Fans of the Humble Indie Bundle as well as indie digital distribution platform Desura will know of the Indie Royale Bundle the set minimum price pay-what-you-want bundle that set the indie world on fire akin to the first Humble Indie Bundle. Selling about 70,000 bundles (350,000 games with 5 games in each bundle), the developers pushed some fairly known and other little known games both recent and old back into the limelight. This obviously had its own brand of little technical hiccups such as Steam keys not being generated for most of the bundles initially as well as the servers being swamped with connection requests that resulted in many people missing that key minimum price at the start of the bundle (it starts with a price of $2.99).
In lieu of this smoldering server scrape, the makers of the Bundle have come up with a preorder model for those who are impatient and really want to get their paws on the great deal (It also works well for those of us who will not be near an internet device when the bundle launches to get the minimum price). You can preorder the next bundle here for $3.99, but you will not know the contents of the bundle until the minute of release.
While this sounds like a pretty decent deal (being just $1 dearer than the launch minimum), the fact that you will not know the what games are part of the bundle is rather silly. Sure, it seems like a sweet gift that you gave yourself a few days ago when it contains 5 hitherto unknown games (to you, at least), but if it contains 5 games which you have purchased on other platforms, it does seem rather silly. On top of that, the only guaranteed OS that these games will run is Windows, with some games having Mac/Linux support and some without.
Nevertheless, I am always up for indie games so I did put in that preorder. Tell us what you think in the comments!
For me, any game that deals with memory and personality always has echoes of Planescape: Torment washing over it like a cool summer’s wave on a calm beach. It’s funny how a piece of art from 1999 keeps casting its shadow (visible or not) in many games of today, especially when it casts an invisible shadow over a game of a different genre set far in the future. Yet the lo-fi graphics on both the games form shimmering tendrils that are *known* to me.
Gemini Rue is a lovingly crafted point n’ click adventure game from Wadjet Eye Studios that combines the brilliance of Blade Runner to the anxious urgency of Beneath a Steel Sky. It’s a throwback to the days of adventure games that one played for cleverly constructed puzzles as well as an immersive story that is both atmospheric and surreal at the same time.
And boy does Gemini Rue have atmosphere. Even with its pixelated stylized lo-fi graphics, the game oozes atmosphere right from the start. Baraccus’ dimly lit streets with flickering lights seem even more subdued under the constant rain that envelops the city, and the faintly heard refrain of a saxophone in the background only serves to enrich the fertile atmosphere and remind one of Blade Runner which no doubt served as an inspiration for this game. While I cannot say much about the story for even the most minor telling might spoilt the adventure, I can wax lyrical about the noir atmosphere that has been so effectively designed in the game.
You play alternatively as Azriel Odin, an assassin-turned-policeman searching for his brother on the planet of Baraccus, and a patient designated Delta-Six on a mysterious testing facility where memory wipes and betrayals run amok. For most of the game you can switch between these two characters and complete their puzzles individually. As Azriel, you will engage against the semi-legitimate crime syndicate of the Boryokudan, (a reference no doubt to the Yakuza crime syndicate of Japan that is designated as boryokudan(violence group) by the Japanese police) who have the information on his brother, while Delta-Six trains with weapons and hatches plots for his escape from the facility. Later on you get to play other characters as well. The puzzles, for the most part, are quite simple; yet some of them are either rather mundane or something you would not think about until you replay it several times. Combat, as with many games of its kind, is rather silly and sometimes non-responsive. Thankfully combat is not very frequent in the game and the handy auto-save feature helps immensely in these cases. At some places the story does get a little oratorical and high-handed with its philosophical questions that relate memory, experience and consciousness. It’s a precarious perch, no doubt, from where the game sermons on you on these matters and at times does feel a little overdone. Nevertheless the story otherwise is magnificent and the voice acting is excellent for an indie game.
The game is spectacular, and has brilliant references to other SciFi noir culture gems such as Blade Runner (with the give me a hard copyachievement) as well as cameos from Cowboy Bebop. This is a must-play for any adventure game fan as well as those who would like to sit back and relax on a rainy Saturday evening with a cup of hot coffee by their side. Buy it.
Quirkypricing is obviously a commonplace phenomenon with indie games as a lot of them want great sales without selling their game for $0 and it is great exposure when your game is bundled along with heavy hitters of the indie scene. There’s also the question of alpha funding for many games (Project Zomboid comes to mind) (I jest) and these quirkily priced bundles are an excellent way to get some money before your game is finished. Wolfire Games’ initiative the widely known Humble Indie Bundle was one of the first game bundles to offer a unique Pay-What-You-Want scheme for buying a bunch of incredible games. Indiegames.com and indie digital distributor Desura took this idea a little further with their recently released Indie Royale Bundle.
What is so unique about the Indie Royale Bundle? Straight from their mouths:-
[From a starting point of $1.99 for the first bundle], Indie Royale uses a unique new pricing mechanism. The total cost for the four-game bundle (which are worth over if $40 purchased separately) gradually increases as more bundles are bought, with early adopters guaranteed the best deals, and prices remaining competitive throughout.
There’s also a brilliant method that entices Samaritans who wish to help both the developers as well as other customers; if you buy the bundle at a higher price (say $50) then the effective price of the bundle comes down a few points:-
â€¦those who choose to pay more than the current cost to support the indie developers and the people behind the bundle will appear on the front page of Indie Royale as part of a special section, with their name and URL called out specifically. In the process, they will drop the price of the game bundle for everyone else anywhere from several cents to multiple dollars! This pricing methodology will likely spawn unpredictable but entertaining results, and the creators of Indie Royale are looking forward to seeing the pricing trends that result.
The current bundle includes A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda, Nimbus, Gemini Rue and Sanctum. Gemini Rue is supposedly an excellent point-and-click game that I am yet to play and since I have bought the bundle you may see a review of it soon enough! Moreover, new bundles will be released in a few days with different combinations of games to have fun with.
As an addendum: the site works well with Indian debit cards! My purchase went through without routing over to VbV and I was the happy owner of four fun indie games.