The Indie Review - Yeti Hunter
Yeti Hunter is a new game from Vlambeer. There is no backstory - you wake up in a pool of blood (we don’t know who’s) in the middle of a forest, with only a rifle and (presumably) the urge to kill a Yeti. Where you go from there is up to you. Although wanting to kill Yeti is kind of assumed.
It’s just as well that the story isn’t really the game’s main selling point because where Yeti Hunter really excels is in the way it is presented. Graphically it is simple with the world made up of shades of white, black and blue. Snow falls from the sky and trees and bushes appear in all their 8 bit glory. It reminded me of being in a flickering cine film, reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project or some kind of secret Russian army training video. I could almost hear the projector whirring. It is an amazingly atmospheric experience, you will feel like you’re in a documentary, blundering around the snowy landscape desperately scanning the hazy horizon for a trace of your elusive prey. And this atmosphere is only enhanced by the music. Haunting, sparse and tense it compliments the graphics perfectly and helps to create a wonderfully believable world – which is some achievement when you consider the crudity of the elements which make it up. There is a genuine sense of dread as you creep through the forest. When night falls it is tempting just to run up the nearest tree and sit there, quivering, till morning.
However the game itself, sadly, is quite thin. I spent about an hour and a half running about and I think I saw a Yeti once, but by the time I got my gun ready it had disappeared. It is unclear whether killing a Yeti is even actually possible - and if anybody manages it then be sure to let us know. It is also difficult to avoid climbing trees, and I couldn’t find a way to descend them afterwards – which meant I was forced to restart the game. Of course, this is possibly some kind of failure on my part but it’s not mentioned in what instructions are available, so I was left frantically trying every key combination to no avail.
The thing is, I feel that even mentioning such problems is being somewhat churlish.Yeti Hunter provides an experience, however shallow, that is different to everything else. It is a great example of an indie game. There are no expectations, it’s not polished, there’s no plot beyond having it in for Yeti - but none of that matters. It’s worth downloading this game (for nothing, don’t forget) just to see the way that the developer combines simple elements to create something that is really quite special. It may not divert you for long but that isn’t really the point.
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Although Spelunky was nominated in three categories at this year’s IGF awards it was actually first released in 2009. The game is simple and traditional - collect treasure and explore caves whilst avoiding the many (lethal) dangers. You can rescue damsels in distress, grab gold and beat up cavemen, spiders and snakes - all while looking a bit like Indiana Jones. There are ropes and bombs to clear difficult obstacles and the levels are randomly generated each time you play - so no two games are ever the same. I have vague memories of playing something like this in an arcade in Spain circa 1987 so, if you are one of those people who regularly bore your friends about how great games used to be then this is one for you.
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NEO Scavenger is a turn & hex-based survival simulator which you can play in your browser. It is being developed by Blue Bottle games, led by Daniel Fedor who previously worked for Bioware. A demo is available for free on their website and there is also a closed beta version for people who support the project by pre-ordering the game. The demo starts with the player waking up in a cryo storage chamber, and (hopefully) escaping into a randomly generated post-apocalyptic environment, where even staying alive is a challenge. Go to the website, play the demo and, if you like it, give the nice man your money. Then sit back and enjoy the glow of helping somebody do something they quite clearly love.
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Cost:The demo is free. Pre-orders start at $10.
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