Saturday, December 25, 2010

Reiem Reviews: Humble Indie Bundle #2

     The Humble Indie Bundle #2 is the second Humble Indie Bundle. Herp. Basically, the HIB is a bundle of indie games (that's also humble I suppose) where you can pay what you like for 5 different games, and you can determine how much of your donation goes to charity or the developers. I paid $15 for mine because anything too far below $10-$15 felt like being a cheap bastard and cheating the system. Also my karma increased. Turns out that as I was writing this, it closed, so it's no longer available.  However, you can still go download these games individually.  It'll cost more, but hey, some of them are worth it. I'm here to tell which are truly worth it.


Braid     I feel like I've arrived late to the Braid party, and I came wearing the same tie as the host.  It's a bit strange to be reviewing a game that everyone has already played but hey whatever it's a great game and if you don't think so... well then go die.  In a pit. 
     Obviously meant to be the crown jewel of the bundle, the game is a puzzle platformer, but it's unlike any platformer before it. It has Prince of Persia-esque time reversing and speeding up mechanics, it has Super Mario Bros. jumping on weird creatures to kill them, and it looks like it just jumped out of Vincent van Gogh's head and onto your computer screen. 
     To quote Raz0rFist: "And that music. Sweet cyborg jesus that music..."


I've heard a lot of people praise the story but I really didn't get into it for the story.  The entire narrative is given to your through text and it isn't all that involving.  It's a somewhat interesting story, with a superb ending, and that's really all there is to say about it.  It's a fantastic game; cleverly designed, with beautiful visuals and a decent story.  If the bundle contained only this game, I'd still probably pay $10 for it.


Cortex Command     The makers of this game have said that it isn't done yet, and there will be updates for it later on.  Don't bother with downloading this game until it's finished.  And even then, I'm not sure it will be much better. 
     I went into this game thinking it would be a interesting strategy game where you can control individual units and command the rest of your army.  I thought it would have a cool story of galactic warfare.  I thought it would be fun.  Sadly, I was wrong.  So very very wrong.
     Essentially, this game left me with questions. Lots of questions. Why can't I figure out how to pick up guns? Why are the controls so awful? Why do I get killed with one shot on the easiest difficulty when I'm at full health? Why do I find it easier to move around after my legs have been shot off? Why did the rocket dropping off my supplies fall over as it landed, and then use its thrusters and fly straight into my last robot, killing it? Why can't I beat the tutorial level?  The game is virtually unplayable, and I'm not exaggerrating at all.  The controls are so horribly mangled, that even figuring out how to pick up the first item in the game took me 20 minutes.  Don't bother with this game.  Hopefully, the updates will fix some things about it.  But unless they redo everything about the controls, there isn't much hope for it.


Machinarium     Just as World of Goo was the main selling point of the first Humble Bundle, Braid is obviously the "this is a big effin' deal" game of this bundle.  And as great as Braid is, I can't help but feel that Machinarium is the real crown jewel of the bundle. 
     Basically, what we have here is a simple point and click adventure game.  That's about the extent of it, but it does enough things differently to feel like something fresh and awesome. Believe you me, it is indeed awesome.
     The point and click adventure aspect of the game should be self-explanatory.  You move your little character by clicking where you want him to go.  You interact with objects by clicking on them, and you have an inventory where you can combine items and use them on things around you.  That's where to run-of-the-mill stuff ends, and the awesomeness begins. 
     The game is absolutely beautiful, a gajillion times better looking than any High-def, 1080p, super crazy PC-cooling-fan-destroying game out there.  Every screen looks like a drawing that was drawn in colored pencil by the most artistic, detail-obsessed (and perhaps somewhat depressed) OCD sufferer on the this, or any other planet.

 
I went through the entire game not having seen anything about the game before hand, and I feel like it made the experience better. I had no idea what was coming next, so watch the video at your own risk, it might diminish your experience with the game.     With such stunning visuals, one might expect the framerate to be sub-par, or for the animation to be choppy, but that isn't true at all.  The game runs wonderfully.  On top of all this, it doesn't require you to carry a massive amount of stuff, backtrack to get something you missed, nor does it ask that you rub everything against everything else to proceed.  It works on a mostly screen by screen basis. Everything you need to get through to the next puzzle is there on the screen for you, and you will rarely be required to run all around to different areas to complete a task.  The puzzles are ingeniously designed, and no two puzzles are alike.  Every screen presents you with a brand new, completely doable but still challenging puzzle to solve, and its incredibly rewarding to devise a plan and see it all work perfectly as your cute little robot buddy diligently completes his tasks.
     All in all, I'd say this is a sadly overlooked game that easily beats out Braid as my favorite game of this bundle. Go download it, right now. 
http://machinarium.net/
     Please don't steal it, because I want more games from Amanita Designs soon.


Osmos
     With all I've said about the other games, these next two reviews might seem a bit half-assed.  Honestly, there just isn't much to say about either of the next two games.
     Osmos is exactly like the fish game, where you eat the smaller fish, get bigger, and eat bigger and bigger fish until you're the biggest fish there.  This is essentially the same game, just with a weird cell thing instead of a fish and a mouse controlled propulsion system instead of arrow keys.  You propel yourself around, sucking up smaller cell thingies until you're the biggest.  The individual levels add some small changes, but nothing really worth talking about at length.  It's a fun little game, but my main problem with it is that there are tons of games a lot like it (albeit not as pretty) that you can play online for free.  This game isn't really worth getting outside the bundle, unless you want a really simple, calming game with some nice ambient background music.


Revenge of the Titans     I found myself thinking of the awful controls of Cortex Command while playing this game, but its nowhere near as bad.  There's a couple things that bug me about the controls, such as how you have to go down to the corner of the screen and hit "Cancel" to stop building towers all over when you're trying to pick up the money the mining stations just dropped, but it's nothing overly terrible. It's a simple tower defense game, as if we don't have enough of those damned things.  It's fun enough, but it really doesn't do anything terribly interesting.  You build things that make money for you, you build towers, you upgrade things, you use powerups when you're in trouble, you kill evil monsters. Pretty standard stuff, and there's really nothing that makes Revenge of the Titans any more fun than, say, Bloons Tower Defense 4.


     That's about it for this review. I'm very happy with my purchase of the bundle, (if only for Machinarium and Braid) and I'm sorry this review didn't get done in time for anyone to actually buy the thing because of it. But hey, that's how it goes sometimes.

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