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Splendid Indie: Grey Matter & A Cry For Help

Another splendidly weird new ouvre from Edmumd McMillen, he of Meat Boy, Aether, Gish and, er, “Lady Garden“.

He describes Grey Matter (yay for Grey with an e!), co-developed with Tommy Refenes (who was behind the IGF-charming goo game that wasn’t World of Goo, Goo) as an “anti-shooter” – which doesn’t stop it from being a shmup, but it’s a beautifully-drawn one with an excellent twist.
Your craft – actually a speedy black dot, which you can upgrade with shields and extra-damage lumps – is the bullet itself rather than a gun platform. It’s in the Robotron/Geometry Wars et al mould, only you have to charge yourself at your enemies rather than hang back and pick ’em off from afar. Which means every attack you make is a gamble, in the way that’s usually reserved for darting towards a danger-flecked power-up.

Initially it’s just a matter of dodging your foes’ bullets to get to them, but as thing goes on, and grows furiously hard, you need to aim at specific points of their bodies. Some have sperm-like tails, deadly on contact, others have large horns guarding their weak spots. Sperm and horns: yes, there’s a bio-naughtiness theme to all this. Hardly a surprise, given McMillen’s prior work, though here in theory you’re attack floating brains. Is it just my filthy mind that sees those split-ended pink globes grow ever more like a gentleman’s apparatus? I suspect not.

In its maudlin loading screen talk of anguish and similar mental uh-ohs, plus that essential concept of attacking the brain (and the brain fighting back), there’s clearly an underlying metaphor or two – another of McMillen’s hallmarks.

Which leads neatly onto a second piece of McMillen-centric news. Edmund’s been turning out a vast number of independent games and comics for a good ten years now, and has amassed a vast digi-legacy in that time. He’s decided to archive the lot onto one CD, wryly named This Is A Cry For Help. And This Is A Trailer:

Which a) ably demonstrates the remarkable ingenuity of the man and his many games b) made me exclaim “man! Indie games!” at least four times whilst watching it and c) has had me humming whatever that song is for the last half hour.

That’s seventeen games, 15 comics and a whole bunch of other stuff, yours for a mere $10 (which is about six of your Englisher pounds). Order it from here: this tireless one-ish man band unquestionably deserves our tribute.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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