Over the past few years the indie game industry has grown very quickly, and it shows no signs of stopping. Among indie games there are some that get very popular and some that receive a cult following, but a vast majority of them fall to the wayside mostly unnoticed. Mechanic Infantry is a 2D platformer from indie developer Slak Games, and it sells for $2.99 on GamersGate. Is this budget game a hidden gem, or is it even worth the download?
The 2D platformer is arguably one of the more popular genres in the indie market, especially when they are hard as nails. Games like Super Meat Boy, VVVVVV, and the ridiculous flash game I Wanna Be the Guy are popular because they are ridiculously difficult. Mechanic Infantry aims to do the same thing and it somewhat succeeds. The reason I say somewhat is because some levels will give you trouble while others are a breeze. Also, the same obstacles are recycled many times in the different levels, so while you might die the first time you will immediately know what to do on your next attempt.
When I started the game I was really confused. I was presented with a black screen with music playing, but when I hit the escape key I was brought to the menu. I started the game and it immediately threw me in. You play as a bipedal TV that runs around with a wrench, and the object is to rescue the smaller TVs trapped in cages. I did not know why at the time. When I beat a level I saw a black screen and heard music and even at the end there was only the same black screen and music. I later found out that videos are supposed to play here, so I went into the folder on my computer and watched all of them.
The story goes something like this. Your power supplies are broken so it’s up to you to fix them and rescue your friends all while running away from some big robot who apparently has nothing better to do than break TVs. As far as the videos go, I reinstalled the game and even installed it on another machine to no avail. So it wasn’t until after I finished the game that I realized there was a simple story behind it.
Even though I didn’t see the videos until after I played through the game, I did notice the art direction and it’s great. The characters and environments give me an Invader Zim vibe and the backgrounds in the levels look really cool. The music in the game consists of futuristic sounding electronic music, and it is also very good. You can even pick up the soundtrack for free on their website.
The meat of most of these indie games is the gameplay itself. Mechanic Infantry is a platformer with very simple controls. The left and right arrow keys move the character left and right, and the up arrow key is for jumping and double jumping. However, this game is not a frolic through the flowers. There is one robot chasing you at all times, and there are other obstacles that continuously get in your way. As you progress through the levels you will run into a couple of new obstacles and to unlock new levels you have to save a certain amount of little TVs in the previous stages. With a name like Mechanic Infantry I thought there was going to be some fighting, but sadly there was none.
Mechanic Infantry is not difficult because of the obstacles. It’s difficult because there is a giant robot chasing you at all times—so you have to be on your toes. After the first couple levels I noticed that the obstacles started to repeat. They were in a different order, but when I saw a repeated one I knew exactly what I had to do to beat it. Throughout the game the progression through a stage goes from “die at obstacle, figure out how to beat it” to “die at obstacle, know exactly what to do next time” and that gets old after a few levels. There are five stages with 10 short levels in each one, but it will not take you long to complete the game. It’s short by conventional gaming standards, but since it’s a budget title, that is expected.
Making a 2D indie platformer is a gamble with all of the notable ones on the market, and unfortunately Mechanic Infantry falls short of the mark. While the music is good and the 2D art is fantastic, I can’t get past the technical issues with the videos and the increasing monotony of the gameplay. Overall it feels like a mobile game trapped in the body of a PC game. Mechanic Infantry is only $2.99 so you get what you pay for, but I would suggest putting that $3 toward a slightly more expensive game that will give you a lot more bang for your buck.
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Name: Mechanic Infantry
Available on: PC
Developed by: Slak Games
Published by: Slak Games
Release date: July 4, 2011
EG Score: 2 out of 5 / “Don’t Bother”