Saturday, October 31, 2015

PC Review #132: Galak-Z

Title: Galak-Z
Developer: 17 Bit Games
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux. PS4
Price: $19.99
I had been anticipating Galak-Z for a while. The fluid combat, the bright flashy visuals, mech mode, roguelike elements...all signs pointed towards a fast-paced frenetic dual-stick shooter with screen-filling missile barrages. And Galak-Z definitely has all those things and more, but what I wasn't expecting was a deliberately-paced shooter with a focus on stealth and cautious exploration. It was a welcome surprise.
As ace pilot Atak, you alone must take on the might of the Empire. But while you may be outnumbered, you aren't outmatched; your fighter is an agile weapon, able to strafe and reverse direction with ease. Part of the challenge and fun of Galak-Z is mastering its movement, learning to handle momentum and thrust, how to dodge over bullets and circle around enemies.

Modulating your thrust is crucial, because despite its frenetic appearance, Galak-Z actually has a large focus on stealth. Reminiscent of Mark of the Ninja, enemy light of sight is visually represented on screen, and the sound of engines displayed as a circle around your ship. Enemies will investigate suspicious sounds, become alerted if they catch a glimpse of you. You only have a few health and shield points, and enemies attack relentlessly, so hiding and flanking and attacking when you have the advantage is key to surviving.
But when combat does finally erupt, it does so in a spectacle of swooping missiles, colorful explosions, flaring thrusters and neon bullets. Galak-Z certainly doesn't disappoint in the action department. Weaving between lasers, unleashing a flurry of missiles, then boosting out of sight to flank your enemies is always satisfying. Mods and blueprints found through each stage can upgrade your ship with extensive array of bullet types, shot speed and range, and enhancements like immunity to lava.

Sometimes your arsenal isn't enough and Galak-Z features emergent gameplay elements that allow for more strategic depth. Enemy factions fight each other, so leading a fleet of Empire ships into a nest of space bugs is always a viable tactic. The environments are filled with hazards that can be used against enemies, from lava pools and drifting debris to alien growths that unleash shield-draining spores. Choosing where you fight can be just as important as how you fight.

But no element is Galak-Z is as stylish as its seamless mech transformations, At the press of a button, your ship shifts into a sword and shield-wielding robot that can slash through a squadron, or grapple an enemy and fling it into an asteroid. Fluidly switching between ship and mech mode, along with stealth and environmental hazards and your arsenal, lets you turn the tides against the game's challenging enemies and bosses.
The PC version of Galak-Z features a new Arcade mode, to complement its original roguelike structure. The threat of permadeath looms over every encounter in Galak-Z, but Arcade mode lets you save your progress and restart stages without losing all your upgrades.

Galak-Z is available on Steam, as well as PS4

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 10/31

Title: One Last Sunset
Developer: Benjy Bates and co.
One Last Sunset is a story about betrayal and revenge set in a post-apocalyptic world with Wild West overtones.
The game combines RPG-esque sandbox elements, choices, consequences, etc, with rogue-like random generation (maps, locations, quests and so on), perma-death and ticking clock goals - you have only a 72 (in-game) hour window to get find and kill the man who betrayed you.
Title: Bazaar
Developer: Greysphere
Fly on a magic carpet through the mystical land of Bazaar. Explore this twisting city to find exotic trinkets you'll need for your journey. Beware the dart traps, sea cobras, and hungry crocs that lurk around corners. Lamassu, guardian of the the labyrinth, is furious that vandal monkeys have stolen his relics. Will you recover them in time or be trapped forever?
Title: Sub-Species
Developer: Howling Hamster
Sub-Species is a 2.5D Shooter, in which your submarine can rotate 360° in order to blast alien sea monsters that will be coming at you from all angles.
You’re a scavenger piloting a small salvage submarine that must journey into to deepest Sub-Species of the ocean and blasting enormous sea monsters into oblivion. Kicking ass and saving the World, now how could that not be fun?
Title: Quest to Aztlan
Developer: A Bonfire of Souls
Quest to Aztlan is a small huge rpg game. You choose an exploration team to explore the ancient ruins of Atzlan. In the way you fight against creatures that prevent you reach the city treasury. Upgrade your equipment spending coins in the merchant shop (a peculiar character) and manage the battle in real time combats 4 vs 4.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Watchlist: Beacon

Title: Beacon
Developer: Monothetic
Platforms: PC
In development
A sci-fi action roguelike, where you have to mutate your way to victory through repeated cloning
Beacon is an upcoming isometric roguelite that takes the generational concept of games like Rogue Legacy to a new level. Your successor isn't your offspring; it's you, your clone, able to be biologically molded through genetic engineering. The mutations are your most effective advantage against the alien and mechanical threats awaiting on Beacon's hostile landscapes.

In Beacon, you play as interstellar mercenary Freja, stranded on an alien planet with only a functional cloning bay scavenged from the wreckage of  her ship. If she can build a distress beacon, help could be summoned. But first, you'll need to explore the dangerous maps, gathering resources and weapons and facing an array of extraterrestrial enemies
Being a fast-paced action roguelite, Beacon offers a extensive arsenal, from your basic assault rifle and grenade launcher to more exotic weapons from other factions. But modifying your DNA can provide abilities as useful as any gun. Scaled skin will let you absorb more damage. An aerodynamic tail will increase your speed and agility. Stone muscles increase your strrength and health. Each mutation is represented through cosmetic changes, and each has both positive and negative effects: extra health at the expense of speed, or trading stamina for increased accuracy.

Aside from mutations, you'll also be able customize your playstyle through weapon mods, various grenades, one-use pickups, and powerful auxiliary items. Your enemies are equally varied, from the native species such as the tritoraptor to the hologram-headed Prism droids.
Beacon is currently in development, and doesn't have a set release date yet. You can follow the game's progress on Monothetic's devblog and Twitter page.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Quick Fix: Kickstarters and Greenlights to watch

Just a short post for today, but there are a lot of interesting indie releases and projects on the horizon. The gorgeous hand-made adventure game Lumino City is releasing on iPad tonight and frenetic roguelite shooter Galak-Z is finally coming to Steam tomorrow, so you can definitely expect impressions of those soon.

In the meantime, here are some promising Kickstarters to watch, as well as a few games on Greenlight that might interest you:


On Kickstarter

Doko Roko
Doko Roko is a 2D rogue-like, vertical action game with an emphasis on lightning-fast combat and rich atmosphere 
Collect strange and ancient magicks to do battle with the more hostile denizens of The Tower. Wield massive swords forged from meteorites and cursed earth to slay the many dreaming demons who climb the tower alongside you. A frenetic and responsive combat system that is easy to pick up, but difficult to master.
Wanderer tells the tale of a man called Rook, a greying convict who wakes from cold sleep aboard a massive orbital prison facility to find that it's crash landed on the ruins of an abandoned Earth. 
With the guidance of a hacker named Jin and the aid of a ragtag group of survivors he recruits along the way, Rook must locate and explore the nine cell blocks which have detached from the prison's central tower and scattered across Earth's ghostly wasteland.
Puzzle Depot
In Puzzle Depot, you start out as Todd Torial, Box Pusher 3rd Class, who's just been “volunteered” as a test subject for the facility's CryoFreeze program. When he wakes up, he finds the facility is in chaos. As you navigate your new, more dangerous world, you realize it's not just the facility that's fallen to ruin, but the entire planet.

On Greenlight

Cally's Cave 3
Join Cally and her friends in this action-packed run and gun platformer, conquering insane bosses, exploring to find secrets, and levelling up EVERYTHING. Use your weapons to level them up and evolve them into their ultimate forms! 
Unlock new character abilities like the Triple Jump, Dodge Roll and Water Wings. Use a second playable character, Bera to unleash crazy awesome ninja moves and solve challenging puzzles.
The Mooseman
The Mooseman is an atmospheric 2D adventure game set in the mysterious lands of Perm chud’ tribes. The player's avatar is the Mooseman; a mythological character from perm animal style objects, which we were greatly inspired by.
InterSection is a spatially-challenging puzzle game based on manipulating two 2D planes aligned to your player in 3d space. You are linked to two worlds; the dying world of your people, and a young, green world. Use this link to connect these worlds and save your people.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

PC Review #131: Mushroom 11

Title: Mushroom 11
Developer: Untame
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: $14.99
We're all quite familiar with the standard platformer formula nowadays. Run around, jump over gaps, possibly some wall-jumping, dashes, and other maneuvers. But how would a platformer work if your character lacked limbs? Or had no concrete form at all? Mushroom 11 is a challenging physics-based puzzle platformer that turns the typical genre gameplay on its head by putting you in control of an amorphous fungus that can mold and shift into any shape.

The world is ruined. Humanity is absent, perhaps extinct or long gone, leaving only dilapidated cityscapes and overgown environments in its wake. But life continues, from weird insects to your character: a green fungus that absorbs other organisms and is nearly impossible to destroy. In fact, destruction is your means of movement. Using the mouse, you can erase parts of the fungus and it'll regrow those sections elsewhere on its form; through careful erasure, the fungus can flow through chapters with speed and agility by continuously growing in a certain direction.

But Mushroom 11's unique control scheme is used for far more than movement through destruction. You have no defined shape, able to mold into any form, and can be divided into multiple parts that can all act independently. Split in half to hold down a button with one part while moving the other through a now-open gate. Carefully shave off parts to extend into a tower to bridge a gap. Mold around ledges. Clamber up walls and across ceilings. One of the most important aspects of a good platformer is satisfying movement, and it never got old experimenting with and mastering Mushroom 11's free-form traversal.
However, traversing the chapters is only part of Mushroom 11's challenge. Each section is rife with hazards and physics puzzles. From fireball-flinging organisms and lava to fungus-melting acid and challenging bosses, you need to carefully move around these dangers, considering how each erasure will affect your mushroom's form, weight, and balance. Later chapters will have you molding the mushroom into the shape of gear, shifting its weight around to stay within a speeding minecart, forming ramps for rolling objects, completing circuits, and much more.

Each chapter introduces new mechanics and dangers, always exploring new uses of the mushroom's amorphous design. The unique gameplay was Mushroom 11's initial hook, but discovering what new hazards and puzzle elements the developers would introduce next was what keep me intrigued throughout my six-hour playthrough.
Mushroom 11 isn't just enjoyable to play, but also offers a atmospheric apocalyptic world to admire, an array of ruined cities, otherworldly environments, and faded graffiti that hint at the fate of mankind. The mushroom itself is always fun to watch, as it instantly reforms, or its insides pulse and rumble, or absorbed organisms dissolve into splashes of color within its green body. Each chapter features a ticking clock, offering replay value for fans of speed-running, and hard-to-reach insects that challenge the limits of your mushroom molding skills.

Mushroom 11 is available on Steam, Humble, and GOG. IOS and Android versions are expected to release next year.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 10/24

Title: Starfallen
Developer: Starfallen team
Starfallen is a procedural action-rpg about an engineer that crashes on an alien world, and who is believed by the native aliens to be one of their gods.
Though the world is beautiful, it is dangerous and hostile and the Engineer must find a way home. The Engineer explores the vast alien world inhabited by archaic civilizations, and is snared into a dark conspiracy.
Title: Somber
Developer: Lost Cause Games
Somber is a 4 player coop, third person suspense game, set in a fictional city of Argentina during mid 1950’s.
The current president has been replaced by a militar dictator. With the attention of the authorities in other places, the mysterious cult of Somber has taken control of the small city of Dale in preparation for the arrival of an ancient god. A group of brave residents of the city have joined forces to stop the cult before its too late.
Title: Fat Mask
Developer: Paper Cult Games
Fat Mask is a frenetic local-multiplayer action-puzzler in which you connect pieces of monsters to create even bigger monsters, but beware of other players trying to steal your creatures!
Title: Spooky Pooky
Developer: Fistful Of Squid
Spooky Pooky is a 2D platformer that combines action, exploration and puzzle-solving set against the backdrop of a B-movie plot.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

No Money, No Problem: Spellrazor

Title: Spellrazor
Developer: Dene Carter
Platforms: PC, Mac
Free build
What's the most weapons you've had in your arsenal while playing a shooter? Perhaps it was merely two, in a game like Halo, or maybe you had a portable armory in Borderlands. But I doubt that can hold a candle to Spellrazor, a Robotron-inspired roguelite shooter that lets you carry 27 weapons at the same time.
Influenced by titles like Rogue, Robotron, and Berzerk, you control a figure in randomly-generated levels where waves of powerful enemies roam. From the swarming frogs and rushing flies to teleportiing drones, they're all dangerous and your shields won't last very long. But thankfully there's a massive array of tactics at your disposal.

27 weapons and skills, one for each letter key on your keyboard plus a close-range melee attack on spacebar. Opening chests and killing enemies will provide ammo for various slots, but it's up to you to experiment and figure out what each does. You might learn that S recharges your shields or that E unleashes a devastating energy beam, among many other useful abilities, projectiles, and buffs.
With its flashy neon aesthetic, expansive arsenal, and relentless foes, Spellrazor delivers hectic arcade action. You can't manually aim, only maneuver and auto-target near enemies, so combat becomes about strategic positioning and using the best abilities at the most opportune moments. You never know what ammo you might gather, so your strategy is always shifting.

This version of Spellrazor will remain a freeware title, with more enemies and weapons being added. There will also be an interesting text adventure-esque element that involves using a debug terminal to decode glitches and uncover secrets. If the game is well-received, the developer plans to expand Spellrazor into a larger full-fledged release.

You can download Spellrazor here and follow its development on TIGSource.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Watchlist: Tusks & Tigerskins

Title: Tusks and Tigerskins
Developer: Jay Stevens
Platforms: PC
In development
You're in charge of a shipping company at a jungle British Outpost circa 1927
Welcome to the jungle. Winding serpentine tributaries through dense undergrowth, cloaked in shadow and fog. Hungry eyes watch from the shore. But there are riches to be made in the jungle, so you'll need to brave the dangers of the wilderness and embark along the river in Tusks and Tigerskins.

It's 1927 and you're managing a trading and shipping company from a British outpost deep in the jungle. Inspired by such diverse works ranging from Disney World's Jungle Cruise and Heart of Darkness to Far Cry and Recettear, Tusks and Tigerskins puts you in command of a boat and tasks you with traveling down the twisting jungle rivers to trade. The map is quite large, currently a square kilometer of dense wilderness, ruins, villages, and of course the waterways.
Tusks and Tigerskins is aiming to focus on exploration and careful planning; the jungle is a merciless place. You'll need to manually fuel your boat with coal or petrol, watching the waters to steer around rocks, rapids, and territorial species. Repairing your boat, buying faster boats or ones with larger cargoholds, or upgrading your boat with better parts will let you traverse the waters more efficiently. The developer also hopes to include elements such as disease and crew management.

But if the river is too dangerous to travel or night is approaching, you can always embark on foot and set up camp on the riverbanks. Keep your sword or elephant gun close though, because you're not alone in the jungle. Tusks and Tigerskins will feature an dynamic ecosystem of herbivores and predators, including tigers, hippos, crocodiles, elephants, and more; you can hunt animals to sell pelts and other parts for money, but can be hunted as well. Animals like the hippos are territorial and can damage your boat if you pass close.
Successfully traverse the jungle and you'll find Tusks and Tigerskins' other element: trading.  Other explorers and natives can be traded and bartered with; you can even foster a business relationship by trading regularly, allowing for better offers. Another way to gain favor could be to perform tasks, such as ferrying a safari expedition or leading an archaeologist to a jungle ruin. But be careful, since angering individuals with low-ball offers can hurt your reputation, or acting in a threatening manner could make a native tribe aggressive towards you.

Rival trading companies could also be a feature in the game, challenging you to develop better business relationships than another trader or lowering your prices to undercut competition.
Tusks and Tigerskins is still relatively early in development, with an estimated release date around late 2016 or 2017. The developer has plans for a Kickstarter next year, and hopes to include Oculus support. You can follow the game's progress on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Watchlist: Nantucket

Title: Nantucket
Developer: Picaresque Studio
Platforms: PC
Releasing 2015
A strategy seafaring game set into the golden age of American whaling
I read Nathaniel Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea over the summer, and it was a compelling look into the harrowing world and dangers of 19th century whaling. Developer Picaresque Studio is hoping to capture that danger and thrill of that period in its upcoming strategy game Nantucket.

Nantucket isn't just a game about 19th century whaling; it's continuing the story of the classic Moby Dick. As Ishmael, you must assemble a crew and venture out into the open seas, in track of the infamous White Whale.
But before taking on Moby Dick, you'll need to establish your reputation and simply survive the hostile waters. From devastating storms and pirates to dissent within your own crew, Nantucket will challenge you to carefully plan each voyage and adapt to random events. Starvation can be as dangerous as an angry whale if your food runs out without land in sight.

Nantucket will offer a varied selection of options and ways to tackle the dangers of whaling and the sea. You'll be able to level up skills and stats, bribe or fight pirates with your outfitted ships, choose your route to avoid developing storms or fog-cloaked icebergs, buy new ships or upgrade your current ones with better equipment, among myriad other events and dangers and hazards.
Nantucket is currently in development for PC. You can learn more about the game and its various systems here.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 10/17

Title: Prey For The Gods
Developer: No Matter Studios
In Prey for the Gods, you play a lone hero sent to the edge of a dying world to discover the mystery behind a never-ending winter. Arriving with only the clothes on your back, you must survive the colossal dangers that you encounter. To restore balance and reclaim the land from the brink, you will be faced with questions that not even a God knows the answer to.
Title: Tusks and Tigerskins
Developer: Jay Stevens
Essentially, you're in charge of a shipping company at a jungle British Outpost circa 1927, and you use a little boat to go up and down the river and sell things. It's inspired by the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland/Walt Disney World, Heart of Darkness, and the movie African Queen and plays a bit like if Recettear, Far Cry, and a boat-driving simulator had a baby.
Title: The Admin
Developer: Willpowaproject
This game is a single player 3rd person action adventure game where you play as a cyborg called The Admin. As the only thing that left in the facility, he must keep the facility running and defend it from anything that is threatening his mission. You will have 2 weapons, a handgun and a sword, and some skills that can be used in your battle against the enemy. As your journey goes on, these weapons and skills can improved and evolved to help you defeat stronger enemies.
Title: Esper 2
Developer: Coatsink
Reprising your role from the original game, become an agent of ESPR, an organisation setup to deal with the recent outbreak of telekinetic powers among citizens. Travel to exotic locations;solve puzzles, discover secrets, foil nefarious plots, and fall unconscious multiple times.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

IOS Review #105: Downwell

Title: Downwell
Developer: Ojiro Fumoto
Platforms: IOS Universal, PC
Price: $2.99
Gunboots are probably not the safest fashion choice, but safety isn't your concern in Downwell. Treasure awaits in the deep dark well, so down you go, entering a fast and frenetic downward shooter/platformer that definitely scratches the itch for a Spelunky/Binding of Isaac-style roguelite on mobile.
Yes, Downwell is a roguelite, so that means procedurally-generated wells, randomized enemy, random upgrades, and of course permadeath. Each attempt, you dive into the claustrophobic tunnel of platforms, ledges, and enemies, blasting away with your powerful gunboots.

But Downwell is no simple mindless shooter. Your gunboots can only fire a certain amount of bullets before recharging and they can recharge when you touch the ground, so the gameplay gains a layer of planning and depth. Carefully leaping around enemies to get in the best positions to fire, jumping on enemies to converse ammo, deftly avoiding hazards, is all necessary to survive.
Enemies range from relentless bats to ghosts that can phase through walls, among more dangerous variations, and they all pose a threat. Even the first stage can be hectic, and the worlds only get more challenging, introducing new hazards and enemies.

Thankfully, your fierce footwear is a versatile weapon, obliterating foes with punchy powerful blasts. Each weapon type feels distinct and forces you to approach your descent differently based on range, damage, and spread. The laser can pierce through multiple blocks with a single shot, while the noppy sprays out bullets wildly. Gather enough gems, and you enter a Gem High, a stat buff that boosts your attack damage as long as you keep the meter full by collecting gems.

Collecting gems allow you to upgrade your health and gunboot charges at shops, and between stages, you're able to choose power-ups that imbue your hero with new abilities. Jet boosts to slow your descent, eating dead enemies for health, causing dead enemies to explode when shoot, a drone companion, and many others. Power-ups can stack too, allowing you to mix and match effects.
Downwell shines due to its subtle depth and challenging action. Like games such as Spelunky or Vlambeer's titles, it nails that amorphous element of "game feel", gameplay design that just feels satisfying and addicting and powerful.

You can purchase Downwell for $2.99. The game is also available on Steam.

Monday, October 12, 2015

PC Review #130: Cryptark

Title: Cryptark
Developer: Alientrap
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: $12.99
Massive derelict space ships drift through the black abyss, filled with valuable alien technology to pilfer. But the ultimate prize is the mysterious Cryptark and its advanced cargo. To find the titular vessel, you'll need to scour intel from other ships. It won't be easy.
In this new rogue-lite shooter from Alientrap, you're a commissioned alien privateer, scavenging abandoned space hulks as your team closes in on the Cryptark. But while vessels may be abandoned, they certainly aren't empty. The security systems of these ships are still active and alien entities lurk within. The only way to disable a ship is to destroy its central core, and that's where you come in.

Piloting a heavily-armed mech suit, you must explore hazardous ship interiors, choosing which defenses to disable before launching your assault on the core. From shield generators and repair systems that fix destroyed systems to turrets and map jammers, these defenses can easily overwhelm you if they aren't dealt with. You don't have to destroy every system though; choosing which to prioritize and which order to disable them is the key to success in Cryptark.
The security systems aren't the only dangers. Mechanical organisms roam the vessels, ranging from massive sawblades to shielded Juggernauts that unleash powerful scatter shots. However, you're more than capable of matching enemy firepower with your own arsenal.

Your mech has four weapon slots, four items slots, and an extensive array of equipment to mix and match. Smart machine guns whose bullets can curve around corners, nuke rockets, slime mortars that unleash corrosive fluid, EMP shotguns, lightning guns, lasers, flamethrowers, shields, and much more. You can dual- or even quad-wield weapons too, unleashing a storm of lead to annihilate your enemies.
It's in the midst of that chaos that Cryptark shines. Your firepower feels heavy and powerful, and deftly evading projectiles, lasers, and charging enemies is just as satisfying. Visually, the action pops with vibrant colors and lighting, illuminating the dark interiors with explosions and flames and lasers.

The pre-assault planning is engaging too: weighing the cost of your equipment against the payout of the ship you're going to scavenge, molding your loadout to best deal with the defenses and enemies onboard, scanning ships to see which systems are present and deciding which to tackle first, from what entry point.
Cryptark is currently on Early Access, but it's easily one of the most polished and content-heavy Early Access releases I've played yet, on par with the gold standards like Prison Architect and Darkest Dungeon. The developers plan to expand the game with persistent upgrades, new mech suits and weapons, more enemies, systems, and ship designs, an expanded narrative, and even co-op.

You can purchase Cryptark on Steam, Humble, or directly from the game's site.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 10/10

Title: Klang
Developer: Tinimations
Klang is at its core an evolution of traditional rhythm games. Where previous games in the genre has mostly focused on pressing buttons in correct timing with the music, Klang expands upon this with adding the flair of exploration and platforming.
Title: Archaica
Developer: Two Mammoths
Archaica: The Path of Light is a puzzle game “lasers and mirrors” type of game that has been enhanced with a storyline and some gratifying graphics.
During the game we become the Chosen One, who has to chose a legendary Path of Light and save the world from destruction, by reviving ancient mechanisms once more. Yet we explore secrets hidden by the Ancients and discover true destiny of The Path along the way
Title: Hybrid Beasts
Developer: BeastBits
Hybrid Beasts is a unique cross-genre game that brings together strategic turn-based action and open-world exploration and adventure. At its heart, teams of never before seen creatures battle against each other to conquer and defend regions of a mysterious world full of secrets, quests and adventures that are being discovered in the process.
Title: Castles
Developer: Whoot Games
Castles is a multiplayer puzzle-action game. In a medieval setting 1 or 2 characters have to push or drag blocks to unite them in rows of 3 or more of the same colors (materials) or figures (tools). The player doesn't take direct control of the blocks but instead controls engineers who are tasked with the movement of the blocks, giving a unique twist to the gameplay.

The Watchlist: Indivisible

Title: Indivisible
Developer: Lab Zero Games
Platforms:PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One
Releasing 2018
Indivisible is a side-scrolling RPG in the vein of Valkyrie Profile, spanning a huge fantasy world inspired by our own world’s various cultures and mythologies
Lab Zero's Skullgirls was a gorgeous fighter with incredible hand-drawn animations, and now they're applying that artistic approach and polish to the RPG genre, with their next project Indivisible.

Indivisible follows young Ajna on her journey to learn the truth behind both a devastating attack on her home and a mysterious mystical ability awakened within her. Ajna's quest will take her across the globe, through lands inspired by Japanese, Central American, and other mythologies and architecture.
Indivisible is split between two types of gameplay. Exploration revolves around Metroidvania-esque platforming, as you wall-jump and dash through towns, temples, and other varied locations. As you progress, Ajna will gather new items and skills to traverse the environments in new ways, from clambering up walls with your axe to swinging across gaps with a rope dart.

But you're not the only one roaming these locations; dangerous enemies lurk as well. Running into them or getting attacks seamlessly shifts the gameplay to Valkyrie Profile-inspired combat. Ajna has the ability to absorb special individuals and manifest them as incarnations in battle.

From the master archer Zebei to the sword whip-wielding Tungar, you'll be able to fight alongside three companions, each tied to a face button. Like a fighting game, combat features combos and specials, blending each incarnation's moves to stun, slow, and damage your foes. Lab Zero's signature art style brings those battles and locations to life with beautiful details and fluid animations.
Indivisible is slated for release in 2018 and is currently seeking funds on Indiegogo. You can support the game, and download the surprisingly lengthy and incredibly polished prototype, here.

Friday, October 9, 2015

PC Review #129: Snakebird

Title: Snakebird
Developer: Noumenon Games
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: $6.99
If there's one thing more satisfying than a tough puzzler, it's a seemingly simple puzzler surprising you with its secret depth and challenge. The minesweeper/picross hybrid Hexcells is probably the current poster child in that department, but I think Snakebird's charming cutesy facade usurps it. Because beneath the colorful aesthetic lies one devious puzzle game.
The basic idea is simple: you control a titular snakebird through each stage, eating fruit to unlock the exit. Each fruit you eat increases your length, like the classic Snake game. Sounds easy enough; you don't even have to worry about a game over if you run into your tail.

But very quickly Snakebird reveals its brain-breaking nature. Soon you're navigating cramped areas, carefully contorting your snakebird to reach platforms above and not fall into the surrounding abyss. Then you're moving around spikes, falling through portals, and pushing blocks. Each movement must be considered; thankfully you can easily undo a move if you find youself stuck.
And then on top of all those elements, the game plays its trump card: controlling multiple snakebirds. Puzzles can be tricky enough with merely one, but with several to move and twist, they gain a new level of complexity. Learning how the birds can interact is key to making sure you get all of them to the exit.

You can use birds as staircases or bridges across spikes for others. You can push one bird with another. Birds maintain their shape when falling from above or through portals, challenging you to consider how birds could mesh together from various angles.
Snakebird never evolves beyond moving and twisting those colorful birds, but uses that seemingly simple mechanic to deliver an incredibly tricky puzzler. A single puzzle could take an hour or more, but it's always satisfying to figure out the game's spatial challenges.

You can purchase Snakebird from Steam, Humble, and

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IOS Review #104: hocus

Title: hocus
Developer: Yunus Ayyildiz
Platforms: IOS Universal
Price: $0.99
Earlier this year, developer Yunus Ayyildiz released the challenging shape-crafting puzzler rop. Its simple mechanic of manipulating ropes and nodes to mirror shapes was used to offer quite tricky and complex spatial conundrums. Now Ayyildiz's next game hocus is also about spatial conundrums, but rather than recreating shapes, you're navigating them,
Each level in hocus presents you with an impossible Escher-inspired structure. You guide a red cube along the perimeter of the shapes, traveling along the odd shapes towards the waiting exit. Forced perspective allows you to travel along planes that appear to touch, letting your cube navigate each impossible maze to reach your destination.

It may sound complicated, but hocus is actually a pretty laid-back puzzler. There are no timers or move counters, so you can access each level at your own pace. While the shapes grow more complex and intricate, the core mechanics remain the same and the game even has a compass that lets you know which directions the cube can move at each junction.
Every new level in hocus is a pleasure to study and navigate, especially if you're a fan of Escher-style illusions and impossible shapes. The game's minimal aesthetic complements its simple yet increasingly challenging puzzles.

Hocus currently features 50 levels, with more to come. You can purchase the game for $0.99.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 10/3

Title: "Gabraham Lincoln" (Working title)
Developer: Spiffing Games
A sidescrolling beat’em’up inspired by the Devil May Cry series with a good dose of humour and narrative to give the player a compelling journey through Gabe’s world. The story is based around the end of the Civil War in 1865 when Gabe won. Little did he know that his confederate opponent’s were still a little salty and had revenge on the mind.
Title: Chicku
Developer: Gatling Goat Studios
Chicku is a crazy local multiplayer platformer in which the player has to escape the evil Barrington chicken nugget factory, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. The player will be forced to dodge saws, spikes and other deadly traps in order to set the other chickens free. There will be a lot of cartoon voilence throughout the game with limbs flying all over the place!
Title: Cold Seep
Developer: Cowardly Creations
A Lovecraftian horror adventure game containing giant creatures, underwater deep sea exploration and Cthulhu!
Title: Captain Kaon
Developer: Engage Pixel
Revisit the classic ‘Thrust’-style gameplay from the golden age of Atari, evolved for modern gamers as a twin-stick shooter. Negotiate the twists and turns of tunnels and caverns under the surface of Mars, Ceres and many more planets across the solar system.
Engage with swarms of enemy Laser Pods in bullet-riddled combat. Rescue hostages before they can be turned into Brain Drones that swell the ranks of Doctor Quantex’ army. Deploy Marines, turret guns and other assets to turn the tide of battle. Recover fuel, data chips and other resources to aid you in victory.