As usual, I bought a shitton of games for very little money and liked a bunch of them.
Inside: Haunt the House, Cat Quest, ibb&obb, Hue, Shu
Haunt the House
Haunt the House is an arcade-style game in which you, a ghost, have to empty a building of people by possessing objects and scaring the shit out of them (the people, not the objects). It’s just kind of stupidly adorable and fun, and has a great soundtrack, something that for whatever reason is a recurring theme this time. It’s pretty simple, but it’s a great timekiller and it only cost me $0.99 which was a complete steal for the number of levels and the production values. It definitely hits all the right notes for lighthearted, fun time killer.
Cat Quest is an almost disturbingly adorable cartoony open-world action RPG where you have to save cat puns from other cat puns as a cat that can kill dragons. It is a deceptively large game — I didn’t even do a completionist run and I put more than 10 hours into it. It was also the most expensive game here, at $7.79, which I’d say was the upper end of worth it.
You play a cat in a nation of cats that discovers he is the Dragonborn after his sister is kidnapped and he embarks on a quest to save her. Suffice to say it doesn’t end up being that simple, and I was impressed with how deep the lore in this game went, especially in the sidequests — for such a kind of silly game, the team put a lot of thought into the backstory. As you venture out to save your sister, you discover that chaos is erupting in the cat-kingdom, largely in the form of dragons. Dragons have been seen in the land in centuries, and are the natural enemies of cats (obviously) so that you’re Dragonborn means you can also save the kingdom while saving your sister.
It’s all just really solid dungeon-crawling action-RPG stuff with a lot of replay value. The only complaint I have about it is that the end feels like it’s one quest short — there’s no epilogue after the final boss battle and it definitely needs one. I got kind of got the sense the dev meant to release that last quest as DLC or something and then never did, because why ship a complete game when you could instead not. Still, as this is a huge peeve of mine, that it didn’t really take away from how much I enjoyed the game isn’t nothing.
I don’t know if my screening criteria are getting better or what, but I found a few quite good platformers this time. ibb&obb has been on my wish list for a while, but I’ve been putting it off because it’s meant to be played co-op and I’m a misanthropic hermit. But Mr. Act and I wanted to play something together the other day, so I finally got it. It really wins the award for co-op puzzle design — a lot of the time co-op games tend to distribute the workload unevenly or require gaming skills from both players that can make them frustrating if one person is more casual, but I thought i/o hit just the right medium of good puzzle difficulty with simple controls and intuitive design that meant we were both playing at the same skill level despite our difference in experience with this type of game, which is no small feat. (Usually the reason we don’t play games together is that I get frustrated at how terrible he is and we end up hating each other after like 10 minutes and not speaking for the rest of the day, so…) It was also just incredibly cute, which is apparently another theme going on here. This is a huge rec for people looking for couch co-op, since those can be hard to find and it worked great with two controllers.
Hue was really pleasant, a visually striking puzzle game the central mechanic of which is that you, Hue, live in a black-and-white world where you can apply splashes of color to the background. It has excellent puzzle design, a lovely soundtrack, and a story that says some nice things about forcing our perceptions on other people and the damage that can do. It also feels very complete which, as always, is a testament to the low bar indie games set. The voice acting was also really good, enough so that I thought it contributed palpably to the atmosphere of the game.
I don’t want to spoil anything because it was quite good and only $3.75 so you should get it. But, without giving away too much, I thought the ending was really… important. The whole ‘I must protect the woman from herself’ trope is so shitty, and the kind of lite deconstruction of that was done well. I found it to be a powerful message told in a highly capable and enjoyable way.
Shu is a very well-done Donkey Kong-style platformer with tons of replay value that was probably the highlight of this batch. It may be the best precision platformer I’ve reviewed on this blog, not only because it has tight controls, great level design, and tons to do, but because it has a nice, smooth difficulty curve and feels complete once you reach the endgame. The thing it really does best is level logic, where traps can be anticipated if you’re paying attention to how the level design has worked and collectibles are hidden in logical places. It successfully gets you moving quickly through long levels, and you die when you make a mistake, not because of some external factor. It has a ton of replay values and despite there only being about 20 levels, the levels themselves are quite long and elaborate so it feels much larger than it looks at first glance.
It was also a very cute game about saving the bird-people village from an evil storm that looks like Bane from DOTA.
Anyway, if you like me are constantly grumbling about how new platformers are for babbies, check this one out! Unlike a lot of games I’d say it’s worthwhile at any price, since its sticker is only $10. I got 15 hours of play out of it and enjoyed every second. I still keep going back when I just have time to kill.