Please pardon the brief hiatus. To explain, the previous week only brought us a tiny trickle of titles, but this last has yielded a bountiful bevy of Indie games that deserve your time, attention and a tiny amount of your money. Let's do it!
Before we do though, it's time to give another shout-out to the Summer Uprising: the Indie showcase set to hit on August 22nd and provide an independent alternative to the Summer Of Arcade. Check out the details here - and prepare for a monstrous deluge of brilliant games!
We all know the formula. Kill bad guys, get loot, buy better gear, use it to kill more bad guys and so on and so forth. It's an age-old premise that has served us well for over thirty years... and Lootfest crunches the idea down into an attractive, hectic experience that's fun alone and devastatingly good fun with mates. A festival of loot, if you will.
As an action hero sworn to rid the lands of three evil lords, you'll set out through a massive tract of territory in search of their strongholds. However, you'll need better gear first, and luckily the map throngs with respawning enemies that will provide you with plentiful amounts of gold and ammunition. Farming foes for money, buying better gear and making longer forays away from the safe towns is an addictive ; made slick and accessible by responsive thumbstick control and two-button combat.
The simple combat system and attractive cubic voxel visuals are vaguely reminiscent of 3D Dot Game Heroes, which is undoubtedly a good thing. Fighting is as simple as running up to enemies and smacking them with your ludicrously massive sword or peppering them with arrows, leaving you free to concentrate on exploration and the acquisition of teh phat lootz. Lootfest is also graphically impressive, using colourful backdrops and blocks to create a truly memorable gameworld that's engaging to look at as well as play within.
And no, it hasn't "ripped off Minecraft" at all. Don't even start.
Lootfest is great fun as a solo endeavour, but you'll find the real flavour in its four-player cooperative mode. Though each player's view of the action is somewhat restictive (one of the necessary evils of splitscreen, I'm afraid), haring around the game world with a couch full of friends is as manic and rewarding as it gets. You'll find the action to be perfect as a breath of fresh air between shooters and racing games that's fun to come back to time and time again.
Lootfest is a bite-sized slice of RPG heaven that's best enjoyed with some close friends after a long day. It may be short, but you'll be hard pressed to have more fun for 80 Microsoft Points.
Aliens VS Aliens
Developer: Fun Factory Entertainment
When is a third person shooter not a third person shooter? When it's a turn-based strategy game in disguise.
Aliens vs Aliens feels like a TPS. You'll control four alien tracker scouts using both sticks, navigating them through intricate maps and moving them into position to fire upon your vicious extraterrestrial enemies. However, each alien has a limited action bar that depletes as they move - and once you've successfully placed them all, your turn ends and the AI gets to have a go. Combat takes place automatically during the movement phase, which creates a nifty middle ground between engaging real-time thrills and cerebral grand strategy.
A detailed upgrade system underpins the action and provides an addictive hook; with several different weapons and character stat improvements available for purchase with awarded credits. And I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that the presentation is extremely competent and doubly impressive for an 80 Point price tag. It's certainly an acquired taste that only pays off after learning the ropes, however, so I'd highly recommend testing the trial to destruction before making your choice.
Aliens VS Aliens is a fun change of pace and an acquired taste that gets sweeter with time. Well worth checking out.
Block Vengeance Alpha
Developer: Boddicker Games
Ever since you (yes, you, dear reader) refused to buy their smashing space shooter ETMD, Boddicker Games have switched their focus from deep retro titles to shallow yet engaging diversions. Block Vengeance Alpha is their latest effort: a Breakout clone that challenges players to smash blocks with a ball. The twist is that, rather than passive pieces of masonry, these blocks are vicious psychopaths who want you dead - and gleefully bombard you with projectiles or attempt to crush you without warning. Balls are regenerated every few seconds and you're not punished for losing them, putting the focus on evasion and aggression rather than a desperate attempt to keep your spheres in play. 80 Points is a decent price for the content on offer here, though if you're seeking a throwaway diversion, you might be better off with 10 Amazingly Awful Games. Trust me, it doesn't live up to its name.
Or, you know, spend some points on ETMD and prove that lovingly-crafted shooters can make Boddicker Games some money!