, this is one bundle not easy to discuss, compared to the other compilations before.
Burn Zombie Burn!
(UK 2009, developer/publisher: doublesix, platforms: PC, PS3)
A cartoony score-attack shooter with no story might not be the most engaging title with longevity, but despite its simple premise of fighting back waves of the undead with all kinds of weapons which can be upgraded by various killing methods (burning and then destroying zombies makes dropping more unique items more likely), there’s quite a lot of fun to be had.
The graphics are not breathtaking, but they are still nice to look at, and together with an awesome punk rock soundtrack, the game becomes an addictive time waster, even if a story mode with some cut scenes would have been nice, because the gameplay of survival, tower-defense modes can get old very quick, but maybe not for highscore chasers who want to perfect their play styles.
I already had the pleasure to play and review that game before in a full-length article, so suffice it to say that it isn’t for the easily offended because of its subject matter (young boy kills his household one by one) and graphic violence.
Still despite some gameplay issues and a frustrating difficulty level, this is a unique title which at least should be given a try by those people who always think point-and-click adventure games and stealth games play it safe with their same old mechanics and stories.
(UK 2010, developer/publisher: Beatnik Games, platform: PC)
Unfortunately I couldn’t spend a lot of time with this game because of my motion sickness. Yes, I’ve played through quite a few FPS and other 3D games, but the problem with this title is that it’s so damn fast. Imagine a deathmatch version of Super Mario Galaxy‘s running around a planet 360 degrees, which might sound great in theory, but is incredibly nauseating with its awkward camera movement.
Only to give some more info about its combat system: The player controls a small robot who has to push through his opponents. Gaining experience points, depending on the color of the enemies, means levelling up which can only be done after one makes the robot explode by itself. It sounds confusing and the controls together with the camera are even more so, but if you have the stomach for that, give it a try anyway, because the music and minimalistic graphics point to a different deathmatch experience compared to other more violent FPS out there.
(Germany 2013, developer/publisher: DnS Development, platform: PC)
Having recently played Dead Nation, this is quite similar, i.e. it’s all about survival shooting in a post-apocalyptic world. The horror doesn’t only come in the form of creepy monsters, but also because ammunition management is just as important as upgrading one’s weapons. This is done by putting money (which is simply earned by killing enemies) into vending machines a.k.a. stores.
It might not be the most original or best-looking game, but tension and horror is still created by its atmospheric sound ambience and convincing creature design. As levels can be selected freely, an overall story arc and therefore the motivation to play through each stage suffer, but then again Dead Nation and all the other top-down multiplayer shooters are simple arcade-y affairs anyway and provide some splatter fun.
Alien Shooter 2: Conscription
(Russia 2010, developer/publisher: Sigma Team, platform: PC)
The clunky controls and collision detection could definitely be improved, but despite its similarities to other top-down horror shooters like Alien Breed, this is still a very fun game, mainly due to its simple RPG elements and the fast-paced if clichéd story progression.
The graphics and sound show their low budget, but this doesn’t distract from the fact that shooting ridiculously big waves of various enemy forms hasn’t been this much fun since the first Serious Sam games, even if the dialogues are less tongue-in-cheek and more unintentionally funny, adding to the trash quality of the game.
(UK 2009, developer/publisher: Blitz Games Studios, platforms: PC, Xbox 360, iOS, Metro, MetroTab)
Whoever thought that the simple gameplay of changing the direction of water pipes in order to bring a fluid from point A to B would make for an addictive puzzle experience with a Tetris twist? This time drops of whatever liquid it is have to be led through a maze of pipes from the upper to the lower bottom of the screen. So far so old, but as more than one start and goal has to be taken into account and the fluid moves faster with each level, things start to get a little bit more hectic.
There are some additional bonus drops to consider which clear one path and open another when they hit the bottom while being directed in the right way, so one always has to adjust to the current situation. With some combo score system it’s again more for the highscore chasers than people who like a lot of variety during their playtime. But as time wasters or sinkers go, there’s certainly quite a bit to like in this title.
Oh well, another one of those If-you-have-the-time-to-learn-all-the-controls-and-wait-for-stuff-to-attack games which might be fascinating for simulation fans, but pretty boring for RTS-lovers who prefer an engaging story, characters and varied missions over realism…so nothing really for me.
There’s certainly a lot in here for history buffs and naval combat aficionados, considering that this compilation includes Anglo Russian War 1865, Chincha Islands War 1866, High Seas, Schleswig War 1864 and America Civil War with each one individually priced around 10 dollars. But for me the graphics, controls and overall slow gameplay were already a no-go from the instant I started it. Still for fans of the genre, it might be worth a look.
Mayhem revisited with some music to dance the madness away
After Indie Royale’s last strong Lunar Bundle offering, this package might seem a bit less spectacular with the top-down shooter formula dominating the scene with three games. This of course doesn’t mean these aren’t fun to play, because they are, even if there isn’t a lot of innovation to set them apart from so many others in the genre. The same can be said about the deathmatching, naval battling and puzzling concepts in the other titles which don’t offer anything new either. Lucius is not the most polished of games, but there’s certainly no cheaper way to experience this controversial title together with other games which go for much more money online.
Bonus content is sparse with only Burn Zombie Burn! unlocking a player’s guide, comic book and the fun soundtrack. Those who prefer some Gameboy dance moves over punk have to pay around 8 dollars to get the chiptune album Phonetic Symphony by Chipzel.
Last but not least it should be mentioned that Indie Royale also provides a link for downloading the art book of the sci-fi mech shooter game Strike Suit Zero for free.
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