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Indie Summer Uprising Review Roundup Part 1 | The First Five!

Jonathan Lester
Battle High: San Bruno, Cute Things Dying Violently, Doom and Destiny, Indie Games, Raventhorne, Summer Uprising, T.E.C. 3001, Xbox 360 games

Indie Summer Uprising Review Roundup Part 1 | The First Five!

The Indie Games Summer Uprising hit the Xbox 360 at the perfect time. Chances are that you've got some random, bitty amounts of Microsoft points lying in your account after Bastion, From Dust and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet monopolised your wallet, meaning that there's never been a better opportunity to blow your load on some fantastic Indie games.

Unfortunately the Summer Uprising also coincided with Gamescom and PAX; meaning that we're drowning under a deluge of previews, interviews and news direct from the convention halls. I just haven't had time to keep abreast of the daily schedule, but to make up for it, here's a roundup of the first five featured games to hit the Xbox Live Indie Marketplace.


Developer: Milkstone Studios

Get Demo/Buy: 240 Microsoft Points

Milkstone Studios are a controversial outfit who nevertheless deliver the goods on a regular basis. Raventhorne is their most impressive game to date, and it rivals many XBLA titles in terms of value, competency and visuals.

Raventhorne is a 2D hack & slash brawler based on Norse mythology, featuring a seriously responsive set of controls and standout art design that looks like a detailed graphic novel in motion. Its six levels contain huge numbers of legendary beasts to throw down on, each of which requires different tactics and strategies to defeat. The combat (especially the limp magic system) has been significantly overhauled thanks to a recent patch, which elevates Raventhorne from being an arty diversion to a title that boasts both substance and style.

If you love your brawlers to be beautiful and brutal, Raventhorne is a no-brainer at 240 Microsoft Points.

Battle High: San Bruno

Developer: Matrified Games

Get Demo/Buy: 80 Microsoft Points

Whoa. You might expect a fighting game set in a high school to be a cheap and cheerful knock-off of other more successful competition fighters, but Matrified Games has actually managed to deliver an outstanding effort that stands tall even when compared to the likes of Street Fighter 2. The 12-strong cast of high school characters all boast their own distinct fighting styles and superhuman special abilities (San Bruno is more like Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters than a usual comprehensive), which are accessible through an exceptionally well-crafted control setup that feels fluid and totally responsive. A familiar selection of quarter circles, blocks and double taps power the combat, and I'm genuinely gobsmacked that Matrified have managed to create such an authentic experience using the basic XNA toolkit.

We'll have to wait for Skullgirls to deliver the parting blow to the bloated and pretentious fighting genre when it releases later this year, but until then, we'll be honing our skills on Battle High: San Bruno. An incredible achievement, and one that absolutely deserves your money.

Cute Things Dying Violently

Developer: ApathyWorks

Get Demo/Buy: 80 Microsoft Points

Cute Things Dying Violently is a fairly apt description of what happens when you screw up at this value-packed puzzler. Hilariously billed as a game where "a game where absolutely nothing bad happens," players will need to flick a selection of helpless cuddly critters around 60 levels packed with buzzsaws, spikes and all manner of horrifying obstacles. A number of props such as springs and moveable platforms adds another dimension of strategy into the proceedings, resulting in an experience that feels halfway between Lemmings and Bill's Tomato Game (for any fellow Amiganauts out there). The difficulty curve, though tough, is also well-balanced and provides a compulsive drive to complete "just one more level."

As mentioned, Cute Things Dying Violently offers incredible value at its 80 Points price tag. You'll net 60 levels, achievements, challenge stages and local multiplayer that tends to lead to major arguments. Puzzle fans need to download it. Immediately.

T.E.C. 3001

Developer: Phoenix Games

Get Demo/Buy: 240 Microsoft Points

T.E.C. 3001 is a bit of a looker, to put things mildly. Its robotic parkour is delivered with a level of visual panache and eyecatching art direction that challenges the best games on the service for supremacy, especially in motion where it's hypnotically beautiful to behold.

Sadly, though, this graphical flair is squandered on some unpleasantly difficult and uninspired gameplay that soon turns into an utter grind rather than an empowering orgy of freerunning. To be honest, you're probably better off paying what you want for Fotonica instead. Definitely check out the demo if you enjoy the trailer, but otherwise, I'd save your points for three of the Summer Uprising's cheaper titles.

Doom and Destiny

Developer: Benjamin Ficus and HeartBit

Get Demo/Buy: 240 Microsoft Points

Last, but definitely not least, we have a fantastic RPG parody to bring to your attention. Doom and Destiny tells the hilarious story of four roleplaying fans cast into their own pencil & paper universe, which is fleshed out beautifully with authentic 8-Bit visuals, a comprehensive turn-based battle system and a sense of humour that rivals even Robert Boyd 's Cthulhu Saves The World.

Just because Doom and Destiny is an homage to all things RPG doesn't mean that the developers have slouched when it comes to the gameplay. It's mechanically excellent, deeply enjoyable and provides outstanding value; demonstrating a deep love and respect of the classic games that it successfully emulates. An absolute steal at 240 Microsoft Points, and one that I'd urge you to take advantage of.

Add a comment 1 comment
Late  Sep. 10, 2011 at 00:34

"Cute Things Dying Violently" gets my vote. Fantastic fun, and amazing value at 80 msp.

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