Here’s an interesting idea: get some indie game developers, put their work in one collection, make distribution on a ‘pay what you want’ basis and then give most of the proceeds to charity.
Sound good? Well that is exactly what The Humble Indie Bundle is. With a new incarnation released every few months it is a brilliant way to explore what the independent community has to offer and see why it is the best place to look for affordable and genuinely interesting gaming.
Here are a couple of highlights from one of the more recent collections.
First up we have the ominously titled And Yet It Moves. With a name that sounds like a bad monster movie it might be surprising to see that the game initially appears to be a rather generic platformer. You play as a paper cut out of a man traversing across a world that looks suspiciously like a collage. At first all you have to do is jump across the gaps and move to the right. Then there appears that first wall that you can’t jump over.
That’s when you take advantage of the game’s main mechanic; the ability to rotate the world to create new routes through it. That wall becomes a floor and a new platform to jump from. It creates an opening for some entertainingly disorientating physics puzzles based upon changing the centre of gravity; moving boulders from place to place while staying on your own precarious ledge.
Apart from some vaguely unresponsive controls it’s an experience that is definitely worth checking out.
Cogs is more straightforward. Each level is based on one of those old slide puzzles where you moved tiles to reveal a picture.
The objective of each level is to move different parts, cogs or pipes carrying steam for example, to achieve a particular effect like starting a piece of clockwork or filling a balloon. With several puzzles requiring you to work around cubes and other 3-D shapes, it’s commendable that the developers have been able to create so much variety from a relatively simple base.
Finally there’s the fiendish VVVVVV. You play Captain Viridian, a little green man whose space ship has crashed in another dimension. His mission: to find the rest of his crew in a surreal 8-bit world. Being unable to jump, your one way of getting across the many gaps is by flipping gravity and suddenly finding yourself on the ceiling.
Although the game can get frustrating (hazards are often fast moving and unpredictable), there are plenty of checkpoints and it harks back to an era where a game’s fun is derived from its difficulty and isn’t hindered by it. Plus that soundtrack won’t be getting out of your head for a long time after playing.
Whenever a Humble Indie Bundle comes along it’s definitely something to look out for. Not just because the money goes to charity but because the games that it comes out with are some of the most inventive in the market at the moment.