Indie game news, reviews, previews and everything else concerning indie game development.

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Battlestar Galactica Fan-Game ‘Disapora: Shattered Armistice’ Released

It’s one of the great tragedies of gaming that a decent Battlestar Galactica (20xx edition) game was never released. There were a couple of small shovelware releases and a forgettable free-to-play outing, but nothing that captured the spirit of the spiralling, incredibly lethal deep-space dogfighting the TV series was so famous for. Until now. After four years of hard graft at the code-mines, the fan-made, freeware BSG game Diaspora: Shattered Armistice has finally been released. Here’s the rather authentic-looking launch trailer:

So, what you get here for your $0 is a full-blown BSG space combat sim, realistic physics and all. No energy shields or drag here. Bullets punch holes in armor, and if you cut engines, you’re just going to float freely through space. The launch release has a full single-player, voice-acted campaign, and you get to fly three different kinds of (human) fighters. No Cylon side in the campaign, although it does come bundled with a mission editor, so you can play on the other side if you want.

Disapora is based on a heavily re-tooled version of the FSOpen engine (the same engine that powered the excellent Wing Commander Saga), and the launch version supports Windows, Mac & Linux PCs. It’s entirely freeware and produced as a pure labor of love – for too long have gamers watched those strangely balletic dogfights and wished we could join in. Thanks to the Diaspora team, we now can.

The game weighs in at a rather beefy 1.26 gigabyte download. You can grab it from a list of mirrors currently going up on the Disapora site here, and this forum thread as well. We’ll be posting a full freeware review once we’ve been able to properly dig into the campaign.

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Battlestar Galactica Fan-Game ‘Disapora: Shattered Armistice’ Released


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Gore-Splattered Platformer ‘They Bleed Pixels’ Released On PC

It’s been a long, long time coming. They Bleed Pixels was going to be one of the grand showcase titles on Xbox Live Indie Games. Fortunately, the game has since jumped from that sinking ship and onto a far more commercially viable platform. Spooky Squid’s much-delayed acrobatic platformer with a Lovecraftian bent is now available to buy exclusively via Steam. Here’s the spooooooky launch trailer:

Catchy tunes, cursed books that just won’t stay banished, and a little girl who seems to be having way too much fun hacking her way through some strange, eldritch dream-realms with a set of giant knife-hands. What more could you want? It looks like it offers Super Meat Boy-esque acrobatic platforming, but with an interesting twist; your reward for collecting enough blood from fallen enemies is the ability to place checkpoints, saving you from a long trek from the beginning of the level.

There’s also a range of cameo levels from friends in the indie development scene, such as They Bleed Ponycorns, proving that crayon scribbles really can make anything better. The game is out now, and costs $10 (or your regional equivalent), although there’s a respectable 20% launch discount on the game.

We’ll hopefully have a full review of it soon – there’s currently at least two writers (perhaps more) brutally fighting to the death over who gets the coveted review code, so expect the blood-drenched victor to rattle off some words sometime in the coming days. Keep a close eye on IGM to see who crawls from the review-pit with murder in their eyes.

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Gore-Splattered Platformer ‘They Bleed Pixels’ Released On PC


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Freeware Game Pick – ‘Star Stealing Prince’

One of the greatest tragedies of indie gaming is just how easy it is for a clever, pretty, well-produced game to fall through the cracks. As far as I can tell, Star Stealing Prince was released last year, with a final updated version released just a few months ago. Still, until today, I’d never heard of it and that’s just sad, as this is a wonderful little surprise. Developed using the much-maligned RPG Maker, but you shouldn’t hold that against it; this is a remarkably well produced pseudo-JRPG with a remarkably creative setting and story.

The world of Star Stealing Prince is a strange one. Set in a kingdom where everyone is happy but vengeful ghosts wander the wilds, and where it snows constantly but nobody is cold. It’s a world where the snowmen are happy but the scarecrows speak of fire and death and of repeating tragedy, and where there always seems to be something sinister and wrong lurking just beneath the surface. You play as the young crown prince, Snowe, who sets off on a quest to right wrongs after discovering that his beloved (and deceased) parents might have had a few dark secrets. Ones they locked up in a tower to the east.

If I had to level one complaint at this game, it’s that the combat – while solid – is fairly standard turn-based JRPG stuff. Presented in first-person Dragon Quest style, the heroes and monsters take turns exchanging blows, using magic, chugging potions and all that familiar stuff. There’s also some balance issues in the very early game, including a part where you’re stuck controlling just one character, but encounter pairs of enemies with sleep-inducing attacks capable of stun-locking you into submission. Save often, just in case. It’s not revolutionary, but it is solid, and there’s a good range of skills and powers each character gets giving the combat a respectable bit of depth.

That’s about all I can really complain about – Star Stealing Prince is a very solid package all round. The sprite-art is good, the environments are detailed and there’s lots of flavour-text when exploring, and the character are an interesting and well-written bunch. The non-sprite art is of impressive quality, too. Every single NPC has their own portrait art, and while it’s not the greatest you’ll ever see, the art style reminds me a little of Final Fantasy Tactics. The enemy art during the first-person battle scenes is detailed and consistent too, even if there are perhaps a few too many palette-swapped fodder enemies.

The most interesting aspect is probably the world itself, though. There’s not much in the way of fantasy cliche here, and the core cast are all 18 or older, even if prince Snowe is a little immature and liable to run off with half a plan. It’s an interesting, non-standard fantasy story with great presentation, decent writing and an interesting mix of childlike wonder and fear of some hidden unknown. There’s even a decently atmospheric soundtrack, although a quick look at the file tagging reveals it to be mostly stuff taken from public domain sources such as the Newgrounds music library.

I’ve not completed this yet, but estimates suggest that it’s a respectable 10-12 hours long depending on how thoroughly you explore, which means a good few days of fun for the tasty price of $0. If you’re not already tied up with a rather more high-profile and high-budget RPG at the moment, you could do a lot worse than downloading Star Stealing Prince. It weighs in at around 218mb, and is for Windows PCs only, although I don’t believe that newer builds of RPG Maker have any issues with the usual routes that Linux & Mac gamers use to run Windows games.

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Freeware Game Pick – ‘Star Stealing Prince’


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Groupees ‘Be Mine 4′ Bundle Might Just Have Hit The Bottom Of The Barrel

I know I’ve been fairly critical of some indie bundles lately, especially those from Indie Gala, which have very much stretched the definition of ‘Indie’ by featuring a great many games from prolific publisher BitComposer Games. This, though… well, it’s just impressive to see the greatest indie bundle (the last major Humble Bundle) so quickly followed by the worst. Introducing the Groupees Be Mine 4 bundle.

What we have here is a mediocre-to-poor set of games topped off by a catastrophic stinker. Zero Gear is a fairly generic kart racer with pretty graphics, but plagued by control issues and crippled netcode, which is fairly inexcusable when you’re releasing a multiplayer-centric game. Dead multiplayer seems to be order of the day here with Guns of Icarus, which is an interesting defensive team shooter where you’ll be lucky to find another person playing. As a solo experience, it’s a hollow and frustrating experience, sadly.

Metal Drift continues this theme by being a fairly interesting concept once more – future sports in hovertanks – but also being yet another multiplayer-centric commercial game with absolutely nobody playing it. You can find far better both in the free and F2P spheres. Laxius Force is the great unknown here – a JRPG-esque game which honestly looks like it was produced with RPG Maker (those menus are eerily familiar) – and with sub-par art, but the few reviews I’ve been able to find of it have actually be fairly positive, which is a surprise. It’s the first part of a trilogy, apparently.

But really, the one thing that brings everything crashing horribly down here is Revelations 2012. A game that made people ask some big questions, such as ‘How did this get approved for a Steam release!?’ or ‘Why has God forsaken us?’. Essentially an indie clone of Left4Dead, but with a rather questionable Meso-American theme. Four badly rendered, badly acted modern-day Americans battle an endless tsunami of painted, loincloth-wearing natives in order to stave off the prophesied apocalypse apparently due later this year.

It bears repeating that Revelations 2012 is bad. It has become a regular point of mockery around the internet, and the only positive review anyone could find for the game was on a site run by a personal friend of the developers, and that was apparently established just before the release of the game. The game uses Valve’s own Source engine, which helps put Valve’s own efforts into perspective. The animations are terrible, the single weapon model (some kind of glowing neon magical power-glove) is astonishingly bad, the textures are blurry and the game, being multiplayer-focused, is even more of a train-wreck in singleplayer. I’ve heard that it’s literally impossible to beat the game by yourself, as the AI allies that you get will just refuse to shoot at the final boss.

The only real icing on the cake here is that a purchase of $5 or more gets you an early access key for the upcoming Guns Of Icarus Online, the even more multiplayer-oriented followup/sequel. In all honesty, if you want to support charity, it’s best to go straight to the source. I really can’t recommend this bundle to anyone, unless you plan on giving the Revelations 2012 Steam key to people you hate. That, I suppose, could have some inherent comedy value. Still, it’s sad to see this bundle being just so very weak, especially after their previous offering included some genuinely great games, including the fantastic Avernum series on Steam. Avoid.

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Groupees ‘Be Mine 4′ Bundle Might Just Have Hit The Bottom Of The Barrel


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Renegade Kid’s ‘Mutant Mudds’ Hits PC August 30th

We’ve covered the convoluted tale of Mutant Mudds before here. One of the highest rated games on the 3DS in general, and probably the best-recieved game on the digital online store on the platform. Developers Renegade Kid are making the jump to PC, and the heavily-upgraded PC version of the game (jokingly referred to as Mutant Mudds: Granny Edition) is nearly here. The problem is that it’s been rejected from Steam already. Repeatedly.

The good news is that the game is already lined up with several other stores, such as GOG, Gamersgate and such. Still, it looks like the only real hope the game has of landing on Steam at this point is the new Greenlight public voting system, due sometime in the next couple weeks. Anyway, enough doom and gloom – here’s a peek at the PC version in the newly released trailer:

As you can see, they’ve gotten around the lack of depth perception from the 3DS version by just using depth-of-field effects to help define the front and back layers of the action. I also can’t help but notice that the PC version seems to contain a ‘CGA World’. That four-colour palette is nostalgic stuff for PC gamers who grew up through the 80s, although I have a feeling the joke is going to be lost on much of the newer generation.

Mutant Mudds is due out on the 30th of August, and will likely set you back around $10. We’ll be trying to weasel an official review copy out of the developers to help you figure out whether it’s worth the money.

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Renegade Kid’s ‘Mutant Mudds’ Hits PC August 30th


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It’s Quirky, It’s Colorful, It’s ‘Cubistry’

A recent arrival to the indie gaming scene, The Hohng Company, recently released their newest game, Cubistry.  Cubistry is an addictive 3D puzzler, where you control a complicated cube in hopes of being able to match smaller cubes, and in turn, destroying the larger, encompassing cube.  The gameplay has you moving the cubes around and matching them in a way that I can only describe by relating it to a Rubik’s cube.  You don’t play Cubistry in the proper way of a Rubik’s cube though, you play it like when you used to dismantle a Rubik’s cube as a kid and put it back together in hopes of fooling your friends (you can’t deny it).  Moving the smaller cubes around is simple though, and can be done with either a mouse or a keyboard, making it scarily easy to get lost in the puzzle itself, not worrying about having to remember how to do each move.

The graphics of Cubistry are a little… odd.  Its unique look is reminiscent of a patchwork quilt, with a distinctly dissonant feel.  I think this look is great, but I’m sure there are plenty of gamers who might find it a bit nauseating.

Cubisty was released on August 15, 2012 and is free-to-play (albeit having a few ads on the “game over” screen) on Windows platforms.  The Hohng Company is also looking to release versions for both the Google Play Store, and Chrome’s App Store in the near future.

Fans of quirky, and addictive puzzlers with a unique graphical style can download Cubistry from their website and check it out.

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – It’s Quirky, It’s Colorful, It’s ‘Cubistry’


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Trine 2 Expands This Autumn With ‘Goblin Menace’

Just look at that screenshot above. Click it, so you can see it in full. Now, putting aside for a moment the fact that it looks more like a menacing dragon than a goblin, let it act as a reminder of just how astonishingly pretty Frozenbyte’s fairytale puzzle-platformer Trine 2 was, and still is. Let’s also remember that Trine 2 was one of the best indie releases in recent memory, offering a meaty, clever adventure under all those stunning graphics. Good, now we can be fittingly excited that it’s getting bigger – coming this Autumn is the official expansion, Goblin Menace. Here’s the also-lovely-looking trailer:

A new story arc, six new levels set across some very fresh-looking environments, and new abilities for all three of the playable characters. Interestingly, the new powers can also be used in the original campaign, which should add a little more replay value to the old content as well. Sounds like a fairly hefty bunch of new content. There’s no specific release date or price tag set on this one yet, but Frozenbyte have announced that the game will be re-launching under the banner of ‘Trine 2: Directors Cut‘ when Goblin Menace arrives.

You can find the official (and rather spartan) press-release here. Included with it is a large gallery of similarly beautiful screenshots – worth a look, I reckon.

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Trine 2 Expands This Autumn With ‘Goblin Menace’


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Indie Console Mega-Hit ‘Castle Crashers’ Coming To PC Via Steam

It always struck me as odd that the Newgrounds crew that produced Castle Crashers would ignore their patron platform for so long. Fortunately, time heals all wounds, and the immensely popular 4-player co-op brawler is finally migrating back to PC, and it’s confirmed for a Steam launch too, to boot. You can read the specifics (of which there aren’t too many) in this official forum post here. Here’s the PS3/360 version trailer, too, just in case you’ve forgotten what it looks like:

There’s no release date set yet, but they’re going to be demoing the updated PC version of Castle Crashers at Gamescom, starting tomorrow, as well as their upcoming anarchic combat-platformer BattleBlock Theater at PAX, starting August 31st. From the sounds of things, all the character and cosmetic DLC from the various console editions is getting rolled into the PC version from the start, which is nice. We’ll be taking a poke around the PC version once it launches to see what has changed over the years, if anything.

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Indie Console Mega-Hit ‘Castle Crashers’ Coming To PC Via Steam


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‘Tower Wars’ And ‘Cladun X2′ Released On Steam

Two news stories for the price of one! One eagerly-awaited indie release, and a slightly more mainstream game that remains so obscure that publisher Atlus have filed it under ‘indie’ as well. No joke. Well, if it’s that small-time, then it’s only right to give it a fair mention as well.

Tower Wars has been in semi-public beta for a while. Simply put, it’s Vs Tower Defense. Both players behave like they’re playing a standard hex-based TD game, maze-pathing, tower-upgrading and all, but you’re also aiming to upgrade your troops to best cope with the defenses that your enemy is placing on the other side of the map. I’ve only given this one a passing glance so far, but I’ve heard very positive things about it. Hard not to like the cartoony steampunk aesthetic, too.

Hailing from the east, and small Japanese studio System Prisma is Cladun X2 (Cladun being a portmanteau of Classic Dungeon). A formerly PSP-exclusive arcade dungeon-crawl with a sense of humour and a focus on ridiculous stat-padding. Not so much a roguelike, but this one has plenty of random dungeons. It was generally well recieved on the PSP. No word on how well it’s made the jump from handheld to desktop has gone, but it’s good to see a JRPG publisher as influential as Atlus releasing stuff on PC. Here’s hoping we see something from the excellent Disgaea franchise next, eh?

Both games are out now for Windows PCs, and available exclusively on Steam. Tower Wars is priced at $10, although there’s a launch discount of 10%, and Cladun X2 will set you back a heftier $20, but has a 20% discount going on now. We’ll hopefully be reviewing both of these before too long.

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – ‘Tower Wars’ And ‘Cladun X2′ Released On Steam


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‘Routine’ Promises Space-Borne Scares In This New Gamescom Trailer

Now here’s a paradox – an overwhelmingly atmospheric game set on the moon? Likelier than you think. We’ve covered Routine (from the fittingly named Lunar Software) a couple of times before, but now it’s really shaping up to be something special. A semi-roguelike-esque first person horror/exploration game. You’ve got one life, an uncertain environment around you, and a mission to discover why a moon-base has gone silent. Here’s some appropriately intense new footage:

And let this be a lesson to you: Gunfights in space are a very bad idea, even worse than gunfights on Earth. I’m digging what I’m seeing so far – what looks to be a rather more serious ‘hard’ sci-fi setting. No outlandish monsters, although some rather imposing robots and guys with guns. The game promises to be a more tactile experience than most, with Deadzone aiming (think along the lines of Red Orchestra or Arma) and little to no HUD. No health points, either. Injury is going to be handled more realistically here, too. Oh, and as mentioned, you’ve got one life. Death resets everything, and things might play out very differently next time round.

There’s no fixed release date yet for Routine, although the developers have ballparked it for 2013. Keep an eye on IGM for more big reveals as they happen, as well as the official site for the game.

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – ‘Routine’ Promises Space-Borne Scares In This New Gamescom Trailer