Okay, to fill in the next few days, I’ll give you a few reviews of indie games I downloaded on Steam (for my birthday). None of these are like big name video games, but they are fun.
Atom Zombie Smasher
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Creator: Blendo Games
Atom Zombie Smasher originally caught my eye because 1. it’s a zombie survival type game, and 2. it reminds me of the old zombie infection simulation thing that made its rounds on the Internetz back in the day, save that the zombies and the civilians have their own AI now. The concept is that you are a Director of Containing Zombies of some South American country that fought off the zombie hoards years ago. Now the zombies are back, and you must use whatever ragtag mercenaries you find and WMD that you earn through pushing your survivor score up.
It’s pretty fun. You can play the hard-as-Hell original campaign (which I have not beaten yet after six tries), or you can play a campaign tailored to your liking. The troops, weapons at your disposal and the map are all random (although the map is inconsequential until you get level 4 zombie outbreaks). There’s snipers, soldiers, artillery, blockades, mines, demoitions crews, etc.
Your score (how many survivors you save plus a few other factors) is compared to the zombie horde’s score (which is how many people were turned into zombies plus a few other factors). There are score benchmarks that unlock benefits for either side (you get more weapons, zombies get more powerful). If you completely destroy all the zombies invading on a map, you win that territory (and an additional 20 points to your score every round). If you don’t, no one claims the territory (it’s blacked out). However, the zombies get 10 points x whatever outbreak level in each territory per round. So near the end, you better be far ahead or the zombies will be pulling 400 points a round and pass you to the victory line. And after the end, they show you a log of each round and you can export that to a text file (and I may do that to show you what it looks like).
It’s a great game, and if your friends have it, you can play up to three people on a map at once (which would be somewhat awesome). The only downside is that it gets old if you play it too much in one setting. That’s primarily the only downside to the entire game, save the graphics, but this is a cheap indie game so there.
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars
Genre: Turn-based Strategy
Creator: Lunar Giant Studios
Delve Deeper is a tile-based exploration game where you command a team of five dwarves who are trying to bring back the most treasure to their king. Every game pits two or more dwarven teams against each other (either you and other players or you and other AIs). The graphics are a bit dated, but then again, it’s a cheap indie game.
First, choose your dwarf team. You can pick a team of five out of the following classes – miner (carries more), scout (travels farther), or fighter (can kick butt) . On your turn, you put down one tile that connects to other tunnel tiles. There are a few rules – the tile you put down must connect with any tunnels it comes in contact with, and it must match the depth (dirt, stone or deep) of the cavern. When you place a tile, random stuff appears there – nothing, a vein of gold/gems/mithril, monsters, a relic, a treasure, a gnome bank or a relic trader. This could turn the entire map into a kind of maze of tunnels.
Then you move each dwarf around the tunnels, stopping on veins or chests (which they either mine or pick up). If you run into monsters or they run into you, you fight. If you kill the monsters, they drop treasure. If you kill other dwarves, you get whatever they were carrying. If they kill you, you drop whatever you were carrying (and they can pick up). You try to get your dwarves with full pockets back to your entry base. On that turn, they unload their stuff and it’s put against your score (1 point for gold, 3 for gems, 5 for mithril I think). And if you drop off relics, the king identifies them for you. Relics can be good (worth money, health and attack power), or they can be bad (worth nothing, make you lose points or spawn more monsters in your tunnels). After a set number of rounds, the team with the most points wins.
The downside is that it’s really a multiplayer game for real opponents. The AI is fun, but it’s not as fun screwing the AI over (or the AI screwing you over). I’ve played one real match, and it’s a lot of fun with real people. There’s a map editor so it never really gets old, and if you want more treasure/relics, go buy the 99 cent expansion (which adds 10 new map types, and 25 more relics).
Revenge of the Titans
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 stars
Genre: Tower-defense strategy
Creator: Puppy Games
Probably the best out of the three, this tower defense game combines old-style 8-bit graphics, a wonderful music score and solid gameplay. The story is that Titans that used to rule the solar system are coming back to wreck havoc on humanity. You are the general in charge of protecting humanity while slowly expanding your control until you destroy their homeworld (Titan). This means 50 missions and over 100 technological advancements (so choose wisely) to combat the ever-evolving Titan species.
Gameplay is standard – you build whatever you need to fight off the Titans. You can earn more money by creating refineries near crystals. You then use that money to build turrets around your home base. Now here’s the twist – you can only build turrets/buildings using technology you unlocked in the previous round. You can only unlock one technology per round. And most importantly – you cannot upgrade your turrets. Instead, if you want the turret to have more ammo, you have to produce a building that gives +1 ammo near it (because turrets have limited shots before reloading them which takes time). If you want it to fire faster, you have to place a reactor nearby (shorter cooldown). If you want more variety of turrets, you have to research that. If you want to do more damage to aliens, you can research each xenomorph. Etc.
The Titan themselves come in several varieties with several advantages. However, they all try to approach the base via the fastest and safest route. So they’ll follow roads, or if they can, move around a turret. Speed overrides safety, though, so you can be sure if you put two turrets along a very short passage, the Titans will go that way first. The Titans are also very menacing looking (in an 8-bit way) and some can take multiple hits before dying. Since you can’t repair your turrets without a special building nearby, this can be horrifying (chomp chomp BOOM).
It’s fun, frantic and very musical. I totally love the music, since it’s classical favorites (such as Tocatta) remade with 8-bit sound and added guitar that makes a powerful and moving experience while you watch the inevitable wave of Titans try to storm your base. The lighting and smart looking designs make it fit the mood. The only downside is that it is single player, and it can get old after awhile. But it is totally worth the price.