In Darwinia you pitch up in a computer world under attack by a nasty red virus, and are tasked with helping its creator save the native Darwinians. It has strong RTS elements, but scales things down so you only control a few units, and increases your part in the action so that rather than just clicking your squad and clicking an enemy to get them to attack you directly control laser and grenade fire.
The prologue/tutorial is quite in-depth, introducing you to the various elements of the game, but I was somewhere towards the end of it when I had to shut down and couldn’t easily find a save option (might just be me, though). Next time I started it up the game crashed just after building a second unit (probably more to do with the crufty Windows install on the laptop than the game itself, it ran pretty smoothly with a couple of the options turned down), and with limited time I didn’t get back to it again. Still, from what I saw there’s plenty of game there for a most reasonable £5.99; it was released a couple of years back, and I remember PJ spoke most highly of it at the time. Another one I’m looking forward to returning to in a spare moment; an electronic thumb up, in between battling a virus.
Crayon Physics Deluxe does exactly what it says on the tin: you draw stuff with Crayons, it’s subject to Physics, and it’s Deluxe. The object is to navigate a red ball into a star, and the method is with whatever you can draw: weights, ropes, pivots, hatstands, marmots, members of Alec Douglas-Home’s 1963 cabinet…
It’s a very well realised game, technically ran absolutely fine on the laptop, but it never quite clicked for me. I think I have two main shortcomings: a lack of crayon-based physical imagination, and a lack of drawing ability (not that you need to produce masterpieces, but even my blocks and rectangles were a bit wonky), which results in a combination of not really being sure how best to approach a level, and then having some difficulty executing those plans I do come up with (I just can’t get Reginald Maudling’s hair right). Perhaps the mouse is a bit of an obstacle, and either an iPhone version or some sort of graphics tablet would work a bit better with the central drawing motif of the game. At £15.99 it’s pretty expensive for an indie game, I don’t think I’d personally be too tempted at full price. Overall, a slightly ropey crayon drawing of a horizontal thumb.
Due to the unseasonal clemency of the British summer I didn’t get a chance to fully explore several games of the pack, so a few fairly brief impressions: “Just like that, ahh.” “Oooh, Betty.” And now a few brief thoughts on the games: Mr Robot is a charming isometric puzzler that, at a dramatically lower resolution and with fewer and more garish colours, could be from the 8-bit era (in a good way; Knight Lore and Alien 8 are quoted as inspirations). You’re a little service droid on a spaceship where the humans are in cryogenic storage, overseen by HEL 9000 the central AI. I’ve only played the first few screens (HEL 9000 still appears to be in full possession of its electronic faculties, and I don’t think it would be a massive spoiler to predict that might not last too long) so can’t make any grand pronouncements, I haven’t even collected any party members or seen the “Ghost Hack” abstract RPG, but it’s definitely a game I’m looking forward to getting back to. It ran absolutely fine on the laptop, and £5.99 for the whole game seems most reasonable. A provisional robotic thumbs up.