Winter's Heart is probably my favorite of the over 100 Game Maker winter contest games I've played so far. It's made by Bit Pimp aka Darthlupi, who is responsible for some of the best classic Game Maker games (such as Mage Craft, Raging Skies, The Cleaner, and Legend of Shadow). It fits in no one genre, it has puzzle and action elements, and RPG-like upgrades.

Use Z to hoist and then strike with your staff, holding it longer produces more forceful blows. This however cannot harm enemies, but it can be used to knock snowballs into them, which can create chain reactions and temporarily stun enemies -- and while they are stunned, use the staff again to banish them. You can also use X to roll up snowballs for this purpose if you run out of a level's starting set, although this drains your freeze meter. Press C to use a spell (which takes away from your score), and press A and S to cycle between your spells (which you can buy and upgrade using your score).

I like that it isn't just a set of levels, but there's a background story, bosses, and really great music. One thing I like about the game is that it's very economical with its elements, you only have two meters. The freeze meter doubles as health (you have to restart the level when it fills) and, because it's constantly moving down, also triples as your time limit. Your score and doubles as your magic points, because you use it up when you cast spells, and it triples as your currency, because you use it to buy new spells and upgrade them.

Name: Winter's Heart
Developer: BitPimp/Darthlupi
Category: Arcade/Action/Puzzle/RPG
Type: Freeware
Size: 3.2 MB
Direct download page: Click here

Review by Paul Eres