Even though they don’t hit the wallet as hard as mainstream triple A titles, a lot of people don’t like to take a chance on indie gaming. Fortunately www.thefreebundle.com is offering a collection of indie titles for absolutely free, so let’s not let this chance go unfulfilled and check out the games on offer. Remember, all the games are absolutely FREE so if the reviews aren’t especially positive don’t take that as any reason not to give them a whirl.
Already a large portion of the indie checklist can be ticked off with this one as it’s an 8-bit NES style side scroller platform game. From the title you would maybe expect some Ninja Gaiden or Strider like wall jumping sword slashing action but the gameplay is actually a jump n’ shoot Mega Man style platformer. There’s really nothing to comment on in terms of detailed gameplay mechanics, you jump, you shoot, the only real expansion on Mega Man is a secondary jump and general increase of speed which does make the game a lot more orientated on dodging stuff as a result. Actually, Ninja Senki doesn’t even have the level select or boss weapons from Mega Man so it’s even simpler than that.
But it has to be said Ninja Senki does sport some incredibly strong level design, which is especially appropriate considering its Mega Man inspiration. Every enemy, obstacle and ability you have is demonstrated to you in a controlled environment before you’re expected to handle it in a real situation. There are coins scattered around the levels, although mostly pointless other than gaining a high score and occasionally earning extra lives, serve as a clever method to lead the player into certain paths and show what they’re capable of.
The game has a great sense of flow, the kind of gameplay that feels constantly moving but at the same time rewards patience and skill. It has to say though, this is a game rooted in its 8-bit inspiration. The graphics and sound are obviously distinctively retro but neither really stands out more than that, so this is strictly one for the hardcore fans of old school platformers and no-one else. A fun little distraction, consider it a B+
This one also falls under the retro style platformer, and going from Ninja Senki to Celestial Mechanica is like watching Inglorious Basterds then watching some Neo Nazi college recruitment movie. There’s not necessarily any less effort but it certainly feels unfinished by comparison and it’s probably a lot more evil.
The big problem with it is the game has instant screen transitions, and jumping too high (which happens regularly) causes you to enter another screen and it’s very disorientating. A game this simple shouldn’t cause you to get lost so easily, but with the screen switching around constantly and the lifelessness of the platforms and backgrounds you lose your bearings really quickly. This alone makes the game near unplayable for any significant period of time; this one needs some extra work before it’s ready for primetime.
Created with the RPG Maker software, this is a translated version of Japanese survival horror story. There’s generally not much wrong with the translation itself, but you could be forgiven for rage quitting the game instantly because of the dialogue. The story is set in Germany, but everyone talks in that Japanese view of how people spoke in Victorian England, which never sounds authentic because they never use the best English words like “flange” or “minge” or “gash” or “vagina” or…sorry I got distracted.
The story has you playing as a little girl looking for her father in a creepy mansion filled with zombies and other weird creatures, the catch is that all these monsters want her father dead because he’s screwed in the head and killed them all in his “experiments”. That might sound like spoilers but it’s really not, the big issue is Mad Father plays all its cards far too early and there’s little suspense to any of the events that play out. There’s not really any twist to it either, it pretty much all plays out how you would expect, it attempts to have sort of a twist at the end but it doesn’t work because it’s just a slight variation of how you would assume the game would end.
Aside from the odd creepy moment here and there, Mad Father probably has more appeal to point n’ click adventure games than survival horror fans. The puzzle bits are simple and rarely stop the game for too long, there’s not much more to the puzzles other than find the thing and bring it to the other thing, but most of it works. There is a bit of dumb designer logic that ruins some of the later parts of the game, you get a mini chainsaw as an item to break certain barrels, and NOTHING else. There’s no explanation for why the chainsaw couldn’t be used to solve other puzzles or be used on enemies but you can’t because…you can’t. The worst example of this is a bit where you need something in a pot (a POT, not a barrel, a POT which is totally different) and you have to find a hammer to smash it for a meaningless way to extend the playtime.
Fans of horror who can stomach the rough around the edges translation of the dialogue will probably see it through to the end. There are three endings and all of them are pretty dumb, and to get the true ending you need to make sure you’ve done some stupid and arbitrary thing that you may as well look up before you start playing as you’ll hate your life when you miss it. Overall, Mad Father was an interesting and mostly non-frustrating use of a couple of hours that could have been a lot better had the story been paced a bit more competently.
More indie reviews to come soon!