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Fear in a Handful of Dust

  • kumada
  • 11/24/2011 09:05 PM
Vermicide is a first date with a shy axe-murderer. Short, sweet, and brutal. To continue the metaphor, it's also complex, utterly unforgiving, and you feel rewarded for just surviving it.

In terms of setting and plot, Vermicide is a little bit like Fallout by way of The Road, or maybe Garth Ennis' Crossed. It's set in a relentless, desolate post-apocalyptic wasteland, rather than the wacky mutated fairytopia that a lot of devs seem to think will come after the bomb, and as such is more an exercise in resource management than Final Fantasy style mechanics abuse (fans of Visions and Voices or Finding Eden, take note.) The dialog feels plausible and compelling, even if it's hampered by the comparative shortness of the game, and if you can let yourself slip out of survival mode for a few minutes, you can even relate to the characters as more than just bags of usable numbers keeping you from death.

Vermicide was made in a very short period of time, and it shows, but it's also fairly inspiring. This was largely a one man project, and the final result is polished very smooth.

There are one or two areas where Vermicide is lacking. The game really feels its shortness, with a final boss fight that kinda pops out of nowhere, and the musical choices, while choice, are somewhat limited. Rise Against over the end credits? Yes. I approve. A single Mars Volta song for all of combat? Not so much. It's not even a bad song, and it seems to fit the tone, but lyrics really break into the repetitive combat music groove, and with how quickly combat can go, you'll probably never hear the song in its entirety and just get the first verse stuck in your head.

Ultimately, I'd recommend this to three specific subsets of gamer. The gritty/bleak crowd, the masocore crowd (although it's pretty soft core for a masocore,) and the there-for-the-good-writing-come-hell-or-high-water crowd. Everyone else may want to give this a miss. Or duct tape their thumb to the save button.


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I love this game, it's one of my favorite games by Max.
Max McGee
My name is Legion: for we are many.
Kumada: it is almost mandatory that you play Everything Turns Gray. It is Vermicide only moreso, set in the same universe, a boatload of awesome new features, etcetera. I really think you'd enjoy (what little there is of) it very much. And it has much better battle music.

Thank you very much for this review.

It's both well-written and fair (and on top of those, succinct!), the site (not just me) could use more reviews like it, so keep going.

It's odd how sometimes the games that I spent the least time/effort/thought on receive the most praise and attention, while my magnum...opii...man does that not pluralize well! Anyway, while my bigger works (which are also the bigger development time sinks) are sometimes not so well received.
It looks awesome, but is Everything Turns Gray still in production? I enjoyed the hell out of Vermicide, so I went out and downloaded a bunch of your other projects, and...uh, I noticed that a lot of them are incomplete. I understand the creative ADD. I pretty much only write short stories for that reason. Anything longer gets binned the second something new and shiny catches my eye. That said, I'm crossing my fingers and hoping ETG gets finished. It's got a lot of promise, and the only reason I haven't fired up the demo yet is because I'm working my way through Backstage right now.

(Incidentally, what is the combination for the piano in the church? I'm at the horrifyingly unfair quadruple nightgaunt ambush with two maltovs and two hp, and I'm hoping playing the right notes on the piano might get me the cure ampoule or shotgun shells needed to survive it. I'm, like, three rooms away from sticking that bloody chrono trigger back in the door, and I'm not sure backing up to another save will get me the resources needed to survive spontaneous winged gang violence.)
Max McGee
My name is Legion: for we are many.
ETG getting finished'd sadly been more likely to happen in '08 or '09, the last time I was actively working on it. Still: there is stuff there that would entertain you.

I suffer through creative ADD badly. The only two (solo) projects I actually intend to finish before vanishing from this scene forever are Backstage 2 and an as-yet-unrevealed project that's a reboot of a previous game of mine. I had to prioritize, and EtG didn't make the cut, sadly, but there's still hours of gameplay there to keep you occupied.

As for the Backstage question...I almost wanna say you should ask on the appropriate gamepage in case anyone else is wondering since they're unlikely to find the answer here, but....


The puzzle is actually not a piano puzzle, per se. There is only one secret switch on the piano, and three other secret switches in the room. You need to hit the four switches in the correct order. The horrifically gruesome death sequence if you hit them in the wrong order includes a hint to what order to hit them in. Make sure and examine every object in the church carefully to find all of the switches.

Okay. I am calm. I can rationally solve that puzzle. I've only lost a few hours of progress, instead of the whole game. Fffffffff-

Anyway, is there a particular reason that you're leaving the scene? I know the community is less robust than it used to be, but has anyone considered trying to migrate finished projects onto a site like Kongregate (where the exposure is better, and cash incentives are sometimes offered,) and using communities like rpg maker as a development resource? I think I've seen rpg maker projects on Newgrounds before, but I don't know if there's some sort of community stigma that goes along with doing that sort of thing.
Max McGee
My name is Legion: for we are many.
Anyway, is there a particular reason that you're leaving the scene?

It's...complicated. And it's not necessarily a really for sure thing.
Well, for what it's worth, I hope you stick around. You've cranked out some excellent games (from what I've played so far) and it would be a shame for the medium to lose ya.
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