Tag Archives: Bootdisk Revolution

REVIEW: The Useful Dead

The Useful Dead ($1.00) is all about leading adorable critters to the exit, working around obstacles and hazards, solving the puzzle, and sacrificing your pals for the greater good when required (hence the title). There’s been some discussion as to its originality, and it’s true that other games like it exist, notably the free-to-play SeppuKuties. The closest relative in the XBLIG family tree would be Cute Things Dying Violently (the title really tells it all there), though The Useful Dead does offer direct control, placing it more in the platformer genre.

Regardless of inspiration, puzzler / platformers are ultimately judged by their ingenuity and design. Here, variety starts and ends in the way your unfortunate partners-in-treasure-seeking die, be it by impalement, fire, falling from great heights, etc. Morbid as it is (if you really stop to think about it), those bodies then become valuable currency within the level, ‘useful’ as stepping stones to higher platforms, weights for switches, or as fodder for the stampers, happily taking the no-longer-painful ‘squish’ on your behalf and allowing you to pass freely.

Though you start with a large reserve of critters at your service, it doesn’t stay that way for long. Each stage comes with a ‘par’ number of allies that can (and usually, must) be deaded during the course of finding a solution. Completion need not be flawless, with ten of the creatures listed as expendable, and opportunities to collect ‘additional lives’, if you will, by coming in under par on certain levels. Any mistakes can be reset by restarting the current stage, too, making it more about personal satisfaction than a pressing issue you need to constantly be aware of.

It can also be argued that a lot of the game’s levels are rather easy, and the goal doesn’t change; all involve the death of a few cute creatures. In most, the solution is either immediately noticeable or soon apparent, and experimentation will get you the rest of the way to that ‘a-ha moment’. They’re not all pushovers, mind you. A handful of stages will require some thought, but The Useful Dead is definitely not as taxing to the brain as it could have been, more about timing and placement than prolonged head-scratching. You’ll either enjoy that change of pace or wish for something sterner. I appreciated the balance.

The Useful Dead - Screen

The only ‘good’ friend is a dead friend.

Whatever camp you fall into, The Useful Dead is an enjoyable experience. Its tricks may be telling to some at the outset, though there’s enough clever design in the puzzles to keep others on their toes. Much like in the previously-mentioned titles, you’ll gladly kill off plenty of cute things with a smile on your face.

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Review on Indie Gamer Chick

Worth Dying For: ‘The Useful Dead’

Now that all the hubbub surrounding Bootdisk Revolution‘s (of Bleed fame) next game has settled, and its been officially christened (thanks to a spirited ‘name the game’ competition), The Useful Dead can get a proper preview. Less daring in scope than, say, reinvigorating the action / platformer genre and taking over this site’s #1 spot with Bleed, the new game is not looking too shabby either.

The concept in The Useful Dead is straightforward; reach the exit by any means necessary. And by ‘any means’, the game says all is fair. If a few cuddly, cute things need to die violently in order for progress to be made… well, swallow your righteous feelings and listen to that devil on your shoulder. Marching them to their demise will present opportunities to traverse the level and / or dodge hazards, leading you to your ultimate goal— the precious at the end of the line.

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The Useful Dead is out now. You can follow developer Bootdisk Revolution on Twitter here.

The Useful Dead - Screen

REVIEW: Bleed

Love. It’s a funny thing. Sure, some can dismiss it as blind lust, coded into our DNA from the beginning as an excuse for proliferation, pass it off as a chemical imbalance masquerading as the feeling, or as the premise and end result of many Korean dramas. None of that changes the fact that, for me, it was love at first sight with Bleed ($2.99). Still, I began to question myself. For months I wondered if the game would live up to the image I had built up in my head. Now, days after I first nervously pressed start, I remain smitten. Does Bleed make good on expectations? It bloody well does.

Bleed is in essence a finely-tuned platformer, crossed with the self-choreographing mechanics of a very difficult bullet ballet. Your character, the pink-haired and ever-encouraging Wryn, goes guns blazing through seven expertly-plotted and beautifully-realized stages. You’ll see flashes of Mega Man in the bosses, and the storyline follows a No More Heroes / Scott Pilgrim slant, with Wryn fighting the greatest heroes the world has ever seen in an attempt to take the throne and limelight for herself. Each stage will test your reflexes and trigger finger, and each numbered ‘Hero’ fight is as fresh and exciting as the last, with enough loving craftsmanship to fill ten games over.

This alone would be enough to pique anyone’s interest, but all of that is taken to the next plateau with Wryn’s athletic ability to dodge attacks (up to three times per jump) and slow time. Bullet Time is nothing new to gamers, but the way it is implemented here with such ease and accurate handling makes me wonder why it ever took so long to make a proper transition. After a short learning period, you’ll be weaving through danger like a pro. The satisfaction gained from watching yourself improve at Bullet Time and pull off spectacular stunts is immeasurable, and never loses its cool factor. You’ll never suffer from a lack of the spectacular either. Between you and the end battle sits hundreds of tight spots in which you’ll need to maneuver into and out of, and the moves Wryn brings to this dance rival anything Keanu Reeves did while in the Matrix.

Fancy moves are nice, fancy armaments are nicer. While Wryn’s default dual pistols handle the job quite well, a secondary gun you can trust is just as important. From flamethrowers to mines to laser rifles, to a katana that deflects bullets, the combinations and options impress. And style is everything. An always-ticking combo gauge measures your skill at creating beautiful chaos while avoiding hits, and your score on each stage amounts to currency. Upgrades to your health and bullet-time, as well as additional weapons, are available in the shop between stages.

You can replay levels to grind out more money (and occasionally you should), but much like that combo gauge, the emphasis is always on speed and what’s next. The game quickly ushers you to the next stage or mini-boss, never letting off the gas, and you don’t want it to. Every fight is different depending on the difficulty and your gun loadout, and tinkering with both can yield surprising and / or improved results. No matter the situation, there are two constants in Bleed; the purest forms of adrenaline and fun. Well-tested balance and thoughtful checkpoints ensure both stay stocked throughout.

Bleed - Screen

There are more great moments, more intense set-piece sequences, more intelligent designs at work here, than AAA titles you’d shell out $60 for. And that’s just during your first playthough, directly after the ‘Thanks for playing’ script fades. There are additional difficulties to best (that devilishly remix enemy layouts and attack patterns, rather than just up the player damage), and an arcade option that goes retro, tasking you to go as far as you can in one life. A challenge mode gives you the chance to take on the bosses under multiple circumstances, either to practice tactics, or, for the incredibly confident, to tackle up to three of them at once! With plenty of weapons and upgrades still to earn, and alternative characters to unlock, Bleed is a game you’ll log several happy hours on.

It’s pitch-perfect in its execution, and renders all possible criticism moot. I’ve been told I have a flair for the dramatic. I profess love too easily. I’m guilty, even if I truly mean it at the time, but what the hell, here goes nothing; this is the best XBLIG I’ve ever had the privilege of playing. You can be skeptic, but in this rarest of cases, trust me that the game earns that title utterly. If you have a pulse, if even a fraction of your heart is occupied by videogames, you must play Bleed.

‘Bleed’ Release Date / Price Set, and a Look at a Boss

After a nearly three-year development cycle (!), two Dream.Build.Play competitions, and many redesigns, Bootdisk Revolution’s action-y slow-motion-y gun ballet is almost upon us. I’ve been anticipating for quite a while, but the wait time has finally narrowed (under two weeks!). Bleed will see its release onto XBLIG on December 12th, barring any troubles. The price will be set at the maximum of 400 MSP.

I’m also behind on the news, apparently, as the Dev recently showed off a ‘Developer’s Diary’ of sorts, giving us a look at the kinda-involved process of creating one of the bosses in the game. The video below details a fight against ‘Battalion’, a swarm of alien blobs that can morph into different objects and shapes, taking on multiple attack patterns.

Don’t mess with your volume; there’s no sound till near the end.

That’ll have to tide you over for now. Yeah, I want more too, but there’s no sense in crying about it, is there? To stay up to date with the game, you can follow Bootdisk Revolution’s blog. If you despise pretty pictures and want a written rundown of the above boss-creating, you can go here.