Some Love for The Valentine’s Bundle!

I just picked up the Indie Royale’s The Valentine’s Bundle, which came with five games and bonus DLC!  The first three games, Zeno Clash, Hoard and Lume, along with the bonus DLC for Hoard, all came with Steam keys 🙂

Zeno Clash, by Ace Team, is an action-fighting game in a strange fantasy world.. the visuals are colourful and varied.. but also a bit disturbing, with repugnant, deformed half-bird half-human creatures in a variety of bizarre, revealing outfits.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the game at first, with the initial cutscene of babies, mannequins and cooking pots, and then the tutorial where player-character Ghat is taught the basics of combat by the growly-voiced Metamoq.  The game seemed a bit weird, and I wasn’t sure whether I would get to grips with the melee combat enough to enjoy it.  I don’t normally play fighting games, and I found the timing of strikes and dodging a little hard to get right.  Fighting felt brilliantly violent, though, with a satisfying thud when I landed a blow 🙂

The story sees Ghat and flee the initial town after killing his “mother-father”, with the assistance of a friend who then faces exile with him.  There are flashbacks to previous fights with members of the crazy Corwid, and other combat lessons with Metamoq mixed in withthe journey.  More advanced fighting moves were introduced in these later tutorials, but it still seemed easiest to just punch the enemies over and over, and hope not to be surrounded.. many of the fights featured multiple enemies where it became harder to dodge blows.  I’ll be trying the gamepad when I next launch the game to see if I find it any easier that way.. I do want to see where this story goes 🙂

I already owned Hoard, by Big Sandwich Games Inc., but hadn’t picked up the DLC: Dynamite Roll! and Flame-Broiled SANDwichI wrote about Hoard when I got it back in May, and the game itself hasn’t been changed aside from the addition of the DLC here..

New buildings means more variety, and an extra heal from within the Bell Tower is nice if you’ve taken damage while trying to intimidate a town, but the bomb wagon is possibly the most noticeable addition from the Dynamite Roll! DLC, adding a wagon full of fireworks instead of the usual tithe wagon.  These wagons still carry gold, but if you don’t back away after setting it on fire, it will take off a large chunk of your health.

You can use the explosion to damage enemies too 🙂

The Flame-Broiled SANDwich DLC is a new tileset, with a new look for all buildings, units and terrain, and even the dragons have more feathery scales.  Tilesets can be swapped in the game options, under graphics.  Available tilesets are: normal, snow, desert and random, and there’s also an option to set the game to night-time, for a completely different look to the map 🙂

Lume is a point and click puzzle adventure, with beautiful paper and cardboard scenery.. the game was nominated for the IGF’s Excellence in Visual Art award.  When I first glanced over the contents of the Valentine’s Bundle, it was Lume, by StateofPlay, that really got my interest.

The story follows Lumi, who has gone to visit her grandfather.. but he’s left to find out why there’s no power in the nearby village.  In the meantime, he left lots of little puzzles for Lumi to figure out, with the goal of restoring power to the house.

The first few puzzles were fairly easy.. finding a broken solar panel and re-wiring it, for instance, was a matter of clicking the squares to rotate them and get all the lines to join up.  I quite liked this one 🙂

When it came to the later puzzles though, I found one in particular a little frustrating.  There is no hint system in the game, which meant looking for a walkthrough.. something I’m not keen on, as I often end up seeing the whole solution when I only wanted a quick pointer.  After dealing with that puzzle, I went on and completed Lume fairly quickly.. in part because it is a short game, but also because completing each puzzle led straight to the next and the next.

Lume is actually the first part of a larger story, with the next part currently in development.. progress can be followed on StateOfPlay’s blog!

Completing Lume left me with MagicalTimeBean‘s retro RPG defense games, Soulcaster and Soulcaster II.  Soulcaster was previously released on Xbox LIVE, followed by Soulcaster II: this is the PC premiere for both titles.

Soulcaster is the tale of a wizard who manages to awaken the undead in his travels.. fortunately, he also discovers the statues of three heroes, and gains the ability to summon them in order to assist him.  The heroes are: Shaedu, the archer, Aeox, the warrior, and Bloodfire, the alchemist.  You can summon an image of the heroes by pressing Q, W or E, for Shaedu, Aeox or Bloodfire, with as many summons as you have Summoning Orbs.. you can also summon three of the same hero if you wish.

Each have different strengths and weaknesses; for instance, the archer can do a lot of damage, but needs a clear line of fire, while the warrior has little range but can take lots of damage.  Positioning the summoned heroes matters; Aeox can be used to block the path while Bloodfire stays safe behind him and throws bombs to destroy attackers.

Enemies spawn as you progress through a level, sometimes coming from behind you, which can mean repositioning your heroes to face the oncoming attackers.  To reposition the heroes, you first need to recall them by pressing R; however, this recalls them in the order they were summoned, rather than allowing you to select just the one you want to move.  A shame, as otherwise the controls were great.

If one of your summoned heroes dies, you can re-summon him after a short delay.  Bloodfire explodes on death though, which causes damage to all around him including you.. after being backed up in one dungeon I managed to get myself killed this way!

There’s also a merchant on some of the levels, where you can spend all the gold you find laying around in the dungeon.  He supplies health potions and scrolls, and upgrades for the heroes’ gear, as well as the rather expensive Summoning Orbs.  You have room for up to five Orbs, which would allow you to have up to five summoned heroes in play at once.

This game surprised me.. I hadn’t expected it to be this good, and hadn’t expected to want to carry on playing as long as I did.

As a quick look at the bundle wouldn’t be complete without it, I also took a very quick look at Soulcaster II.. and found it very similar to the previous game.  I quickly found that I wanted to carry on playing, but ended up cutting it short because I really want to finish the first game before getting too far in!

For a quick look then.. just the first few levels.. this seemed to be more of the same gameplay, with the three heroes from the previous game along for the journey, and undead attackers springing up to try and ambush us.  The description of the game on the dev’s site promises new puzzle elements and a new upgrade system, so I shall look forward to those!  These two games really reminded me of my old Spectrum days 😀

The Valentine’s Bundle is available for a few more days yet.. go and get it, and show your love for the indie devs 😉

The Indie Royale: The Valentine’s Bundle

Indie Royale’s The Valentine’s Bundle is now out, with five games, and bonus DLC!  As usual the bundle is available on a pay what you want scheme, with a minimum price, although you can pay more to unlock the bonus, show your support, and knock down the price for others!

The games are: action fighting game Zeno Clash, by Ace Team, Hoard, a strategy game featuring dragons, by Big Sandwich Games Inc., adventure puzzle game Lume, by StateofPlay, and world premiere PC versions of retro RPG defense games Soulcaster and Soulcaster II, by MagicalTimeBean!

The bonus DLC in this bundle is for HOARD: Dynamite Roll!, which adds nine new maps and extra units, and Flame-Broiled SANDwich which adds a desert continent and remodelled buildings, units and terrain!

For those paying more than the current minimum, there’s also One Life Left’s music compilation, “Music To Play Games By Too“.

We looked at all the games in a bit more detail.. you can read it over here.

Coal Collector!

The Great Gift Pile objectives are turning out to be a mix of quick and easy tasks and longer, more difficult challenges..

Atom Zombie Smasher: KringleJammer was fairly easy to get, as was the Rock of Ages: Snowball War.  Audiosurf: Candy Stripe required only the collection of red and white blocks in a line, but it took me a while to find something on my PC that played at the right pace to generate the blocks I wanted.  “Still Alive” was giving me blue blocks, so wouldn’t do for this!

Beat Hazard: Survive Christmas 10 required me to survive for 10 minutes.. and it took far longer than that!  After several attempts of under five minutes each, I realised I had unlocked some perks which might help: the Ultra DLC added Micro Missiles and a Reflect Shield which just about let me last long enough to complete the objective.

A harder achievement was the deliberate loss of a game in Fate of the World, where instead of trying to save the world, I led it towards global thermonuclear war and the Let it Glow achievement!  After a few attempts I ended up consulting the internet for tips on how to get the ‘right’ ending.. it turned out to be a rather tight list of instructions while hoping for the right random numbers to be generated each turn.  I think actually winning this game, as opposed to playing for an achievement, will be next to impossible as all territories seem to get annoyed with you very quickly! 😀

For another deliberate loss, I also tried to nuke Santa in DEFCON.. but found his movements too unpredictable, the AI too eager to react, and my supply of nukes too low for me to get him.  I quickly got bored of this, so I checked out the tips on the net again, and reduced the number of cities to 5 per territory, but then found the game crashing almost as soon as I launched a nuke!  Something to do with the latest update and Windows 7 🙁

Another not-quite-game objective was Winter Assault.. survive a 30 minute match on Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Retribution, on one of the winter maps.  Four of us joined the game, with one going AFK immediately.. only interested in the achievement itself.. but three of us met in the middle to trade blows until we’d met our time requirement!  I wished for more Great Unclean Ones, but settled for a squad of Chaos Dreadnoughts instead 😀

With the completion of all these objectives, I’m collecting lots of coal along with vouchers which probably won’t get used.. two are for Valve.. I already own all their games, as do all my gaming friends.  Although, if anyone does want them.. 🙂

I did win one game via the giveaway.. Silent Dreams’ Grotesque Tactics: Evil Heroes, a fantasy role-playing game with strategic combat and a sense of humour.  The games in this giveaway are provided as a token, which can be added to your own inventory or traded.. so if you already own the game you win, you can give it away or trade it for something else.

A friend bought me Space Pirates and Zombies by Minmax Games, which I tried briefly last night.  After stumbling through the first couple of missions, I decided I need to be somewhat alert to play! 🙂

The Steam sales are ongoing, and I also picked up ACE Team‘s rather Monty Python-esque Rock of Ages, mentioned earlier, and Croteam‘s Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter, and Serious Sam 3: BFE, with the first two games below £2 each, and Serious Sam 3 at a reasonable price, considering I wanted a copy for me and a copy for Tim.

Other women spend their money on shoes: I spend my money on games! 🙂