In this week’s Indie Wonderland, I look at Petz Catz 2. Why, oh why do I play this game? And is it good, I guess? I think we both know the answer to that last one, but if you want to be sure — and if you want to watch this trainwreck up close — read all about it over at Ninja Blues.
Good afternoon, readers! Poor news: due to an expected trip to Cologne this weekend combining with an unexpected illness during that trip, I’ve found myself unable to produce the same level of high-quality Indie Wonderlanding you’ve come to expect of me. Which is to say, I got drunk and I got sick in no particular order and that left me with no time to write about people that may or may not be squids. My apologies. Regular service should resume next week, my insides willing.
Now, in fairness, I did have a feature planned for today where me and my co-host JPH ‘Woogles’ Ninjaton would take a look at Nidhogg, the lo-fi high-complexity fencing tug-of-war simulator that’s been sweeping up indie game prizes like an overambitious vacuum cleaner due a promotion. But, hey, illness, what’cha gonna do. This feature is, therefore, currently still in the works. In order to not leave you completely empty-handed this week, though, as I do, I’ve created a brief mood impression of our first time playing Nidhogg over voice chat.
Risk of Rain. Kind of a weird game name, don’t you think? Or maybe I just think that because I’m Dutch. After all, we don’t really understand the concept of ‘risk of rain’. Had this game been developed by a Dutch studio, it would have been called Absolute Goddamn Certainty Of Rain At Exactly The Most Inopportune Moment.
But Risk of Rain wasn’t developed by a Dutch studio: it was created by two-man team Hopoo Games and published by none other than Chucklefish, who, so hot on the heels of my Starbound review hold the semi-prestigious honour of Studio Referenced Most Often In The Shortest Amount Of Time. But don’t worry about any overlap between the two reviews! After all, Starbound is a 2D action-platformer about one or multiple intrepid space travelers exploring a large variety of procedurally generated pixelated worlds, fighting off semi-random monsters and powerful bosses to retrieve items and increase in power while attempting to unravel the mysteries of their surroundings. Whereas Risk of Rain is…
(Spoiler levels: Narrative, low-ish. Mechanical, fairly high.)
Okay, okay, no joke this time: The Banner Saga‘s impact notwithstanding, the real major Kickstarter impact I was alluding to last week is obviously the long-awaited release of Double Fine’s Broken Age, to those who backed the Kickstarter that launched a thousand ships. Or, rather, its partial release: Broken Age as-is is considered ‘Act 1′, with the concluding ‘Act 2′ finding its way to computers near you “later this year“.
While Broken Age’s release was obviously a Big Thing, capitalization non-optional, I opted to give precedence to The Banner Saga for a couple of reasons. First, there was that business with the reviewing embargo that accompanied Broken Age’s initial launch. While I know it was lifted fairly soon after, the whole thing left a rather sour taste in my mouth… plus, by the time it was officially lifted, I’d already started doing the preliminaries for The Banner Saga anyway.
Second, notice that I said Broken Age was released to Kickstarter backers. At time of writing, the game is still off-limits to regular prospective customers: stores don’t open for those lacking Double Fine faith until January 28th. And while I understand the value of advance reviews, postponing a column on a game that people could actually buy immediately for one they’d have to wait another week for felt a little weird to me. Not to mention that this way, this column and Broken Age’s unlock date sync up rather well. I can even start pretending I timed it like that on purpose!
And third… well, third is that Broken Age is an adventure game. That classic genre of games that I can’t really review the way I like to review games, because giving a brief overview of the first half hour of gameplay effectively ruins the first half hour of gameplay. Which, in a game as relatively short as Broken Age — I clocked about five hours for the whole thing — is a fairly significant spoiling ratio.
I’m still writing about it, obviously. But as before, expect a shorter, more mood-and-experience-focused Indie Wonderland after the break.
Pop quiz, hot shot: if I tell you that this week’s Indie Wonderland is about a fairly high-profile Kickstarter game that’s finally come home to roost — and assuming you haven’t already seen the title or the featured image, both of which kind of give the answer away immediately — which game would you guess I’m talking about? Yeah, that’s right: clearly, the single most influential name in Kickstarter gaming as of right now is Stoic Studio‘s The Banner Saga, their purportedly epic turn-based tale of giants and Vikings and pretty, pretty artwork.
We’re all on the same page here, right? I mean, I wouldn’t even know how to break an age. Do you just… tear a calendar in half, or something? Is that how it goes?
(Spoiler levels: Narrative, low. Mechanical, fairly high.)
Another year, another Kickstarter that delivers: GhostControl Inc., by developer Bumblebee Games, has deigned to see the light of day. Pitched as a blend between classic X-COM and Ghostbusters, I backed it because it was pitched as a blend between classic X-COM and Ghostbusters. I mean, doi hoi.
GhostControl Inc. has actually been in development rather briefly, with the Kickstarter dating back only to July last year. This wasn’t particularly surprising: with such a modest funding goal, and with gameplay demonstrations that felt as functional as they did, as early as they did… I actually had a chance to play an early build at Gamescom 2013 (and leave my name on the Indie Table) which felt pretty decently developed for a game only two months out of Kickstarter. Point is: while only six months of development from Kickstarter to completion seems short — and it is — I could see it work for GhostControl Inc.. Whether or not it’s actually worked, however, is something I hope to find out in the next couple of thousand words.
(Spoiler levels: Narrative, not a whole lot. Mechanical, pretty much completely.)
Merry the-first-day-of-the-week-after-the-week-Christmas-happens, one and all! We here at Indie Wonderland hope you all had a good festive time of your choice and denomination.
Due to Christmas-related busy-time activities (such as spending time with my family pretending to be giant monsters or trying to understand each other’s weird sense of non-logic) there will be no Indie Wonderland this week. Regular service will resume either next week or the week after that, depending on how hectic New Year’s Eve gets.
In the meantime, however, why not treat yourself to the gift of slightly topical review and (re-)read the Santa Rockstar review I wrote two years ago?
So uh, yeah. Along Came A Spider, from indie developer Raoghard, is… a game. About a spider. That… came along, I guess? I’m sorry, I don’t really have a good story to go with this game: I saw it in a bundle I’d purchased earlier, it looked decent enough from the short gameplay trailer I watched, and I already resolved to not spend any more money on games this month if I can at all help it. And that conflux of circumstances lead directly to the review you’re currently eyeballing.
You know how people sometimes have off days? What you’re looking at right now could probably be considered an off column: a review that I just can’t think of a funny or insightful opening blurb to write for. And yes, feel free to make any ‘how is that any different from normal’ jokes at your own leisure.
(Spoiler levels: Narrative, not really a factor. Mechanical, somewhat high.)
Electronic Super Joy, huh? I can’t say that I know Micheal Todd very well, but his game’s name definitely sets some lofty goals: it only has three words in the title, and I’m a fan of each of them. That’s right: I love electronic things, I think ‘super’ is a great adjective, and I’m all about joy. I’m pretty sure that means there’s nothing that can stand in the way of this game and I getting along swimmingly.
Oh, it’s a super-hard pixel-perfect platformer, a genre I am notoriously piss-poor at and ill-tempered by? That… that could still be okay! I liked Super Meat Boy, sorta, kinda. And, you know, just because a lot of games in this genre have a propensity for sending me into a monitor-bound cursing fit every other level doesn’t mean this one will.
(Spoiler levels: Narrative, haha, as if! Mechanical, I’ve pretty much spoiled everything in the opening blurb.)
I briefly spotted Compulsion Games‘ Contrast (‘a game of light and shadow’) at Gamescom this year: as one of the few games I didn’t have to wait in line four hours for in order to see, it definitely made a more solid impression than most of that con’s offerings. Turns out it’s hard for me to get a first impression of anything if most of what I see is other waiting con-goers! One more reason to primarily stick to indie fare, I guess. Between this, Forced and Ghost Hunter, you’ll probably be seeing a few more Gamescom alumni on the stage here in the not too far future.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, Contrast. Played it at Gamescom, thought it looked at least decently interesting, mentally archived it for later, was reminded about it actually launching two weeks ago by a friend. And here we are! Let’s see if my initial impression of interest holds up.
(Spoiler levels: Narrative, high. Mechanical, medium-to-high.)