Friday, January 23, 2015

PC Review #113: Besiege

Title: Besiege
Developer: Spiderling Games
Platforms: PC
Price: $6.99
Destruction is fun. Anyone who played Red Faction: Guerrilla surely remembers the joy of driving trucks through buildings or collapsing towers with a few swings of your sledgehammer. Besiege takes the vehicle construction you love from games like Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts and injects it with a dose of physics, blood, and medieval destruction, as you build powerful siege engines to level castles and lay waste to armies.
From the moment you start Besiege, the polish put in the game is evident. The two-man team behind Spiderling Games have been working on Besiege since late 2013 and it shows in every aspect of the game, from the slick menu designs to the building UI that makes constructing vehicles effortless. It's the little details that stand out: wood beams snap in half when broken, blood stains your blades and the ground, your structure collapses and falls apart realistically when aflame, buildings crumble under the might of your cannon fire or swinging maces.
The current version of Besiege offers fifteen levels, with more to come in future updates. While your objectives are not that complex (ranging from destroying a specific building, destroying a certain amount of enemies, to transporting resources), building something that can steer effectively, withstand damage, and attack without breaking apart from recoil or movement can be tough. Half the fun in this game is experimenting and learning from your failures and tweaking your designs. Blocks at your disposal include everything from armor plating, pistons, Kerbal Space Program-style detachers, wings, and propellers to an arsenal of maces, cannons, and devastating saw blades. This toolset allows you to create all kinds of unstoppable killing machines. A mace-armed behemoth. A rolling windmill of death. A spring-loaded scorpion tail ending in a flamethrower. The variety of silly and creative builds you can create in Besiege is vast.

Besiege is currently only at the 0.01 alpha stage, but honestly, the game doesn't feel like an alpha. It's an easy-to-play, polished experience, both in terms of visuals and gameplay and in performance. It's fun and enjoyable, and you can spend hours messing around and building new and more ludicrous ways to complete your objectives. Besiege was Greenlit recently, and the devs plan to have the game on Steam Early Access "very soon". You can purchase the game through Humble, and learn more about Besiege and its development on the developer's site.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

An update on IGE and some interesting indies to start off 2015

So it's been a while, huh? Don't worry, this blog hasn't been forgotten. Late December till now has just been a busy trying time, first with finishing up school and my senior project, then the weeks of Christmas and New Years, than job hunting, and a death in the family. Suffice to say, I didn't really have the time to play as much as I wanted or sit down and work on article drafts.

But that's not to say I haven't been keeping up with indie releases. Things have settled down now, so I plan to start posting articles again by this weekend. I've been hooked on the IOS Match-3 RPG Hero Emblems and I picked up Zachtronics' latest release Infinifactory, so expect impressions of those, as well as some thoughts of the Rain World alpha.

Anyway, here are some recent releases and Kickstarters that are worth checking out:

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 11/29

A Quiver of Crows
A Twin-stick Shooter Set in a Grim World Cursed by Demons and Ghouls
Learn more here
Urban Galaxy
Developer: Urban Galaxy team
Sci-fi MMO in an urban theme
Choose your path and conquer this Megapolis of opportunities! Develop your skills and your career as alliances and hatred dynamics constantly change.
Learn more and play here
Star Command Galaxies
Developer: Warballoon
The next chapter in the Star Command saga
Real time lighting, crew desires and planets
A more open, dynamic and exciting Galaxy to explore.
Learn more here
Robots Ate My City
Developer: Andrew Morrish
Destroy robots with your camera and use their parts to upgrade, from the developer of Super Puzzle Platformer
Learn more here
Developer: Skytorn team
Centuries after a mysterious cataclysm tore the world apart, humans have taken to the skies - ferrying their kin in airships, searching the remains for artifacts and survivors. Explorer Nevoa ventures out across uncharted islands, left floating in the sky. Alone and armed only with a shovel, she is determined to carve her own path. Skytorn is a procedurally generated action adventure game, set in the ruins of a fallen world.
Learn more here
Life Was Hard Back Then
Developer: Tristan Dahl
A roguelike strategy game where the player manages a small village through many generations. The villagers must struggle to protect themselves and their children against wild animals, cruel bandits and an unforgiving climate. As time passes, the children grow up and are able to fend for themselves and eventually, their children. Below is the first iteration of the female villages at various ages.
Learn more here
Developer: SolarLune Games
A 2D Metroidvania about a little robot that explores the ruins of a long forgotten facility in search of the other members of his small robot family.
Learn more here
Developer: EmpI Studios
Hypt is a game that uses reflection as its primary game mechanic. You use it to defend yourself and reflect projectiles back on attackers.
Learn more and download the demo here
Jobchanger Brigade
Developer: Pidroh
A fusion of boss battle oriented 2D platforming with classical RPG jobs
Action RPG + Dynamic Jobchange + Hard Boss Fights + Crafting + Online Multiplayer
Learn more and play here

Sunday, November 30, 2014

IOS Review #91: Sunburn!

Title: Sunburn!
Developer: Secret Crush
Platforms: IOS Universal
Price: $2.99
This is it. Your spaceship, in pieces after a catastrophic asteroid impact. Your crew, drifting helplessly through the void, doomed to die a slow death as their oxygen depletes. And you, their captain, with a jetpack and final promise to keep: no one dies alone. That's Sunburn in a nutshell.
Now despite the morbid tone, Sunburn is actually a whimsical lighthearted platformer about diving into the sun. If I had to compare it to the other games, Sunburn would be akin to a precision platformer meets Lemmings, with a dash of the movie Gravity. Each level consists of planets and other hazards around a red sun(s), and it's your mission to reach your fellow crew members so you can die together. Rescued members trail behind you, linked by an elastic tether; it's not long till you have a lengthy tail of astronauts in your wake as you weave between fiery asteroids and escape black holes. Levels grow quite complex and sprawling, with obstacles such as glass orbs that break after a few impacts, rotating lava planets with patches of safe ground, and rocky planets that drift when you land on them. Using your jet pack, you must navigate through zero g, while also keeping track of your limited oxygen meter; each jump costs oxygen, forcing you to consider the most effective path between planets. Thankfully, the controls are simple and responsive, allowing you to rotate and boost effortlessly around hazards. The colorful pixel art and humorous dialogue from your stranded crew members round out this fun challenging experience.
Sunburn is a fun physics platformer, turning what could have been a dark morbid premise into a bright cheery game, complete with great level design and solid controls. You can purchase Sunburn for $2.99.

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.