Hand drawn puzzler Machinarium is definitely pretty, but the challenges fail to engage.
A poor robot dumped in the trash has to return and save the big robot city. This is achieved by solving a series of puzzles using point & click gameplay. Machinarium is a gentle game, that can be played at any pace and provides both hints to the solution or, after a mini-game, a complete walkthrough. All the problems fit thematically with the story and robot city world. The art is notably different and interesting. However, after a couple of hours I got stuck, and upon utilising the walkthrough discovered the the rules of puzzle solving had changed. This is greatly annoying. I prefer to solve the brain teasers myself, but this seemed to require a jump in logic or to cheat. Perhaps this is standard for the genre (I am not particularly experienced with them), but it stopped me moving any further.
Machinarium is out on the Steam store for PC and Mac at US$9.99. It has been bundled.
Discard that cup of tea my good man. Devilish robots abound. You must patiently sneak around and survive. Persevere, because Sir, You Are Being Hunted
In Sir, You Are Being Hunted the player is a Victorian gentlemen somehow transported to an island full of murderous robots. Your only hope is to construct an escape machine out of components found around the island – although the robots tend to congregate around these items. The game plays like an early survival game with a first-person view. Players need to replenish their vitality by finding food (usually in abandoned buildings). Trying to fight the robots results in a quick death (for me at least). The only viable plan seems to be: hide and distract.
The artstyle is tweedpunk – Victorian gentlemen mixed with procedurally generated English countryside horror. It works well and has many nice touches. Unfortunately (for me) the game is super hard and slow. Perhaps it can be mastered with more time and patience. I want to like this game, it does so much right, but instead after several hours and barely making a scratch I have to admit defeat and move onto something else.
Sir, You Are Being Hunted is out on the Steam store for PC, Mac and Linux at US$19.99. It has been bundled.
A new turn-based indie monster battler is in development. Does Beastmancer show promise? It is still very early days (alpha demo!) and can only get better, but is already looking great.
An important part of developing a game is gathering feedback on how it plays. Sometimes this can be hard as an indiedev, and so the solo developer of Beastmancer released an alpha demo free on IndieDB. In the game the player collects fantastical beasts and then uses them in turn-based battles against other beasts. Sort of like Pokemon, but more JRPG’ish. The game is surprisingly playable considering its early stage. And looks quite good with cell-shaded graphics and many animations (although a few more in the fights are needed). There are a few issues to be ironed out. Saving/loading does not work and there are long load times (at least on my old’ish PC). The battles lack a certain oomph, there are few special attacks and mostly it is just charge and bash. Lastly, the story is too dominant and the maps too big, meaning that there is little fighting and lots of listening/running around. I look forward to seeing how it progresses.
Beastmancer is available for free as a PC-only alpha demo on IndieDB.
A mobile turn-based rogue-like that plays well on PC? Wonders will never end with Sproggiwood!
Sproggiwood plays like a traditional rogue-like. Your avatar explores grid-based dungeons in a fantasy world, fighting the denizens, collecting treasure and levelling upto more powerful skills. What innovation there is seems to be the result of its mobile origins. For instance, after completing each dungeon the player resets – all experience and collected items are lost. Each dungeon is started again with a basic character… unless items or buffs are purchased through the in-game store.
Luckily in the PC version, there are no microtransactions. So the worst of mobile gaming is avoided. There is also a simple story and replayability through unlocking extra character types (farmer, archer, vampire, etc). Although there does seem to be some grinding required to purchase enough buffs to get through the later levels. Overall this is a well-made, polished and cutesy rogue-like, but it doesn’t offer anything new to the experienced player of such games.
Sproggiwood is out on the Steam store for PC, Mac and Linux at US$14.99. It has been bundled many times.
Destroy the world that feeds you in Greed Corp, a casual turn-based strategy game that plays similar to a RTS, but with a twist!
In Greed Corp the player is one of four possible factions fighting over a hex map with height. The basic idea is to gather resources, construct fighting units and defeat your enemies. The novel twist is that extracting resources undermines the land, lowering it in height. If the height of a hex falls too low, then it collapses – falling away into the mists along with anything on it, gone forever. In practice this means forces scurry across the map, leaving devastation in their wake before engaging the enemy on what little of the map remains. Initially the game works well.
Unfortunately the game often ends with one side clearly stronger, but the map denuded of resources. Thus the game descends to a slow grind, with one side destined for victory, but getting there at a lazy pace while gathering the scant remaining resources. Later missions in the campaign also have time limits on turn length, which I personally do not appreciate (if I wanted such a constraint I’d play a RTS!). Still the basics are enjoyable enough to keep a player entertained for several hours.
Greed Corp is out on the Steam store for PC only at US$9.99. It has been bundled many times.