This Week I’ve Mostly Playing…Indie Demo Goodness

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This week I have been mostly playing…

I have been playing other things since my previous “This week”. A lot of things in fact, all full of numbers – Fallout 3, Left 4 Dead, Civilization 4, Dawn of War 2, and other sequels like Pokemon Mystery Dungeon 2, Empire: Total War and Max Payne 2…but enough of all those. I’ve got various posts in the works for most of them. πŸ™‚

I’d like to otherwise briefly look at two indie games I’ve played the past week – Depths of Peril and Mount&Blade – both demos at the moment, my time before GDC is so limited I’d not have time for the full games yet!

Depths of Peril

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My first character! Andre!

Depths of Peril is a hack-and-slash RPG game – you get a character, upgrade hitpoints and skills by leveling up (by defeating monsters or completing quests). The great part about it is the AI interactions – you can have a cohort, but the interesting part is you are actually manning a guild – and there are other AI run guilds, who do the same things you can do – attack each other, make peace, trade, and so forth. All to rule the town your guild is in! It’s pretty interesting to see it unfold – all in real time.

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Your guild – protect the crystal at all costs.

I might well pick it up just for this section of the game. The actual combat and loot finding is pretty random, Diablo-like, and not really too great for me (dying against the tougher monsters is common – at least the death penalty isn’t too high, it just makes it easier to destroy your life crystal which, if that dies, does end the game).

Certainly well put together, and the modding side of it looks like it has some fun stuff in too. I’ll likely get this and enjoy it after GDC! πŸ™‚ Well worth trying the demo – which is on Steam if you have that installed anyway. Some more screenshots here.

Mount&Blade

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Go farmers! Kill kill kill!

Mount&Blade is best put as a medieval-world-set adventure game. What drew me to it is, apart from Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s coverage of it (which also a bit inspired me with Depths of Peril, except I followed the designer’s site for ages without playing it once, bad blog reader!), is the various bits of coverage it got for being a 2 person project and still coming out with some good, fun gameplay – and the competent overland and battle AI, which allowed really really large melee fights. Woo!

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Overland map…

The graphics are actually quite good considering the breadth of animations needed and world types catered for (forests, farmland, icy forests, icy farmland, castles, towns, villages…). Certainly doesn’t detract from it – charging around on a horse randomly hitting bandits is damn fun. The third person view helps with horseback combat too! There was also arena combat which I frankly love – although the combat is sometimes clunky, the AI is pretty competent, and kicked my ass sometimes – but I did become victorious in the tournament I did! (After some very long horse battles!). I didn’t enjoy any time I had with a bow – need some real practice at it and it takes forever to kill anything, although the AI is good at it except if I strafe. πŸ™‚

For my playthrough I got really in a rut of not really knowing how to complete quests (or really fight) and thus losing much in the way of money, and really anything of value. I decided to then just do some looting (yes you can be a real bastard!), grab the attention of the local lords, and then attack his castle and main force.

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The enemy!

I did however at least go down in a blaze of glory! You can’t die, which is a nice touch, but my reign as the scourge of some orange guys was at an end.

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My head on the ground!

The demo allows you to go to level 7 (not sure what the max is, but I suspect much higher), well worth a try – it’s also a nice “tutorial” – the game’s tutorials allow you to see the mechanics of combat a bit, but playing it really brings out the nuances (having your own cohorts for instance, traversing the map, quests!). Worth a try! I think I’ll be getting this after GDC, and there are tons of mods for it too.