Indie game news, reviews, previews and everything else concerning indie game development.

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Extra-Terraria – A First Look At ‘Planet Explorers’ Alpha v0.1

In the future, all worlds will be cuboid. At least, that seems to be the way things are going. After the enormous success of Minecraft, everyone wants a slice of that chunky, malleable environmental pie. First seen back in March, Planet Explorers caught our eye – similar in style to the upcoming Starforge, although with less of a focus on physics, and more on large-scale construction and defensive elements. The first playable alpha build has now been released via IndieDB, and is free for all to download. Here’s the V0.1 trailer to give you an idea of what to expect:

The very first impression the game makes is a technical one. The Unity engine really is ubiquitous now, isn’t it? It’s used in so many high-profile indie games – including Starforge and many of the 7DFPS entries – but it still feels surprising to see it, for some reason. The technology behind it is now solid enough to rival UDK and Cryengine, so it’s no shock, but it feels odd to see that familiar Unity configuration box pop up at startup. Right now, there only seems to be one playable character model – a human female – which I quickly recolored orange with green hair, because Oompa Loompas Vs Dinosaurs IN SPAAAAACE is a great concept, and you know it.

Despite being a first Alpha build, there’s already a fully narrated intro, showing you crash-landing tragically on a tropical planet during a colonization mission. From there, you begin the tutorial. This game definitely identifies itself as an RPG first and foremost. Traditional MMO-esque controls, and a wounded-but-talkative survivor of your crash is nearby to walk you through the basics of survival. In short: You’re kinda screwed. You’re on a beautiful, lush planet (and currently on a wide open plain with scattered trees) full of hungry dinosaurs, and all you have is a glowing blue sci-fi survival knife.

With not many other things to do, I hastily chopped down some trees in an optional first-person view, and (naturally) used the conveniently produced blocks to assemble a house for my ailing companion. The building interface is quite elegant – you can only lay blocks in straight lines, but as many as you like, and stacked on top of each other if you want. It’s not difficult to quickly draw out an enclosed little building. It feels a bit more like building in a strategy or management game than in a Minecraft clone. This hints at what the later stages of the game might play like – there’s less micromanagement of inventory here, and more building.

Your injured friend will give you a few basic quests – once you’ve gathered some wood with your knife, you’re given the blueprints to assemble an axe. The axe lets you gather wood more efficiently (you get more units of wood per tree chopped), and that lets you start putting up walls. You soon upgrade to being able to place defensive arrow turrets. Clearly, you’re assembling things using a pocket Replicator, as an intelligent auto-tracking arrow turret made entirely out of wood strikes me as a little silly. Very useful, though, as it’s quite easy to get a lot of dinosaurs chasing you, and melee combat is exceptionally slow and clunky.

I’ve not played much further beyond basic fortifications and defenses at the moment, but if the trailer above is any indication, things escalate quite impressively, with larger dino-aliens able to knock down buildings. Guess there’s a reason for those noisy cannon turrets as well as upgraded melee combat gear later on. I’ll be digging deeper into this over the coming week, and seeing what depths this early build holds. It’s pretty clearly a clunky Alpha build right now, but there’s an impressive amount of content and gameplay here already. Grab the latest build off IndieDB and give it a shot. Just be warned – it seems a little crash-prone in windowed mode. Full-screen seems to alleviate that somewhat.

So far, Planet Explorers plays weirdly like a blend of Minecraft, Starforge, an MMO and a Tower Defense game. It’s like a great big grab-bag of potentially addictive elements. It’ll be very interesting to see whether they can blend them in the right quantities to make a compelling whole, though. Pathea (the developers) estimate that the game will remain in Alpha through the summer, and graduate to Beta testing sometime in the Fall/Autumn. The final version? Well, maybe by Christmas, if we’re lucky. This one looks to be worth keeping a close eye on, though.


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8Bit Nom Nom Nom: ’8BitMMO’ Now With Playable Zombies

8BitMMO Dragon

It was actually a whole week ago that the S8.0 version of 8BitMMO was available but the developers have only just explained what changes are included within it. So blame them for the tardiness, definitely not us, nooo. Ahem.

If you’ve been trotting about the wonderfully retro sandbox construction landscape of 8BitMMO recently you would have noticed that you’ve been joined by a new race. We say “new” but zombies are the oldest thing in the book of “Things You Must Include In Your Game Nowadays”. Nevertheless, if you do fancy having a chomp on your fellow inhabitants then feel free to die and come back to life any time now.

What else do we have? Ah yes – the MegaMap is now a thing, which lets you browse the entire world in 8BitMMO through a handy interface. There’s to be a lot more player interaction as well now, which means touching and talking, yuck! Player trading will no doubt be welcomed by many, as well as the introduction of town doors to prevent any old would-be-ruiner marching into your town, you can also make trusted members “town officials” if you wish. With all of this interaction stuff comes player customization so you can look pretty and smart, or as we recluses prefer ‘comfortable’.

Now a word from our sponsor, um, I mean the developer:

“Numerous additional updates include a new weapon (the Pixel Pistol), whisper support, additional anti-grief protections, basic inventory sell-back support, and performance improvements.”

If you want to jump into 8BitMMO with the 30,000 or so people who are already a part of it, then you just need to head over to the website – it is free by the way. And just in case of these symbols upon this webpage mean nothing to you then there’s a trailer to showcase some of the cool new stuff in 8BitMMO.


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Test Dummy: ‘Crashtastic’ Alpha Version Now Playable

Crashtastic

Rocket propulsion is both exciting and highly dangerous, it’s also used to launch robots at various objects in the game Crashtastic. Starting off with a robot strapped to a chair, Crashtastic presents the player with various objectives such as reaching a certain speed or completing a small track with ramps and other such fun things. So, what the player will have to do, given that a robot in a chair isn’t great for mobility, is build a vehicle around the robot so that they (hopefully) complete the allocated objective.

It’s simple in concept but with the addition of physics to add to the varying success of your vehicle building abilities, Crashtastic offers replayability and laugh out loud moments by the bucket load. Think about it – granted you’re given specific items with which to construct a vehicle – but ultimately the player is given freedom to experiment with these parts as much as they want. Why build a standard car when you can make a completely different (and hopefully not inoperable) vehicle to complete the level.

If you want to give Crashtastic a go then today is the day of good news as the game is now playable in its alpha version for Windows only – the final version should be on Mac too. To get a hold of it you should head over to this page with £7.99 and spend away. You can get a glimpse of how the game plays out in the video below:

More information on Crashtastic can be found on the game’s official website.


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Dante Go Down There: ’99 Levels To Hell’ New Playable Build

99 Levels To Hell

Zaxis Games has released version 0.0.2 of 99 Levels To Hell which is very playable even in this early state – dungeon crawler fans, this is worth a try.

Dungeon crawlers may not be the most obscure type of game, in fact there’s quite a few of them around nowadays, but 99 Levels To Hell certainly garnered our attention and is continuing to do so. With top hat and giant moustache ready, the main character in the game awaits you to take control of him to shoot and dig his way out of the decrepit buried mansion he finds himself trapped. Why go down? Well, unfortunately for this gentleman the only way out is through hell – that’s got to suck.

Luckily, the game itself doesn’t stuck and after having a quick playthrough of this 10 level build, I found myself quite fond of the game’s quirky nature. With a mouse controlled sidescrolling shooter outset, combined with a dungeon crawler with roguelike elements – I could certainly see myself putting some decent hours into the game over its development. Bats, rats and more obscure creatures appear as you travel on down, shooting through the dirt like many a Minecraft venture and using bombs sparingly to grab the key vital to proceed to the next level. Your gun can also be used to shoot barrels and chests to collect gold which you can spend on items in the store.

One thing that stands out in the game is the atmosphere which still needs some work but definitely has the footholds established. This is achieved through the game’s lighting which keeps you in the dark about what’s up ahead but still highlights parts of the level for visual splendour. On top of that, the music and various sounds are not too creepy but certainly weird enough to throw you off at times with the odd “am I hearing things” thought going through my mind.

Well anyway, I implore you to try it out yourself, it’s a free download of course and can be grabbed with this link.

More information on 99 Levels To Hell can be found on the game’s official website.


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Through The Square Window: ‘Lilly Looking Through’ Teaser Trailer and Free Demo Released

Lily Looking Through

When you’re touting your game “as an adventure for all ages,” you’d better have the substance to back it up. If looks are anything to go by, however, it looks as though Geeta Games, creators of the upcoming Lilly Looking Through, are on the right track.

A pleasantly serene-looking animated adventure game, Lilly Looking Through appears to make good on its developers’ claims of magical enlightenment in a variety of vivacious, enchanting environments. The game’s protagonist, Lilly, having bore witness to a startling, life-changing revelation, is led by players through said landscapes in a quest to “rewrite the past, change the present and unlock the ultimate mystery,” according to Greeta.

Here’s a little teaser trailer, released earlier today, to introduce you to Lilly Looking Through‘s vibrant universe.


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‘Megabyte Punch’ Has A Playable Demo Worth Fighting For

Megabyte Punch

Reptile are making an adventure/fighting game called Megabyte Punch that is really quite fun, check out the demo yourself and/or make a pre-order!

Pitched as an “electro adventure/fighting game”, Megabyte Punch grabbed our attention right from the very start. It’s a sidescrolling game built in Unity and features, amongst many things, customizable fighting robots. Basically, you play as a robot that, upon defeating his foe, can take parts from other robots and attach them to itself to open up new abilities such as a projectile weapon or a higher jump.

We’ve had a little play of the demo and found Megabyte Punch to be well worth our time. The controls work like a treat and knocking a robot flying into the wall with a jumping kick which explodes and makes a hole in said wall is very satisfying. There’s plenty of depth and different options in the customizing of your robot and it each ability is easily managed by assigning them to the number keys.

Basically, if you have any spare time today, make sure you spend it playing the Megabyte Punch demo right here. If you like it as much as we do then you’ll be interested in helping out the developers and securing yourself a pre-order at about $8 which is 50% off the final release price.

More information on Megabyte Punch can be found on the game’s official website.


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No Joking – ‘Mushroom Kingdom Fusion V0.5′ Released

It's Mario! And.. is that a Metal Slug trooper guarding World 2?

Ever wake up and ask yourself, “Could Mario take Master Chief in a fight?” Want to know the answer?

Well, it’s April 1st, and we’re going to buck trends here and start out with a surprising-but-true story. After another two long years in development, the latest playable build of the absurdly ambitious Mushroom Kingdom Fusion has been released into the wild.

While this sprawling freeware PC platform crossover/mashup is still not quite complete (it really is absurdly ambitious), it already features well over a hundred fully playable levels set across a dozen worlds, featuring a huge range of playable characters, many of whom can adopt powers from other characters via power-ups.

Yes, that is Mario, dressed as Guile from Street Fighter, using his powers to navigate a windows Minesweeper board. And yes, that is Arthur from Ghosts & Goblins taking on a bullet hell shmup boss, possibly from DoDonPachi. If you haven’t figured it out already, MKF plunders just about everything for content and ideas, and has a real ‘everything and the kitchen sink too’ design ethos.

It seems almost inevitable that some corporate entity, somewhere, will eventually wake up just grumpy enough to smite this project with a cease-and-desist order, but I do hope that they can reach at least V1.0 before that happens. As messy and inconsistent as this game is, it’s a clear labor of love from a gleefully demented community and well worth some of your time, even in this unfinished state.

You can download the latest build of the game over at the MKF forums, although the installation at the moment is a little convoluted. Still on the fence? Well, have a shiny new launch trailer to push you over the edge.

You can find more info and gameplay videos on the MKF forums.


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Saccharine Slapstick: ‘KillFunYeah’ Alpha Is Free And Fabulous

KillFunYeah

Though in its alpha stage, KillFunYeah is a crazy-fun multiplayer 2D platform shooter that is currently free to download and play and oh is it worth it!

Violence in games is apparently a touchy subject with some people, but not when it’s blown to extreme proportions and made a megaton of fun! KillFunYeah is just about the right balance of hyperactivity and virile violence that makes my blood turn pink and sparkly. I love games that just go all out with colors, kinesis and cartoon violence and I have no problem whatsoever with adding KillFunYeah to the “Greats” in that style of game.

KillFunYeah is pretty easy to pick up – you just run around blasting anything that moves with your oversized weapons. There’s also an odd but cool mechanic that allows you to attract or repel projectiles to your advantage at a mere click of the mouse (and a holding of the Shift key).

Arctic Anteater are clearly insane and that’s just fine with me as long as they keep pouring that creative juice into their games, starting off with KillFunYeah of course. You want to see it don’t you? There’s a fun little video below but you can also play it! Right now! Yes, you can download KillFunYeah for free while it’s in its alpha stage from this little link here. Oh and it runs on Windows, Mac and Linux too.

More information on KillFunYeah can be found by trotting over to the official website.


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Scantily Clad Hack ‘N Slash Gameplay From ‘Age Of Barbarian’

Age of Barbarian

New gameplay footage of Age of Barbarian flaunts lots of skin, some gore and disruptive combat animations. Nostalgia is blinding sometimes.

I thought we had moved way past the time when games were about beuatiful people with no clothes on, with big weapons resulting in clunky combat. Nope. Crian Soft are making a series of games that look like they are graphical updates of games from the 80s – it’s all very bizarre. For instance, Karate Master and B.A.D. (irony?) are definitely games I played 20 years ago, just saying.

I have to admit though, and I am blaming nostalgia for this, there’s some inkling of appeal there still. I kind of like Age of Barbarian for all its jerk off…ahem, I mean jerkiness. It would probably be annoying to play if nothing else that the attack animations are far too long and can be so easily interrupted, but there’s a challenge in that somewhere, one we used to have to accept and workaround.

Anyway, check out the gameplay and see what you make of it, I guess:

You can find out more information on Age of Barbarian over on the official website. You can pre-order the game now and get 20% off too.


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”Children Of Liberty’ Gets A GDC Trailer, Alpha Now Playable

Children Of Liberty

In the name of all that is GDC, Lantana Games have released a trailer and a playable alpha for their stealth platformer set on the eve of the American Revolution, Children of Liberty.

When we first set eyes on Children of Liberty, we were impressed enough to call it one of the games that will surprise you in 2012.

“The player takes on the roles of four kids who become spies for Samuel Adams, on a mission to break their parents out of jail, while simultaneously helping the Patriots uncover the details of a British Conspiracy.”

The game is currently in its alpha stage but you can play it in your browser on the official website. You can also pre-order the game by donating at least $10 to the game’s development right here.

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You can find our more information on Children Of Liberty over on the developer’s official website.