Freakin’ Indies — 8/20 – 8/26

Hurray! The Indie Games Summer Uprising has finally kicked-off! I’ll get into the specifics of this week’s four ISGU releases in a moment, but suffice it to say that things are off to an awesome start. That said, this hasn’t been a perfect week. Most of these indies are alright, and a few (even non-ISGU titles) are downright awesome, but there is a bit of crap to be found. Sorry folks, I just plays ‘em, I don’t makes ‘em.

Doc Logic

- 80 points — DocLogic –

I don’t know where Doc Logic (or DocLogic for that matter) came from, but hot damn. This game is a must – a must – for retro action/platformer fans. Grab clocks to keep the timer running, gain access to more areas of a level by surviving long enough, power-up and gain new abilities through item drops… its all here and it’s all fantastic. Don’t miss this one.

Attanck!

- 80 points — Daisy Maze Games –

I like the general idea and classic gameplay style of Attanck!: it’s an old-school top-down shooter that utilizes a dual-stick movement system (remember Cyber Sled?). As weird as it is, I also rather enjoy the bizarre ASCII imagery and lined printer paper backgrounds. The levels themselves seem a bit simple, but my only real gripe is the way the entire stage moves when you turn. It’s a bit disorienting for me, but I can only imagine how bad it would be for someone with motion sickness. Still, fans of top-down arcade shooters should check it out.

Torque Quest

- 80 points — varga –

I wanted to play Torque Quest and be all like “Woah! This game is great! It’s incredibly crude and niche, but I love it!” Yeah, that didn’t happen. Sorry. It’s hard for me to narrow down why this one didn’t resonate with me. I think it’s a combination of elements such as the writing trying too hard to be funny (and falling too flat too often), the less-than-friendly “sweep the cursor around and see what has a name” interface, the saturation-bombing of video game references that feel more “just because than clever and the way it locks you into the Buy screen during the Interrogation Mode demo. It might good be for some, but certainly not for me.

Raventhorne **IGSU**

- 240 points — Milkstone Studios S.L. -

Some may associate Milkstone Studios with Avatar games, but I prefer to associate them with (generally) high-quality work. Raventhorne is most definitely a quality game, and a great way to start the Summer Uprising. It’s essentially a side-scrolling hack n’ slasher. A gorgeous hack n’ slasher. Better than that, one that controls well (an aspect that a lot of XBLIG devs tend to miss for some reason) and is legitimately fun to play.

Attack of the evil androids

- 240 points — Wizards Entertainment -

I’m not sure but I think Attack of the evil androids has the most misleading “cover art” I’ve seen since I began covering all of these things a couple of years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I love the art style (and the comic book title screen), but the game proper looks nothing like that. It’s actually an oddball little cartoony rolling… thing. I think the physics could use some tweaking as I was constantly over or undershooting my targets, and double-jumping can be a pain, but it’s not a bad game. It’s just not what I expected in the slightest.

Cursed Loot

- 80 points — Eyehook Games LLC –

Cursed Loot is actually Epic Dungeon. No really, it’s the same game. Kind of. Basically, because of MS policies, Eyehook Games couldn’t release their planned major update for the original game, so they had to re-list it as a completely new title. Granted there have been plenty of additions, including a new character class, but anyone who bought Epic Dungeon will have to purchase Cursed Loot if they play to experience the upgraded-ness. Of course, the game (technically both of them) is an awesome real-time Roguelike so it’s well worth the cost. Plus, both games together only come to $2. If you missed out on the first, buy this. If you bought the first and love it, buy this.

Heroes vs. Zombies

- 80 points — RicolaVG -

Heroes vs. Zombies is just all kinds of “meh.” It’s a class-based, character-leveling twin-stick shooter, but the whole thing feels like it just wasn’t well thought out. The “graveyard” the zombies are in just looks like a fenced-in field. The “heroes” all look like barely-detailed blobs. The skills that can be purchased between waves with earned experience are housed in one of the most dull-looking menus I’ve ever seen, plus there’s no description of anything. So I have no idea what any of the skills do, let alone what any of the stats I can upgrade will help me with. It needs more… development, I guess.

Meep 2 – Jumping Evolved

- 80 points – Andreas Heydeck -

There is absolutely nothing “evolved” about Meep 2. No, not even the jumping. It’s just another “jumper” on a platform (no pun intended) that doesn’t really fit the genre. Granted, it’s a better-looking follow-up to the first game, but there really isn’t much here to set it apart. From any jumping game. Plus, the one thing I actually kind of liked from the first game – the weird-ass music – only makes an appearance in the menus. Kind of disappointing, I have to say.

Lucky Game

- 80 points — LuckySoft -

Wow. How does… why… I don’t even… wow. Lucky Game is basically a dull, pointless and completely unhelpful gambling/golf game hybrid. It’s dull because it’s just not exciting to try and “putt” a pachinko ball into a slot machine. It’s pointless because the virtual currency is only good for “buying” new machines, which is just a slight cosmetic change. It’s unhelpful because there’s no explanation as to why. Why does one spin win me money and another loses it? Why can’t I choose how much I bet? Why does the virtual green felt (i.e. from casino tables) stop the ball like it’s covered in Velcro? Why does it just keep going, with loss after loss, so that my overall earnings are showing at -10k? Why would anyone want this?

After Dusk

- 80 points — Angel of Osmond -

I was genuinely surprised with After Dusk. It manages to take the idea of an 8-bit 2D adventure game and make it creepy. Real creepy, not Twisted Whiskers creepy. It follows the standard plot of a crew finding an abandoned space station, then realizing (all too late) exactly why no one was on board. However, darkness plays a big part in the game as most areas are only illuminated by a small circle of light around the main character. Players can sweep the light around to help navigate, but their only real way to combat the horrors that lurk in the inky blackness is by turning on the lights at a console which is typically hidden somewhere in the room. I think people should check this game out.

Steel Avenger

- 80 points — Redtalon -

Crap Spyhunter knock-off is crap. However it’s not crap because it’s a knock-off, but because it’s just not good. Like at all. It looks like the kind of thing people dread having Xbox Live Indie Games associated with, it plays awkwardly, there’s virtually no real player feedback to anything and going faster or slower (adjusted by pressing the triggers) doesn’t seem to have any real noticeable effect on the gameplay. I wish I could think of some redeeming qualities to Steel Avenger, but all I can think of is that you don’t have to pay for it in order to try it out.

Cute Things Dying Violently **IGSU**

- 80 points — ApathyWorks -

I’ve heard that some have compared Cute Things Dying Violently to Lemmings. I can see the connection, but it’s really not the same kind of game. It’s more of a physics puzzler, just with adorable little mascots that will walk blindly into a horrific fate if given half the chance. The overall goal is to get as many of the cute things into the elevator and complete the level (with stars awarded for rescuing a set number), with the occasional boss fight and unlockable challenge levels to keep things from getting stale. Oh, and a level editor. It’s another great entry for the Summer Uprising, and a game that shouldn’t be overlooked. Unless you hate graphic violence. Pussy.

VideoWars

- 80 points – Baaad Dad -

VideoWars is another indie game that took me by surprise. I was expecting to find it lacking, but I actually find myself enjoying it quite a bit. It’s a weird kind of simplified land-grabbing RTS, with several factions to choose from (as far as I can tell, the differences are purely cosmetic) and a very pleasing retro look. It mostly amounts to building nodes (bases) to take land, then building bunkers (turrets) to defend, while creating units (units) to send on search-and-destroy sorties. It’s like a fast-paced arcade rendition of an RTS, really. One that I think everyone should take a look at.

Blobs

- 80 points — ShadowPredator -

I don’t dislike Blobs, but it just doesn’t do anything for me. It’s kind of like a combination of Bust-a-Moove and Critter Crunch, only with 8-bit looking blobs instead of shiny balls or cute little cartoon morsels. Grab a colored blob from the steadily-falling mass at the top of the screen, then place it alongside some of its friends. Match colors to clear… you know the drill. I like the retro visuals, but it just feels kind of empty to me. Like there needs to be more visual feedback or something. I dunno.  Still, puzzle game fans should give it a look.

Ambient Travels

- 80 points — Dwarf Biter -

Want to visit exotic locals? Well then save up and take a vacation, because Ambient Travels isn’t going to scratch that particular itch. It’s nothing more than a high-definition image from a given location (i.e. Ireland, Egypt, etc…) and some unoffensive background noise. That’s it. I can’t really fault it much, though. It doesn’t try to mislead anyone with vague descriptions, it’s not half-broken like some of these “apps” are and it’s not set at a ludicrous (and pretentious) price. There’s just no actual game here.

Space Bat

- 80 points — Dont Press X -

So Space Bat is a thing. A “Hey, let’s toss in references to as many classic arcade games as we can think of!” kind of thing. Not a bad thing. Just a rather oddball thing. It’s a brick-breaking ball-bouncing paddle game, but along with the blocks and the power-ups there are also Space Invaders that have to be destroyed. And they swoop down (a-la Galaga) to grab and slow your paddle. And the ball is Pacman. It might be tempting fate by using so much copyrighted material (I think, but then again I’m no lawyer), but it’s a fun game. I recommend checking it out while the checking’s good.

T.E.C. 3001 **IGSU**

- 240 points — Phoenix -

I’ve realized that a lot of indie games, on Xbox Live and otherwise, tend to combine elements of other games (sometimes totally different genres) in their attempt to stand-out. T.E.C. 3001 does it too, but it does it well and with a few odd (but awesome) inspirations. Imagine playing a 3rd-person Canabalt with the limb-flailing parkour time trials of Mirror’s Edge set in a very Tron-like world. Sounds sexy, right? Well it is. It totally is. Personally, I find this third Summer Uprising release to be the best of the bunch so far.

Cubicle

- 80 points — Uberplex -

The only ting I can think to compare Cubicle to is a brain-numbing office work simulation combined with Heavy Rain-inspired analog stick actions. It sounds boring, and it kind of is, but it’s also kind of compelling in a completely nonsensical and weird way. Papers are color-coded, with each one requiring a specific action (shred, staple, sign, etc…) and the stack only gets bigger as time passes. It looks dull, sounds dull and just might be dull, but I still think it’s worth checking out. If for no other reason than it’s decidedly “different.”

The Jump Hero

- 80 points — Silver Dollar Games -

I feel like I’m one of the only people who ever gives Silver Dollar Games a chance. Sure their catalog is as random in its quality as it is robust, but they do make good games. In addition to the WTF. The Jump Hero is definitely one of their good games. It’s a runner, and utilizes many of the typical runner conventions like running, jumping, not falling and not dying, but it also adds some nifty elements of its own. Pressing Up during a jump will sprout wings for gliding that will deteriorate faster based on how close the character is to the sun/top of the screen. Pressing down will dive, cutting a jump short to (hopefully) prevent an over-shoot. The list goes on. More than anything, though, it’s got style up the ass. If you like runners, even if you hate Silver Dollar Games, you should take a look at this game.

Doom & Destiny **IGSU**

- 240 points – HeartBit Interactive -

I know it’s unfair to hold every satirical indie RPG up against Zeboyd Games’ two excellent releases, but it’s also hard not to. That said, Doom & Destiny is not all that similar. Aside from being a retro-inspired RPG that makes fun of itself and others. The spell effects are surprisingly well done and provide a neat contrast to the old-school visuals during combat. The retro artwork also looks lovingly crafted and features much more detail than a lot of other classic-inspired RPGs. It almost makes other retro RPGs look like their pixel artists got lazy. I’m not too keen on the bad grammar/spelling/dialog, intentional as it may be, but it’s still a cool game and one that RPG fans shouldn’t miss. Still, “chillax?” Really?

Asphalt Jungle 2

- 80 points – Hoelkosoft -

Asphalt Jungle 2 certainly looks rough, but it’s actually a rather entertaining puzzle game. There are a bunch of tiles representing roads all over the screen, and a little car will drive along them. It’s your job to spin the tiles so that the paths connect and the car doesn’t crash. It gets tricky because the tiles disappear after the car drives over them, but the screen will “repopulate” after a set amount of time so it’s not hopeless. As you’d expect, the idea is to keep the car going for as long as possible. It’s not exactly “Wow!” but it’s decent fun. The curious shouldn’t fear the lackluster graphics.

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