The Indie Shelf: State of Decay

Hello everybody! On this week’s The Indie Shelf, we have the fun survival zombie game State of Decay.


Developer(s) Undead Labs
Publisher(s) Microsoft Studios
Composer(s) Jesper Kyd
Engine CryEngine 3
Platform(s) Xbox 360 (XBLA),Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) Xbox 360

  • June 5, 2013

Microsoft Windows

  • September 20, 2013 (Via Steam Early Access)
  • November 5, 2013 (Official release)
Genre(s) Stealth, survival horror
Mode(s) Single-player

State of Decay is designed to let zombie fans answer the ultimate question: What would you do in the face of the zombie apocalypse?

The end is here. Human civilization has been annihilated. The few, scattered survivors must band together, rebuilding civilization in a third- person action game packed with sweet guns, fast cars, hand-to-hand combat, and copious amounts of zombie gore. Players choose where to make their stand, designing and fortifying their settlements, performing daring raids for valuable stores of food and ammunition, and rescuing other playable survivors. The open world develops in real-time, shaped by player actions, with content determined by their choices and the ever-increasing zombie threat.

State of Decay has to be one of the funniest games I have played all year. I was initially extremely excited for the release last year, but it fell off of my radar until a couple of months ago. I beat State of Decay’s main story after a couple of days, but realized there was so much more to play! I’m still making my way trying to recruit other survivors and exploring areas(I don’t think there are anymore building materials on my map left.) State of Decay has plenty of replay value since you can play with so many different characters and play the story differently.

The whole point of State of Decay is just like all other zombie games, pure animalistic survival. While State of Decay does have traditional elements, it tries to add just enough to make itself unique. The game completes this by setting the game in an interesting open world and by focusing on time/character management. Management is key for survival in State of Decay. Sure, you can use only one character for the majority of the game, but when he/she is hurt/tired, who are you going to use next?

While State of Decay is an incredibly fun game, I still have plenty of gripes about it. This game is buggy as all hell (which is to expect from an indie game, even if it is from the minds at Zombie Labs). Zombies glitching through walls/fences, randomly spawning in my home, and one hit kills with full health. It is actually becomes pretty irritating as the random survivors I keep saving just randomly die. What the hell? Also, the “allies are in trouble” filler quests are getting consistently annoying. Its the same shit over and over.


  • Graphics.
  • Story.
  • Open world.
  • Game play.
  • Replay Value.


  • Consistently buggy/glitches.
  • Filler quests.

SCORE: 9.0 / 10

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The Indie Shelf: Battleblock Theater

Hello everybody! On this installment of The Indie Shelf, we have Battleblock Theater (recently gone Game for Gold).


Developer(s) The Behemoth
Big Timber Studio
Publisher(s) Microsoft Studios
The Behemoth (Steam)
Designer(s) Dan Paladin, Tom Fulp
Platform(s) Xbox 360,Microsoft Windows, Linux
Release date(s) Xbox Live Arcade
April 3, 2013
Windows, Linux
May 15, 2014
Genre(s) Platformer
Mode(s) Single player, Co-operative and competitive multiplayer (1-4 players, local and online)

You’re an anonymous doughy prisoner, stranded in a dilapidated theatre run by cats in the sway of a haunted hat; cats who build deadly platform challenges out of blocks and make prisoners like you run them for laughs.
In the regular game, the aim is to collect gems to unlock the exit while seeking bonus gems and balls of golden yarn to unlock new weapons and unlockable bonus heads for your character. Progression is a mix of rapid, accurate movement—your abilities include double jumping, wall jumping, sliding and dashing—and puzzle solving based on the blocks you’re faced with.

Flash games aren’t the crucible of indie talent that they once were, but Battleblock Theater carries the legacy of those halcyon days. The technology might have changed, but this is a game from the culture that produced Meat Boy and N+. It’s by The Behemoth, the guys that made Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers, and it marks a sea change in how much indie developers are capable of achieving with a single game. It’s a platform adventure, a co-op and versus multiplayer game, a creative suite and a comedy revue.

What sets Battleblock Theater apart, in the first case, is that its levels are contraptions. Blocks interact with one another according to a consistent internal logic, and this logic is used to create challenges that the player can tinker with. You might encounter a platform that fades in and out of existence on a regular timer—but this timer isn’t set by some behind-the-scenes clock.

It’s determined by a laser block, situated elsewhere in the level, that regularly fires at a switch block that triggers the platform. Block the laser at the correct time and you can prevent the beam from hitting the switch, stopping the vanishing platform from disappearing—and so on. You’ll crack dozens of puzzles like this over the course of the adventure, and a full block-based level editor expands the potential challenge exponentially.

It’s all presented wonderfully. Battleblock Theater is a very funny, sharply written game, narrated with incredible energy. Puppet theatre cutscenes put a smile on your face and intermittent lines of voiceover keep it there. Then there are the excellent songs, particularly the hilarious, nonsensical scatting that accompanies secret levels. There’s a lot of The Muppets in Battleblock Theater, in the best possible way.


  • Fun game play elements.
  • Interesting plot.
  • Somewhat challenging puzzles.
  • Likable characters.


  • Slow Game play.
  • Silly and elementary dialogue.

SCORE: 8.5 / 10

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The Indie Shelf: “Valiant Hearts: The Great War”

Hello everybody! For this edition of the Indie Shelf we have a newly released puzzle-adventure game called Valiant Hearts: The Great War.


Developer(s) Ubisoft Montpellier
Publisher(s) Ubisoft
Engine UbiArt Framework
Platform(s) PlayStation Network,Microsoft Windows,Xbox Live Arcade
Release date(s) PlayStation Network

  • NA June 24, 2014
  • PAL June 25, 2014

Microsoft Windows &Xbox Live Arcade
June 25, 2014[1]

Genre(s) Puzzle adventure

The story of crossed destinies and a broken love in a world torn apart. All of them will try to survive the horror of the trenches following their faithful canine companion. In Valiant Hearts: The Great War, the lives of all these characters are inextricably drawn together over the course of the game. Friendship, love, sacrifice, and tragedy befall each one as they help each other to retain their humanity against the horrors of war. The game is inspired by letters written during the Great War and has four characters on the battlefield help a young German soldier find his love in this story about survival, sacrifice and friendship.

Taking place between 1914 and 1918 during the outbreak of World War I, the characters must make their way across the war-torn battlefields. Each character can solve a different set of puzzles, such as Emile using a bone as a makeshift level, and Freddie using wire-cutters to bypass dangerous obstacles.

The game’s art style is resembles a hand-drawn, comic book style. With exaggerated character designs to create contrast to the war-torn environments.

I don’t want to give too much away, but Valiant Hearts: The Great War is significant in many ways. It not only gives us a rewarding and engaging way to see the horrors of war as it pertains to this particular likable cast of characters, but it also educates us on one of the most significant events in history. Ubisoft Montpellier could have just delivered a good game and called it a day, but they went above and beyond the call of duty to add context to the proceedings, and that is quite the commendable effort.

The animation hums with personality, giving heroes a distinctive shamble or a muscular onward stride. Where other games have tried to bring war to life through realism – like Brothers in Arms or the early Calls of Duty – or through dark fantasy, like The Darkness, Valiant Hearts does it through artistry and suggestion. If anything, it makes it all the more shocking, and perhaps less prone to the usual WWI clichés. Sure, we get the mud, the machine-gun fire, the trenches, but this is more a game about smaller, human moments than about waves of men being thrown over the top to die.

It’s not always effective. Valiant Hearts’ biggest problem is that the gameplay can be pedestrian, no matter how imaginatively it’s visualised. With no inventory system as such the puzzles are often limited to moving objects here and pushing levers there, digging through spaces, rotating wheels or distracting guards. If you thought the puzzles in Broken Age were disappointingly simple, then you might not even consider Valiant Hearts’ puzzles to actually be puzzles. The highlights involve the dog, who’s used as a sort of remote helper, going into areas where your hero cannot reach or can’t be seen. Even these, however, won’t have you scratching your head for more than a minute.


  • Beautiful animation.
  • Creative Backdrops.
  • So much pathos!
  • Historical facts.


  • Heavy handed narration.
  • Some tiresome and not challenging puzzles.

SCORE: 8.5 / 10

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