December's Desura Dementia Deux - Part 5: 6180 The Moon, Potatoman Seeks the Troof and They Breathe.
By Mento 1 Comments
Welcome to the final part of December's Desura Dementia Deux, with my last batch of three titles so Indie they were games before it was cool, or something. I dunno, I've written four of these intros already. I'm just checking out some Desura games is all that I plucked out of my game list in a random fashion. They're some interesting curios, for the most part, and some could use the support for all their Greenlight pitches and whatever else they have going on. Bake sales, perhaps. Go buy a muffin.
Actually, here's something I don't think I did the previous four times: check out Indie Royale whenever they have a new bundle. Just register a profile on their site to get emails in your preferred email receptacle and buy anything that looks interesting for the <$5 they usually ask. Sure, most of the library you'll end up with are the same caliber of game you might find on Kongegrate or Armor Games for free, but you're supporting up-and-comers. That always results in a warm, fuzzy feeling. (Heck, that goes for the bundles on Groupees too. A lot of games that are only on Desura or need to be downloaded directly DRM-free end up on their reasonably-priced bundles.)
Moon Kings, King Edwards and Croa-Kings (These Are Hard, Shut Up)
The source: The Indie Royale Debut Bundle.
The pre-amble: 6180 The Moon (no idea what the significance of that number is) is a puzzle-platformer in which the player must discover what happened to the Sun, as the Moon. As in, the moon of Earth. The game's chief conceit, which is to say the gimmick that sets it apart from all the other Indie puzzle-platformers out there, is that there is no ceiling or floor: the moon simply reappears at the one side of the screen after exiting the opposite.
The playthrough: 6180 The Moon is another one of these ephemeral puzzle-platformer experiences that doesn't outstay its welcome once it's done showing you everything it has in its bag of tricks. Although there are a respectable fifty stages, they sort of whizz by rather quickly, especially once you've gotten used to how its vertical-less concept works in practice. The game adds a plethora of wrinkles, of course, including a one-time power-up that halts your vertical momentum (useful, since the moon has a very high vertical leap) and obstacles like disappearing blocks and springs.
Honestly, as high-concept as flying around as a spherical rock weighing millions of tons seems, the game is quite straightforward and banal. It has a very minimalist look as well: nothing but monochrome circles and squares like an even less visually sophisticated Thomas Was Alone. I wouldn't say it was completely underwhelming, since it had an odd little plot of the moon visiting various planets to ask where the sun might be hiding in a storybook manner that reminded of Chicken Little (fitting, with the amount of falling the moon was doing) and a few of the stages did stump me for a little while. Overall, it was completed far too quickly. Turtle Cream's earlier game, Sugar Cube: Bittersweet Factory, had the same fundamental issue too. Still, if you want something to scramble your brain for an hour or so, I suppose there are worse games out there. Just keep in mind that you're destroying @video_game_king's home every time you hit one of those spikes.
The verdict: I beat it, so I won't be going back, even with the promise of harder remix levels. Even though there's nothing specifically egregious about 6180 The Moon, it's getting harder to recommend these puzzle-platformers simply because there are so many of them out there and interested parties should only be concerned with the cream of the crop or they'll just burn out on having too many to choose from. I still have Vessel and LogiGun and Closure and the Swapper among others to get through, and I'd probably put any of those above this.
The game: PixelJAM's Potatoman Seeks the Troof
The source: The Indie Royale Hammerhead Bundle.
The pre-amble: Potatoman Seeks the Troof is a self-described potatocentric existential platformer, perhaps best known for its utterly absurd trailer featuring an Idaho potato farmer talking what I imagine are real words but in no particular order that makes any sense, almost like one of those amazing BadLipReading YouTubes, while absolutely nothing of the game is shown off until the final twenty seconds. The game is actually a pixel-based platformer (I know, shocker) that is of a certain type of platformer which I consider a "true" masocore game. That is, a game where its real difficulty comes from its unpredictability: often, you'll end up having to restart a stage after losing your stock of lives because you died to too many unexpected traps and obstacles, rather than some tricky jumps. The game has a genial sense of fun about it that alleviates the frustration, thankfully, and checkpoints frequently enough.
The playthrough: Potatoman Seeks the Troof, as described by the pre-amble, is a bit like one of those Mario hacks that's all the rage with YouTube LPers and the like. Something like that Cat Mario flash game (not to be confused with the Cat Mario of Super Mario 3D World) that became Patrick's worst enemy in a fairly old Unprofessional Friday. Shit happens, with alarming frequency, and you can either depend on your lightning reflexes then and there to escape, or your keen memory to remember it for next time after respawning. You have a life counter, and losing them all forces you to restart the whole stage, but this is balanced out by the fact that most of the trickier problems in the game can be overcome relatively easily once you figure out the trick to them.
In Potatoman's defense also, there isn't a whole lot of utterly unavoidable "fuck you" deaths. Most of the "traps" will surprise you, but there's a chance you'll react in time and get past it on the first try. There are also plenty of cases where the game requires nothing but sheer precision from you without the nasty surprise part, and these end up being even more troublesome because they require actual skill rather than some rote memorization of whatever dirty tricks Potatoman was attempting to spring on you like a fake peanut can full of snakes.
Alas, the game has its share of flaws that make the already difficult platforming something of a dealbreaker situation. For one, I got amazing lag whenever the game transitioned between dying and respawning: it has this odd little filter effect that slows everything down to a crawl and doesn't dissipate until several seconds after the respawn. If you're jumping right back into whatever situation just killed you (the checkpoints are generous in that regard), then those few seconds of lag issues can really mess you up. This is probably an issue exclusive to folks like me with jank-ass computers and a few extra windows open besides, but it really made the game unplayable in spots.
The verdict: In conclusion, then, Potatoman Seeks the Troof is worth a look for its eccentricities alone, and if you're a fan of these sadistic trap-laden platformers this has slightly better production values than most of the hacks and awful flash games that are cut from the same proverbial cloth. I just found it aggravating. Cool trailer, though.
The game: The Working Parts' They Breathe.
The source: The Groupees Adventure Role-Playing Bundle.
The pre-amble: They Breathe is an action game wherein the player controls a frog attempting to reach the bottom of his pond for unknown (by me at least) reasons. As an amphibian, the frog protagonist needs regular air bubbles to stay alive, and must do so while avoiding the various dangers beneath the water's surface. Though a cartoon frog going on frog adventures sounds all cute and dandy, They Breathe is a very disturbing game due to its ominous underwater ambience and the beckoning darkness of the abyss below. Oh, and those jellyfish...
The playthrough: I probably jumped the gun with that pre-amble, but They Breathe ain't your standard Frog Fractions experience (as if there's anything "standard" about that game). The game takes place in waves of enemies: a lot of the time you're simply avoiding them and catching all the air bubbles before they can reach them, since they also subsist off them. When you get a little deeper, the enemies start to become more hostile and less concerned with breathing air bubbles than you are.
I can't really describe the game's atmosphere without showing it in action, since the game does a masterful job of building tension by having the screen dip a little lower after each successive wave, with the background getting less and less recognizable the deeper into this pond you go. A pond that presumably leads all the way to hell, or at least the depths of the Mariana Trench. Equally disturbing are the game's first (and possibly only, I didn't get far enough) real enemy: a vicious type of jellyfish that swims after you and tries to suffocate you within its gelatin body. Previously, there had been what resemble weird cow enemies, and it's only after meeting the jellyfish do you realize what you're seeing:
...and you see the corpses of other frogs, frozen with a rictus grin, that the jellyfishes are apparently controlling parasitically. Yeesh.
Unfortunately, for as disturbingly cool as some of its elements are, the game is a bit of a repetitive grind. There aren't too many enemy types and they'll come at you over and over, with a slight variation on the number you face and the occasional additional hurdle like poisonous green air bubbles to avoid. It takes a long time getting to where it's going, and a little more variation (or a lot less filler) could really do this game wonders. It also didn't help that the game crashed on me, but I'm starting to accept that as normal with a few of these Indie games. Hell, it's not like AAA games crashing intermittently isn't the rule these days rather than the exception either.
The verdict: Maybe. I am slightly interested in where this game is heading, beyond simply "downwards". I can't imagine things are going to get any brighter the further into the darkness we go (though I hope it's not a giant pair of eyes and a whole lot of loud radio static, like a certain Oculus Rift game). It hasn't been a whole lot of fun to play so far though, and definitely too repetitive by half.
Well, that's that for another year. Thanks to all of you for checking out these Desura blogs, despite how these games can be a tad bit on the obscure side (and for good reason, in a lot of cases). I still feel it's worth reaching into the mystery box from time to time though, if only to see what the big Indie developers of tomorrow are up to with their bizarre little freshman projects. Whether I pulled out a winner or got my hand bitten by that venomous treestump monster from Flash Gordon (man, what a timely reference), it's hopefully been an entertaining read.
|Part 1||Part 2||Part 3||Part 4||Part 5|