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Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

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Download Games Roundup

Vorpal! Zeit²! Darts! Blimp! Swap!

We knew it couldn't last. After the giddy heights of last week's astonishing roundup, we were denied similar excitement this time around. It was tumbleweed on PSN and Minis, complete dross from WiiWare and a solitary XBLA release to focus on, Zeit², also available from Steam.

Talking of Steam – the new year blues are still in evidence, with nothing of note at all this year, Zeit² aside, so we dug deep into the many interesting Xbox Live Indie titles this week and found plenty worth a mention.

Vorpal stood out as an obvious contender, so we plucked that one out for review. Special mentions, though, for Score Rush, ZP2KX, Chu's Dynasty, Epic Dungeon and Alpha Squad. Given the sheer volume of quality titles coming out via the Indie channel, it's tough to keep up, but it's definitely something every Xbox owner should keep a close eye on.


  • Xbox Live Indie Games – 80 Microsoft Points (£0.68)
Day of the tentacle.

I know that the real perverts among you like to bathe in a curtain of bullets. I've seen you, unblinking, after dark, illuminated only by the glow of abstract pixel art, refusing to move until the threat has been vanquished.

Red Wolf knows this too. It also fancies that you enjoy the prospect of a Touhou-style shmup bedecked in intricate monochrome Manga art and yours for 80 piddling Microsoft points. It would be right.

Essentially a series of boss encounters, the idea in Vorpal is to try to strip away each enemy's defences, layer by layer, by training your weapons on them for as long as possible. That might not be such a tricky proposition were your opponents not capable of endlessly spewing out vast quantities of bullets in all directions.

About three-quarters of the time you're not actually focused on attacking at all, but writhing around in an elaborate limbo dance of death, trying to seek out the precious gaps in the relentless chaos.

In your favour is the Stress meter. Inflict enough damage on your opponent and the bar will rise to a maximum of 100 per cent. But if you find yourself cornered by certain death, you can temporarily turn the tables by unleashing your stress in one giant column of firepower. It still might not win you the battle, but it brings welcome respite when it's needed most.

If you like your games violent, unremitting, hypnotically beautiful and brutally unkind, Vorpal demands your attention. You can thank me later.