Radiangames never pull any punches when it comes to Xbox Live Indie development. They deliver budget, mature masterpieces that could happily command premium prices- and we've naturally we've had high hopes for their fourth game on the Indie service. I'm delighted to report that Fluid upholds these principles and provides one of the freshest (and undeniably shiniest) games I've ever featured on these roundups.
Fluid is an imaginative hybrid of Micro Machines and Pac-Man: blending accessible racing with an unexpected eat-em-up mechanic. The ultimate goal of each stage is to pop all of the bubbles in as short a time as possible, which are typically arranged into twisting tracks replete with powerups and warp gates. However, Fluid doesn't pen you in, requiring players to devise their own routes around the levels. Gradually improving racing lines and calculating the speediest strategies are absolutely essential to success- and makes Fluid equal parts cerebral puzzler and twitchy 'bullet hell' experience. Popping bubbles frequently unleashes a horde of homing goo that need to be avoided at the same time as navigating the stage, further increasing the adrenaline factor.
Constantly replaying the thirty levels to shave successive miliseconds off of your best times is intensely addictive (verging on certain obsession)- and since players will be spending a lot of time racing, it's a good thing that Fluid is a joy to behold. Fluid by name. Fluid by nature. Expect sumptuous liquid dynamics, pixel-perfect HD graphics and unique art style.
Addictive gameplay, crisp visuals and enormous replay value await you in Radiangames' latest masterpiece. Fluid is by far their best work to date- and you should consider it an essential Indie purchase. Don't you dare buy that avatar hat instead of this.
Developer: Mike Josephs
Chaos Gateway is an interactive comic book featuring eyepopping HD artwork and a gritty tale of mystery, action and suspense. As well as driving the story along, players can actually engage in key moments with a selection of minigames. These little distractions actually feel tense and appropriate to the situation rather than an unpleasant selection of QTEs; enhancing the experience rather than annoyingly padding it out.
While the artwork is undeniably impressive, the same can't always be said of the writing. The plot and premise are sound enough, but the writing style occasionally lurches between different tenses and an over-familiar style. Considering that we have to rely on the text to describe most of the key events in the narrative, it's a shame that we have to suspend disbelief as much as we need to. Luckily the story is more than exciting enough to keep you glued to the screen, and a selection of unlockable awards and concept art sweetens the deal.
Chaos getaway is a brave attempt to create an interactive comic book on the Xbox Live Indie Channel- and succeeds in telling a thoroughly engrossing tale. Hopefully it will pave the way for more artists to showcase their work on the service!
Tiny Tim's Tremendous Tank
Developer: Lighthouse Games Studio
Lighthouse Games Studio has finally created a game with some substance. There's not an avatar or opportunistic theme to be found- rather, they've managed to create a nifty physics-based experience that's cleverly disguised as an attractive shooter. Tiny Tim has to find his old war buddy Tall Tom (which is a far more amusing Saving Private Ryan parody than it sounds) using his titular tremendous tank- try saying that five times quickly- employing its powerful armaments to carve a bloody swathe through the enemy troops.
However, the core gameplay actually resembles Trials HD, with the tank teetering precariously on its hilariously oversized treads. You'll need to apply the right amount of speed and balance to clear obstacles even as you fight off your foes- and you'll be surprised at how much fun this extra dimension adds to the action. Plus, you run use the physics to crush both adversaries and small animals under the mighty caterpillar tracks. We like this.
Tiny Tim's Tremendous Tank is a great little game that feels like Trials in a Tank. It's a match made in heaven.