This is Under the Radar, where I tell you about the lesser-known games you may not have even heard of. There are many games out there that are worth playing, past the blockbuster titles we all know and love. Sometimes you just need to search a bit.
Alien Breed Platform(s): PC, Playstation Network, Xbox Live Marketplace
Alien Breed is a top-down, isometric perspective, dual-joystick shooter by Team17 Software. It is a story-driven game, moving from set-piece to set-piece in a huge space-station and spaceship. Hordes of enemies swarm you frequently, and ammunition is often scarce, adding in a ‘survival horror’ vibe. I’ve honestly been startled a few times by what I would otherwise scoff at if it were described to me. The game sets up an excellent pace and theme, as well as a very specific set of moods when moving through each corridor. The game looks amazing as well, running on Unreal Engine 3. It has a huge amount of collectibles, secret areas, and is reminiscent of the older DOOM titles. The story is not always great, but is consistently adequate to give you reason to move from point A to point B, shooting all of the aliens you experience on the way. There is also a disjointed co-op mode that takes two players through a separate, somewhat short, but equally appealing campaign. Team17 also recently released a pack for Steam that includes all three of the games for about 10 dollars less than you’d purchase them separately for, making this an excellent indie game to go all in on.
RUSH Platform(s): PC
RUSH is a cube-based puzzle game by Netherlands-based developer Two Tribes, the creator of a slightly-more-well-known puzzle game by the name of Toki Tori. It is a fun, quirky, and oddly beautiful game based around trying to get rolling cubes to a destination on different types of stages. The rules are simple: You must get the cubes to the exit teleporter while not letting them fall off of the stage, and without letting them collide with one another. You do this by placing small tiles on the ground of the stage that redirect the blocks in certain ways. Simple arrow tiles will redirect the cube’s rolling movement in a different direction. There are conveyor belt tiles that will move the cube in a specific direction, while maintaining its original movement direction (i.e. if a cube was rolling north, and hits a conveyor belt that carries it to the west, it will resume rolling north once it gets off of the conveyor). Later on, the game adds local teleporters, Stop tiles that make the cubes pause for a moment in order to let other cubes pass by, and alternating turn tiles that make every other cube turn left or right. Ruch is very deep, and has four major stages with 20+ puzzles each to play. I’ve spent hours and hours on this game and know that you will have a blast with it too.
Puzzle Agent Platform(s): PC
Puzzle Agent is a recent point-and-click adventure game from Telltale games, the guys who orchestrated Sam & Max and Monkey Island’s triumphant returns. It is a very odd little game reminiscent of the Professor Layton series, which has the main character arriving in a strange remote town where there has been reports of odd puzzle-related incidents. Being the most prestigious (and only) member of the FBI’s “Puzzle Division”, Nelson Tethers must do his duty and figure out what’s happening in the podunk little town of Scoggins. You will go through the game playing a combination of a great point-and-click adventure game, and a very fun little puzzle & riddle game. The game is actually rather long, comparable to many of Telltale’s other games, and has plenty of side-puzzles to solve, just like its obvious inspiration. The art style is also very cool, hand-drawn by the comic artist Graham Annable, whose fun yet somehow creepy style lends itself well to the town of Scoggins and the world of Puzzle Agent. It is an excellent game for fans of point-and-click adventures as well as the fan of puzzle games.