Saturday, November 22, 2014

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 11/22

Developer: Bit Monster
In GRAV, players will explore massive procedurally generated worlds and have endless adventures in a hostile universe. They will discover planets constructed with a unique variation of oceans, mountains, plains, and canyons. 
Learn more here
Blues & Bullets
Developer: A Crowd of Monsters
Blues & Bullets is an episodic noir story, where the player will need to survive thrilling shootouts, dark investigations, difficult decisions to make and unexpected story twists in the skin of a former detective who struggles with his own demons trapped in a decadent city.
Learn more here
Blood Will Be Spilled
Developer: BLWBS dev team
Blood Will Be Spilled is a western-themed 2D action platformer from a small Slovak indie studio. A story of blood, bounties, revenge and chitin
Learn more here
Codename Ro.N.I.N.
Developer: dwCrew
Codename Ronin is a deathmatch game featuring futuristic robots fighting each other with swords. We are considering features such as coop zombie mode, parkour style movement and other cool stuff but we want to keep the core of the game as a pure action, fast paced deathmatch.
Learn more here

Thursday, November 20, 2014

PC Review #112: This War Of Mine

Title: This War of Mine
Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: $19.99
A popular franchise once stated "War. War never changes". Maybe so, but for the people caught in the midst of the conflict, everything changes. This War of Mine explores the horrors of war from a perspective not explored in the medium till now and delivers one of the most tense, gripping, and bleak experiences I've played this year.
Games like Call of Duty and the like tend to use war for the spectacle, creating big action set pieces from the chaos. You'll never see the war ravaging the country where This War of Mine is set, but its effects are ever present. A gutted war-torn city, all pencil-sketched shadows and ruined structures, reeking of desperation and hopelessness, as explosions thunder and flash ceaselessly outside.
This War of Mine is not fun. It's grueling. Unrelenting. Oppressive. You start each playthrough with three survivors. Sometimes one or more might already be sick or wounded. Sometimes it might be winter at the start, meaning fuel and heat will be utmost priorities. The game is divided into two phases: Day, where you're confined to your base because of snipers outside, and Night, where you can venture out and scavenge for supplies, The daytime hours are when you can maintain your survivors and home, crafting new tools and workshops, building defenses against looters, or simply keeping your group alive by making sure they rest, recover, eat. You're always on the back foot, always just barely eking out a miserable day-by-day existence; even when your group finally is healthy and has a good amount of food stored, there's always the sense that it can't last long.
Once night falls, you're free to travel to other locations with one survivor, while instructing the others to rest or guard against raiders. These places range from homes and apartment buildings to schools and hospitals, and each scavenging run is a slow intense affair. Similar to 2012's Mark of the Ninja, environments are cloaked in shadows, only areas in your line of sight being visible. New unexplored areas are foreboding, never knowing who resides within or if they're friendly or not.
Even when you're equipped with a knife or gun, combat and violence in general feels like a last resort. Not simply because guns and ammo are a rarity or because you're untrained, but because you don't want to kill people or steal from them. A lot of games have moral choices or meters telling you if you're good or bad, but honestly, they've always felt artificial to me. In This War of Mine, there are only murky grey choices. Your actions matter, not just at that moment when you're desperate enough to kill and steal from people who are just trying to survive, people trying to keep their group alive just like you are, but also in the long term, as doing morally questionable things weighs on your characters. Building a radio or finding books and cigarettes can only distract and keep them occupied for so long. Survivors grow depressed, listless, broken, perhaps even suicidal.
If anything, that's War of Mine's greatest achievement: the way it makes you feel bad for crossing that moral line or makes intruding onto another group's home feel weird and wrong. You don't want to turn away children asking for help, or steal medicine from that elderly couple, or kill those people for their food. But your group is sick, and starving, and you desperately need fuel to stave off the winter cold, so you must.
The days go by. Winter comes and goes. As the war worsens, places that were once safe havens might be overtaken by bandits. Barter, scavenge, do what you must to endure. This War of Mine is the kind of game you might only be able to play in short sessions, due to the overwhelming bleakness and depressing nature. It can be slow and tedious and monotonous, but that only works in the game's favor, establishing a grim "We just need to last another day" tone. This War of Mine is not a fun game, but it is one hell of an engrossing, compelling, and atmospheric experience.

You can purchase This War of Mine from the game's official site, Steam, GOG, and Humble.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Watchlist: Desolus

Title: Desolus
Developer: Mark Mayers
Platforms: PC
In development
Desolus is a first person adventure and puzzle game where the player controls a black hole called the singularity. The player uses the singularity to attract elemental particles to navigate a hostile environment 
Otherworldly art styles and environments are always a joy to experience and going by its early screenshots, Desolus promises plenty of those. Exploring the titular alien structure, your main defense is the ability to summon a powerful singularity, This miniature black hole can be used both offensively and defensively, allowing you to absorb enemy projectiles and other abilities, but also explodes eight seconds after being created. Working around the singularity's short lifespan, you'll need to defeat hostile inhabitants and solve timing-based puzzles. For example, navigating around deadly turrets while figuring when and where to place singularities so that you can avoid projectiles and escape the ensuing blast radius. Described as "Portal meets Metroid", Desolus will introduce new singularity abilities as you explore a variety of atmospheric landscapes.
Desolus is early in development, still in pre-alpha with about 30% of the game's content done. You can learn more about Desolus on the developer's TIGForum devlog, as well as the game's site and Twitter page.

Monday, November 17, 2014

No Money, No Problem: 7DFPS 2014 Edition Part 2

I posted about several interesting 7DFPS entries on Saturday, but with 146 games, some were bound to be overlooked the first time. Here's another list of cool, polished, or just plain fun entries from this year's 7DFPS

Paint The Town Red
South East Games' Paint The Town Red is a gory brawler, with a block-headed artstyle that probably brings to mind Gravity Bone. Trapped in a pool hall, use whatever you can grab to survive as long as possible: your bare fists, knives, chairs, and more. The copious blood and cool details like smashing a bottle against a wall to create a makeshift glass blade makes Paint The Town Red an enjoyable experience. The developers plan to expand the game into a larger release; you can vote for it on Steam Greenlight.
Duality is a dimensional-swapping stealth game. Using the otherworldly prism in your hand, you can move between worlds, taking advantage of barriers and pathways that may only exist in one dimensions to avoid guards and hide from their line of sight. It's stylish, tricky, and definitely worth checking out.
Set in an shadowy landscape of mirrors and alleys, you have one goal in Shootmephenia: shoot yourself. At first, the task is simply, merely ricocheting the bullet between surfaces, but soon you'll have to make desperate leaps over the dark void to catch your projectile. A visually stylish and challenging first person puzzle game.
Motor Money Crash!
A simple fast-paced shooters. Race around the arena, blasting deady cubes with your turret and pistol, and jump off ramps in your jeep. Not very complex, but worth a try
War of Toys
Toy soldiers fight to the death with all manner of weaponry across a massive living room. The shooting is responsive and War of Toys feels quite polished for a jam game. The toy soldier theme allows for interesting level aspects, such as climbing a desk to reach higher ground.
A cool multiplayer-only game that's essentially an abstract take on Predator. One player is a visible Hunter armed with traps and the ability to see footprints, the others must avoid him as an invisible Hunted. Really nice particle and lighting effects, and the concept makes for some tense matches.
God Complex
Red vs Blue...meets Giest (or Ghost Trick). Jump from soldier to soldier to influence the war between red and blue soldiers. Pretty simple, but fun, with some nice Unreal Engine 4 visuals

Sunday, November 16, 2014

IOS Review #90: Zengrams

Title: Zengrams
Developer: Andreas Boye
Platforms: IOS Universal
Price: $2.99
There are numerous puzzle games about manipulating colors, and many games about forming and reshaping figures, but Zengrams combines those two concepts to deliver a fantastic minimalist puzzle game, perhaps the best I've played since Blek.
Zengrams excels at taking a simple mechanic and exploring it in myriad challenging ways. Each level provides a collection of shapes and an outline of a figure; you must manipulate the shapes to fit the outline. Where Zengrams stands out is its use of color. Overlapping shapes of different colors results in each shaded area becoming its own shape, while like-colored shapes merge together, allowing you to seamlessly combine and split shapes into new figures. Honestly, the GIF below demonstrates the concept in a more succinct fashion.
'Simple to understand, difficult to master' aptly describes Zengrams' puzzles. Not only must you be mindful of how and where you place shapes, you also have a limited amount of moves for each level. The early stages ease you in, but soon the challenge ramps up, due to shapes merged or offset in tricky ways or the number of moves you can perform. It's the kind of game where you'll spend 30 minutes on a puzzle, trying it this way and that way, and then came back an hour or a day later with a fresh approach and realize the solution was staring you in the face this whole time. The obvious solution isn't always the correct one, forcing you to think of more concise and efficient ways to complete puzzles. Each new level invokes that sense of "Is this even possible...", and finally solving a particularly challenging level feels so rewarding.
Zengrams' minimalist presentation is merely a stylish facade hiding the challenging nature of its puzzles and the seamless way shapes merge makes each of the game's 70 levels a satisfying experience. You can purchase Zengrams for $2.99.

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 11/15

Developer: Splasher Game team
Splasher is a 2D platformer featuring paint
Learn more here
Extract 237
Developer: Project Extract
Extract 237 is a first person/third person Sci-Fi adventure survival game set inside a massive creature. You play as Dr Winters a lone survivor from the creatures attack on her research vessel. As you try to survive and escape from the creature’s innards, you meet other characters and encounter strange monsters that inhabit the darkest depths
Learn more here
Odd Bot Out
Developer: Martin Magni
Odd is not like the other robots. After failing a standardized test Odd ends up in the recycling bin. Help Odd escape the robot factory using building blocks, electricity, and physics!
Each level presents a unique challenge. Construct a bridge across a gap. Ride a robotic centipede. Build and drive a car
Learn more here
101 Ways To Die
Developer: Four Door Lemon
101 Ways To Die is a physics-based puzzler with a twist.
As the assistant to the morally corrupt Professor Ernst Splatunfuder, you must help recreate '101 Ways To Die' - a book full of delightfully gory death recipes for dispatching your foes in the most stylish ways possible! 
With an arsenal of deadly tools at your disposal, find the most violent and brutal ways to maim, slice, burn, explode, rip and impale the lab created creatures known as Fodder. Don't let them escape!
Learn more here
Developer: acatalept
singmetosleep is an atmospheric, exploration-based interactive narrative. Vast minimalist forms, a stark color palette, and an evocative soundscape.
There are no real monsters.
Not really.
Learn more and download the demo here
Untitled Game
Developer: Alexey Abramenko
A “kickass shmup title” from the developer of Intrusion 2
Follow the developer on Twitter for updates

Saturday, November 15, 2014

IOS Review #89: Framed

Title: Framed
Developer: Loveshack
Platforms: IOS Universal
Price: $4.99
I've been anticipating Framed for a while. It's the kind of game that encapsulates everything I look for a quality mobile experience: an interesting concept, smart use of touchscreen that goes beyond an UI cluttered with buttons and icons, a compelling aesthetic. And thankfully Framed lives up to the hype, delivering a polished puzzle game.
Yes, Framed is a puzzle game first. There's a wordless noir narrative and it's an engaging wonderfully artistic experience, but it's first and foremost about the puzzles. The concept is so simple and yet explored masterfully; a man fleeing the police through the panels of a comic, briefcase in hand, and you must rearrange the panels to change the context and help him escape. Run headlong into a cop? Order the panels so you turn a corner or climb a ladder first. There are constants - ladders and stairways make you descend or ascend when you reach them, approach police from behind to avoid them or knock them out, etc. - and new elements such as rotating panels and reusable panels add complexity. The puzzles hinge more on trial and error and experimentation than hard logic, but the trial and error in Framed is fun, due to the seamless permutations that result from different panel orders.
Framed is a short experience (my playthrough lasted around 90 minutes), but don't let that brevity dissuade you. Framed is a shining example of quality over quantity, between its atmospheric art style, jazz soundtrack, ingenious design, and challenging puzzles.

You can purchase Framed for $4.99.