Another day, another couple of indie titles that may pique your curiosity!

OsmosOsmos [link], released a few months ago by Hemisphere Games, is something I failed miserably to mention at the time. Continuing the trend of ambient chillout games with which you can switch your brain off for a while, this one features a nifty absorb ‘em up gameplay mechanic with plenty of interesting twists to keep your attention. Drift around a fluid playfield filled with various sizes of cellular blobs and complete set objectives, such as absorbing a specific cell or simply becoming the biggest in the pool. Though it starts out easy, you’ll soon find yourself needing quite a bit of dexterity and fast thinking, especially if you want to unlock the endgame achievements. A snip at $10, I’d say, and there’s a demo for you to try first if you like.

AI WarNow, a confession – I’ve not sat down and given AI War: Fleet Command [link] an awful lot of my time, but I still want to give you the heads-up on it because Arcen Games seem to have a sleeper hit on their hands. The main thing to say is that despite being an RTS, AI War includes bits of 4X and even turn-based strategy, with the main draw being an extremely competent AI opponent (which you fight either solo or in co-op multiplayer). Attempting to control every single bit of the map will end in tears quickly, because the enemy’s “Threat” rating will increase as you destroy its ships and perform certain other actions, eventually reaching a stage where its onslaught becomes too great for you to counter; considered, surgical strikes are what you’ll need to win. If campaigns spanning many hours sound like your type of fun, give the demo a spin.

There’ve been a lot of good indie productions released this month (and in previous months when I’ve been slacking), so it’s probably time to catch up with a few…

First, from Amanita Design, comes Machinarium's protagonistMachinarium [link]. The winner of this year’s IGF Excellence in Visual Art award has been a long time in the works but looks, as you may imagine, absolutely splendid. Help a robot who’s been exiled from his city to rescue his girlfriend, kick out the bad guys and generally make the world right again. Essentially it’s a point-and-click adventure, but with fantastic hand-drawn environments and characters. There’s a lot to praise about this game, not least the sublime atmospheric music and perfectly-weighted humour. Check out the demo in your browser, or wander along here for their other games.

EufloriaAfter running a competition to decide its new name, the game formerly known as Dyson has become Eufloria [link] – a far more fitting title! Rudolf Kremers and Alex May have finished up the game and it’s a perfect chillout RTS without any of the frills that often confuse rather than help. Control your flock (cloud?… swarm?…) of sentient seedlings to explore an asteroid belt and discover the cause of a hostile infection. Nice and relaxing, yet with a definite challenge toward the end. Get a taste of Eufloria with the demo.

More indie stuff to come over the weekend!

This isn’t going to be a hugely long read, folks, because… well… this game isn’t hugely long. :mrgreen: But at the suggestion of Madamluna through Twitter last week, I could hardly refuse to at least give it a try!

Mondo Medicals [link, about halfway down the page] is a game from prolific Swedish developer Cactus. I can’t say I have a great fondness for his stuff – it tends to wander too far around the “experimental” side for my taste – but you can’t really bash what you haven’t played, and this seemed like a good opportunity to broaden my horizons and maybe even learn a bit into the bargain. Like most of his games, it’s fairly short, and isn’t too much of a time sink. Though of course that depends on how difficult you find it. :-P

Mondo Medicals - a fine welcomeMondo Medicals - this guy's a tad highly strungMondo Medicals - would you like some grey with your grey, sir?

The plot, such as it is, involves… no, wait! I’m going to be a meanie and tell you to play the game yourself to find out, since there’s so little of it and it’s best experienced first-hand. What I can say without spoiling anything is that the basic concept is of a first-person puzzler, not entirely unlike Portal (without the mad physics); it exists to test your powers of observation and logical thinking – or should that be illogical thinking? – while making you feel “on edge” at the same time.

Read more…

Zolyx loading screenIt seems like a few of you who’ve stumbled across the site were looking for a way to play Zolyx, the classic Commodore 64 Qix clone, in your browser. Well, look no more! It’s taken long enough to get around to setting it up, but you can now do so on this ‘ere subpage:

Play Zolyx online!

Brought to you by the power of the Java Commodore 64 emulator created by Joakim Eriksson. Hope it brings back some memories ;)

To continue with a similar theme… ;-)

Torchlight logo

Runic Games just announced that their hotly-anticipated action RPG Torchlight [link] will be available on Steam from the first day of release (October 27th). Previously you’d have had to wait an extra month if you wanted to buy the game this way, but there’s no need for that now!

Of course, should you wish to support the Runic team directly you’ll also be able to buy game keys from their website.

Followers of my random outbursts on Twitter might be aware that I’ve been playing the Median XL [link] mod for Diablo II lately. Personally I blame my reacquaintance with the action RPG king on the growing hype around the release of Torchlight [link] later this month, but that’s another story that I’ll save for another post. :roll:

As I was saying – tinkering with Median XL hasn’t turned out to be a five minute wonder like most of my gaming habits, so it’s probably only right to put into words (and pictures) what has kept my interest so far…

Diablo II Median XL - title screenDiablo II Median XL - fight thunder with thunder!Diablo II Median XL - bowazon power!

If you have a peruse at Median‘s homepage, you’ll soon see that the change list is ever so slightly HUGE. It changes all of the classes by giving them brand new skills. It adds new monsters that use sneaky AI and uberquests for tough-nut characters. It adds new gems, new runes, and “mystic orbs” you can use to create crafted items with the exact bonuses you want. There’s just a lot more action, right from the get-go… and for an action RPG, I’d say that’s a good thing :D

Amongst the many game genres I admit to not being a massive fan of, point-and-click adventures rank right up there with bullet hell shooters (ugh) and beat ‘em ups (bleh). However, earlier in the year, a work colleague badgered me into playing a little ol’ game called Broken Sword – and to my pleasant surprise, I enjoyed it tremendously. So much, in fact, that I’ve tried out a few others since then, with one of them happening to be (as if you hadn’t guessed by now) 5 Days a Stranger [link] by Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw… something a fair bit darker than George Stobbart’s first outing, that’s for sure, but no less fun!

5 Days a Stranger - the title screen5 Days a Stranger - scavenging for stuff, but no luck here5 Days a Stranger - what on earth is going on?

It’s doubly strange, really, because I’m far from being a fan of horror stuff either – yet that’s what 5DaS is themed on. But its horror is well-paced, done in such a way to build up a decent sense of tension. Playing it in a dark room with headphones on will surely immerse you into the atmosphere quite well… ;)

Read more…

Gaps are dangerous and can cause terrible accidents. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an actual physical gap, e.g. the one between the platform and the tube train, or a more immaterial gap between, e.g., blog posts.

Here is a handy illustration of gapspace that you may wish to carry with you in order to safeguard your day-to-day activity.

Gapspace. You have been warned.

Meanwhile, normal posting (if anything here can be categorised as such) will resume shortly…