This week’s Indie Freebies are Little Bug, an enchanting twin-stick puzzle platformer, and Chester Cornfield: Old Timey Detective, a delightfully silly point-and-click adventure.
As far as proof of concepts go, Bela Messex’s Little Bug is as polished as it gets. And what an enchanting game it promises to be. Rendered in gloriously gloomy low poly 3D, it’s a rather unique puzzle platformer in which you take control of a little girl and her companion firefly. The game begins at the site of a night-time car crash, which presumably you survived. In search of your momma, you head into a mysterious mountain forest. But as the Red Lady says in Game of Thrones, “The night is dark and full of terrors”.
The difference between this and other games of its ilk is that you control two characters simultaneously, one with each analogue stick of a gamepad. Alternatively, you can use a keyboard, but I definitely found it easier on my Xbox controller. The firefly can target the girl with a beam (“telekinetic connection”) that pulls her towards it, essentially creating a swing with itself as the fulcrum. The catch is that the beam is very transitory. Working together like this, the girl is able to jump over obstacles and avoid deadly foes.
And boy, are the hand-drawn apparitions you encounter weird and creepy. You find yourself swinging across gaping chasms filled with ginormous neon hands grasping at you, while dodging purple tears falling from blinking eyes floating in the sky. And in the far distance a strange monster watches on.
It is quite challenging, and some of the obstacle sequences require rumination and a fair bit of trial and error. Especially as very temporary platforms are often a feature. The trick is to not over swing and throw the girl too far, and you need to be precise in the positioning and movement of the firefly. Easier said than done when you’re controlling two characters, though there’s nothing to stop you enrolling a friend. Skill, timing, and patience do help. However, there is a checkpoint system, so you never have to repeat too much. Interestingly, these save points seem to coincide with collecting treasures such as flowers, toadstools, and spiders to go in the little girl’s jar.
The Little Bug demo is reasonably long and a lot of fun, though admittedly the difficulty does border on frustration on a couple of occasions. However, it’s also immensely rewarding to play and incredibly atmospheric thanks to the gorgeous art style (that starry night backdrop is just fantastic) and an ethereal and melodic soundscape. My only real complaint would be that the girl looks like she’s wearing a Groucho Marx disguise, which I found a little off-putting at times!
It certainly has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see more. If you fancy giving Little Bug a go, it can be downloaded for free either from Game Jolt here or itch.io here. It’s available for Windows and Mac.
Chester Cornfield: Old Timey Detective
If you enjoy old-school adventure games and fancy “a nostalgic romp full of old timey shenanigans to tickle your funny bone”, then you may want to check out Box of Mystery Games’ Chester Cornfield: Old Timey Detective. Be warned, it’s very silly!
It’s a point-and-clicker set in a Progressive-Era New York-style metropolis, aptly known as Old York City. Father Vincelli has fallen ill after eating at Mary’s Chicken Wagon. Constable Greenwald is convinced that the old wives’ tale-loving Chef Mary deliberately poisoned him. Looks like it’s up to the monocled, handlebar-moustached, and hard-drinking Chester Cornfield to solve the “Poisonous Poultry Predicament”.
As you’d expect, the gameplay revolves around interrogating those involved and solving a series of relatively simple inventory puzzles. Though it seems that the majority of interactable objects are there simply for the purpose of triggering joke dialogue. Rather similar in style to Charles Cecil’s Beneath A Steel Sky, the humour is very British-centric featuring all manner of ridiculous accents and Monty Python-esque foolishness, surrealism, and non-sequiturs. The gags can be a bit hit and miss, but they come so thick and fast you hardly have time to dwell on the stinkers. It certainly had me chuckling away to myself and the voice acting is pretty decent.
I also enjoyed the colourful and cartoonish but well animated 3D characters. Set in detailed pre-rendered environments, it’s hard not to think of the LucasArts’ classic Grim Fandango. And the honky-tonk piano soundtrack sets the tone perfectly.
Chester Cornfield is daft but good fun. It’s also rather short, describing itself as “demo-sized”. However, it does create a solid foundation to base a series of adventure games on.
It can be downloaded for free from Game Jolt here and is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.