Thursday, April 7, 2011

Xbox Live Indiefest - Day Five  


Games: So, tonight is the fifth night of my week-long XBL Indiefest. Before we get started, here's...

a recap for those that missed it:

I've got over three hundred XBLI demos saved up.

(cue dramatic music.)

To clear out my hard drive, I've decided to go through at least three games per night. I'll play the free trial period of each Indie that catches my eye, and at the end of that period, I'm going to give a quick one or two paragraph description of what I saw and then decide on one of three verdicts:

I Bought It, I Deleted It, or Needs Further Investigation.

Also, there are a number of really good games that I've already played, so I'm going to save up mention of those until the end of this Indiefest. The ones I will be covering daily will be titles I've never played before.

So, here's what was on tap for Day Five…


Sleepwalker by Debreuil Digital Works – 80 MS Points ($1.00)

A pleasant little puzzler, this game tasks the player with controlling a (wait for it...) sleepwalking man. Naturally, the object is to guide this snoozy wanderer back to his bed, but it's a little more complicated than figuring out where his house is, or phoning his wife. Levels are made up of all sorts of obstacles; things like moving construction girders, trampolines, warp gates and switches.

Look of the game is clean and simple, but that works in its favor. The control is similarly streamlined with the player only needing to use the left stick for movement and the A button to flip the sleepwalker from left to right or right to left. Timing is important since there is a fair bit of jumping (those trampolines, remember) and a very simple physics engine seems to be in place. I'm a sucker for these kinds of games.

Verdict: I Bought It.


Abaddon: Retribution by Kellogg & team. – 80 MS Points ($1.00)

While it's true that you never really know what you're going to get when loading up one of these indie demos, this is one that took me extra-hard by surprise. The premise of Abaddon: Retribution is that the player controls a small fighter-type spacecraft and must guard a large capital ship from incoming attack swarms. The overall level of polish and detail work stands above what a person can reasonably expect from an indie like this, and it's clear to see that the team really went the extra mile towards creating a quality product.

The art is great (although the character profiles could be better) the action is very fast, the controls are dialed-in, there are plenty of options and things to upgrade, and there's even a proper campaign and story to give the player more than enough reason to dive in and push forward. It's exciting stuff.

Note: This game is the sequel to Abaddon, and while they both share the same core, it's pretty clear to see that Retribution added tons of polish on top of everything. Having a choice between the two, I'll be starting with the sequel.

Verdict: I Bought It.


Zombie Football Carnage by Milkstone Studios – 80 MS Points ($1.00)

Oddly, there is precious little football in this game. Instead of worrying about first downs or passing strategies, the player controls a zombie holding pigskin and runs around open levels dodging incoming hordes of monsters. Attacking is done by throwing the football rapid-fire at enemies. In addition, there are a few pickups to collect and a menu to increase the various statistics of the zombie such as defense, attacking power, and so on.

While I really liked the aesthetics of this game, I was a little put off by the lack of a proper intro explaining what I was supposed to do. Once I figured it out I warmed up to it a little, though I'll say that it seems as though this game is basically one long grind. The stat-ups available to buy all seemed really expensive and the zombie is too fragile at the game’s start. With nothing to do but run around and throw a football at attacking monsters, I have serious doubts about this title’s staying power.

Verdict: Needs Further Investigation.


Vertigo by Run Jump Duck Entertainment – 80 MS Points ($1.00)

I am a believer that if a game is only going to do one thing, then it had better do that one thing phenomenally well. In Vertigo, the player controls a parkour-ish sort of character and runs from left to right in urban settings. Movement is simply a matter of holding the left stick in a direction, but there are speed boosts and jump boosts that must be activated with a button as the player passes by.

I've got nothing against games that require fast reflexes, but Vertigo’s camera sometimes leaves too much of the landscape out of view and it's no fun to have things come to a screeching halt just because you couldn’t see an oncoming barrier. Hitting the various boosts takes fairly precise timing, and again, sometimes they’re hard to see until it's too late. This game would have to have been nearly perfect if it expected players to sign aboard for action that's basically running in one direction and hitting a button, so having these sorts of concerns during the short trial told me I should pass this one by.

Verdict: I Deleted It.


That's it for Day Five of my Indiefest. Check back tomorrow for the next round of games, and I’ll also do a recap of my favorites (both old and new) at the end of the series.


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1 comments: to “ Xbox Live Indiefest - Day Five


    Great post.I have little bit with Sleepwalker.The level designs keep the game play fresh.There are few repetitive elements so you feel like you are being given another challenge every level.There are a fair number of timing elements that concur with a bounce off a trampoline or a falling thing.I appreciated what number of diverse challenges there were.The one complaint that a few gamers may have is that none of the levels oblige a lot of skill.I had the capacity work some way or another through every one of the twenty levels in about an hour making this a short, yet enjoyable game.Good Day.

    Betty Allen.