We’ve covered the convoluted tale of Mutant Mudds before here. One of the highest rated games on the 3DS in general, and probably the best-recieved game on the digital online store on the platform. Developers Renegade Kid are making the jump to PC, and the heavily-upgraded PC version of the game (jokingly referred to as Mutant Mudds: Granny Edition) is nearly here. The problem is that it’s been rejected from Steam already. Repeatedly.
The good news is that the game is already lined up with several other stores, such as GOG, Gamersgate and such. Still, it looks like the only real hope the game has of landing on Steam at this point is the new Greenlight public voting system, due sometime in the next couple weeks. Anyway, enough doom and gloom – here’s a peek at the PC version in the newly released trailer:
As you can see, they’ve gotten around the lack of depth perception from the 3DS version by just using depth-of-field effects to help define the front and back layers of the action. I also can’t help but notice that the PC version seems to contain a ‘CGA World’. That four-colour palette is nostalgic stuff for PC gamers who grew up through the 80s, although I have a feeling the joke is going to be lost on much of the newer generation.
Mutant Mudds is due out on the 30th of August, and will likely set you back around $10. We’ll be trying to weasel an official review copy out of the developers to help you figure out whether it’s worth the money.
A recent arrival to the indie gaming scene, The Hohng Company, recently released their newest game, Cubistry. Cubistry is an addictive 3D puzzler, where you control a complicated cube in hopes of being able to match smaller cubes, and in turn, destroying the larger, encompassing cube. The gameplay has you moving the cubes around and matching them in a way that I can only describe by relating it to a Rubik’s cube. You don’t play Cubistry in the proper way of a Rubik’s cube though, you play it like when you used to dismantle a Rubik’s cube as a kid and put it back together in hopes of fooling your friends (you can’t deny it). Moving the smaller cubes around is simple though, and can be done with either a mouse or a keyboard, making it scarily easy to get lost in the puzzle itself, not worrying about having to remember how to do each move.
The graphics of Cubistry are a little… odd. Its unique look is reminiscent of a patchwork quilt, with a distinctly dissonant feel. I think this look is great, but I’m sure there are plenty of gamers who might find it a bit nauseating.
Cubisty was released on August 15, 2012 and is free-to-play (albeit having a few ads on the “game over” screen) on Windows platforms. The Hohng Company is also looking to release versions for both the Google Play Store, and Chrome’s App Store in the near future.
Fans of quirky, and addictive puzzlers with a unique graphical style can download Cubistry from their website and check it out.
Just look at that screenshot above. Click it, so you can see it in full. Now, putting aside for a moment the fact that it looks more like a menacing dragon than a goblin, let it act as a reminder of just how astonishingly pretty Frozenbyte’s fairytale puzzle-platformer Trine 2 was, and still is. Let’s also remember that Trine 2 was one of the best indie releases in recent memory, offering a meaty, clever adventure under all those stunning graphics. Good, now we can be fittingly excited that it’s getting bigger – coming this Autumn is the official expansion, Goblin Menace. Here’s the also-lovely-looking trailer:
A new story arc, six new levels set across some very fresh-looking environments, and new abilities for all three of the playable characters. Interestingly, the new powers can also be used in the original campaign, which should add a little more replay value to the old content as well. Sounds like a fairly hefty bunch of new content. There’s no specific release date or price tag set on this one yet, but Frozenbyte have announced that the game will be re-launching under the banner of ‘Trine 2: Directors Cut‘ when Goblin Menace arrives.
You can find the official (and rather spartan) press-release here. Included with it is a large gallery of similarly beautiful screenshots – worth a look, I reckon.
It always struck me as odd that the Newgrounds crew that produced Castle Crashers would ignore their patron platform for so long. Fortunately, time heals all wounds, and the immensely popular 4-player co-op brawler is finally migrating back to PC, and it’s confirmed for a Steam launch too, to boot. You can read the specifics (of which there aren’t too many) in this official forum post here. Here’s the PS3/360 version trailer, too, just in case you’ve forgotten what it looks like:
There’s no release date set yet, but they’re going to be demoing the updated PC version of Castle Crashers at Gamescom, starting tomorrow, as well as their upcoming anarchic combat-platformer BattleBlock Theater at PAX, starting August 31st. From the sounds of things, all the character and cosmetic DLC from the various console editions is getting rolled into the PC version from the start, which is nice. We’ll be taking a poke around the PC version once it launches to see what has changed over the years, if anything.
Two news stories for the price of one! One eagerly-awaited indie release, and a slightly more mainstream game that remains so obscure that publisher Atlus have filed it under ‘indie’ as well. No joke. Well, if it’s that small-time, then it’s only right to give it a fair mention as well.
Tower Wars has been in semi-public beta for a while. Simply put, it’s Vs Tower Defense. Both players behave like they’re playing a standard hex-based TD game, maze-pathing, tower-upgrading and all, but you’re also aiming to upgrade your troops to best cope with the defenses that your enemy is placing on the other side of the map. I’ve only given this one a passing glance so far, but I’ve heard very positive things about it. Hard not to like the cartoony steampunk aesthetic, too.
Hailing from the east, and small Japanese studio System Prisma is Cladun X2 (Cladun being a portmanteau of Classic Dungeon). A formerly PSP-exclusive arcade dungeon-crawl with a sense of humour and a focus on ridiculous stat-padding. Not so much a roguelike, but this one has plenty of random dungeons. It was generally well recieved on the PSP. No word on how well it’s made the jump from handheld to desktop has gone, but it’s good to see a JRPG publisher as influential as Atlus releasing stuff on PC. Here’s hoping we see something from the excellent Disgaea franchise next, eh?
Now here’s a paradox – an overwhelmingly atmospheric game set on the moon? Likelier than you think. We’ve covered Routine (from the fittingly named Lunar Software) a couple of times before, but now it’s really shaping up to be something special. A semi-roguelike-esque first person horror/exploration game. You’ve got one life, an uncertain environment around you, and a mission to discover why a moon-base has gone silent. Here’s some appropriately intense new footage:
And let this be a lesson to you: Gunfights in space are a very bad idea, even worse than gunfights on Earth. I’m digging what I’m seeing so far – what looks to be a rather more serious ‘hard’ sci-fi setting. No outlandish monsters, although some rather imposing robots and guys with guns. The game promises to be a more tactile experience than most, with Deadzone aiming (think along the lines of Red Orchestra or Arma) and little to no HUD. No health points, either. Injury is going to be handled more realistically here, too. Oh, and as mentioned, you’ve got one life. Death resets everything, and things might play out very differently next time round.
There’s no fixed release date yet for Routine, although the developers have ballparked it for 2013. Keep an eye on IGM for more big reveals as they happen, as well as the official site for the game.
Gravity – the Gay Force – it brings us all together, and stops us from floating off into space. It causes the tides and we’d have 100% less falling-related injuries and casualties if we were to abolish it. Force: Leashed by Kepuli Games isn’t about eliminating gravity, but you do get to control it, albeit in limited form.
Working a bit like Cipher Prime’s Auditorium, but first-person and 3D, and grungy and industrial instead of abstract and musical. Your goal in Force: Leashed is to guide streams of particles from their emitters to a target. To do this, you place floating ‘attractor’ crystals with their own gravitational power, and use them to bend the path of the particle stream to a target goal. Enough successive hits on the target, and your path opens to the next areas, where you do it again with a little more complexity.
Of course, it’s never that simple. The attractors you place (a very limited number of them) are colour-coded, and certain walls will change the colour of the particle stream when bounced off, so you might need one red attractor to bend the stream into a blue wall, then use your remaining blue attractors to bend it the rest of the way to the exit.
This gets more complex the further you play, with ‘wind’ in effect in some areas, blowing certain colours in a certain direction, or emitters that spit out alternating blue & red particles, requiring some more creative attractor placement. While each level does expand a little on a single concept, each new stage usually introduces some fresh element to the gameplay. It shouldn’t take a huge amount of time to conquer the 11 levels (each of which has multiple stages), but there’s some brainteasers in there.
Of course, being developed so quickly, there’s unrefined elements here. There’s some misaligned textures here and there, and the actual movement physics of the particle stream is a little unpredictable. The attractors feel like they might exert a little too much force in too small a radius, often requiring you to slingshot the particles to their target, rather than just precisely bending their course. Still, it’s all very consistent, even if not the most intuitive.
Force: Leashed was originally an entry into the 7 Day FPS development contest, although there’s really not much in the way of shooting going on here. It was later re-entered into the Assembly 2012 game-dev competition and came away with the silver medal. While I think there could have been more done with the aesthetic (it’s all rather Half-Life 1, although it runs on an updated Quake 1 engine), this is a really nice piece of work and worth your time if you’re looking for something brain-teasing to play.
This isn’t the longest or most polished game, but it’s an impressive show of what can be done in a short time these days. The release of this also reminds me that Assembly 2012 has come, been and done this year. While the results pages haven’t yet rolled out on Demoscene hub Pouet.net, the contest results themselves are in. Force: Leashed is good stuff for sure – we’ll be taking a look at Lavalanche, the #1 prize winner soon.
Force: Leashed is freeware and available to download from the official site now for Windows, Mac & Linux PCs.
It’s been a few months since we last checked in on William and his luminous friends in Okugi Studios’ upcoming tower defence, Shad’O. When we last saw the Shad’O it was coming along quite nicely, showing off a different style of tower defence that set it apart from its oversaturated genre. The screenshots were a nice way to show off just how gorgeous this game actually is, but didn’t give us much in the way of gameplay footage to get drool over.
This problem has been corrected.
The art style is as impressive as I remember. The brilliant contrast between the dark fog of forgetfulness and the bright light of William’s memory give each level a dramatic feel to them that I just love. Whether you try to return the light to a dark forest full of evil looks or warm a barren snow covered land, Shad’O looks to be an incredibly visual experience.
The thematic elements of the game are equally present in the creatures. The dark ones look like something out of a child’s nightmare, while the luminous would look at home on a kid’s TV show. The boss creatures are on an entirely different level though, the detail in their design and animation is several steps above that of the regular minions They just look downright imposing when it comes down to it.
The gameplay in the video certainly isn’t anything to ignore either. While the several of the genre’s standards like the upgrade and spell system are here Okugi put a nice twist on the genre. Having to strategically think about using your stored light to drive back the fog and place the turrets adds another layer of depth to the tower defence experience that I’m quite interested to try out.
Combine all that with the story of how William fell into the dark like he did and you have one very interested writer. Shad’O will be available on September 4th at Steam, Desura, GameStop, Amazon and more. If you want to see some more of Shad’O you can take a look at Okugi Studios’ site.
Indie Royale may not be as big and burly as other indie bundle sites, but they’re not really trying to be. Their mission statement focuses more on increasing coverage of obscure, lesser-known indie games. Today, they’ve rolled out yet another bundle of six for a variable Pay What You Want price-tag. Here’s what’s on offer this time:
So, first up is Sol: Exodus. An old-school (although leaning towards the arcade side of things) space shooter that I’ve heard an impressively broad range of things about. From what I can gather, it was rather ropey at launch, and through a series of major updates has improved significantly. It’s unlikely to dethrone any of the genre classics, but there’s a fair bit of spaceship shooting to be done here.
Second is All Zombies Must Die. Again, mixed vibes on this one. It’s a more open-world, involved sorta arcade zombie-shooter than it’s predecessor Burn, Zombie, Burn, and that seems to have been a bit of a double-edged sword. What it gains in freedom and variety, it loses in terms of sheer score-hunting focus. Still, reviews for it have been generally positive, and there are definitely worse ways to spend your time shooting virtual zombies.
Third is Cubemen. RTS meets Tower Defense in an abstract, blocky world populated by… well, little men made of cubes. Heard solid things about this one, and there’s much more of a competitive edge than usual for the genre, as you’re often going up directly against enemy forces, positioning your little cube-people in order to get the best weapon coverage while keeping covered from counter-fire.
Fourth is the weird one of the bunch. Squids is apparently a rubberband-flinging artillery puzzle RPG. One description I’ve heard is Angry Birds meets Final Fantasy Tactics. Never played it myself, but with a description that downright weird, I feel compelled to at least give this one a try. The art-style is bright and cute, and the theme already has me quietly humming ‘Under The Sea’ to myself. But you probably don’t have that problem… right?
Last is another pair of XBLIG refugees. This time, the Platformance series – Castle Pain & Temple Death. Cute little minimalist platformers with an interesting twist – the entire game takes place on a single screen, normally viewed up-close. You can zoom all the way out to see the entire game-world, and the level design takes advantage of this clever interconnectedness from time to time, with older areas being changed by your actions, opening new paths. Simple, twitch fun. Also rock hard and maddeningly frustrating. Not for casual play, then.
The first three games are all Steam activated (All Zombies Must Die being Steam-exclusive), while the rest are Desura-only. Sadly, the only games in this bundle to offer Mac support are Cubemen & Squids. Everything else is Windows only. As standard for Indie Royale, there’s some additional music if you’re willing to pay a few dollars over average, although any unlocked game-related goodies are usually covered by the base price.
Not Indie Royale’s greatest offering, but for a few dollars, it’s still good value. Check it out.
GZStorm have made a bit of a reputation for themselves as class clowns, with productions such as Vidiot Game and the legendary Shut Up And Jam: Gaiden. You’d be excused for thinking their latest $1 outing on both XBLIG and PC to be another weird, wacky and whimsical exercise in demented comedy. Well, the weird part is right, but The 4th Wall isn’t wacky, or comedic. Not even close.
Not even the developer can firmly classify The 4th Wall, although they kinda settled on describing it an as an ‘Abstract Horror Puzzler’. The best description possible, I think. It’s a first-person, abstract, minimalist horror/puzzling and not much else. There’s no intro, no setup, no story, but I think that works to its advantage. I don’t think they could cram any plot into the ridiculously small XBLIG file-size anyway – the game weighs in at a hair over 2 megabytes.
You begin on a large, flat plane. A wall of solid white to your left, a hissing wall of static to your right, and what might be a wall of darkness in front of you. Above, dangles a strange white… cord of some description. Beyond that, you know nothing. You navigate in traditional first-person fashion, although your interaction with the environment is largely limited to moving around and bumping into things. At first, nothing happens, but you might spot something moving, or a faint cue in the patterns on the floor, and you follow it.
Everything changes. The environment is ripped away from you and replaced with something else. You find yourself floating in endless black space with gazing eyeballs looking back at you, and the only escape being a solid pool of light in the far distance, which you travel towards… and fall into, and down, back onto the ground, and it all goes black. And then you’re back again, but there’s an outline of a body on the floor, and what looks like blood dripping from the slightly reddened cord above you. And then you notice something else, just moving in the corner of your vision.
And that’s the essence of The 4th Wall. There’s plenty more things to find, and interesting ends for your character to meet, and a strange sense of progression as your successes – or deaths, even – seem to add up. There’s shades of LSD: Dream Emulator here, although with a more nightmarish edge to it. It’s an experience, really – not so much a game, and more an exercise in exploring a hostile, abstract environment. There’s some light puzzle elements, but it can largely be boiled down to trial and error and a dash of intuition.
Due to the ridiculously small file-size, we’re not dealing with graphical or audio nirvana here, but the clanking footstep sounds, the odd, scattered audio cues and the overpowering hiss of the static wall are all it really needs. While there’s a few familiar elements of other things here – LSD or Yume Nikki, perhaps – this is a unique experience, and that by itself is worthy of a look.
Being as weird, experimental and as cheap as it is, it doesn’t seem fair to give The 4th Wall a numerical score. What I can do is recommend you at least try out the demo for PC or 360, and if the strange, oppressive atmosphere catches your attention at all, throw a buck at the developers. The quick-developed prototype version of the The 4th Wall is also available to download from GZStorm’s site too, and completely free, but they highly recommend that you play the newer version first.