Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Humblest Bundle of them All

A bright and cheerful yearly-ish tradition has bloomed in the otherwise putrid and dark corners of the internet. It's called the Humble Indie Bundle. Two years ago, the first Humble Indie Bundle offered a pack of stellar indie titles at the frankly jaw-dropping price of whatever you choose. Many prophesied doom, because why would people pay the cost recouping price of $20 when they can get it for $2, or even $0.02? ...well, it seems that there were people who paid from the kindness of their hearts, struck a bargain while doing so, and thusly Humble Indie Bundle #2 came back next year with even more awesome indie games.

Now it's Humble Indie Bundle #3's turn to carry on this fine, overtly generous offer. So if you're undecided on whether or not whatever you want is too much for these incredibly fine games, here's me, Andy, to sway you. The conclusion of course is buy it now you moron, but if you do need convincing of its awesomeness, here's me, Andy, to do so, game by game. Let's start from the top, shall we?

Crayon Physics Deluxe

Crayon Physics Deluxe is a game in which you use a deluxe crayon to manipulate physics. ...that's the gist of it, anyway. What I gather from the demo is that you have a magic crayon, physics are misbehaving, kick their ass with the crayon in a sandbox-ish open solution kind of way. And solve puzzles while you're at it. It's cute, and charming. It's a little insubstantial, but who cares, right? You can also draw margin doodles with the crayon, of dicks. Give everything mustaches. It's a ton of fun, with a refreshing minimalist art style, and.... physics. Give it a shot, you'll find something fun to do with it I'm sure.


Okay, this is where my awesome plan to get you to buy stuff falls a little flat. I have never played Cogs, and only heard of it through osmosis alone. It was in the Portal 2 Potato Sack thing, so I know that much, but beyond that, as far as I can tell it's just a puzzle game with cogs. Well, not just a puzzle game with cogs, it obviously has something unique going for it considering it has a 73/100 Metacritic score. So going buy the blurb alone, it seems like a fun, inventive puzzle game - but if you've come for me for a personal recommendation, then you get to leave with a reluctant shrug. The final word? I 'unno, it looks alright. But I've never been a fan of puzzle games. Maybe if your brain is big enough and you're looking for a cog-based cognitive challenge then Cogs is everything you're looking for in a woman. Uh, I mean videogame.


Now this is more like it. Is VVVVVV good? Well I don't know, let me check my ohhhh yep it's just the first game on this blog to be awarded a perfect score. Are you serious? You don't already own VVVVVV? No, you don't. Because this genius game - this PERFECT game - was overlooked by so, so many people. It's a Psychonauts-level crime, honestly. Not only was it possibly the best game of early 2010, it's also the most charmingly simplistic approach to difficulty I've ever seen. It's an open world, and you could do the levels in order, or you could explore and fine more difficult ones - a process which will take you and your thumbs to the depths of hell itself. VVVVVV is worth getting this bundle for alone, and with all this content for whatever you fucking want, that says a lot. For the sake of the medium of videogames - play VVVVVV.


Eurgh. Like Cogs, I know little to nothing about Hammerfight. I gather that there's a hammer and a fight in it - if not, I call this out for blatant false advertising. From what I can gather from the Steam description, it appears to be kind of a 2D Robot Wars with flying contraptions, and a "realistic physics system" (because physics are awesome man, only slightly improved by drawing dicks in the margins with crayons). The screenshots paint a unique, quietly brilliant art style in a striking light, and the review snippets say things like "it's wonderful" and "it'll kick you in the balls". ...hold on, what? Is that a good thing? Oh, it came from Destructoid, maybe that makes it a good thing? ...whatever the case, it certainly looks good, and my recommendation having not played it is thus. "It looks good." But lots of things look good, and end up being massive disappointments. I'm yet to be let down by a Humble Indie Bundle game yet, though, so... Hammerfight? ...it looks good, and in all likelihood is good.

And Yet It Moves

And yet It Moves is a puzzle-platformer. Yes, that old indie chestnut. In a world made entirely of ripped-up paper - which looks incredibly striking - you are given the power to jump, and run, and climb. Oh. ...and you can rotate the world. It all reminds me of that one scene in LIMBO where the world is rotating and you have to avoid rocks by waiting until the gravity tips so it rolls away and you can walk on in relative safety, only you are rotating the world, and also it's not eerie or dark. It's very unique, and very fun, though perhaps not as amazingly good as, say, VVVVVV, and not as charming as Crayon Physics. Perhaps my biggest criticism of the game is that it feels indie. Too indie. It's almost pretentious in its presentation, which will turn off a lot of people would otherwise really like to enjoy it for being a puzzle-platformer. I still recommend it above AAA platformers like, say, New Super Mario Bros Wii, and all those repetitive Portal clones on the XBLA. It's presented as a piece of art, but it isn't good enough to be a piece of art. Still, nothing quite takes away the awesomeness that comes with tilting the world until a boulder is unhinged from its resting place and... squishes you, resulting in a level restart. Ohh.

...so, that's the Humble Indie Bundle #3. My recommendation? ...well, it's not as good as last year's, I'll admit. And they aren't all the heavy-hitters you'd expect from the Humble Bundle - the Frozenbyte bundle was basically chock-full of AAA quality indie games, yet this is made up of artsy 2D platformers and some physics manipulation sandboxes. Don't get me wrong. You must pick up this bundle. ...it just isn't as striking as last year. Then, however, I remember it has fucking VVVVVV in it, and I digress. This is a must-pick-up package. ...and also, while you can pick it up for $0.01, and it's kind of funny that you can do so, make sure to not. These people are doing this out of the kindness of their hearts, and it would be remiss of you not to replicate that kindness. If TotalBiscuit is to be believed, any less that $5 actually costs them money in PayPal fees. They don't need to do any of this - and neither do you, really. So if you do do it? Make it count. Buy it, make it worth your (and their) while, and sink your teeth into this one hell of a tasty meal of indie gaming goodness. Now. Do it now. Immediately.