You're ejected from your stasis pod prematurely. All alone on a dark ship with nothing but a gun and your wits, it's up to you to survive. It won't be easy though. You've developed a severe fear of the dark and the other ejected passengers have gone insane. That's the situation in Russian horror game Stazis, a product of Games Jam.
The game does a good job creating a foreboding and tense atmosphere, despite the fact that I couldn't read a word of the in-game text. It still does a pretty good job telegraphing the mechanics, like the flashlight and the ability to run holding shift. In some ways, not knowing what's going on made it that much scarier. Those with Unity-equipped browsers can play the game and feel the fear for themselves.
Nekogames (Yoshio Ishii) has released the English version of Heiankyo Parameters, where you must carefully seize the land for your own in a graphically minimal but numerically rich game of strategizing, experience raising, and now city building.
This follow up comes two years after the release of the addictive and graphically minimal dungeon clearing game called Parameters. Now there are more stats to build, and a major addition allows you to build on the vacant land to generate "tax" income.
I beat this wonderful game months ago when it was in Japanese, but I waited to post it until the translation was up. Nekogames graciously let me know the translation was finished, so I now get to share it with everyone.
Cipher Prime's fast-paced pill smashing arcade game Intake is now available for iPad with numerous improvements. It's been available for PC for some time now, and Steam users have gotten the new improvements as well. If you had to choose which to get, I'd say the iPad version is the one to get, as the game is well suited to a touchscreen.
In Intake, you are tasked with destroying pills falling from above before they hit the bottom. On any given level, there are two colors of pills and you must flip the level's background color back and forth to match the color of the pills you are smashing. Keep it up to make combos. The gameplay is simple, but challenging. That makes it fun. As you go along, you can unlock upgrades that affect future plays.
The default colors for the pills would be a nightmare for anyone who's colorblind, but Cipher Prime has included not one, but three colorblind modes; one for each kind of colorblindness, making Intake a very colorblind-friendly game.
Intake works so well for a touchscreen that it seems like this should have been the first version. You hold the device with one hand, using your thumb to swap colors back and forth while the other hand points and pokes. It's very natural, unlike the PC version. There, mouse acceleration and other factors make it harder to control and if you have any repetitive motion problems with your wrists the game can only be played for a limited time. The iOS version, however, has none of those problems, and supports multi-touch to boot.
Improvements to the game include balance adjustments such as the frequency and duration of challenge levels and streamlining the user experience. They've added a "No Nonsense" toggle in the settings screen which takes out level transitions so that you can go straight from level to level without pause. Steam specific changes include an optional setting to add flair to the letterboxing panels and the Steam leaderboards were wiped along with the update going out.
[Intake web site (Epilepsy warning: flashing Steam link)]
Lucas Mattos and Joao Brant explore a very claustrophobic "beneath the surface" theme for their Ludum Dare entry, Under Pressure. The mood is intense, and the gameplay presents a couple neat ideas for spending all your time crawling in a constricting place.
There are a few woah moments to this disaster survival game I don't want to directly spoil, but every time my character fell further beneath the surface, I cringed slightly for his pain. The game deploys mouse-based controls when your character wants to feel and interact with his surroundings. Despite its sometimes finicky movements, it's an interesting way to make you feel more immersed by searching with the mouse, instead of simply pressing a button until you interact with something.
You'll probably die a few times, but not all of us can make the best decisions when under pressure like this.
Teamed with Urara-Works, Synopsis Quest and Fairune developer Skipmore has released their latest freeware of funtimes. This sequel to last year's mini-escape collection Pixel Rooms has you solving 25 more traps, using almost every area of the screen and sometimes more than just your fingertips.
Give Pixel Rooms 2 on iOS and Android until at least the 3rd level to offer its twist on escape room puzzles. Most of you will probably beat my first-run time of 18:55'77, so go ahead and embarrass me in the comments below!
This simple, one-button Ludum Dare entry from George Broussard is all about fighting a losing battle against the waves.
You are a person stuck floating in the middle of the ocean. You begin with full stamina and breath, floating atop the sea. Soon, however, the sea rises, leaving you beneath the surface. You can spend stamina to swim upward, but you only have so much and it only restores itself when your head is above the water. Your breath also goes down while you're underwater, and having less breath affects stamina recovery.
The game is a balancing act between staying high in the water and not expending too much energy to do so. It's a sober sort of game, but one that lends itself to multiple playthroughs as you just try to beat your own best time. This Ludum Dare entry was made in under 48 hours, and the graphics and sound effects are well done. You can play the game in your browser with the Unity Web Player.
IndieGames and Interabang Entertainment bring you another FreekeyFridays which means another chance to win a set of awesome free indie games: Retrobooster from Really Slick on Windows and Linux (Humble), 140 from Carlsen Games on Windows and Mac (Steam), and Pixel Piracy from Solidust on Windows (Desura).
There are two ways to win this week:
Three sets of codes will be given for this Twitter contest: What is the most ridiculous food item you ever found in a game you played? Don't forget to #FreekeyfridaysPixel Piracy Retrobooster 140
Freekeyfridays was created as a way to garner exposure for indies through giving away a mix of well-known indie games and up-and-coming titles.
It's time to peacefully debate whether that horde of bloodthirsty vikings is allowed to get into the castle or not. Day of the Viking is a beautiful, utterly simplistic action game by Vorax Studios, whose presentation and game mechanics are close to the original Angry Birds and the like. As the own studio says, they've stepped out from their comfortable positions in the AAA industry -at least partially- in order to craft simple but extremely polished games. Just looking at Day of the Viking confirms that they are on the right track.
Let's keep it simple: there're a lot of pissed off vikings. They want to drink your mead and abduct your princess, but you have a castle and a terrific slingshot to defeat them. Clearly designed for touch interfaces, you can use your finger to catapult different kinds of missiles at all sorts of enemies, including flying dragons and monstrous viking war machines. Apparently they are preparing a PC version too, but there's no details about price yet (if it's not a free to play game). What's taken for granted is that the release is just around the corner, and we won't be waiting much before getting to play. More about the authors are at Vorax's Twitter and the game's website.
The controls are WASD or arrow key based and simple to pick up. You just rotate the sub until it's pointing the direction you want, then press up to get it moving in that direction. Navigating around rocks, past exploding mines and toward your haul is fun, though a big drain on your fuel reserves, so it's important to scoop up any canisters you see around as well.
Arjan Oudendijk of Vivid Reality shared his team's Ludum Dare 29 entry, Bistro Cafard, a Cooking Mama inspired game that explores what's beneath the surface of a restaurant's meal preparation. It ain't pretty.
With a "consult the book" mechanic inspired by Papers, Please, players must read the somewhat scribbled cursive instructions to determine what the ingredients are for each meal and what which items need to be boiled or fried before combined on the cutting board and then served. Be quick, or the customers will leave!
Once the restaurant closes for the night, the game goes from being Cooking Mama to Duck Hunt, with a slowly reloaded shotgun used to procure extra meats to serve. Shoot anything that moves, as this restaurant will turn a profit on it. Cook, serve, revolting!
If you've ever enjoyed monkeying around in a game, particularly the swinging back and forth bit, you should try the demo for Grabbles and consider giving it your support. This physics-based platformer is basically a Worms ninja rope obstacle course where the challenge is to get through as fast as possible.
In Grabbles, you play a colorful blob with two sticky, stretchy appendages that can be shot out to grab onto what appear to be cilia on the walls and on floating orbs around the levels. Your goal is to use your stretchy appendages to get from the beginning of the level to the end in the shortest amount of time possible, with stars earned on a level being dependent on how fast you complete it. You basically want to stop as little and for as short a time as possible. The browser demo has leaderboards for each level, showing you where your time ranks on the list so far.
You can also download the demo for Windows, Mac, and Linux from IndieDB. The game supports both controller and mouse controls, with controller being developer Noble Whale Studios' recommended control scheme. If you like the game, consider backing it on Kickstarter.
The new Humble Weekly Bundle focuses on co-op games and offers ways to purchase 2 or 4 copies of the games, but not all of its offerings require multiple Steam keys. The Humble Weekly Bundles have always been a bit hodge-podge, but here "co-op" merely acts as an umbrella to collect local co-op, and online 2- or 4-player games.
The bundle is solid for a single purchase: Awesomenauts, Sanctum 2, Wanderlust: Rebirth, Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken, Orcs Must Die 2, Aces Wild, and Risk of Rain. Ignoring the fact that more than half the games are missing their soundtracks, it takes a little research to reveal which games would take better advantage of the 2x or 4x deal.
Sanctum 2, Risk of Rain, and Wanderlust offer 4-player online play. Rocketbirds and Orcs Must Die 2 are 2-player online games. Awesomenauts is 3-player-local and 3-on-3 online multiplayer, and Aces Wild is local co-op only.
With more careful curation, Humble could offer bundles with all local 2- or 4-player co-op or online 2- or 4-player games, to make the purchasing decision a little bit easier. Humble gets all the big games for its staple bundles, but could a little more pride and care be taken in curating these more frequent bundles, or they dial back their frequency until the package is more tight?
Humble's not the only site with inconsistent bundles, but as the premiere bundle service, why not continue to lead with more polished examples?
Today at an event on its San Mateo campus, Sony announced a slew of indie games coming to its platforms -- primarily the PlayStation 4. Many are making their console debuts with Sony after successful PC launches.
The PlayStation 4 announcements:
- Jamestown Plus
- Starwhal: Just the Tip
- Ironclad Tactics
- Escape Goat 2
- An updated version of Spelunky
The PlayStation 4 and Vita announcements:
- Axiom Verge
- Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-a-Fide Edition
It's a clear sign that Sony is aggressively courting indie developers -- if anything, it seems to be an even bigger push than the company was making a year ago, when we spoke to Adam Boyes, head of its publisher and developer relations team, about his efforts to get them onto the PlayStation 4.
At the event, Boyes said that over 1,000 independent developers are licensed to self-publish on Sony's platforms, CVG reports. This is having big results: Destructoid reports that there are over 100 independent games in development for Sony platforms, according to Boyes.
The company made a huge show at last year's Gamescom of emphasizing its interest in indies, too. Notably, the company does fund both development and ports of games via its Pub Fund initiative.
The slate of games is also a clear sign that the company is no longer prioritizing the PlayStation 3 with its independent developer programs.
Alongside the announcements, Sony has updated its official PlayStation Blog with entries from each and every one of the developers whose games were announced at the event. Curious about the man in charge of all of this madness at Sony? Gamasutra recently profiled Boyes.
[Christian Nutt wrote this article for sister site Gamasutra]
In Ludum Dare 29 entry The Mask of Us by Calvin Lu, you play a person whose mask is malleable. You can change the shape of your face any time you choose. Most people aren't so lucky, however, and changing how you present yourself to the NPCs affects how they treat you.
Mechanically speaking, all you can really do in the game is change the shape of your face, talk to NPCs, and move around. The story is very short, making the game feel like a playable fable that uses interactive mechanics to make its point before you get to the overtly spoken moral at the end. It's much more powerful than simply warning someone not to judge a book by its cover.
The game is short and avoids being a downer by using cute graphics and ending with a joke. Not everyone gets the joke; if you try the game and don't understand why the ending is supposed to be funny, see the spoilerific hint below.
SPOILER: It's a pun.