When I first heard that Team Indie is a game about a cat that got sucked into a computer it conjured up all kinds of horrible images of feline fur and CPU fans. Fortunately, it turns out that the cat, named Marvin by the way, is actually sucked INTO the computer where it becomes a game character. This means that instead of a pair of scissors and a resolution to never leave the computer case open again, Marvin’s owner uses other indie game characters to help out the hapless tabby.
Seeing as Marvin is just an ordinary, talking, bipedal cat, he can’t really do much on his own except jump. Since Team Indie is a platform game this isn’t a bad skill to have, but there are also puzzles involved, which is where the rest of the team comes in handy. Marvin’s owner is apparently quite a hacker and is able to send help in the form of other famous indie game characters, each with their own skills. The full list includes Commander Video, Clunk, Super Crate Box Guy, Black Fluff Ball, Tiny, Mi, J. Jitters, Dustgirl and Tim from Runner 2, Awesomenauts, Super Crate Box, Badland, Tiny & Big, Knytt Underground, The Great Jitters: Pudding Panic, Dustforce and Braid respectively. Most indie game fans will have played some, if not all of these titles, which makes it a real treat to see them together in this game. With such a star studded cast Team Indie has a huge advantage right off the bat, but it’s what it does with these famous faces that really counts.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, Team Indie is a platform title, but with a very puzzle heavy slant. The goal is to reach the exit at the end of the stage, but on his own Marvin doesn’t have a chance. At certain points in the level there are switches which gives you control over one of the other nine characters. The characters are auto assigned to each level, so you don’t get to choose who you want to use, but you’ll spend a fair amount of time with each one. Each character has their own special ability, so for example, Dustgirl can double jump and run along certain surfaces, Super Crate Box Guy can use a sword or mini gun and Black Fluff Ball is able to fly. These abilities are not always a blessing, as in the case of Commander Video who is unable to stop running. The task of reaching the exit to each level is complicated by the fact that you will need to use all the special abilities of the characters to do so. This might not sound so bad until you realize that although you can only control one character at a time, you have to work as a team to complete the level.
This means that you are in essence playing a co-op game with yourself as each character is able to interact with the “ghost” of a previous run. For example, some gaps might be too wide for Marvin to cross on his own, requiring you to use J. Jitters to create platforms in all the right places first. Each character switch serves as a checkpoint and you can rewind time back to every previous checkpoint, which is something you’ll be doing a lot. This is because mistakes are not always obvious and you might have to rewind back two or three checkpoints once you realize that a certain character was not in the right place at the right time. The result is plenty of trial-and-error which is something that players might find annoying. Apart from manipulating time to rewind back to checkpoints, you can also use fast forwards to avoid waiting about for a previous run to get into the right position. The whole time manipulation thing is not a new gimmick and we have seen it crop up recently in quite a few games, but Time Indie still manages to pull it off quite well. It’s obviously not perfect and can be a real pain at times, but it is also quite satisfying when everything falls into place and you make it to the exit.
Team Indie has more than fifty levels to complete, including three boss fights against Oscar, the jealous cat who is responsible for Marvin being stuck inside a computer in the first place. The boss fights are all homages to other games which is a neat touch and will bring a smile to the face of indie game fans. Apart from all the action and puzzle solving the levels are also packed with diamonds and trophies to collect. The trophies are usually in hard to reach places, which encourages you to wander off the beaten track a bit. The trophies are also all tied to Steam achievements for extra bragging rights. Since characters can only take one hit before they are sent back to the nearest checkpoint Team Indie is quite a tricky title, but a recent patch helped a lot to improve the design of certain levels.
The visuals in Team Indie are crisp and colorful although I would have liked to see a bit more detail for the backgrounds. The characters all look good and are true to their original versions, but the animations could have been a bit better. Since all the characters are so well known and recognized Marvin looks a bit bland in comparison. It would have been neat if there were some rewards for collecting trophies in the form of hats or costumes that could give Marvin a bit more personality, but I guess the budget didn’t stretch that far. Overall the visuals are pretty decent and everything is very family friendly, so there is no blood and gore.
The audio could have been better as I found the level music to be quite average and not really memorable. Because the music is constantly looping the tunes can also become a bit annoying. It is a pity as the song used for the boss battles is very good which just makes the other tunes sound more anti climatic in comparison. The game definitely works best with a controller, but PC players used to their keyboard for platformers will do fine. Upon release the game had a few issues with the controls, most notably when using Dustgirl, but the recent patch fixed this along with glitches like falling through the floor. The patch also fixed the collision for the second boss, which makes this battle considerably easier.
Despite the wonderful cast Team Indie never really reaches the same heights as the games it borrows its characters from. It is really a pity too as this kind of character team up is usually only found in fan fiction and the imaginations of players. If you are a devotee of the genre and the characters you’ll have a blast, but be warned the game does have a rather slow start. Stick with it though and you’ll find a challenging title which, while not as good as it could have been, still has a lot to offer.
- OS: Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8
- Processor: 2.3 GHz dual core
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: Dedicated OpenGL supported with 256 MB
- OS: Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8
- Processor: 2.8 GHz Intel Core i5
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: Radeon HD 4890, 512 MB