Sunday, May 29, 2016

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 5/28

Title: AiK
Developer: Christian Arnold
Aik is a journey. It is about discovering a 2D open world setting and the more you understand and observe the environments, behaviours and creatures in this world, the more you understand how to interact and make your way through it
Title: Gunnhildr
Developer: RatDog Games
Gunnhildr is a Dark Souls meets Binding of Isaac style Rogue-like FPS. Taking place on the Norse world of Niflheim you are Gunnhildr, the only warrior to ever achieve the honor of becoming an ancient.
Title: Aya Blaze
Developer: Bastian
Aya Blaze is a high-speed, low gravity arcade racer with focus on a fluid racing experience and energizing, uplifting vibes
Title: Aye Captain!
Developer: Aye Captain team
Aye Captain! is a rogue-like tactical pirate game. Sail through the waves, kill enemies, steal ships and become The King of The Seas! FTL in a pirate world
Title: SOUL
A VR relaxation game, a digital home away from home

IOS Review #119: RYB

Title: RYB
Developer: FLEB LLC
Platforms: iOS Universal
Price: $0.99
Puzzle games come in all shapes and forms, from the sprawling island and panels of The Witness to the charming snowy sokoban of A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build. One of more minimalist indie successes of recent years was Matthew Brown's Hexcells series, a mix of Picross and Minesweeper where every puzzle could be solved through logic alone. Fans of Hexcells will feel at home with the abstract RYB, a similarly logically-driven puzzler that eschew numbers and text for colors, symbols, and oddly-shaped geometric stages.
RYB stands out from the start through its vibrant colors and shaped levels that maks each stage look more like abstract art projects than levels in a puzzle game. Squares, triangle, hexagons, and other shapes interlock to form odd levels that games designed around uniform grids and tiles never could (ie Hexcells' hexagons or Picross's grids).

Despite the myriad shapes and colors across levels, the core challenge remains the same: correctly color in each shape using clues and logic. Accomplishing that goal is what makes RYB such a wonderful gem of a puzzler. Figuring out the rules of the game, what the colors and markings within the shapes indicate, gives the games a playful charm, a sense of experimentation as you figure out the logic of the puzzles and then begin to understand how to solve the more tricky challenges.
The game gradually guides your hand, offering simple text and basic puzzles to introduce each mechanic and rule but letting the gameplay itself work to ingrain those ideas into your head. Slowly but surely, levels evolve from a group of shapes and colors into a visual language you can decode and decipher, that those colored circles in this formation within that shape means these other shapes must be this color. Through its visual learning and satisfying challenge, RYB stands out as a must-play puzzler for players looking for a game where logic and learning ensures success over trial and error.
RYB is available for $0.99 on iPad and iPhone.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Watchlist: Saurian

Title: Saurian
Developer: Urvogel Games
Platforms: PC, Mac
Releasing 2017
Live as a dinosaur in a dynamic open world through intense, survival-based gameplay
Dinosaurs tend to show up in two forms in games: the monstrous enemies of Ark, Tomb Raiders, and Turok, or a playable faction in games like Dino D-day, Primal Carnage, and Orion. But Saurian is taking a different approach, doing what no game has done before: present dinosaurs through a completely realistic, scientifically-accurate lenses and let you survive as one in that world.

Informed by some of the field's leading paleontologists and most current discoveries, Saurian promises an accurate recreation of Dakota's Hell Creek 66 million years ago. This is a world in some ways familiar, thick with swamps and woodlands, and others ways alien to us, from the continent-spanning Interior Seaway and of course the thunderous footsteps of dinosaurs.
Saurian lets you play as a several different species, from the heavy-skulled Pachycephalosaurus and frilled Triceratops to everyone's favorite Tyrannosaurus. These aren't your movie monsters or even the big reptiles popularized by Jurassic Park, but feathered creatures living in a dynamic ecosystem, with movement based off the dev team's own emu.

Choosing a dinosaur drops you into a sprawling wilderness as a young hatchling in a world filled with hungry predators and elusive prey. As you survive, through maintaining your health and feeding, your dinosaur will grow into adult, find a mate, and breed. With age comes new challenges: a young tyrannosaurus may need to avoid the jaws of older males, but as an grown adult, you'll be able to act as the hunter. Each species will have unique skills, such as the sickle-clawed Dakotaraptor's ability to climb trees and pounce from above.
Saurian has been in development since 2013, and is expected to release in 2017, currently seeking funds on Kickstarter. Depending on stretch goals, future plans will include environmental dangers such as wildfires and floods, additional playable species, multiplayer, and a special mode that challenges you to survive after the fateful impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Saurian can be found on Kickstarter, and more details are available on the game's site.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 5/21

Title: Operetta
Developer: Brian Crick
A space opera game that combines 4x strategy and arcade-style shooters
Title: Solitairica
Developer: Righteous Hammer Games
Solitairica takes RPG combat and challenging roguelike progression to a fresh new place—the world of solitaire! Using a variety of magical items and powerful spells, battle your way through a horde of ever-changing enemies and defeat the horrible Emperor Stuck.
Title: City Climber
Developer: Ondrej Angelovic
City Climber is a dynamic climbing game situated in city environment. You are the one in control of the climber`s arms and your task is to climb wide variety of structures as fast as possible. But it is not so simple. There are always some obstacles in your way. You can run into moving pistons, ladders wooden barricades that you need to break and much more.
Title: Starborne
Developer: Solid Cloud Games
Starborne is a take on the grand-strategy 4X genre with the added powerful impact of being a multiplayer game played in real-time. In Starborne, each game will last six months culminating in a decisive endgame. You start with a fledgling station and as you invest in its infrastructure you will see it take shape and its borders grow, bringing unclaimed territories under your sovereignty.

IOS Review #118: Imbroglio

Title: Imbroglio
Developer: Michael Brough
Platforms: IOS Universal
Price: $3.99
Between his titles like Zaga-33, Corrypt, and 868-Hack, Michael Brough is known for delivering odd abstract roguelikes and puzzlers that seem simple on the surface but gradually reveal a wealth of hidden depth and complexity. His newest work Imbroglio is no different, blending roguelike, RPG card game, and board game into  one challenging and engaging game
In some ways, 868-Hack veterans will feel at home with Imbroglio. The two share some similar elements and mechanics, such as randomly spawning enemies, the level layout shifting when you achieve a certain goal, enemies moving when you move and swiping towards them to attack, and so on. But while both share a similar skeleton, Imbroglio is its own beast. Choosing from a selection of different classes, each with their own unique abilities and deck limitations, your goal is to collect stars to increase your high score, evading or destroying enemies along the way.

Every star collected is another point to your score, but also alters the level layout and refills part of your health and mana bars; this aspect adds a risk-vs-reward element to increasing your score: how long can you use the level to your advantage, before needing to grab a star to balance out your health and mana. The two act as more of a resource to be managed, since certain weapons also draw from those meters to attack.
Yes, weapons. Imbroglio isn't your usual card game. After a certain score threshold is reached, you can build your deck of weapon tiles, ranging from swords that teleport you to a random spot or stun nearby enemies to ranged crossbows, and then use those tiles to construct the level floor. Standing over a weapon lets you use its properties, and killing enemies levels up that individual tile, unlocking new effects and buffs.

This complex interconnected web of class and tiles and board layout turn Imbroglio into a simple-to-play, but deep strategic roguelike. Finding synergies between different weapons, choosing the most opportune moment to gather a star, deciding which tile to use and when, Each class offers new strategies to master, due to the tiles they can or can't use. Every movement counts, as it can mean another enemy appearing or you being cornered. Every tile counts, as upgrading certain weapons can be more useful against different enemies. Every placement of those tiles count, as some can level up adjacent weapons or work in tandem against enemies.

Imbroglio is available for $3.99 on iPad and iPhone.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

PC Review #145: Exanima

Title: Exanima
Developer: Bare Mettle Entertainment
Platforms: PC
Price: $14.99
I've been watching Game of Thrones recently, and one of the many things the show does so well is nailing that brutal, heavy, messy medieval combat. Not many games do, but Exanima isn't like many other games. A low-fantasy dungeon crawler, it uses the wonders of physics to turn melee combat into a gorgeous slugfest of glancing blows, crushing strikes, and smart positioning.
Exanima is in an interesting position, being both a full-fledged game on its own while also being a kind of proof of concept for the developer's much larger RPG Sui Generis. Divided between a linear dungeon crawler and combat-focused arena mode, Exanima revolves around its innovative physics-driven combat system that adds heft and weight to every swing.

Using the mouse, you control the angle and speed of your swings, feints, and parries. A fast step forward can add extra power to your attack or evade an enemy's blow to open them up for a counter. With the double-click of the left mouse, you can bring your weapon down in a devastating downward strike that could end a fight in seconds, while the Alt key performs a piercing thrust. Every animation is defined by physics and momentum and your own movement, from careful jabs to whistling hammer swings that can knock your foe to the ground.
All of that combines to deliver combat unlike any other. The clang of blade and blade, the scrape of a steel sword against stone when you miss a swing, the thuds of heavy blows against shields, the physicality of armored foes pushing and striking at each other, the screams and wet impacts when you rend flesh. Strategies such as closing the distance so your long sword-wielding enemy doesn't have the distance to swing effectively, or staying to the side of an enemy so you can slash at the unshielded part of his body.

Glancing blows, stumbles, weapons rebounding off shields and walls, and other physics-driven maneuvers makes Exanima's clashes feel messy and unpredictable and desperate, less like trading attacks in a fighting game and more like steel-edged street fight. You can hone your skills in the arena mode, hiring NPC combatants, engaging in fist fights and multi-enemy elimination rounds, and gaining money to buy better weapons and armor. Or you can embark into the dim torch-lit dungeons and face skeletons and hulking beasts lurking behind closed doors and dark shadows.
Exanima is still in Early Access, and recently received an update that added a massive new area to the dungeon crawler section and improved movement, animations, and other gameplay aspects. Future plans include dual wielding, outdoors regions, a more extensive skill system, among other additions.

Exanima is available on Steam and GOG,

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 5/14

Title: Event[0]
Developer: Ocelot Society
In a world where the humankind has embraced artificial intelligence, you are stranded on an abandoned spaceship.
Title: Keel-Haul
Developer: Summa Games
Keel-Haul is an asymmetrical multiplayer action game that pits the greatest pirate captains from across the seven seas against deadly sea monsters, in a battle for gold and glory. The game currently features local versus multiplayer, with 3 deadly pirate ships and a crafty Kraken.
Title: Heat Guardian
Developer: Denis Rudoy
Support the fire to survive a cold and dark world full of dangers and mysteries
Title: Hacktag
Developer: Piece of Cake Studio
A 2 players co-op stealth videogame with asymmetric gameplay

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Watchlist: Copper Dreams

Title: Copper Dreams
Developer: Whalenought Studios
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Releasing 2017
A cyberpunk, cybertactical party-based cRPG
Cyberpunk usually brings to mind the neon-lit streets of Blade Runner and the megacorp-run cities of Deus Ex. But those futuristic metropolises have a dark side, explored in fiction like KOP, Altered Carbon, or Human Revolution's lower Hong Kong. The places those megacorps build on top of and leave to decay into crime-ridden slums. In-development cRPG Copper Dreams explores a world like that, the distant island colony of Calitana, left to fester and rot far from earth, where crime syndicates rule and food is a scarcity.

Inspired by the decrepit future of Escape From New York and other works of 80s science fiction, Copper Dreams is a gritty cyberpunk cRPG, focusing on open world traversal, stealth, and augmented tactics. Among the grimy streets and dark rooftops, you control an agent for the department of Asset Inquiries, engaging in acts of espionage and incursion. A vast array of upgrades let you customize your playstyle and tactics, from the typical customization like a suppressor for your weapon to exotic augmentations like chainsaw hands, grappling hooks, detachable eyes to spy around corners, and more.
Much like Klei's Invisible Inc, turn-based tactical stealth is a major aspect of Copper Dreams. Your agents can peek around cover and crouch in the shadows, avoid line of sight, listen for telltale footsteps, create distractions, hack electric grids, and more. Stealth won't merely be useful to avoid and evade tougher patrols, but also to get into strategically advantageous positions before attacking.

Smart positioning will be critical to surviving Copper Dreams' combat, due to its unique twists to the typical cRPG format. Your party doesn't have HP, but rather suffers from injuries and effects to individual body parts, so cover and an efficient offense will keep your crew healthy and in one piece. Enemies can summon reinforcements and investigate suspicious sounds and last known positions. Attacks take time to occur, allowing for tactics such as cooking grenades. Being aware of your environment, using the 3D world to gain a height advantage, will be the difference between life and death in Copper Dreams' complex encounters.
Copper Dreams is currently seeking funds on Kickstarter, and is expected to release in March 2017. You can learn more about the game on its site.

Monday, May 9, 2016

IOS Review #117: Blackbar / Grayout

Title: Blackbar, Grayout
Developer: Mrgan LLC
Platforms: iOS Universal, Android
Price: $2.99 each
Sometimes it can be easy to forgot the power of words can play in games. Often words are merely relegated to mere UI indications or the names of cool new loot. Dialogue, flavor text, and logs of lore remind us of their importance, while the Torments, Sunless Seas, and 80 Days of gaming show us how effective well-crafted prose can be. But outside of text adventures and word games, fewer still focus on blending the words themselves with the gameplay. Perhaps the most recent examples I can think of are Device 6's use of text to mirror the described environment and Type Rider's platforming journey through the history of typography.

Blackbar and Grayout are two narrative-driven text-based puzzlers that use their words to tell their stories and as gameplay. Set in a dystopian future, both explore different aspects of the same world through different lenses and mechanics.
Blackbar draws us into its heavily surveillanced and controlled future through the correspondence of two friends. One works in the government, and thus her messages and letters are censored by the Department of Communication. As you progress through the story, story context, past knowledge from other letters, cyphers and codes hidden in the text, and other means allow you to fill in the redacted words and phrases.

Grayout is a prequel to Blackbar, and explores a different element of its world. Rather than letters and messages, you're in the headspace of Alaine, a woman suffering from aphasia - a condition that affects one's ability to communication - and recovering from an industrial accident. At least that's what the doctors tell you. Grayout dives into the subject of medical experimentation; Alaine (and yourself) struggle to express your thoughts to the queries and comments of doctors and others in the hospital research lab where she is kept, choosing terms from a word cloud to respond.
Both games tell engaging stories that explore their world through interesting lenses. Blackbar's restrictive perspective of letters and offical mandates from the government hauntingly shift from everyday small talk between friends to unease fear, all presented through taut well-crafted prose.

Grayout's narrative is more intimate and personal, but expands on the merging of gameplay and text in a more clever, interesting execution. Understanding what you want to say, but puzzling out the correct terms from screen's word clouds mirrors Alaine's own struggle with her impaired communication, brilliantly placing the player in the protagonist's shoes through mechanics alone. Furthermore, Alaine's emotions and other narrative twists will affect which words are present, or even how words are spelled and colored.

Blackbar is available for iOS and Android, while Grayout is only on the App Store.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 5/7

Sorry for another belated post. Will be back on track this week


Title: Smash Bash
Developer: SmashBash team
Turn-based tactic game in setting of alternative WW1 history with mix of military technologies like steampunk and dieselpunk
Title: Rogues Like Us
Developer: Odd Byte Games
Become a Rogue and fight your way out of exile in this hack n' slash rogue-like.
Title: Decay of Logos
Developer: AndrĂ© Constantino
Decay of Logos is an immersive action/adventure third-person RPG influenced by Nordic folklore and by J. R. R. Tolkien’s high fantasy. You play as a girl on a journey with her companion, a mystical Elk. They fatefully meet after her village is destroyed by one of the King’s sons. Battered and oblivious of the culprit behind the attack, the girl will not rest until she has her revenge. During her quest she will unveil secrets about the King and his sons, slowly realizing that all is not what it seems.
Title: Dogos
Developer: OPQAM
Putting the player in the shoes of Desmond Phoenix, a skilled pilot in command of sophisticated ships equipped with various types of powerful weapons, DOGOS invites you to explore 14 original open world levels completely made in 3D, giving players the opportunity to meet goals from any angle they can imagine! Intensive action, an insane amount of shooting and explosions, all accompanied by an incredible and catchy soundtrack.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Quick Fix: Screenshot Saturday 4/30

Title: Amirelia
Developer: Magic Spell Studios
Explore a deeper meaning of friendship in the abstract world of Amirelia. Grab a friend and immerse yourselves in award-winning cooperative gameplay as you work together to overcome a variety of puzzles and other obstacles. Amirelia offers a vivid, rich environment where curiosity and imagination are not only welcome but encouraged
Developer: David Horn
Whether it's a simple drop toe hold, or a plasma blast to the face, Chikara gives users complete control over all the crazy action! Borrowing elements from both wrestling and fighting games, Chikara opens the wacky world of professional wrestling up even wider, granting the user power to employ not just traditional wrestling holds, but lasers, fireballs, rocket launchers and more!
Title: Kundalini
Developer: Zellk
The player controls Kunda, the celestial keeper of the resumption, attempting to appease the dying God and accompany him into the cycle of renewal. They need to ride the raging dragon's decaying body and ring the seven bells on his back to bring Ouroboros peace.
Title: MorphĂȘ
Developer: Pixelfoot Games
A relaxing mountaintop covered in stone 'tomes', where you can add/remove/modify elements of the ambient song that's going on.