Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Phantasmaburbia - Bustin' Makes Me Feel Good

Phantasmaburbia is an indie RPG set in a small suburban neighborhood that, overnight, has become host to a large population of ghosts and dark spirits. In the middle of the night, four teenagers are woken up by ghostly disturbances in their houses; seeking weapons with which to defend themselves, they each meet with a friendly spirit who helps them quell the ghosts in their homes. With their new ghost buddies, the four protagonists set out into the neighborhood on their own personal quests, but soon come to join forces to defeat the demon responsible for awakening the evil spirits and casting their families and neighbors into unwaking slumber.

The premise itself is pretty interesting, but there's a whole lot going in this game's favor. It has a really nice atmosphere (thanks to the visual design and the music), an engaging and unpredictable story, pretty decent character development, fun battle mechanics, clever puzzles, and several interesting twists on the typical RPG formula. Certain elements of the game even remind me of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. And with a single playthrough lasting 10-12 hours, with good pacing throughout, I had a very wholesome, fulfilling experience with Phantasmaburbia.

As usual, if that summary isn't enough to convince you, I have more thoughts on the game after the jump.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Vampire Lemmings - An Indie Game Review

Vampires! is a (wait for it....) vampire-themed puzzle game by CBE Software, the developer behind the recent sci-fi adventure/puzzle game J.U.L.I.A. and Ghost in the Sheet. Vampires! plays loosely like the classic Lemmings game (except with vampires) -- it's almost dawn, and the vampires have to get back to their crypts before the sun comes up. The problem is that they seem to roam through hallways almost aimlessly, so it's up to you to help them avoid traps and make it back to the crypt safely, before sunrise. 

The game is played from an overhead perspective with small, self-contained map scenarios. Using the mouse, you click on tiles to alter the environment while the vampires drone ever onward through the hallways and intersections. Your primary interaction is rotating tiles so that you can shape the path you want the vampires to take, even rotating a tile while a vampire is currently in the tile. At first, all you have to worry about is patches of sunlight, which kill the vampires instantly if they walk into it, but things quickly become more complicated.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bundle in a Box: The Cerebral Bundle

A few hours ago Kyttaro Games launched their fourth Bundle in a Box, a pay-what-you-want collection of clever indie games. All games are available DRM-free as direct downloads, and some are supported on Steam, Desura, Mac, and Linux. The minimum asking price for the bundle is $1.99, which will give you five base games, but paying above the current average will give you four extra games. Other bonuses (like soundtracks and comics) unlock as more people purchase bundles. From the press release:
Paying anything above $1.99 will get you: deep, retro-esque and utterly elegant RPG Phantasmaburbia; artful, being-stood-up-sim Dinner Date; undead infested puzzler Vampires!; illustrated interactive fiction exclusive debut Necrotic Drift Deluxe; and beautiful puzzler exclusive debut D├ędale De Luxe
Beating the average price will allow gamers to enjoy four more cerebral games: sci-fi puzzle exploration adventure J.U.L.I.A.; hilarious boring-job-sim I Get This Call Every Day; Jane Jensen powered point-and-clicker Cognition, Episode 1: The Hangman; and just released dystopian adventure Reversion: The Meeting
A portion of all sales will be given to charity, and another portion will be set aside to help fund other indie developers, so you'll be supporting some good causes in the process. The current average price is hovering around $5.82. I'll try to write some quick reviews for some of these games in the next few days, but you can also check the bundle out for yourself by clicking here