[Colin Brown of Backlog Journey guest reviews the games in the latest Indie Royale offering, The May Hurray Bundle.]

Let me tell you a little bit about Strange Adventures in Infinite Space. It's a small freeware game I downloaded on a whim a few years back, and I proceeded to be totally blown away by it. It was the perfect definition of a lunch time game, as every trek into Infinite Space would be wrapped up in twenty minutes or less. I survived many nights of university essay writing by taking Strange Adventure breaks every four hundred words or so. It was simple, addicting and short, a perfect combination. Three years later, Indie Royale blows my mind and reveals that there was a sequel this whole time. Trust me when I say I'm pretty biased here, but also believe me when I say this game is pretty incredible fun.

In fairness, Weird Worlds is less a sequel and more of an enhanced remake where there's simply more of everything. The simple graphics of SAIS get an upgrade, but all the elements of Infinite Space are still present and instantly recognizable. There's more gear to kit out your ships, more random events and planets to visit and more discoveries to make.


But even with more of everything, the game is still quite simple. You are given a map of the sector, and simply click on which system you want to visit. Combat is generally infrequent, but operates like a very hands off RTS. Like SAIS, Weird Worlds puts you in the role of starship captain, assigned to a twenty year mission in the "plausibly implausible" Purple Void sector. You get to boldly go on your very own little star trek, visiting planets and meeting aliens while upgrading your ship to perfect fighting form. You'll gather rare specimens, ancient artefacts and encounter a large variety of intelligent life. All machine race bent on destroying everything? Friendly hyper advanced friends to humanity? Warlike reptile race that could plausibly be a Gorn cousin? All the sci-fi tropes are dutifully covered.

The awesome part of Weird Worlds is the sheer replayability. You can choose to start with three particular classes of ships; either a pacifist science vessel, an underground pirate smuggling ship or a top of the line human corvette. Each of the classes gives you a push in the right direction, but you can pretty much choose to do whatever you want once you enter the sector. If you want to become a passive scientist that runs away from all conflict, it's totally viable. If you'd rather be a Shepard style hero who assembles a team to take on a galaxy-wide threat, you can do that too. And that's all without touching the extensive mods that have built up for the game.


The really jarring thing is that all of these adventures last no more than half an hour. There's a lot of roguelike elements at play; your poor captains will die plenty, there is no saving and a lot of it is luck based. But that's the fun of it; the twenty years of your mission will fly by, so the replayability comes from trying new roles and getting higher scores. Lots of games claim to be perfect for bite sized sessions, but Weird Worlds is one of the few that delivers a deep engaging experience as well.

Soup Du Jour:

If the thought of yet another match three game makes you cringe, and the massive glut of physics based puzzlers just annoys you at this point, you probably won't be pleased to hear that Soup Du Jour is a combination of both. Don't run away just yet though, because despite my misgivings Digital Eel managed to combine these two elements into a very fun hook for a puzzle game.

In Sour Du Jour, blobby shapes of various size and colour constantly drop into a slowly swaying pot. Drag matching shapes together and they'll bond; get four together and they'll disappear. The goal is to match enough groups of four together before you're completely overwhelmed. However, the challenge is to do so without causing your blobs of jelly to go flying everywhere, as losing more than five out of the pot is a game over. It's hard to tell from the screenshots, but the physics make the game tougher than it sounds. Simply trying to move one shape between the cracks of the others can have dire effects on the general stability of your soup, and bad elements like bombs, missiles and giant shapes try to mess things up for your high scores.

As a bonus game, Soup Du Jour is a very pleasant surprise. I didn't think I had a place in my heart for another match three style game, but Digital Eel managed to make one that is a lot of fun to play. It looks simple, but the unpredictable physics adds a ton of chaos to the genre.

[Get these games and more in the current running May Hurray Bundle on the IndieGames co-created site, Indie Royale.]