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.
Cannon Brawl is a 2D real time strategy game currently in development for Xbox and PC. The game features destructible terrain and firing mechanics similar to Worms, but is also all about building towers and expanding your influence around each stage. The player controls a blimp that handles controlling and commanding the field. Fly your airship over to your HQ and you’ll be able to select turrets, shields and other towers to build. When the towers are complete, you can pick them up and fly them to any buildable location within your ‘Sphere of Influence’ – represented by a subtle colored bubble that matches your team.
Cannon Brawl is all about your airship; it’s your general. Not only does it build and delivery structures, but you also use your blimp to enter both offensive and defensive turrets. Enter a cannon with your airship, then aim and fire Worms-style. Enter a defensive turret, and use your sticks to direct your protective shields. You’ll also use your airship to upgrade and repair units – all while cannonballs, lasers, and nukes are flying around.
The best thing about Cannon Brawl is the pace of the match. When you start off, you’ll actually wait a little bit as you take on each task one at a time. You’ll build some turrets, place them, and take a shot at your opponent every once and awhile. As more units are placed on the field, the decisions and tasks that you have quickly multiply and things become hectic really quickly. It’s one of the more manic RTS games that I’ve played. The simplified units and action oriented gameplay should draw in gamers that don’t traditionally like the strategy genre – while strategy fans may not like the fast pace of Cannon Brawl’s matches.
Cannon Brawl is very polished with bright colorful graphics and dynamic battle music. Upon completion the game will feature over 6 different airships, a single player campaign, local and online multiplayer.
Local competitive multiplayer is back! Samurai Gunn, developed by Beau Blythe, was nominated for Excellence in Design at this year’s Independent Games Festival and while it did not win, the game is still a blast to play. Samurai Gunn is a 2-4 player local multiplayer game. Each player is equipped with a sword and a gun, though the gun only has 3 shots per life. First player to rack up 10 kills wins the match. One hit kills, but both sword and bullet attacks can be reflected with skill and timing.
Samurai Gunn is incredibly easy to pick up and play, but hard to master. Levels wrap around vertically and horizontally so it’s important to keep an eye on your character and keep moving. After losing my first few matches, I learned how to utilize the directional buttons for downward gunshots and devastating sword uppercuts. There’s also the cunning tactic of hiding among the dead bodies that pile up throughout the level. With the game’s stylish anime inspired death highlights and fast paced action, I found myself yearning for more maps to battle on. I found it very hard to put down my NES controller (nice touch BTW) and move onto the other games.
All the games in the IGF have been approved for Steam, so I hope to see Samurai Gunn released at some point with a lot more content. It would be great to have online multiplayer and some form of single player tournament or practice mode in a final release. Check out Beau Blythe’s website for more information and updates on Samurai Gunn.
Kachina was one of my favorite games that I played at the Media Indie Exchange Mixer during GDC. The game is made by Ben Esposito, who helped with the visuals of Unfinished Swan. He opted to leave Giant Sparrow after he put together the prototype for Kachina during Molyjam. The game is described as a physics based toy drawing from Hopi Native American culture.
The game has a unique look that blends Katarmi Damacy’s bright 3D look with a flat minimalist 2D color palette. Kachina can best be described as a sandbox puzzle game. In the game, you control a hole. That’s right you play as a magical hole in the ground. You move the hole around with the mouse or by touching the screen and eat up objects in the play field. As objects plummet into the pit, the hole increases in size. The challenge of the game is figuring out how objects interact with one another and solving each scene’s puzzle.
Each level has its own unique objective. Sometimes it’s as easy as swallowing up everything in sight, but most are more complex. One puzzle required me to help the chickens cross the road. In Kachina, this is achieved by sucking them down into your magical abyss and then spitting them out on the other side of the road. Don’t let the simple mechanics fool you, Kachina does a good job of introducing new objects that keep things interesting and fun. Frogs latch onto things or can eat flies with their tongue and later you can even fill your hole with water and spit it up to saturate a cloud.
Kachina is being developed for PC, Mac and iOS in Ben’s spare time. Check out the official Kachina page to keep up to date on this game’s progress.
I am not one for tower defense games. I know a lot of people are, but for me, they’re just not that entertaining. There are a few exceptions, such as Kingdom Rush and Revenge of the Titans, but largely, I rarely approach the genre. A few years ago, I discovered Orcs Must Die, a third-person tower defense game that had players running around through castles and dungeons, attempting to hold off waves of orcs, trolls, goblins and other nasty creatures. Players were given a number of trap types to strategically place through the levels, and a crossbow to use to pick off a few monsters through the mass waves. While similar in nature, Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves goes above and beyond it’s genre predecessors, adding in lots of cool little mechanics that help create a very memorable experience.
Jack and Jos are the two heroes of Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves, and their sister has just come into town, right in the middle of a werewolf outbreak. The game revolves around protecting the log cabin home, and other local buildings (hen house, the mill, etc) throughout the night. At sundown every evening, players are given a map which shows what sort of werewolves will be approaching, and what buildings they will be heading to. With this knowledge, players are required to position traps throughout the area, in order to destroy, or at the very least impede, the beast’s progress.
Players can lay out fire barriers that the wolves will not cross unless they have to, allowing the player to divert some of the beasts around through a longer pathway, buying some extra time. Bait can also be used to slow down the wolves, as they will be unable to resist stopping to munch on the dead animals. Tree traps are available, and consist of a large net, holding up boulders, strung through the trees. Shooting these tree traps will break the ropes, and drop the boulders on anything below…like some wolves munching on bait. There are many other traps that unlock as progress is made through the game: spike traps, bear traps, essentially anything that is time relevant to a hunter of the 1850s…and maybe a few other outlandish surprises.
Much like a real hunter would need to, players must take into consideration sound and wind, while out defending at night. Shooting the rifle, or shouting, will be heard by any beast in the vicinity, and they will break off of their paths, to investigate. This is both a blessing, and a curse. A smart player would use the diversion to bring other beasts off of their paths, and into crossover zones, to get multiple waves trapped together. However, if the player finds themselves in a pinch, and shoots off their rifle, more trouble will soon follow if they don’t leave the area quickly. On top of using sound to lure creatures, simply kiting a monster along just by using your scent, is a possibility. Just be careful they don’t get too close.
Players are armed with a musket. Since it’s the 1850s, reloading a musket is no simple process. After expending the single shot, players who wish to reload must do so, stationary, over the course of about ten seconds. Right-clicking helps speed the process up, but there are still about eight seconds where the player is completely vulnerable. Luckily, there is a mechanic called “fear factor” that comes into play here.
The fear factor is a bar on the user-interface that moves depending on how afraid the beasts around you are. Shouting and killing them, increases their fear, but over time they will become bolder and move in on you. The fear factor meter will shrink over time, and once its gone, the beasts attack. During the pre-night setup, players can strategically place bonfires where they feel they might have to make a strong stand against multiple beasts. Lighting a bonfire, and standing within it’s area-of-effect radius, provides a nice boost to the player’s fear factor, allowing multiple shots with the rifle, to be made. The wolves will prowl around the edge of the bonfire’s light, waiting until either they’re bold enough to attack…or until the bonfire goes out. It’s a very spooky scenario to be in.
In between levels, players can visit the local town, where they can purchase extra supplies, upgrades, and have their weaponry and munitions blessed by the nuns to do extra damage to the hellish beasts.
Dungeon Dashers is a slick and instantly enjoyable dungeon crawler. It features 4 different characters (Assassin, Knight, Ranger, Wizard) all with their own abilities which can be used for some interesting puzzle solving for each level. The controls are really simple to grasp and as the name implies, the game moves really quickly. The game combines a lot of great things in a streamlined fashion. There is a turn-based combat system which is barely noticeable because of the speed of the turns. Turns actually vanish if you are not in combat so the game can feel like a puzzle game and a roguelike RPG depending on the level and circumstances. It’s quite awesome.
Dungeon Dashers promises traps, multiple styles of play, tons of replayability, additional challenges and objectives and online multiplayer. Honestly, the whole package sounds too good to be true. The graphics are really nostalgic without being too chunky and pixelated. This game is coming along great, be sure to checkout our preview in 2012 for even more impressions and information.
Dungeon Dashers is still in-development but can be purchased in it’s current state for $10 from the game’s official website. Be sure to follow the developer on twitter @JigxorAndy
Move over League of Legends, Dungeon Defenders II is introducing a whole new competitive Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) that borrows a lot of elements from League of Legends but makes the game more approachable and brings in the action to a 3rd person action perspective. At PAX East, I was able to play a 5v5 competitive match. The new game mode featured all the trappings of League of Legends; there were 3 different paths to each base, defensive towers prevent your approach, and each hero has their own set of abilities and upgrades. The big change is this MOBA features Dungeon Defenders bright and colorful graphics and promises to make the popular genre more approachable for casual players.
The Competitive mode already boasts 24 heroes and the exact number for release could creep up to 30+. Those worried about losing that Dungeon Defenders Tower Defense mechanics have nothing to worry about. While the MOBA mode will be released first, DDII will still support and feature a fully cooperative tower defense game. Trendy Entertainment isn’t just mimicking Riot Game’s core competitive gameplay, it’s also trying it’s hand at League of Legends Free 2 Play model. Dungeon Defenders will be entirely Free 2 Play when it’s released.
The game will launch with 1 map with more heroes and maps coming after release. For more information on Dungeon Defenders 2, check out the game’s official website.
Escape Goat 2 is a sequel to the original puzzle platformer, Escape Goat. The game revolves around solving single-room puzzles as the level shifts and moves around you. Escape Goat 2 was only announced back in January, but is already coming along extraordinarily. This is in part due to the fact that Ian Stocker of MagicalTimeBean has actually split up the workload and is working with an artist and another programmer who helped him on the new lighting engine. The game is prettier than ever, but the core gameplay elements, twisting puzzle rooms, and magical mouse companion all remain intact. Perhaps the biggest change in the game is the much more linear approach. In the first game, you could choose which group of levels you wanted to tackle via an overworld hub. In the sequel, the game will be much more linear, but there will be secret doors and branching paths off of the core levels. Even this early build of the game had tight controls and some tough puzzles. Keep an eye out for more on Escape Goat 2 by visiting MagicalTimeBean’s official website or following Ian on twitter @MagicalTimeBean.
Last year at PAX East, Capybara’s Super T.I.M.E. Force was the game that had me wetting myself with anticipation. I was lucky enough to play the newest build this year at PAX and was taken aback by the new time control and strategy elements. The game hasn’t changed. You still play as a member of the elite time travelers force known as the Temporal Inevitability Manipulation Experts – or T.I.M.E., the big changes in this game are the balance and new features. Last year, when your character died you were automatically returned to the start of the level. It kept the game hectic and fun as you plowed through enemies with the gatling gun, sniper or shield character. Now that the game is closer to release on XBLA, it is clear that our temporal experts have a lot more control of time than we were lead to believe. When you die, you now have full control of rewinding time and spawning a new character in whatever location that you like. Deaths are clearly marked with red skulls on the timeline so that you can focus on saving past instances of yourself.
The ability to control your spawn point in the timeline adds a ton of strategy and that’s needed with the new time constraint to each level. Each level now features a time limit along with a certain number of lives. This limit can luckily be extended by picking up time bonuses throughout the level. The new version also featured a brand new super funky fresh Lizard with sunglasses character. This newest member of the force is all about melee combat and can even scratch and reflect bullets. The game also boasts a brand new co-op mode so that this intense and fun shooter can be shared with a friend.
Super T.I.M.E. Force is shaping up to be a huge hit for Xbox Live. It’s instantly fun and over the past year the team has added more depth, challenge and multiplayer features. Super T.I.M.E. Force is expected to be released for XBLA Spring 2013. You can stay up to date on the game by checking out Capy’s official blog.
On Friday, I was lucky enough to be sent a preview-build of Pixelscopic’s upcoming platformer-roguelike, Delver’s Drop. You might remember us discussing Delver’s Drop, earlier this month when the Kickstarter campaign and new website, went live. In preparation for PAX East later this month, and more than likely to get an extra boost of well-deserved publicity, Pixelscopic sent out a preview-build of Delver’s Drop’s “Endless Drop” mode.
As this was my first hands-on experience with Delver’s Drop, I was able to see first-hand that the artistic talent at Pixelscopic is a force to be reckoned with; Delver’s Drop is gorgeous. The style is very cartoony, but every aspect of it is perfect, and nothing feels out of place. The shadows, the pieces of slain enemies flying about, the bobbing of the protagonist as he runs to and fro, everything all comes together beautifully.
How the Endless Drop mode works is that players are given the simple task of seeing how far they can drop. Each level has a pit that Delver can fall into, that takes him to the next level. Sometimes the pits are closed and only open when all the enemies in a particular level are cleared out, other times Delver must trip a switch that opens the closed pit, and sometimes the pit is already open and players must simply survive the level long enough to get to the pit. In Delver’s way are various enemies, like phantoms and giant rats, and obstacles like pits (not the kind you are trying to fall into) and auto-firing cannons. Luckily, scattered through the levels are crates and pots to smash that will occasionally contain weaponry and life-replenishing ham shanks.
“The big differences from the main campaign,” Pixelscopic CEO and co-founder, Coby Utter, explained to me in regards to this secondary game mode, “is not having contiguous rooms and levels, and thus [there is] no exploration, no narrative, and only a very loose sense of progress. We decided to send out this mode, as it was easier for us to ensure that fewer WIP things would be shown/noticeable, because there are still large chunks of things missing from the main campaign.”
The preview build only allowed me to play as the rogue character, but that’s fine, as that is what I would have picked anyway. At first, I was a little thrown-off by how slippery the rogue maneuvered about. It felt like I was running on ice. However, I quickly got used to the carried momentum and everything was fine in no time. Using my Xbox 360 controller made things much easier for me to control, and I ended up doing better than when I tried playing with the mouse and keyboard. Both ways controlled great, it is simply a matter of preference.
I asked Coby how the other two revealed character classes (sorcerer and barbarian) would feel, in comparison to the rogue.
“The sorcerer actually floats a bit,” Coby explained, “so he has an innate advantage when it comes to pits, but he will also be a bit more difficult to control…The barbarian will feel the least “slippery” out of all the characters. He’ll have a very high grip, but lower acceleration and top speeds. In some ways, he will be easier to control, but also difficult to move nimbly.”
The rogue, the sorcerer, and the barbarian are just three of the five character classes that will be available upon the game’s launch. Pixelscopic is letting the Kicksterter funders choose what the fourth and fifth characters will be. Coby told me that they have a handful of options for those fourth and fifth characters, and that the team would be releasing them soon, as they are finishing up some concept art for them.
As an incentive to fund the game, Pixelscopic is offering a bonus, sixth, character for people who back the game at the $50 mark. For more information on incentive rewards, do visit the Kickstarter page for Delver’s Drop. The campaign has a little over a week left, and Pixelscopic is just around $12,700 under their goal. Help out if you can, and if you can’t spare the change, spread the word.