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.

Indie Gala 2 – Quick Overview

I grabbed my bundle of shiny new indie games from the Indie Gala 2 yesterday, adding Greed Corp, Roboblitz, Critical Mass, Fortix 2 and Bunch of Heroes to my Steam library, and to my ever-expanding backlog!  So on to trying them out, in no particular order..

Fortix 2 is a reverse turret defense game by Nemesys Games, an indie developer from Hungary.  The aim of the game is to capture the castle by capturing the land bit by bit, while avoiding the dragons, cannons, and other monsters..

I tried out the Fortix 2 demo a while ago, and found the gameplay rather easy.. maybe too easy.  At the time I resisted buying the game in part due to that, but also because of the backlog.. so I was rather glad to see it in the bundle and have a bit more of an excuse to get it 😉

I’m happy to note that the full game includes more difficult enemies, including Blood Bats which travel along the base line, meaning nowhere is safe!  Maps start to contain hazards such as bat caves, which when captured release more bats to plague you.. the added challenge was certainly appreciated!

One small niggle, though.. the game takes your name from your Steam profile, with no option for renaming.  Ordinarily I wouldn’t care, but with a character limit in place, it trimmed my name to “Sir CoffeeScam”!

Vanguard GamesGreed Corp is a turn based strategy, where you need to find the balance between harvesting the land for resources and preserving it. Each hexagon of terrain has a number of layers which collapse as you harvest the land.. these can also be strategically destroyed to throw enemy units and buildings into the abyss!

Combat between walkers is simple.. the larger force on each hexagon wins.. but when it comes to the buildings, you need to look at the layout of the map before doing anything!  Harvesters can be built on any land you own, then on each turn they generate resources out of the terrain they are on, as well as those around them.  However, this erodes a layer as well..

You can use these to sabotage your enemy by destroying the land under them; when a hexagon falls, any buildings or units on it fall too!

I only took a quick look at this game, playing through the tutorial to see how it all works.. I’ll be coming back to this one later, and maybe trying out the multiplayer: you can take on up to three other players across a range of maps 🙂

Bunch of Heroes was next: a four-player co-op shooter by NGD Studios.  Aliens are invading Earth, and summoning a Zombie army to assist them.. and the Bunch of Heroes are our last line of defense! 🙂

There are four playable characters in the Bunch, each with a different special attack:  El Comandante, the Cuban Commander, throws exploding cigars, while Jared Joe, the Quarterback, can make a touchdown for his special move.  Captain Smith, the Duke, can call in a bombing run to assist him, and Agent Liu, the spy, can set enemies on fire!  To use the special attack, you need to kill enemies and pick up the energy they drop.

There are three modes: Campaign, Survival and Timed Mode, with a few different scenarios.  Campaign mode consists of simple missions such as clearing enemies from an area, defending a point for a short time, and rescuing cheerleaders.  I found the cheerleader rescue rather funny, as you have to sling her over your shoulder and carry her..

Aside from screaming when you pick her up or put her down, the cheerleader dances at intermittent points while not being carried.  At one point I died while carrying her, and found it rather funny when she almost instantly started dancing at my corpse’s feet! 😀

The game is designed for four players, and as there are no AI bots, playing by yourself means being somewhat swamped.  After trying the first Campaign, I tried out Survival.. my first attempt was rather brief.. 😉

Roboblitz, by Naked Sky Entertainment, is a puzzle platform shooter featuring a little robot technician who lives aboard a Space Cannon Facility.  The Facility comes under attack from pirate robots led by the MegaNOAD, and Blitz has to get all systems up and running in order to fire the Space Cannon while fending off attacks from the various invading pirate robots.

You start off with only your grabby arms and a spin attack, which is fine for dealing with the Pirate Scouts, but ineffective on larger enemies.  Blitz can also gather collectible Upgradium, which can be used to purchase new weapons: the first of these is the EMP gun, which stuns enemies for a short time, but other weapons are able to destroy them.

I liked the variety of puzzles, spread across different areas which you can access at will, but I found the controls and movement occasionally quite poor.

Blitz’s item handling wasn’t as accurate as I’d have liked, and in getting close enough to pick some items up, I found myself bumping them away instead.  More frustrating was the jumping: in particular, I found jumping into one certain pipe in the Coolant Tower was more miss than hit, with a miss causing Blitz to get stuck on the edge, holding on by the arms.  After a few misses in the fan room, and having to go back to try again, this annoyed me enough that I decided to move on to the final game in the bundle..

Critical Mass, a 3d action puzzler by Manic Games Studios!  There are four modes: Classic, Survival, Meditation and Rush, but the core gameplay is the same in each.. destroy the mass by creating colour combos of four or more blocks.  Simple to understand, but difficult to master! 🙂

I tried Classic first, and quickly realised that this has the makings of an addictive game.. winning a level means proceeding to the next, slightly more difficult level, while defeat means retrying the level.  In this mode, the camera zooms in during play until the whole structure shakes and destroys itself.. producing a combo pushes the camera back and gives you just a little more time, while Survival ‘rewards’ a combo by throwing more blocks into the fray.  Rush mode times your efforts, with the object to clear the mass as quickly as possible, and Meditation is the calm, thoughtful mode where you can aim for the biggest combos on the board, without distraction.

The bundle came with music as well, and I have to note I don’t really listen to game music outside of the games themselves.  However, games without music wouldn’t be the same, so it’s good to see some support for indie music too 🙂

More Skyrim

After picking this up at the weekend, I’ve played almost nothing else.. though non-gaming things have arisen to keep me from playing as much as I’d have expected by now 😉

I’ve now tried out woodcutting and mining, and I’ve been learning the Smithing trade along with Alchemy.. nice ways to make money.  I also make money in less nice ways.. lockpicking, if I find something reasonably unattended.. and if I come across bandits, I make sure to take all their possessions too!

Looting dungeons actually feels far more dangerous than in the previous games, with traps and slightly smarter enemies.. in my first dungeon, I was scared by the Draugr who played dead till I got up close, and in another, I had a fierce battle with a Giant Frostbite Spider..

As planned, I have progressed to dual-wielding swords, although I still dabble in Destruction for a few enemies.. in the past I have concentrated on magic, only carrying an enchanted weapon just in case, so this makes a change.  I’m loving the power moves, and have my eye set on certain of the perks in the One Handed Weapons tree which will allow me to decapitate my enemies!

I even have a follower, named Golldir!

I met him in a tomb while taking cover from a dragon I just couldn’t defeat.  He had problems of his own: a Necromancer who was fiddling with his ancestors.  After I helped kill him, he joined me in my travels.. he now fights for me in battle, and of course, I make him carry the loot 😉

My only complaint so far has been about the menu system and inventory.. I like having an unobstructed view of the game world while playing, but to change weapon or equip a new piece of gear I’m forced to start clicking and scrolling.  All the lists start near the bottom of the screen as well, which virtually guarantees that hateful scrolling will be needed.

We have large monitors and high resolutions now.. why not just use more of the screen and let us see our inventory at a glance?  In the previous games, equipped items all moved to the front of the list, but in Skyrim they remain where they are.  As you can’t even see your character on this screen any more, any accidental unequipping can easily go unnoticed as you don’t get that quick visual clue that something’s wrong!

I guess you can’t have it all, though.. and the rest of the game is fantastic..

I didn’t like monster-levelling in Oblivion, as enemies levelled with the character.. after a while, the wildlife was all replaced by high-level creatures, so it didn’t even seem to fit in with the area any more.  I was also finding myself accosted by bandits wearing top-notch gear with expensive swords.. with that kind of gear and ability, they should have been wiping out the nearby village instead of trying to mug me for my cash!

As for the effect on the story.. I levelled up a way before entering my first Gate, so when I was sent in with a few companions, they were struck down immediately by the over-powered enemies inside, and again, it felt wrong.

In Skyrim, I’ve only really struggled with a few larger enemies, such as the Dragon, and the giant spider.. these felt like a decent challenge, while attacks by wild wolves started off difficult and are now easy, as I’d expect as I’m now a bit more of a seasoned warrior.  All 12 levels’ worth 😉