Sunday, May 1, 2016

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 4/30

Title: Amirelia
Developer: Magic Spell Studios
Explore a deeper meaning of friendship in the abstract world of Amirelia. Grab a friend and immerse yourselves in award-winning cooperative gameplay as you work together to overcome a variety of puzzles and other obstacles. Amirelia offers a vivid, rich environment where curiosity and imagination are not only welcome but encouraged
Title: CHIKARA
Developer: David Horn
Whether it's a simple drop toe hold, or a plasma blast to the face, Chikara gives users complete control over all the crazy action! Borrowing elements from both wrestling and fighting games, Chikara opens the wacky world of professional wrestling up even wider, granting the user power to employ not just traditional wrestling holds, but lasers, fireballs, rocket launchers and more!
Title: Kundalini
Developer: Zellk
The player controls Kunda, the celestial keeper of the resumption, attempting to appease the dying God and accompany him into the cycle of renewal. They need to ride the raging dragon's decaying body and ring the seven bells on his back to bring Ouroboros peace.
Title: MorphĂȘ
Developer: Pixelfoot Games
A relaxing mountaintop covered in stone 'tomes', where you can add/remove/modify elements of the ambient song that's going on.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Watchlist: Super Footbrawl

Title: Super Footbrawl
Developer: Pixelpizza
Platforms: PC
Releasing 2016
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It's like Rocket League meets Gang Beasts
"It's like Rocket League meets Gang Beasts," That practically sells itself. Super Footbrawl is an arcade soccer game that's a self-described hybrid of the two aforementioned games: the aggressive, tumbling, collision-heavy action soccer of the former with the ridiculous ragdoll physics and combat of the latter,
Super Footbrawl is soccer with no rules. As you and other players, either AI or friends in local multiplayer, tumble and roll into each other, you can also engage in brutal melee combat, unless punches and kicks and even grabbed debris to use improvised weapons. A damage system will keep track of your body, so a damaged leg will reduce your speed and a broken arm means weaker punches.

But Footbrawl isn't just a silly game with a soccer skin; it's shaping up to be an actual soccer game, with power kicks that send the ball crashing through opponents like bowling pins, dribbling, and solid team AI. Of course it's still a ridiculous spectacle of a soccer game so there'll be arenas in obstacle-strewn offices and the African plains.
Super Footbrawl is expected to release in late 2016; you can follow its development on the game's blog and TIGSource devlog.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 4/23

Title: Lost Ember
Developer: Mooneye Studios
As a wolf with unique abilities, you uncover your destiny in the mysterious world of Lost Ember.
Title: Jazon and the Dead
Developer: 2nd Studio
Jazon and the Dead is a top-down 3D action-adventure in a world bursting with life the living dead, where we meet Jazon, an unlikely hero with a knack for killing zombies. Set in a dark and visually striking universe, influenced by sci-fi as the world imagined it in the 80s, Jazon must use both brain and brawn to solve puzzles and kick ass.
Title: Furious Angels
Developer: Morfeo
FURIOUS ANGELS is an endless arcade shooter set in the skies.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Watchlist: Overland

Title: Overland
Developer: Finji
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Releasing 2016
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A road trip through a ruined continent
The end has come and gone. Charred corpses litter the ground. Insectoid beings emerge from below. Abandoned vehicles rust on the roadside. Aliens? A tear in reality? Some unknown species released from the bowels of the earth? Whatever calamity ravaged the planet, the only thing that matters now is survival, in the tactical cross-country roguelike Overland.

Overland blends resource-managing map travel, reminiscent of games like FTL and Convoy, with strategic turn-based scavenging on low-poly dioramic stages. Your goal is westward, as you and a companion, either human or canine depending on your luck, travel the roads across America. Considering the focus on travel, fuel is perhaps the most important resource: each stop on the map costs varying amount of gas, and the promise of finding more can tempt you to take on a risky encounter.
Choosing an destination on the map screen drops you into a self-contained isometric encounter, bisected by the road and populated with randomized arrays of enemies, supplies, environmental features, and other elements. At the strategic level, you soon learn that the most crucial tool at your disposal is your vehicle. Your car is your means of escape, your transport through the stage, able to store extra supplies and ram through creatures, and explode in spectacular fashion in the worst case scenario. Lose your car to the encroaching horde, and you'd better hope that there's another vehicle on the map to commandeer.

Playing the recently-released private alpha, the game that I was most reminded of was actually the mobile roguelike Hoplite. Hoplite is often praised for its very almost puzzle-like combat, where you can use the knowledge of enemy's range and attacks to meticulously plan out your strategy and remain unscathed. Similarly, Overland's turn-based encounters are more tactical puzzles than classic roguelike combat. With only two action points per character, and only able to hold one item, each action must be economical, efficient, and carefully considered.
The tactical puzzles grow more complex as you travel from the east-coast fields to dry-grass plains, temperate forests, and beyond. Characters may start with special traits or develop new ones over days, such as improved stamina (extra action point) or CPR training (reviving survivors), You can pick up new passengers if you have empty seats in your car...or leave them to act as a distraction for creatures. The environment is as important to consider as your own strategies. Prairie grass can be set aflame (or may already be burning when you arrive), creating a useful barrier that could turn deadly as the fire spreads across the map. Fuel can be used to fill your gas tank, or poured on adjacent tiles to create a flammable surface. Dumpsters and other debris can block the roadway, forcing you to divide your group between clearing a path, driving the car, and scavenging the map simultaneously.

That juggling act defines Overland's challenge. This isn't a game of clearing out an area to safely loot; it's an ever-tightening vise of tension and danger, as each loud rummaging through dumpsters and derelict cars draws more skittering creatures. as you choose which supplies to gather, as you drive the car to the exit while maneuvering everyone back to the vehicle safely.  Killing is your absolute last resort, as the dying screech of a monster will only attract more. Playing aggressively but cautiously is your best strategy, always being aware of where enemies are in relation to your characters and your car, always weighing the risk and reward of each action.
Overland may already have a solid and compelling foundation, but it's still only an alpha, and the developers have plans for many interesting features in the future, ranging from customizing your vehicle with armor and other additions to groups of survivors that you can trade with...or brutally murder (a choice that come back to haunt you).

You can find more information about Overland on the game's site and Tumblr page.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

No Money, No Problem: Windowframe

Title: Windowframe
Developer: Daniel Linssen
Platforms: PC
Price: Free
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Daniel Linssen, aka managore, has quite an impressive portfolio of games over on itch.io, from the spear-throwing Javel-ein and the dimly-lit dungeon crawler Roguelight to the sepia-swept Sandstorm. But perhaps his most interesting was HopSlide, a game that was actually two games, in two different windows, but linked. What happened in one affected the other. It was a smart concept that extended gameplay beyond the confines of the typical window.

His newest game, a jam entry for Ludum Dare 35, takes that idea of merging gameplay and the means through which the gameplay is presented, and refines it in a brilliant way. I'd say Windowframe might be the most ingenious use of the screen since The Fourth Wall's screen-wrapping and Perspective's first person/2D hybrid.
Windowframe follows a hero on a quest to slay a series of vampire lords, navigating a gauntlet of spikes, fireballs, and other hazards along the way. Control-wise, Windowframe isn't anything new, running, jumping, wall-sliding, and other acrobatic feats let you evade danger with ease. But your arsenal of stakes grant you a new ability that turns the platforming on its head.

The game window of Windowframe is a dynamic entity, traveling across your computer screen along with your character, changing in size and shape with each level. Sometimes you can only see a small section of a level, other times the entire area is visible. But the edges of the screen also act as the walls of the level, and your stakes let you bend those walls to your will. Stakes will freeze the edges of the screen in place and allow you to drag those edges closer to you. What was once a wall too high to climb over becomes a narrow chute to ascend.
But more interestingly, only the areas visible within the screen can affect you or be interacted with. Climb high enough to hide a spike pit from view, freeze the bottom of the screen, and now you can walk unharmed across the newly-designated "floor" of the level. An impassable wall of fireball turrets can be rendered moot by covering them with the screen. It's a clever, visually-interesting and mechanically-varied idea that's just begging to be expanded upon and further explored.

Windowframe can be found on itch.io and the Ludum Dare database.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 4/16

Title: Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones
Developer: Cultic Games

"Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones" is a supernatural horror roleplaying video game which takes place in the strange worlds of Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Stygian will draw the player into a bleak journey from a ruined Arkham to the very depths of the Abyss.
Title: Construct
Developer: ConstructDev

CONSTRUCT is a first-person platformer with puzzle elements and a sci-fi theme. In the game you play as a nameless character trapped inside a computer system. The aim of the game is to explore the system and find a way to escape.
Title: BeardedBear
Developer: ElKiwy Dev

BeardedBear is a frenetic arena arcade roguelike shooter. You, the BeardedBear, are a cyborg bear with a mighty beard that, thanks to his beard, can travel through time. You are the only hope for humanity and you have to save the Earth from an alien invasion which is attacking the planet in the past, present, and future.
Title: Black Falls
Developer: Amrac6

In Black Falls you are leading a diverse group of outcasts in their endeavor to build a new home on an uncharted world brimming with mysteries. But the greatest mysteries to be found lie with the people you brought with you. Choose carefully who you befriend and who you piss off - as you will have to live with the consequences. Never forget: You're no action hero - words are your only weapon.

PC Review #144: Enter The Gungeon

Title: Enter The Gungeon
Developer: Dodge Roll
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4
Price: $14.99
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Perhaps the most apt and concise description for Enter The Gungeon would be the lovechild of The Binding of Isaac and Nuclear Throne. The crazy weapons, stacking items, weird enemies, and random loot of the former, the fast-paced, hectic, evasion-heavy action of the latter. But on the other hand, that label is a disservice to Enter The Gungeon. While it certainly has the DNA of those other titles, the game most certainly has an identity and style all its own.
The Gungeon awaits. A mysterious temple, where many venture to seek out the ultimate treasure, a gun that destroy their past, where lead cults and ballistic inhabitants thrive, an ecosystem in its own right. As one of four heroes -the Convict, the Marine, and so on - you descend into the randomly generated depths, armed with only a mediocre starting loadout and your skills to survive.

Skill is perhaps the most crucical aspect that elevates Enter The Gungeon above other entries in the action roguelite/shooter subgenre. When loot pickups fail you, when you're having bad run, when you're low on heath or getting surrounded by bullets and enemies, you can always rely on the dodge roll. With precise timing and leaping at the right angle, you can dodge anything, from masses of bullets to screen-slicing lasers. Combined with limited ammo and the need to reload, Enter The Gungeon is easily the most skillful game of its ilk.
But dodging will only get you so far. And thankfully, as you might expect from its title pun and its firearm-themed stages, Enter The Gungeon offers a vast and varied selection of weapons and items to find. While the basic AK-47s and sawed-off shotguns and machine pistols feel satisfying to use, they can't compare to weird wacky weapons you'll find in chests or buy from shopkeepers. One gun fires an egg bullet that unleashes tiny homing baby bullets. Another throws out globs of oil that you can ignite when the gun switches to fireballs upon reload. Other guns freeze, poison, set aflame, convert to your side, electrify. And more still throw off t-shirts and bees and junk mail and other exceedingly silly ammunition. Each weapon feels unique, some designed for specific situations while others are room-clearing monsters that can end a boss in seconds.

Items, both active and passive, only add to that variety. Much like Isaac, the stat increases and weapon buffs can stack in myriad ways, from swapping out your dodge roll for a jetpack to increasing your movement speed to more unique effects such as linking bullets with chain lightning and causing ice shrapnel to shred the room when you get damaged.

As you progress, you'll encounter NPCs hidden in the dungeons, trapped in cages, waiting to freed. Once rescued, they'll show up in levels or back in the hub area, opening new shops where you buy items and weapons to add to the randomized loot pool or shortcuts or offering side challenges for money and rewards.
But more than the weapons and the items and the dodge roll, it's the little touches and environmental details that make Gungeon's combat so satisfying. The way dead enemies and debris can flung aganst the walls by the force of explosions. How book pages flutter and drift across the floor as you fight in a library, How oil stains the ground and leaves scorches marks in carpets once a fire dies down. Your reflection in pools of water. The puffs of smoke and particles from bullets hitting the walls and barriers. 

Enter The Gungeon takes the best elements of the subgenre - the fierce combat, the thrill of uncovering new weapons and discovering powerful synergies between items, the sense of mastery and progression - and blends it all together in a single polished package. You can find the game on Steam, Humble, GMG, GOG, and PS4.