Thursday, April 17, 2014

PC Spotlightlight #89: Goat Simulator

Title: Goat Simulator
Developer: Coffee Stain Studios
Platforms: PC
Price: $9.99
So Goat Simulator really exists. According to IGN comments and Steam discussions (clearly the most reputable opinions on the Internet), the game is an obvious sign of the PC gaming apocalypse, a mindless lowest-denominator bug-riddled mess for the causal gamers who listen to Let's Play channels like sheep. Ignore the naysayers. Yes, Goat Sim is mindless, and it's bug riddled, but it's also stupid silly fun and what's wrong with that?
Any impressions of Goat Simulator would be lacking without acknowledging the game's origin. What started as a fun little jam experiment for Coffee Stain interns went viral and somehow become a real released game. I think that sense of fun and just doing it for the love of making games rather than trying to develop a serious actual experience just permeates all aspects of Goat Simulator. You can tell the developers had an absolute blast making the game and guess what, it's stupid and silly but so much fun. Even though the map is small, it's packed with cool little secrets and things to discover and the glitchy ragdoll physics never get old. Perhaps more than any game I've played since Just Cause 2, this is a true sandbox. Sure there are missions to complete, but the real fun is just equipping some of the crazy mutators and trying to accomplish some emergent goal and failing hilariously in the process. Steam Workshop support only gives Goat Simulator more longevity and variety.
More content in the form of split-screen multiplayer, a new map, new goats, and more is coming in a patch mid-May. Goat Simulator certainly won't appeal to everyone. Some will dismiss it at a glance, or even say it's not a "real game." But it is. If you see Goat Simulator somewhere on my GOTY list in December, it's no joke. This is a genuinely fun, funny game that revels in its stupidity and craziness and silly mindless fun, and that makes it an experience worth playing. You can purchase Goat Simulator on Steam and through Humble.

The Watchlist: Oblitus

Title: Oblitus
Developer: Connor Ullmann
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Releasing July 2014
Oblitus follows the tale of a small, spear-wielding creature named Parvus who seeks to discover their purpose and origin within an unfamiliar realm full of huge, ancient terrors.
Oblitus is an upcoming action roguelike, set in a dark world teeming with dangerous enemies and towering beasts. Alone, armed with only a mere spear and shield, you guide the small, spindly Parvus through this landscape. Outnumbered, outmatched, you must rely on your agility and skill, patience and strategy, to defeat the many creatures that lurk in the otherworldly depths and dank caverns. Taking inspirations from games such as Dark Souls, death will come quickly and mercilessly to the unprepared player, as you explore this dangerous landscape and defeat your foes. Besides your spear and shield, you'll also be able to equip Parvus with various masks, which offer different stat boosts such as increased speed or higher jumps. However, even with this gear, survival is never certain.
Oblitus has been in development for over a year now, and was recently picked up by Adult Swim Games. You can learn more about Oblitus' development on TIGForums and its Tumblr. The game will release mid 2014, tentatively in July.

And here are some fantastic promo posters:

No Money, No Problem: Limbs

Title: Limbs
Developer: Rezoner
Platforms: Browser
Limbs' inspiration is quite obvious from the moment you start playing. That isn't a strike against the game, but a mark of praise. Limbs takes Paper's Please's basic idea and builds a unique inventive experience from that foundation.
Rather than manning a booth and checking documents, Rezoner's Cyberpunk Jam entry seats you at the workbench of a cybernetic repair shop. Clients come to you with an order and a hand and it's your job to break these limbs down to their components, replace parts, swap out damaged pieces, adjust CPUs, check warranties and other registration information against an extensive manual of rules and guidelines. While Limbs doesn't have Paper's Please subtle narrative and desperate urgency, it stands outs in other ways. The gameplay is just incredibly tactile and engaging, as you unscrew pieces and place new parts in the right place. The sound effects add to that feeling of messing with a robotic hand. The various clients also help build a compelling futuristic setting; you're not merely fixing a broken hand, but rather de-arming an assassin or installing specialized fingers for a spy.
Sometimes you play a freeware or flash game and it just begs to be expanded into something bigger and better. Games like Gods Will Be Watching, SuperHOT, Westerado, and, in my opinion, Limbs is yet another addition to that list. The flash game is great, an experience with the potential to be so much more. You can play Limbs here.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Quick Fix: Adult Swim Games, Limbs, Hong Kong Massacre

Adult Swim Games
Mention Adult Swim Games and perhaps games that come to mind may be Robot Unicorn Attack or Super House of Dead Ninjas. But from the hard-as-nails action platformer Volgarr The Viking and musical twitch game Soundodger to the recently released Jazzpunk, Adult Swim Games has quite a wide repertoire of titles and that library has just expanded. Just a few days ago, the publisher announced that it would be releasing three new titles this year: atmospheric slugcut survival platformer Rain World (now also coming to PSN, PS  Vita, and "beyond"), the Dark Souls-inspired action adventure game Oblitus, and the improved expanded Westerado: Double Barreled.
You can learn more about Rain World and Oblitus at their sites and devlogs, and play the original flash version of Westerado here
Rain World - Site | Devlog
Oblitus - Site | Devlog

Freeware recommendation: Limbs
I discovered the flash game Limbs today and was instantly engaged by its premise and gameplay. From the developer of the stylish musical experience QbQbQb, Limbs is inspired by Paper's Please, but gives it an ingenious Cyperpunk Jam twist. Instead of checking documents and passports, you repair bionic hands, breaking down each limb to its components, removing synthetic skin and unscrewing capicators and CPUs. Checking warranties, matching skin types, disarming an assassin's weaponized hand, helping spies and engineers by fixing damaged parts, Limbs takes its inspiration and crafts a unique fun experience with its own compelling style.
You can play Limbs here.

The Hong Kong Massacre trailer
I wrote about the bloody top-down gunplay of The Hong Kong Massacre last month and now the developer has released the first trailer.
You can follow the game's development on TIGForum.

The Watchlist: Distance

Title: Distance
Developer: Refract
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Releasing 2014
Distance is a survival racing game that combines the intense action of arcade racing with the exploration of an atmospheric world. You control a unique car that allows you to boost, jump, rotate, and even fly through a chaotic and mysterious city.
Facade introduced me to indies and PC gaming, but if there was one indie game that cemented that interest, it was Nitronic Rush. The DigiPen-made freeware game remains one of my favorite indie games three years later, thanks to its stylish neon visuals, fast agile arcade gameplay, wealth of content, and just overall polish. Take Nitronic Rush, make it bigger, better, faster, crazier...and you get its upcoming spiritual successor Distance.
Successfully Kickstarted in 2012 and Greenlit last year, Distance takes everything that made Nitronic Rush fun and turns it up to eleven. Refract has described the game as "survival racing", and no two words could fit the hectic hazard-filled game better. Distance isn't about realism; it's about barrel-rolling through a gauntlet of lasers. It's gliding between grinders, evading massive saw blades at breakneck speeds. It's weaving through a hailstorm of spikes, and maneuvering along tracks that twist and turn unfettered by gravity and physics. Similarly to Nitronic's numerous modes, Distance won't just offer races, but everything from online and split-screen multiplayer to Stunt, Challenge, and Hardcore modes, a story-focused Adventure Mode, and level editor. Better visuals, an atmospheric world, new and improved obstacles such as portals and lasers that can easily bisect your vehicle, Distance promises to surpass the high bar set by Nitronic Rush, and deliver an even more chaotic, more challenging, more content-packed game.
Distance is currently in private alpha, with a public beta on the horizon. Release is planned for sometime this year. You can learn more and preorder Distance on the official site, and download its predecessor Nitronic Rush here.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

PC Spotlight #88: Space Engineers

Title: Space Engineers
Developers: Keen Software House
Platforms: PC
Price: $19.99
It's safe to say that construction games have exploded in popularity in recent years. Space Engineer takes that core building-focus and places it in zero-g expanse of space, complete with detailed visuals, multiplayer, and physics-based chaos.
Across Space Engineers' single-player, multiplayer, and survival mode, you have one main goal: build stuff in its space sandbox. From small vessels to sprawling cruisers and expansive stations, physics, zero-g flight, and the detailed atmosphere makes the construction fun and engaging. Alone, the game can become boring (although survival mode makes for that aspect with its modifiers such as limited oxygen and fuel), but with friends, Space Engineers' true potential is revealed. Colliding head-long into your friend's ship, leaving debris and shattered vessel in your wake, mounting weapons and engaging in extraterrestrial dogfights among the asteroids, enduring a meteor shower, or just working together to build some elaborate structure while balancing oxygen and other needs, Space Engineers is most fun when you're working with (or against) others. Scenarios such as a salvaging a crashed ship or lone survivor add more replayability and challenge.
Space Engineers is still in development, with new features being added regularly; the most recent update introduced new block types and ship cockpits. You can learn more about Space Engineers here and purchase the game on Steam Early Access or Humble.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

SitRep: Prisonscape

Title: Prisonscape
Developer: Heaviest Matter
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Currently Kickstarting, late 2014 release
Prisonscape was among the first games I previewed all the back in September. Now the RPG is aiming for a December release and progressed leaps and bounds since last fall.
Prisonscape is an adventure RPG set, not in a sci-fi future or the grand halls of some fantastical world, but in the gritty grimy corridors of prison. Through bloody violence, sharp tongue, intimidation, intelligence, or a combination of all those elements, you must navigate the various gangs, the racial factions, the guards, friends and foes alike to endure prison life. While the gameplay discussed in the last preview remains intact, new details have emerged. The player will progress from county jail to state-of-the-art Miranda Unit, followed by two other areas. Crafting is far more realistic than other games, a layered deep process even to make something as simple as a basic shiv. Drug addiction and withdrawal, working with guards as a snitch, the ever-looming threat of a cell shakedown, Prisonscape promises to offer a "gritty, uncompromising atmosphere", compared to other prison games such as The Escapists or Prison Architect.
Prisonscape is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. You can also vote for the game on Steam Greenlight. If you're going to be PAX East this weekend, the developers will be showcasing the game there as well.