Friday, February 27, 2015

The Watchlist: Slain!

Title: Slain!
Developer: Wolf Brew Games
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, PS4, PS Vita
Releasing May 2015, consoles planned for September and December
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Prepare to be Slain! Our homage to the gory hack and slash games of the 80's and 90's. We promise stunning visuals with gore galore.
There's something so satisfying about playing a brutally difficult game. Be it Volgarr The Viking or Super Meat Boy, succeeding where you failed myriad times before, mastering a game's seemingly unsurmountable challenge, is always rewarding. Slain! harkens back to the days of brutal games like Shadow of The Beast and Ghosts 'n Goblins, a lone hero against grotesque odds, across Gothic landscapes of blood and death.
At a glance, Slain stands out due to its lavishly detailed pixel art. Clouds drift above and fog rolls across the swamps and underbrush. Torch lights flicker and sway in the breeze. The otherworldly abodes of werewolves and spirits and undead beasts drip with blood, walls choked with vines. Gruesome creatures, from skeletons and witches to more dangerous horrors, are displayed in grisly detail, all decayed flesh and tattered clothes.
But Slain! promises more than just wonderfully-realized Gothic environments. As the reawakened hero Bathoryn, you must traverse these lands and free seven towers from the grip of their monstrous overlords. From the crimson halls of Blood Tower to the lupine effigies of the Wolfwoods, Bathoryn strikes down creatures with his sword and mana abilities, while also dealing with each tower's puzzles and deadly traps. Master your skills, know your enemies, or die.

Slain! is estimated to release on PC, Mac, and Linux in May, with console releases rolling out in the months to follow. You can learn more about Slain! on its official site and TIGSource devlog, as well as support the game on Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Watchlist: Icy

Title: Icy
Developer: Inner Void
Platforms: PC
Releasing mid-2015
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Icy is a dialogue based RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world where a new Ice Age stormed our beloved planet. The player will be the leader of a nomads group and will have to take difficult decisions to survive against all kind of dangers. The game will offer a lot of dialogues and meaningful choices capable of affecting the plot, but also a survival gameplay that will allow the player to hunt for food, scavenge for items and fight against beasts, monsters and other humans. 
An endless winter, where food is always scare and ruthless predators - both man and beast - prey on the weak. This is the world of Icy, a post-apocalyptic narrative RPG about surviving a world in the cold grip of a new Ice Age. Similar to games such as King of Dragon Pass and Neo Scavenger, the experience is presented through flavor text and artwork, as your nomadic group roams the frozen wastes, scavenging, hunting, fending off bandits and wild animals, making decisions, and enduring the cold. 
The developers plan to provide a deep experience that captures the danger and tough decisions of leading a group in this harsh world. Bullets are both your currency, to trade with other groups and settlements for much-needed supplies, and your ammo against wolves and bandits. Venture into the woodlands to hunt, always wary of roaming predators or the danger of spreading your party too thin. Being an RPG, skills can be upgraded and improved, and could mean the difference between lynx meat for your starving group or missing a crucial shot with your bow. Sickness, devastating snowstorms, and even evolved creatures roaming the wilderness are only some of the dangers you'll face in Icy.
Icy will release around June; an IndieGoGo campaign is planned for next week. You can learn more about the game and its progress on the developer's site. 

No Money, No Problem: JET/LAG

Title: JET/LAG
Developer: svblm
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, Browser, Android
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Made for the Procedural Generation Jam 2014, JET/LAG is described as a "Hyper Minimal Rogue-like-like-like featuring unforgiving tactical gameplay". What does that mean? You're a square, dropped into random arenas of dangerous geometric foes, each one with own unique behavior that you must learn how to avoid. Pick-ups imbue you with special abilities such as homing drones and a close-range electric attack, but your main means of attack is ramming into enemies. The controls and objective are simple - click to move in that direction, clear the level - but add the varied enemies and different skills and JET/LAG evolves into a fast-paced game of evasion and close calls as you move in close to ram your foes while also dodging laser-firing triangles, charging squares, homing projectiles, and more. It's a fast, frenetic, and addictive challenge.
You can download JET/LAG or play it in your browser here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Watchlist: Strength of the Sword Ultimate

Title: Strength of the Sword Ultimate
Developer: Ivent Games
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Releasing late 2015
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A Fighting game combined with a BRAWLER!  With a huge sword, rocket launcher and a FLAMETHROWER!The game is a 3D, third-person, arcade-style, action-game that combines the tactical and skill-based combat of a Fighter with the progression, overwhelming odds, and awesome boss battles of an old-school Brawler!
The two-man team behind Ivent Games is getting a second chance. Two years ago, they released their hard-as-nails 3D brawler Strength of the Sword 3 on PS3, where it slipped into obscurity. In their own words, they "were basically invisible in the store. We weren't even featured in the indie section." Now through the nature of Kickstarter, the developers hope to bring their game to PC, expanded far beyond that initial Playstation release.

Strength of the Sword is all about gameplay. The loose story of defeating an ancient evil is merely a framework for challenging, flashy combat against punishing enemies. Playing the PS3 version reveals a game where knowing your enemy, learning their patterns, mastering countering and parrying, when to block an attack and when to dodge then move in for a combo, is all critical to success. Button mashing is only a quick way to die; this isn't God of War. Mastering Strength of the Sword requires precision and practice. Rather than facing hordes of enemies, you only fight a few at a time, the challenge coming from handling each enemy's strengths and skills. Armed with a selection of swords, shields, support items like throwing knives and grenades, and your repertoire of combat maneuvers, you dance around your foes, rushing up with leaping stabs, deftly dodging and blocking, moving in to deliver combos and mana-charged attacks on staggered enemies. It's fast-paced, tough, and satisfying.

The Ultimate version seeking funding on Kickstarter expands on the game in myriad ways. More customization and new weapons in the campaign will allow for greater combat depth and online and split-screen co-op means you can tackle the increasingly challenging enemies alongside a friend. But the biggest additions are PvP and Dark Mode. The developer's plans for PvP sounds similar to the Nidhogg formula, as you and your opponent push back and forth across connected regions to reach the opposing player's castle. Dark mode expands on PvP by introducing the ability to enter matches as a Dark Swordsman, a powerful boss-like enemy with random and devastating abilities. 
Strength of the Sword Ultimate is estimated to release later this year. You can support the game now on Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight; the original PSN game is available for $4.99 on the Playstation Store.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

An important message to developers

Can't believe I actually have to write this, but if you receive an email from a person named "Qadees", using the email blackpearl8012@yahoo.com, claiming that he writes for my blog, please be aware that I did not send those emails. This person does not write for Indie Game Enthusiast. So far he's been asking IOS devs for promo codes; thankfully those developers have reached out to me for confirmation.

Any emails from me will be sent from the same email listed on the Contact Me page here (cvbxsta@gmail.com), introducing myself as Christian and stating the goal of my site. Sorry for any confusion this might have caused if you have received an email from this individual.

IOS Review #92: Dark Echo

Title: Dark Echo
Developer: RAC7 Games
Platforms: IOS Universal
Price: $1.99
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What do you envision when you think "horror game"? The jump scares of Five Nights and Slender? The otherworldly dread of Silent Hill? Or perhaps the nightmarish monstrosities of Dead Space and The Evil Within? The recently released Dark Echo boasts the most minimalist of visuals, instead conjuring horror from the unknown and unseen and an atmospheric soundscape.
Massively expanded and improved from the developer's Ludum Dare entry You Must Escape, Dark Echo is a sound-based horror game. While that may sound similar to other IOS games like Papa Sangre and The Nightjar, Dark Echo is very much a visual experience while those were audio-only. A black screen, with your white footprints the only color amid the surrounding dark. Every level in Dark Echo begins this way. Move forward and lines emanate in all directions, the sound of your footsteps visualized, bouncing off the walls and revealing the environment. Without sound, you are blind. Your goal is simply to find the exit. However, that task is easier said than done, because you are not alone in these passages. Things lurk in the darkness, drawn by the sound of your movement. Hunting you. 

What's most impressive about Dark Echo is how it builds on its core mechanic of seeing through sound. The beginning levels lay the foundation: walk around to reveal the surrounding, stomp to send out a larger wave of sound that lets you see more of the level. Soon you're introduced to the creatures that are attracted by sound, followed by the fact that you can tap slowly to take soft silent steps and throw stones as distractions, turning Dark Echo into a tense game of cat and mouse where sound is your only means of sight. Water that amplifies your footsteps and slows your movement, switches, crushing walls, deadly terrain, and more add to the challenge and complexity of later levels.
Dark Echo is a masterful execution of minimalist design. Each step is tense, drawing you forward through the necessity of sight and the need to explore. The visuals, stark lines contrasting against black, are simplistic yet work so well, reminiscent of splattering paint to reveal the world in The Unfinished Swan. But it's the sound design that truly sells the game's atmosphere. Your footsteps, hollow against stone and squishing against undergrowth. The guttural growls of those things lurking in the dark. Water splashing and sloshing, or dripping overhead. Flies buzzing in agitated swarms, croaking frogs. Heavy locks and groaning doors. 
Listen to the game's advice and play this with headphones, in the dark, alone.

You can purchase Dark Echo for $1.99.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

No Money, No Problem: Nested

Title: Nested
Developer: Orteil
Platforms: Browser
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Nested isn't a game. It's hard to even call it a text adventure. At first glance, Nested seems to pale in comparison to developer Orteil's other notable creation, Cookie Clicker. But with each click, diving into another sub folder, digging ever deeper, you realize that the game's simple description - "A Simulation of Everything" - couldn't be more accurate. Nested is exploration distilled to its purest, most minimalist form in a simple text format. An infinite amount of things to discover, from the grandness of multiverses and space to the abstract plane of thoughts and memories.
Nested is randomly generated, so one could browse through its endless worlds forever. It's quite literally an endlessly fascinsting experience. Descend through ever-more-detailed folders, from space, to planet, to continent. Forgotten lands, ecosystems bustling with life, civilizations from the primitive to the futuristic and the outright bizarre. Dig further still, into the memories of a village chieftain or the thoughts of individual nanomachines. Venture deeper, into the chemical make-up of individuals and landscapes and objects and you'll find even more subatomic universes to explore, an endless nesting doll of life.

Nested can be played here.