Monday, February 25, 2013

400 Years and i saw her standing there

These two games are a pair of Kongregate games that B13 found initially and passed on to me because he thought I would like them. He was, predictably, correct.

i saw her standing there

This little platformer won't take up more than ten minutes of your time. You play as a little guy (who is, in fact, a lowercase letter i), and you can navigate using the arrow keys, with "up" to jump. You see a girl standing there, and then, it turns out, she is actually a zombie. Your goal, at every level, is to avoid the other zombies, and get your girlfriend into her cage so she won't bite you, either.

It's a very simple game, in both gameplay in style. You jump and navigate across simplistic, 1-screen platforms, and lead your zombie girlfriend to her cage. It is set up carefully, nonetheless, so that your goal is clear and you are set up for success. All zombies in the game will follow you and attack you, however, so you have to take care not to let them trail too close behind you.

The tone is lighthearted and fun, and the soundtrack aptly reflects that. As you play, you have a cheerful acoustic guitar tune to encourage you. The game also has a sense of flow about it, creating an ease of play that isn't typical in a zombie-themed game. I recommend giving it a play--it's simply adorable!

400 Years

This is a game that I would classify in the "experience" category. There is something very unique and ambient about this game that suggests something further than your typical gameplay.

To begin with, the music is very relaxing and zen-like, and the graphics, while retaining a certain retro quality to them, are actually very beautiful. You play as a stone entity, most likely a deity of some kind, who awakens, sensing that there is a coming calamity to prevent. You are given the ability to speed up time as required, and can cycle through several years in that fashion. As the name suggests, you have 400 years to accomplish your task.

As you speed up time, you watch the world grow and flourish around you. Bridges are built, and trees and other plants grow. A number of time-sensitive objects are integral to your progression in the game. For example, you may need to wait until a tree grows big enough for you to climb it in order to get to another area.

One of the crucial points of the game occurs when you meet a community of people who are afraid of you, but are also very hungry. You help them, and you don't receive a thanks, suggesting that the sole purpose for this rock entity is to help those people and stop the calamity.

This game is also a little on the short side, and shouldn't run you much more than 20 minutes. Don't be afraid to use a few extra years than you think are necessary--you have plenty of time.

I received an iPad last week, and I have a couple of games to play on there to review. As always, if you have any recommendations, please send them along!

- K8-bit

Monday, February 11, 2013

Taking a step back with Knytt and Rebuild

This week, I wanted to feature a couple of games that actually introduced me to the indie gaming community in the first place. One of them came from a bizarre set of TVTropes searches, and the other came from... actually, I don't remember where I found it. Rebuild introduced me to Kongregate and got me signed up for it in the first place, and Knytt showed me just how beautiful gaming simplicity can be.

If you've read my blog before, you'll know that Journey was the game that really pushed me into the indie game circle, but these two both paved the way. Before these games, I didn't really understand what browser-based games, or games created by small studios, were capable of producing.

Rebuild I got very into. I actually played it through, straight from start until finish without moving from my seat. This took about four hours, but I didn't really care. The game is a turn-based strategy that follows an "after the end" premise; the world has been overrun by zombies, and you are among the last survivors. Your goal is to dig your heels in and rebuild what's left of your city.

I'm a big fan of zombie culture, from video games to books (I've even written one myself, but that's a story for another blog). Being a fan, I know that a lot of works in the genre can blend into obscurity, since there's so much content, and some times works can rely too much on the zombie content to be really very good. Rebuild doesn't suffer from this. It's a solid strategy game, and it's very addicting.

Knytt is a beautiful little nonviolent platformer. It may have minimalist graphics and gameplay, but it's very atmospheric, relaxing and all-around lovely. Apparently Nifflas, the game's creator, has cited Fumito Ueda, the creator of ICO, as an inspiration. Because all you can do in the game is navigate the beautiful landscapes, climb, jump and locate missing UFO parts, it's easy to see why. The music is also simple and mostly atmospheric.

As this isn't the same as my typical reviews, I want to give you the opportunity to play these games for yourself without any sort of bias on my part. You'll see, I'm sure, why I love them so much.

I do have another couple of reviews lined up for this week, hopefully. I played some really neat ones over the weekend.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Demons vs. Fairyland, Bleed for Speed

I received an e-mail from Kongregate with a list of games that were new this week, and thought I'd pick one at random, as I didn't have the first idea what to write about this week.

I went on Newgrounds and flipped through the "Popular" section to select a random title from there, as well. Here are the games I chose.

Demons vs. Fairyland

In this tower defense style game, you play as the antagonists: the demons. You have kidnapped the children of Fairyland, and Fairyland's residents are trying to come back to collect them. As the demons, you spend the entirety of the game defending the children and keeping the citizens of Fairyland from taking them back.

The game has a number of options available to you. Firstly, you are able to customise difficulty and earn bonus experience based on what you change and to what degree. You can also earn points, which can be used to improve your roster and upgrade.

This was what my set up looked like.

You get three different monsters to choose from, and you can upgrade those the higher the level you play. Each monster has two different "ultimate forms" to choose from. Archers rely on speed, Puddle of the Monster has powerful magic at its disposal, and Haunted Houses contain skeletons for physical, ground-based damage.

The game spans 12 levels and you can replay them until you're satisfied with your result. The aim is to finish each level with 1 or more of the fairy children still behind. The best case scenario is that you have all five and none of them have even been touched by Fairyland's denizens. If you are able to get through a level without any of the children being touched, you earn three stars.

Another option you have, when dealing with the fairy kingdom, is to use spells to get them out of your way. If you happen to notice that some of your monsters didn't do a very good job at keeping one of the bigger creatures away, you can pause the game and send a Chain Lighting spell after them. You can set up totems for your monsters to steal gold or mana as well, which will help you expand or upgrade your monsters.

One of the earlier levels.
Stylistically, it's a very fun game, with cell-shaded backgrounds and quirky pixel characters. The music isn't too distracting, which is a good thing. One of the things I liked about it was the fact that you knew if you didn't have the right setup within the first couple of waves, and you have the option to restart.

I didn't play around with the difficulty customisation too much, but I recommend giving it a shot if you're looking for a challenging tower defense. I didn't have too much trouble playing it through on normal setting, but there was just enough of a challenge to keep it interesting.

Bleed for Speed

This is a bizarre and somewhat eerie avoid-style HTML5 game, in which you play a white blood cell navigating an apparently endless series of blood vessels. The aim is simple: you navigate the blood vessels, avoiding the nasty clots at all costs, and allow your white blood cells to multiply while letting as few die as possible.

The graphics are stylish but a little unnerving. The sight of a dead white blood cell is as off-putting as you'd expect.
A pair of dead white blood cells in the lower left corner, in case you didn't feel like sleeping tonight.
The higher your white blood cell count, the faster you go. The game's camera zooms out, as well, allowing you a broader view of the obstacles in your path. You can control where the white blood cells go by sending out a pulse, i.e., clicking directly beside the cell. The cells get happier the faster you go, which is also a little creepy.

Happy little white blood cells!
The only problem I experienced was that the music would skip and the game would chug a little the more white cells were added to the mix. This is likely, however, HTML5 platform over the game.

The game lasts as long as you make it, and keeps track of your high score. Mine was a meager 4295, and I think the most white cells I was able to keep alive at any point were about 9. I recommend giving it a try if you're looking for something weird and different, and if you like to challenge yourself by beating your own high score.

I had a couple of other games I'd like to review, but I'll save those for another time. Next week I'm going to talk about two of my all-time favourite indie games, and may do another post after that.

Sorry for the late update this week! Our ISP was acting up yesterday and wouldn't let me complete my posts. We're back to our regularly scheduled program, now.