Wednesday, July 29, 2015

No Money, No Problem: AniMa

Title: AniMa
Developer: Jord Farrell, Mark Sparling
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
In AniMa, you go by many names - Reborn one, Ruthless one, Devouring one - but you only have one goal. You are a disembodied specter, given the opportunity by some mysterious being to regain your life. But returning to life requires you to take life, in this ominous puzzle platformer.
In each level, you must open a portal to exit, a portal that requires blood sacrifices to unlock. As a spirit, you can't die or pass through the portal, but the inhabitants of these trap-filled levels can. Possessing them allows you to activate switches, open gates, and, most importantly...die. Each inhabitant is different - one able to jump, another equipped with a shield that can block vaporizing lightning beams, and so on - and the challenge comes from figuring how to use their abilities, which must die, and which will be used to enter the portal.

But don't worry. You're taking nothing of value, according to your otherworldly benefactor. AniMa's gloomy, grainy art style and eerie sound design completes the game's dark atmosphere.
You can download AniMa here.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

PC Review #121: Feist

Title: Feist
Developer: Bits & Beasts
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: $14.99
You are not alone in Feist's dense forests and dark caverns but you certainly are on your own. Danger abounds, from traps to deadly animals, and only through quick thinking and agile platforming can you survive. At a glance, Feist may bring to mind puzzle platformers like Limbo, but this action platformer is all about desperate combat.
You're a small fuzzy creature, escaped from the clutches of the bipedal troll-like beasts that roam this atmospheric landscape. In pursuit, you traverse towering trees, overgrown marshes, and claustrophobic caves, using the environment to your advantage to overcome overwhelming odds. You have no means to defend yourself, no talons or tough hide, only your agility and size.
Feist's world is not a kind place. From the start, you're evading spiky caterpillars and buzzing flies that pounce with long stingers. Desperate is the word that describes the experience best; you're always outnumbered and overpowered, always a hair's breath away from death. You're running through logs and under mushrooms to avoid stingers, snatching up rocks and pine cones and twigs to stun and kill creatures.
But your greatest ally is the environment itself. Traps that can skewer you with flying barbs can just as easily be triggered to kill other animals. Stunning flies let you pick them up and fire their stingers. Cave-ins underground can crush leaping spiders if you're quick enough to evade the falling rocks. The reactive environments and fast-paced combat makes for frantic, challenging, and satisfying encounters. Death can occur quite frequently; thankfully frequent checkpoints alleviate some of the frustration,

Feist oozes with atmosphere, from the shadowy aesthetic of the world or hazy reflections as you run past a lake to the haunting soundtrack. It's a short experience, but the tension and challenge doesn't let up. Feist can be purchased from Steam, Humble, GOG, and

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 7/25

Title: Spirit
Developer: Rinaldo Wirz
"An isometric, narrative-focused, exploration-heavy adventure" with a possession mechanic
Title: Collecton
Developer: Daniel Branicki
Collecton is a roguelike-platformer with heavy emphasis put into interaction with the world's creatures, items and exploration.
Title: Traces of Light
Developer: Mikhail Pigichka
Traces of Light is a third person adventure game about Dirk Young, a lighthouse keeper. His life is completely changed after a devastating solar storm ruins his village home. Help him to find a new mechanism for the Lighthouse and bring it back in order to save his friends and family from mortal danger. To finish the game pass through the mazes and obstacles, solve the puzzles and find the way home. There is no time to waste, let the adventure begin!
Title: Atomic Society
Developer: Far Road Games
Atomic Society is a post-apocalyptic city building game that aims to let players decide what laws, morals and values their survivors will live by, as well as giving them the fun of managing a bustling town and its resources. You can create a dystopia, utopia, and or whatever wasteland town you desire.
Title: miniLAW
Developer: Lasso Games
Futuristic tactical law enforcement roguelike
Roam the city of New Babel in search of crimes in progress. Procedurally generated crimes and encounters make no two plays the same.

Friday, July 24, 2015

IOS Review #99: Prune

Title: Prune
Developer: Polyculture
Platforms: IOS Universal
Price: $3.99
Mobile is home to wide variety of genres, and games like Shadowmatic, Zen Bound, and Monument Valley have shown how relaxing tactile experiences are well suited for the platform. The recently released Prune drives that point home, delivering a wonderfully artistic puzzler that's a worthy addition to any mobile library.
Grow a tree, lead it to the light and watch its flowers bloom: that's the core concept of Prune across the game's five chapters. Swiping on the screen lets you slice away branches and steer the growing tree towards the light, through narrow passages, and around obstacles. From red spheres that infect your tree to windswept landscapes, gates and switches, and pollination, Prune's zen veneer blossoms into a surprisingly tricky puzzler in later levels as new and interesting elements are introduced.

Prune is as enjoyable to watch as it is play. Watching your tree sprout and reach out with twisting branches towards the light is always satisfying; combined with the shadowy landscapes with red sun and stars overhead, Prune is art in motion. Even the game's menu is elegant, as you spin the earth to switch chapters, the stars streaking by and the ground eroding with the passage of time.
Prune's freeform gameplay makes it fun to replay, or just sit back and enjoy the artistic experience. You can purchase Prune for $3.99.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

IOS Review #98: Drive Ahead

Title: Drive Ahead!
Developer: Dodreams Game Studio
Platforms: IOS Universal
Price: Free
Between games like Wrestle Jump, Badland, and others, mobile has a nice selection of fun local multiplayer games. I'm glad I recently discovered Drive Ahead, because it's a polished and fun addition to that list.
Most reminiscent of Wrestle Jump, Drive Ahead has you controlling a vehicle in wild and unusual arenas with the goal of smashing your opponent's head to earn points. It's simple and hectic, but the sheer variety of vehicles and arenas is what makes Drive Ahead stand out from similar titles. From go-karts, limos, and FI cars to tanks, garbage trucks, forklifts, and more, a sizable array of vehicles are available, each controlling differently due to their size, speed, and shape. The arenas are just as varied, ranging from simple islands with ramps to see-saw platforms. The matches only last a few seconds before entering a "sudden death" state where a random hazard appears, like descending saw blades or fireballs.

It's the little touches that give Drive Ahead its charm. A hurt driver on stretcher slides out of the back of the ambulance, bottles fall from the garbage truck when it flips upside down, and churning tires kick up dust and dirt as they barrel around the arenas. If you don't have a friend to battle, the game offers a nice selection of single player modes, including classic fights against the AI, a mission mode with various objectives, and King of the Hill. The developers have been consistently updating Drive Ahead with new arenas and new vehicles.
Drive Ahead is free with optional and unobtrusive IAP. You can download the game here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Watchlist: XO

Title: XO
Developer: Jumpdrive Studios
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Early 2016
Command a ragtag fleet of starships to escape an unbeatable enemy and save what's left of humanity
Mankind faces a threat unlike any other: a faceless relentless armada that outclasses us in every way. This unstoppable enemy ravages across the galaxy, abducting humans for unknown purposes. As master tactician and commander aboard the lead battleship of a meager fleet, you must rescue your people and defeat this seemingly unbeatable foe.
Inspired by works such as Battlestar Galactica, The Lost Fleet, and FTL, XO offers strategic space fleet combat, driven by desperation and overwhelming odds. Forget negotiations or colonizing or empire-building; your only goal is survival and enduring long enough to gather your forces. Jumping from planet to planet to collect necessary resources like air and fuel, rescuing disabling ships to add to your fleet, and dealing with the stress and tough decisions of being a leader fighting a war of attrition. You will face mutinies and rebelling generals, will need to make sacrifices, and keep your people strong and focused, if you want to save humanity.

XO's combat occurs on a 2D plane, where you set waypoints and select targets in real time. Time is an important factor in battle; using an ETA slider, you can designate units to flank enemy vessels at the same time from multiple angles, or have your forces attack in waves, among myriad other strategies. The game's vector-art aesthetic turns each encounter into a vibrant spectacle of fleet-to-fleet combat: enemy vessels releasing swarms of fighters and massive harvesters clamping onto disabled ships to extract humans, as your fleet retaliates with point defense cannons, particle accelerators, and defensive sandcasters.
One of the most fascinating aspects of XO is the developer's hard sci-fi approach to every aspect of the game, from ship design to combat. Momentum and physics must be taken into account while setting waypoints. Collecting resources requires you to send diveships to gather fuel from gas giants or water and air from habitable worlds. Planets are procedurally-generated based on their location in a solar system, so distance from a sun determines if a planet is frozen over or a barren molten rock. Even the ship design and weapons tie into this realistic approach: your battleship's large radiator fins at its rear are there to shed heat waste generated by powerful laser cannons.
More information on XO's development and gameplay can be found on the developer's blog; XO is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, and votes on Steam Greenlight.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 7/18

Title: forma.8
Developer: Mixed Bag
In a distant future, the small exploration probe forma.8 is stranded alone on the surface of an alien planet. It will face great perils, discover ancient civilizations and dystopian visions. But not everything is as it seems...
Title: The Endless Night
Developer: Ghostly Guru Studios
The Endless Night is a 2d Adventure game that takes place “somewhere” out in a fictional version of the southwestern/western United States. The story line of the game revolves around a hitchhiker who has set out on a road trip in search of himself and the American dream.. 
Title: Wishmere
Developer: Crayder Studios
The world is being overrun with Doubt’s enslaved forces. The King of Dreams now intervenes– to combat his ancient rival, he imbues 6 teenagers with the power of Supercharged Hope to be his fabled warriors: the Wishmere! Wishmere is a 2D beat’em up action game that incorporates speed racing elements and intense boss battles. Choose from 6 characters, to take on the forces of Doubt!
Title: Untitled game
Developer: Tom van den Boogaart
A gloomy atmospheric choose-your-own-story narrative experience

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Watchlist: Do Not Cross

Title: Do Not Cross
Developer: Tobias Frank
Platforms: PC, Mac
In development
A game about the work of a forensic cleaner
Do Not Cross is a narrative adventure about the life of a forensic cleaner. Imagine the gory and bloody work of Viscera Cleanup Detail, approached from a nature angle, as the gruesome nature of the job preys on your protagonist's mental well-being.
You'll explore places ranging from bars and stores to suburban homes and playgrounds, learning about the victims and their stories through personal belongings. Clean-up is done through various mini-games using the correct tools to cleanse, scrap, wash, cut away the bloody aftermath of crimes. Rounding off the core gameplay is a story revolving around branching dialogue, emotional states, and interacting with NPCs, as the job takes its toll on your character.

Painterly pixel art gives Do Not Cross a gritty bleak atmosphere; the game's locations are rife with details like soft rain and drifting fog, faded graffiti and boarded-up windows outside a decrepit apartment building, the cracked parking lot and dim neon sign of a pawn shop.
Do Not Cross is still in development; you can follow its progress on TIGSource and Twitter.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Watchlist: Tala

Title: Tala
Developer: Matthew Petrak
Platforms: PC
In development
A hand crafted adventure game set in a tiny world.
Tala is an atmospheric point-and-click adventure game. You play as the titular Tala, who runs a nursery in this tiny landscape. Winter is approaching and you must venture out and gather food to survive the cold.

Tala immediately stands outs due its unique aesthetic. The developer takes pictures of places in his area and in natural parks, then enhances these real-life backdrops with objects and characters depicted in a hand-animated art style. Interactive elements will bring the world to life as you explore, find items, and solve puzzles. The environment, actions, and symbols will convey the narrative rather than text, building upon the game's whimsical atmosphere.
The developer plans to finish a short introduction to Tala's world and characters, then, based on the reception, expand on that through crowdfunding or other means. You can follow Tala's progress on the game's Tumblr and Twitter pages.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

PC Review #120: Starship Rubicon

Title: Starship Rubicon
Developer: Cheerful Ghost Games
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: $9.99
Earth is gone. The remnants of humanity are drifting in cryopods or were lucky enough to be piloting spaceships off-world. In Starship Rubicon, you alone must defeat the alien Nemesis that wiped your home world off the galactic map. A titanic task for sure, but agile dogfighting and in-depth-customization even the odds
At its core, Starship Rubicon is a space shoot-em-up with rogue-lite elements, as you take on the Nemesis armadas, rescue cryopods, and gather NPC allies. A shmup lives or dies by its gameplay and Starship Rubicon just shines in that aspect. A varied array of ships are available to unlock, each with their own unique starting stats, weapon, special ability, and chassis shape. The latter is important in how it ties in with the game's customization. Similar to Resident Evil 4's inventory system, you fit together modules, some of which are in odd shapes or must link with other pieces.
Those modules allow you to mold each ship to your playstyle. Swap out your laser for a shotgun, tri-blast, flamethrower, gravity gun. Imbue your ship with the ability to teleport, cloak, unleash a barrage of homing missiles. Equip enhanced shields, damage buffs, auto-targeting protection drones, additional armor, and much more. Thrusting between projectiles, boosting to outrun lasers and missiles, cutting the engine to drift forward while firing at pursuing enemies...the fast-paced combat is reminiscent of Vlambeer's sepia bullet hell Luftrausers. Rubicon isn't as frenetic or fast as that game, but the responsive controls and one-against-many dogfights offers a similar satisfying thrill, especially once environmental hazards like black holes and minefields start appearing.

You journey across a galactic map, jumping from node to node and choosing your battles along the way. Each node informs you of what enemy types await and what rewards you'll gain by surviving the encounter, ranging from credits to spend on repairs and at shops to new equipment and allies. This risk/reward system adds another layer to Starship Rubicon's action. Do you risk a tough battle and bring an NPC ship into the fray, knowing there's a greater chance of that companion being destroyed? Choose less challenging fights at the expense of credits and equipment? Decide wisely.
Between a plethora of ships to unlock, a level and ship editor, and a hardcore mode, there are hours of challenging interstellar dogfights to be found in Starship Rubicon. The game is available on Steam, Humble, and

An early freeware version, lacking the campaign and ship customization, can be downloaded here.

Friday, July 10, 2015

IGE July Update + A few upcoming Kickstarters

Hello, readers! Just wanted to give you a heads-up that I'll be away on vacation for the rest of the month so the article output for July is going to be less frequent. But don't worry; I'm bringing my laptop with me, so expect impressions of Feist, as well as news on upcoming games, throughout the month.


I won't have a new Screenshot Saturday post up this weekend, so in the meantime, here are some promising Kickstarters slated for July and this summer

XO - July 20th
In XO you command a ragtag fleet of starships against an unbeatable enemy. You'll be evacuating refugees, scrounging for resources, overcoming political treachery, and assembling your flock from one jump point to the next. Your goal is to lead what's left of humanity out of reach from the unknown threat that pursues.
Poi - July 2015
Poi is an indie 3D adventure platformer inspired by classics like Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, and Super Mario Sunshine.
GRIP - Summer 2015
Grip is a futuristic combat racing game that has competitors battle across diverse landscapes of distant worlds. Inspired by the Rollcage games of 1999 and 2000, Grip takes that heady cocktail of awesome weaponry and insane speed to a whole new level.

No Money, No Problem: Game Over

Title: Game Over
Developer: Studio Black Flag
Platforms: Browser
Made for the Global Game Jam 2015, Game Over is a speed-running isometric platformer across abstract artistic worlds.
Game Over is a simple game. Best played with a gamepad, you move from stage to stage from an expanding overworld, leaping across chasms, using teleporters, and activating switches to manipulate the levels. Where the game really stands out is in its art style. The isometric worlds you platform in are colorful, vibrant, and unique, from pillars among the clouds to flying sky whales and more. While the perspective can lead to some unfair deaths, it's worth playing to see the game's interesting levels.
Game Over can be played here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

IOS Review #97: Her Story

Title: Her Story
Developer: Sam Barlow
Platforms: IOS Universal, PC, Mac
Price: $4.99
With the advent of games like Proteus, Gone Home, and other experiences, the question of what exactly constitutes a game has been brought up often over the past few years. I imagine Her Story will be another experience brought up when that discussion comes up. Whether you classify it as a game, a visual novel, interactive fiction, or something else, one thing remains constant: Her Story offers a mature and gripping experience.
Discussing Her Story's story in detail would do a disservice to the narrative it weaves. The core idea is that you're watching a series of interviews of a woman telling her story to the police. These interviews are divided into numerous short clips, and by typing keywords and phrases into the game's wonderful recreation of a 90's era desktop, you can search for new videos to learn more about the woman and her situation.

Ideally I'd classify Her Story as a narrative adventure. In adventure games, you collect items, and typically need to figure out how and when to use them to solve puzzles and continue. Her Story is that cycle, distilled to its purest form. Your items you gather are the parts of a story, and you're trying to discover the truth. Through deduction and learning more details, you gather new keywords and phrases to unlock more of Her Story's narrative puzzle box.
There's no hand-holding here. In other detective games, such as LA Noire or The Trace, you might have a notes screen that highlights clues, connections, and important videos, or maybe a hint system, Her Story strips all out those extraneous elements. The onus is on the player to piece together the mystery; it's a completely cerebral experience. There isn't even a definite end; you finish when you feel satisfied that you've learned enough.

Her Story's non-linear structure is also very unique. How you piece together the story could be different from how someone else might. You may stumble on some revelation earlier or later than another person, or learn the context of a clip later in the story. But no matter how you approach the story, Viva Seifert anchors the tale with her excellent performance.
Her Story might not appeal to everyone, but if you're looking for a unique experience that tackles a mature and gripping story in a way not often seen in games, it's well worth checking out.
Her Story is available to purchase for $4.99.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Watchlist: Static Sky

Title: Static Sky
Developer: Framebunker
Platforms: IOS Universal
Late 2015
A cyberpunk-themed tactical shooter
From Syndicate and Satellite Reign to Deus Ex and Invisible Inc, the cyberpunk genre is ripe for great video games. Themes like transhumanism, mechanics such as hacking and augmentations, futuristic technology, atmospheric rain-drenched city streets. Static Sky hopes to bring an engaging cyberpunk aesthetic and tense tactical gameplay to mobile.
Static Sky puts you in control of a mercenary squad working for the highest bidder. Across a main campaign and side jobs, missions play out in real time, with a slow motion mode that lets you issue orders, giving the game a pseudo-turn-based vibe. One example given was placing your heavy weapon specialist into overwatch while your agile street samurai takes down the suppressed enemies at close range.

A cover system, stealth, upgrades and augmentations, and hacking expand your tactical options, letting you reroute enemy turrets and other strategies as you face forces in high-tech facilities, outside storefronts, and across rooftops. The visuals are easily one of Static Sky's greatest appeals; from dynamic lighting and shadows to neon reflections on wet streets, the detailed cyberpunk atmosphere looks like it'll compliment the high-tech action nicely.
Static Sky is currently in development, with a closed alpha and beta starting later this year and a release planned for late 2015. You can follow the game's development on the developer's site and Twitter page.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 7/4

Title: Static Sky
Developer: Framebunker
A real-time cyberpunk tactical shooter for iPad
In Static Sky, the player takes on the role of a remote operator of a squad of agents, employed by The Corporation. As missions commence, the player is forced to go rogue and rebuild a squad of highly-trained executioners. A combination of tactical planning and coordinated real time action will be needed in order to reach redemption or retribution.
Title: Colosseum Fighter
Developer: Pixelboy
Colosseum Fighter is a 1- 4 player brawler with blood, sand and gladiators. It also has a stage mode with waves, playable in cooperation at 1-2 players.
You can customize your fighter with haircuts, faces, weapons and skin colors. Most of the weapons have specific stats, speed, range, damage and some have special effect (boomerang, ice staff, etc.)
Title: Reveal The Deep
Developer: N/A
A deep-sea exploration platformer and puzzler, set in the wreck of a sunken ship. Gameplay revolves around uncovering the story of the ship's demise, which is suggested by various clues throughout the game's expansive levels, and solving various puzzles.
Title: Project Valraven
Developer: Osias Bantug
Valraven will be an action adventure game (Like Legend of Zelda, but guns as primary weapon) The game’s story is about a faction war in an Industrial revolution/Victorian era-ish setting. The core gameplay will mostly consist of infiltrating enemy airships and territories, shooting enemy troops, dodging/taking cover of enemy fire and hazards, solving small puzzles, using items, and probably small stealth mechanics.
Title: Pathos
Developer: Pathos Studios
Pathos is a 3D puzzle adventure game for the PS Vita, utilizing the gyroscope to change the way we think about handheld consoles.

Friday, July 3, 2015

PC Review #119: Ronin

Title: Ronin
Developer: Tomasz WacĹ‚awek
Platforms: PC
Price: $12.99
2D platformer and turn based gameplay sounds like an incongruous mix, but Ronin combines those elements to deliver a fast-paced game of tactical maneuvering and stealth action.
Ronin's story is light, more of a framework for the action than a compelling narrative. You're a motorcycle helmet-wearing heroine exacting vengeance of five powerful people involved in your father's death. Each target is approaching in a similar fashion; across three levels, you hack computers for intel on their locations, and then infiltrate their compound to kill them. This structure means Ronin can feel quite repetitive, as the gameplay doesn't really evolve beyond that core concept.
But what Ronin lacks in story and variety, it makes up for in style and fun. You can move around, scale walls and ceilings, and swing from a grapple hook; once stopped by an enemy, the game becomes turn-based, as you leap between laser sights and strike down foes with your katana. While Ronin makes sure to tell you it isn't a stealth game, there is a slight stealth element. Sticking to the shadows allow you to even the odds through silent kills or move into a better position to start your assault on a room.

You start with an effective array of skills that only expands as you progress. Special abilities such as holographic decoys, teleporting attacks, a ranged sword attack, and more allows you to execute stylish attack combos. A typical encounter has you smashing through a window, leaping between projectiles before swinging into a guard, knocking him through the opposite window, then using your accrued skill points to teleport to a distant enemy and continue your slaughter. It's fast, strategic. and always satisfying to clear a room through a well-planned chain of kills, leaps, and gadgets.
Ronin isn't the longest game - 15 missions, 3 per target - but bonus objectives and a New Game Plus mode adds some replayability. While the mission structure can feel repetitive, the core blend of turn-based action and tactical movement remains stylish and enjoyable throughout.

Ronin is available on Steam, Humble, and GOG, and is coming to PS4, PS Vita, and mobile devices later this year.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Watchlist: Objects In Space

Title: Objects in Space
Developer: Flat Earth Games
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Releasing early 2016
Objects in Space is a modempunk stealth space-trading game
Between Star Citizen, Elite Dangerous, and others, it's safe to say that space sims have made a roaring comeback in recent years. While many have you dogfighting squadrons and deftly dodging missiles with agile fighters, Objects in Space takes a different approach: low-fi, submarine-esque encounters across the gargantuan abyss, where navigation, planning, and simply being able to pinpoint your enemies' positions are more important than any fancy evasive manuevers.
You're the one-man crew of a freighter in the vast Apollo Cluster, a collection of star systems rife with pirates, criminals, and other factions. Rather than high-tech bridges, Objects in Space is experienced through the flickering displays and tactile switches of your ship; in this game, sensors and radar are critical to navigate space and locating enemy vessels. Events and information are presented through read-outs and incoming messages, creating an expansive world described through narrative text.

Similar to submarine warfare, combat in Objects in Space is slow, tactical, and all about careful maneuvering and stealth. Visual sight is useless when encounters occur millions of miles apart; magnetic, radioactive, and other sensors are your eyes in this game. Using the environment to your advantage is key: asteroid fields can muddle up sensors, high polar orbits can hide your ship's signal and nebulas are good places to set up ambushes. Projectiles take time to cross space, allowing for situations where you're desperately powering up jump drives as enemy missiles approach or shutting down systems to mask your energy output and stealthily re-position.
In-depth ship customization lets you design your ship down to different chassis and individual components. Solar-powered engines are harder to detect on sensors, powerful jump drives can activate in seconds and let you maneuver faster, and so on.

Objects in Space is currently in development and is expected to release in 2016. You can learn more about the game and follow its progress here.