We recently reported that another Humble Indie Bundle was in the works... and just in case you don't know the drill, here's how it works. Five Indie studios have amalgamated their wares together into a DRM-free bundle... and you decide the price. That's right, folks: you can literally pay what you believe the bundle to be worth- and decide how much you want to split between the developers and two worthwhile charities!
The games are deeply impressive and represent some of the finest Indie offerings of the last couple of years. The masterful time-warping platformer Braid headlines the package, along with Revenge of the Titans that wowed us back at the Eurogamer Expo. Machinarium, Cortex Command and Osmos are also cracking titles, weighing in at a whopping combined RRP of $85.
So... what are you waiting for? Go. GO!
Seemingly in response to the successful Humble Indie Bundle, Steam are now offering their very own discounted collection of much-loved indie games. Included in the bundle are And Yet It Moves, Galcon Fusion, Machinarium, Osmos and the critically acclaimed World of Goo. Bought separately, these games could cost you upwards of fifty quid, and yet in The Steam Play Indie Pack, they're only £14.99 all together!
With a deal this good, a price-comparison is hardly necessary, and it'll no doubt benefit the independent developers who invested time and their hard-earned money to create something different. The Humble Indie Bundle, mentioned earlier, was the victim of online pirates, despite the developers of the pack offering customers to pay whatever they wanted for the collection of five indie games. They even donated some of their earnings to a variety of charities.
And Yet It Moves is a platform game with a wonderful, ripped-paper aesthetic, and includes the world-spinning mechanic of 'rotation'. Navigate levels by rotating the environment to reach previously inaccessible areas. Galcon Fusion is a spaceships-shooter in the mold of the likes of Radiant Silvergun, but with the added bonus of multiplayer modes and sleek HD visuals. Osmos is a curious, zen-like game, where you as a mote of light must absorb other motes of light by consuming them. To reach other motes, you must vent matter, but doing so causes your mote to shrink.
Machinarium and World of Goo are the standouts in the Indie Pack. Machinarium is a classic point-and-click adventure, with wonderfully stylised characters and backdrops. You must aid a lost robot in his quest to return to a city where his robot girlfriend is held hostage, after being thrown in the scrapyard. It's structured around a variety of brain-teasing puzzles you and your robot must solve to progress. Winner of multiple awards, Machinarium is a steal at £14.99 with four plus games.
So is World of Goo, a puzzle-based game where obstacles and environments can be surmounted or overcome by bonding globs of adhesive goo together to form structures. Utilising state-of-the-art physics, your creations can roll, tumble and mount obstacles. It's a charming game that rewards outside-the-box thinking.
The indie sector has never been better than right now. Last year saw a multitude of weird, wonderful, freaky and fantastic games and now you can sample six of the best of them for just $20, or roughly £12.79 in proper money (thanks Expedia). The six award-winning games in question are, in alphabetical order, And Yet It Moves, Auditorium, Aztaka, Eufloria, Machinarium and Osmos, all of them fantastic little gems in their own right.
Machinarium alone fetches nearly £15 on Steam these days, in fact pool all six games together via regular retailers and you're looking at handing over somewhere between £50-60, so yeah, you'll be making a pretty damn fine saving on this folks.
Every single one of these games is worth a look, from the addictive puzzle-platformer And Yet It Moves to the mesmerising physics-based gameplay of Osmos, these are all pretty special. I won't go into them all now, you can hit the link to find out more about each, but trust me when I say that this is arguably one of the best bargains I've seen in a while.
To be honest, not all of these games will appeal to everyone, but you should buy the pack anyway if only for the little robot adventure that is Machinarium. You can check out Tamsin's review here, but for my part I can't really overstate how much you need to play this hand-crafted masterpiece. Everything, from it's sumptuous score down to the inventive puzzles, is a joy to behold;and then there's the art. Machinarium is one of the best looking games I've seen in a while. I'm not talking about the technical and precise realism of Heavy Rain or the sterile sheen of Crysis, this is truly a game created in the mould of fine art by the hand of Jakub Dvorsky. If Pixar ever made a computer game, it would look something like this.
For Machinarium alone you're saving yourself a couple of quid, so this deal comes highly recommended. But this is far from a one-trick pony, and I've poured enough hours into the absurdly addictive Osmos and Eufloria to be able to tell you that if you give the others a try you won't come away disappointed. Unless you only play Modern Warfare 2. Bullet addicts should probably turn and walk away now.
Recently Dealspwn reported on the high cost of purchasing games through Steam compared to purchasing a retail copy of the game. To take control of the Blood Ravens Adeptus Astartes and fight off a Tyranid infestation in Relic's Dawn of War II, you'll need to dig deep for the £35 asking price. However, many of the popular retailers are selling the game at just £15.
At launch, the price difference wasn't much better either. with Shopto.net selling the game at £23 pounds. It's disappointing to see that some of the smaller games such as World of Goo and Crayon Physics can be downloaded cheaper directly from the developer websites.
While purchasing retail games through Steam is clearly poor value for money, some of the small indie games which are not available anywhere else can offer a gaming experience which is a bit different from the ordinary. Osmos was released on Steam this week and with a couple of clicks it's easy to download a trailer and then the demo. If you fancy purchasing the game, it's currently 10% off bringing down the price to just £6.29. But even at £7, it's still a reasonable price. [Gamebase - Dealspwn's price comparison engine]
Osmos puts you in control of a small biological entity in a similar set up to the classic game asteroids, where you can boost around a small area. Although, the more you move, the more of your own matter you eject. Size is key in the game, as there is no weaponry.
If you touch another entity and it's smaller than you then it's absorbed into your mass. However, if it's larger, then you are absorbed into it and it's game over. All the other entities dynamically change colour as the size of your own entity changes. This shows which can be absorbed and which can't be.
There's no denying that Osmos is simply a beautiful looking game with a soft mellow soundtrack which fits in perfectly to the bright visuals. There have been several chillout games such as Flow and Flower on the PSN store which work well as tech demos, however the lack of any real gameplay can be frustrating.
Initially, Osmos may look like a similar type of game, however after playing through a few levels it becomes clear that a deceptively smart game is hidden beneath the aesthetically pleasing surface. Some levels look impossible to begin with, but by intentionally inflating other entities, they can be moved out of the way as their growth causes them to be absorbed into an even larger entity.
To handle some of the more complex manoeuvring , the game incorporates a time mechanic allowing you to slow time down for precision, or speed it up when you think you're big enough to win. In some levels you simply need to reach a certain size. At other times you need to absorb a certain type of entity, for example, an attractor which pulls matter into it or a repulsor which pushes matter away.
As may be expected, for just £7 the game doesn't last particularly long before the levels seem to run out of ideas and seem to be far more reliant on luck than skill. This can become irritating, although the branching style of the game means if you're fed up with the current level, you can move round and start a different set of levels.
Overall though, these are the type of cheap games I enjoy playing on download services as the price is reasonable and it offers something a little different to many of the larger mainstream games. Steam works well here by not charging more for the game than it is elsewhere and making it quick and simple to preview, then purchase and play.