Monday, March 31, 2014

No Money, No Problem: Catcher

Title: Catcher
Developer: Tobias
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, Browser
Catcher is a cousin to the common bullet hell shmup, save for one unique difference: you don't shoot.  Rather than blowing away enemies with projectiles, Catcher offers a far more interesting and intimate means of destruction.
With your left mouse button, you divide your vessel in two, stretching a deadly energy net between the two halves, and with your right mouse button, you contract, allowing you to tighten the noose around ensnared enemies. It's fluid, fast, and adds a strategic offensive angle to this kind of evasion-heavy gameplay. While it may seem like your limited arsenal would make the game repetitive, its vast array of enemies is what adds challenge and diversity. While the game starts off with simple stationary shapes and hordes of erratic homing foes, you'll soon find yourself weaving and ensnaring everything from spike-ridden stars, rocket and laser turrets, and enemies that phase in and out of existence, to massive snakes, shielded enemies that require timing to surround, and more. Catcher is a game of skill, precision, and focus, especially if you want to build extended combos. Knowing your enemies, how they act and maneuver, is key to surviving the increasing challenging levels.
Catcher is still in development, with more enemies and polish to come, but it's extremely playable and fun in its current state. You can download the game or play the latest version in your browser here, and follow Catcher's development on TIGForum.

IOS Spotlight #52: Smash Hit

Title: Smash Hit
Developer: Mediocre
Platforms: IOS Universal, Android
Price: Free ($1.99 for premium version)
Perhaps what makes Smash Hit so fun and appealing is its simplicity. The core mechanic is tapping the screen to fling balls at glass structures. Mechanically, it's even simpler than Angry Birds. But simplicity isn't negative here, quite the opposite. Mediocre takes this straightforward gameplay and designs an stylish and surprisingly satisfying experience.
Smash Hit is most easily compared to a runner: you move forward automatically, dealing with obstacles in your path. You start with a limited number of balls and acquire more by smashing certain objects along the path; chaining hits reward you with multi-balls, allowing you to fire up to five balls at once. Rather than avoiding hazards, here you're tasked with destroying them and it's this aspect that make Smash Hit shine. One would think that such a simple task would get boring or repetitive, but Mediocre continually changes up the formula with different obstacles. Mindless firing is an easy way to fail;. The amount of balls you have doubles as your health and hitting an obstacles results in a loss of ten, so precision and timing is a must. It helps that shattering obstacles is so satisfying. Personally, the physics, sound effects, visuals, and how it's always linked to a successful hit meant the gameplay never got old for me across the game's nine levels and endless mode.
Any impressions of Smash Hit would be remiss without mentioning the visuals. While the shattering effects are great on their own, the environments are just impressive, abstract areas reminiscent of the brutalist architecture seen in NaissanceE. Smash Hit is free to download here; a $1.99 IAP unlocks stats and the ability to continue from checkpoints (rather than starting from the beginning when you fail.)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Watchlist: Grave

Title: Grave
Developer: Broken Window Studios
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Releasing 2015
Grave is a first person, open world survival horror experience. Explore an ever-changing world filled with frightening creatures. Grave is a hybrid of environmental exploration and combative horror, creating constant tension as the player balances exploration and survival. Our goal is to revitalize the survival horror genre with modern techniques seen in current horror games, while retaining the survival and inventory elements of classic titles.
Grave is an upcoming survivor horror game set in a surrealist nightmare. You awaken on a mysterious desert plain, an endless landscape that shifts with each sunrise. Inspired by the work of Salvador Dali, this world is ever changing, new areas, biomes, and structures appearing with each passing day. From ruined cities and displaced forests to a sudden downpour, you can never be prepared for what weird misplaced area appears over the horizon.
But this world isn't void of danger. Otherworldly beings emerge as night falls and light is your only defense against these grotesque enemies. While this may bring to mind Alan Wake, Grave puts an interesting twist on the mechanic by offering a variety of tools from flashlights and flares to matches and gasoline and making each enemies behave differently to light. Some are easily destroyed, others are merely stunned, while others are attracted to the illumination.
I was able to play the early press demo and even at this early stage, Grave delivers a tense atmosphere. Roaming the windswept plains as haunting music plays. Stumbling upon a derelict town when night falls, a flickering match your only illumination in the suffocating black as an unearthly shriek pierces the darkness. The satisfaction of finding a generator or a gas can, or setting a patch of gas aflame with a flare to kill an approaching creature. Finding some mysterious object out in the world where there was just empty plains the night before. Grave is already scary and fun, and the creatures, weapons, and environments to come will only flesh out the game's solid foundation.
You can learn more about Grave's development on IndieDB, support the project on Kickstarter, and vote for it on Steam Greenlight.

The Watchlist: Stress Taxi

Title: Stress Taxi
Developer: Thousand Gears
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, Ouya
Releasing 2014
Stress Taxi is the only game that will require large doses of reflexes, precision, wit and madness. Your mission is to transport all types of cargo: passengers, explosive goods to more remote and dangerous locations of different planetary systems. Escape through labyrinthine secret tunnels or caves at full speed without scratching your brand new Jetpod.
The first thing that came to mind when I saw Stress Taxi was the movie The Fifth Element. Like the movie, Stress Taxi features a futuristic city, hovercars, taxis, but that's where the similarities end. Stress Taxi's gameplay is remeniscent of Wipeout or F-Zero, as you race through winding, serpentine tracks, sometimes against other jetpods, sometimes carrying passengers, other times just evading hazards. You play as a special agent working undercover as a taxi driver, taking any passengers and cargo from aliens to chemical weapons to criminals. However, the game isn't just a series of tracks, but varied open worlds to explore and discover missions and secrets, a world of towering downtown skyscrapers, deserts, and dangerous jungles.
Stress Taxi will allow you to customize your jetpod with the best chassis, fuel tanks, shields, weapons, and more, building the vehicle to tackle missions how you want. The game has been in development for two years; you can learn more about it on the official site and IndieDB.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

PC Spotlight #85: 10 Second Ninja

Title: 10 Second Ninja
Developer: Dan Pearce
Platforms: PC, Mac
Price: $9.99
As a title, 10 Second Ninja is a lie. Yes, you control a ninja in the game, but if you're taking ten seconds to beat a level, you're doing something wrong. Lightning fast, challenging, and addictive, 10 Second Ninja is an excellent precision puzzle platformer.
Each single screen level has a number of Nazi robots and it's your job to destroy them as fast as possible, all while avoiding spikes, gaps, portals, crushing icicles, and other hazards. But while it's easy to die and the controls are tight and responsive, 10 Second Ninja isn't best compared to games like Super Meat Boy or Electronic Super Joy. At its core, 10 Second Ninja is repetitive. You have a sword, limited shuriken, and the robots never move or attack. You'll play a level,  beat in 5 seconds, and see you're only awarded one star. Repeat, again, faster. Repeat, again, each time, shaving off seconds, milliseconds, mastering a level through death and instant restarts. And yet this never became boring, but rather quite the opposite. Each level is a puzzle of learning the best route to effectively use your attacks and platforming to clear the screen as fast as humanly possible. Gameplay becomes a rhythm of restarts, refining, improving. Seeing your time shaved down with each attempt and finally achieving that three-star time is very satisfying. The silly humorous cutscenes between chapters offer a much needed respite from the fast-paced gameplay.
Some may find 10 Second Ninja boring but similar to Demons' Souls, death and repetition is a tool and a learning process rather than a punishment. The solid controls (best with a gamepad), cute colorful visuals, and precision challenge makes this game a welcome addition to the genre. You can purchase 10 Second Ninja on Steam and GetGames.

The Watchlist: Lemma

Title: Lemma
Developer: Evan Todd
Platforms: PC (potentially Mac, Linux)
Releasing 2014
Lemma is an immersive first-person parkour game. Every parkour move has the potential to modify the environment. Surfaces pop in and out of existence at will.
At a glance, the game Lemma probably brings to mind is Mirror's Edge. However while both feature first person parkour, one let the player loose among stark dystopian streets and rooftops while Lemma drops the you in an abstract landscape where the environment itself can help or hurt you. In Lemma, you play Joan Emerson, a physics student who enters this mysterious world and soon finds herself unraveling its secrets. It's a semi-open world, spreading out from a hub that lets you choose which areas to explore in what order you want.
Besides the parkour and abstract levels, what makes Lemma fun and interesting is how the environment reacts to your presence and how you can affect the environment. Your influence is probably most apparent; by wall-running or sliding off edges, you create a surface to continue moving, and later you gain the ability to select structures as you move as shown in the GIF above. But the environment is always your friend. From dangerous turrets and virus-like red material that spreads across the level to explosive cubes that hone in on your or throw parts of the level at you, there's a wealth of hazards to deftly evade with your superior movement.
Lemma is still in alpha, but is quite playable; you can download the alpha here to get a feeling of the gameplay and world. The developer is working on new content and additions, such as blocks that expand at your touch, switches that allow for machinery like elevators, and improved animations. You can learn more about Lemma here and on TIGForums, support the game on Kickstarter, and vote for it on Steam Greenlight.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

IOS Spotlight #51: oO

Title: oO
Developer: Rainbow Train
Platforms: IOS Universal, Android
Price: $1.99
If you've been reading my blog, you've probably seen that I have an affinity for precision platformers and twitchy, reflex-testing games. That thrill of success is enhanced by challenging games like those, and the recently released oO delievers that thrill with its minimal style and simple yet varied gameplay.
Similar to the IOS title Ring Run Circus, oO has you controlling a ball as it moves around the circumference of interconnected circles; tapping the screen shifts you from the interior to the exterior and vice versa. But while Ring Run Circus felt more like a platformer, oO is pure Super Hexagon/Pivvot-style challenge, as you weave between spikes. Perfect timing is needed, not just to evade hazards but to simply travel from one circle to the next at the small overlap where two overlap. oO consists of four main levels and while that may sound lacking in content, each level builds on the one before, introducing new variations of hazards, from moving spikes to spikes that shift sides to rotating levels. The levels are not short either, instead consisting of checkpoints and tracking your death count rather than time. Each level has a hard version in which the circles are fluid and amorphous, requiring more focus and attention to avoid danger; endless modes are also available for the extra challenge.
In either the regular levels or endless, oO remains challenging and addictive throughout, especially when you gain an almost rhythmic flow and swiftly maneuver around hazards without dying. The developer also has plans for more content in the future.

You can purchase oO for $1.99

The Watchlist: Starship Corporation

Title: Starship Corporation
Developer: Ratakari
Platforms: PC
2014, pre-order tiers from $5-$100
Starship Corporation is a Realtime Strategy Game that contains four elements: Ship Design, Crew and AI Tactics, Ship Building, and Trade The player is able to create the layout for Spaceships and Planetary Installations with multiple decks within the boundaries of existing fuselages. A completed design can then be challenged by playing a series of missions to test the crews reaction to emergencies and the ships combat capabilities. The success of these missions determines the ships rating, important for a good price on the market or the ships performance in your own fleet.
I can't even remember how I discovered Starship Corporation, maybe having read a mention of the game on some site or looking through the list of Greenlit games, but I'm happy that I did. From FTL, Starmade, and Star Citizen to upcoming titles such as Universe Edge and Habitat, it's no secret that the space sim/exploration/ship building genre is quite popular right now. However Starship Corporation promises to take a new approach in the genre and from what I've seen and read, it's shaping up to be a more complex successor to FTL.
Right off the bat, Starship Corporation separates itself from other games in the genre by the fact that you don't actually venture out into that vast frontier. Instead, the game tasks you with maintaining the corporation that maintains and builds these expansive vessels, from battle cruisers to mining ships to terraformers and interstellar cruise ships. Within set templates, you must plan out and construct the most effective layouts and designs for these vessels, across multiple decks and considering everything from power systems, cooling, armor, and crew. Once you're satisfied with your design, you then must put your creation through its paces, testing its effectiveness in different scenarios. This premise allows a wide range of simulated situations and objectives, from the debris collision and drone attack seen in the videos here, to traversing a magnetic storm, breaches by aliens and pirates, radiation, meteors, system failures, ship combat, boarding other ships, and more. However not only must your ship be versatile, so must your crew. You'll be able to assign positions, equip your crew with weapons and gear like space suits (slowed movement but a lifesaver when the oxygen is low), activate security measures, and command them to keep a ship running under the most devastating scenarios. 
Starship Corporation's ambitious plans don't end there. The effectiveness of your ships and crew in these simulations affect their effectiveness once they're out in space, and in turn, gives your corporation more prestige and access to better contracts. While the core gameplay is building and testing ships, the game's campaign also features RPG elements, with dialogue between other companies, politicians, and special interest groups. How you conduct these conversations allow you to shape your corporation's future. You'll even be able to buy and sell captured ships, initiate trade routes, or support wartime factions with your ships. Starship Corporation will even feature multiplayer, but details on the depth and features for online play are light at the moment.
Starship Corporation was successfully funded on Indiegogo back in 2012, as well as Greenlit last year. While the developers plan to bring the game to Early Access, you can preorder Starship Corporation now on their site. Similar to Kickstarter, different tiers offer different rewards such as exclusive ship templates and missions. However it should be noted that you can only pay with Bitcoin.
You can learn more about Starship Corporation here. An early free Alpha version is available on Desura

Monday, March 24, 2014

Quick Fix: Check out the TIGForums Devlog Magazine!

If you've been following my blog, no doubt you've seen a mention or two of TIGForums. There's a reason why I reference TIGForums so often and that's because it's home to an incredible wealth of indie talent, developers who share their game's progress through devlog threads. TIGForums is not only a place where you can see the future of indie gaming grow and thrive; you'll also find older devlogs for other games that might sound familar, games like Minecraft, Starseed Pilgrim, and Papers, Please. Keeping track of these myriad devlogs can be tough, considering how often new ones are created, so thankfully, dedicated forum member Bandreus has rebooted the TIGForums Devlog Magazine, a weekly feature that collects the most intriguing and interesting devlogs that were started or updated that week.
You can find the most recent Magazine in this thread here (with links to all past issues), through the site Venus Patrol, or through the Devlog Magazine Tumblr.

SitRep: XenoRaptor

Title: XenoRaptor
Developer: Peter Cleary
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Beta available now
I shared my thoughts on XenoRaptor in early February, and I've been enjoying this franctic action shooter and its bullet hell mayhem ever since. The developer has been working tirelessly on the game, providing regular updates on his Tumblr and TIGForums, and XenoRaptor has only gotten bigger and better over the weeks. This is a game best seen in motion so I hope you don't mind some excessive use of GIFs.
Additions have included:
Doubling the amount of enemies and bullets onscreen, allowing for even more chaos and making explosive weaponry more effective
New weapons, such as the tactical nuke (with lasers!), improved laser, and multi-directional firepower

New engines abilities like hyperdrive
Bigger bosses and the ability to mind-control bosses
The developer is also improving the menus and working on an objectives system, that will provide missions such as defending a base or friendly ship and surviving while confined to specific area. You can buy Xenoraptor or try the demo here, follow the game on Tumblr, and vote for it on Steam Greenlight.

PC Spotlight #84: Turbo Dismount

Title: Turbo Dismount
Developer: Secret Exit
Platforms: PC, Mac
Price: $6.99
Aside from its calming Zen Bound games, Secret Exit is known for doing one thing really well and that's delivering hilarious bodily harm to hapless ragdolls. The developer's freeware Stair Dismount and Truck Dismount probably qualify as cult classics, and now after bringing Stair Dismount to IOS, they're back on PC with their newest title Turbo Dismount.
The core thrill of the Dismount games remains the same in Turbo Dismount: cause as much damage as possible to your ragdoll as possible for high scores. While past games were confined to staircases and a simple truck racing headlong into a wall, Turbo Dismount takes the concept to the next level with multiple vehicles, tons of obstacles, and varied levels. Now the Dismount games have never been the most mechanically complex experiences, instead offering silly crazy fun as you set up the most painful damaging dismounts. Turbo Dismount delivers the same kind of fun, now with a dash of Burnout's Crash mode as you fly into the midst of massive pileups and head-on collisions. Vehicles range from the simple skateboard and shopping cart to the motorcycle, jeep, and fire truck, and various poses let you place your ragdoll in different spots inside and around the vehicles: hanging off the back, clinging to front bumper, straddling the hood, and more. You'll find yourself diving into the midst of freeway traffic and speeding intersections, through loops and into congested parking lots, and up massive ramps. It's simple, but so satisfying to watch your ragdoll get decapitated while flying through a brick wall as your fire truck barrel rolls through the air.
Turbo Dismount is currently on Steam Early Access, with regular updates; the most recent added Steam Workshop support, new vehicles, and levels and there's only more to come in the future. You can purchase Turbo Dismount on Steam.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Watchlist: The Hong Kong Massacre

Title: The Hong Kong Massacre
Developer: Vreski Games
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
In development
A game set in Hong Kong filled with guns, bullets, slow-motion and blood. It is a top-down action game inspired by classic Hong Kong action movies. I wanted to make a game for sometime that tries to capture the intensity and mayhem that gunfights creates in these movies.
 The Hong Kong Massacre is still very early in development, but after seeing the game on TIGForums a few weeks ago and reading the developer's visions and plans, it's becomes one of my most anticipated indie games. Inspired by the Hong Kong action movie genre, films like Hard Boiled and The Killer, The Hong Kong Massacre sets you on a path of revenge as you track down a triad leader. You work your way up the food chain to gather clues about your target's whereabouts, leaving blood-soaked, lead-filled mayhem in your wake. Gratuitous bloodspray, stylish slow motion, dual wielding, diving and gorgeous effects already add a visceral gritty edge to the gameplay, and the developer hopes to add more variety than just mowing down enemies, including stealth gameplay and single target levels. Info on the HKM is light at the moment, so here are some more awesome GIFs of the game:

The developer is currently porting the game to Unity and working on a gameplay trailer and Greenlight page. You can follow The Hong Kong Massacre's development on TIGForums.

No Money, No Problem: Corridors of Uncertainty

Title: Corridors of Uncertainty
Developer: Frank Force
Platforms: PC
Free pre-alpha
I discovered Corridors of Uncertainty (and by extension, Frank Force's entire library of awesome freeware games) sometime last week, and while the rest of his games are all high quality, fun, and inventive titles, I've been playing Corridors of Uncertainty ever since. For what is essentially a pre-alpha build, CoU feels polished and very playable even at this early stage.
Corridors of Uncertainty is a top-down arcade action roguelike inspired by game like Robotron, Hotline Miami,and Loaded. Set in sprawling procedurally generated maps, you guide your futuristic hero to the teleporter in the level, mowing down well-armed enemies and drones along the way. Between pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, and powers ranging from slow motion to a speed dash, you have a nice variety of weapons to use. For a pre-alpha, the CoU already feels fun to play; the shooting feels tight and satisfying, the powers are fun to use, the effect sand lighting quite impressive. The sci-fi style, destructible environments, and powers make the game stand out from other action roguelikes. Gameplay can get hectic, but conserving ammo and using your abilities allow you to overcome the most dangerous areas.
Corridors of Uncertainty is only in pre-alpha, with the developer planning on adding more weapons, abilities, enemies, upgrades, and just more content overall in the months to come. You can download the game here.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

PC Spotlight #83: Luftrausers

Title: Luftrausers
Developer: Vlambeer
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PS3, PS Vita
Price: $9.99
Luftrausers is not a dogfighting game. You may control a plane and you may be shooting down enemy fighters (and boats and blimps), but what Luftrausers really is frenzied aerial bullet hell chaos. But, in true Vlambeer fashion, what makes the game so good besides the action and stylized graphics, are the controls.
In Luftrausers, there is no such thing as downtime. You assemble your plane in the Hangar and then launch into unfriendly skies. It only takes a few seconds for the screen to become pure mayhem as battleships and fighters fill the sepia-hued air with bullets and aces swoop in behind you, and that's before the hulking projectile-spewing blimps appear. But even in the midst of the most hectic gauntlet, you are always in the control and that's the brilliance of Luftrausers.
It's one thing to weave between some bullets and return fire. It's another to swoop into a dive, deftly plummet through a hail storm of bullets, take out a battleship, and pull up so close that the water's surface is flared up by your thrusters. Or to maneuver your enemies into a tight cluster, cut your thrusters, and shoot the planes pursuing you while your momentum carries you in the other direction. Your plane is insanely maneuverable, able to turn on a dime, reach top speed in a moment. Realism isn't a factor here; it's pure arcade handling and it makes every close call, every elegant evasive maneuver feel so satisfying. Equally impressive is how diverse your plane combinations control and feel. Each part is useful in some fashion and each combination is wholly unique, with its own shape, name, and music. Equip the hover engine and cannonball and you can easily maintain a level altitude while raining explosive fury onto your enemies. With the water-proof engine, collision-proof body, and laser, you become a devastating master of air and sea, diving beneath the surface to evade bullets and flying through enemies like an unstoppable bullet. Completing missions unlocks new parts and other rewards, such as different color schemes and the hard-as-nails absolutely unforgiving SMFT mode. Normal mode at its most chaotic is child's play compared to what awaits in SMFT.
Luftrausers isn't the most complex game, but it's certainly one of the most addictive and satisfying I've played in a while. I'd say it's easily on par with One Finger Death Punch, in terms of delivering a simple experience that's laser focused on delivering stylish  finely-tuned gameplay. It's the kind of game where I'm instantly restarting upon defeat, to improve my skills, to complete missions and unlock new parts. You can purchase Luftrausers on Steam, Humble, and PSN.

PC Spotlight #82: Nuclear Throne

Title: Nuclear Throne
Developer: Vlambeer
Platforms: PC
Price: $12.99
Here's a confession: I wasn't much of a fan of Vlambeer games until recently. Super Crate Box and Ridiculous Fishing were certainly fun, but didn't blow me away the same way it did some reviewers. But then I played Nuclear Throne.
It's easy to see why people listen when Vlambeer's cofounder gives a talk on game feel; they've mastered that extra subtle element of making addictive gameplay that just fun and satisfying to play. Nuclear Throne is a bullet hell action shooter/roguelike set in a post-nuclear wasteland, where mutated beings all vie to control the titular nuclear throne. In this case, "vying for control" means choosing a character, picking up weapons, and killing everything. As an action roguelike, Nuclear Throne is incredibly solid, offering dozens of varied ruthless enemies to kill and even more bullets to evade. From a screwdriver to a bullet-deflecting katana, to the pistols and shotguns and machine guns and grenade launchers and crossbows, there's a vast arsenal at your disposal; each character's special ability, such as slow motion and dodge rolls, add your tactics. Perks chosen when you level up provide another layer of complexity.
But the action itself is what drives Nuclear Throne and Vlambeer has absolutely nailed that aspect. Weapons just feel powerful, each different and unique. Using a crossbow and shotgun is vastly different from katana and rifle. Weaving between projectiles, while mowing down enemies and collecting new weapons, desperately dodging bullets while you only have one health point left, it's challenging, hectic, and oh so addictive.
Between its charming pixel graphics, frantic bull hell chaos, punishing roguelike challenge, and myriad weapons, Nuclear Throne is always fun and never less than thrilling. You can purchase the game on Steam or through the developer's site.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Watchlist: Dead Years

Title: Dead Years
Developer: ZeroByte Inc
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Releasing 2014
Dead Years is an Indie Zombie Game taking place about six months after the outbreak. You are one of the few remaining survivors, exploring the wastelands with the only friend you have left, your dog!
Dead Years is an upcoming zombie game....hey, don't go! It's safe to say that zombies have pretty much saturated our entertainment from countless movies and games to The Walking Dead and even the lauded serial podcast We're Alive. And games such as Project Zomboid and Dead State already offer open world isometric zombie action. But the more I learn about Dead Years, the more intrigued and excited I become. This is a game to watch.
Perhaps what grabbed my attention most were the wonderfully atmospheric visuals. The lush painterly style invoke a desolate atmosphere and sense of tension, a grim world to explore and survive. What's even more impressive is the scale and scope of this world. While other games confine you to a city or smaller towns, Dead Year is more ambitious, thrusting you into an open world spanning a state-sized area with abandoned highways, multiple cities big and small, towns, forests, countryside, and more to discover. It's a world where weather, nighttime, and the changing seasons are as much a danger as the hordes of fast zombies that roam this ravaged landscape, where food and supplies are ever dwindling, where one must scavenge and learn necessary skills to survive, from crafting armor and weapons to cooking and camping.
However you won't be alone in your struggle for survival. Your dog remains at your side through it all, not just another NPC, but a hardened companion and guardian. Through branching skill trees, you'll be able to mold your fellow canine into a fierce warrior or stealthy killer. Other survivors exist as well, some even able to join you in survival, but in this world, intentions are never clear so it's best to always watch your back. A sprawling main story, enriched with myriad side quests, also await you in this dangerous world.
While Dead Years is certainly reminiscent of other games in the genre, its lonely atmosphere, its great art style, the ambitious scale of the landscape, and blend of open world survival and RPG elements present an experience with great promise and potential, especially for fans of zombie action. You can learn more on the game's site and can expect gameplay footage and a Kickstarter to launch early next week.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Quick Fix: Promising Kickstarters and some awesome free games

Hey, hope you're all doing well. School's been going well for me, and I'm eager for Spring Break. You can look forward to reviews of Cloudbuilt, Nuclear Throne, and Turbo Dismount, previews of The Hong Kong Massacre and Lift, and SitReps on XenoRaptor and Vertiginous Golf, and more to come in about two weeks.

Here's some indie news to keep you sated till then:

Frog Sord's Fate
I had been anticipating this promising precision platformer about a frog with a s(w)ord, and I even got to play the alpha. But unfortunately new developments have come to light, and it seems like the project is now dead. The details aren't exactly clear yet, and no official confirmation has been made, but in the words of one of the developer's on the TIGForum devlog, "Frog Sord is dead and we're not entirely sure what that means right now."

Promising Kickstarters
2014 has been a great one for Kickstarters so far, with games like Rain World, MAV, Olympia Rising, La-Mulana 2, and Classroom Aquatic all finding success. Here are some ongoing Kickstarters with great potential:

Proven Lands
Explore a unique, vast and beautiful science-fiction sandbox roguelike, procedurally generated and studded with an AI storyteller.
I've been anticipating this project and now it's on Kickstarter. It's a hard science fiction (as in realistic science) procedurally generated sandbox survival game, with a focus on exploration, discovery, and surviving alone on an alien world. It's ambitious and has a huge scope and it deserves your support and attention. There's a pre-alpha demo to download here.

Ashen Rift
A new take on classic shooters: Ashen Rift pits you and your pitbull Bounder against the crumbling world and howling beasts within.

Galactic Princess
Dive into an epic adventure through deep space. Find the princess to restore peace, and rule the universe.

Nothing To Hide
In this anti-stealth game, you're forced to help with your own surveillance. Act like you're always on stage. A fake smile for the camera. If you can't hide who you are... you have to hide who you really are.
I discussed this game before and now there's only two days left to support the project. The campaign is so close to success, so give the demo a try if you haven't.

On a side note, I'm maintaining the 2014 Kickstarter thread on NeoGAF, so if you want to learn about current campaigns, what's coming up, and what's succeeded or failed, check it out.

Great freeware games from Frank Force
I only discovered this developer and his games yesterday, but I am so impressed by the quality of his titles. His most recent, Corridors of Uncertainity, already feels polished and fun for a pre-alpha.

Corridors of Uncertainity

Self Destruction

Secret Formula