Halloween is in just a couple days, and what better way to celebrate than with a Halloween-themed indie game? In this case, Creekside Creep Invasion, developed and produced by Ouch Giver Games. Considered a rogue-lite, this game showcases a real love for the spirit of Halloween. Easter Eggs to 80s popular culture plaster the walls everywhere you go, from Jaws to Pac-Man to 3D glasses. With so much spirit well and truly there, how does it hold up as a game?
Creekside Creep Invasion is available on Steam for $9.99.
Every time you start the game, you will have 100 Health, 100 Stamina, and Squirt's own costume. Beginning in a convenience store, With an assortment of Halloween classics such as eggs and fireworks, plus the ever-useful silver bullets, your arsenal begins with some ample variety. As you progress, you will upgrade the store with new features like an ATM and food machine, as well as unlock new types of ammunition and costumes.
At the store, which you will visit every time you die or pass an area, there will always be one free random upgrade available. These upgrades can be Power (overall damage dealt), Critical Hit Damage, Speed, Health, or Stamina. There will also always be two other random upgrades available, but they will cost you money. Fortunately, money carries over every time you die. Unfortunately, you can only ever carry $99 at a time, and any upgrades you might want will cost $25, meaning you won't be getting much from it. Upgrades do not carry over between deaths, meaning they can make each upgrades more meaningful on its own, but it also means that you really do start from square one when you die. The real stars of this game are the ammunition types and costumes.
As a whole, ammo types are both fun and interactive. The gimmick here, however, is that every time you reload your gun, a different ammo type will be loaded. You have no say in which one you get. This can lead to some fun and tricky situations when your reliable long-range silver bullets are suddenly replaced with short-range candy corn shotgun shells or slow-moving bowling balls. While I adore the variety shown with these ammo types, the random generation can turn it into a real pain.When you feel the need to empty out your gun because you don't like or need the one the game just gave you, something has gone wrong here. It isn't fun spamming bullets at an empty room in hopes of getting something better. On the other hand, the ammo that you like will never stay with you as long as you want, and it'll be taken away when you run out.
Now, the costumes are actually really fun. The Pirate costume increases money drops and has a parrot that you can send to kill enemies with the efficiency of a heat-seeking velociraptor. The Astronaut costume will randomly bring down a meteorite on enemies, with its active ability sending down a cluster of them at once. The Godzilla costume makes you entirely immune to explosions and lingering fire damage while giving you your own fire breath in the meantime. There are at least a dozen more costumes to unlock, making it a real treat to find and use them. Too bad about the rest of my gripes about how the game treats costumes.
While super-cool and useful, it can take some doing to find out what a costume's passive is. If you pick up a costume out of a trash can, the game will only tell you the name of its active ability after you put it on, but not the passive. So if you're really attached to that Superman outfit but don't know what the Robot costume does, the only way to know if you like it is to discard the outfit you're already wearing. Personally, I still don't know what the Surgeon outfit's passive is. The convenience store, which you visit after each area, will always have two random costumes available for $25, and it will actually say what each one does before you buy it, so there's that. But when you complete an area, the game takes your current costume away. I have no idea why this is, because it is a horrible idea.
I suppose taking away the costumes after the player succeeds forces the player to try out different costumes. But if that's so, then they should have at least made the two random costumes at the convenience store free upon passing an area. At least then the game doesn't force you to either pay up the $25 or go into a potential murder room naked and unawares and forcing yet another restart upon death. There are "super" costumes, too, which you can gain by stacking another of the same costume onto the one you're wearing, which gives it a massive power boost. This, counter-intuitively, gets more and more difficult to pull off as you unlock more of the costumes as you gain tokens due to the nature of random drops. In a sense, the longer it takes you to complete all four areas, the harder it is to get the powerful super costumes that could help you do it.
The tokens system is both a blessing and a curse here. The concept is fine, however. There are three types: store tokens, ammo tokens, and costume tokens. Each is dropped randomly by killed Creeps, and every time you gain a certain number of any one token type, you unlock a new part of the store or the next ammo/costume to have the chance to use. Depending on how much you like the ammo/costumes that the tokens unlock, you might suddenly find yourself struggling to use unfamiliar or finnicky ammunition when all you want is something that gets the job done. Sure, shooting frisbees and seeing them bouncing around everywhere is cool. But when those frisbee shots aggressively curve away from enemies standing right in front of me, that's when I empty out my gun and pray that I find something to restore my health from the onslaught of damage I just took. Don't get me wrong, I wish that these ammo types were all usable and fun, but that just isn't the case, especially when you can potentially kill yourself with the explosive types and reset all your progress.
There is also armor in this game, which gives yet another layer of variety. You have two gloves slots, a belt slot, and two shoe slots. You begin each run with nothing, but each one you find gives you a passive ability. These passives vary wildly, from explosive bullets, to your dash leaving bubbles behind you that trap enemies. I'm fairly certain that I haven't encountered all of them yet.
Throughout your journey to save Creekside, you will come across crowbars. These can be used for two things: opening manhole covers and vending machines. If you have the cash, then going down into the sewers will treat you to a mid-level shopping trip with some randomized upgrades available for purchase. If not, then you can raide a vending machine for a pick-me-up.
Finally, there are the enemies you encounter. Many of them are fairly standard: zombies, skeleton-costumed goons that run at you, jerks with mohawks shooting wildly, spooky guys who set down candies that shoots at you after a delay, and gnarly wizards that fire homing magic at you. However, since the range and rate of fire of your ammunition are also randomized, some of them can become more difficult than they have any right to be, depending on your loadout. Luckily there are cars and arbitrary barrels of chemical explosives to detonate throughout the streets of Creekside, so you aren't entirely without options if you end up with a bum ammo type.
Graphics and audio
Thankfully, the graphics are great for a pixel art game. Everything is where it needs to be, enemies stand out from the backgrounds, and the 80s aesthetic is fun and pleasing to look at. In the suburbs, the shops and buildings are littered with The music calls back to a simpler time in gaming. An 8-bit time when exploding zombies into piles of green goop was still fresh and new. I appreciate the care that went into the Easter Eggs and backgrounds of this game, as well as the audio details.
|+ Fun 80s aesthetic and charming art style||– Character upgrades feel too infrequent/expensive to be reset upon death|
+ A variety of ammunition and costumes
|– Not enough permanent bonuses|
– Progression does not feel rewarding
|– Several ammo types feel useless|