With so many bundle sites online, Groupees has definitely managed to find itself a niche via a set of ‘Build’ bundles. Groupee packs allow you to freely pick and choose which games you wish to buy and support and which games you don’t want to. It has also managed to find a niche with its own Greenlight spotlights, showcasing obscure and lesser-known titles that haven’t yet made it onto Steam.
Previously, the packs have showcased all sorts of titles that have since made it onto Steam, including the likes of La-Mulana, Eryi’s Action, Frozen Hearth and many more. Groupee bundles feature titles that have since made it onto Steam successfully, but also others still waiting in the shadow for one reason or another. Whatever the case is, each pack tends to really surprise and excite with its potential.
Enough of me blathering away, the games here are, as mentioned, part of a ‘Pick what you want’ pack where the minimum price increases as more games are selected. The minimum you’re allowed is four titles, going at a tiny $1 pricepoint, with the full eight for $2. Right from the get go, I will recommend picking up the pack. Why? Even if I may not enjoy some of the titles, I still feel I should support these ventures, helping to push and create new developers and IPs being a good thing in my mind, regardless if they work well or not. The pack can be found here (http://groupees.com/bagb6).
Onto the games, though…
First up is a game I covered once before during the GEEK2014 event, Timmy Bibbles Friendship Club. This is a multiplayer arena-battle game where you play as one of four creations, each battling to become the top friend. Since I last saw the game, there have been a few changes. The UI and menus are upgraded for ease of use and there seems to be more multiplayer mode-types than before. Just like the last time, however, the game happens to still be incredibly good fun as matches and games are fast and frantic, the controls slick and responsive and the whole feel of the game really is pure fun. However, my points still stick from last time. It does feel like a game that would be more at home on a console and I do worry that, unless any significant single-player content is added, this game could get completely lost and ignored like other indie multiplayer titles.
Second on the list is the Steampunk Shu’mp by the name of ‘Steam and Metal’, a refugee from the Xbox Indie Games service wasteland. On first play, the game does give off mostly a good impression. The action is fast and frantic, bullets and enemies pop out well and there’s never any real confusion as to where hitboxes are located. The difficulty level is also set really well thanks to an easily scalable difficulty, as well as giving the player lifepoint in addition to the usual set of lives (rather than using a 1 hit = 1 life gone mechanic that most shu’mps tend to utilize). The game does sometimes feel a little drab in areas, bosses are not exactly very memorable and the levels never really manage to excite, thanks to them following a mostly formulaic level-set (grassy area, ice area etc). Still, the game is very fun and with some minor polish, it could be brilliant.
The third game is the more casual ‘Tales of the Orient: The Rising Sun’, a match-game with an oriental theme. Gameplay itself is mostly simple and seems to borrow much from every match-style game going. It offers a basic ‘build’ system where you can build buildings and the like using resources gained from the main game, something already covered by the likes of ‘Cradle of Rome’. The other area it covers is using a very Candy-Crush esque level progression set where, unless you pick casual mode, you only get a limited set of moves to finish each level. Unlike the likes of Candy Crush however, it offers a large variety of match-types, letting users choose from traditional ‘swap’ matching, matching in connecting sets and others. Overall it does feel like it is trying to ape already established titles, the Oriental theme thankfully helps give some uniqueness to it all, but while it can indeed be fun at points, its a little bit of a hard sell to anyone who isn’t interested in casual fare.
Another Match-3 title comes in the form of ‘Loot Hunter’, a pirate themed game which borrows rather heavily from the likes of Puzzle Quest where battles take place through matching tiles. It definitely does have some charm, racing the ship about and taking on all-comers can be amusing… unfortunately the game does feel very lacking in shine, battles don’t exactly have a sense of urgency about them like Puzzle Quest, there isn’t a massive amount of things to do and the game does rather chuck you into everything a bit fast with very little explanation, bar some small text boxes right at the beginning.
Over to ‘The Lady’ now and unfortunately it’s a game I could not take any shine to whatsoever. The graphics themselves happen to be nicely spooky and weird, but outside of that there’s very little to see. The gameplay itself feels incredibly limited and weak while the ‘story’ or ‘message’ is completely lost amid a series of mind-screw imagery and odd design-choices.
Another more ‘art and story’ based title comes in the form of ‘Agapan’, an RPG-maker title that tells a tale about an adopted son off to meet a mystery grandmother, searching through a foggy town with many secrets. Its definitely a pretty game, everything is put together nicely and, at times, gives a great eerie feeling. It can be a little hard to get into though, a lengthy intro featuring a large heap of unskippable text not exactly helping matters much. Get past that however, and you’ll find a nicely put together tale that’s worth playing for anyone wanting something with a bit more plot behind it.
Onto something a bit more light-hearted in ‘Magic Meisters’, a third-person action/rpg hybrid that, for some reason, instantly reminds me of a lot of cutesey Korean MMOs thanks to an overload of wide-eyed anime stylings. Unfortunately, it’s a bit downhill from there, thanks to a barrage of issues ranging from unclear and awkward controls, limited customization options, muted music and a camera that feels clumsy (among other things). It’s a real shame as, from first looks, it does look nice but there are too many issues floating around.
Last, but not least, we have ‘Towers of Altrac’, a fantasy themed tower defence game that, right from the get-go, manages to impress with a great amount of scope. The large amount of towers, enemies and defense options make for an incredibly detailed game. The graphics are also quite pretty for the most part, with effects giving off impressive pops, and enemies and towers managing to look great while still managing to keep a sense of individuality to avoid confusion. Overall, it is a very good tower defence title. But, of course, if tower defence is not your thing, there’s very little here to convert you. Also, it’s not exactly the most newbie friendly title either, as the game gets tough pretty quickly. Of course, that can also be a positive if you are a hardcore tower-defense fan as there’s plenty to get stuck into here.