Holiday Steam Sale Cheap/Indie Roundup

Ugh, my wallet has a hangover.  The Steam Holiday Sale did another number on it.  As is my way, I dropped another $20-$30 on things that were cheap and interesting, so let’s take a couple of asprin and survey the damage.

And Yet It Moves

I bought AYIM a while back, I think part of a Humble Bundle.  I had occasion to log a few more hours with it over the course of the sale, since it was discounted and part of the big game giveaway event.  My problem with this game is that it’s just frustrating to control and not very intuitive.  I got stuck on one level where some bats were following me around (poorly) and I had to manage twisting the world so that I didn’t die while keeping the bats in a flock (swarm?  gaggle?) so that I could solve puzzles with them.  Luckily I had gotten almost to the level I needed to be on for the achievement in this game, or I would have just given up completely on it.

Beat Hazard

Another game I’ve had in my stable for quite a while but replayed for the Holiday Sale.  This game is utter hell for me.  It’s practically a migraine and seizure inducement engine.  It’s a dual stick shooter that touts that it’s “powered by your music.”  This just means that in addition to the constantly strobing neon visuals, you’ve got to deal with background music of your choice.  The music dictates how powerful your weapons are, so if the Beastie Boys let the beat…  drop, and there’s a boss to fight, you’re hosed.  If you take the constant volume and visual intensity changes together in one package, this might as well be ripped from the pages of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” handbook.  Bottom line: Torture?  Yes.  Fun game?  No.

Dungeons of Dredmor

I am an old school gamer and roguelike lover to the core.  Dungeons of Dredmor is a game cut from this cloth, and I really want to like it.  There’s just a few problems.  One is that it’s a buggy mess and tends to crash often.  Over the holiday, several patches were released and each one had its share of issues.  The first patch broke the anti-piracy protection, so as soon as I spawned on the first floor I was brutally eviscerated by a high level monster, with no way to escape or retaliate.  Then they patched that and the game just wouldn’t load.  Next they patched the game crashing bug, but then you couldn’t load a save.  Finally, they’ve patched these issues but the game randomly crashes.  Between all the craziness I think I’ve gotten off the first floor of the dungeon precisely once.  It’s still a fun game at it’s core though, and I hope to invest some substantial time in it in th future.

Demolition, Inc.

I saw this on sale, and thought it looked pretty interesting.  The point of the game is that you’re an alien in a little flying saucer who has been tasked with destroying building on Earth for some reason.  Most of your tools, however, focus around getting cars to do your work for you.  You can lay oil slicks, glue wheels, deploy exploding cows, or take direct control of cars in certain situations, among other things.  The problem is that the game is just too picky.  Often times I’ll place a trap in the same location several times, and the results are inconsistent.  It’s also not really clear what will happen when you lay a trap.  How will the car react?  Will it turn the way I want it to?  Most of the time you’re reduced to trial and error.  When levels can take 10 or 15 carefully placed traps to clear, and one mistake can easily ruin the entire level, you’ve got the recipe for a frustrating experience.

EDGE

I got this as part of a bundle of three puzzle games by Two Tribes that looked somewhat kid friendly.   I guess the ‘retro’ lo-fi pixel art has come back in force for indie games, but this game is just kind of minimalistic in a bad way.  Everything in the game world is just large, untextured, typically gray cubes with occasional pastel colors slapped on them.  The game itself seems to be more of a “solve this sequence, and we’re going to time you and grade you at the end” which isn’t really a goal that motivates me.

Rock of Ages 

This game is a hard one to categorize.  It’s got kind of a “flat” vibe like the Paper Mario series, crossed with sort of ancient Greek art style (at least in the part I’ve played to date).  The gameplay is part Katamari, part tower defense.  The overall goal is to crash your giant boulder through your enemy’s gate before  they do the same to you.  It’s weird, and quirky, but thus far I haven’t seen a heck of a lot of depth.  The whole thing feels a little gimmicky.  I’ll probably give it another go, but I can’t say that thus far I’m super impressed.

Super Meat Boy

This one’s a real indie darling, and it certainly shares a heritage with the N series, which you can generally find as flash games online.  The game is absolutely punishing, and for that reason it’s just not for me.  If I want to pay money to spend my free time being repeatedly abused, well, let’s say there are more pleasurable ways to achieve that goal.

SpaceChem 

This is a game that appeals to the engineer in me.  The game centers around causing reactions to occur using a LOGO-style “waldo” system.  The faster you can make the reactors go, and the fewer instructions you need to complete the objective, the better your solution is.  There are just a few problems:  the controls are a bit frustrating, the constraints on the reactors are limiting, and I absolutely suck at the game.  You’d think a game about optimizing and controlling a digital system would be right up a software engineer’s alley, but I’m just terrible at it.  I think the perfectionist in me is foiling any plans I have to play this as a game.

Space Pirates and Zombies(SPAZ) 

This is one that I need to spend more time with.  It’s a top-down Asteroids style shooter with some deep RPG customization elements and a huge, randomly generated world to explore.  It ticks all the boxes to be a time sink for me.  I’m sure that when I have the time to come around and spend some time on it, I’m going to be talking about it again.  Thus far, it’s the real gem of the collection I acquired during the sale.

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