Day 212: Totem

Posted: 2011/06/09 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game (XBLIG) every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and are not well represented in the top 50 lists on the Xbox Dashboard. Today is day #212, and today’s game is “Totem”.

Totem is a puzzle game from the early days of the XBL Indie Games channel, November 2008 to be specific, back when it was still referred to as the Community Games channel. It has an interesting artistic motif and I easily got my 80 Microsoft Points out of it.

First, from the developer (Fervent Interactive):

“Intense matching Totem destruction! Two game modes…survival and adventure complete with 28 levels and 4 elemental bosses.”

I’m a sucker for west coast First Nations art, and totem takes that as its artistic inspiration, which I enjoyed. Presentation is quite good, especially compared to its 2008 indie game peers where it was a standout.

Gameplay has you trying to destroy the bases that totems are being erected on by clearing all the totem pieces by joining up two or more matching pieces to remove them, and then dropping new pieces onto the unprotected base. To match up totem pieces you move them up and down on the totem, and even left and right to neighbouring totems (if there’s a smaller neighbouring totem to move it to). There are several weapons that you can employ to help clear out stubborn totem pieces that you can’t seem to get rid of (axes will destroy a single totem chunk, lightning will destroy all of one type, and dynamite will destory all pieces in a given radius).

There are four elemental bosses to fight, and there are two modes of play which boil down to an arcade mode with a finite number of levels and the aforementioned boss fights, and a survival mode with endless play. It wasn’t ground-breaking, even by 2008 standards, but it is a hell of a lot of fun.

And for those interested, the common expression “low man on the totem pole” to refer to someone low down in an organisation is a curious one. While not univerally true, more often than not the lowest figures on a totem pole are actually the most important (totem poles tell a story from bottom to top, so the bottom figures are often the eldest and the most pivotal in the story). This game is recommended for puzzle game fans as the low price and strong presentation make it easy to feel like you got your price of entry back in fun.

Click here to download “Totem”, and then please come back after playing to rate the game.

Know someone else who would want to read the review, or rate the game? “Share This” and invite them to.


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