The best of the Indie Royale’s Launch Bundle

2011-11-09 by . 0 comments

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The first Indie Royale bundle, “The Launch Bundle”, came and went about a week ago now. I grabbed a copy fairly early, mostly to pick up Sanctum and give that a whirl.

Now, Sanctum is good enough, but it was two of the other titles from the bundle that have really grabbed my attention, and I think they’re worth at least taking a look at – even if you’ve now missed the bundle.

Nimbus

Over a year old now, but I’d completely missed this when it was released and couldn’t recall having heard of it when I bought the bundle, but Nimbus has proved pleasantly surprising.

You’re piloting a ship – gliding through the world – to attempt to reach the exit; using cannons, boosters, etc and sometimes just the raw power of gravity. Of course there’s the usual assortment of lasers, spikes and various other obstacles to get in the way. Nimbus manages to feel a bit like a platformer in a few ways, but with fluid gliding movement.

Soaring through the sky, bouncing of the bouncy walls, dodging spikes, firing out off cannons, etc - it's all well executed.

Why do I have a strange feeling that grabbing this green key will lead to trouble? Well... what's the worst that can happen, eh?

As well as the typical “get to the finish without dying or getting stuck”, there are some simple puzzles elements – find a red key to remove the red wall, shove some balls around, etc. The puzzles are rarely mentally challenging, but piloting the ship prevents you from noticing and the combination feels fresh.

There are timed Steam leaderboards too, if that’s your kind of thing (the game does brand itself as a “racing” puzzler for this reason, but meh). Without putting effort in to those, expect to tie up the game maybe six hours.

Nimbus is fun little almost-platformer with great flying movement and puzzle elements. It’s on Steam, and there’s a demo there too if you fancy a look. Oh, and here’s the trailer if you’re so inclined:

Score Card: Nimbus

Mechanics 4 / 5
Excellent
A fun, clever and unique combination; could be very challenging if you want push for the leaderboard, otherwise still a good not-quite-platformer with great flying movement and some puzzle elements.
Aesthetics 3 / 5
Good
Bright, colourful, clean and attractive art style that isn’t distracting; soundtrack fits the environments well.
Narrative 1 / 5
Poor
There’s a vague premise behind all this, but this is a solid platform/puzzle game that doesn’t try to wrap itself up in a narrative for the sake of it. Being a puzzler, it doesn’t really generate much narrative from play either.

Gemini Rue

Another one that’s been around for a while – since Feb this year – that I had heard mentioned before, but never really considered. Mainly because it’s a point-and-click adventure game. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like the genre, it’s just that I rarely have the patience for them, so it takes a bit to get me started (massive discounts being the obvious draw here!). In this case I found the game to be rather satisfying.

The game is a grim and sombre sci-fi piece that starts by following two parallel narratives. That of Azriel Odin – an ex-assassin, looking for his brother – and that of Delta-Six – a patient, or possibly inmate, at a unknown facility, looking to escape. I won’t be more specific on where it goes, but the story is clever, interesting and contains twists and turns just when the time is right – it’s the reason you should play this game.

We meet Azriel standing the on the rainy planet of Barracus, waiting for a contact that didn't show...

... and Delta-Six inside an unknown faculty, his memory wiped and being put through a training regime for reasons also unknown.

Gemini Rue brings a few little extra mechanics to the usual P&C deck – gun fights and a few puzzles. These are all pretty simple, but help break up the game and aren’t abused repeatedly (there are only about 6 gun fights in the entire game, for example), and the games nice enough to auto-save before those events that can kill you. The P&C puzzles are for the most part uncomplicated and not particularly obscure, but you will need to make sure you check everything, twice – so pretty much as you’d expect with this genre really.

The game is very lo-fi. Thanks to the tech it’s built on it seems the resolution is capped at a whopping 320×200 (yes, really), although you can scale this up a bit. However, the scenes are well drawn and the voice acting is mostly solid, so the game flows well despite the technical restrictions. As a result it does lean itself towards a slightly old-school P&A feel as a result.

Oh, and it clocked in at about four hours for me – this felt like just the right length when playing it.

Gemini Rue is a P&C adventure that concentrates on its excellent story rather than complex puzzles, and works well because of it. It’s available on the Wadjet Eye Games website and Steam, with a demo available from the website. Again, here’s the trailer if you’re so inclined:

Score Card: Gemini Rue

Mechanics 2 / 5
Adequate
A fairly standard point-and-click adventure game with a few extra bits here and there. Nothing to get excited about.
Aesthetics 2 / 5
Adequate
Very low-fi graphics mean low detail and occasional blandness, but does lend the game an old school feel that is acceptable for the genre. Satisfactory audio and mostly solid voice acting help keep the game flowing.
Narrative 4 / 5
Excellent
The game’s selling point. An interesting and dark sci-fi story with twists and turns delivered at just the right moments. It’s linear, as far as I can tell, but that path is well developed.

Also, you should note that the second Indie Royale bundle – the Difficult Second Bundle, they’re calling it – lands very soon (a mere 26hrs after this post goes out, if my maths is right). We don’t know what’s in it yet, but you might want to keep an eye open for it in case it contains more gems like these.

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