VGamingIndies: Vol 5
We don’t need to tell you that a lot of video games are 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’. 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.
Vol 5 is all about a cat that’s out for murder and a game we can’t believe hasn’t been made already! Click the buttons to jump to the game or carry on reading.
She Wants Me Dead
|Platform||Nintendo Switch, PS4, Android, iOS, PC|
Steam Link: https://store.steampowered.com/app/468310/She_Wants_Me_Dead/
|Developer||Hello There Games|
|Publisher||Red Deer Games|
|Positives||+ Super groovy theme|
+ Challenging level design
+Collectables to add (slightly more) longevity
|Negatives||– Incredibly short|
– No audio cues makes timing difficult
– Incredibly short
|Played by||Drew Sherratt|
I am a self-confessed lover of platform games – precision platform games, to be exact. I worship at the altar of Celeste and Super Meat Boy, so when Red Deer Games pumped out word of their newest release, She Wants Me Dead, I was all over it like a rash! It tells the tale of poor Max, a simple man who catches the ire of his psychotic cat, Lula, by accidentally nudging her out of bed, amongst other such trivial ‘crimes’.
First things first, the all-in-one main theme/level music/trailer song absolutely slaps. It’s super catchy and has a distinct groove that makes it one of my favourite pieces of gaming music this year; impressively, Hello There Games have managed to maintain its effectiveness by diluting the song (stripping out the vocals and then various other layers) the more you die, keeping it from getting overly repetitive. If the game were longer then it would need more meat on the audio-bone, but it works well for a title lasting only an hour for a first playthrough.
You’re charged with steering Max through ten levels strewn with whirring death blades, fireballs, axes and live electrical cables as Lula attempts to exact her revenge. You have five lives to get Max from one end of the level to the other, but you’ll get a couple of those refreshed as you pass through the various checkpoints. You’ll need plenty of lives too, because you’re likely to die a lot. Adding to the difficulty is the lack of audio cues for many of the obstacles which makes judging the timing particularly more difficult than I had imagined.
You’re rewarded with coins for overcoming each level which can be spent on various collectables that you can customise Max with; from new clothing to custom gravestones and respawn points, there’s a tonne of stuff to collect. Victory in each level also offers you a daft photograph of Lula, inspired by the millions of shameful photos we take of our pets every day – I found them all hilarious and thought they made a wonderful reward for beating a level. You’ll also earn a golden version of each picture if you complete a whole level without dying, which is much harder than it sounds!
Speed-runners will have a blast with this one, and She Wants Me Dead’s dedicated Time Attack mode will bring plenty of them to the door, I’m sure.
She Wants Me Dead is a concentrated precision platform experience that doesn’t take itself too seriously and wins as a result. My dash through the game was a fun-filled and blood-soaked affair, and despite taking me just an hour, chasing perfection will pose a significantly sterner challenge for those crazy enough to give it a try! With some genuinely tricky patches, the makings of a great soundtrack and swathes of collectable options, this is a game that could (and should!) easily be built upon into a much fuller experience.
|Platform||Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC|
Steam Link: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1955330/Save_Room__Organization_Puzzle/
|Positives||+ Nails the survival horror styling|
+ Super simple to understand
+ Clever take on an ancient format
|Negatives||– No touch controls|
– Limited variation once you learn the tricks
– Misses opportunities thematically
|Played by||Drew Sherratt|
Inventory management in games might be the bane of every player’s existence, but as a lover of all things survival horror, I fell in love with Save Room the minute I laid eyes on it. The concept is incredibly simple – fit all of the items given to you into the randomly shaped inventory you’re provided in order to continue, then rinse and repeat times forty levels.
What is, at its core, a simple ‘fit the shapes into the box’ puzzle game, Save Room manages to make this toddler’s game format fun by absolutely nailing the survival horror styling. You’re given weapons of various sizes -from pistols to rocket launchers- to fit into your inventory, along with ammunition and other Resident Evil staples like medicinal herbs.
There’s a few tricks to managing your load that will come naturally to survival horror veterans, but they still make for a fun time when you see them employed in a stand-alone game. Whether it’s combining herbs or stacking ammo, you’ll need every trick in the book to reach the end, though it won’t take you an especially long time, such is the simplicity of the gameplay. (I finished all 40 levels in under two hours, which included only a couple of head-scratching moments).
A noticeable oversight for the Nintendo Switch version would seem to be the lack of touch controls in handheld mode, the implementation of which would surely open up Save Room to the mobile market down the line. Additionally, only being able to rotate items with the ‘R’ button, and not being able to use ‘L’ to go the other way, seems rather silly too.
While I appreciate that Save Room was always designed to be a simple affair, I feel like it could, thematically, be so much more. With the introduction of simple scenarios, where a small script talks the player through the route they have to take, what enemies they might encounter and even what puzzle items they need to take with them, a ranking system could be introduced that could add a layer of complexity and replayability far beyond what is currently offered. I’m not griping, because what we’re offered is strangely enjoyable, but I do find myself lamenting the missed opportunity at something more grand.
Save Room cleverly takes one of the oldest games in existence and makes it relevant as a stand-alone idea again, albeit only briefly. While the actual inventory management in a survival horror game is a massive pain in the backside, Save Room capitalises on the satisfaction you feel when you finally squeeze in everything you need and it’s legitimately good fun while it lasts. Fractal Projects nail the theme by adding in some ammo-management and health tricks that we’ve all used over the years, but perhaps missed the opportunity to use scenarios to add some depth (or even plot) to the otherwise simple gameplay.