VolChaos First Impressions


VolChaos

Game: VolChaos
Genre: Punish-former (or Punishformer for the anti-hyphens out there)
1 player
Creators: Fun Infused Games (twitter) (youtube)
80 msp

I think it is official. I have an odd habit of playing through a game and putting up a First Impression, and never doing a review. I am going to assume it is the sheer quantity of games on the XBLIG that I see and like enough to buy, but never finish. I believe I have only one game that I did a First Impressions and a Review for (Cute Things Dying Violently). All of that aside, I don’t do reviews much anyway because of school and other assorted things that get in the way. That will change because through my genius maneuvers I have managed to manipulate my school schedule next semester to be way more favorable. Go me. But thanks for reading, cause as long as somebody gets to find an indie game they love to play I helped in some way right? RIGHT?! Thanks for agreeing. Anyway, onto my First Impressions of VolChaos, which is a very fun game so far.

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Image from VolChaos

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Pros:

— Great level design
— The mix between collecting gems and actually surviving
— The music and graphics are quite enjoyable
— The humor of the background story and captions before each level
— Gameplay is easy to get used to
— Addition of Expert levels

Cons:

— Loading between death and respawn (will be fixed in about a week)
— Slow saving (will be fixed in a week)
— Jump controls are a bit floaty and feel off a bit (will be maybe tweaked in about a week)
— No countdown (will be maybe fixed in about a week)
— Lack of online leaderboards (although those are always next to useless on XBLIG)

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Image from VolChaos

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The premise of VolChaos is that you have to get to the finish line before the lava rises and kills you. Naturally when you get to the finish your guy stops to celebrate instead of continuing to run. Obviously I am just joking, I love the fact that there are so many levels instead of 20 long, difficult levels. It has the Super Meat Boy feel of “If I die I won’t go back that far, so it is not that bad”.
So far I have really enjoyed the first half of VolChaos. I have finished levels 1-20, collecting all the gems, and beating expert mode. I do not list this to brag, but to show what I have played. I have heard that some levels in the end become difficult to a point of frustration, but to each their own. I highly suggest you get this game just for the sheer amount of content it has. I would have been completely fine with just the 20 levels I played for 80 msp, so the rest for me is just gravy on the cake, or something like that. The controls are a bit floaty, but feel like they are tuned enough  for the task at hand. After about 45 minutes to an hour of playing I started to feel like I was getting very good with the controls.
There are also many different ways of getting through the levels. You start out with your standard platforming, then throw in some trampolines, moving platforms, and enemies and you start to a great time. The level design itself is somewhat of a marvel. It is not often XBLIG gets levels designed this well for what they have to do. In the standard stages you have to beat the level with the option of picking up all the gems on the way to the finish in order to unlock expert mode for that level. I would advise everyone to just play like you are going for all of the gems from the beginning, because that is more fun than just finishing the level. The Expert levels suffer from the slow loading bug (that will be patched) as of right now. They are still playable, you just have to deal with it every time you respawn. I will probably wait until the patch goes live to play through those levels, since all you do on those levels are get to the finish, and being a half second off will kill you.
In the end, VolChaos is very fun so far. The upcoming patch seems to be geared towards fixing a lot of issues gamers are having with the game. My suggestion, even after only playing the first 20 levels (out of 42) is to get it. Unless you hate fun.
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Here are some other reviews:
NeoGAF awarded VolChaos the Gold Award for the month of November (even though it is titled December)
Kairi Vice’s (IndieGamerChick) review/rant about old games with a very nice discussion in the comments
Extra Guy gave VolChaos an A
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Total Miner: The Forge First Impressions


Total Miner: Forge

Game: Total Miner: The Forge
Genre: Block Building
1-4 player local
creators: Greenstone Games
240 msp

NOTE: This is based off of 3 hours with the game, let me know if things I wish they would add are added later in the game

I finally got around to playing Total Miner last night. First of all, I do not care that this game takes things from other games and melts them together to make their own game. My review is based on the amount of fun I had, not “OMGZ tHis is just like MinEcraft so it Suxsss”. It is a bit of a mixed impression. Read on!

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Image from Total Miner: Forge

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Pros:

— Cool concept of story mode (digging as deep as possible, looking for blueprints, etc.)
— Nice old-style graphics
— Feeling of progression in Dig Deep mode
— The store blocks are kinda cool

Cons:

— Text is near impossible to read (names of blocks, numbers of blocks, etc.)
— No online play

Suggestions:

— Make text readable
— Add online
— Crafting mode like FortressCraft

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Image from Total Miner: Forge

It is way harder to read the number next to the boxes on an actual TV

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One thing that really bugs me is graphics. Why build a game that requires you to have a great T.V. in order to see all of the important text? My T.V. might not be the greatest T.V. ever, but every game should have readable text from 5-6 feet away on a 26 inch television. This might seem like a petty complaint, but it is a huge deal when playing. On numerous occasions I have run out of blocks well before I thought I would because I could not see the amount of blocks I had. I also could never tell how much money I had, which rendered planning while buying stuff useless. The names of the blocks are also fuzzy, but I will chalk that up to a poor font choice over anything else. I have no problem with simple graphics as long as I can understand what is going on all the time. This really could be fixed by something as simple as adding an option for a normal text font.

Ok now that my graphics rant is over lets get to the meat of the gameplay.

Total Miner just feels like it is lacking something. Have you ever played a game and knew it was supposed to be more fun than it felt like? That is how I feel when I play Total Miner. I know that this game should be super fun, but it is not. Building is fun, but not as fun as it could be. I guess I am spoiled by the crafting in FortressCraft, but I tire of the blocks that are included in Total Miner. The stuff you can build that looks cool in the style of graphics given to you is very limited. Sure you can build cool castle looking things and other stone buildings, but the game would benefit from more variety in the blocks given to you. Look at the inventory in the picture above and you will see a lot of gray. This is just my personal opinion, but those style graphics with a lot of gray is not so awesome.

There are a lot of cool minor features in the game I figured I should mention. Grass automatically grows on dirt you dig up, which is really helpful when trying to build cool things involving grass.

Everyone is so hung up on Total Miner’s Dig Deep Mode and how awesome it is. I cannot really grade it right now because I would just go randomly run off and build an whatever I wanted. I did experiment with the crafting system and thought it was pretty cool. The idea of Dig Deep is pretty cool, but without the ability to read anything….

Creative Mode is really not all that interesting because of my earlier complaints regarding graphics and a lot of gray blocks. Here is where I would prefer a better inventory system and block selecting system than Total Miner’s inventory system.

Overall Total Miner is interesting and somewhat fun. So far I have not had a moment where I was like “WOW! that is cool!”. Most of my moments are spent squinting at the text and trying to find interesting blocks to match the ones I already have. The game is not bad, but I have more complaints for this game than I anticipated.

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FortressCraft First Impressions


FortressCraft Chapter 1

Game: FortressCraft Chapter 1: Creation
Genre: Block Building
1-8 player online
Creators: ProjectorGames
240 msp

Ok I really only got around to playing FortressCraft yesterday, and it was pretty fun. Here are my thoughts on it so far.

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Image from FortressCraft Chapter 1

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Pros:

— Easy to use interface
— Readable text (always a plus, it shocks me how many games have text I cannot read)
— A lot of different blocks to use
— Block Crafting
— 8 Player Online multiplayer
— Boot function in said online multiplayer (hint, hit RB twice then freeze and boot)
— Good graphics
— Great light affects

Cons:

— Water Physics are crappy (very, very crappy)
— The fact that you have to find relics (things that let you fly, jump higher, run faster, etc.)

Suggestions:

— A way to paint a rectangle shaped area (with markers of some kind) and fill it in with a type of block
— Better Water Physics (I want to make waterfalls!)

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Image from FortressCraft Chapter 1

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Basically I am having a great time with FortressCraft. The whole point is just to build whatever the heck you want. That is the whole game. You do have to find relics in order to gain special powers, but that really feels like more of a chore than something fun. Once you get the hang of building things, you will be having a blast though. I spent an hour yesterday making a volcano style eruption. Without fluid physics this makes my volcano look more blockish, but it is still cool. During this experiment I got a good hang of the controls. The right stick’s use is very… useful. If you press the right stick in, you will automatically have the block you have hi-lighted in your hand. This is very useful for quickly switching between 3 or 4 types of blocks while building. While I might not have the ability to fly yet, I did find trampolines super useful. In a super unrealistic way, trampolines propel you upward more and more each jump. This is very useful for getting up to high places when you do not have the relics.

My favorite addition to the game so far is the workshop. Your workshop is below your spawn, waiting for you to do some crafting. Inside the workshop you can build any 8×8 shape you want. Then you can use that shape as a custom block. This is really cool because you can make things like chairs, tables, parts of signs, etc. Also the blocks that make up the workshop cannot be deleted, so you do not have to worry about accidental deletions. I have seen some really cool things people have come up with, and I look forward to making my own stuff.

Now about water physics. If the water physics in this game worked even a small bit better than they do, water would be useful for more than flat surfaces. Basically if you place a water block down wrong, you will flood your creations. This has no affect other than visual, but it is still a nuisance. To get your world back to normal, delete the water block you spawned, back out of your game, and reload it. This should fix all of your water problems. Apparently the next update will help with water physics and make water usable for things like waterfalls, which will be awesome.

All in all so far I love FortressCraft because it brings out my creativity. While writing this I have come up with 4-5 ideas for things I need to make when I get home. I would highly suggest trying this game if you have not already. The online multiplayer is great and makes it a lot more fun.

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This is an intruiging video showing all the blocks types in FortressCraft.

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Trials HD: The Indie Game First Impressions


Osr unhinged

Game: OSR: Unhinged
Genre: Platformer Biking
1 player
Creators: RiddlerSoft Games
80 msp

Ok that is really not the name of the game, the name of the game is OSR: Unhinged, and it is awesome. Hey you know how Trials HD had leaderboards for every track? So does OSR: Unhinged…. for every track. Impressed yet? Well read on to be more impressed.

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This is one of the unique features of this game, gravity being used as an obstacle/boost

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Pros:

— Good amount of maps
— Medals for each map
— “Token” System
— Fun mini-games (including total flips on a course in 30 seconds, beat my number 2 score!)
— Online leaderboards for every map, total score, and mini games
— Easy to learn controls
— Different paths through each map
— A handful of bikes to pick from
— Well done graphics
— 4 different control schemes to choose from

Cons:

— None at the moment

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As you can see, the graphics are simple, yet well done

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Ok this game is becoming one of my new favorites, as are the other 2 Riddlersoft games I just bought (Apex and Gravity). This game has all of the fun of trials HD for the XBLA, but for a way lower price. The old school graphics are very well done, I mean just look at the detail on that bike above. I feel the game flows very well, and every slow down is your fault. Along the level there are these “Tokens” you can pick up. These are used to unlock levels and bikes, but I have not had a problem so far finding enough to move on to the next level. The levels come in 3 flavors, Normal, Crazy, and Unhinged. They also toss some cool mini-games in there as well. The one thing that really sets this game apart from other indie games that use leaderboards is that there is a leaderboard for everything in the game. This is implemented very well, I just do not like how Indie Games have no server so therefore my scores I am going for are based off who else is online at the time. So far on my leaderboard I am number 5 or 6 on a lot of tracks, but the top 5 people are way ahead of me. This tells me that some bikes later in the game are truly amazing.

All in all this is an amazing indie game, and easily worth your 80 msp. What else are you gonna buy with it? If you answered Apex, you are a sneaky person.

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Apex First Impressions


Apex

Game: Apex
Genre: Platformer
1 player
Creators: RiddlerSoft Games
80 msp

Apex gave me the most shock I have had while playing an indie game demo on a whim, because it was awesome. I had so much fun I forgot I was on the trial until the “Do you want to buy?” screen popped up. I bought the game instantly and continued my journey.

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Image from Apex

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Pros:

— Smooth Learning Curve
— Simple Controls with many applications
— Balanced Checkpoint system
— Sections that allow you to start from points very far in
— Non-annoying music
— Simple, yet nice enough graphics
— FUN

Cons:

— Online leaderboards are absent (for now)
—  Only 4 sections to pick from, so after the 4th it is a long haul to the end of the game (have not reached it yet)

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Image from Apex

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Apex is what I like to call a “Speed and Precision” Platformer. Basically you are evading some rising lava by going up, and you have to be fast and somewhat precise to do this. The game is very well balanced by the checkpoints you have. I never felt like there was too big of a gap between checkpoints. You can jump, double jump, bomb walls, and use time bombs to slow down time. The game is very simplistic in you have 2 meters to watch, your health and your boost meter. You lose health by hitting yourself with a bomb, running over electricity, and touching lava. Lava is not technically an instant kill, but very close to one. You also only lose boost through double jumping, and there are pickups on the map for health and boost. You can also pick up time bombs, which slow down everything but you for 4 seconds. This is a huge addition to the game.

This game is not one of those platformers where not dying will get you to the end in 5 minutes, it lasts way longer. I think I have spent about 45 minutes playing it and the top score on the  offline leaderboard that is preset is 4 times higher than mine….. Sweet! My only complaints are basically that it is a long haul from the 4th section to the end of the game, which I have not reached, but I guess I am glad I have the sections period. Also no online leaderboards like in Riddlersoft’s other games (Gravity and OSR: Unhinged), but it is coming soon.

All in all I feel like Apex is easily worth the purchase for anybody.

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Lair of the Evildoer First Impressions


Lair of the Evildoer

Game: Lair of the Evildoer
Genre: Twin Stick RPG
1 player
Creator: Going Loud Studios
80 msp

I have no idea how I stumbled upon this old game, but I am so glad I did. This game has a little bit of special meaning to me because it has the Twin Stick RPG gameplay that I want to implement in a game I make in the future. So I will be commenting a lot on the gameplay, what works, and what does not.

Fights like this are great fun

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Pros:

— The controls are easy to get used to
— Nice leveling system
— Fun loot system
— Well done ammo system
—  Good variety of enemies
— A lot of content
— Nice graphics

The skill system was a great plan, but flawed presentation

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Cons:

— Enemies run at you in a straight line, and often get stuck on every possible wall and item
— Both melee and dexterity is needed to kill enemies, so you are forced to balance skills instead of picking what you like
— Generic, run through a floor, rinse, repeat gameplay. It could use some other type of gameplay

Suggestions:

— Fix enemy path finding system the straight line thing isn’t working well
— Take away enemies being immune to bullets
— Co-op would be awesome

All in all: I love Lair of the Evildoer so far. It is easily worth the dollar. If you want to help the developer with their beta for the computer version go to this site.

Take Arms First Impressions


Game: Take Arms
Creators: Discord Games
Genre: 2D Shooter
Price: 240 msp
1 Player offline/2-8 Player Online

     

First off, thanks to all the people who played Take Arms with me. It was awesome. I will hone my lucky, across the map kills for our next game.

Pros:

— Fun with a lot of people
— Great map design
— Well balanced gameplay
— Crisp controls that are easy to pick up on
— Awesome graphics
— System Link compatible

Cons:

–Glitches (grenades, bullets not landing right, melee, etc.)
— Only a few classes and maps, but that should change soon enough
— No split screen

Suggestions:

— Number one should be fixing glitches (1. Grenade 2. Melee 3. Bullets)
— More maps and another class maybe
— More stats to keep track of (specifically lucky off the screen kills on AlejandroDaJ)
–Custom Game Lobby setup instead of random matchmaking.

If this game handled online like it does offline, it would be so much better, but it is still crazy fun

Hint: If you play a private online match, it counts towards your offline totals, not your online totals

It is a short list, but what can I say, that is the whole game. I am not going to add in unnecessary details. Basically, its a fun game. 240 msp seems like a lot, but it is a whole ton of fun with a lively lobby of people. The glitches get annoying, but at least they affected everyone at once. In our games it made grenades next to useless and melees very difficult to land on purpose. So it wasn’t like one man was a wrecking crew cause he had host. All in all, it is worth it if you can get some friends to get it or make online friends fast. 2 v 2 and 3 v 3 games are fun too, you don’t need 8 people to make this game fun. There are some images below.

The stat screen where you can see your carnage

Symmetry makes the maps all the more balanced

The graphics are great