Tag Archives: STRACO: Purge and Conquest

And ‘theXBLIG of 2014’ is…

Yes sir, it is that time of year again. That time when we unanimously say, ‘Out with the old and in with the new’, make a whole bunch of resolutions we’ll have forgotten about by February, and hope the new year brings us some sort of sign / luck / love / money / whatever. And if not, we’ll complain about it on Twitter.

For ‘theXBLIG’, the end of the year means an all-new ‘Best-of’ list, narrowing down all of the games released in 2014 into one handy leaderboard, voted on by the community. That’d be you guys and gals, the loveable readership of this fine site1. Just like last year, I’ve rounded up my personal choices for ‘Game of the Year’, listed them in no certain order, then asked you guys to vote on them to see which game would come out on top.

Interestingly enough, though plenty have been spelling doom for XBLIG for some time now, I actually labeled more games ‘leaderboard quality’ this year than last. Whether that trend will continue in 2015 is anyone’s guess, but it’s not a bad ending to an otherwise up-and-down year. Seems you’ve felt the same way, as some games saw massive interest in voting, while others struggled to net a handful of votes. Strange times, but, without further ado, here are the Top Ten…, excuse me, Top Nine (and one write-in), XBLIGs of 2014.

(Sort of but not quite) 10. Fright Light (5 Votes)

Fright Light is the ‘write-in’ vote winner, and I can’t be entirely sure that developer Chris Antoni didn’t just vote five times for his own game, but… so be it. Horror on the cheap, with visuals and production to match, Fright Light did its best Five Nights at Freddy’s impersonation, and didn’t do too bad at it.

9. Shipwreck (3 Votes)

Imagine a classic The Legend of Zelda game. Got that? Okay, now picture that series being handed off to an indie developer. Scared? You shouldn’t be, as Brushfire Games did an excellent job porting over the look, the feel, and the puzzle / dungeon design those games are known for. It’s an overlooked gem.

8. STRACO: Purge & Conquest (4 Votes)

The STRACO series (this game is parts two and three of a trilogy) may not impress you from the start, but its charm and playability wears on you the more you play it. A top-down shooter with heart, humor, and… Optimus Phillip, it’s well worth the look.

7. Dead.Kings (5 Votes)


Dead.Kings is a lot like the original BloodyCheckers, which may hurt its originality, but it’s more fun and player trolling per square inch of checkerboard than the now-boring real-life version of the game.

6. Amazing Princess Sarah (10 Votes)

If large breasts and throwing corpses around a stage sounds like an excellent retro-ish platformer to you, then Amazing Princess Sarah is the game for you. This kind of stuff sells itself.

5. Survival Games Season 1 (21 Votes)

Survival Games Season 1

Take the look of Minecraft, add in the survival mechanics and the merciless backstabbing of DayZ, and you’ve got the general idea behind this game. Each match can be a tense affair, a mad dash for limited supplies. Or you can play silly dress up and hide in your private corner of the world. Your choice, no judgement from me.

4. ApocZ (23 Votes)

An impressively-large, post-apocalyptic world full of zombies, the harsh reality of survival, …oh, and the real threat; other asshole humans shooting you in the back and taking all your carefully-scavenged equipment and weapons. Thanks a lot!

3. Shutshimi (37 Votes)

A fish with human arms (and giant muscles). A fish with a cigar-smoking problem. A fish with a ten-second attention span. What does that equal? Neon Deity Games’ ridiculously-fun shooter, which tosses new powerups and modifiers your way every ten seconds.

2. Dead War (49 Votes)

Part overhead shooter, part storyteller, part roguelike, Dead War mixes the good ole’ ‘zombie game’ with those aforementioned pieces to good effect. A nice change of pace from the usual zombified suspects that appear on XBLIG with alarming regularity.

1. Survivalist (139 Votes)


It’s tempting to dismiss XBLIG as a juvenile playground of avatar games, zombie shooters, and Minecraft wannabes, but Survivalist is one of those rare types, the type that sneaks up on you without anyone realizing it. Sure, there’s zombies, but they’re hardly the focus. The game presents you with a huge open world, the onus to survive, and dozens of characters that will remember your actions. One of the best XBLIGs I’ve ever played, Survivalist is a special game.

  1. Not a blog. 

REVIEW: STRACO: Purge and Conquest

Few XBLIGs have undergone the kind of ‘night and day’ transformation that the first episode of STRACO did, changing drastically (and for the much, much better) from its original release to version 2.0 several months later; a leaner, meaner hybrid of twin-stick shooter and Tower Defense. Now with STRACO: Purge and Conquest ($1.00), comprising episodes two and three to complete the promised trilogy, developer NVO Games has effectively bridged the gap between the first’s promising mechanics and the sequel’s comfort with those same mechanics, morphing the games into one of the finer series on the indie channel in the process.

The final acts of the STRACO saga once again place you in your souped-up stealth helicopter, rejoining with your army pals and the war machine ‘Optimus Phillip’1 to continue the ongoing crusade against Boss Noss, his multitude of forces …and those damn, dirty Zombies (thankfully, there’s more to these undead than the typical sort). Missions will take you through one hostile portal to the next, taking down all manner of tanks, air support, a zombie tree (?), and more, from small skirmishes up to some lengthy, large-scale battles.

As a hybrid genre, you control your helicopter (or speedbike, or drone, or mech) at all times, twin-stick style, while using a menu to bring up a half-dozen turrets that are deployable anywhere on the battlefield. This is proactive Tower Defense, as careful use of said turrets can and will turn the tide. More guns equals more victory, so to speak, and you can upgrade yourself and those turrets accordingly. With several guns and powerups at hand (shields, a super missile, the ability to slow time, etc.) you’ll typically use overwhelming firepower to slowly whittle down enemy forces.

STRACO: P & C switches up the formula at some points, handing out optional objectives2, or forcing you out of your comfort Heli to tackle things up close and personal. These on-foot segments are a nice change of pace, but they tend to drag on and play a little harsher without you in your better-equipped (and better-protected) vehicle. The missions are few in number, however, so no great harm done. Where harm does factor in is the difficulty, which can vary with the levels and enemy spawns. Even on Normal, a few stages repeatedly gave me trouble until I was able to upgrade my turrets and / or myself, or… (gulp), I switched over to Easy.

STRACO 2014-05-28 14-13-41-56

Pro Tip: Don’t hug the walls. It gets messy.

In addition to the 2+ hour Campaign, the new ‘Slo-Mo-Co’ minigame is a fun, clever alternative that plays like a mashup of twin-stick / roguelike / time trial. It asks you to clear a series of rooms filled with enemies, using a limited amount of your slow-motion powerup and giving you only one HP. Enemy layouts are thoughtful and challenging, with plenty of tense, strategic puzzle / fights, as you figure out how best to attack each wave with your allotted time. Both ‘Slo-Mo-Co’ and the Campaign feature online leaderboards, which should give you an incentive to go back and improve your scores.

Overall, it’s a very solid experience to go out on. Minus a few small missteps and the occasional difficulty spike to contend with, there’s plenty of content, humor, and fun to be had here. Playing from its humble beginnings, to its stronger, updated middle, STRACO: Purge and Conquest delivers a much more confident— and satisfying— conclusion… on the Xbox 360. Let’s hope we haven’t seen the last of it. We need more games with a heart and soul like this.3

  1. Likely Optimus Prime’s red-headed step-brother… er, step-robot…, but he’s a likable fellow just the same. 
  2. Like a race, or a homage to Missile Command
  3. This review is also featured at Indiepitome.