Xbox Live Indie games release in streaks.  Whole weeks will go by with nothing coming out.  Then Zeus will declare “unleash the Crapan!” and a flood of sewage-saturated indies will hit.  Honestly, it’s not that bad.  It’s just always a little overwhelming in a “where do I begin?” sort of way.  Starting with a game like Volley seems like a good warm-up act, until I remember that well-meaning, not at all horrible games that have little in the way of gameplay can be just as soul-crushing for me to write about as a terrible game is to play.

Volley is the second game I’ve played this week that was created by students, only these ones come from Munich.  Smart people they have in Munich.  They all speak German fluently.  Crazy impressive, huh?  Volley is similar to a previous XBLIG I encountered: Bug Ball, a game that both myself and Brian really enjoyed.  Volley tries to play like an evolved version of it.  There’s more power-ups and you’re given more control over the ball.  So how come I didn’t like it as much as Bug Ball?  Perhaps the games are too similar.  Both are 2D, arcade-oriented versions of volleyball.  Both are pretty heavy on the glitchy side.  Both can be played with up to four-players, although Volley skimps on online play in favor of not having online play.

What makes Volley different is you play as a circle that grows a bulge in it when you fiddle with the stick.  And I just realized that did not come out right.  I meant to say that if you tug on the right stick, it grows an erect extension that can be used for smacking the balls that come at it.  I mean, you know what?  Fuck it, here’s the trailer.

Okay, see what I’m talking about?  It does that.  But honestly, that appendage thing isn’t that big a deal, as most of the time we just jumped up and bopped the ball without swinging at it.  You can use it to create  a power shot, but none of us could quite get the hang of it.  The physics of using the bulge seem to be lacking a bit of oomph.  Speaking of oomphless stuff, the power-ups are mostly worthless.  All one of them does is turn the lights out, which might make a difference if all the players and the ball didn’t suddenly light up like they were dipped in plutonium.  Other times, it will put up little water-fall blocks that you have to hit the ball over or under.  Or it will put a bomb on the table.  No clue what the point of that is, since it never once detonated anywhere near a player.  Finally, it will sometimes drop multiple balls onto the table.  This is fine for 2 v 2 play, but one-on-one it’s simply a dick move because you can’t possibly keep both balls alive.

Even with all the problems, Volley is perfectly decent waste of a one dollar, provided you haven’t already played Bug Ball.  Volley did make me wonder if I would have liked it more if I hadn’t already played such a similar game.  Nah, I don’t think that’s the case.  Bug Ball was also slightly more fast paced, had a bigger variety of courts, and the grab-mechanics were more fun than the appendage thing that Volley has.  Yea, this is really unfair.  Volley is a pretty fun and should be rated on its own.  But I can’t.  This is like trying to decide if Zack or Cody is hotter.  An absurd debate, by the way.  It’s clearly Cody.

Volley was developed by Glassbox Games

IGC_Approved80 Microsoft Points sprained their wrist twice trying to play volleyball in the making of this review. 

Volley is ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.  Click here to see where it landed.

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

4 Responses to Volley

  1. This looks like it would be a lot more fun to play in a Kinect or phone version.

  2. Thanks for the review.

    First: Believe it or not, we never heard of Bug Ball before…
    Wouldn’t have made a difference anyway, we started volley about a year ago.

    When I first read the review I thought: “Oh my god, she totally hates it”.
    Then I saw it’s ranked on the leaderboard, which means it’s a positive review if I’m right.
    You can’t imagine how relived I was ;).

    It’s hard to read a review of yours about his own game. But can’t complain, it’s fair.

    We did put a lot of effort in technical stuff like our particle system and writing the shaders, but also in things like designing the menu or creating 3D-rendered intros for the levels. (hope you liked it).
    Some of it sadly didn’t make it in the game, for example Motion-Blur was too much for the Xbox.

    It was a lot of fun making the game and I think you can also have a lot of fun playing it, esp. in 2v2.

    @Awesome Enterprises:
    In fact one of us is currently working on a Kinect implementation. But only because we think it’s cool, sadly Microsoft doesn’t allow Indies to release Kinect games.

    • It’s fucking absurd that Microsoft doesn’t allow Kinect support, given how they beat people over the head with using Kinect. It’s not like any of the official games for it are worth the hype, with maybe Disneyland being the sole exception.

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