Indie Roundup: April 2018
Published on April 30, 2018
Welcome to the first installment of Indie Roundup! This story will feature quick previews of indie games that the viewport team had a chance to check out this month.
Disclaimer: All games in this article have been provided to viewport for free by the publishers.
Defend the Cake
Release Date: December 1, 2017
Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android (Played on Windows)
Developer/Publisher: Defend the Cake, LLC
Previewed by Albert
At first glance, Defend the Cake looks like your run of the mill maze-building tower defense game. Make towers. Fight enemies. Repeat. But what defines it are the unique limitations to how you build and manage your defenses. Unlike most games in the genre, Defend the Cake doesn’t let you directly upgrade your towers. Instead, the player must boost the abilities of their towers using workers.
Each tower has a unique ability when boosted such as increased fire fate, or the ability to fire a long-range artillery watermelon. Boosting a tower consumes a worker and puts them on cooldown until they can be used again. The number of workers you have in your resource pool depends on the level and must be strategically used as they are your only chance of defending your cake from the hordes of hungry insects.
Another feature thrown into the mix is that building walls and towers is limited to the planning stage before each wave. As with boosting towers, each planning stage only has a finite number of workers, limiting you to a certain amount of actions like clearing obstacles, or building walls and towers. This not only requires the player to plan for the short-term but also the long-term to ensure that their overall defense will be able to handle future waves. There are unique worm enemies that drop the “spice” resource which can be used to upgrade a tower permanently, but are scarce and choosing which tower to upgrade can be difficult. Even if you make it through the onslaught, each level ends with an optional “Score Attack” mode to survive as long as possible and compete against other players on the leaderboard.
Although not graphically flashy by any means, Defend the Cake is a short yet fun tower defense game that adds unique twists to the medium. Anyone with an appetite for tower defense games can’t go wrong with this sugar-filled entry. You can find the game on Steam, the Apple App Store, and the Google Play Store.
Release Date: April 27, 2018
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android (Played on Nintendo Switch)
Developer/Publisher: Roman Uhlig
Previewed by Tristan
12 orbits is a local multiplayer action game developed and published by Roman Uhlig. The controls are deceptively simple: each player has one button to press; controlling their comet-like character by dodging or orbiting around a multitude of circles that are scattered across the arena. Depending on the mode you are playing, you will be scrambling to claim circles, shoot goals, and grow your characters like a snake in either a deathmatch or team setting. The game does an excellent job of providing customization options and different maps to cater to every group and playstyle. Although the premise is straightforward, it becomes a competitive event with gratuitous amounts of shouting very quickly.
The key selling point of this game is that it supports between 2 to 12 players without extra controllers; the game can be played through the touch screen alone, but it can quickly get crowded. I played the game with six people split over three controllers and three people using the touchscreen. We had tons of room while playing and never had issues seeing the main screen. Although none of us had played the game before, we were able to pick it up within minutes and were soon having fun (mostly lots of friendly yelling).
The one thing our group had trouble with is keeping track of our colors during the game. Although it’s made very clear what color you are if you’re using the touchscreen, it gets confusing for those who are using controllers. In team matches, this got even more complicated as you need to remember your team color (which is different from your color), along with the other colors players that are on your team. This doesn’t detract much from the game, and actually adds a lot more fun due to the chaos it causes.
Overall, 12 orbits is a fun game to play with small or large groups when you don’t want to spend a long time setting things up and explaining the rules. Rounds are over quickly, people can hop in and out seamlessly and matches are fairly balanced. Add this to your list of party games if you’re looking for something new. 12 orbits recently released on the Switch Game Store; you can also find it on Steam, itch.io, the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Release Date: April 24, 2018 (Early Access)
Developer: Kyodai Ltd
Previewed by Tristan
Elea is an episodic first-person adventure game developed by Kyodai. You play as the titular Elea, a space scientist who is on a recovery mission to figure out what happened to her husband on a colonization expedition that occurred 13 years ago. To accomplish this, you must relive memories and solve puzzles in beautiful worlds.
The developers utilize the Unreal Engine to its fullest potential, creating environments and set pieces in the game are amazing to look at and walk around in. There’s heavy emphasis on exploration, as the game rarely tells you what to do. Although this is a great way to ensure that players are fully engrossed in the story and world, it sometimes led to frustration as the objectives were too vague and didn’t provide any helpful tips on what I should do next.
Where the game makes its mark is through its surreal method of storytelling. There are many dreamlike-sequences, absurd events, and intentional graphical glitches that make you question the sanity of Elea while going through her adventure. It’s not just the visuals, the team did a good job with the audio and music as well to keep the player immersed.
It’s exciting to see such an ambitious project from an indie studio: Elea features full-voice acting, sophisticated visual effects, and an intricate storyline. Although the game is in early access, the developers are in constant communication with the players to see how they can improve the experience. It’s refreshing to see such responsiveness and transparency from a developer team. I’m excited to see where the story will go over coming episodes. Elea is now available on Steam as an Early Access title.
If you are a developer/publisher and would like your game previewed by viewport, please reach out to Tristan (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details.