Steve, 1:02 am, Tuesday, 12 June, 2012Follow @TheWestLondoner
The Humble Indie Bundle is essentially a collaborative charity event in which various game developers come together to sell their games using a “pay what you want“ model in order to get new fans and support the aforementioned charities, normally Child’s Play but this year there’s also Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Better yet, you can decide what percentage of your pennies go where! More to charities or more to the devs?
That’s the whole pack – pay whatever price you want and get all the games, pay over the average and you get a few extra!
The games are normally cross platform so they’ll run on Mac, PC, Linux and I’ve even see Android (as in phone) versions in the past. And they’re indie so should run on pretty much any machine bought since 2002, with the possible exceptions of Bastion and Psychonauts.
Now, if getting great games (and soundtracks!) for potentially pence isn’t enough incentive, Humble indie bundle V (as in five) sports the most amazing line-up to date – which I’m now going to do some rapid-fire reviews on…
Just briefly, I feel I should talk about the charities.
Child’s Play is all about getting sick kids entertainment during their time in hospital, normally in the form of hand-held gizmo’s or communal consoles.
EFF is all about fighting for privacy rights in an even more Orwellian future. I’m pretty sure they’re one of the guys fighting back on SOPA and it’s hydra-like many-headed onslaught of legislation across the world.
These are both worthy goals and deserve your support. Even better you’re getting games!
On with the show!
Ever play ye-olde point and click adventure games like Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle, back when LucasArts was doing more than churn out Star Wars? Ever click on random bits of the environment to hear the flavour text some poor writer was desperately hoping someone would notice to validate their position in the games industry?
SBS&S is a game made of this flavour tex. Everything drips with it, some of the puzzles are hinted at through it. If you’ve played point and click adventure games you’ll feel right at home with this baby, and it’s very funny to boot.
Limbo is a stark, dark “trial and death” platformer that would be considered unfair if it wasn’t so lenient on checkpoints and didn’t have unlimited lives.
It reminds me of Heart of Darkness for the PS1, as both feature old-school platforming and the gross annihilation of young boys in gory ways. Spikes, giant spider, decapitation by bear traps, these are just a few of the events that await your inevitable failure, juxtaposing the Burton-esque silhouettes with fairly graphic violence.
It drips atmosphere and was so popular it escaped the normal trappings of the XBLA – so get it before it goes back into hiding!*
I get the impression the guys at Frictional Games were getting tired of seeing devs in the US destroying the Horror genre, especially games like Silent Hill: Homecoming and the F.E.A.R series, and so made their own masterpiece. This is what the newer Alone in the Darks should have done.
There’s no combat in this game because you can’t attack.
That’s right; you can run, hide, barricade yourself in rooms (with a nifty use of the physics engine to drag desk across doors etc) but you can’t actually engage in combat, or at least not directly defend yourself.
That one simple fact makes it a fantastic horror game, and everything else (aesthetic, story, monsters…) makes me so bold as to say the best horror game of the last 10 years – because it’s not just an action game with a bit of gore thrown in… It’s genuinely terrifying…
Not strictly an Indie game but Tim Schaffer (of previous lucas arts fame) is doing crazy indie-inspired things these days. Psychonauts is birthed from the twin parentage of point’n'click and 3d Platformer, but performs both roles equally well.
You’re a kid in a psychic summer camp that has to explore the dreams and mind-scapes of various characters in order to progress the tongue in cheek and whimsical plot. Your arsenal is a whole host of awesome and emotion-inspired psychic powers, and generally it’s a fantastic game.
Don’t let this opportunity get away!
Now, if you’ve actually visited the site I linked you’ll notice that there’s more games than these with little tiny padlocks…
These games are locked unless you pay over the current average amount, current about $8 – around £5, so consider this section…
The fact that this game appears here is just an amazing show of how well it must have done.
Bastion is an action RPG type-thing that sees you running around an awesomely post-apocalyptic floating in the sky world. It marries the narrative of an old west film with the visuals of a Zelda game on Mario ‘shrooms and a soundtrack that’s generally bohemian and AWESOME. It’s a poly-amorous marriage but I’m not going to fault what works.
I strongly recommend this game with all it’s weapon-swapping isometric bliss and near-homoerotic-inspiring narrator.
Seriously, dude’s got a very good voice.
If I said “Silent Hill 2 – but as a 2d side-scroller” I really don’t mean it as a slight against this game, it’s meant as the hugest compliment. This is a fantastic little psychological thrillery horrory… something that combines the survivalist challenge of a Zombie apocalypse with the psychology of a Lockhart and King hybrid. Player choice is parramount and your every action can hold consequences on the characters ever-threatened mental health.
It’s a treat to play and haunts you long afterwards with its allegory, symbolism, open-endedness and masterful use of sound and music.
Probably a game it reminds me most of is one by Zero Punctuation’s Yahtzee, 1213 with some of his “Chzo Mythos” series mixed in, not surprising given the ranty reviewer’s own predilection with the Silent Hill series.
About 4 years ago, the word “indie” would instantly conjure forth the idea of Tim and his weird time-twisting mechanics in Braid. Now of course “indie” means “cave story” but that’s another thought for another time…
Braid is a classic platformer with a massive mind-bending twist. You can manipulate the flow of time – forwards, backwards. All time is affected, personal, that of the level and various elements of it… Essentially you have to start thinking non-linearly, in order to manipulate the environment and alter the sequence of certain elements to achieve an end goal.
Each level normally has an extra gimmick; like a shadow clone that will perform the tasks you did after rewinding, essentially allowing you to be in two places at once…
It’s all very clever and really you should just get it if you haven’t already!
SMB is a hardcore platforming experience that mixes speed, wall jumping and the potential for character-specific abilities to complete goals in an incredibly fast time.
That actually pretty much summarises the game, but what I haven’t told you is how ball-bustingly hard it is at certain points. This is a good thing, it’s a game that seeks to challenge you, and every element of it is designed to polish the experience of challenge to a fine mirror-sheen. A death-cam, the ability to reflect on all your attempts, quick respawning, hidden zones that’ll vanish if you don’t get there in time, collectables, various hazards…
Get an Xbox controller hooked to your PC and then get it!
I genuinely envy you reader. You have the opportunity to invest in the most staggeringly cost-effective set of genuinely fantastic games for (potentially) under £5 (price constantly fluctuates). That’s 4 amazing games for any price you want and 8 for less than the price of lunch.
I already owned all these games, bought over the years as they came out for up to £20 a pop. I don’t regret it they were great purchases, but you… You lucky lucky people…
Just do us both a favour and get the pack, yeah?
It’ll be gone in 3 days time (of writing) so don’t miss out!