Indies of Note (Part Two Billion!)

I can’t even begin to tell you how many small publishers contact me asking to check out their games in assorted forms of completion. No complaints at all on this as one thing I love is seeing how games come together. That said, I’m a wee bit backed up in codes thanks to all the medical stuff I’ve got going on, but I’ve been playing and compiling lists over the last few months on a few games you may want to take for a spin if you’ve a Steam or console account. Some of these are also on gog.com, gamejolt or itch.io, three of many other very awesome spots to get indie games you absolutely should check out even if you want to browse and be amazed at the variety on display. Actually, you can and should support indie games outright by at least playing demos where applicable and/or buying titles you like outright.

 

 

Mercenary Kings_PSMercenary Kings Reloaded Edition (PS4/PS3/Vita, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – Merry, merry, quite Contra-ry, what do we have here? A pretty damn awesome side-scrolling run ‘n gun from Montreal based independent game studio Tribute Games (Flinthook, Curses ‘N Chaos). Actually, it’s more like Metal Slug with a hefty crafting system and a more diverse cast of characters.

If you’ve played this previously, you’ll find the Reloaded edition adds a bunch of improvements that make this a great deal more accessible without lowering the difficulty. In addition to the stellar pixel art and animation, Tribute’s packed this one with tons of fun and challenge throughout, making a game that’s highly replayable and an excellent arcade experience that’s a must-buy no matter what you play it on. Now, if only Tribute would get Wizorb out on PS4, Vita and Switch, I’d be an even happier guy.

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The Elder Scrolls Online Goes Free Temporarily

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Well. As an Elder Scrolls purist, I’ve resisted the lure of paying for this online only experience for a few core reasons. But thanks to Bethsoft and Zenimax Online’s plans to reel more of us in, I’m going to finally put a few days in and see if I like what’s here. This free trial lasts until 11/20 and is open to PC, Mac and PS4 users. Even more tempting: until 11/29, the cost of the full game drops 67% to $9.89, so it seems this plan may work for both companies after all. Still, my backlog is massive and my time is limited, so I don’t expect to do much over this trial period other than create a character and kick a few tires. We shall see. You Xbox One users griping, fear not. Your very own free weekend is coming soon.

Another incentive to play if you’re over 18 and have a valid passport is this awesome contest with some great travel prizes. granted, you don’t have to play in order to enter. But I’m sure that gesture would be appreciated.

-GW

Cathedral: Decemberborn’s 8-Bit Take, An Instant Classic In The Making

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In the works since 2014, Cathedral instantly evokes the look, sounds and gameplay of classic Nintendo Entertainment System games to the point that you’d almost think someone went and discovered a hitherto unseen prototype circa 1987 or so. That title screen below looks exactly as it should and I’m betting a nickel you’re all smiling as that music from the talented Aron Kramer plays out.


 

Helsingborg, Sweden-based Decemberborn Interactive (lead by Lead Programmer Eric Lavesson) has been hard at work making sure their baby arrives on Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX based computers in as perfect form as can be. But it’s also a hopeful note from this writer that the game reaches consoles at some point. More specifically, anything with the Nintendo brand stamped across it. That would probably big a huge honor for a team striving to recreate a classic style of game and doing such a stellar job at it. Oh, you’d love to see some GAMEPLAY? Okay, that’s covered:


 

Yeah, that hit the spot, huh? More below the jump, so… JUMP!
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Gallery: DARQ

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Be afraid. Be very afraid.

With indie and AAA horror games being a dime a dozen these days, it’s going to take something really different to get some gamers jumping out of their seats and diving under their beds. Unfold Games has taken up the scare you halfway to death challenge with DARQ, their upcoming PC/Mac/Linux game that as you can see, certainly seems to have it going on in terms of delivering the frights.

So, what’s this stylistic and creepy psychological horror game about, you ask? Well, here’s what the official site says:

DARQ tells the story of Lloyd, a boy who becomes aware of the fact that he is dreaming. To Lloyd’s misfortune, the dream quickly turns into a nightmare and all attempts to wake up end in failure. While exploring the darkest corners of his subconscious, Lloyd learns how to survive the nightmare by bending the laws of physics and manipulating the fluid fabric of the dream world.

In DARQ, sound plays a very important role. There are sections of the game that take place in absolute darkness and in order to navigate the environment, Lloyd has to rely on the location of sounds.

 

Yep. If you’ve ever had those nightmares where you know you’re sleeping, but wake up all sweaty looking around the room only to have something bizarre take place as you realize you’re having a nightmare inside that nightmare, DARQ will be right up that dark alley you don’t want to travel through. Of course, you’ll be going thataway because that thing chasing you is keeping you from going backward. Oops.

Some imagery to keep you awake nights. As if that trailer didn’t get all crawly under your skin enough:

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While the game is still in development and doesn’t yet have a set release date other than TBA 2016, it sure is worth keeping an eyeballed peeled for. Let that image stick with you for the day (eww!). I’d say “have a good night”, but it’s early on a Friday morning. Still, you have to go home and sleep at some point, correct? My work here is done, then.

RIVE: Two Tribes’ Final Title Looks Like a True Treasure


 

15 years in the game development business is a long enough time to do a lot of different things and Two Tribes has indeed done just that and then some. The indie developer has decided to pack it (at least as far as making new games) in after a decade and a half of console and PC titles with what looks like a dangerously fun arcade-style romp called RIVE. The game has the look and feel of a classic Treasure game but with that even more notorious European difficulty scale that makes for a supremely challenging and highly replayable slice of nostalgia. If there’s a ‘Metal Wrecking, Robot Hacking Shooter’ sub-genre, my money is on RIVE being among the best of the best.


 

These guys at TT are going to be missed, but at least RIVE is coming out on multiple platforms so console and computer gamers who need their big meal bang-boom-boom fix can get in on the fun at a glorious 60fps soon-ish. PC/Mac/Linux (via Steam), PlayStation 4, Wii U and Xbox One are all supported here, but I’m betting Vita owners are hoping for some Cross Play action because this looks as if would be perfect on the road. Then again, the game also looks as if one would need to have at least one extra controller handy just in case one “accidentally” busted their main gamepad. Hard walls and game controllers are a poor mix. Padded walls on the other hand – those get the DAF seal of approval every single time.

Enter The Gungeon: Take Your Best Shots Soon In This Pixel Perfect Dungeon Crawler

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So, I’m hitting myself in the cranium with a day old baguette (ow!) because I’ve been ignoring Devolver Digital and all those great games they’ve been putting out for some time. Let’s see if we can remedy that with a nice post on Enter the Gungeon, which is set to land on Steam and (so far, one) selected console at some point this year. “April” seems like logical time frame if you watch the entirety of that rather amusing gameplay video below. PC, PS4, Mac, SteamOS, and Linux (sorry other platforms, although a Vita version would have been REALLY appreciated. By me, at least).


Anyway, the game takes the lovely pixel graphic dungeon crawler I’m a huge fan of, adds 2000% more guns, couch co-op fun and so far, looks like yet another crowd pleaser from those guys I should have bugged a while ago about getting preview code (bats eyelashes at Devolver Digital). Developer Dodge Roll Games (or is it Dodgeroll Games? It’s hard to tell on the internet how things are properly spelled, isn’t it?) has got a winner here that’s guaranteed to eat up even more of your free time and yep, you probably need this game in your library just because it will keep you indoors and out of trouble.

Of course, if you’re getting into THAT kind of trouble, you probably shouldn’t be playing many video games. The other kind of trouble? That’s okay. Another one for the want list? Yes indeed.

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PC Review: MOVE OR DIE

MOD_Thumb3Platform: PC (also on Mac/Linux)

Developer: Those Awesome Guys

Publisher: Those Awesome Guys

# of Players: 1 – 4

MSRP: $ 14.99

ESRB Rating: N/A

Official Site

Score: A- (90%)

Can’t type… playing…

Okay, I had to drag my tired self away from my ongoing battle with MOVE OR DIE just to drag myself back to the computer and bang out a quick review. This game is a total blast and pretty much everything it’s cracked up to be in one package. Simple enough for the kids to pick up, but only the best and most clever and cheap players will survive… that is until they get bested by someone or some random element that’s smarter or faster. The name of the game says it all. If you don’t MOVE, your little avatar will DIE, period. If that wasn’t impetus enough, you’re tasked with a number of randomly rotating mini-games, all of which last a mere twenty seconds each and consist of trying to stay alive longer than the other players whether AI or live.

Between the chainsaws, falling block walls, time bombs and other hazards, this is a game where everyone dies at some point and the key to survival is dying less than anyone else you’re playing against. This simplicity plus the intense speed of each round keeps the game fresh even if the currently limited number of game modes randomly loops back on itself multiple times. The greatest thing about the game is it allows anyone who can hold a controller and keep moving to play and win (and lose).

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This one’s a game where the cute factor of those avatars only vaguely mask the title’s dedication to keeping players in a constant state of tension and/or hilarity. You can win a match with a split second remaining and lose the next one in the same manner. That “friendship destroying” element the trailer promises isn’t really a good selling point because the players you’ve beaten are going to not want to quit playing until they get some payback. Continue reading

Lovely Planet Arcade: The Unknown Known Gets A Fast Followup


 

LPA_headerI’ve heard about, but actually NEVER played Lovely Planet (*gasp!*), so I guess I now need to, thanks to developer QUICKTEQUILA and publisher tinyBuild Games announcing this maybe it’s a sequel? return to the colorful pastel world of the first game. If the zippy and amusing videos of the first game are any indication as to what’s in the second, players can expect a load of challenge and even more good times when the game jumps out of the developer’s talented hands and lands on Steam later this year. Hey, don’t trust me on that last sentence at all – just go read about the game using on of the links above.

I think by the time LPA is released I’ll have played the first game. I hope. My backlog is a mountain of code that needs to be scaled and the clock is always ticking…

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HIDEit: Get Your Gear In Order But Good

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I have to go fishing through my spam folder at least once a month because it sometimes catches email that demands to be read and passed on. Case in point: the one I got from HIDEit Mounts a company that makes a number of really awesome storage solutions for gamers, computer owners or anyone else who has to deal with assorted tech with wires that tend to tangle. I actually laughed out loud as I was reading the email and looking at the photos attached because yes, I suffer from the horrible affliction of owning a ton of consoles (at least 25!) and having all those wires dangling in front of, behind, and to the side of my jury-rigged entertainment center. Yeah, it’s pretty bad, folks. Actually, I only keep six systems around my 32″ HDTV at a time while the rest take naps in assorted storage bins until I need to dig the up for research


 

As you can see (or can’t see because they’re so well hidden) HIDEit makes simple but highly functional wall mounts for current gaming consoles, small form factor PC’s and Macs, cable boxes and more. They also have controller mounts and even an optional theft deterrent solution in case you want that extra security. If you’ve got sturdy walls and a TV mounted on one or more of them, you’re an easy HIDEit customer in the making.

HIDEit_BA2The great thing is installation won’t take a year of carpentry classes or calling up that creepy-looking “handyman” who slid a misspelled flyer under your door as you were opening it to take out the trash last week. Each mount comes complete with hardware = all you need is a good drill and appropriate bits or a good screwdriver. A level and elbow grease are also beneficial for best results, so some of you scrawny-armed types may need an extra strong arm to shift stuff around. Prices range from $11.99 to $59.99 and I’d bet you a hot nickel that your holiday gift list includes at least ONE person (not including YOU) who needs one or more of these mounts.

Okay, you’re up to speed on the HIDEit front, correct? Good. Me, I could use a bunch of them, but I’m in the process of entirely redoing my game cave so I’m still in the “being in awe because I have a ton of games and systems in such a small space and don’t know where to begin” stage. But now that I see what HIDEit can accomplish, it’s a product on my list of things to get once I get myself in gear to tackle a pretty massive project.

Review: Poncho (PC)

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Poncho Banner NewPlatform: PC/PS4/Mac/Linux
Developer: Delve Interactive
Publisher: Rising Star Games
MSRP: $14.99
# of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Official Site
Score: B+ (85%)

With pixel-packed “retro” games showing no signs of stopping, it’s great to see Delve Interactive shake up the scene with Poncho, a game that’s both new and nostalgic with a side of super challenging for good measure. The open world side-scrolling platformer features multiple layers of parallax scrolling to hop in and out of in order to progress and this is both excellent and a tiny bit frustrating until you get your sea legs. The game’s depth also extends to the minimalist but somewhat deep story of Poncho, a cute little robot who finds himself going where no man has gone before because there aren’t any humans left in the world the game takes place in.


 

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