Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Watchlist: Super Footbrawl

Title: Super Footbrawl
Developer: Pixelpizza
Platforms: PC
Releasing 2016
It's like Rocket League meets Gang Beasts
"It's like Rocket League meets Gang Beasts," That practically sells itself. Super Footbrawl is an arcade soccer game that's a self-described hybrid of the two aforementioned games: the aggressive, tumbling, collision-heavy action soccer of the former with the ridiculous ragdoll physics and combat of the latter,
Super Footbrawl is soccer with no rules. As you and other players, either AI or friends in local multiplayer, tumble and roll into each other, you can also engage in brutal melee combat, unless punches and kicks and even grabbed debris to use improvised weapons. A damage system will keep track of your body, so a damaged leg will reduce your speed and a broken arm means weaker punches.

But Footbrawl isn't just a silly game with a soccer skin; it's shaping up to be an actual soccer game, with power kicks that send the ball crashing through opponents like bowling pins, dribbling, and solid team AI. Of course it's still a ridiculous spectacle of a soccer game so there'll be arenas in obstacle-strewn offices and the African plains.
Super Footbrawl is expected to release in late 2016; you can follow its development on the game's blog and TIGSource devlog.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 4/23

Title: Lost Ember
Developer: Mooneye Studios
As a wolf with unique abilities, you uncover your destiny in the mysterious world of Lost Ember.
Title: Jazon and the Dead
Developer: 2nd Studio
Jazon and the Dead is a top-down 3D action-adventure in a world bursting with life the living dead, where we meet Jazon, an unlikely hero with a knack for killing zombies. Set in a dark and visually striking universe, influenced by sci-fi as the world imagined it in the 80s, Jazon must use both brain and brawn to solve puzzles and kick ass.
Title: Furious Angels
Developer: Morfeo
FURIOUS ANGELS is an endless arcade shooter set in the skies.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Watchlist: Overland

Title: Overland
Developer: Finji
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Releasing 2016
A road trip through a ruined continent
The end has come and gone. Charred corpses litter the ground. Insectoid beings emerge from below. Abandoned vehicles rust on the roadside. Aliens? A tear in reality? Some unknown species released from the bowels of the earth? Whatever calamity ravaged the planet, the only thing that matters now is survival, in the tactical cross-country roguelike Overland.

Overland blends resource-managing map travel, reminiscent of games like FTL and Convoy, with strategic turn-based scavenging on low-poly dioramic stages. Your goal is westward, as you and a companion, either human or canine depending on your luck, travel the roads across America. Considering the focus on travel, fuel is perhaps the most important resource: each stop on the map costs varying amount of gas, and the promise of finding more can tempt you to take on a risky encounter.
Choosing an destination on the map screen drops you into a self-contained isometric encounter, bisected by the road and populated with randomized arrays of enemies, supplies, environmental features, and other elements. At the strategic level, you soon learn that the most crucial tool at your disposal is your vehicle. Your car is your means of escape, your transport through the stage, able to store extra supplies and ram through creatures, and explode in spectacular fashion in the worst case scenario. Lose your car to the encroaching horde, and you'd better hope that there's another vehicle on the map to commandeer.

Playing the recently-released private alpha, the game that I was most reminded of was actually the mobile roguelike Hoplite. Hoplite is often praised for its very almost puzzle-like combat, where you can use the knowledge of enemy's range and attacks to meticulously plan out your strategy and remain unscathed. Similarly, Overland's turn-based encounters are more tactical puzzles than classic roguelike combat. With only two action points per character, and only able to hold one item, each action must be economical, efficient, and carefully considered.
The tactical puzzles grow more complex as you travel from the east-coast fields to dry-grass plains, temperate forests, and beyond. Characters may start with special traits or develop new ones over days, such as improved stamina (extra action point) or CPR training (reviving survivors), You can pick up new passengers if you have empty seats in your car...or leave them to act as a distraction for creatures. The environment is as important to consider as your own strategies. Prairie grass can be set aflame (or may already be burning when you arrive), creating a useful barrier that could turn deadly as the fire spreads across the map. Fuel can be used to fill your gas tank, or poured on adjacent tiles to create a flammable surface. Dumpsters and other debris can block the roadway, forcing you to divide your group between clearing a path, driving the car, and scavenging the map simultaneously.

That juggling act defines Overland's challenge. This isn't a game of clearing out an area to safely loot; it's an ever-tightening vise of tension and danger, as each loud rummaging through dumpsters and derelict cars draws more skittering creatures. as you choose which supplies to gather, as you drive the car to the exit while maneuvering everyone back to the vehicle safely.  Killing is your absolute last resort, as the dying screech of a monster will only attract more. Playing aggressively but cautiously is your best strategy, always being aware of where enemies are in relation to your characters and your car, always weighing the risk and reward of each action.
Overland may already have a solid and compelling foundation, but it's still only an alpha, and the developers have plans for many interesting features in the future, ranging from customizing your vehicle with armor and other additions to groups of survivors that you can trade with...or brutally murder (a choice that come back to haunt you).

You can find more information about Overland on the game's site and Tumblr page.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

No Money, No Problem: Windowframe

Title: Windowframe
Developer: Daniel Linssen
Platforms: PC
Price: Free
Daniel Linssen, aka managore, has quite an impressive portfolio of games over on, from the spear-throwing Javel-ein and the dimly-lit dungeon crawler Roguelight to the sepia-swept Sandstorm. But perhaps his most interesting was HopSlide, a game that was actually two games, in two different windows, but linked. What happened in one affected the other. It was a smart concept that extended gameplay beyond the confines of the typical window.

His newest game, a jam entry for Ludum Dare 35, takes that idea of merging gameplay and the means through which the gameplay is presented, and refines it in a brilliant way. I'd say Windowframe might be the most ingenious use of the screen since The Fourth Wall's screen-wrapping and Perspective's first person/2D hybrid.
Windowframe follows a hero on a quest to slay a series of vampire lords, navigating a gauntlet of spikes, fireballs, and other hazards along the way. Control-wise, Windowframe isn't anything new, running, jumping, wall-sliding, and other acrobatic feats let you evade danger with ease. But your arsenal of stakes grant you a new ability that turns the platforming on its head.

The game window of Windowframe is a dynamic entity, traveling across your computer screen along with your character, changing in size and shape with each level. Sometimes you can only see a small section of a level, other times the entire area is visible. But the edges of the screen also act as the walls of the level, and your stakes let you bend those walls to your will. Stakes will freeze the edges of the screen in place and allow you to drag those edges closer to you. What was once a wall too high to climb over becomes a narrow chute to ascend.
But more interestingly, only the areas visible within the screen can affect you or be interacted with. Climb high enough to hide a spike pit from view, freeze the bottom of the screen, and now you can walk unharmed across the newly-designated "floor" of the level. An impassable wall of fireball turrets can be rendered moot by covering them with the screen. It's a clever, visually-interesting and mechanically-varied idea that's just begging to be expanded upon and further explored.

Windowframe can be found on and the Ludum Dare database.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 4/16

Title: Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones
Developer: Cultic Games

"Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones" is a supernatural horror roleplaying video game which takes place in the strange worlds of Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Stygian will draw the player into a bleak journey from a ruined Arkham to the very depths of the Abyss.
Title: Construct
Developer: ConstructDev

CONSTRUCT is a first-person platformer with puzzle elements and a sci-fi theme. In the game you play as a nameless character trapped inside a computer system. The aim of the game is to explore the system and find a way to escape.
Title: BeardedBear
Developer: ElKiwy Dev

BeardedBear is a frenetic arena arcade roguelike shooter. You, the BeardedBear, are a cyborg bear with a mighty beard that, thanks to his beard, can travel through time. You are the only hope for humanity and you have to save the Earth from an alien invasion which is attacking the planet in the past, present, and future.
Title: Black Falls
Developer: Amrac6

In Black Falls you are leading a diverse group of outcasts in their endeavor to build a new home on an uncharted world brimming with mysteries. But the greatest mysteries to be found lie with the people you brought with you. Choose carefully who you befriend and who you piss off - as you will have to live with the consequences. Never forget: You're no action hero - words are your only weapon.

PC Review #144: Enter The Gungeon

Title: Enter The Gungeon
Developer: Dodge Roll
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4
Price: $14.99
Perhaps the most apt and concise description for Enter The Gungeon would be the lovechild of The Binding of Isaac and Nuclear Throne. The crazy weapons, stacking items, weird enemies, and random loot of the former, the fast-paced, hectic, evasion-heavy action of the latter. But on the other hand, that label is a disservice to Enter The Gungeon. While it certainly has the DNA of those other titles, the game most certainly has an identity and style all its own.
The Gungeon awaits. A mysterious temple, where many venture to seek out the ultimate treasure, a gun that destroy their past, where lead cults and ballistic inhabitants thrive, an ecosystem in its own right. As one of four heroes -the Convict, the Marine, and so on - you descend into the randomly generated depths, armed with only a mediocre starting loadout and your skills to survive.

Skill is perhaps the most crucical aspect that elevates Enter The Gungeon above other entries in the action roguelite/shooter subgenre. When loot pickups fail you, when you're having bad run, when you're low on heath or getting surrounded by bullets and enemies, you can always rely on the dodge roll. With precise timing and leaping at the right angle, you can dodge anything, from masses of bullets to screen-slicing lasers. Combined with limited ammo and the need to reload, Enter The Gungeon is easily the most skillful game of its ilk.
But dodging will only get you so far. And thankfully, as you might expect from its title pun and its firearm-themed stages, Enter The Gungeon offers a vast and varied selection of weapons and items to find. While the basic AK-47s and sawed-off shotguns and machine pistols feel satisfying to use, they can't compare to weird wacky weapons you'll find in chests or buy from shopkeepers. One gun fires an egg bullet that unleashes tiny homing baby bullets. Another throws out globs of oil that you can ignite when the gun switches to fireballs upon reload. Other guns freeze, poison, set aflame, convert to your side, electrify. And more still throw off t-shirts and bees and junk mail and other exceedingly silly ammunition. Each weapon feels unique, some designed for specific situations while others are room-clearing monsters that can end a boss in seconds.

Items, both active and passive, only add to that variety. Much like Isaac, the stat increases and weapon buffs can stack in myriad ways, from swapping out your dodge roll for a jetpack to increasing your movement speed to more unique effects such as linking bullets with chain lightning and causing ice shrapnel to shred the room when you get damaged.

As you progress, you'll encounter NPCs hidden in the dungeons, trapped in cages, waiting to freed. Once rescued, they'll show up in levels or back in the hub area, opening new shops where you buy items and weapons to add to the randomized loot pool or shortcuts or offering side challenges for money and rewards.
But more than the weapons and the items and the dodge roll, it's the little touches and environmental details that make Gungeon's combat so satisfying. The way dead enemies and debris can flung aganst the walls by the force of explosions. How book pages flutter and drift across the floor as you fight in a library, How oil stains the ground and leaves scorches marks in carpets once a fire dies down. Your reflection in pools of water. The puffs of smoke and particles from bullets hitting the walls and barriers. 

Enter The Gungeon takes the best elements of the subgenre - the fierce combat, the thrill of uncovering new weapons and discovering powerful synergies between items, the sense of mastery and progression - and blends it all together in a single polished package. You can find the game on Steam, Humble, GMG, GOG, and PS4.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Watchlist: 2Dark

Title: 2Dark
Developer: Gloomywood
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Releasing 2016
A unique mix of stealth, horror and adventure game conceived by the creative force behind Alone in the Dark
Games have taken us to all manner of terrifying places, filled with every kind of monster. The twisted fusions of human and machine deep under the sea in SOMA, the ravenous undead of Resident Evil and fungal infected of The Last of Us, the psychological scars made flesh in the fog-choked streets of Silent Hill. 2Dark revolves around a very different horror, almost banal in comparison to the creatures and places of other games: serial killers and kidnapped children.

2Dark picks up 17 years after the protagonist Mr. Smith lost his wife and children in a brutal attack. Hardened and devastated by the incident, he's now a broken man driven to hunt down the sadistic killers inhabiting the streets and outskirts of Gloomywood, But these aren't your everyday realistic human monsters, but more akin to the psychos found in an episode Hannibal or Dexter or lurking in the alleys of Gotham. Killers with grimy vermin-infested buildings, murderous clowns in dilapidated carnivals, pig-headed butchers.
Scared children hidden away in cages await in the lairs of those killers, and that's where 2Dark combines its dark disturbing horror with stealth, strategy, and action. Creeping through the shadows, you'll need to avoid attracting the attention of killers, their henchmen, and other dangers, avoiding line of sight, and carefully using lights to find your way through oppressively dark basements and corridors. A gun is your last loud resort, so evading or hacking enemies into bloody voxel pieces with a blade and blunt objects are the best options.

But getting in is the easy part. Getting out leading a group of terrified children is quite another challenge. This is where 2Dark introduces some puzzle and strategy aspects to the stealth horror, as you plan the most efficient exit, trying to avoid gruesome sights or the gory remains of your kills as not to cause the kids to scream and cry in horror.
2Dark is expected to release later this year; you can learn more about the game here.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 4/9

Title: Tenebrae
Developer: Troglobytes Games
A story-driven, fast-paced 2.5D Action/Adventure Platformer RPG paying homage to early 90’s classics such as Ghost ‘n Goblins. Join an epic journey set in dark and mysterious dungeons, playing the game from two different points of view leading to different combat styles and thought-provoking endings.
Title: Ruin of the Reckless
Developer: Faux-Operative Games
Ruin of the Reckless is an action Rogue-lite with a push your luck element.
Title: Unavowed
Developer: Wadjet Eye Games
For six months, you were possessed by a demon. For six months, you unwillingly tore a trail of bloodshed through New York City. Now, finally, you are rescued by the Unavowed - an ancient society dedicated to stopping evil. You are free, but your world is in tatters. You have no home, no friends, and you are wanted by the police. Join the Unavowed, and learn to fight against the oncoming darkness.
Title: Parkitect
Developer: Texel Raptor
Parkitect is a business simulation game that charges you with the construction and management of theme parks! Build the rides and manage the parks, and management is key.

IOS Review #116: Barrier X

Title: Barrier X
Developer: Noclip
Platforms: IOS Universal, Android
Price: Free
Hyper-fast, lightning-reflex arcade evasion are some of the most thrilling games you can find on mobile. The simple controls translate well to touch, and the seconds-long survival fits the platformer perfectly. The psychedelic rotation of Super Hexagon. The constantly-changing levels of Boson X. And now the insane screen-shaking speed of Barrier X.
An expanded version of an freeware 2014 title, Barrier X puts you in control of a vessel rocketing through an endless expanse at insane velocities, as white barriers appear with alarming speed. The ground beneath your craft turns orange as a visual warning of an upcoming barrier, giving you just enough of a warning to shift right or left and evade destruction by mere fractions of a second. It's breathless thrilling action, as barriers fly past, barely a blur as you rocket onward. Survive for 15 seconds, and your reward is to go faster, an increase in speed. 30 seconds, and you unlock a new level, while 60 seconds masters that level, a true test of reflexes and reaction.

That alone would make for an exciting arcade game, thanks to Barrier's slick polished design and wonderful sense of speed. But each of the game's seven level introduces something new. Blue blocking barriers that must be dodged in a specific direction. Green barriers that you need to pass through rather than avoid. A rival craft that you need to shoot down and avoid its fire. These elements make Barrier X's gameplay that much more interesting and intense and keeps what is essentially just moving left and right from feeling repetitive.
Barrier X is available to download for free, with a single in-app purchase to remove ads. You can find the game on the App Store and Android; a PC version is currently seeking votes on Steam Greenlight.

Friday, April 8, 2016

PC Review #143: Hyper Light Drifter

Title: Hyper Light Drifter
Developer: Heart Machine
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: $19.99
Besides Rain World, Hyper Light Drifter was perhaps my most anticipated game funded through Kickstarter. Not only due to its wonderful pixel art, fast-paced combat, and intriguing world, but also because it was the game that introduced me to crowdfunding. So my expectations were quite high, and thankfully Heart Machine's debut project succeeds on every level, delivering a challenging action-adventure through a mysterious sci-fi world.
A cataclysm has occurred, and in the aftermath, the Drifter arrives. Armed with an energy sword and gun, draped in a flowing purple cloak, he soon finds himself afflicted with an otherworldly corruption and embarks on a quest across the four corners of the land to cure himself. All this is presented to you wordlessly, through cutscenes and vignettes that leave it up to you to understand and interpret the story.

This elegance of the subtle storytelling also weaves its way into the world. Each area is one of gorgeous pixel artistry, lavish details, and vibrant colors: the gargantuan remains of titans now choked with flora, technological ruins, windswept peaks, bustling town square, dim subterranean tunnels. An abstract map guides you through these environments, but it's the sense of discovery and mystery and allure of secrets that drives you onward.
Hyper Light Drifter's beauty is only surpassed by its danger. A deadly menagerie of foes await, from avian mages that unleash devastating short-range lasers and lupine samurai that teleport-dash towards you with their blades to shuriken-armed toads and towering crystalline beings. Innocuous flowers erupt into hulking beasts, heavily-armed creatures fire bullet hell-esque volleys of projectiles, and relentless bosses unleash multi-tiered attacks that test your evasive prowess.

To the new Drifter, this onslaught of enemies, as groups encroach from all angles, and bullets and lasers threaten to chip away at your precious five hit points.can seem overwhelming. But soon the lessons become clear. Never slash mindlessly, but with confidence. Always watch for enemies' telegraphs and tells. Shoot from afar to even the odds before you engage up close. While Hyper Light Drifter's combat is fast and fierce, it isn't hectic. Precision, timing, carefully timed dodges, using the environment to split up or funnel groups, prioritizing enemies, knowing when to slash or shoot or when to break away and heal. Every encounter is manageable, every enemy able to slayed. Once you've mastered the rhythm and pacing of the combat, clearing areas with expert evasion and combos of blade and bullet never ceases to feel satisfying.
But perhaps skills alone aren't enough. As you defeat enemies and explore, gold credits allow you to purchase new abilities and weapons from shops. The multi-dash lets you flank around ranged enemies with ease; a shield lets you absorb several bullets, A grenade gives you a powerful area-of-effect attack that can clear entire groups when used at the most opportune moment. A charged attack can decapitate multiple enemies with a single strike, while a jabbing blow can stun a foe for a few precious moments. Following your melee attacks with a point-blast shotgun blast can devastate, while a rifle can snipe lurking enemies from a distance. Each of these upgrades expand your moveset in useful ways, giving you myriad ways to handle any battle.

And yet even with the intriguing environments and fast punchy combat, it's the little details that can make a great game, special. The way you can sit down at any time to just relax and admire the environment. The snowy footprints and pools of blood you leave in your wake. Your cloak flying and fluttering with each strike. The fancy sword flourish the Drifter performs after a particularly challenging battle. The dust-throwing skid at the end of a dash. The charming animations of town NPCs.
Hyper Light Drifter is rife with secrets to be found and hidden areas to seek out, behind camouflaged paths and invisible walkways. New Game Plus offers a new challenge, carrying over your upgrades but reducing your health, a true test of your combat skills. A first playthrough might take around 6-8 hours, but much more awaits your Drifter.

Hyper Light Drifter is available on Steam, Humble, and GOG. Console versions are coming later this year.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Watchlist: Voidrunner

Title: Voidrunner
Developer: RealityArts
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, Consoles
Releasing mid-2016
An intense multiplayer flight game which introduces FPS controls to the flight genre in exotic, epic landscapes
Set against a backdrop of futuristic cityscapes, gargantuan alien arches, and lightning-streaked skies, Voidrunner promises relentless aerial combat, combining the precision of a first-person shooter with the agility and mobility of a flight game.

Voidrunner focuses on high-flying multiplayer combat, as fighters, hunters, and other ship classes wage furious war in the sky. From performing full-out assaults on sprawling cities to classic modes like deathmatch, Voidrunner plans to deliver a varied array of modes to please both single- and multiplayer fans.
Additional depth comes from the inclusion of RPG elements ranging experience and levels to extensive parts to modify your ship. While pre-existing designs will let you jump straight into the action, customizing your loadout and design will allow for a wide spectrum of playstyles, from fast evasive snipers to weapons-heavy fighters.

From the intricate cockpit of your ship, Voidrunner launches you into gorgeous Unreal Engine 4-powered aerial warzones. Buildings burn and belch thick smoke into skies sliced by furious laser fire, as combatants shriek by and larger carriers hover among the dogfighting. The lavish graphics give the sci-fi battlefields an impressive sense of scale and chaos.
Voidrunner is expected to arrive on Steam Early Access this year. You can learn more and follow the game's development on its site and Twitter page.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 4/2

Title: Seraph
Developer: Dreadbit
Seraph is a skill based, acrobatic shooter… without aiming! Featuring an angel, known as Seraph, who’s fighting to restore her lost power and ultimately escape a prison infested with demons. However, dark magic has trapped the angel inside her human Vessel: if the Vessel dies, so will Seraph.
The Church in the Darkness combines unique narrative with tight top-down action-infiltration gameplay in an open-ended environment. As Vic, an ex-law enforcement officer, you travel to South America to get into Freedom Town and check on your nephew, Alex. Play how you want - you can avoid detection completely, take on the guards using non-lethal methods, or kill anyone who gets in your way. But you'll have to live with the consequences of those choices.
A 2.5D stealth puzzle platformer about a young girl who stumbles across something beautiful in a world ravaged by never-ending war. Keeper and the Soldier has elements of role playing and point-n-click adventure games with an emphasis on narrative, atmosphere and stealth.
A survival-horror game inspired by Resident Evil 1, Dark Souls, and Eternal Darkness. Set in the alternative historical setting of 1897 Angelic Empire of Britannia, your contract will order you to eliminate the source of the unnatural fog enveloping the Berelai Manor.