Friday, November 28, 2014

Crawl Impressions

Crawl is a game of competition and co-op all at the same time. One player is a human who fights enemies, while three other players are ghosts. The ghosts' job is to kill the human in order to regain there humanity back and become the human. That player then becomes a ghost and tries to fight to become the human again. The goal of the game is to defeat a boss that you only have three tries to kill. After the third time, if the boss is not defeated, the ghosts win and human is the winner. If you're lucky enough to beat the final boss, the human is the winner!

Simple enough, yes. Though the game has a great amount of depth in order to reach your goals. Let's start off with being a ghost. As a ghost you can control traps that damage humans, such as an arrow launcher, spike trap, and many more you unlock by playing more of the game. Where the game gets interesting is the monsters you can conjure up by moving your ghost over a red pentagram. When you start the game you pick a passive skill that comes with three preassigned monsters. Every time you use a pentagram it creates one of your three monsters at random. At the end of each level of the dungeon you can upgrade each individual monster into new ones.

The Human player is more of a tank that can take a bit more damage as well as level up unlike the ghosts. As a human you earn gold which can be used at the shop to buy new weapons, potions, and even skills. While a ghost you also earn blood which can be converted until gold once you become the human. It's a nice touch as it merges your experience between the world of the living and the dead.

Controls are super easy to learn. You could play with a keyboard but the best way to play this game is with a controller. You have a basic attack and a special attack and that's all you need to know. To posses traps just simply hit basic attack and hit it once more to attack. Crawl is easy to pick up and play for anyone but yet hard to master.

My one suggestion for the game is for them to add online multiplayer. Now, the game provides bots which can be set on easy, medium, or hard. The AI is pretty spot on and isn't hard enough to the point you blame the game for you losing. Though nothing really replaces playing game with your friends online. In my case trying to raise kids and find the time to get my friends to physically come over is a little big hard for me so online multiplayer would be nice.

Verdict: Crawl is a must own whether you have friends to play with or not. Take the chance to fight your way to salvation in this unique game. This game is still in early access but it's worth every single penny you put into it now. You can purchase the game right now on Steam.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fotonica Impressions

Fotonica is a game of speed. Not just normal speed, but feeling like a super human who can run up to 140 mph. Though instead of the game letting you run in any direction, it points you forward and asks you to "run like the wind".  Also simple controls let you pick literally any button on the keyboard or mouse to control your character.

The game plays out in first person, so it really feels like you are in the shoes of the fastest man on earth. By holding the button you begin to speed up and by letting go you jump. While in the air you hold the button down to fall back down to the ground. The longer you run the faster you go and once you hit a certain speed the screen turns a bright yellow and gets even harder. Though the simple objective is to just make it to the end of the level without falling to your doom. It is easier said then done.

On top of that you get a high score for each level. You achieve more points by collecting pink orbs in each level and completing each level as quickly as possible. These scores are then added to the leader boards online where you can compare with top scores world wide or with your friends. There are four different difficulty settings for the game over a total of five levels.

What's most impressive is a local competitive mode for two to four players. Each players picks one button on the keyboard or mouse and races to the finish to see who is the fastest player.  Instead of seeing another player you see a colored line which represents where they are. It's a nice touch changing up competing just for high score with personal bragging rights amongst your friends. 

Fotonica is pleasing on the eyes and ears as well! The game doesn't go for a realistic setting, but creates a super fast paced wire-frame world. Platforms pop out of the back round and the world feels alive with it's simple, but vibrant tones. The music is just perfect as you fly through the air jumping from platform to platform.

The game is short, but it's something that is mastered over time. It's totally worth your time and effort to try and master the art of being the fastest runner alive. With simple controls and visuals that please the eyes, Fotonica is something you should pick up. You can purchase the game right now on Steam.

Monday, November 17, 2014

RIP Impressions

Now what I should be calling this is "RIP may this game rest in peace". I am big fan of early access games, but this game is a prime example of what not to do on early access.  There is some light in this tunnel, but you have to really dig it out with spoon for about a week.

Where is the good news in this game? Well... it's pretty. I mean most games built in Unreal are a sight to look at. Pretty papers blowing in the wind. Oh look physics, lets shoot the hell out of this barrel! OMG it exploded!!!  The sound work is pretty impression as well. A gun that actually sounds and feels like a real gun!  The best part of the game is to sit down with some surround sound headphones and turn up the sound effects!

Now for the rest of this article, which is the bad, get ready to have no general idea of how the game even functions. There's no proper tutorial so I had to find a tutorial video online. Even after watching it you will still have no idea how matches are won or lost. The video says to destroy the enemy turrets, but do I have to destroy them all?  Maybe?

This game is trying to merge a MOBA with a FPS. Pretty much what that means is to take Counter Strike's purchasing system and mix it with Battle Field 4's objective maps. In those terms, the game isn't really ground breaking and there are a lot of things that could be done to focus it more on being a MOBA then another generic military FPS.  Maybe instead of just buying weapons you can have skills like increased reloading, increased damage, bigger explosions, or anything that would make this game a bit more exciting.

Now here's where I lay out the insanity that I went through because no one is even playing the game. I sit down and log into a server and waited two hours for just one guy. He was my best friend for a solid five minutes. I could finally play this horrible game! Yes, I can finally use this AK-47 that I saved up for an hour. Two kills in a row-- I am the master of this game! I am on top of the world! After about two kills in a row my best friend, that one guy, left the game wondering to himself, "Why did I buy this again?" With only two servers to choose from (yes, literally two) and no one in the world other than myself on this game I knew I wasn't only person who got burned.  Also, did I mention the few words I tried typing out to him didn't show up unless I looked at a dark corner. The text just blends in with your background.

 Finally, this game has a menu system that makes no sense. First off, the search for server button doesn't work so you have to select the random server button. Guess what the random server button icon is? If you guessed dice then you're right. Then at the bottom right hand section there's an icon with hands shaking and another with three people.  When you click on either of these icons they do absolute nothing and don't even give you a text box when you scroll over them to indicate what they do.

This is an early access game, but seriously don't buy the game in it's state as is. This game is far from ready for public consumption.  Luckily, most of the problems seem fixable. In a few months I will give this game a second chance because the ideas the game presents are pretty cool since I love FPS and MOBA games! Just don't waste your $14.99 on this hot mess until they can put in some work.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Coin Crypt Impressions

Coin Crypt is a game about magical coins, randomly generated worlds, and management. It's a game that plays out like a pokemon card battle except those cards mean so much more then just attacking.  They determine your fate throughout the whole game. Every move you make could be your last as your goal is to create the perfect collection of coins to defeat enemies, unlock treasures, and buy new items.

The game isn't really meant to be beaten in one go. It's a hard game and the further you go the harder it gets to defeat enemies. Everything is based around a system of coins and when you spawn you are given a small amount of coins. Though walking through the world you find chests which contain coins to add to your collection. Think of it like playing Magic The Gathering except your deck is built by finding chests. Each time you get into battle you use your coins to battle other enemies. Once a coin is used it can not be used again, so it's important to keep looking for chests around the world. There are no levels in the game, so your character progresses by finding better coins to use.

The cool thing about the game is the coins do different things. Most obvious is you can attack and defend with them, but they do plenty of other things. Healing, increased speed, attacking twice, and stealing are just a few of the other abilities you get from finding coins in the world. Coins are also used to purchase items in game as well.  Each coin can be sold in order to purchase items for your character. There are some coins that can even unlock areas that you couldn't reach before.

 Now... you will die a lot. The game isn't easy by any stretch. Once you die it tallies up all the coins you collected and gives you a dollar amount for you to buy new characters. Each character has different abilities. For instance, my favorite character casts coins faster, but cannot stack coins. Stacking coins is when you have two of the same coin and can be used at the same time.  It sucks that I can't use two coins at the same time, but my strategy is to defeat enemies as fast as possible!

My one gripe with this game are the controls. Not the mouse controls, which are perfect in my opinion.  Just playing the game with the mouse is awesome, but most of my gaming is done with a controller and it felt a bit off. Moving around felt fine, but I felt a bit lost during battles. To cast spells with a controller you hold the button of the spell you want to cast then hit right trigger. Honestly, I just wish it was just as easy as hitting the button twice or holding it to cast. Again, this doesn't make the game horrible.... just play with your mouse.

This is a game you should buy if you enjoy a good challenge. The best part is that you play the way you want to play. Want to run around and try and avoid combat and collect coins... go for it! If you would rather kill everything in sight and be a bad ass... you can do that as well. Right now you can get the game off of Steam and you most certainly should.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Interview with Nicholas McDonnell co-founder of Samurai Punk

If you haven't already played ScreenCheat for the love of god get it already. One part classic fps mixed with the fact that you have to actually screen cheat to figure out where your friends are. It's the perfect party game for up to four players! I had the chance to have a short interview with Nicholas McDonnell, co-founder of Samurai Punk. Nicholas is not only Art/Level Designer, but also Sound Designer on Screen Cheat.

How long have you been developing games for?

I’ve been making games for about 2 years now starting off with global game jam 2013 in Melbourne were our companies namesake Samurai XX was created.

Where did the original idea for ScreenCheat come from?
The original idea came out of Global Game Jam 2014 where the theme “We don’t see the world as we are, we see it as we are” threw us for a loop. Trying to come up with cooperative games about sharing information in split-screen just wasn’t working as screencheating would be a huge design flaw. So we decided to turn that flaw into the core mechanic. After we settled on that we just thought back to the shooters we played as kids like Halo CE and it was clear what direction to take the game.

Tell me about the process of going from your first build to a finished product. What was the biggest hurdle in finishing the game?
The biggest hurdle was networking and level design. These were two huge problems we had to overcome and still encounter. For one the game is built with a remote team so we needed to have functional network play to test content. And with just one main programmer getting this stable has been a huge time sink for him. As for the level design, screencheat is such a unique game to design content for as the mechanic means you have to work in very interesting and new ways that traditional multiplayer level design doesn’t teach you. As such I’ve had to come up with weird solutions to the abstract problem of conveying space by each players screen whilst maintaining a nice flowing level.

ScreenCheat features an online and local mutliplayer. Was it important for you to feature both or was there just enough demand to bring the game online?
The real reason as I mentioned before for Online was that it was needed just to make the game at all. Since I spent half of the game's development in another state it was actually the only way to test content. It turned out to be invaluable throughout development as I could always find 3 other people to test with among my group of international testers.

Is the focus of ScreenCheat to play with friends? Do you feel a lot or modern games are missing the social connection that party games like ScreenCheat offers?

I don’t necessarily think its missing from games.  I just miss having it in some of my games. I think no game should be forced to have any particular feature but when it disappeared because of technical limitations (trust me I know why no one does it any more) I think we did lose something. Fortunately a lot of independent developers are filling that void these days.

Any future updates we should be looking forward to for ScreenChat?
We plan to get a few more maps/modes and features like Mutators done before we call it quits on Screencheat.

Any chance we will see ScreenCheat on Wii U, PS4, or Xbox One?
Now that we’re released on PC we can check out of options for consoles. But I wouldn’t expect any news on that for a little while.

Whats your favorite ScreenCheat moment?
I found a video online of someone “360mlgnoscoping” someone after they actually had just done a 360. So that was cute. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Monster Loves You Impressions

I love the shit out of this game.  I really do.  And it's shameful because I know some of the people who made it.  Monster Loves You is a cartoonie, choice driven, RPGesque, lineage simulator.  That's enough explanation.  Just go play.

For those of that are still here.  Sit down and let me tell you a story about a monster.  He was kind-hearted, brave, known for the occasionally outburst of violence, and sneaky as fuck.  Maybe I shouldn't swear.  Do kids read this site?

Moving on.  He was born in a pool of ooze.  He helped his fellow monsterlings to shore when they couldn't swim well.  He also would return later and eat some of them.  He would throw rocks at people, poke people in the eye, steal toys, and stand tall against the scariest ghost.

As an adult he had to prove himself a monster.  He had to prove he had guts and cunning.  He had to chose whether to chase down that weird animal and eat it so he could get magical powers for no particular reason.  Did I make that last part up?  I can't remember.  And in the end you go back into the ooze... or not.  You can pass on your genes-- Your choices to the next generation of monsterlings and spawn your own little demon babies.

It's very casual, very funny, and a lot of adventure.  It's on steam right now for cheap.

Mini Metro Impressions

I am a child of the subway system. I used the subway to get from place to place throughout most of my life.  Occasionally, I would get mad over the layout, reach, and the locations of certain stops.  Certainly I could design a better system then this? Well, now I can finally live out my dream of creating my own subway system in Mini Metro! It's simple mechanics are what makes the game so fun and addictive to play.

To start Mini Metro has two difficulty settings, scenic and commuter. Scenic is for the casual player who wants to play a match for a few minutes. Commuter challenges the player by increasing the difficulty by limiting the amount of resources you get. I played most of the game on commuter because scenic matches seemed to be a little to easy for me. Though, playing the game on scenic is a good way to learn how to play the game since it doesn't feature a tutorial yet.

I suggest playing some tunes in the background since the game doesn't feature any music yet. Once you've decided your difficulty you can pick a location. My favorite location so far is New York City since I lived there for a year and I always wondered how my metro would turn out there. Though there are plenty of other locations like Paris, London, and even Hong Kong. There are more maps I haven't mentioned and still more that are locked only because this game is still in early access.

You play the game like you would look at a real life metro map. Each round starts off with three locations on the map which are represented by shapes. You have a limited supply of resources which are rails, carriages, tunnels, and trains. When you build a line just click and drag the mouse from shape to another. The line can even be extended to other shapes and go over water as long as you have a tunnel.

On the top right hand side of the screen there's a little clock. Once the clock goes all the way around a day has passed and new locations pop up left and right. It's your job to figure out how to extend the lines in order to best serve your customers. Customers show up as tiny shapes to show you which station they want to get to. If you're not meeting the needs of your customers and a station fills up you have a very limited amount of time to empty the station before the game is over. The objective is not to win, but to see how far you can get.

For a game that isn't even finished I am addicted! I played for two hours straight and didn't realize the time after I played. You keep telling yourself one more and you end up keep playing. For an early access game with no music and a good bit of content missing it's better than most finished games. Please if you are reading this buy this game on Steam right now.  You'll thank me later.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Viscera Cleanup Detail Impressions

Ever wonder what it would be like to cleanup a disaster. Not just any disaster, but bloody disasters full of bullets, body parts, soda cans, and of course blood smeared messages all over the walls. It's your job to clean up these disasters to the best of your abilities. With only your hands, a mop, and a blood detector you must clean like you've never cleaned before.

As a janitor of horrible jobs, you must have a cool office. It's filled with closets, extra buckets, mops, and even the trophies you collect from your jobs.  Sounds cool, right?  It gets better!  Okay, maybe not. The office does nothing more then hold your achievements and maybe if your lucky enough you can get an employee of the month award.

Now it's time to get to work. I suggest starting off with a small job which can range from spending forty five minutes cleaning an area to as long as two hours. Now this seems like a lot of time, but what is nice you can save your progress so you can leave a job and come back to it. Now if you can actually sit down long enough to finish one complete two hour job then more power to you, but I suggest you break it into pieces.

Using the mop is one of the most satisfying things. When you see a mess of blood just attack it with your mop until it disappears. Be careful, a fully bloody mop spreads blood all over the map so you make sure you bring a bucket with you or you'll make it worse! Use the bucket enough times then you'll have a bucket full of bloody water which will also cause a clean mop to spread more blood across the map. Even knocking over your bucket causes blood to spill all over the floor. The game really captures a realistic feel of actually cleaning up bloody messes.  Well, I would imagine.

The other part of the equation with cleaning is picking up trash. Trash can range from picking up body parts, nuclear waste bins, and even bullets. (Note: if you step on bloody body parts you will get blood on your feet and track blood around.) You can pick up giant waste bins to put all your trash in. This is a good thing to keep on hand since you don't want to carry each trash piece by piece. How do you dispose of all this trash? Well, the only way we know how is to burn it! There's a giant incinerator on every map which you dump your bins into. Once it's full close it and watch your trash go up into flames!

I found this game to be quite mundane by myself, but the magic of this game is playing with your friends.  Having your friend help you clean twice as fast can make the game more exciting or he can be a total jerk and mess up everything you had already cleaned.  I tried playing the game alone and it just wasn't as fun as playing it online with my friends.

This is an early access game, so it still has a lot of work to go. Each job has a computer where you tell it if your done with your job or not. Depending upon how well you clean you can get fired, a trophy for fine work, or even employee of the month!  What confused me is how far I was in cleaning.  There is no percent complete on screen. There's no real way in knowing how far you are with your work until you hit the button saying your work is complete. Though in real life your cleaning has no real meter, so I understand the direction they are taking with the game.  

There were a lot of things I had to learn on my own since there was no tutorial.  Again, it's an early access game, so in future updates I assume they will be adding one. The game isn't super complicated so it won't take you forever to learn the game, but expect an hour of confusion before you really understand the game fully.

Viscera Cleanup Detail is a game that's not for everyone. If you are looking to play a game online with friends then this is something that is totally worth your time playing. If you can't get a hold of your friends to play this game (you you don't have any?) then I would wait till the game is completely finished.  If you have the patience to finish a job the mop physics alone will make your face light up!

You can purchase the game right now on Steam.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Interview with Micael Molinari creator of Choice Chamber

I had a chance over the past few weeks to play a game called Choice Chamber. It's a 2D platformer that lets players decide the fate of the person who is playing. You can play over the internet with your friends of course but what makes this game unique is that its meant to be played over Twitch. Just link it up right to your twitch channel and let the people watching decide your fate. I had the chance to ask a few questions to Michael Molinari the creator of Choice Chamber.

So where did you get your start in games before Choice Chamber?

I've been making games since before highschool, but you could say it started professionally after college. I was working for Namco's US mobile team for a couple years doing all sorts of art-based things, including prototyping new ideas in Flash. After that I went fully independent, Choice Chamber being my third commercial release.

How long has Choice Chamber been in development for?

The idea came to me in December of 2013. Since then, I've mostly been working on it fulltime, aside from a month running the Kickstarter, a month traveling Asia, a month moving across the country, etc.

Twitch is matching the funding you raised on Kickstarter for the game how did that come about?

I met the Twitch dev relations guy Brooke at a little developer showcase during GDC 2014. He was super interested in the idea and wanted to support it however he could. Twitch not only helped fund the Kickstarter, but they're also responsible for promoting it during the campaign to spread awareness much further than I ever could.

What decisions do people usually choose for the player? Are they nice are usually go for making the game harder for them. 

The people playing from the chat always start off mean, making things super difficult. Then once you get a game over, their empathy kicks in and they go easy on you. But then you're not losing enough, so they make it harder, and the cycle repeats indefinitely. People love picking the "pogo" jump, which forces you to jump constantly. They also like maxing out your health when possible, as they want you to endure their challenges.

This is game is meant to be played by using Twitch but does it have a limit for the people who can participate?

There is no limit to how many people can play along in the chat. One time we had a popular streamer play to a chat of 10,000 people, which comes out to hundreds of thousands of players in an hour or two. It was a great stress test on the game, and luckily it didn't break!

Do you personally enjoy playhing the game yourself on Twitch or with you personal friends online?

I don't really play my games with my personal friends, but I certainly play them with the community of friends / fans I've been making through promoting my work around the Internet. There are always regulars who stop by my chat whenever I play, so it's worth it to know they'll be there when I play.

Right now the game is in a working beta but any idea on when it will be released? Will it be on Steam?

We're aiming for release at the end of this year, but if things slip we'd like to still get it out as early as possible. No announcements for Steam right now, but we'll of course be aiming for it.

With twitch also being on consoles now do you see this game ever coming to Xbox One of Playstation 4?

It's always a possibility, but nothing's planned for the time being outside of PC and Mac.

You can pre-order the game and play the beta right now!