Indie Rundown

Whelp, everyone, Steam is having another MASSIVE sale. I love Steam unabashedly, if you can’t tell, but that’s for another time.

I picked up 10 “indie” games for ten bucks, and they’ve been giving me a great time. Thus, let’s have a indie rundown! I’ll do three for today, perhaps more when I get through them all.

Iron Grip: Warlord (Demo on Steam)

This one was actually a wild card for me. I downloaded a demo of it off Steam because why not, but I never got around to actually playing it since the page’s screenshots made it look like yet another bland RTS game. Boy was I wrong.

IG: W is a steampunk tower defense game of sorts. You play as a soldier in a militia-like army that is repelling the far more numerous but under-equipped and under-trained invaders. You defend the “stronghold”, a building in the center of the map that slowly regenerates morale, from destruction while simultaneously killing off enemy waves and officers to destroy their morale in turn. Defenses include explosive traps, MG emplacements, AT guns, all of which are built with power, which is gained by killing enemies on top of the fixed rate. Pretty standard tower defense fare.

However, here’s the kicker: the game isn’t played by the top-down view, it’s a FPS. Thus, you’re building these emplacements, but you’re also down in the action, killing the baddies yourself. Throw in the cooperative multiplayer and you have a game that is actually really compelling. Perhaps it’s the walls of firepower that you can put up, maybe it’s the steampunk feel of it. While both of these things add to the game, I suspect that it’s just the wholescale slaughter of all kinds of enemies, without a ton of focus put on “reality”. Since all the enemies were trained at the Imperial Stormtrooper School of Marksmanship, you can get away with some pretty major death-dealing if you’re quick enough. Plus, with no worry about “balance”, you can use molotovs and rifle-grenades to your heart’s content. Hell, you spawn with five molotovs, and you can get as many as you want… it’s good fun.

I didn’t realize this until later, but I actually did a tiny post on the man that did the art for this game as one of my very early posts.

Recettear (Demo on steam)

“Capitalism, ho”! Have you dreamed of being buried under mountains of debt, forced to shovel your way out by working day in and day out with the threat of losing your home?

Let me rephrase that. Have you dreamed of owning your own shop, with a bit of debt hanging off to the side in order to prevent you from dicking around too much? Sure you have! There’s nothing more entertaining than capitalism!

Recettear took off surprisingly well in the Western markets, digging a little niche for itself on the internet. In short, you play a little girl that wakes up one day to find a fairy in her bedroom, one that informs her of the mountain of debt that her father left for her to take care of while he went off adventuring/dying. Recette decides to take advantage of the family store, and starts selling adventuring gear in order to make the scheduled payments on the debt.

It’s actually a very deep game, one that takes quite a bit of accounting; although it never really gets in the way of the gameplay. Perhaps that’s because the game is economics, and if you get into it then you know what you’re buying into. Compare that to EVE Online, which is five parts accounting to one part shooting guys; most players play for the latter and resent the game for the former.

There’s a lot of “RPG elements”, which are most noticeable in the dungeon-crawling system where you hire an adventurer to bring you back treasures to sell. There’s also your “merchant level”, which increases by making sales and gives you new abilities at each level.

Really, it’s a game about capitalism, one that any good entrepreneur would dig. Plus, the writing is pretty good, as is expected for Japanese games with a decent localization team. The dialogue is done in the storybook style that is so popular over there, with pictures of each participant and text boxes below, but it’s decent enough. In all, a fun game.

And Yet It Moves

And now we move onto the rest of the indie games, the physics puzzles. Seriously, I think that most of the games that I bought revolved around the “Look at this physics engine, now use it to get around the map”. AYIM is an interesting specimen for two reasons. First, the engine itself: you can rotate the world around your character, which allows him to walk on any surface. So, as an example, hit Right twice and you are now standing on what was your ceiling. This is fairly standard fare (VVVVV does the same thing, albiet just on the up-down scale), however it is used in fairly interesting ways.

For example, one of the early puzzles at the end of the first area has you trying to fly some bats into a lizard to drag him away. The bats always nest on the “roof”, so you have to twist and turn the world to move them towards the lizard, while simultanously avoiding death yourself. You wouldn’t think that it would be that much fun, but it has its moments.

Now, the second reason: the art. All indie games pride themselves on having some kind of artistic kick, whether it’s VVVVV‘s retro look, Eufloria‘s minimalistic feeling, Audiosurf‘s cyber-look, the whole lot. AYIM is based all around paper. The character is a moving sketch, moving around on torn cardboard and avoiding deadly printouts of animals and falling cardboard rocks. It’s certainly an interesting idea, indeed.

That’s it for now. More to come later!…?

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