Saturday, February 27, 2016

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 2/27

Title: Hiraeth
Developer: Slingshot and Satchel
Hiraeth is a minimalist platformer with a heavy emphasis on art, music and tight mechanics. Take control of a robed figure and run, jump, float and dash your way through the universe as you defy your 'creator'.
Title: Purgatory: Echoes From The Void
Developer: Abstract Games
Purgatory is an story driven adventure RPG with puzzle solving, taking inspiration from earlier games like Myst, we wanted to combine classic complex puzzles with an RPG system that allows for multiple approaches to situations and encounters, and puts to the player many philosophical and ethical dilemmas.
Title: Cubicolor
Developer: Moltenplay
Cubicolor is a minimalist puzzle game with soothing piano music. The rules are simple: Match the color patches on the board and reach the exit, all on one single path. Every tile can only be touched once before it falls into nothingness. The game gets harder as the levels progress, always accompanying you with relaxing piano tunes.
Title: North
Developer: Outlands Games
Apply for asylum in a city filled with strange creatures
(Download here)
Title: Dead By Daylight
Developer: Behaviour Interactive
Dead by Daylight is both an action and survival horror multiplayer game in which one crazed, unstoppable killer hunts four survivors through a terrifying nightmarish world in a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Friday, February 26, 2016

PC Review #141: SuperHOT

Title: SuperHOT
Developer: SuperHOT Team
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: $24.99
I have fond memories of the original SuperHOT prototype. The 7DFPS jam entry was short, but so unique and stylish, and just begged to be built upon. And now three years and one successful Kickstarter later, SuperHOT is back, bigger and more beautiful than ever before, but still retaining the elegant gameplay that made the concept so much fun.
SuperHOT revolves around a simple singular mechanic: time only moves when you move. (Actually that's false; time creeps past at a glacial pace when you're still). This one idea turns what, at full speed, is a furious first-person shooter with bullets and death closing in from every angle, into a strategic game of precision, planning, and action movie-tier feats.

In fact, SuperHOT is best compared to Hotline Miami. You die in one hit, combat is a mix of guns and melee, guns have limited ammo, and spent weapons become thrown items to stun enemies with. But while Hotline Miami was an exercise in excess, with its pounding synth, gruesome kills, and flurries of room-clearing violence, SuperHOT is its mirror opposite. It's a game of minimalism and restraint, more time spent side-stepping bullets and planning your next move than attacking. Those methodical minutes-long sequences of time-slowed action only last mere seconds in real time.
Methodical is the most apt word to describe SuperHOT's pacing. Every moment is one of careful movement, since every step by you means danger is one step closer. Every variable needs to be considered. How many bullets do you have left in your gun? Do you have time and space to evade the bullets headed your way? Can you stun that enemy and close the distance soon enough to grab his fallen weapon?

With all those elements in play and time at your control, the combat in SuperHOT becomes the stuff of Hollywood magic or scenes that are usually only reserved for scripted moments and set pieces, especially when viewed at full speed. You snatch a gun out of the air and spin around to kill the enemies approaching from behind. Point blank shots are negated by a katana slicing the bullet in half. Weaving between bullets with effortlessly ease. And it's all presented in a minimalist crystalline aesthetic, where enemies shatter upon impact and the red trails of gun shots hang in the air.
You fight enemies in back alleys and parking garages, in building lobbies and warehouses; each level is a vignette, dropping you into a scenario already in play. The ambush. The deal gone sideways. The bar brawl. At first, these levels seem unconnected and random, but soon a story emerges. SuperHOT's narrative is surprisingly intriguing, a cyberpunk tale told through chatrooms and an enigmatic computer interface, reminiscent of recent games like Pony Island.

Once you complete the main campaign in a few hours, a vast selection of additional content unlocks. The Endless arenas and Challenges are where the bulk of your SuperHOT time will be spent. Each Challenge modifies the gameplay in unique ways that force you adapt new tactics for every level. KatanaOnly restricts your arsenal to merely a sword. TimeStop makes time freeze completely when you don't move, but you can only fire each gun once. SpeedRun tests your efficiency at maximizing each action.

SuperHOT takes the time-stopping gameplay that so intrigued people three years ago and improves upon it in every way. You can purchase the game on Steam, Humble, GMG, and GOG. The developers have plans to add more content and experiment with new ideas and concepts in the future.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Watchlist: Forts

Title: Forts
Developer: Earthwork Games
Platforms: PC
In development
A real-time physics-based strategy game of construction and destruction
Many games revolve around building architecturally-sound structures or powerful vehicles, while probably an equal amount challenge you to level buildings and unleash destruction. The upcoming Forts combines both elements, as you construct an imposing weapon-laden base that can withstand devastating barrages and decimate opposing bases.

On craggy canyon walls, across hilly terrain, withing tight caverns, players construct their fort from wall struts and supports, carefully to only make sure their structure won't collapse due to a weight unbalance but also can support weapons and withstand onslaughts from opponents. Each player build their structures in real time, so a game in Forts is a race against time, researching tech trees and establishing both offense and defense.
Forts' arsenal is a careful balance, making each weapon useful and able to countered. Anti-air fire protects your tower from incoming missiles, but the swarm missile lets you fling a collecting of rockets to slip through the anti-air defense. The missile launcher is devastating but requires a sniper to paint its target. Laser, cannon, mortars, and more can be grouped together and fired manually, letting you fire tactical weapon combos or just shell your enemy with overwhelming artillery.

But defense and resource management is just as important as building a powerful array of weapons. Redundant layers of shielding can be a lifesaver against a cannon round, while smart construction can save your fort once fires start spreading. Wind turbines and reactors can produce energy, mines can draw useful minerals from the earth.

Forts will feature a single player campaign against an AI that can intelligently build and repair fortresses, as well as competitive and cooperative multiplayer with up to 8 players.
Forts will be releasing on Steam Early Access later this year. You can find more information about the game and its development here.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 2/20

Title: Fabular
Developer: Spiritus Games
Fabular: Once upon a Spacetime is a Medieval Space-folktale indiegame with action-RPG and roguelike influences. You explore an abstract, storybook-like universe as a young space-knight in your trusty ship that functions as your armour, your figurative warhorse and your mobile home as well. You need to manage your resources, upgrade your ship, be skillful in combat and make the right choices during encounters
Title: Eloryn's Partition
Developer: Eloyrn dev team
A game about music, adventure and Yumpas.

Title: Engima Prison
Developer: Gustavo Rios
Explore a scientific facility using advanced technology tools that will mold the world according to your mind. Your play style will shape your adventure in this world full of mysteries to uncover. Learn with your mistakes and evolve to escape from this unique mind prison.
Title: Temple of Rust
Developer: Dev Zoo
Temple of Rust offers procedural generated top-down arena action. Control a young demon hunter through his proving ground utilizing a growing set of collectible abilities. The game is notable for its replay value by re-creating the whole game world on demand. It resembles a modern Smash TV-like game.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

PC Review #140: Devil Daggers

Title: Devil Daggers
Developer: Sorath
Platforms: PC
Price: $4.99
In the beginning, there's only silence. Your ember-veined hand, a hovering dagger, a single platform suspended in an endless black abyss. But don't be fooled by that initial calm. Devil Daggers soon becomes a cacophonous onslaught of eldritch horrors and the strafing, rocket-jumping action of classic Doom and Quake.
Break down Devil Daggers - mechanics, controls, visuals, sound, and so on - and in isolation, its gameplay is quite simple. You essentially have two weapons, a rapid-fire stream of daggers and a powerful spread-shot. Level design amounts to a single bare arena without walls or barriers of any kind. You die in one hit. There are no pool of equipment and perks to unlock, no other modes to play, no story. It's pure arena combat, against relentless odds.

But Devil Daggers doesn't need those extraneous elements to deliver. Your moveset is deeper than it first seems, allowing for rocket dagger jumping, double jumping, and other advanced means of evasion. There may even be some special dagger-enhancing powers that emerge if you survive long enough. That simple game design doesn't hurt Devil Daggers, instead giving it laser focus. Without needing to worry about ammo or health or juggling an inventory, the focus shifts to evasion and environmental awareness. It's a game of constant movement, of maximizing every split-second of safety to calculate a route through incoming foes.
And what foes the game has to offer. Tentacle-tipped towers that vomit forth swarms of skulls. Hulking arachnoid beasts with too many furiously twitching legs. Spinal cord serpents that twist and coil through the air. Crafted in a rough old-school aesthetic and fluid animations, Devil Daggers' bestiary is one of bone and flesh and appendages. Demonic things that fill the air with an oppressive symphony of roars, rattles, distorted shrieks and skittering legs, wet flesh and echoing moans. Each creature sounds unique, alerting you to when and where a new threat enters the arena even if your attention is elsewhere. The incredible sound design is that key aspect that completely elevates Devil Daggers' atmosphere, truly making it feel like you're facing something otherworldly.

But even as your skills grow more honed, and your attempts grow longer, eventually death will come, and the addictive drive to ascend the leaderboards begins. In a smart touch, a replay of the best attempts are saved, meaning you can watch the runs of the top scores and see their tactics and tricks.
Devil Daggers costs $4.99 and is available on the developer's site and Steam.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Watchlist: Spinnortality

Title: Spinnortality
Developer: James Patton
Platforms: PC
In development
Cyberpunk megacorp simulation
Since the days of Snatcher and Syndicate, the cyberpunk setting has been popular in games. Just last year, we got Dex, Satellite Reign, Read Only Memories, and more. But most cyberpunk games put you in the shoes of the street-level soldier, fighting for or against powerful megacorporations. Spinnortality plans to tackle the other end of that spectrum, placing you in control of one of those megacorps.

In a future where nations have combined into sprawling continent-states, you control a rising company with aspirations to seize control of the world's markets. Of course, products that shatter the public's privacy and bend their will to your own goals aren't exactly going to be easy sells, so deciding how to sell software and tech to society will be a major part of Spinnortality's management gameplay.
Powerful governments and equally powerful rival corporations all stand in the way, but as seen so often seen in cyberpunk fiction, there's no tool in your arsenal more effective than corporate espionage. In between spreading your global influence, expanding your workforce, and researching new technology, you'll also be able to work in secret to destabilize nations and secure other advantages. Those tactics include inciting riots, rigging elections, blackmailing officials, or even the direct option of assassination. Manipulating nations through your infamous means can tip your rivals into chaos and financial collapse.
Spinnortality is still early in development and doesn't have a definite release date yet. You can learn more about the game here, and follow its progress on Twitter.

James Patton's previous game was the Renaissance vengeance simulator Masques & Murder; it's available to play as a Pay-What-You-Want download on

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 2/13

Title: Spinnortality
Developer: James Patton
Spinnortality is a cyberpunk simulation game where you play an insidious megacorporation.
Title: Coreupt
Developer: Toyetic Concepts
An action beat'em game
Title: Crimson Keep
Developer: Neckbeard Ninjas
A first person slasher with roguelike elements
Title: Vigilantes
Developer: Timeslip Softworks
Take to the decadent streets of Reiker City, and bring the fight to the three criminal gangs that dominate the urban landscape: the Mafia, the Survivalists, and the Church of the Final Exodus. Run surveillance operations to locate and assess the criminal threat, craft or purchase new equipment, hone your skills, and recruit other vigilantes to back you up in tense tactical battles.

IOS Review #112: Abzorb

Title: Abzorb
Developer: Gerald Kelley
Platforms: IOS Universal
Price: $2.99
It's been six years since Tilt To Live showed how to do tilt controls well on mobile, and three years since its sequel expanded on the strengths of the original. Tilt-controlled games can be difficult to nail, but the new arcade puzzle Abzorb might be the best I've played since Tilt To Live, featuring both responsive controls and surprisingly varied twists on its simple concept.
Abzorb is quite straightforward. You control an arrow, sliding around the screen to absorb blue energy from orbs. To collect the energy, you need to stay close enough that the orbs are in the radius of your triangle, but not close enough to actually touch. Meanwhile dangerous red orbs drain the level's clock if they enter your range, making Abzorb a game of fast-paced evasion and puzzling as you figure out how to gather each level's blue energy without running out of time.

If Abzorb was merely an endless game revolving around those mechanics, it would still be a fun game thanks to its stylish minimalist aesthetic and surprisingly tight tilt controls. But Abzorb layers on a vast range of additional mechanics and tricky level design to create a unique polished arcade puzzler.
Some orbs grow or shrink your absorption radius. Other orbs are chained together and inactive until drained of energy. Other orbs form barriers around you, forcing you carefully push and shove the sides to move across the screen, Special gates change the color of orbs that pass between them, Many more mechanics await, as well as the additional challenge of completing each of the game's 65 level as fast as possible for the best scores.
Abzorb is available for $2.99 and has no in-app purchases.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

IOS Review #111: Decromancer

Title: Decromancer
Developer: Unit9
Platforms: IOS Universal
Price: Free
It can be easy for mobile games to slip under the radar. Given the sheer amount of releases each week, decent games can come and go without ever catching many eyes. Decromancer first released in 2013, afterwards making its way to Android and Steam, I only discovered the game last week and completely surprised by its tactical card combat and wealth of content.
Decromancer's story is simple: explore a enemy-filled map, help a stranded diplomat to get home. But story isn't the focus here; it's the game's tactical combat and in that aspect, Decromancer shines quite brightly.

Encounters takes place on a four-by-five grip, with enemies controlling the top two rows and you controlling the bottom two. Each turn, you can draw three cards from your deck. So far, kind of standard. But while the mechanics are akin to the wealth of other card battlers, the actual combat is strategic and all about positions and abilities. Each unit has a specific range of effect and special skills: spearman can hit two tiles in one blow, archers can randomly target three tiles, healers assist all adjacent tiles, and so on.
This allows an incredible amount of tactics. Protecting your front row with siege shields while peppering an enemy's front with protected spears. Place powerful snipers in your back row, while reinforcing your front line with healers and swordsman. As you gather more powerful cards and upgrade cards already in your deck, the strategies only grow more complex, allowing you to stack status effects, attack ranges, and buffs to annihilate your foes. An arsenal of spells further expand your tactics, letting your unleash a horde of rats, call down meteors upon your enemies, increase your ranks' defense for several turns, and more.
Of course being a card game and free, Decromancer is likely to cause some to be hesitant, but it's surprisingly fair. There aren't any card packs to buy, and while you can purchase gold or shards to heal your cards, the game rewards you with both frequently. By the time you're facing stronger factions, you'll earn thousands of gold and dozens of experience points per battle, letting you continuously upgrade your cards and gather new ones from merchants. And while the early game can be pretty grindy, the constant dripfeed of new cards and unlocks and the satisfaction of decimating lower-level foes with your superior tactics and powerful cards provides a good push to keep playing.

Decromancer is available for free. You can also find the game on Android and Steam.

Monday, February 8, 2016

PC Review #139: Firewatch

Title: Firewatch
Developer: Campo Santo
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: $19.99
There's something almost magical about the woods. Leave home, turn off the highway, stop in the lot of some larger park or in a roadside clearing for a trail, venture onto a path, and the civilization that was so close suddenly seems so distant. It's just you and the woodlands, and there's a sense of mystery and awe around every bend, over every hill, atop each peak and outlook. Even if you've walked the same trail before, it can feel new and just as compelling. I've played a lot of open world games, traversed a lot of digital forests, and none have captured that atmosphere as well as Firewatch. The engaging intimate story almost feels like a wonderful extra, wrapped up in the game's gorgeous setting and feeling of discovery and exploration.
In Firewatch, you fill the shoes of Henry, a man devastated by a crumbled relationship, escaping to a lookout tower watching out over Wyoming's Shoshone National Forest. It's a lonely solitary job of putting out smoldering campfires and dealing with reckless teenagers, or it would be if not for the friendly voice from your walkie-talkie. Delilah is another lookout in the tower on an adjacent peak in the hazy distance, and your only companion. She's there to guide you through your early fire-watching days, to help point out slivers of smoke in your region of the forest, to chat about life and family and other well-acted dIscussions. Much like Telltale's games and other narrative adventure, you can choose dialogue choices to develop your relationship with Delilah, and saying nothing is almost always an option.

From your tower, you grab your pack and your radio, and venture into the park. The environment isn't the largest open world in gaming, but it's sprawling enough that you need to use a trail map and compass to orient yourself, use landmarks and marked supply caches to find your way to locations. Later on, you gain new tools and items that let you explore previously inaccessible areas, such as climbing rope to rappel down steep slopes.
Days pass, sometimes weeks, and gradually Firewatch becomes something more than a game of hiking through a national forest and chatting with Delilah. A mystery emerges, and an ever-present atmosphere of tension settles over the vibrant wilderness. As with any of these story-heavy games, the less you know about the twists and turns of the story, the better the experience, but I will say that Firewatch is suspenseful. That atmosphere certainly contributes to the feeling of exploration, discovery, and isolation that Firewatch nails so well. Familiar trails once traveled might not feel so inviting later in the game. Plot developments can frame certain actions and areas in new lights.

My stint as a lookout lasted around five hours, each one compelling and interesting. The hard cuts between days and weeks lets the game present its moments of calm, of mystery, of downtime and conversation at a measured meticulous pace and keep the story moving along without filler.
Firewatch offers both natural beauty to explore and engaging banter to enjoy, a mystery to unravel and a mature story. Between Oxenfree last month and now Campo Santo's debut title, 2016 has been already proved to be a wonderful year for narrative adventures. You can find Firewatch on Steam and PS4.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 2/6

Title: Youji
Developer: luxjuve
A Wuxia story based in the wartime of late Ming dynasty, with an aesthetic stylized after Chinese ink paintings
Title: Zero Dark Gravity
Developer: Skyway Interactive
Zero gravity open world survival
Title: Elk
Developer: Wee Door
A 2.5D stealth puzzle platformer about an elk lost and alone in a strange land
Title: Last Fight
Developer: PiranaKing
Last Fight is a 3D fighting / platform game with an arcade style. Packed with humour, skill and fun for up to 4 players, Last Fight introduces a roster of 10 different characters.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Watchlist: Scorn

Title: Scorn
Developer: Ebb Software
Platforms: PC
Releasing 2017
An atmospheric first person horror adventure
No doubt that HR Giger's unsettling blend of organic and mechanical is one of the most fascinating aesthetic in science fiction. Many games have been inspired by it, and besides Alien: Isolation, the upcoming Scorn looks it's capturing those influences with great and grotesque sucess.

Scorn drops you into a nightmarish world of twisted gnarled fleshy structures. The world will be spread across interconnected regions, each with its own stories and secrets to uncover, unique puzzles to solve, and characters to meet.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Scorn is that you aren't defenseless. Monstrous beings roam the regions, and you'll be able to fight back with a selection of weird and powerful weapons. But Scorn is no action game. Combat is influenced by old-school horror games like Resident Evil; supplies will be scare and ammo limited, focusing on carefully choosing battles if you want to survive enemy encounters.
Scorn is expected to release on PC in early 2017; you can follow its development on TIGSource and Twitter.