Marvin the cat has been trapped inside a computer game, and he can’t make it through the levels on his own. To help him, his loving owner hacks into popular indie games, and drags their protagonists into the game with Marvin. Using these characters and their abilities, and playing cooperatively with yourself, Marvin makes his way through the puzzle platforms.
Truth be told, Team Indie is easier to play than it is to explain. Time travel gets everyone’s brain in a twist, and it just happens to be the key concept of this puzzle platformer. Once you’ve got your head around it, leaping back and forth in time comes like second nature. Here’s an example;
You begin with Jitters, from The Great Jitters. His ability is that he can squidge himself into a platform, which can only be used a limited number of times. These platforms can be jumped from, to reach otherwise unreachable parts of the level. You progress through a part of the level using Jitters, before hitting a checkpoint and ZOOM, you’re back in time, at the start of the level, but this time as Marvin the Cat.
Now, Jitters appears as a ghost from the past and performs all the moves you performed with him before, allowing Marvin to jump from the platforms you previously made and reach the end of the level. Your movements as Jitters dictate whether or not you can progress as Marvin.
Other characters can be used to slide under toxic flowers and make them close their petals for Marvin’s safe passage, to name but one example. Each character has an ability, which combine to create safe passage for Marvin, who has no ability of his own – after all, he’s never been in a game before!! Truth be told, I only know two or three of the ten indie characters in the game. But it doesn’t make a difference. Brightside aren’t expecting you to know the games or characters you play, and it doesn’t hinder your gameplay. Treat them as elements of this game only and you have as much as an enjoyable experience as if you are a hardcore indie player who has played them all!
So, the goal of each level is not only to reach the end, but to collect diamonds and trophies along the way. There are a few surprises mixed in, such as portals which teleport you to a location, and orbs which change your direction.
Team Indie feels like a strange mixture of being in control, and having no control at all. For instance, you cannot decide what character you play and when – each level is assigned a character, or characters, and reaching a character box activates that particular character. CommanderVideo cannot stop, but must run perpetually, with you sliding and leaping in response to your environment. However, you can fast forward and rewind the game, speeding up so that Jitters creates the platform you made earlier a little faster, or going backwards to re-try. Dying, by falling or hitting something spiky or nasty, results in going back to the start of whatever character box you touched last. This is a little frustrating – getting to the penultimate point of a level, dying and watching in despair as your moves are erased in a blur of time rewinding, only to have to start again, is hair-wrenchingly devastating. There is a lack of some kind of checkpoint system, which is notable.
As you progress through the levels, you find that each level consists of the use of multiple characters. Although chaotic and confusing, it’s fun and you have enough hands-on time with each to have a feel for their abilities. You soon switch between Tim’s time control and Dustgirl’s jumps and explosions seamlessly, which makes you feel just a little bit badass. And each character feels different. It’s interesting to be in control of so many different styles from all walks of indie games. It really works. It’s tough to get bored of Team Indie!
Level design is excellent. Each character is presented in an introductory level to allow you to get the feel of them before launching into more convoluted levels, and each level makes full use of the abilities of the different characters. The levels themselves are a giveaway – it’s easy enough by studying the environment to evaluate what ability is needed and where. As a player, you will find yourself interacting with your characters and surroundings throughout. In my opinion, this is particularly important when it comes to platformers … there’s nothing worse than levels with objects or aspects that fade into the background or become redundant. In Team Indie, every nook and cranny is put to use.
The artwork is colourful and cartoon-ish. Everything you want in an indie platformer. The simplistic style compliments the game itself, and helps simplify the complex nature of the game’s concepts and ideas. There are no extraordinary animations or artistic flairs to speak of, but this would have only served as a distraction from the rapid game pace. Similarly, the music and audio is basic. The tranquil background music of beginning levels is broken only by the collection of diamonds and trophies, and the sound of time rewinding, whereas during intense moments the music adjusts accordingly.
With fifty levels, and an overarching enemy to defeat (a big evil cat, to be exact), there is plenty of content to get your teeth into. The difficulty of juggling a multitude of characters along with typical platformer elements such as dangerous objects or enemies makes for a challenge, without being so challenging it’s frustrating. The puzzles require a little trial-and-error at times, and certainly engages your brain, but it is satisfying to reach the end of a level. You’ll find yourself replaying a level a few times, and suddenly feeling all the dots connect in your mind and voila!- you’re through. Collecting diamonds and trophies isn’t necessary for the completion of the game but, let’s face it, leaving those diamonds behind will keep you awake at night. Completionists will find the game takes much longer than a simple run through, obviously, but there is plenty of content for everyone.
Team Indie has the makings of a fairly generic puzzle platformer, with all the colour and mechanics that we have come to expect from the genre. But the time warping twist and the use of different characters mixes things up. Being quick on the buttons is a must, and your brain needs to be fully switched on to deal with the logic puzzles, but there isn’t anything to challenge you to frustration. Brightside Games have come up with a clever concept and best of all, they have pulled it off wonderfully. I recommend this one!
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.