Title: The Basement Collection
Publisher: Edmund McMillen
Developer: Edmund McMillen, Tyler Glaiel
Platforms: PC, Mac
Release Date: Out Now

The Basement Collection is a fascinating concept, collecting seven award-winning flash games developed by Edmund McMillen prior to his creation of Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac, this bundle gives you an insight into the early career of one of the most interesting figures in the modern games industry.

The seven titles, plus two bonuses, vary widely by genre and dynamic, and they see McMillen collaborating with Jon McEntee, Florian Himsl, Tyler Glaiel, William Good, Eli Piilonen and Tommy Refenes. The traits that exemplify these games are that they have simple controls but require great reflexes, as well as their experimentation with game mechanics.

The most outstanding game in this collection is Time Fcuk, a dark moody puzzle platformer which bends time and reality while being intriguingly philosophical. Aether is also notably praiseworthy. A game based around momentum and gravity that sees you on an adventure exploring outer space, Aether is a touchingly beautiful and magical experience that’s sure to bring out your inner child. Spewer is a heavily physics based platformer featuring an adorable main character and lots of vomit.

Grey-Matter is the most addictive game in the bundle, an intensely frantic anti-shooter which will see you returning again and again to better your top score. Coil is an utterly bizarre yet mesmerising game based around the growth of an unborn child from the point of conception onwards. Triachnid, a spider sim, is the most difficult and awkward to control out of the games in this collection, perhaps the least appealing component of the bundle. The original Meat Boy is the most recognisable part of The Basement Collection and while it shares the charm of its more famous successor it is made unnecessarily difficult due to its lack of gamepad support, a shortcoming which hinders the control experience in more than one title in this otherwise wonderful collection.

The collection’s aesthetic exemplifies McMillen’s style; its artwork is endearing and disturbing in equal measure with mad scientists observing smiling worms leaping through laboratories and rotund monsters floating through a universe of manic-depressive planets. The Basement Collection also has a fantastic soundtrack which perfectly captures the mood of the games. Danny Baranowsky and Justin Karpel in particular contribute impressive music to this collection; with Baranowsky’s catchy theme to Spewer evoking the game’s energetic and light-hearted nature, while Karpel’s theme for Time Fcuk encapsulates the game’s confusing and disorientating atmosphere.

At €3.99 on Steam, this bundle is an absolute steal, containing not only the original games as they appeared on Newgrounds but a myriad of bonus content including extra chapters, concept art, creator interviews and alternate soundtracks. Such a price means that The Basement Collection is ideal for anyone that’s looking for an unusual and challenging gaming experience.

By Steven Balbirnie