Phoenix Online Studios have recently announced the release date for the third episode of Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller. For those who haven’t read our previous coverage on the games, Cognition is a point and click series about a psychic FBI agent named Erica Reed. We were very impressed with the first two episodes of Cognition, giving them solid scores of 86% and 93%.
Releasing May 16th, we have been told Cognition: The Oracle will put the players in the shoes of the Oracle – the serial killer who has been paying an awful lot of attention to Erica in the past two games. The teaser for The Oracle (below) makes me feel a good part of the episode may be a ‘whodunnit’ style of story.
Slated to be Norwegian developer Rain Games’s first release, Teslagrad is a steampunk-styled 2-D puzzle platformer currently in development for the PC, Mac and Linux. Set in the titular capitol city of Elektropia, the game promises to be an electrifying escapade full of perilous puzzles designed specifically to test and tantalize one’s brain.
This is technically Rain Games’s second game; their first project, a multiplayer game titled Minute Mayhem, was put on hold in favor of finishing Teslagrad first. Despite vastly differing gameplay, both are set in the fictional universe of Chroma, and the developers have hinted at a desire to continue exploring Chroma in future releases.
Today’s Indie Links include games you should have on your radar. Which, to be honest, really isn’t different from any other day.
25 indie games that should be on your radar (ArsTechnica)
“One of the best things about travelling to shows like PAX East and the Game Developers Conference is the chance to check out titles from off-the-beaten-path, independent developers. While shows like E3 are overwhelmed by the presence of multi-million dollar booths from huge publishers, the early-in-the-year shows make a point of highlighting some of the most original and promising game ideas from game makers without big contracts or salaried positions behind them. Freed from the financial responsibilities of the major AAA publishers, these are the titles that are most likely to truly break new ground in gameplay, aesthetics, and subject matter.”
Anna Anthropy and the Twine revolution (The Guardian)
“There’s a growing realisation that games can be as much about personal expression as they are about shooting stuff. We talk to prolific designer Anna Anthropy about her reluctant role at the centre of an emerging scene based around free game making tool, Twine.”
Tigsource Devlog: Dom2D’s Visual Showcase of Awesome New Games, Issue #14 (Venus Patrol)
“This week’s selection shows some love for pixel art, with fourteen games in development showing true skill with the pixel brush! We have Chasm in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign, Tale of the Stolen Rainbow creating an epic Zelda-like adventure with minimalist black and white pixels, and then there’s The Bitter End.. oh wait, it seems to have been made in Hexels!”
Recommended Game: Reunion, A Short Horror Experience (Independent Gaming)
“Explore a dark forest and the darkness of the human mind. In these woods, nothing is as it seems. Reunion is a short horror game that surprised me with its creepy atmosphere, genuine scares, and shocking ending. You control a father searching a forest at night for his son, Waleed, who has fled from home. You must navigate the darkness, using the circle of light surrounding you and the sounds of the things in the woods to stay on a safe path.”
The Long And Brainy Road: An Organ Trail Diary Part 3 (RPS)
“The Organ Trail: Director’s Cut is a zombie pastiche of the old favourite edugame, The Oregon Trail, where you had to get a family of settlers to Portland, Oregon, past the perils of the unconquered western USA. In the Organ Trail, players must get themselves and up to four friends all the way to Portland Oregon without losing any of their innards to rampaging zombie hordes. They’re both mainly asset management games, with bastard-hard minigames included. “
Itano Alpha Flight and Heart Breaker (Indie Gamer Chick)
“Here’s some quick thoughts on a pair of recent XBLIG titles, Itano Alpha Flight and Heart Breaker. They suck. My boyfriend says I’m not allowed to leave it at that, so I guess I’ll explain why.”
Humans Must Answer (PixelProspector)
“Humans Must Answer is a really promising horizontal shmup with fine visuals and fun looking gameplay that features a nice selection of weapons.”
It’s been a while since I last talked about ZED Absolution (ZED). It turns out the guys over at Zombie Killers have been working tirelessly on ZED and there has been some big developments.
ZED is a top down gauntlet shooter that takes inspiration from such classics as Smash TV and Robotron 2048, updating this model and bringing it to us in an all new fast paced HD and 3D format, that’s right ZED will support the Oculus Rift.
It seems ZED is getting close to the beta stage, but before the game can reach its completion Zombie Killer will be looking for some additional funding to move ZED over the line. They hope to obtain a little extra funding through the games pre-orders that offer four different packages to suit your every need and range from $15 to $45. Alongside the game you can also buy a rather nice ZED poster to put up and show your support in the real world.
In addition to the pre-orders Zombie Killers are looking to start-up a Kickstarter campaign in the hopes of raising the required capital to finish the game, and maybe implement some of the teams more ambitious ideas. Like any Kickstarter expect to see some rather great physical rewards from soundtracks to models so stay tuned for the launch.
If you would like to find out more about ZED be sure to head over to the all new ZED homepage for additional information about the game. ZED is also looking for additional up-votes on Steam’s Greenlight service, so if you would like to see ZED on Steam be sure to up-vote.
This week I look through some more great Ludum Dare games trying to bring some of my favorite games into the lime light getting them the love they deserve. This weeks selection is pretty awesome with some geometric struggles and some colourful capers.
As always clicking the title will take you to my original article whilst clicking the image will take you to the game, enjoy.
Minimalism is a great little puzzle shooter in which you must morph your shape into that of the locks across the level to try to make it to the end. Of course it is not just about getting the correct shapes you must battle your way through this maze of unrelenting shapes to reach your goal.
My Mini Castle is a rather cute little game that has you commanding this solitary penguin to throw his potatoes at incoming slimes. It’s a very simple idea but executed fantastically with these great graphics and fun mechanics.
For one reason or another I don’t get to feature many strategy games on here so I leapt at the option to feature Production Ville. In Production Ville you must setup a village that actually turns a profit. This is made all the more difficult by everything having an initial price along with an upkeep fee that can make you think twice before expanding to open a new mine.
Mono is a somewhat unique physics based puzzler that has you taking control of this rogue circle as you try to navigate the unforgiving levels in front of you. Although Mono only has six levels each adds some new mechanics creating an ever-changing experience that is just a great deal of fun.
That about does it for this weeks round-up. I hope you have enjoyed playing some – if not all – of the games I have selected for you this week. Have a fantastic Sunday and see you tomorrow for an all new Indie Intermission.
If you are a developer with A fun indie game that can be played over a coffee break, we want to hear from you! Private message us on twitter @IndieGameMag or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Indie Intermission” and you could be our indie intermission pick of the day!
Ridiculous cloning, surgical simulation, and another chapter in the indie support debate between Sony and Microsoft – in today’s Indie Links.
Cloned at Birth: The Story of Ridiculous Fishing (Polygon)
“The interview is over. The story, told in pieces at least a hundred times in bars, at hamburger joints, on stages and in private circles of up-and-coming game developers, has now been told for the first time in its entirety. It is a story about the little guy getting bullied and making a stand. And winning. It is the story of Ridiculous Fishing, and how two men from the Netherlands rallied the worldwide community of independent game developers to take on the practice of game cloning and reclaim their invention to launch what will become (for a time) the best-reviewed iOS game of 2013.”
Microsoft hasn’t lost touch with indies, insists XBLA dev (Eurogamer)
“Microsoft’s relationship with indie studios remains strong, the developers of forthcoming XBLA title Max: The Curse of Brotherhood have insisted – and while it might seem that the platform holder is losing its grip on indie gaming as Sony attracts more and more developers to PlayStation, there’s plenty going on behind the scenes to ensure that won’t be the case come the next generation.”
Review: Spyleaks (Independent Gaming)
“*wipes sweat off face* Gee, that game can be tough at times. What game am I talking about? Spyleaks, an old-school stealth-puzzle game by HeartBit Interactive using the XNA engine (it is available on XBLIG and on the PC).”
Super Brain Eat 3 (Indie Gamer Chick)
“PlayStation Mobile is to the Vita what Xbox Live Indie Games is to the Xbox 360. Whether that’s a good thing or not is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. I wasn’t around for the early stages of XBLIG, but based on what I hear from my buddies Ryan, George, and Justin, the early days were nowhere near the desolate wasteland that PSM is turning into. Looking at the slate of recent releases, nothing really has caught my fancy for it. But then again, nothing really caught my eye on iPhone either. My Vita has been getting a bit dusty though. Nothing like my Wii U, which currently wears the same amount of dust as your average mummy.”
I’m Mexican. Am I Supposed To Be Offended By Guacamelee? (Kotaku)
“I remember being told I was a bad Mexican. To some of the white friends I hung out with, I was one of them. Once someone told me that because I played video games, read science fiction, and spoke with no accent, that I was whiter than they were. Now that was weird. Maybe I should have worn a sombrero or poncho around campus. Maybe then I would have been a Mexicano auténtico. To my extended family, my choppy spanish and awkward adolescence was a sign of my absolute assimilation into a destructive other.”
Wot I Think: Surgeon Simulator 2013 (RPS)
“As a games blogger, the question I am most often asked is: “When are you going to go back to school so that you can get a real job, like an accountant or a doctor?” To which I reply: “Look, Mum, Dad, writing about videogames is a real job now. I’ve paid my rent unaided for at least several years.” Then I show them games like Surgeon Simulator 2013 and ask why I would want to be a real anything, when I can be a simulated everything?”
Quality-of-life, DRM, Piracy and other discussions reverberate in today’s Developer Links.
Indie Fund Now Backing “Panoramical” (IndieFund)
“We are super excited to announce our support of Panoramical, a collaborative project by Fernando Ramallo, a game developer from Argentina, and David Kanaga, best known for his work on Proteus and DYAD. Panoramical is something really different from what we’ve funded in the past, and its difficult to describe it in words. It uses an input device like an iPad or MIDI controller to explore hand-crafted musical landscapes, allowing the player to alter the visuals and music to their touch.”
Game Developer Quality-of-Life Survey (Gamasutra)
“”Game Developers: How are you doing?” That’s the question we asked approximately 1,000 of you at the end of 2012. We know that between the long hours, frequent layoffs, and crunch phases, the game industry can be a notorious grind. While we perform a yearly Salary Survey every April to check the pulse of developers’ financial health, we thought we’d supplement that with a quality-of-life survey to see how you’re doing in ways not measured by dollars and cents. Are you satisfied with your pay? Are you confident in your current project? Do you want to be in this industry five years from now? Read on to find out how your colleagues responded.”
Meat Boy dev: DRM hurts more than piracy (Games Industry)
“The troubled launch of EA’s SimCity due to its always-online requirement has raised the issue of digital rights management and the effectiveness of anti-piracy measures once again. In a post on his own blog, Super Meat Boy developer Tommy Refenes gave his own take on the subject, arguing that developers’ attempts to keep their games from being pirated are hurting themselves first and foremost.”
Vlambeer: Mobile devs mustn’t be scared of charging more (Develop Online)
“Mobile developers should not be scared of charging more for iOS and Android games, a developer from Vlambeer has said. Speaking in a Reddit Q&A, developers from the Super Crate Box studio said that indies needed to be sell a countless number of titles at the standard $0.99 (£0.69) price just to survive on the platform, and encouraged more developers to start charging more.”
Anomaly: Warzone Earth is a game that has sat in my Steam library for as long as I can remember. I think I picked it up in some indie bundle from a few years ago, but I honestly cannot remember. The only thing I knew about it was that it involved the tower defense genre, and because of that, I had very little interest in the game. My issue with tower defense titles is that I find them dull. Being stuck in an area and forced to watch as units scurry down a predetermined pathway is just incredibly boring for me. I prefer making on-the-fly decisions, being rewarded with bright explosions, and namely not being anchored to one location. To my amazement, Anomaly 2 delivers all of that.
How Anomaly 2 works is that it inverts the tower defense mechanic, so that it is the player’s job to get their convoy through the tower-filled gauntlet, and to the objective at the end. There are multiple pathways through every level, and players get to customize their convoy along the way. The enemies, just like a typical tower defense game, have plenty of towers at their disposal, and it takes an apt player to know what unit to use against what sort of tower. Knowing what to use when isn’t difficult thanks to a handy tactical map that players can pull up whenever they like. It shows not only the enemy positions but also allows players to alter their convoy’s route on-the-move. You, are the TomTom.
From what I’ve gathered with my five-ish hours within Anomaly 2, the human race is on the rebound after getting their butts kicked by some sort of robotic alien species that the humans have cleverly taken to calling “The Machines”. The last bastions of humanity have banded together in convoys to keep on the move, always running from their robotic pursuers. Hope for humanity remains in the mystery of Project Shockwave, a weapon which has the potential to wipe out the alien aggressors. The initial levels of Anomaly 2 involve seeking out the remaining scientists responsible for Project Shockwave and looking after their well being, to ensure their research does not go to waste.
While the story isn’t anything special, it really just serves as an excuse to fill a post-apocalyptic Earth with really badass robots. These machines are Decepticon-caliber cool. Unfortunately, they do nothing but try and kill you through the entire game. Fear not, for you have some pretty neat tools in your arsenal as well.
Players control a little commando future-soldier who they can order around the map. The soldier is not limited to the roads, so he is able to run anywhere the player wants him to. However, the enemies will target the soldier if he strays too far from the convoy, so it is generally a good idea to stick close to your little armada. The soldier is armed with some enhancements that play out to be crucial as the game progresses and the gauntlet becomes tougher to get through. One ability, for example, drops an area-based healing effect, that causes friendly units passing through to quickly regain their health. Another ability allows the soldier to drop an EMP bomb and disable enemy towers, knocking them offline until the convoy units engage them. While being a pretty straightforward mechanic, it really helps to keep the monotony of typical tower-defense games, at bay.
The convoy units themselves are not helpless, though. In fact, these units will do the majority of the work…as long as the player helps them stay alive. So far, every convoy unit has an alternative form. Take, “The Hound” for example: in its default form, it sports a big mini-gun that gradually powers up to full-speed, dealing massive amounts of continuous damage. This is great, if there is simply one enemy after another to take down. But, if there are two enemies across from one another, switching The Hound into its secondary form transforms the vehicle into a bipedal machine which sports a flamethrower on each arm, allowing it to roast two nearby enemies at once.
Some enemy towers are great at countering specific vehicle forms, so players have to literally stay ahead of the game by constantly checking the tactical map to know what is coming. Heading down a road unprepared will certainly get you killed.
Anomaly 2 is not your typical lazy tower defense game. It’s badass, action-packed, and you’ll only survive by the skin of your teeth. With four difficulty settings that can be switched at the start of every level, the game ensures that all types of players will be able to find a challenge within the game’s hostile, ice-covered, environments.
Anomaly 2 is set to be released May 15th, pre-ordering through the official website gets buyers some pretty neat bonuses.