Team Indie takes several characters and gameplay elements from a selection of indie games and blends them into a novel puzzle platformer. Like a lot of games in this genre, it also blends frustration with excitement – find out how much of each we experienced in our review.
When we did our Team Indie preview after Gamescom, it was clear that this wasn’t just a generic game with some indie game characters thrown into the mix. What could have been another Super Smash Brothers clone turned out to be a puzzle platformer with some intricate mechanics and diverse gameplay due to the inclusion of nearly a dozen familiar characters.
Your main character in the game is Marvin the cat, whose goal in each level is to find the exit and find as many gems as possible along the way. It sounds simple enough, but to do this he needs the help of some familiar characters such as Commander Video (BIT.TRIP Runner), Dustgirl (Dustforce) and Tim (Braid). By collecting and selecting their icons in the game, you switch to their character and rewind time. This allows your ‘guest character’ to clear a path for you, so that the coast is clear when you switch back to Marvin.
It’s this mechanic that makes for some clever puzzle solving, especially when multiple characters are thrown into the mix. This happens after the first 7 levels, which serve as a tutorial of sorts. After that, a new character is introduced every few levels – and they all have their own unique special ability. This ranges from sliding underneath obstacles to running up walls to the ability to create platforms in mid-air. The key to success quickly becomes to use the right ability at the right time, and when it all comes together it creates a great sense of accomplishment.
It’s a great gameplay concept that’s not too different from Brightside’s own Zeit2 from a while ago, but it’s also where Team Indie’s flaw lies. The intricate collaboration between all your characters means that careful planning and timing is of the utmost importance, but in some of the larger levels you have no overview of what’s coming up and you end up in a game of trial and error. This is a shame, because it adds a layer of frustration to the game that perhaps could have been avoided.
As it stands, the more complicated levels are actually more fun during a second or third playthrough – when you know what’s coming up and either find the fastest or most creative way to get through the level after dealing with the initial frustration. This approach, however, takes perseverence and patience. Team Indie might look like a casual platformer with its cute graphics and cheerful music, but what lies underneath is a very challenging puzzle platformer that could very well frustrate the casual players it attracts.
If you’re a fan of straight up platforming then some of the games that inspired Team Indie’s guest appearances might be better options for you, but if you’re like us and like your games to emphasize complex puzzle solving then be sure to check out this game. It’s not the next Braid and it’s not for everyone, but if you’re willing to persevere through the initial frustration then blazing through a level using three or more different characters sure is cool. Just don’t tell other people watching that you’ve played the level before.