Space games can be so astoundingly complex that they often feel like more of a career than a leisure activity. So it’s a treat to find something like Subdivision Infinity DX, a space combat game that focuses on the fun.
Sometimes well-delivered simplicity is just the tonic, so let’s get started with this week’s indie medicine.
I’ll often stare wistfully at space simulations, drawn in by their beauty before being violently thrown back out by their complexity. I’m so happy I stumbled upon Subdivision Infinity DX, a beautiful game where the focus is on the arcade shooting.
And Subdivision is beautiful. It delivers that Homeworld-ly vibe of epic vistas, with suns gleaming from behind a sprinkling of planets and space stations. I’ve lost a few battles because I was so busy taking screenshots instead of focusing on the action, but fortunately that action is just as good as the art.
Missions usually having me taking out enemy ships while also attacking space stations, and it’s all relatively simple stuff. Subdivision Infinity DX automatically locks onto nearby ships as long as I keep the reticule close enough to them, which is an effective compromise between arcade-style space shooters that either much too hard or much too easy.
These skirmishes might get a little boring if that’s all the game offered, but there’s also an exploration mode where I seek out signals that point me toward blueprints that let me build better ships, or fit a mining laser on my ship to blow up asteroids for ore while also fighting off opposition that doesn’t want me making a profit in their corner of space.
This was just what I was in the mood for.
Subdivision Infinity DX is available on Xbox One, Switch, PS4 and Mac, Linux and Windows PC for $14.99.
Terraria meets a tabletop in this low-fi crafty RPG.
It’s always an achievement when two people are able to make a game by themselves, and Blue Potion Games took things a step further by creating an RPG that takes place in a fully destructible world with mining, crafting, and building.
Shards of Azuria is a graphically simple, isometric game with pixel art that keeps everything clear and easy to understand. This is an RPG you can just pick up and play without be dragged through eons of lore and lofty conversations about the end of the world, replete with ellipses. I just turn up in town, the locals ask for some favors, and off we go!
I have to balance harvesting the materials I need for crafting with bopping the monsters with my crafted tools and abilities. The earliest quests teach me the basics of the game’s three-class structure, and I can experiment with crafting and building as soon as I’d like. If I want to start by building a house, I can. Soon enough I had the option of following the main story or going off to adventure on my own.
And structures really are destructible, which is an amusing addition. I accidentally knocked down someone’s front door, and then took out the whole wall for good measure. She was oddly generous and forgiving about the whole thing. But I also bashed my way blindly through some cave walls, and stumbled upon a whole underground chamber of baddies and goodies that I’d likely not have seen otherwise. If you get curious about what’s behind a wall or within a structure, just bash on through.
There are some problems with the isometric viewpoint, as it can too often obscure whatever you’re trying to hit or attack. I also found that I have to stand far too close to things before I could use them or harvest them. But those are tiny quibbles for a game that costs under $10, with this much to offer.
Shards Of Azaria is available on Windows PC via Steam for $7.99.
Look back in anger
Memories was released on mobile devices last month — where it was called Memories: The Best FMV Game — and now rebuilt for PC, Memories is an intriguing combination of escape room puzzles and full-motion video. The game has a vaguely Saw-like vibe, without the gruesome torture, and tells the story of a series of individuals who are trapped in different locations as some sort of response to their past actions.
The acting’s great, and, while the PC version still has video clips shown in portrait mode, the rooms themselves are rebuilt for widescreens. The only real issue is the weakness of the subtitling; the spoken dialogue is in Chinese, and the captions could have done with another translation pass.
“Zhu Yuqiang ... it should not be him, because he dares not,” isn’t a helpful line to be given when clicking on a pot of noodles. One character’s former flatmate is repeatedly called her “bosom friend.”
The final chapter makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but doesn’t really matter. The game is still enjoyable, despite, or maybe because, it’s so incoherent in places. And it’s fantastic to see FMV being used in novel ways, especially when the quality of the acting is so high. And hey, you can’t argue with the price.
Memories is available on Android, iOS, and Mac and Windows PC via Steam for $1.99.