Indie Royale’s The Alpha Collection Impressions

Indie Royale’s latest bundle, The Alpha Collection is now available, featuring three currently-in-development games: Towns by SMP, 3079 by Phr00t and Wyv and Keep: The Temple of the Lost Idol by a jolly corpse.

Towns is a city building and management game where you organise your villagers to gather resources, build a town, craft weapons.. and then try to withstand the forces that come up from the depths, because your town is built on top of a dungeon!

The UI takes a bit to get used to, but issuing commands is mostly straightforward: you have a row of icons along the bottom of the screen for harvesting, chopping and other general actions, and a menu at the right for more specific tasks such as building walls, ordering utility items or decorations, or some pre-set buildings including Barracks.  Tools, however, are crafted from the menu at the top of the screen, which is where you also craft armour and weapons, and handle automation of food and such.

The tutorial levels didn’t really cover all of the features, so I checked out the game’s forum and discovered that there’s a fan-made wiki, which makes everything so much easier!

After taking a peek via a hole in the ground and seeing quite a lot of enemies, I decided to build up my town a bit first.. but was surprised by a seige of spiders, followed by green slimes who killed a couple of people before we fought them off!  I think this is a brilliant touch, meaning you have to be alert from attacks from all sides, rather than just watcing the mineshaft 😀

Somewhere after the slime invasion, I went to equip one of my men and found a rather interesting weapon, which in addition to having more attack power than the wooden sword I’d crafted, also has a HP stat!  I assume that one of the slimes dropped it, but I hadn’t noticed the message at the time.. the log at the top of the screen whizzes by rather quickly as it reports on the combat.  It hadn’t been brought back to the base either, so presumably it was laying out in the forest.

What I would like to see added to the game is a way of tracking villagers, invaders or various items via the mini-map.  When I experienced my first seige I just couldn’t find my enemies, and struggled to track down the villager reported to be under attack.  Spiders are hard to see amongst the trees!

Updates for Towns come roughly every two weeks, and due to the likely large changes made by each update, the developers have said saved games are unlikely to be compatible with newer versions.  That said.. it’s very easy to die in this game!  I already lost a few times when I unintentionally starved my villagers because I’d been so wrapped up in expanding that I’d forgotten to have them gather food!  Prioritising different tasks might help here.. update 0.41 will add a priority system to the villagers’ task lists.

Then there was the mine I flooded.. ok.. maybe that one was just to see what would happen if I dug through into the river.. 😉

Heroes will be added to the game later.. in the meantime you are reliant on soldiers to seek out and destroy your enemies.  Soldiers are not very smart though, and are liable to run off in search of battle even if they are injured and stand no chance of winning.

3079 is the second game in the bundle, an action RPG in a randomly generated world with an ongoing war between the Humoids and Neanders.  You are on your way to the planet to investigate the endless war when you are pulled in by flying red demons.. and end up on the surface minus gun and with no contact with HQ.  Time to find a friendly leader and ask for help..

This game takes inspiration from Minecraft and Fallout.. and you can immediately see the Minecraft influence on the landscape.

No digging here, though.. the first task is to find a Humoid leader (you start off allied with the Humoids, and hostile with the Neanders).  I can’t quite make my mind up in regards to the NPCs and how they look.. on one hand I think they’re a little ugly, but the blocky style fits the landscape.. and I’m glad they don’t all look the same.  Some of these guys were huge!

I struggled with this game though, mainly because I didn’t really know where to go, but also because I felt small and weak against the NPCs I met.. I had no weapon!  Apparently I could have played tricks with my antigrav pack on the way down to the surface, avoided the Demons, and kept my starter items, and admittedly I may have had more fun with the game then.

I think I’d have still got lost, though.  Being randomly generated, there are no guaranteed landmarks.  If I go wandering in Minecraft, I normally place a few torches so I can tell where I’ve been.. that isn’t an option here, as you can’t do anything to the land itself.

There were NPCs of both races wandering around; fighting when they met each other, and with Neanders shooting me on sight, I didn’t want to wander too far into their area while unarmed.  However, each building I found looked similar to the next, and the sign indicating whether it was a Humoid or Neander building seemed to make no difference as to the NPCs you’d find inside.. I met and was killed by a Neander in a small room within a Humoid building, and could see a Humoid inside the Neander building I found after respawning and moving on.

I eventually found a Grappling Hook and I loved how this cut down on the travelling time, as well as being rather a fun way to get around.  However, I lost this when I was killed by the aforementioned Neander, and when I respawned and returned, the entire building was empty.  I also lost the reward I received for my first mission, when I met one of the big red Demons.  I can understand the need to punish death.. the game is designed to remove an item or two when you die.. but going back to being empty-handed and having to jump/walk everywhere wasn’t much fun.

Demons are tough, and you’re meant to avoid them at first, but as I discovered, they have the ability to pull you in towards them.  After respawning I activated my camouflage and sneaked away, or tried to.  I was spotted, but in 3079 you improve your skills by using them even if you fail.

The third in the bundle is 2d co-op puzzle platformer Wyv and Keep: The Temple of the Lost Idol, by a jolly corpse.  The story follows two young treasure hunters, Wyv and Keep, exploring the land of Amazonia in search of a mysterious temple full of treasure.  You can play alone, with a friend, sharing the keyboard, or online.. though this mode is still rather underdeveloped as yet.  The singleplayer / local play seems complete, though.  I played some by myself: most of the levels can be played quite easily alone, controlling one character at a time, but some of the action sequences are definitely easier with another player.  I had Tim along for a quick try at co-op.. we found that with one character controlled by the WASD keys and the other by the cursor keys, it’s very easy to have somebody join without even restarting the level.

To progress through the levels you need to slide a box onto a switch, to unlock the exit.. collecting coins and pieces of journal which double as gameplay instructions.  Wyv and Keep can climb onto boxes, or get a leg up from each other to reach higher platforms, cut down hanging boxes, and use dynamite to destroy barriers.  I couldn’t figure out how to use the dynamite at first: I had tried pressing the down button while standing on the dynamite, and underneath it, and neither of these set it off.  I poked the developers on Twitter and had a fast reply.. you need to stand at the side of the dynamite and press down to activate it.

Game graphics are colourful, pixellated and very cute.  I love the two characters’ idle animations.. looking through a telescope, pulling out a cupcake and chomping on it.. and how they’ll bawl their little eyes out if you lose the other.  I loved the bickering between the two, as well.. it adds character to the pair.

Wyv and Keep would have been worth buying alone, never mind as part of a bundle.  I’m really glad it was included, as I might never have come across it otherwise!I feel the same way about Towns.. I didn’t really want to stop playing that one, and I can see hours of my time will be spend there.  I’m less sure of 3079.. the lack of direction without a direct quest objective in hand makes it a bit confusing.   These games are still under development though, so I’ll be checking in on 3079 in a while and see how I feel about it then.

By purchasing the bundle, you’ll get access to the current build and all updates, and know that you are helping to support the continued development of the games!  The Alpha Collection will be available until the 1st March.. go and get it now!

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