Welcome to our fourth Xbox Live Indie Game of the Week roundup... where I'm afraid to say that we aren't exactly spoiled for choice. Only a handful of games have been released since last week... and whilst there are a couple worth noting, I strongly recommend that you have a gander at our hidden gems and previous runners up for your inspiration this time around.
Still, I swore to choose a winner every week- and I'm never one to back away from a challenge. With this in mind, let's get involved!
Developer: Mark Walker
You might've learned about biochemical kinetics back in school. Metabolites can react and change into different substances when affected by Enzymes- and Biohack challenges you to alter reaction rates in order to create complex solutions. You'll be presented with increasingly labyrinthine reaction maps and will need to apply inhibitors in strategic locations to create the necessary concentrations within the time limit.
I may have just given you the impression that players need a PhD in biochemistry to fully understand Biohack's premise... and to be honest, it couldn't hurt. There's an incredibly steep learning curve to surmount before Biohack starts making sense, but with a little practice, the basics slowly become second nature as you try out more and more complex strategies. Randomly-generated 'mutant levels' provide some decent value for money- and unless you work in an enzyme lab, you'll find it a challenging and unique experience.
Put simply, Biohack is a mature puzzler that's quite unlike anything else on the service. It'll take some time to master; but if you're willing to put in the time, there's an excellent and cerebral experiment experience waiting for you.
The Xbox Live Indie marketplace isn't short of a twinstick shooter or three... and once again, Unplugged adds yet another to the list. Taking the role of a deadly... erm... plug... you'll do your best to defend your plughole against a stream of filthy rotting food refuse.
However, Unplugged is elevated above many other twinstick shooters on the Indie Marketplace by the environment in which the battle takes place. The sink. The slippery sides cause your shots to circle around the plughole (due, in part, to the Coriolis effect), requiring you to careully pick and choose where you're aiming as well as watching your own inertia. The bosses also provide a much-needed change of pace (and some anarchic hilarity) by requiring different strategies to defeat. For example, giant soaps scrub the sink clean and gradually whittle down in size; whereas an enormous cheese requres players to grate its hands away. Four player co-op rounds out the package- and if you're looking for a quick, cheap thrills, you could do a lot worse than Unplugged.
It's time for... say it with me... another twinstick shooter! This time around, however, the grimy sink has been traded in for a futuristic space battlefield and alien foes. Satellite Eagle also has a nifty Ikaruga-style twist up its sleeve. Instead of operating your ship's guns, the right stick manoeuvres a detachable satellite that can change its colour to match enemy vessels. This satellite can be used to block projectiles or destroy similarly-coloured ships.
You might think that this clever mechanic could have skyrocketed Satellite Eagle into first place, but a few seriously lazy design decisions unfortunately drag it down. There are only five short levels... and listen up developers, because I'm about to speak for pretty much every consumer on the service.
Stop ripping off Geometry Wars, guys. Just stop. It's not difficult to design your own enemies and art style... and it's always aggravating to see the same green squares and wireframes crop up in game after game. Stop it- because we just can't take your games seriously otherwise.
Yeah. That's my major beef with Satellite Eagle. It's still not a bad little shooter, but a little creativity and some more levels would have made all the difference.