Indie Gems Bundle – Explosions Edition Review

The Indie Gems Bundle – Explosions Edition features three appropriately explosive games. Featuring Steredenn: Binary Stars, NeuroVoider and Transcripted, the bundle brings together these three titles at a discounted price. Each of these games offer different gameplay experiences, so there’s at least one game in there sure to be enjoyable.

The first title mentioned in this bundle is Steredenn: Binary Stars. This version of the game includes the Binary Stars expansion, which adds a ton of content to the base game. Boasting randomly generated environments and insane boss fights, this rogue-like game is no doubt a bargain. 

The next title in the bundle is NeuroVoider. This twin stick shooter stands out with its stunning visuals and futuristic setting accompanied with wacky ideas. The game focuses on coop play, but can also be played alone.

The final title in this bundle is Transcripted. This title is a mix of two easy to pick up genres, dual-stick shooter and a puzzle game. This plus near limitless customisation options for their “Nano Probe” helps add to this games replayability.

My first gameplay impressions of Steredenn were excellent. The first mission provided an easy enough challenge. It gave me a chance to get use to the controls and various movement and attack options. As I progressed throughout the game, the levels and bosses grew gradually harder. There was no noticeable spike in difficulty though, which is great for this type of game. 

After a certain point, the game began feeling more like a bullet hell due to how difficult and precise the action was. This challenge is what kept me coming back for more time and time again, each time with a new ship unlocked and ready to use thanks to my previous accomplishments.

NeuroVoider is a completely different experience than Steredenn. Starting off in a small room, an assistant robot quickly tells me what I need to do. I was provided with multiple options on how I’d like my character to perform. Dash, rampage or fortress were these options, each with their own unique gameplay style. The assistant then walked me through how to use each of these options with the various commands. 

This easy tutorial was much appreciated for someone who rarely plays this genre of game. After completing the tutorial I was able to choose a skill. With a large selection of 27 skills available, it was very difficult to choose just one. As such I went with random. The game then allowed me to choose one out of 3 missions. The difficulty spike was incredible from here on out. There was no gradual build up, it was just difficult from the very beginning. 

Transcripted was the final title in the bundle and was by far the most unique game in the bundle. After a lengthy info dump about the story at the beginning of the game, the gameplay begins. Using a long and easy to understand tutorial, I traversed the level as a piece of nano equipment. The gameplay is fairly simple even on a harder difficulty. My only gripe with the beginning of the game is the music. It doesn’t mesh well with the atmosphere that the character dialogue creates.

Graphically, out of all of the games in the bundle, Steredenn fits the style and genre the best. It’s not overly new or jaw dropping, but considering the gameplay, it certainly makes the most sense. The 2D pixel type sprites make the game feel a little more retro too.

Whilst this retro type feel also exists with the graphical design of NeuroVoider, it is somewhat lost in the style of game. Due to NeuroVoider being a twin-stick shooter, areas usually have repeating enemies, environments and items. This repetition became more noticeable the further through the game I play, which ultimately takes away from the immersion. 

Last but not least is the graphical style of Transcripted. This game uses both real life assets, such as pictures of humans, with sci-fi styled level design. Unfortunately the game doesn’t allow for the amount of sci-fi visuals that might be initially expected. This is due to the levels being compact in design and rarely very exciting to play through. Whilst initially the game comes across as one of a kind, it quickly devolves into something very plain and boring to look at, due to the set colour schemes and repeating sci-fi nature.

The music in Steredenn is certainly one of my favourite aspects of the game. From the very first impression on the main menu, the music was truly epic. Combining a techno vibe with deep and mysterious sounds certainly helped build the atmosphere for the game before gameplay had even began.

The music in NeuroVoider and Transcripted were somewhat fillers for the action. The music played at times of little importance, and was uninspired at the best of times. It felt like a typical generic soundtrack in each of the titles, instead of feeling like an addition to the title.

Whilst all the games shared a somewhat sci-fi theme, I’d personally say they don’t belong in a bundle together. They differ in gameplay and in purpose so much that it’s difficult to find a reason they’d be related to each other. 

Conclusion

The star of this bundle is without a doubt Steredenn. The music, graphical design and gameplay blended the best out of all three games and gave the most enjoyable long term replayability. Unfortunately, the lack of this perfect blend from the other two titles means the bundle as a whole is pulled down. Whilst incredible concepts and briefly fun games, NeuroVoider and Transcripted fail to provide an easily accessible experience that stays both fun and interactive for a long period of time. NeuroVoider succeeds with being fun and interactive, whilst Transcripted succeeds with being easily accessible. If these two games were to learn from each other then no doubt they would be much more of a success.

This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Good
  • All Unique games
  • Engaging tutorials
Bad
  • Very niche audience
  • Not very fun despite large replay value
  • Not enough value for money
5.8
Average
Gameplay - 6
Graphics - 6
Audio - 7
Longevity - 4
Written by
I'm a longtime Halo and anime fan. Been playing on the Xbox since release back in 2001. I strive to set dreams and achieve them every year, all while gaining new experiences. One of my proudest achievements so far is visiting the home of Halo, 343 Industries Headquarters.

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