Monday, September 30, 2013

Quick Fix: Some indie news

I wanted to share some quick gaming news.

Hyper Light Drifter coming to PS4 and Vita
The promising action RPG accelerated past its initial Kickstarter goal on its first day and has achieved every stretch goal since, with no sign of stopping. You'll see Hyper Light Drifter on PC, Mac, Linux, Steam, PS4, and Vita, and there have been talk that the game might come to Wii U as well. You can back the game here.

IndieGameStand launches its game store
IndieGameStand is best known for the fact that it features a new indie game sale every four days. Now co-founders Mike Gnade and Dan Liebner have opened a dedicated game store to compete with the likes of Desura, Steam, GOG, and GMG. You can buy games such as Escape Goat, Steam Marines, Tiny Barbarian DX, and many more, with new games being added regularly. The store's key feature is the ease in which developers can get their games on the store; through its quick and simple developer portal, it's possible to have a game ready for approval and submission in five minutes. You can browse the IGS store here.

More recommended indie sites
The Indie Hut
Indie Games: The Weblog

Sunday, September 29, 2013

PC Spotlight #15: Escape Goat

Title: Escape Goat
Developer: MagicalTimeBean
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: $4.99 ($3.99 on IndieGameStand for a limited time)
Don't be fooled by Escape Goat's charming pixel graphics. It's not a simple or easy game by any means. Escape Goat is a challenging inventive puzzle platformer that deserves your attention.
A goat imprisoned for witchcraft and his mouse friend, trapped within the trap-laden Prison of Argus. The goat can run, double jump, dash, while you can send the mouse to fit through small spaces, access unreachable buttons, or even swap places when he's wearing a magic hat. You'll need to use all these skills to escape alive. The Prison is divided into 64 levels across ten themed areas, from the Electric Lab to the icy Frozen Caverns, and each will challenge with precision platforming and puzzles. The key mechanic is the fact that the level layouts aren't static, but will shift and alter with the press of button or switch. It really never gets old seeing the levels change around you and then having to understand how to use this to your advantage.
Completing the main campaign unlocks a new set of levels, All Intensive Purposes. These 50 levels are brutally difficult and put all the skills you mastered in the Prison of Argus to the test. The game also has an editor to create your own levels. You can purchase Escape Goat for $4.99 on the developer's site and Desura or for $3.99 from IndieGameStand for a limited time.

IOS Spotlight #10: Reaper - Tale of a Pale Swordsman

Title: Reaper - Tale of a Pale Swordsman
Developer: Hexage
Platforms: IOS Universal
Price: Free to try, three game unlock tiers (2.99, 3.99. 4.99)
Reaper's art style might be the first aspect that stands out. Stylized, cartoonish, bloody, the game is wonderful to watch in motion. But looks aren't everything. Luckily, Reaper's gameplay matches the quality set by its visuals.
An action RPG, you travel across an overworld from quest to quest, stopping at shops and towns along the way to buy or sell items, gear, and weapons. Combat is a mix of swipe based melee and bullet hell. The controls work quite well and complement the fluid, evasion focused gameplay. While early battles may seem tame, later ones will be put your skills to the test as projectiles, enemies, and hazards fill the screen. You automatically attack when near an enemy; successful hits fill a meter that allows you to perform special attacks. This adds some strategy to the gameplay, as you must decide when and where to best utilize those moves. Furthermore, dozens of skills and upgrades boost your stats and enhance your attacks.
Reaper is free to try. Three game unlock tiers are available, each offering more content than the last. (That is the only IAP.) The $2.99 Adventure Edition tier removes the level 10 cap and unlocks the full game. The $3.99 Destiny Edition tier offers an arena location to test your skills, a special item set, and more. The final $4.99 Dark Legend Edition tier adds more special items, a side quest, and Dark Harvest mode, which is a wave based mode separate from the main campaign.

PC Spotlight #14: Race The Sun

Title: Race The Sun
Developer: Flippfly
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: $10
Race The Sun is not the most complex game. Move left, move right, jump...those are the only controls. But the minimalist style and white knuckle gameplay make Race The Sun a fun thrilling challenge.
There's no introduction, no tutorial, no cutscene setting up a story. Start playing and you're off, accelerating towards the horizon. And between you and that descending sun is an infinite gauntlet of obstacles and traps. Collapsing pillars, blinding meteor showers, barriers that shift and move as you approach, shadows that drain the energy of your solar powered vessel, and more...only split second reflexes and timing can save you in your endless pursuit of the sun. Pick ups along the way grand you speed boots, build your score multiplayer, or the ability to jump.
Every 24 hours, a new world is generated, giving the game tons of replay value, and even better, a level editor allows you to create your own levels or play user made content. Competing special challenges upgrades your vessel with gadgets like a pick-up magnet and more module slots. The game's minimalist art style is surreal and just visually cool and the changing sky as the sun sets is quite beautiful
Race The Sun is a fast paced game that put your reflexes to the test. You can buy the game here or vote for it on Steam Greenlight.

Friday, September 27, 2013

No Money, No Problem: Ninjah

Title: Ninjah
Developer: Chris Mingay
Platforms: PC, Linux, XBIG
A remake of the original freeware game released in 2007, Ninjah is now free to download. It's a difficult platformer which combines color switching, a grapple hook, and a gun to deliver challenging levels and a simple but effective art style.
In each of its 50 level, the controls are changed. Sometimes you have access to movement and your grapple hook and gun. Other levels, you may only be to use your grappling hook or only your gun. This allows for a great level variety as you avoid hazards, land precise jumps to change your color, and fly through the air with your elastic grappling hook.
Ninjah is a fun game with a nice amount of content and solid platforming. You can download it here or if you're feeling generous and wish to support the developer, you can buy it on Desura or XBIG. Chris is also working on Ninjah 2, which will feature a level editor, larger multi-screen levels, and just more levels overall.

PC Spotlight #13: Sang Froid - Tales of Werewolves

Title: Sang Froid - Tales of Werewolves
Developer: Artifice Studios
Platforms: PC
Price: $14.99
Zombies. Robots. Aliens. Those enemies just sometimes seem too common nowadays. Leave the apocalypses and wastelands behind and face the cold dark Canadian wilderness and its lupine foes instead in Sang Froid.
Behind the stylized look is a tense game that mixes tower defense elements, strategic combat, and the scariest wolves since The Grey Each chapter is another night, as you defend your isolated home from the packs of demonic wolves and werewolves. You alone, in the dark, cold wilderness with only your rifle and axe and various traps to protect you. Each night consists of two phases. The planning phase is a top down map in which you can see what enemies are coming each wave, their path, and their strengths and weaknesses, and set traps accordingly. The action phase is where the fun begins You must balance your stamina and watch the fear level of the wolves surrounding you. Your rifle fires one shot at a time, takes like precious seconds to reload, and you're stationary while aiming. Traps must be triggered at the right time and enemies must be lured into range. All these factors combined make each night a very intense, very difficult challenge It is heart pounding to be reloading your rifle as the pack circles around you, eyes glinting in the torch light, as one prepares to attack and you don't know if you have enough time to get the shot ready...
Enemies range from simple four legged wolves to bipedal werewolves, wendigos, and more. As the nights pass, the map opens up with more areas to protect, there are shops to purchase new weapons and items or have your weapons blessed (which grant them a damage boost), and skills and upgrades to purchase.

Two negatives to note: the voice acting is pretty bad. Luckily, story isn't very important and cutscenes can be skipped. And the initial load when you start the game is very long, at least a minute. At first I thought the game was frozen. All other in-game loading is fast, but that long initial load can get annoying.
You're always desperately outnumbered and even with smart planning, each night is a challenging fight for survival. If you enjoy a challenge and games where victory is never assured, where success is a matter of planning and strategy, Sang Froid is well worth your time. You can purchase it on Steam here.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Watchlist: Cornerstone - The Song of Tyrim

Title: Cornerstone - The Song of Tyrim
Developer: Ascension Games
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Release planning for December 2014
Now on Kickstarter
Cornerstone is an open world action adventure, with an emphasis on exploration and combat mixed with physics and player choice. A game inspired by TLOZ (Legend of Zelda) games and Dark Souls. The world is structured similar to Wind-Waker with a series of islands connected within vast ocean, almost every areas is accessible from the start.
 Cornerstone: The Song of Tyrim is an upcoming action adventure game that promises to combine the stylized exploration of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker with tactical free-form combat and puzzles. Ascension Games plans to offer an open world rife with secrets and enemies, able to explored on foot or in your trusty ship.
Combat will be focused on one-on-one combat, evasion, and strategic use of the environment. Players will be able to wield various weapons or craft equipment to turn the battle in their favor, from bombs to Metal Gear Style boxes to conceal yourself from enemies.
Cornerstone is planned to released in late 2014, with a closed beta set for July. You can support Cornerstone on Kickstarter and vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.

No Money, No Problem: Impulse

Title: Impulse
Developer: Deck16
Platforms: PC
Don't be fooled by its simple graphics. Impulse is a challenging game with fantastic level design and tons of content.
The developers describe Impulse as "Super Meat Boy and Lunar Lander" and that's probably the best summary I could think of. The controls are simple: left mouse button to thrust in one direction, right mouse button to thrust in the opposite direction, but combine those controls with the myriad obstacles and levels and "simple" goes right out the window. From lasers to homing missiles to dozens of mines that must be carefully threaded between, controlling your thrust and altitude is paramount. One hit kills but restarts are infinite and instant.
Impulse's standout is its level design. Each one is challenging and unique and some are even homages to retro classic such as Pac-Man. A level editor allows players to make their own. You can download Impulse here.

IOS Spotlight #9: Orborun

Title: Orborun
Developer: Bulkypix
Platforms: IOS Universal
Price: $1.99
From Aerox and Gears to Dark Nebula and Super Monkey Ball, IOS is no stranger to the ball rolling genre. But the recently released Orborun stands out by combining the spherical action with Super Meat Boy style precision and difficulty.
Ninety levels are divided between three world: Haste, Puzzle, and Hazard. You control your Orbot by either tilting your device or touch controls; both control schemes work well. IOS7 controller support was also just added in an update.
Reaching the end of a level is no easy task. Not only do you have to collect every pick-up if you want to achieve a perfect score, but also must navigate through myriad obstacles, from jump pads, massive gaps, speed boosts, twisting and turning roller-coaster like tracks, portals, barriers, moving platforms, and more. The difficulty ramps up quickly but the game's fun level design and smooth controls give it a "one more go" appeal. You can unlock two other types of Orbots to play with, each with their own unique ability, as well different color schemes.
You can purchase Orborun for $1.99.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

PC Spotlight #12: Volgarr The Viking

Title: Volgarr The Viking
Developer: Crazy Viking Studios
Platforms: PC
Price: 11.99
You will die. A lot. Enter the world of Volgarr The Viking with that knowledge and accept it. This is a game built from the ground up to deliver old-school hard-as-nails challenge and it does not disappoint. The retro games that inspired Volgarr may be before my time, but as a fan of Dark Souls and brutal platformers, I feel right at home
The controls are tight and responsive and the platforming and level design is tough, very tough but never feels unfair. I've played with both a keyboard and controller and both work equally well. In fact, I was surprised that I prefer using the keyboard. The combat is the highlight for me though. I haven't felt so satisfied with combat in a game since well...Dark Souls. Every enemy must be taken seriously because every hit is dangerous. The smooth controls and animations combine to make you feel like a Viking badass in every encounter. Combat is no button mashing affair; button mashing will only get you killed faster. Instead every fight is a combination of timing, reflexes, and split-second reactions. You only have a handful of attacks but each is useful and I never felt like I needed more. Do you have enough time to charge your spear to skewer that group of enemies? Or is it smarter to dodge behind them and gain some breathing room? Timing your attacks to avoid getting hit yourself and recognizing the strengths of each enemy and adapting according also enhances the combat.
Each level is varied as are the enemies and there's quite a bit of replay value. There are six worlds to play through, each with their own enemy types and hazards to avoid, with alternate levels to play if you don't die as much. There's a seventh world to be unlocked by the most skilled of players. I'm not sure if I'll ever see that last world, but each attempt is rewarding and exhilarating as the last. Each death is a learning process, from which you become better and better until you can master each world.
You can purchase Volgarr The Viking on Steam or directly from the developer (for a DRM-free copy and a Steam key) for $11.99.

The Watchlist: Windforge

Title: Windforge
Developer: Snowed In Studios
Platforms: PC
Releasing 2013
Windforge is a building-block RPG that mixes 2D-shooter action with the freedom to create and explore. Players will take to the skies in fully buildable airships, as they embark on a journey of discovery and survival that will take them to the heart of the world and beyond. Windforge is all about freedom, creativity, and chaotic emergent action. Basically everything you see can be created or destroyed, creating an RPG without barriers that rewards creative problem solving and improvisation.
Minecraft and Terraria have popularized games focused on crafting, building, and exploration. From exploring the outer reaches of space in Xenominer and Edge of Space to an endless fantasy landscape in Cube World, the genre has thrived and expanded. Now Windforge hopes to take the genre to new-found heights...literally.
Windforge is set in a steampunk world of floating islands. To traverse this expansive environment, players must build airships, adding means of propulsion and weaponry and armor. In their trusty vessel, players will explore a dangerous land where debris erupts from the core and falls from the sky in meteor showers, where flying whales and fire breathing basilisks rule the skies and giant squids lurk in the lower atmospheres, where pirates and other factions roam in ships of their own.
Not only does Windforge feature a unique world to explore, but also promises intense combat similar to games like Contra. Battles can be waged with a variety of tools and gadgets, ranging from jetpacks and grappling hooks to grenades and miniguns. You can even engage in ship on ship combat. Less violent players may wish to maintain a garden or just explore the world.
A Windforge beta is planned to released sometime in December. You can vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.

Sorry for the delay. More articles coming today and rest of the week!

I apologize for the lack of new posts over the last two weeks. As a full time college student, I don't have the freedom and time I did over the summer and early September. (And that's not even counting GTA V...)

I'll have new posts up today and try to post regularly, at least one post a day from now on. Got a lot of good recommendations and reviews for you indie fans, from the intense action game Sang Froid to the upcoming stealth platformer Interference and reviews of recent games like Volgar The Viking and Underrail. So be on the lookout!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

No Money, No Problem: Farsky

Title: Farsky
Developer: Tim Spekler
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: Free
From the safety of the beach or a beat, the ocean is a serene relaxing environment. But humans are terrestrial creatures and beneath the sea is a deadly world. In Farsky, you must survive and explore this dangerous beautiful world.
See alpha footage here
To reach the surface, you must find the parts of your ship and to find these parts, you must venture across the ocean floor, further into the dark cold depths and crushing pressure. You can upgrade your dive suit to withstand greater pressure and cold temperatures but those are not the only dangerous. As of the current alpha, sharks, jellyfish, and giant wheel-shaped shelled creatures.
You can download the free Farsky alpha here.

PC Spotlight #11: Incognita

Title: Incognita
Developer: Klei Entertainment
Platforms: PC
Price: $16.99 for alpha access
It seems like Klei Entertainment just can't stay put in one genre for too long, from Shank's gory brawler action to Don't Starve's otherworldly survival and Mark of the Ninja's 2D sneaking. Now Klei is bringing its visual flair to the world of turn-based tactics with Incognita.
Described as turn-based tactical espionage, Incognita is a slick polished experience even at this early stage. Rather than protecting the world from an alien invasion or taking out terrorists, your objective is to steal secrets; fans of cyberpunk and sci-fi noir will be right at home in this world of high-tech corporate espionage. Your team of agents must infiltrate each procedurally-generated level, gather information, and escape. Unlike a game like XCOM, your characters aren't built for head-on confrontation. Stealth is key here: hack into the mainframe to control security cameras, peek around doors, be wary of your footsteps and other noisy activity. But you can't play too cautiously. After 20 turns, you will be detected and heavily armed security will reach your level, making escape that much difficult.
That balance between caution and the inevitable reinforcements imbues every moment with tension. You can purchase the early access alpha for $16.99 here, which will give you access to all alphas, betas, and a copy of the full game and an extra gift copy for a friend. While the current alpha is only a single randomized level, Incognita already shows tons of potential. You'll be able to experience turn-based tactical espionage when the full game launches in 2014.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

PC Spotlight #10: Towerclimb

Title: Towerclimb
Developer: Davioware
Platforms: PC
Price: $4.99
Don't be put off by Towerclimb's retro style. If you're looking a platformer that will challenge you or a good roguelike, Towerclimb has you covered on both fronts.
Towerclimb is a roguelike platformer that tasks you with ascending a randomized tower filled with dangerous creatures and fatal traps...and you only have one life to do so. While Towerclimb may require the precision and quick thinking of games like Super Meat Boy and Electronic Super Joy, the gameplay is much slower paced, methodical, and reliant on planning and strategy. Spikes kill you if you fall on them but you can walk past them safely. Red-eyed hounds are ready to tear out your throat but you can sneak by if they're sleeping. Power-ups grant you bombs, double (or triple or quadruple) jumps, and teleportation, but they're rare, so you must use them only when needed. Six-player local co-op is also available.
Towerclimb's retro facade hides an atmospheric platformer that will challenge with its devious level designs and roguelike mechanics. You can purchase the beta for $4.99 here or vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.

The Watchlist: Energy Hook

Title: Energy Hook
Developer: Happion Laboratories
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: $35 for beta access
Imagine a future in which the 'energy hook'—a tractor-beam device normally used in construction—is re-purposed by young athletes out for a thrill. Energy Hook becomes the extreme underground sport of the future—the players use their home-made energy hook gauntlets to swing through obstacle courses, competing in speed and style. You'll be throwing yourself off buildings, catching yourself at the last moment, whipping around corners, running along walls, doing loops, and generally being crazy. And did I mention you’ll have a jet-pack?
In 2004, the Spider-Man 2 movie tie-in game released, demonstrating that a movie tie-ins can in fact be fun to play. And that game is probably best remembered for its web-swinging mechanics, how momentum and proximity to buildings actually affected the physics of your swing. Well Jamie Friston - the man who developed the innovative physics-based swinging mechanics for that game - is back with Energy Hook.
Described as a mix of Spiderman-style grapple hook movement and Tony Hawk-style trick based scoring, Energy Hook will let players loose in open areas, armed with their grapple hook and jetpack to do big tricks and even bigger jumps for high scores. Set to release in early 2014, you can access the Energy Hook beta for $35 on the game's site or vote for Energy Hook on Steam Greenlight.

The Watchlist: Volt

Title: Volt
Developer: Quantized Bit
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: $4.99 pre-order/beta access, $9.99 on release
Releasing in November 2013
You play as a battery that must escape from the recycling facility and your goal on each level is to reach the exit by using a limited number of the electric beams. You can cut the beam or connect it to the wall if there's any within a range, but that's not the only way to control the battery. You can also release the shock wave - doing this drains your energy, but it helps you to push off the walls or jump if touching the ground.
Alpha gameplay here
Set for release this fall, Volt looks to combine grapple hook style movement and puzzle platforming. Using your dual energy beams, you must swing around obstacles and dodge traps to reach each level's exit. Volt promises 80 levels of puzzle platforming action, as well as boss fights, secret levels, and unlockable characters. Pre-orders and beta access will be available this week; the full game releases in November. You can learn about Volt on its IndieDB page here.

PC Spotlight #9: Mobiloid

Title: Mobiloid
Developer: Montrezina
Platforms: PC
Price: $9.99
In Mobiloid, each new area has a simple goal: got your battery to the exit. How to get to the exit is the hard part. Mobiloid combines vehicles, Metroidvania elements, and physics puzzles into a fun game that challenges your creativity.
At any time, you have the ability to detatch and attach various "modules" to your battery, from thrusters to wheels to helicopter blades and grapple hooks. In Metroidvania fashion, you'll come across inaccessible areas that become open to you once you gain a new part. The multitude of parts gives you the freedom to craft different vehicles and develop your own method to bypass the world's hazards and obstacles such as lasers, jumps, rotating machinery, and other traps.
Mobiloid will last you a good five or six hours of a vehicular-based physics platforming and an update planned for next year will add a level editor and even more modules. You can purchase Mobiloid for 9.99 here or vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

PC Spotlight #8: Mirrormoon EP

Title: Mirrormoon EP
Developer: Santa Ragione
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: $8.99 till September 11th
Mirrormoon EP is not about story or complex gameplay or moral choices or brain-twisting puzzles. It's about discovery. From the moment you select New Game, you are immersed in an abstract universe that begs to be explored.
The entire universe is open to you...and every other player. All of you share the same goal: spread out across the galaxy, explore new worlds, and, if you're the first to unlock a planet's secrets, to name the planet as you see fit. It's hard to talk about Mirrormoon's gameplay, for some aspects are best discovered on one's own, but the puzzle, while slightly repetitive, are not the focus. The highlight is exploring and in that aspect, Mirrormoon is a resounding success. The game is a visual masterpiece that, combined with the wonderful yet alien soundtrack, invokes a sense of awe every time you explore and witness a new abstract landscape. While I do wish the puzzles were a bit more involved and challenging, the mechanics are different, visually exciting, and add depth to the exploration.
If you enjoy games like Proteus, or enjoy exploration for the sake of exploring, or just want to play something unique and abstract, Mirrormoon EP is a game for you. You can purchase the game on Steam or from the developer's website.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Watchlist: Prisonscape

Title: Prisonscape
Developers: Pukka & Tuomas
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Releasing 2014
"Prisonscape is an adventure/RPG game in which the main character is sent to jail (and later on to prison) for crimes he actually DID commit. We don’t want to give out the story too much, but initially the character has to stay alive and learn the rules of this harsh place. Inside you have to deal with such things as constant assaults, creating and using weapons, interacting with other prisoners and learning the trade inside the jail. The player can develop his character to be, for example, a strong, tough fighter or an intelligent, charismatic manipulator."
Prisonscape is an ambitious prison simulator RPG developed inspired by both games like Chronos Trigger and Lucasarts adventure games as well as shows like OZ and The Wire. Prisonscape hopes to immerse the player in the violent gritty world of prison life. From helping the Aryan Brotherhood seize control of key prison areas to snitching on prisoners to smuggling drugs and crafting makeshift weapons and body armor, Prisonscape is not taking any shortcuts in creating a realistic prison environment.
This is a full fledged RPG, with multiple stats to increase and side missions to undertake. Do you take drugs to increase your HP before a fight at the risk of a random drug test or addiction? Do you hide weapons in your cell or on your person, always weary that a shakedown could occur at any moment? Which gang do you help or do you work as a snitch for guards? Will you resolve conflict through a bathroom shanking, through conversation and negotiation, or by turning one gang against another?
Prisonscape is planned to release in 2014 and the developers are working a short demo which will available later this year. You can learn about this game on the developer's blog and its IndieDB page.

Console Spotlight: One Finger Death Punch

Title: One Finger Death Punch
Developer: Silver Dollar Games
Platforms: XBIG, coming to PC later this year
Price: $1 on Xbox Marketplace
PC and IOS are where the bulk of the indies action is, but there are still notable games on XBIG, XBLA, and PSN (and even more to come thanks to Sony's aggressive indie strategy for PS4 and Vita). One such game is One Finger Death Punch, available now on XBIG and soon on PC.
Launch trailer here
The controls are simple: one button for left attacks, one button for right attacks. But that simple two-button scheme lays for the foundations for one of the most addictive games I've played in a while. OFDP is a game of skill and timing; button mashing will only leave open for damage. The animations, inspired by the well known Xiao Xiao stickman fight videos, are the highlight: incredibly smooth transitions between thousands of moves, all endlessly entertaining and just feel powerful. You feel like a martial arts badass as you survive waves of various enemies types across a 250 level campaign and a survival mode.
For $1, the game is an absolute steal. There is a huge amount of content, from different modes, different difficulties, skills to unlock, and weapons to use. One Finger Death Punch is not the deepest game, but who needs depth when a game is this fun and addicting?

You purchase One Finger Death Punch or try a free trial on the Xbox Marketplace here, download the extended PC demo here, or vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.

No Money, No Problem: Atum

Title: Atum
Developer: IGAD Students
Platforms: Browser, requires Unity player
Price: Free
Similar to the puzzle platformer Perspective, Atum utilizes player perspective in a unique innovative way.
At first glance, Atum seems to be a 2D platformer, but it's not. Atum is a first person game where you play as the person playing the 2D platformer. WASD moves the character onscreen but the mouse moves your perspective, allowing you to look around the room in which you set. This isn't just a simple gimmick, as you can use objects in the real world to help the character in the game, such as using a lighter to clear away flammable debris.
Atum is a short game with an interesting premise. You can play it here for free.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

PC Spotlight #7: Aces Wild

Title: Aces Wild: Manic Brawling Action
Developer: Culture Attack Studios
Platforms: PC
Price: 9.99
I've seen Aces Wild called a "bullet hell beat-em-up" and I think the phrase describes the game perfectly. Take the overwhelming number of enemies, the wild visual overload, the insane pace of a bullet hell SHUMP and combine that with over-the-top Dragonball Z-style combat and you get Aces Wild.
The combat in Aces Wild requires one to walk a fine line between craziness and caution. Attacking enemies builds up your Wild meter which allows you to charge up your destructive, enemy-pinballing super attacks or perform a space clearing move that heals you, but the more Wild you have, the more powerful enemies become. So combat becomes a very satisfying mix of punching enemies across the screen and dodging and evading attacks while strategically utlizing your Wild at the best times.
Best played with a gamepad, Aces Wild is a visual treat. Enemies and mini-bosses attack from all sides. Debris flies across the screen. Combos leave you aerial for minutes at a time while missles and projectiles track you and colorful impact effects blind you. The game is a great stress reliever but remains a challenge throughout. With three characters to choose from (each with their own style), a boss rush, arcade mode, and local co-op for double the chaos, Aces Wild has enough content to last hours. You can purchase the game here and vote for it on Steam Greenlight.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Watchlist: Risk of Rain

Title: Risk of Rain
Developer: Hopoo Games
Platforms: PC
Price: $10 to pre-order, $25 for beta access
Releasing Fall 2013

"Risk of Rain is an action platformer with roguelike elements. With permanent death as a primary feature, players will have to play their best to get as far as possible. Fight on a mysterious planet with randomly spawning enemies and bosses. With over 100 items at your disposal, you will find the tools you need to find the teleporter back home. Discover a myriad of randomly chosen stages, from the desolate forest to the frozen tundra."

Stranded on an alien world, your only goal in Risk of Rain is to escape. Somewhere in each expansive, multi-tiered level is a teleporter that will bring you one step closer to getting away from this dangerous place. But explore with caution; the world is full of hostile enemies and beasts and massive bosses. From giant magma worms to jellyfish-esque flying creatures that try to ram and fire bursts of energy to hordes of mechs, every second you take is another chance to die.
You have a choice of several classes, from the agile gun-wielding commando to the melee-focued miner, each with their own abilities. Balancing their limited skills, utilizing the different picks-up and stat boosting gears you find, is criticial to your survival. Having playing the demo, I can say without a doubt that Risk of Rain is a challenge. Tight controls allow you to evade enemies and smart tactical use of all your skills and gear is essential. Enemies swarm from all angles and more often than not, you're on the defensive.

Risk of Rain was recently Greenlit and is set for a Fall 2013 release. You can download the demo here or preorder the game, as well as gain access to the beta here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

No Money, No Problem: Tessallation

Title: Tessallation
Developer: DePaul University seniors
Platforms: PC, Mac
Price: Free
Tessallation is described as a first person, single player co-op puzzle game. Now single player co-op seems like an oxymoron but that's exactly what Tessallation is. You use the power of time travel to work with your past selves. Single player co-op indeed.
Trailer here
To complete each level, you must learn to work with yourself. Complete one action, then rewind time. Your past self perform that "recorded" action, while you do something else. Work in tandem with countless clones as you synchronize button presses, manipulate weight-activated switches, play catch with yourself, and other paradox-breaking tasks. 
Tessallation is short but that's good thing. There's no filler and difficulty ramps up fast. Stay in school, loop through time, and enjoy this abstract puzzle game without spending a cent. You can download Tessallation here.

Quick Fix: Four great sites for indie news and impressions

I share news and impressions of overlooked and under-the-radar games with you but I wouldn't know about some of those games without these great sites.
NeoGAF Indie Games Threads (September)
These monthly threads list the most promising indies across various platforms as well as upcoming games. Forum members vote each month on their favorite games as well as post recommendations and impressions of their own. Be sure to check out the threads for the past six months

Similar to NeoGAF, this subreddit is exclusive about indie games and is supported by user links and submissions. Perhaps the best site for recent news as it happens.

A more traditional site than the first two links, IndieStatik has more in-depth articles, reviews, and previews if you're looking for professional opinions on indie games.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun
While RPS does review and preview AAA games, it also devotes tons of attention to indie gaming. Go here for impressions on anything from the latest Kickstarters to freeware games.

IOS Spotlight #6: Ninjin

Title: Ninjin
Developer: Pocket Trap
Platforms: IOS Universal
Price: Free with 0.99 game unlock
Ninjin combines the auto runner and dual stick combat in a pretty package that deserves a spot on your device. Your rabbit ninja moves forward automatically, but you can move around the screen and attack in any direction. Utilizing a wide variety of weapons, projectiles, and upgrades, you must eliminate waves of enemies and bosses.
Trailer here
What stands out is Ninjin's wonderful art style and amount of content. Across its stylish pixel art landscapes, you face enemies in a level-based campaign and endless mode and unlock new weapons as well as art and music. Best of all, Ninjin is free to try; you can purchase the full game for 0.99.

PC Spotlight #6: Assault Android Cactus

Title: Assault Android Cactus
Developer: Witch Beam
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Vita, Wii U
Price: 14.99
Dual stick shooters and bullet hell mechanics come together in Assault Android Cactus, recently released on Steam. Look beyond Assault's colorful veneer and you'll find a frantic shooter with style to spare.
You can tackle Assault Android Cactus' mechanic hordes alone or with three others and while the extra firepower is helpful and adds to the onscreen chaos, it's not necessary to succeed. Assault plays just fine as  a single player game, allowing you to choose from several different characters, each with their own unique weapons. From common firearms like assault rifles to shotguns to more exotic weaponry such as plasma field generator and a cannonball launcher, weapons are varied and feel powerful.
Besides weaponry, power ups and battery energy pick-ups spawn throughout the arena, granting you drone helpers or increased maneuverability. And you'll need all the help you can get, as enemies and bullets flood the screen from every angle. But Assault Android Cactus's standout features - besides the intense action - are its visuals and animations. Levels shift and change at moment's notice, enemies skitter towards you, turrets emerge as bullets and missiles fly everywhere...all with zero performance issues even on older computers
You can buy Assasult Android Cactucs now on Steam Early Access. The game is also set to release on PS4, PS Vita, and Wii U.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Watchlist: Against The Wall

Title: Against The Wall
Developer: Cartwheel Games
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: Preorder for $10, free alpha available
Releasing late 2013
"Against the Wall is a first-person puzzle-platformer set on the side of an infinite wall. Entire civilizations and ecosystems cling for survival on the side of the wall, everyone and everything existing under the constant threat of tumbling into an endless sky. The wall is made up of square white bricks of varying sizes. You can pull these bricks out of the wall to form platforms, stairs, and paths. Along the way, you'll encounter cities, forests, volcanoes, castles, and other environments in your journey through this strange world."
Against The Wall is an platformer focused on exploration. You're presented with an immense wall that stretches in every direction and a staff that allows you to extend blocks from the wall. As you ascend, you discover new structures and landscapes, all in built from the wall in a surreal fashion. The joy of discovery and exploration is the game's biggest draw; reaching the sideways forests where trees jut from the wall is a beautiful sight.
Different block types provide added challenge to your climb. Some can't be extended, forcing the player to make desperate jumps while others begin retracting into the wall on contact. Luckily there's no fall damage, only the need to climb again and falling past the endless wall at incredible speeds is up there with Mirror's Edge in regards to the sense of momentum and verticality.
Against The Wall was recently Greenlit on Steam. You can play the free alpha here or preorder Against The Wall here.

IOS Spotlight #5: BlastTrax

Title: BlastTrax
Developer: James Gamble
Platforms: IOS Universal, Android
Price: 0.99
The shoot-em-up (or SHMUP) has been a well represented genre on IOS. Games like Phoenix HD, Sine Mora, and Infinity Field have all shown that touchscreens are ideal for frantic bullet-spewing action. BlastTrax is another worthy addition to the genre.
Release trailer here
Developed by James Gamble - the man behind Spike Dislike 1 and 2, Sheep Goes Left, and more - BlastTrax plays like a cross between a racing game and a retro arcade shooter. Your blue vessel must reach the end of the track, avoiding the many enemies and projectiles in between or blowing them away with your trusty phaser. Poweups along the way provide more health or upgrade your weapon. The controls work perfectly and don't get in the way of the action. The standout is the colorful visuals; flashing explosives, flying bullets, power-ups enemies, all add to the hectic action onscreen.
Easy, Normal, and Hard mode await to test your skills. For 0.99, you get a fun SHMUP with a great visual style and more content - such as an even crazier arcade mode - is on the way.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Quick Fix: Online store ShinyLoot is live, having a huge launch sale

If you're looking for an indie game fix to survive till the next big Steam Sale, wait no longer. ShinyLoot - a new online game site - just went live and is celebrating with a massive indie sale. Over 300 games are discounted from August 26th to October 6th, including Rook's Keep, Survivor Squad, Ring Runner, and many more.
 You can search ShinyLoot here and browse through the hundreds of discounted games on the launch sale page.