bnewman: (explorer)
[personal profile] bnewman
Lately I have been buying a lot of video games from the Humble Bundle store — a website which started as a one-time deal (and co-created by a friend of a friend from Swarthmore) and has grown into an excellent retail outlet for Indie games. They often have sales (including right now), a portion of your purchase goes to charity, and a lot of the games are really good, so it's worth checking out.

There are a few games I've gotten recently that stand out enough to be worth a mention/recommendation.

Games that are on sale right now and for the next ~35 hours:

FEIST is an action game where you play a small furry creature in a quest to rescue another of your kind from troll-like beasts who have taken it captive. The graphical style is moody and atmospheric, mostly silhouette with occasional hints of color. Combat is raw and desperate (and only occasionally unfair), using whatever weapons are ready to hand — pine cones, sticks, stones, whatever. Even though there are points (as in most such games) where you have to memorize a pattern to get past a certain spot, the game really conveys a feeling of being a small creature fighting for its life. The game is short, but I think it's well worth the sale price. (If you like the music in the trailer, consider the deluxe version that comes with the soundtrack.)

PixelJunk Shooter is an exploratory 2d shooter with a rich materials simulation — water and lava flow, water plus lava turns to steam plus stone, icicles drip, lava melts ice, etc. This simulation layer makes the game's world very dynamic and keeps you on your toes looking for ways to exploit the environment to your advantage. You might forget you're trying to rescue scientists trapped underground and just marvel at the physics. This game is on sale really cheap (89 cents) right now.

Last Horizon is a sweet little minimalist space adventure game where you maneuver a spaceship around and land on planets, lunar lander style. I've actually been dreaming that this game might exist for a long time, and am relieved that I don't have to make it. The frame story is that you're leaving a used-up Earth on your way to a new habitable world, stopping at other planets along the way to recover fuel, oxygen, and the resources you'll need to terraform your new home. An individual playthrough is quite short. The game has a simple, stylized graphical style and ambient music that makes it very relaxing, even when you crash.

Games that are not on sale right now:

Mushroom 11 is not really like anything else. It's a platform game where you play as a sort of blob, and your only control is an eraser tool stolen from a painting program — mass that you erase from one side of the blob will regrow on the other side. Slithering along in this way is simple enough, but you can also sculpt the blob into particular shapes to grab onto ledges, wedge into cracks, bridge gaps, etc. The one, unique and original mechanic spins out into a dizzying array of challenges, and once you start thinking like a blob, it's a lot of fun.

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a (local) 2-player cooperative space shooter that reminds me a little of the board game Space Alertyou and your companion (or AI-controlled "space-pet" in 1-player mode) pilot an adorable round spaceship by manning two (at a time) of its various stations, including helm control, shields, and several gun turrets. There are more stations than you can operate at once, so switching seats at the right moment is key. The graphics are very cute and the game has a great sense of humor — the organization you work for, for example, is L.O.V.E.R.S., the League Of Volunteer Emergency Rescue Spacenauts. I've only played 1-player, but I think co-op would be just awesome, if you have a controller — fitting two players at one keyboard might be a bit too intimate to be practical.
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July 2017


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