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DLC Quest

A roundup of Indie Games by ValkyrDeath
Reviewed 2014

DLC Quest’s quite fun to begin
By the end the jokes wearing thin
The first part is quite good
But the second’s a dud
All that backtracking should be a sin.

DLC Quest Next Gen pack
'Real is brown' pretty much sums up modern gaming trends.

DLC Quest is a piece of gaming satire posing as a simple platform game. Its main target is, as you'd expect, the modern trend for fleecing money out of people with endless overpriced downloadable content packs. It turns this into a game mechanic by having you collect coins in the game and using them to unlock features in the game. To start with, the game has no animations or sound and your character can't even move to the left until you've reached a shop to purchase the DLC to add these features. While that's taking the idea of DLC to a (depressingly believable) extreme, it takes on the feat in which DLC is already abused, from endless grind that would take hours unless you purchase something to skip it, to Oblivion's infamously useless Horse Armour.

The game mostly gets away with doing these things by having turned it into a game mechanic. You're not paying real money for these features, your collecting coins to unlock features and skills, which is a perfectly good concept. So while it's sending up the idea of, for example, having to pay for a weapon needed to get through an area, you're only actually playing the game to get it. The gameplay itself is fairly straightforward but it works well enough. The platforming isn’t too challenging in general but it’s there more to support the humour.

DLC Quest Advert
At least it's not Airwaves.

It's not always so successful at avoiding falling into the traps of the games it's targeting though. Games that constantly send you back through the same areas to fetch things deserve to be mocked but making me do the same repeatedly in this game in order to make a joke about it doesn't lessen the irritation. It does mostly manage to raise a few smiles though, with options such as a modern graphics pack which turns everything brown.

There are two parts to the game. The first is the original DLC Quest, the other is a sequel called Live Freemium or Die. The original is very short, lasting only around 30 minutes, but it’s also the more focused and enjoyable section. It lacks much in the way of challenge but gets its point across directly. The sequel is longer and has more jokes and more biting commentary on gaming in general. It’s also less enjoyable to play thanks to far too much backtracking and a need to find nearly every coin to unlock the ending. The area is more sprawling and if you’ve missed some coins it can be annoying going through the entire game world again trying to track down those last few. Overall, it’s an enjoyable enough game and it is often amusing. It’s not complicated and there’s no longevity to it, but as far as gaming satire goes, it’s a worthy attempt.

McPixel

What McPixel is, it’s hard to say
I finished it all in a day
It’s all based on luck
It’s crazy as fuck
For this I’m expected to pay?

McPixel is an odd game. It's a series of miniature point and click puzzles (for lack of a better word) each involving one screen and an explosion to be stopped within 20 seconds. Each section is a set of six of these scenes which you cycle through in sequence repeatedly, each one dropping out as you solve it. One minute you might be trying to dispose of a bomb on a plane, the next you'll be facing Darth Vader trying to stop the Death Star exploding.

McPixel
Getting the party off to a bang.

The game is deliberately silly with an hyperactive sense of humour. Each scene is solved with just one or two clicks, but there are plenty of things to click on that will make you fail. The things your character does are quite random, which can lead to some funny moments, though it's a bit hit and miss. The same thing that provides the humour also means it isn't much of an actual game as such. There's no way of predicting what McPixel is going to do, so finding the solution is a matter of luck. That's not really the point of the thing though. In fact, to get 100% completion and unlock the final set of levels in each group, you have to find all the wrong solutions too to see all the jokes. There's also the odd bonus level that you can get access to by solving three levels in a row, but on the occasions where that happened, I never once figured out what you were supposed to do in them.

Taken for what it is, the game is entertaining enough and different, but the humour is often crude and there's not much to it. The purposefully pixelated graphics also mean it's often hard to even know what some of the items on screen are. It's the sort of thing that I would enjoy as a brief time killer for a couple of hours as a free flash game, but I'm not sure there's enough there to justify a commercial release.

Lume

Lume is an adventure game
I’d rather play Loom just the same
It’s cute and hand made
But the shortest I’ve played
I’ve just bought a demo, how lame.

Lume
Who would live in a house like this?

Talking of games being insubstantial, Lume is so slight that it's barely even there. It's a point and click adventure featuring logic puzzles, with the aim to get all the power switched on in a house. The main drawing point of the game is that the location was actually created as a model and filmed. It certainly gives it a unique style, but it's not enough to save the game.

The puzzles in the game are fairly straight forward, though they're made frustrating by some irritating pixel hunting. There's an old fashioned gramophone which just gives a description when you click on it, but it turns out you can, and need to for a puzzle clue, use it by clicking on the tiny set of pixels that comprise the handle. There's also a book on a shelf amongst others that you need to click on that doesn't stand out much.

The thing that annoys about the game is that it feels like paying for a demo. There's one tiny location with a small number of puzzles and it's all easily completable in a half hour. Short length isn't in itself a problem but when it's so simple and finishes basically with a setup for a sequel at a time when most games would just be getting started it is. There's no plot here, just a task to get the electricity going in the house in order to let the plot start. It's just not even nearly enough.

Arbitrary Final Scores:
DLC Quest: 2.5 stars
McPixel: 1.5 stars
Lume: 1 star