A Bundle of Indies: The Greenlight Bundle Impressions (Part 2)

Hairy Tales

We already had a look at some games of the wonderful Greenlight Bundle, now let’s see where the old MS Steambound takes us this time. There’s forest spirits, metal hips and lots of water involved in our mini-reviews, so read on to see if we like those other games as much as the previous two!

Hairy Tales (Arges Systems)

If one of your life goals is leading a crazy, bearded little gnome to safety, then you may rejoice now, for Hairy Tales offers you exactly that and more. Said gnome is actually supposed to be a folk spirit whose habitat was corrupted by some dark evil stuff and each of the 72 levels has you purifying your surroundings, so you can advance to the next fiendish stage. You mainly do this by dragging and rotating tiles, thus creating a path for your little spirit while avoiding traps, enemies, and falling over the edge of the playing field. Sometimes you won’t have enough tiles for a perfect path, and once your little ugly guy is set in motion there’s no stopping him, so you’ll have to rearrange the tiles really quickly. This is great, since it keeps you from just sitting there and waiting to see if you found the right solution.

Speaking of solutions: there are multiple ways to beat each level, which is quite the design feat. The least you have to accomplish to finish a stage is lead your spirit to the exit, which in itself can be a bit tricky. Then there are three mushrooms in every stage you can pick up – it is thankfully not mandatory to collect them all (it is tied to the unlocking of later stages, but not you don’t need all mushrooms) and allows you to basically adjust your challenge. And on top of that you have three lives in each level, so fatal mishaps – of which there will be a lot – do not automatically lead to a game over. Of course, the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you finish a tough level with all mushrooms collected and no lives lost is quite the thing and probably the reason I’m having so much fun. I’m about halfway through the game now, and the stages are getting moderately challenging – but I did choose the easy way out more than once, with lives lost and mushrooms not collected. And there is the boss of the forest world, which really has me stumped. But I keep coming back to that one. Challenge accepted, you evil log-demon, you!

So here’s the thing: if you like puzzle games, you will probably love Hairy Tales. It’s a fun, challenging, and whimsical game and you should greenlight it.

Megabyte Punch (Reptile)

PUNCH! PUNCHPUNCHPUNCH! PUNCHPUNCHPUNCHPU… hold on a sec, I need to swap my hip. Just a moment… there.NCHPUNCHPUNCH. Megabyte Punch is about platforming and building your own robot fighter from spare parts. But mostly it is about the punching of other robots for the sake of punching other robots. It looks a bit like a Metroidvania with its large, sprawling levels and its central hub, but it’s really just a platformer that involves beating up toasters. Not that this is a bad thing, mind.

The game has just recently entered beta and is constantly updated and tweaked, so I’m actually not sure if you can properly finish it yet, but the amount of content is already quite impressive. One of the game’s features is split-screen multiplayer for up to 4 players. I don’t get to make use of it too often, but local co-op modes are generally pretty awesome. Sadly, there is no online multiplayer, probably for budget reasons. But imagine if this game would make its way onto Steam… ah, the possibilities.

Megabyte PunchThe other big selling point besides the punching and co-oping is the upgrade system. Your robotic enemies drop a lot of spare parts that you can immediately use for yourself. This opens a whole world of possibilities: should you take the arm shooting laser blasts or the one that launches your enemies into the air when you punch them? Experimenting is encouraged, not punished, since you can swap your parts anytime you want to. It’s a simple system that works quite well and turns Megabyte Punch into something special.

If the adventure mode is not for you, you can try your luck in the tournament, which is basically a series of fights against stronger opponents that reward you with some extra-powerful parts. Or you just battle it out with your friends, Smash Bros. style. The brawling reminds me a lot of Nintendo’s successful beat-em-up franchise, as it is just as easy to get into and have fun with. This also means that there is probably not a lot of depth to the game, but that is easily countered by the amount of stuff you can do. And there’s likely to be more soon. All in all, I’ll be sure to return for the PUNCHPUNCHPUNCH and all of the other good things here. I’d love to see Megabyte Punch on Steam, so greenlight this!

Depth Hunter (BIART)

First Person Diver Depth Hunter likes to think of itself as an exciting spearfishing simulator, delivering all the thrills of swimming around in tropical waters and spearing innocent little fishies from the comfort of your home. What it actually does is to plunge you in its pixelated water and ask you to perform certain tasks – “kill 2 of those and 2 of those fish”, “find this fish”, “kill as much fish as you can in 5 minutes”, and so on. The whole experience feels somewhat disjointed, for there is no motivation whatsoever to do any of these things. I have to admit that I got stuck pretty early on, as a certain kind of fish I was supposed to hunt just wouldn’t show up.

Oh well, at least I got to enjoy the 30 minutes I played before quitting the game in frustration, right? Huh. I wouldn’t exactly call it “enjoy”, since Depth Hunter feels basically so inoffensive, so very irrelevant, that a kind of numb boredom sets in pretty soon. It’s not very relaxing either, because the free play mode is locked at the beginning and objectives like “catch lots of fish in x minutes” artificially create some kind of tension where there really isn’t any – turns out it doesn’t matter at all how many fish you actually catch in those x minutes. Having to resurface for air also interrupts the flow of the game. It’s neither a proper simulation, nor is it an arcade game. Depth Hunter is probably not aware what kind of game it wants to be, and that’s a problem. Also, for a game featuring lots of aquatic wildlife, it feels strangely devoid of life, probably because most fish just follow set patterns over and over. That’s not very immersive.

Speaking of problems: running this game took its toll on my computer. My old videocard – which can nevertheless run newer games like Sleeping Dogs without much of a problem – sounded like the turbine of an ancient airplane about to die when confronted with Depth Hunter. It’s a pretty game with a custom engine, but it’s not that pretty and my roaring videocard worried me quite a bit.

So I didn’t particularly enjoy my time with Depth Hunter, but there might be people out there who would. I guess it takes a certain mindset to fully appreciate these kinds of games. Should you greenlight this, then? Maybe, just maybe.

That’s three more done, four to go. Did we mention that $5 for 9 games is a pretty good offer, and that you’ll get Steam keys for each of the games that gets greenlit? You have about one week left to hand over your money.