May 04 2011


I’ve been playing and rating Ludum Dare games for the past few days instead of working on any of my own games. How do I legitimise this? Reviews! Here’re five stand-out games I’ve played so far:

Bonifaco’s Bazaar by johanp

This game (like many in the competition) is hard as nails. You’re a merchant: you buy raw materials from the guys on the right, craft them into weapons, and sell those weapons to the guys on the left. The beweaponed guys then march to the enemy castle, punching goblins in the face as they go. It’s in your interest that they win, as the goblins overrunning your shop means it’s game over… but if you don’t profit from your deals with them, you won’t be able to buy supplies, so you won’t be able to make the weapons for them in the first place. So there’s a subtle balance, which is promptly blown out the window because oh god everything happens so fast and the goblins keep coming and SELL EVERYTHING

It’s a bit frantic. Near unwinnably frantic. In a fun way.

– Block Push Championship by increpare

Sokoban with a twist: your character magnetises nearby boulders, dragging them around in patterns. When your movement can affect boulders several squares away from you, you need to pay much more attention to the compact, precise levels.

This twist works remarkably well, in large part thanks to excellent puzzle design. Between levels, the game’s twisted story is conveyed in fine and unsettling style. Try it out!

Diamond Hollow by arkeus

Diamond Hollow is about climbing and shooting and collecting gems, then spending those gems on improved abilities for climbing and shooting, and acquiring more gems, until your abilities are upgraded enough to claim the score or so of achievements.

Few LD48 games feel this polished. Diamond Hollow is complete, functional and compulsive, and will happily burn an hour or so of your time if you persevere. It’s quite tough for the first few minutes; stick with it until those first few upgrades come in and it soon gets going.

Let Me Save You! Your Faithful Companion by Nyaa

Let Me Save You! is one of a few brief visual-novel games in this competition. It’s a JRPG parody, replete with waking up in bed, skimpily dressed women, bartenders and dragons. Unlike many JRPG parodies, though, it’s genuinely funny and charming to follow as it kicks down the fourth wall and grinds it methodically to dust.

Officer Alfred by Hempuli

Officer Alfred is stuck inside a collapsing facility and must escape, armed with nothing but the ability to freeze time and step through the spaces between moments.

This platformer might invite comparisons with Braid, at least on a mechanical level, but it stakes out its own ground by basing its time-breaking puzzles around interacting with physics. The combination yields several impressively smart puzzles, hampered slightly by the finicky nature of the platforming movement when you trying to stand on anything narrow. It can be frustrating, but it’s worth pushing through for the numerous and relatively fast-paced flashes of brilliance.

That’s all for now! I’ve got to stop fixating on this competition and get back to work. There are plenty of great LD #20 games, though – even if these are my favourites so far, I still haven’t even played a quarter of the entries. I’ll try to share more with you soon!

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