Indie video games provide great adventures for little money

Indie video games provide great adventures for little money

by Max Saucedo

Every now and then, I find myself overwhelmed by the enormity of the AAA releases, especially this past winter season. Considering that my pores may be clogged from the excesses of excessive game consoles and FPS coming out of the woodworks from every possible direction, I decided to take a Steam bath. This consists of going onto your Steam account and buying indie games that are dirt cheap, and yet high quality. This week, I decided to review “American McGee’s Grimm,” which is available through Spicy Horse, and “Continue?9876543210.”

The Spicy Horse-developed “Grimm” has been available since 2008. However, this January, Spicy Horse bundled all three seasons of the game, totaling 23 fully-fledged episodes. At the outset, the cartoony animated style of American McGee’s previous work “Alice” is evident. The style is much more colorful and more suitable for a childlike perspective. Introduced immediately is the antihero Grimm, a short, stout, beastly little ghoul with a wicked sense of humor. Because of his nature, he decides to alter classic fairy tales to represent a more … grim outlook. Seeing as Disney and other movie companies have made a fortune taking these classic fairy tales and making them very happy and kid-friendly, “Grimm” represents a return to how these tales were originally told, which is to say rather gruesome.

The gameplay is frenetic, always giving you an objective that needs to be fulfilled. The main goal is to cover the entire scene of a certain fairy tale and make it more bleak and scary. By running across the scene, Grimm’s very presence causes this frightful transformation. Power-up bonuses such as the super butt stomp allow Grimm to spread his brand of fun across a larger area, while a speed-up bonus lets him cover more ground faster. While the gameplay remains very repetitive, allowing players to wreak havoc across 23 different fairy tales such as “Snow White” and “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” is oddly satisfying. Grimm provides a comic atmosphere, frequently verbally abusing both the other in-game NPCs and the player serving the heart and soul of the game. For a mere $10.00, players can enjoy the addictively amusing “Grimm.”

“Continue?9876543210” alternatively is a radical departure from the laughs and chuckles, and instead embraces its indie roots. Developed by Jason Oda, the blocky animation is reminiscent of “Minecraft,” while the gameplay reminds me more of a dungeon crawler. The opening cutscene shows you dying, as the game’s title “Continue?” counts down from nine. This image is something anyone who has dropped a quarter into an arcade machine or pressed start on a PC game can understand. Your character is dumped into the Random access memory, a form of purgatory for deceased gaming protagonists. Many of the characters have given up on living, and await their deletion. The protagonist, refusing to do so, embarks on a quest to stall for time while he tries to find an escape from deletion.

Armed with only a sword, you are able to destroy deletion bots that frequently attack you. Talking to people gives you hints for later on in the game when you are asked questions. I found myself for the first time actually taking notes and drawing a small map on a piece of paper beside me, and Jeezy Petes, when was the last time you did that for a game?

Each level is oddly put together, with multiple levels combined in a strangely perfect way. When you meet strangers you’re offered a choice: “my lightning” or “my prayer.” Prayers create shelters that provide the player a place to hide to avoid deletion, while lightning clears up blocked exits, allowing you to pass through to the next level. While you attempt to find more prayer or lightning opportunities, the chilling notes of a piano score haunt your every move, reminded you of your own impending deletion.

Occasionally you might find yourself facing deletion and must barter with whatever is in your inventory. If you don’t have anything, you’ll have to sacrifice one of your shelters, and holy Hideo Kojima is that a hard decision to make, knowing that you just selfishly offered up other programs for deletion so you could survive a few moments longer.

“Continue?” is a tale of despair, desperation and desolation. But and this may have been Oda’s point, in deletion, perhaps we can find some sense of understanding before we’re taken. For $9.99, I would say it’s a bargain deal for such a skillfully designed game.

Also read: ‘Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag’ is a mixed treasure bag

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