VGamingIndies: Vol 2
We don’t need to tell you that there are a lot of video games being released every week and a lot of games simply go under the radar. Indie games in particular are often developed by small teams, usually without a billion dollar corporation behind them and they don’t have a chance to shine.
VGamingIndies gives us a chance to talk about some of those smaller titles that we’ve played recently. We’re not scoring these games like we would if it was a ‘full review’ as an arbitrary number isn’t always the best approach, especially with Indie games. Instead, we’re just laying out what we liked, what we thought didn’t work so well and leaving the choice up to you.
For Vol 2. we take a look at a couple of short and snappy puzzle games, one released recently in the form of Blow & Fly, and one that we’ve been trying to talk about for ages – Donut County.
Blow & Fly
|Positives||+ Simple puzzle game|
+ Testing levels later in the game
+ Charming art style
|Negatives||– Controls unforgiving and unbalanced|
– No variety in powerups
– Designed for trophy/achievement hunters
Blow & Fly is the latest puzzle game from the folks at eastasiasoft. You take on the role of a blowfish who has been let out of the aquarium and is on a quest to return to the sea. This is a physics-based puzzler that requires you to move and aim the blowfish through levels littered with obstacles in an effort to reach the toilet at the end of the stage.
By rolling and aiming, the fish can propel itself through one of seventy levels. Helping our little round guy out are various springs which launch you through the air, as well as gravity pads that give an extra squirt. This is wrapped up in a neat visual little package; the pufferfish is suitably cartoony in appearance and fits in with the environments. It’s rather simplistic and is nothing that will blow your mind, but it is a charming game.
The downside comes in the form of the control set up. Tying to aim while on the move is never going to be easy, especially when you have to avoid spikes and other nasty obstacles. Pin point accuracy is required but often the fish would slip just a little and it was enough to throw me into a spike. When I thought I got the hang of how far away to land the fish, the game would tighten up and my jump would be too short. Thankfully restarts are quick but having an inconsistent control scheme is rather annoying.
The biggest flaw with Blow & Fly comes in the form of trophy hunting. Much like our review of Rift Racoon, eastasiasoft have decided to load all of the trophies within the first few levels once again. Once these have been collected, for some players there is no further incentive to carry on with the game. I understand there are two types of people that will buy the game: those who love trophy hunting, and those looking for a new puzzle game. But drip-feeding out the achievements and trophies would have been a nice incentive to push more people to experience the rest of the game, especially as it gets a lot tougher.
Blow & Fly has a straightforward premise, and an art style that is surprisingly nice to look at. Some of the later levels can get frustratingly tough as pin-point precision is needed and it’s a shame that all of the game’s achievements are front-loaded, as offering an incentive to stick with Blow & Fly a little longer would give it a little more credibility.
|Positives||+ Crazy premise|
+ Simple enough controls
+ Hilarious scripting
|Negatives||– Way too short|
– Pricey when not on sale
– Minimal collectables
Donut County is one of those titles that seems to always be on sale, and for relatively cheap. It was initially released in 2018; created by one-man developer Ben Esposito, who recently launched Neon White with publisher Annapurna Interactive.
It stars a pesky raccoon known as BK who has set up a shop selling tasty treats in the titular town of Donut County. The problem is that BK has confused the round pastry snack with sinkholes, so has been unwittingly sending his customers and their properties to the centre of the Earth. Instead of fixing the problem, BK doubles down, sending more unwitting customers to the depths below. This is where I came in… playing as the hole itself, swallowing everything in my path. Move around the levels, gobbling up the environment means the hole gets bigger as the entire town is eventually enveloped.
It’s a wacky premise to be sure, but the plot of Donut County shines in between the handful of levels. BK’s human assistant, Mira, sets about trying to rectify the catastrophic damage and educate BK in the error of his ways. It’s here that the script really excels as BK takes everything on the chin, often with a ‘lol’. As the story develops it becomes clear that there is some heart in our destructive trash panda.
The game only lasts a couple of hours and is best played over the course of a Sunday morning. I’ve not experienced a plot that had me in stitches from the get-go and held my attention throughout the entirety of the game in a long time. I realised just how many problems can be solved by sending an ever growing vortex to gobble up the issues.
Donut County is frequently on offer somewhere, and is worth taking a dive. It’s one of the best short games I’ve played in a while and despite this, I can see myself coming back to it over and over again. It is well recommended despite its short run time.