Ben Kane, from Going Loud Studios, has put up a bit of a “year in review” post-mortem piece on his blog that gives a pretty good indication of how things went. All in all, I would say not bad, but I still hope he can find success on other platforms, specifically for DLC Quest which, for those that didn’t know, was one of my favorite games of 2011. Also I reviewed it favorably.
DIYGamers Ryun and Matt Starsoneck were provided with free codes to play Going Loud Studios’ twin-stick shooter/RPG Lair of the Evildoer, which retails for 80 MS Points, for the first ever Community Review. The goal was to get different DIYGamers directly involved with playing the games and talking about them, in an effort to get different feedback to the developers and spice things up for the readers.
We hope to have a couple more reviewers in each piece in the future, but for now it’s nice to see where two dedicated DIYGamers/XBLIG fans agree and disagree with regards to Going Loud’s execution of Lair of the Evildoer. While the verdict seems split, we’ll leave it to the comments below to rock the vote!
Andromatta sets the stage for the beginning:
The game starts off with a pretty standard tutorial and story. The main character is a creation of Dr. Odious and must follow his instructions by twin-stick shooting through a few waves of enemies until the doctor deems him unworthy of life… Dr. Odious spends the first moments of the game insulting and making fun of him, and I found myself laughing out loud once or twice. Unfortunately, once I escaped from the first two stages, he is not heard from for most of the game. There are still a few humorous aspects to the game. In later levels the player is confronted by ‘Zombees” and their stronger and less successfully punned ‘Zomhornets”, and every now and then there are computers terminals with short notes presumably written by the doctor. Sadly, this humor is pretty scarce past the intro.
On Graphics and Sound:
Ryun: The soundtrack is not half bad itself. If you spend too much time on a floor, you may find it getting annoying due to the repetiveness of each track. Sound FX wise the game did pretty good.
Graphics were nice. Each floor was nicely detailed and there were quite a number of different enemy types with a coloring system for the “Superior” effect enhanced versions. However, the animation for those enemies was lacking, and they all just would rush at you attacking in the same manner.
Andromatta: The art style… is very cartoony and doesn’t seem to come together as a whole. The differing perspectives of the floors, characters, and walls give the game an odd feel. Enemies show little life as they bounce, unanimated towards the main character. However, the art, design, and programming were all created by a one man team, so I can forgive the lack of detail here, and about halfway through playing, it didn’t seem to bother me any more.
The music is also a bit odd, ranging from droning guitar tracks with strong percussion under them, then to eerie atmospheric choral sounds, and finally to upbeat dance tunes. Rarely does the soundtrack fit the mood of the game, but some of it is fun to listen to. Not entirely memorable, but not bad. The sound effects are an assortment of clips from free sources, and they do their job.
Ryun: I always come in with fairly low expectations for the budget indie titles and didn’t expect much, but Lair of the Evildoer delivered more than I expected. On the positive side, each level’s randomized layout was amazing. I cleared each floor before proceeding to the next. The hunt for weapons was fun for a while, but some primary weapons outweigh others, and I soon found myself not sticking with one gun. However, I can see the replayability by trying to beat it with just using one weapon type.
Andromatta: [The gameplay] handles quite familiarly; left stick moves and right stick aims primary, secondary, and melee weapons. Levels consist of doors, rooms, and hallways, with enemies, boxes, explosive barrels, traps, and chests scattered throughout via random generation. The titular Lair is 20 stories tall, with each level being randomly generated for a different experience for each playthrough, though I’m pretty sure I got my fill the first time around.
Unfortunately, this entry in the rising trend of random generation just gives off the feeling of uninspired, and sometimes linear, level design. Each floor plays exactly the same, except with a new enemy or trap added to make it more difficult. This helps break part of the monotony, but every one of these enemies has the same attack pattern (save for the turrets, which just shoot at you), which is a kamikazi charge at the player until it dies or kills the player. This makes the game very easy, as every situation can be handled by backpedaling and shooting your pursuers. The penalty for death is to play the current floor over again, which at the lower levels can get rather frustrating, as dying at the end of the progressively longer levels stings quite a bit.
The variety of weapons that is included is a nice way to keep things interesting, and there is a great quick comparison button for seeing if the weapon on the ground is better than the one you’re currently holding. Like most dungeon crawling RPGs, weapons and enemies have a chance at being special and enhanced over their vanilla versions. What can be frustrating about this, however, is the random nature of these special enemies can cause unfair challenges. More than a few times I have died at the end of a level because I ran into a ‘Superior Turret’ that exploded upon being destroyed and couldn’t be harmed by bullets, only melee weapons; killing it also meant killing me.
At 3 hours of gameplay, it is beatable in one sitting, but I don’t think I’ll be back for any more. That being said, at a dollar, if you are a fan of the twin-stick shooter or games that constantly throw weapon drops at you, it’s definitely worth a try.
Ryun on improvements:
A few of the downsides to the game can easily be remedied with a sequel I’d love to see, such as co-op and maybe even some deathmatch on the randomized levels would be great fun. A new game+ mode would be nice because once you beat it your character saves at “Ground Floor”. More animations for the enemies would be nice, as well.
[DIYGamers, be sure to give Going Loud Studios' Lair of the Evildoer a try for free. It should help in deciding whether to make the purchase.]
Xbox Live Indie Games Canadian developer Going Loud Studios recently released its polished twin-stick action RPG title: Lair of the Evildoer. Each game playthrough features 20 procedurally generated levels, over 30 types of enemies, and 25 weapon types with dozens of variations.
Thanks to the random generation, the game has a looting element that requires multiple playthroughs to get all the weapons. As customary in most RPGs, players will also be able to level up their stats. While Lair of the Evildoer sounds like a typical hack ‘n slash, players must remember the twin-stick part. There’s a whole lot of shooting going on here.
Lair of the Evildoer has a polished UI: HP/XP/Weapon-P and map that don’t seem to clutter the screen. Going Loud Studios has also edited a solid trailer that highlights what gamers can expect.
While the game may or may not be everyone’s cup of tea, this XBLIG developer has put together a package that is worth press. Clean trailers with a lot of illustrative gameplay, press releases and websites that list the game’s selling points (innovative or otherwise) and multiple contact points (including social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook) are all what make a good developer/press relationship!
To commemorate this great release, let’s do a little contest!! Post in the comments below your favorite Canadian indie developer for a chance to win a free code for Going Loud Studios‘ latest XBLIG title: Lair of the Evildoer.