Link Dump Friday №275


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Link Dump Fridays

DoraSometimes I like to think that in the future, highly advance civilizations will find records of our indie games and wonder just what the heck was going on inside our heads... but in a good way! We've got another contest this week for you to win a copy of a brand-new indie hit, a mini-review of part two in a series of episodic zombie adventures, surreal violence, Alphas, and more!

Thomas Was AloneCONTEST: Thomas Was A Prize Mike Bithell's story-telling puzzle platformer Thomas Was Alone is generating a lot of the old buzz in the gaming community, and for good reason. Our very own download czar John Bardinelli called it "a little indie masterpiece that does great things with narrative and minimalist artwork." So now we're giving you a chance to get it for free! In order to win one of four free copies of the game, just try the free downloadable demo for Windows or Mac and leave a comment here about it. Rules: Entries must be submitted by July 13th, 11:59 p.m. EST (GMT-5). Winners will be notified by e-mail shortly thereafter. Winners are selected randomly. One entry per person only. You must be at least 13 years of age or older to enter. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

Update: WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!
The winners of a free copy of Thomas Was Alone are:
David B
spycat811
Isi
Nightwisher
You will be contacted via e-mail shortly. Thanks for reading!

Hotline MiamiCall Me Call Me Any, Any Time I... I just... I don't know. The trailer for the upcoming retro-inspired action adventure Hotline Miami inspires so many feels, though perhaps chief amoungst them is "What the heck did I just watch?" The game, made by Jonatan S�derstr�m and Dennis Wedin under their new moniker Dennation Games, follows you as the protagonistin 1980s Miami, where you've been receiving horrible messages on your answering machine urging you to commit acts of violence. It looks and sounds like something that Quentin Tarantino and Suda 51 might have made, and for those of us with particular tastes, this could be a very good thing. The game promises hard-hitting, violent action, a surreal plot, and "impossible situations", and is definitely worth keeping an eye on it if you have the stomach for it.

AnnaSurely Nothing Bad Ever Happened In an Idyllic Meadow Get ready for first-person horror adventuring! Dreampainters is about to release Anna, a short point-and-click game for PC based on an authentic local folklore tale in Italy, recounted to the developers first hand by locals as well as some good old-fashioned research. The game looks to be heavy on atmosphere as you explore an abandoned sawmill in a deceptively peaceful countryside, solving puzzles and eventually confronting the strange presences that linger to get one of three possible endings. It looks absolutely gorgeous, and the heavy emphasis on mood and tone is something a lot of horror adventure fans will appreciate. Look for Anna to hit soon from digital download services once negotiations have been finished!

ScrollsAlphas, Start Your Engines! Hold on to your whatevers, because Mojang's strategic fantasy card game Scrolls has just entered the Alpha phase! What does this mean for you? Well, if you signed up for the chance to be in the Alpha, it means you should start watching your e-mail for a potential invite. For the rest of us, well... we'll have to wait for the Beta, since no new Alpha testers will be added to the list. Like Minecraft, Scrolls will become publicly available during the Beta, at which point you can purchase it at a deeply discounted price and continue to receive updates (and new scrolls for your character!) as development continues. Can Mojang make lightning strike twice and repeat their success with Minecraft? We'll find out soon enough.

The Walking DeadEpisode Two: Mini-Review Since TellTale's second installment in their gory horror adventure game series The Walking Dead is mechanically identical to the first, here's your mini-review of Episode Two: Starved for Help. While it shares the same issues with tiny, frustratingly located hotspots, Starved for Help is in a sense more visceral than the first game. Not just in regards to the violence, which is in itself really brutal and uncomfortably intimate in most cases, but in its story. It focuses more on the interplay between the survivors, and really succeeds at presenting choices you'll struggle with because there is no right answer that will make everyone happy. You'll potentially see some of the plot twists coming a mile away, but Starved for Help delivers big time on all the same action and unflinching violence of the first game, while developing its cast in ways that make you connect with them even more. Highly recommended.

Do you know an upcoming indie project or some community gaming related news you think deserves some attention? Send me an e-mail with LINK DUMP FRIDAY in the subject line at dora AT casualgameplay DOT com with the info, and we'll judge it with the all-seeing glare of our own self-importance for inclusion in a future Link Dump Friday article!

16 Comments

I skimmed through the review for Thomas Was Alone earlier this week and decided not to try it - after all, puzzle games are all the same; you play the first few levels, think this is quite fun, get bored a few minutes later, and never play it again. But due to the 'buzz' I decided to give it a shot today - and was pleasantly surprised.

The narration makes this game; who would have thought that after just a few minutes of playing you would be eagerly looking forward to the next passage, and wondering how the relationships between some little rectangles would develop. That is the reason I could play this game through to its end - and I can see plenty of puzzle potential to keep you thinking along the way.

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Contest Entry:

Wow, Thomas Was Alone is absurdly charming. Its world (so far) is a gentle one: soothing (yet engaging) music, a calm and collected (yet wry) narrator, simple platforming that grows more complex as additional characters are added to the mix. From the menu design to the way light and shadow play against the subtly pulsing backgrounds, it's clear that a lot of care has gone into transforming what could have been a simple flash game into the more full-featured affair we see here.

Plus, I love seeing little archetypical rectangles transformed into tiny personalities. If only the little square protagonists from Adventure and Surround (et. al.) were still alive to see what their grandchildren have made of themselves.

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The cut off date for that contest can't be accurate. Only one day?

In any case, I played the demo and found it quite charming. The premise and minimalistic art style reminded me a lot of Alphaland (computer program gains sentience, has existential thoughts), but with puzzles and voice acted narration. I would have been happy enough with that sort of game, but then it got better. Hints of a more defined story began to emerge with the addition of new blocky characters to join our lonely titular protagonist. I was also quite impressed with how much personality could be attributed to a bunch of rectangles, but that's good indie storytelling for you.

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Nightwisher Author Profile Page July 6, 2012 3:06 AM

Contest entry:

What a delightful diversion! The puzzles and gameplay mechanics that the game has to offer aren't particularly revolutionary, but the connections I developed to the characters just from the quirky descriptions in the narration made it a very unique experience. The developers have got a gift for giving life to their characters - I felt more life in these faceless rectangles than I do in many other run of the mill casual games. Wonderful game, and I'll probably buy the full version even if I don't win here.

One more brief note, the visuals were great! I love that Unity is growing in popularity as a development platform, the graphics here were smooth and crystal clear.

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Thomas Was Alone contest entry;

I could pontificate about the artistic aesthetic, intellectual integrity or anthropological meaning inherent in such a bold and Mondrianesque gaming venture, but I won't.

Instead, I leave you with two words:

Homoerotic Pixels!

Aaawwww yeah! I've only experienced the tumultuous beginnings but I have a feeling that the tale of John, Chris and Thomas may end up being the greatest gay love story ever told.

Until Tom Cruise finds another beard that is...

PS. Being on the other side of the globe I have no idea when this contest officially finished, so I'm sorry if I'm knocking on the door after closing time. My (as the kids say) bad.

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dsrtrosy Author Profile Page July 6, 2012 12:43 PM

Contest entry:

For someone who avoids platformers like the plague to enter a contest to actually try to WIN one is a credit to the writer(s) of this narrative. I'm compelled by the story. I have to agree with others who have said it's amazing how much I connected with a little rectangle trying to make his way through a lonely and confusing world.

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Akarroa Author Profile Page July 6, 2012 9:08 PM

Oh wow. When I downloaded the Thomas demo I was not expecting this level of storytelling and character development. The last time I felt this much affection toward colored rectangles was after a bottle of cold medicine and a bad Tetris fanfic. Incredibly sweet, fantastic gameplay, and beautiful narration.

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David B. Author Profile Page July 6, 2012 10:39 PM

Contest Entry:

I downloaded the demo for Thomas Was Alone only because it was also available for Mac and I'm glad I did. I almost regret being a Mac user, because now I wonder what other gems I'm missing out on.

I have played many platformer/puzzle games, but Thomas Was Alone combines Unity-platform visuals, ambient music and an engaging narrative in a way that sets it apart. It felt like I was flipping through pages of a beautifully crafted storybook.

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spycat811 Author Profile Page July 7, 2012 12:03 AM

Contest Entry:
Thomas Was Alone. Just the title sort of breathes the essence of a melodramatic indie game; set along with the retro graphics and the seemingly overused storyline, I wasn't really keen on downloading the demo at first. However, I gave it a small chance by watching the trailer, and immediately I was hooked. The narration was like nothing I had ever heard before; it wasn't the stereotypical angst that some might expect to hear, but instead more of comedic rambling, similar to Wheatley's character from Portal 2. The graphics didn't look sloppy and lazy, they actually looked like well thought out art! This, I said to myself, is how an indie game is supposed to feel. So, having some extra time to waste, I downloaded the demo, and it was not at all a disappointment. Right from the beginning, I was in love with the unique characters in each of the rectangles, and avidly following the plot for each and every level. At a certain point I didn't even keep playing the game for the puzzles; I was so immersed in the story that I just started reading the game like a book, making the characters actions further reflect their personalities (which the developer already implemented excellently!). It was such a shock when the demo ended; I couldn't wait to continue the rectangle's journey, and will definitely buy the game if I don't get it here. (Heck, I'll buy a second copy of it, and send it to a friend! Why not?)

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Alk3Catch22 Author Profile Page July 7, 2012 12:34 AM

Contest Entry:

Hook it up with a free game. I've entered so many of these link dump Friday contests.

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Contest Entry :

When I first tried Thomas was Alone's demo, I was astonished. It begins like a random flash game, like the ones you can find on the web, but even in the first levels, the beautiful graphics and narration made me love it.
I played through the first 20 levels and the story that took place between the characters is something that, I think, makes any game way better. You, as a player, immediately begin to take care about them and want to see their relations develop.

Thomas was Alone, in short, looks like a really great game ; too bad I can't really play it because I don't have that much money and it's a bit too expensive, although it might me worth its price...

My email : kitu14@hotmail.fr

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tormyst Author Profile Page July 7, 2012 11:43 AM

Contest Entry :
Puzzle games and narrative have always had a problem with the amount of dialogue and where to put it. I am not saying that Thomas was alone handled that balance perfectly in the demo, just that I stopped and waited to see if the cubes would say anything else.

Having clear personality for rectangles and having them fit the shape is a weird thought to have. these are some of the simplest characters you could possibly make and it works wonders.

the music helps keep everything together. the tilt on the level along with the music and what the squares say all give the felling of loneliness that the game was going for.

Lastly, I really connected with Thomas because of his observations. that is what most of us do anyway when playing a game for the first time. dive right in and observe what you can do.

if I don't win this, I am getting this game and will love every second of it.

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GuruOne Author Profile Page July 7, 2012 9:46 PM

Contest Entry:

Great game... Played non-stop

Some suggestions...

1) Jumping can be a pain. Fine-tune that mechanism.
2) Character positions and key commands need to be consistent.
3) Most levels were easy. A couple, way too hard. Need to increase difficulty as you go.
4) Voice-over was a bit too "kid's show".
5) Litte jumping dudes were too many to manage. There is plenty of scope within less characters to create amazing puzzler levels.

I could go on, but it sounds too much like internet shittyness... LOL

Like I said, GREAT GAME ;)

Cheers

Rich

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GuruOne Author Profile Page July 8, 2012 12:19 AM

O, I forgot...

Is it just me, or does Mike look like the love-child of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg??? LOL

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jenimad Author Profile Page July 8, 2012 3:48 AM

Contest Entry:

Great demo- the narrative makes it easy to keep going for 'just one more level' to see what the blocks have to say/what new sort of personalities are added. The music was very soothing, but at the same time it didn't wear on my nerves when I got stuck for a long-ish time in one level.
If nothing else this game deserves kudos for making me sorta care about characters who are really just simple shapes.
My only complaint is that sometimes the jumping didn't entirely work with me- though luckily there wasn't a huge amount of backtracking I had to do when I missed a jump or two... then again I'm a little inept at jumping- still had fun, though~

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effulgency Author Profile Page July 13, 2012 10:52 PM

Thomas Was a Prize is intriguing and beautiful. Some of the best implementation of voice-acting I've seen in a game in a long while. I was surprised by how hard I found the platforming mechanics, though, as it seemed to take away from the momentum of the narrative. Although, I suppose that's part of the point! Lovely, and I'm interesting to see what the full game is like.

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