Steamroll: Multi Kung Fu Resonance
Now that the Steam Summer Sale has finally ended, the steady trickle of indie games has resumed. We’ve got games covering every corner this week: a Horde FPS, a kung-fu brawler, an old-school adventure game, and a co-op adventure RPG that reminds me of Diablo. Which of them are good and which of them should be overlooked? Read on!
Foreign Legion: Multi Massacre ($7, 300 MB): Fight wave after wave of blood-filled enemy troops with up to 3 other players online. Earn experience points, gain levels, and buy new weapons.
This looks, plays, and feels like a discount FPS. The characters’ movements are sluggish, the enemies mindlessly swarm you, and the gunplay just feels off. The worst part is realizing how many small cues are missing. Enemies don’t flinch when shot, making it hard to tell whether you’re hitting them. They don’t make any sounds unless they’re shooting you, which is problematic with the suicide bombers. The rocket launcher has no audio or visual cue to tell you when it’s reloaded, and it takes enemies a second to blow up after the rocket explodes, which just looks wrong. Between that and the lackluster combat, I was utterly bored of it within a half-hour. This isn’t worth your money; if you really want an online 4-player Horde mode game, pay $3 more and get Orion: Dino Beatdown instead.
Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior’s Rise ($10, 1 GB): A kung-fu brawler with co-op play and an art style reminiscent of Street Fighter 4.
Kung Fu Strike has good visual cues, decent controls, and a cel-shaded art style that looks amazing given the price of the game. It’s a brawler that feels like a modern arcade game, sending you against multiple waves of enemies of stages only a few minutes long. Taking on the groups of enemies felt like Arkham Asylum: enemies about to attack you would glow, giving you a chance to block them and leave them vulnerable to a punch/kick combo. Punch someone multiple times and they would block you, throwing up a Hold Punch prompt that eventually turned into a Kick prompt. Time it just right and you could break their block to wail on them. It kept the combat just interesting enough to keep me playing. Switching between punches and kicks was fluid, but I often found it difficult to immediately block when I was in the middle of kicking someone’s ass. I wish I could immediately interrupt an attack to block, but that might make the game too easy with the enemies’ telegraphed attacks.
What little story there is feels like an Asian B-movie, with the hero complaining about a dojo’s room names as the monks try to forcibly stop him from seeing their master, a stereotypical little old sensei with a big head. Rebels, gliding bomb bandits, and living statues also factor in somehow, with hints the hero is a lost son destined to retake an empire. What really stands out is the graphics, though: fans of Okami and Street Fighter 4 will recognize the ink-drawing style, and it really makes the world crisp and colorful.
I had a lot of fun playing this game, although the later stages required a few tries to get through; be sure to pick it up if you’re a fan of brawlers.
Resonance ($10, 470 MB): An adventure game where you control four people trying to stop dangerous research from falling into the wrong hands.
Now this is how an adventure game should be made: a story that instantly hooks you, twists and mysteries around every corner, and just enough tweaks to the basic gameplay to make it feel fresh. It starts with a paranoid call from a scientist, which leads to a terrifying escape from a monster, a city-wide blackout, a strange murder, and a race to stop a potential superweapon from falling into the wrong hands. The different characters you control weave in and out of each others’ stories, occasionally working together and using their different strengths to solve the puzzles in their path.
The other intriguing mechanic is the memory/inventory setup: you have Long-Term Memories, Short-Term Memories, and Inventory. Inventory stores items like you’d expect it to. Long-Term Memories hold important clues and events which you can use to solve puzzles, or discuss them with other characters for more clues. Finally, you can drag any object you can interact with into Short-Term Memories to ask someone else about it, either to get more information or their help overcoming it. It’s a great way of making the dialogue a puzzle, too.
Normally, I only play games for an hour for the Steamroll. I played this one for two hours to see what happens next, and had to rip myself away from it just to finish this article. Once this is posted, I’m going right back to it. Highly recommended. Check out our full review here.
Appendeum: Like I said, after I posted this, I spent the rest of the night finishing the game. And man, am I glad I did! This is a top-notch noir adventure that piles on twist after twist until it wrangles you into making one excruciating decision for an ending. $10 is a steal for this game; it’s worth at least twice that.
Wanderlust: Rebirth ($10, 20 MB): A co-op Diablo-esque game set in a bright world of small monsters trying to kill you.
After muddling my way through the single-player and multi-player modes for an hour, it felt like Diablo-lite set in the SNES era. At the start, you pick one of four classes. Then after a short tutorial, you’re tossed into the lobby to create or join a game. The game is divided into chapters, a series of battlefields and dungeons with an occasional town or side quest tossed in. Your party fights monsters, gathers crafting materials, and eventually confronts a boss. Once you beat the chapter, you distribute experience points between your skills and craft new equipment from the materials you gathered. Rinse and repeat.
Wanderlust seems intent on obscuring things from you. The camera is zoomed out so far you can barely keep track of your character. Enemies and allies are obscured by the BLOCK and CRITICAL icons that pop up during combat. The action is so hard to follow, I just resorted to button mashing my way to success. Even basic functions, like using the lobby or hosting a game, are explained vaguely. It feels mediocre and unoriginal at best, vague and mindless at worst. It’s not a horrible game, but I don’t see anything here worth recommending. Only buy it if you really want a cheap, sprite-based Diablo clone.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to playing Resonance. See you on the Steamroll next week!