Curve Studios: Consistently Ahead of the Curve
I've been reviewing games for a few years and have been fortunate enough to be in regular contact with Curve Studios during that time. From my first interactions with them in the WiiWare title Fluidity, I knew they made games the way they needed to be: easy to access, hard to master, and most of all fun. Today there's a resurgence of the "indie" game, as people look to get away from the AAA big-budget titles and get back to just having fun.
Early this year, Curve amassed four of their recent titles into one "Mega Bundle". At $27.99, this pack is a solid deal on four quality games that would normally cost much more individually purchased. Combining Proteus, Thomas Was Alone, Lone Survivor: Director's Cut, and Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark, Curve shows high-quality in the variety of titles it releases. With this package, you'll get stealth, horror, puzzle, and an artistic game for less than the price of a full retail release.
I was fortunate enough to receive a review code that splayed all four of these titles across my PS3 when I simply offered to review the Lost Clones DLC for Stealth, Inc. I found myself pleasantly surprised. While I had experienced Lone Survivor and Proteus before, Thomas was brand new and I had only played Stealth on my iPhone. Add on the fact that this bundle is mixed in with a PlayStation Cross-by experience for PS3 and Vita, and you've got a solid sell.
For those who may not have yet dipped their toes into Curve's waters, Stealth Inc. is the side-scrolling spawn of Portal and Metal Gear, with a little Super Meat Boy added in for extra flair. Puzzles abound in each room, with instant death available to anyone who fails. The Lost Clones DLC (my original review, but not part of this bundle) adds a slew of extra levels, with some smart nods to the original, as you cross paths with other clones fighting their way out of the facility. Lone Survivor is one of the scariest games I've played in ages, which is amazing, considering it's a 16 bit at best sidescroller. Rationing supplies and your own wits as you try to figure out how to stay alive, with unnerving visuals and audio that will mess with your mind, choosing to be stealthy and plan safe sleep havens or go in guns blazing and rely on drugs to keep you awake and alive. When this game made me avoid the title screen as I was selecting games on the main menu, I knew the developers did exactly what they set out to do. Thomas was Alone set the bar the exact opposite way: a joy to play with a fun humorous narrator that helps tell the stories of a clan of digital personalities represented by simple colored blocks. For all that it is, it grips you and makes you want to learn more. And as for Proteus, it's a random island generator that allows you to explore the world within in a three dimensional 8 bit world. The simplicity of the game is the perfect wind-down after a stressful day, with no real goals other than exploring and having fun.
All four of these titles have a bit of "app" status to me, where it may not draw me in, planning to play it on my drive home from work, they do grip ahold once you boot them up. These games will offer a great value to Vita and PS3 owners, allowing you to swap between, and Vita allows the bonus of playing Proteus in a quiet, calm room, Thomas with headphones during the daily commute, or Lone Survivor in the darkest, spookiest place you can find. Once you activate one of these games, they draw you in, much like the dull glow of a classic arcade game calling to you across the arcade.
Curve Studios isn't stopping either. With Titan Attacks and Velocity Ultra out, and several new projects in the works, this is a game development company that I can easily say is on the way up with a lot going for it. Check out their website at curve-studios.com, where they keep a steady blog showing their upcoming developments. Their title Stranded was put out on Steam in late May, as well.
I was fortunate to be put in contact with Curve at the start of my writing career, and have watched the group blossom into a wonderfully solid development studio. Keep track of their future releases, as I feel the solid quality of this team guarantees a winning title every time they release a new one.