Tag Archives: hermitgames

REVIEW: DELTA

Stuff like hermitgames‘ DELTA1 ($2.99) should really come labeled with a pair of warnings. The first is good news up front; the game is a fully-addictive arcade racer, has that ‘one more try’ quality that plenty of games aspire to but most don’t ultimately achieve. The second is not as good, and potentially hazardous to your health; DELTA is an all-out audio / visual assault on your respective senses. If you’re sensitive to pulsating lights and shapes in the slightest, or get motion sickness easily, it’s probably best to avoid the game entirely rather than take a chance.

Proceed with caution.

Disclaimer aside, the game is a sound-based first-person racer with trippy visuals. That’s just generic phrasing by me. In actuality, DELTA is like someone’s Tron-inspired acid trip through the trench sequence in the original Star Wars, running back to back with the ‘stargate’ sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey, dipped in a psychedelic rainbow, all while some Daft Punk / Aphex Twin-type music plays in the background2. It’s that busy!

Things move pretty fast, flashing and morphing and spinning as you whiz by, and the somewhat procedurally-generated courses you race on mean you can’t just memorize layouts to win. I say ‘somewhat’, as the tracks in DELTA are comprised of inter-connected ‘rooms’, aligned randomly. While you will eventually adjust to the hazardous walls (one hit = death, natch) and camera style in any given ‘room’, the corridor between can lead into a random layout each time, presenting a new race on each attempt. And you’ll be ‘attempting’ quite a bit; you’ll have to twitch your way through this one, my friend.

You can choose from a total of three race ‘classes’: 120, 144, and 180. Each features its own visual design and music (the soundtrack is slightly interactive, modified with every triangle-shaped ‘delta’ you pick up along the way). While the default race is unlocked from the start, you’ve got to earn access to the latter two ‘tracks’ by reaching a preset distance marker in one continuous run. That total distance is, in essence, your score. Otherwise, it’s a pretty straightforward racer. Your chief objective is to survive and / or reach the end of the stage, with a ‘reward’3 unlocked for completing all three.

DELTA - Screen

You can almost taste the colors, man.

The game’s excellent and eclectic graphics match the developer’s previous efforts, but those same novel visuals can work against the quickened gameplay in DELTA. Given the shifting nature of the rooms, and the constant pyrotechnics / flashing, it’s super easy to lose track of where you are and what you’re looking at. Throw in an occasionally-spinning camera, and ‘suddenly steering yourself straight into a wall that you quite literally didn’t see coming’ becomes totally plausible. The gameplay, too, can be its own worse enemy, as I literally felt fatigued at playing it for longer than an hour at a time.

That last bit can be mostly chalked up to late nights and eyestrain, though it’s certainly worth the mention, depending on how you plan to play. Consider it a challenge on several levels then, beyond the atypical difficulty of the navigation itself. So long as you don’t stare at your screen for too long, DELTA is plenty tough, and plenty fun.


  1. This review is also featured at Indiepitome
  2. No embellishment. None. 
  3. And don’t bother asking me what that reward is, as I’m in no immediate danger of finishing the third track. 
Advertisements

REVIEW: qrth-phyl

For the longest of times (up until its release, actually), qrth-phyl (80 MSP) defied a full explanation. Also pronunciation, which continues to elude us all. From the cryptic trailer and description, you glean almost nothing except the now-confirmed suspicion that you’d be collecting dots. For what purpose or greater good, it was not said.

That purpose is now clear(er). qrth-phyl contains that classic arcade goal of getting the highest score, though calling it a glorified ‘snake game’ is not only incorrect, it’s slightly offensive. qrth-phyl is familiar yet distant, with a certain care that extends beyond the typical indie developer. hermitgames is not the typical indie developer. It immediately recalls the studio’s previous XBLIG, Leave Home, and qrth-phyl continues in carrying out that style with aplomb.

Dot collection is the chief gameplay component. Doing so extends your snake. You continue to grow. Do not run into yourself while circling the levels.  Yes, you’ve done this before. It isn’t exactly a thrilling concept on its own, but with a new perspective and art on its side, that idea feels fresh once again in qrth-phyl.

It’s challenging (and fun) navigating the different layouts, shifting from a 2D plane to full 3D and back (the 3D camera here is just about the best I’ve encountered). There are some tricks to the old dog too, such as point combos for scooping dots in quick succession, or a powerup that shrinks your size and changes the excess tail into collectible dots. It works in reverse as well. The larger green dots give you more points, but also spawn laser traps. In tight quarters, these can be game-enders. Worse still are the corruptions.

These ‘corruption’ moments, when they occur, alter the level in real time, throwing up roadblocks and extending barricades in an attempt to rain on your parade, usually succeeding. Damn adaptive difficulty. qrth-phyl marks the rare occasion where you should shoot for average. Do too well, and the game thinks you’re the bee’s knees, taking it upon itself to ‘toughen’ things up for you.

Play through the game, and you’ll unlock the ‘Elements’ item in the notes section. These Out and In rooms are the ten single stages from the main game, ‘sequence’, but in a separate menu. The ‘elements’ work as quick little one-offs, one life to collect as many dots possible, It tracks your completion of each room and high score, which stacks and builds up your corruption percentage just as playing the main game does. What happens when that level reaches 100%?

Ah, well, nothing. At least that I saw. I’m not sure what I expected or wanted, a thumbs-up made entirely of cubes (would have been nice), but alas, nothing. I can’t hide my disappointment in finding the end of the rainbow was just the end, though it’s hardly a huge setback. I also wished for a peer-to-peer leaderboard during some of my high score runs, as that would have been a perfect fit, but again, the main game is easily able to make up for these absences (and I’ll always have Twitter to brag to).

It might be a little misunderstood, or maybe you were expecting a bit more (like me), but as the opening shot to the Uprising III, qrth-phyl is a more than capable lead-off hitter. As an arcade type, it does exactly what it should— short, thrilling (yes, really) gameplay and the eternal chase for a high score. It starts off as a homage to games gone by, and becomes the quintessential ‘snake’ game in the process.

.

Review on Indie Gamer Chick

Review on The Indie Ocean

Review on Clearance Bin Review

Review on The Indie Mine

Review on Indie Theory

Review on GamerWife

Prelude to the Uprising: qrth-phyl

Among my many talents, I recently added the ability to correctly spell hermitgames’ upcoming qrth-phyl on command. Just don’t ask me to pronounce it. The title is just as odd as all the known information surrounding it. The leadoff game to the Indie Games Uprising III and in the Top 20 for the Dream.Build.Play competition, its listed genre is arcade / part-documentary. Documentary, you say?

From the official description:

Arcade documentary of maze / dot / snake mechanic within changing dimensions, axis locks and the corruption of the system. Collect, grow, avoid your past, find new space, wake up…

The trailer doesn’t show off as much, but from the screenshots, it looks as if collection will play the main gameplay role. That’s just an educated guess. With things like ‘avoiding your past’ and ‘waking up’, it’s anyone’s ballgame. This should be anything but a traditional ‘snaker’. I love the unclassifiable, and the developer recently described the game in an interview as ‘awkward’. Leave Home, from the same guy, which sports a similar cube look but represents an entirely different style of play, was one of the first XBLIGs I bought. That too was anything but a traditional shooter. Still a favorite of mine. Needless to say, I can’t wait to play this.

.

qrth-phyl will be released on September 10th.

Preview on Clearance Bin Review

Interview on Clearance Bin Review

Interview on The Indie Mine