Fell entire rooms of enemies with the power of your Spacebar. Collect umpteen millions of crystals to buy upgrades, paving the way to destroy thousands more enemies. All this power in you, at a mere 19 pixels high. Welcome to Meritous.
Mo’ money, mo’ problems. That’s why we use crystals!
You start the game in a safe place. Fumbling around, you figure the arrows move you around and the spacebar does something interesting. Stepping outside your safe sanctuary, a monster appears, throwing black and white fireballs at you. Using your only known ability, the mystical Space Bar, you press it and release, causing a pulse of energy to emanate from you, consuming the monsters fireballs and the monster itself, all of which turn into crystals. You’ve made your first kill.
You hunger for more. You find other interesting things in the Dome, teleport pads, save spaces, upgrade points, and realise you need more crystals to pay for lovely shields and psi upgrades. You kill more, then find a compass, pointing you in the direction of your first guarded treasure room. Your vision turns red and you kill its guardians, revealing fantastic artifacts that give you powers to make your crawl ever easier. Wondering what other powers you must be missing out on, you play for just a few more minutes…
The gameplay of Meritous is so simple you have to wonder why we bother with other more complicated genres and controls at all? The game is delightfully easy to pick up, but with steadily increasing difficulty, rewarding diligent players with more powerful enemies and artifacts, eventually leading to difficult but fun and memorable boss battles. So what’s missing?
You could say graphics. Certainly, as someone who owns a 24″ monitor, there’s something irritating about a game whose window is only 640×480 pixels, and cannot be full screen. And for a dungeon crawler, the white background becomes an eyesore if you enjoy crawling at night. But as you play, the retro colours slowly grow in charm, and there’s something wonderful about the rooms of the game changing colour dynamically to reflect their danger. And you can always live with the game’s window by multitasking your MSN and web surfing.
You could say music. And while they are certainly not in the league of Nobuo Uematsu’s orchestral gaming masterpieces, they set the tone of dungeon crawling perfectly, changing to suit the mood, and like the graphics, have a certain retro charm which slowly grows on you.
He’s about to burst my bubble!
You could guess gameplay, but there’s almost nothing to fault. Sure, the author’s name which plays when you start the game is annoying and the map needs fixing as “Shield Upgrade” and “Save point” both appear on it as “S”. But anyone who can operate a computer can play this game, its fantastically well paced, ensuring that you cannot encounter overly powerful enemies before you’re able to face them. The ever increasing challenge of your foes ensures you don’t let your finances stagnate too long, forcing you to upgrade to cope.
Shooting stars, that actually shoot me. With lasers.
Meritous is a polished, shining gem in a sea of indie games desperate for quality control. Shamelessly addictive, a tiny file size, fast gameplay and an easy learning curve, at a mere 2.7MB, unless you are prejudiced against single player games, there’s no reason not to download this right now and give it a try.