Archive for the ‘editor’s choice’ Category

Immortal Defense Review

November 19, 2008

Studio Eres’ Immortal Defense has one of the weirdest most preposterous stories I’ve come across in a videogame: You are a hero who has left their body – becoming some ethereal being in pathspace where you can blast space ships out of the sky with your emotions. This unique story embodies what indie games are about and solidifies itself with solid gameplay.

Gameplay: 9.5/10
Immortal Defense, in essence, is a tower defense game. You don’t build towers, but you do set emotion points which blast enemy orb-brains and other odd looking enemies. There are a ton of levels and a fantastic variety of “points” that keep things interesting and new throughout the game. I really like, that your cursor itself is a weapon and hovering it near any enemy will start it blasting – you can even charge up special attacks. This makes the levels feel a lot more arcadey and action oriented than simply building towers and watching them do all the work.

Despite the weird sci-fi premise, the story is very well written and touches on some pretty substantial themes. There’s too many metaphors in it to get into in a review, but trust me when I say that the text in this game is worth reading.

Graphics: 8.5/10
The graphics are definitely the weakest aspect of Immortal Defense. The biggest problem for me is the complete lack of variety when it comes to level appearance. Basically all the levels feature a dark spacey background with some white paths drawn on it. While this fits in with the story, I couldn’t help but wish for some abstract paintings, weird animated background or the like. The graphics themselves are all pretty simple. The special effects that permeate the entire gameplay space is what really saves the graphical experience of the game and makes it feel less cheap and more ethereal and supernatural.

Sound/Music: 9/10
The music is stellar and Walter Eres and Long Dao should be complemented for the soundtrack which really exemplifies the mood of the game and story. The sound effects are fine, but nothing really extraordinary. While the writing is superb, I do wish that Immortal Defense had voicework or a narrator for the story…maybe that’s greedy but it would’ve been sweet.

Lasting Appeal: 9/10
There are 10 difficulty levels and over 90 levels. More important is the fact that strategy is actually needed to plan and beat many of the later levels. Add to this a compelling… if completely out there story… and you have a game that certainly is worth it’s price tag.

Average: 90%
Tilt: +/- 0.00%

The bottom-line is that Immortal Defense is a very polished and unique tower-defense strategy game. The controls are intuitive and its easy to pick up and play. The supernatural / sci-fi story line may not be for everyone – but the game expertly weaves all of the elements: the story, gameplay, graphics and soundtrack into an artistic experience rather than just a game. The creativity and art that permeates through Immortal Defense is what makes it great- not the game itself.

Verdict: 90%

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World of Goo Review

October 18, 2008

World of Goo is the first game from Indie Game Studio, 2D Boy. Founded by Kyle Gabler and Ron Carmel, 2D Boy’s goal (according to their website) is to “make games that everyone can play, with gameplay nobody has seen before.” Well, they have certainly met this goal with World of Goo. World of Goo is hard to pigeon hole into one game genre. I guess if I had to label it I would describe it as a goo-construction physics puzzle action game. Basically, you drag and drop goo balls to build towers, bridges etc. towards a vacuum pipe that sucks up all the remaining goos. The game is definitely out there and utterly unique, but it’s also incredibly sublime.

Gameplay: 10/10
Pros: The gameplay is unlike any other game out there. It’s sort of like building with K’nex…except their goo balls with little personalities. Each level poses a brand new challenge and the game controls are pretty basic (drag & click). The game introduces new goos at a great pace which helps keep the puzzles and goo building fresh. There’s sort of a story and its interestingly told.
Cons: The game is over too fast, but great games always are. Large goo structures can be tricky to build and frustrating tip over…but the limited level skips are always enough to keep you moving along the campaign.

Graphics: 10/10
Pros: The art style is probably the best thing about the game. It is very odd…especially the cutscenes and some of the level pieces (Girl Goo Heads, Wacky Hands, Creepy Robot Heads, etc) but utterly charming. The game’s first chapter is very clean and colorful…but as the game progresses the art style starts permeating through and gets weirder and weirder along with the wacky story. All this oddity is a good thing though. The visuals never get boring and the presentation and execution is excellent.


Sound/Music: 10/10
Pros: The music perfectly fits the art style and mood, but what really makes the games auditory experience so excellent are the sound effects. Goo giggles, mumbles gibberish, inflates, etc. and the People of World of Goo speak emphatic gibberish as well…but all along the way convey emotion. That coupled with the sheer humor of the it all makes it incredibly enjoyable.


Lasting Appeal: 8/10
Pros: There are 5 Chapters and an Epilogue, with each world having a decent number of levels (~10) but when a game is this enjoyable and completely lacks tedium you always want more. The Global Ranking score system add replayability and the meta game of using extra goo to build the tallest tower also adds longevity to the title.
Cons: Ultimately the game can be beaten over a weekend and every level played.

Average: 95.00%
Tilt: +2.00%

What it comes down to is that World of Goo is one of the finest and most original games I have played in recent years. It may not be the longest experience, but much like XBLA’s Braid, Goo maintains an interest and high quality throughout every level of the game. The game is a fantastic experience that will be thoroughly enjoyed, but then you can move on. This approach to indie games is excellent because ultimately and indie studio cannot compete with the longevity of a commercial studio game. This is what they do best – Wow you with originality, art style and uniqueness and offer you a fantastic experience for the fraction of the price of a full scale commercial title. World of Goo is an exceptional game at an exceptional price. There’s really no excuse not to experience the creativity, art, and fun that permeates this game.

Verdict: 97%