I bought the Humble Indie Bundle 11 and even so I already had FEZ and Monaco, it contained other games I was eager to try. Specially, I was looking forward to Guacamelee and Giana Sisters, and only having heard of Dust and The Swapper.
I finished 2 games already and these are my thoughts on each of them.
The first game I played was Guacamelee. I’ve been reading good things about the game and expected it to be wonderful. And it was. Not only were the art and music great, but also the dialogues as well. It was funny and full of references (I certainly didn’t expect the Journey reference while climbing the last temple).
Regarding the mechanics, I was pleased to find a game where every single attack was useful and lured me to try new combos, luchador style. Not only the moves could be used to attack, they also allowed the exploration of the world.
The difficulty of the game was overall OK, with the El Infierno challenges being probably the things I spent most of my sanity over (all gold medals unlocked, like a boss :D).
The second game I finished was Dust: An Elysian Tale. Originally, I started playing it along Guacamelee, but dropped it after being taken over by the mexican fever. I did play a couple of hours before pausing, and boy it felt weird playing it after spending more than 12 hours being a luchador. Even though the two games could seem similar (partly action games), they’re pretty different games. But I’ll get there in a minute.
I loved Dust. It had everything: a pretty good story (not the best, but it got me interested), nice art (animations and sprites were just fantastic, although I didn’t like that from the villain), good soundtrack and, in particular, solid gameplay and audio.
Dialogue was more than often cliché but I liked it, specially with the over-the-top voiceover. The game would’ve been not so great if it had been completely text-based.
The RPG elements were standard, and many of the items were unnecessary. I know it’s an RPG and it’s typical to find new swords and stuff around every corner, but Dust is about 14 hours long (with almost all secrets unlocked) and, specially, it’s 1) an indie game, 2) an Action RPG.
And the combat part of the gameplay was spectacular. It was fluid and make me felt powerful. It was like Devil May Cry, but in 2D. When exploring, the game is true to the Metroidvania genre. And finally, the game is reminiscent of one of my favorite JRPGs: Tales of Symphonia. The dialogues and general feeling of the game reminded me of it, and while I couldn’t find it mentioned as an influence (here in the post mortem), I felt its vibe.
However, I must mention that Guacamelee and Dust are two very different games. Yes, one is an action platformer and the other is an action RPG, but I’m not mention that. I’m pointing out the pace and mechanics of each game. While in Guacamelee every new move was useful to fight and explore, in Dust new abilities are merely new exploration tools. Dust is more focused on the stats and story attributes, rather than the fighting system. Yes, the fighting effects and the fluidity in Dust are amazing, but it’s always the same moves over and over again. Fighting is but a tool to progress in the story.
Guacamelee is more of a fight-oriented game, clearly with an emphasis in combos. Dust is more a narrative-oriented game, with a more complex story and focus in the exploration.
Both are great indie games that stand as role models for the community. Truly wonderful games, I hope to be able to play more games like those more often. My kudos goes to Dean Dodrill, the creator of Dust, who managed to develop an awesome and polished game as he learned to work with XNA. Again, here’s the link to the post mortem of Dust.
P.S.: I also bought Vanguard Princess. WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY. The game’s pretty lame and poorly completed. Great screenshots and videos, but it’s all a coverup for one of the worst games ever.