I grew up on Star Wars, Star Trek, and Fahrenheit 451. Yeah, that got kinda dark there at the end, but the point is that I grew up on science-fiction. IndieBundle.org‘s taken three full indie games and two alphas, all set in the science-y, laser shooter-y (fiction-y, too) world of science fiction and titled it the Sci-Fi bundle. Per their usual system, you can buy the three full games for 5 dollars, or pay an additional 2 dollars to pick up the alphas as well. With three days left before the Sci-Fi 2 Bundle drops, this is a great time to see what this original bundle is all about. Do we have a Return of the Jedi on our hands, or does it smell more of The Phantom Menace? Let’s dig in and find out.
International Games System Co. LTD’s Constant C takes place on a spaceship where all time has stopped. You, as a little robot on the ship, have been activated by the ship’s AI to equipped with a sort of force-field bubble that allows time to resume around you. You must explore the various rooms of the ship, collecting data storage containers and finding out how to get the ship working properly again. It’s a light-premise draped over a great puzzle game that combines physics manipulation and time manipulation to create some entertaining and challenging puzzles.
One of the greatest parts about Constant C is learning all the different ways to combine the simple mechanics to move through rooms. Here’s an example: (hang on, it’s a little complex) let’s say you’re in a room with two blocks suspended in mid-air. You jump from block to block to get to the other side of the room, but while you’re near the blocks time restarts for them, causing them to drop a bit. Once you’ve reached the platform on the other side, you hit a switch that turns the gravity in the room upside-down. When you jump back to tone of those blocks, you’ll find it “falls up” for a second before falling down because it maintains its inertia from before you flipped the room. It’s one of the little points that shine in this platforming puzzler, and is one of the high points of the bundle overall.
Quick Slick Deadly
Ah, poor Quick Slick Deadly; It’s a side-scrolling shooter inspired by the likes of games like Gradius and Darius Twin with a twist: you can collect speed boosts to increase the screen’s scrolling speed, which makes for both score challenges and time attacks in the game. Adventerous Productions’ shooter creates a system where killing enemies in succession gives you a special powered-up weapon to use, and each type of enemy you destroy can give you a different power weapon. It’s got three ships to unlock, a range of levels with various objectives, and still ends up taking the now-established and soon-to-be-infamous Bottom of the Bundle award.
QSD is a game that lacks polish and fluidity, and many times feels like it’s still in alpha instead of its final release. The first five levels are tutorials about the gameplay mechanics, but they do a poor job of conveying how the game is actually played because your ship can blow up as many times as it wants from collisions or enemy fire and it doesn’t end the level. One particularly frustrating tutorial level requires finishing with a special super weapon; you have to kill three enemies that require four laser shots a piece. After reading up on the Desura forums, the game’s creator seemed to recommend simply ramming the enemies to destroy them. I don’t know about you, but breaking the game in the tutorial makes me feel a little weird. Add that to some rough graphics and bad collision physics and you’ve got a title that’s tough on the soul. But perhaps I’m blowing this all out of proportion because of the game that gets Best of Bundle…
Perhaps QSD‘s biggest problem is that it’s right next to Sharpened Edge Studios’ Saviors, a highly-polished and thrilling bullet-hell-style space shooter. You’re a fighter pilot destroying hordes of swarming enemies with various lasers, missiles, and super-powered weaponry, all the while dodging floods of bullets and baddies. If it sounds hectic that’s because it is, but Saviors does a good job of differentiating itself from the crowd by offering multiple ships with varying abilities, customization options for each ship, and multiple game modes including arcade, survival, and story mode where you choose to be one of three different pilots taking on the bad guys, each with their own storyline.
On top of the already-mentioned qualities, Saviors offers great graphics, a solid soundtrack, and a cool scoring “break” system. Destroying chains of enemies increases your score multiplier, and when it maxes out it sends you into Break Mode where each kill triggers a large explosion and results in huge bonus points. It makes a pretty big difference to keep the multiplies high through the whole level, and you’re given a recap at the end of the mission about your “functional multiplier” to let you know how you performed. Overall, Saviors‘s a fantastic game and is worth the $5 dollars on its own for those who love the challenge of a frantic space-shooter.
Beyond Beyaan is a 4X, meaning that it’s a strategy game that consists of four main goals: eXploration, eXpansion, eXploitation, and eXtermination. It’s inspired by classic turn-based strategy games even in its graphic design, and there are multiple races to choose from as you quest to control the galaxy.
At least, this is what they tell me. I actually wasn’t able to play this alpha; much of the game screen never appeared for me including the turn indicator, the money indicator, and what I’m assuming are any and all action menus to play the game. I reloaded the game and tried it at multiple resolutions, but nothing happened. I’m sure it’s interesting, though; it’s gotten high reviews on Desura and it seems to have potential.
Exodus Wars: Fractured Empire
Membraine Studios’ Exodus Wars is like taking the miniature game Warhammer 40,000 and putting it on a digital device. You control armies of infantry and mechs to conquer your opponent with various war maneuvers. This title supports online multiplayer and a scenario mode; it also plans to develop asynchronous gameplay and other features.
Unfortunately, this game gave me problems as well. I could order my units to move, but I couldn’t order them to attack anything or perform any other combat maneuvers. Buttons appeared to tease the idea of attacking, but instead all I could do is send my units to the slaughter. With no documentation about how to play the game or perform fixes I couldn’t say much about the title, but it’s also in alpha, so I’m giving it a break. I really hope this game turns out to be something special because I love turn-based warfare.
Verdict: Buy the Main Bundle.
For $5 dollars you get both Constant C, a puzzler that’s really entertaining with an interesting backstory and great gameplay mechanics, and Saviors, the Best-in-Bundle shooter that will knock you down 7 times and still make you want to get up 8. Though I’m really not a fan of Quick Slick Deadly, you’re basically getting it for free with the two other games that I’d highly recommend. It’s the price of a large Starbucks Frappa-cinna-mocha-chino-whatever, but it’d last a whole lot longer.
Interested in winning the bundle for free?
All you’ve gotta do is answer some sci-fi trivia! Follow @JoshBatman
and direct message me with the names of the three playable main protagonists from Jet Force Gemini
, my favorite sci-fi game on the Nintendo 64. (Floyd doesn’t count 🙂 )
Contest ends tomorrow, September 20 at midnight; one random person will get a code valid for the last few hours of the bundle’s live time! Good luck!