I have very fond memories of Star Wars Battlefront. Well into my adolescence, whole summer weekends were lost to split-screen tournaments; when you lost a game, you lost the controller. Familiar Star Wars icono...
Ever since the big Kickstarter boom of 2012, there's never been a short supply of developers looking to get their next title going through crowdfunding. From metroidvania action-RPG titles referencing the golden years of games, to epic adventures games seeking to redefine a genre, there's certainly no shortage of creativity despite the volume. But while people often look at 2012 as the year crowdfunding really took off, there have been many successes before that.
Back in 2009, a couple of guys decided to take some advice from a friend and use a neat little website called Kickstarter to fund their project. That title was High Strangeness, a 12-bit action adventure title (yes, you read that right) referencing the 8 and 16-bit eras of gaming. With their final funds reaching over $1500, they ended up becoming the first successfully funded videogame project on Kickstarter.
And now after nearly six years, the folks at Barnyard Intelligence Games have teamed with Midnight City to get their quirky, and very clever throwback title out for fans.
I've dabbled in Godzilla games since the NES game Godzilla: Monster of Monsters, a game that for some reason took place in space; Mothra and Godzilla fought monsters and literally kicked rocks in this fondly remembered title. None of the Godzilla games have really given me that "giant lumbering king of the monsters" feel I've been looking for; that is until I played the latest title from Bandai Namco Entertainment.
The king of monsters is back in a big and cinematic way!
What happens when you get the developers of those old Nabisco mini-golf Flash games and have them make a new type of mini-golf title? Well evidently, you get something completely off-the-wall and bizarre, which feels more like a high-concept take on mini-golf that somewhat borders on existentialism in the industrial-era before the dawn of the 20th century. This sounds a bit heavy, but I assure you it's not.
To go from Flash games on Nabisco.com to making a steampunk-style mini-golf game focusing on the trials of classism is a pretty awesome jump, I'd say. But don't think of this as an ultra-serious title. In Vertiginous Golf, you get to experience mini-golf in a more arcade style, over-the-top way. And that's certainly saying a lot, as the purpose of mini-golf is take make things interesting for non-golfers.
After a year in Early Access, the developers have been steadily releasing updates to the game while listening to the community in preparation for their upcoming release. And it looks as though they've got a lot in store for its existentialist mini-golf title.
Last year during Game Connection Europe, Steven had some special hands-on time with developer Honor Code, Inc's upcoming underwater survival horror title Narcosis. As a psychological-horror survival game, players find themselves vulnerable and alone on one of our planet's most mysterious environments, the deep ocean. And with this setting that's equally unexplored within the gaming medium, a horror title is an intriguing proposition. Steven agreed.
In a recent meet-up with the developers, I spent time with an updated build of the game using the Oculus Rift. The developers hope that the technology will help amplify their harrowing journey to the depths of the ocean. During my hands-on, I found that exploring the unknown is equally as tense as facing the mysterious creatures that inhabit the lowest points on Earth.
With the elements against you, and no help on the way, you'll have to fight to survive the horrors of the deep ocean.
It's been a good while since the release of the original Killing Floor back in 2008. Over the years, its been sitting on the Steam best-sellers list for quite some time, and built a loyal and dedicated following. While hoard-based zombie action games with heavy co-op focus are certainly not in short supply, Killing Floor was among the cream of the crop for its tight and focused gameplay. And now, after so much time, Tripwire Interactive is finally ready to give fans a taste of the upcoming sequel on Steam Early Access later this month.
At a special event showing off Killing Floor 2's upcoming build for PC, the folks at Tripwire started their presentation by stating that they wanted to do "Early Access right." Over the years, Early Access has been, for better or worse, a common practice for many PC developers. Allowing players to pony up cash for an unfinished version of the game, creators are able to earn income from sales well before a game's official release. And while there are many success stories, there are others that have not turned out so well.
Evidently, the developers at Tripwire Interactive are well aware of the pitfalls. In order to ensure that a true sequel would be something that the fans would be proud of, they want them to be able to have a deep and thorough look at their follow-up.
It's not often we see a major player in the big leagues of yearly releases reinvent itself in a more modest and distinct way. With Assassin's Creed titles expected every year, it's been a bit of a challenge for Ubisoft to keep things interesting for players. And after last year's rough launch for its first true current-gen outing with Assassin's Creed Unity, the company now plans to try something a bit different with its popular brand.
Though there's still another major release coming this year, Ubisoft has hopes that the Assassin's Creed Chronicles trilogy will switch things up. At a recent press event, we got to learn more about this surprising smaller-scale reinvention of Assassin's Creed, and how it has echoes of classic titles such as Prince of Persia. Speaking with the developers from Climax Studios, they seek to reinvigorate the AC experience in the 2.5D perspective while retaining the tried-and-true action-stealth gameplay the series is known for.
“When in doubt, switch them out.” Sage-like advice, really. That’s what Mekazoo’s creative director Jarrett Slavin had to tell me to do when I showed obvious struggles playing his demo. I’m no stranger to platformers, but this one has a learning curve about it that’s difficult to grasp, but so rewarding once you find a rhythm.
His suggestion was one that developers Good Mood Creators coined whenever someone seemed to temporarily forget that Mekazoo features a dual-animal system. It’s easy to fall into the trap of cruising right along with your game-assigned, tech-glimmering creature -- so much so that repeated failures of a section are likely less a case of “you’re bad at this game” and more “you need to try with the other animal.”
Half the reason that Mekazoo players have a tendency to put strategy on the back-burner is because the game looks so damn enchanting. Sporting a “2.5D” aesthetic, the camera has a way of wrapping and zooming around in a controlled frenzy that adds depth to the levels. When it’s time to slow things down again, a standard two-dimensional approach is taken.
The folks at Splash Damage have been busy over the last two years. Since the release of Brink and a stint on Batman: Arkham Origins' multiplayer, they figured it was time to return to their roots with a heavy focus on PC-oriented competitive multiplayer gameplay. As the masterminds behind the legendary Quake 3 Fortress mod and the multiplayer for Return to Castle Wolfenstein, they were keen on rekindling the magic found in their earlier work for their shooter. With their upcoming title Dirty Bomb having been in closed alpha for the some time now (since 2013) the developers are now ready to get the masses in on their return to form FPS title.
With a deep focus on free-to-play and pay what you want gameplay, the developers seek to keep Dirty Bomb fair for all with its "Free-to-Win" mantra. Published by Nexon, it's one fo the rare Western developed titles for the F2P publisher. Though this one's got quite a pedigree from the developers who've worked on Enemy Territory and the multiplayer for Return to Castle Wolfenstein. At a special event hosted by the publisher Nexon, we got to go hands-on with this over-the-top and self-proclaimed "hardcore" shooter, where we got to speak to some folks from Splash Damage about its development. With access to the game available now, they wanted to hit the ground running by showing what their title is all about.
I have been following Beyond Eyes since I first heard about it a year and a half ago. Videogames can be powerful tools for relating experiences that may otherwise be difficult to comprehend. Blindness both fascinates and terrifies me; I know I would be utterly useless without my sense of sight, but others manage impressive feats despite the disability.
So when I heard that Team17 was bringing Beyond Eyes to PAX East, I had to go and check it out. Despite starring a blind girl, it makes excellent use of color in telling her story. Not only that, but it uses other visual tricks to represent her perception of the world through hearing, smell, and touch.
While at PAX East, I was fortunate enough to schedule a chat with the co-founder and creative director of Singapore-based Witching Hour Studios, Ian Gregory, to talk about the studio's beautiful upcoming "pause-for-tactics" 2.5D isometric RPG Masquerada: Songs and Shadows, planned for release on PC, Mac, and consoles (TBD) sometime in early 2016.
The game takes place in a Venetian-inspired fantasy city called Ombre, and as it happens, is the only place in the game's world where magic exists. However, discovering and donning rare masks are the key to learning and harnessing that magical power. Gregory describes the mask's function in the game as that of "batteries," storing built-up magical energy to be released in the form of the different classes' skills and abilities.
Players follow the story of Inspettore Cicero Gavar as he returns from exile to solve a kidnapping that, as the game's description states, will "shake up the foundations of the city." Cicero, your starting character in the game, is a Maestro, a hybrid class that draws from the skills of all three main character classes.
The three main classes available in the game are the Sicario, who fills the role of an assassin; the Pavisierre, the tank in the group; and lastly, the Dirge, a bard-like character who can cast both summons and buffs. Each class will have access to eight to ten different abilities, all of which possess their own skill trees.
Where were you when that debut trailer for StarCraft II popped up online? It made its announcement all the way back in 2007 at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational in South Korea. Much has changed since then. With the release of two StarCraft II titles so far, Blizzard has been trying to keep things interesting for the series in the face of evolving tastes and new games.
But one thing sure hasn't changed in the time since its debut all those years ago. People are still very much into the series, and with the final expansion rearing its head, the developers at Blizzard want players to get some hands-on time with the legendary real-time strategy title before its official release. Which, of course, hasn't quite been revealed yet.
During GDC, I got the opportunity to speak with Blizzard about its plans for the future of StarCraft, and how the upcoming expansion plans to tie everything up in dramatic and epic fashion.
When I learned that Netherlands-based Two Tribes Studios (Toki Tori & Toki Tori 2) was bringing its snazzy metal-wrecking, robot-hacking, twin-stick shooter RIVE to PAX East this year, I jumped at the chance to set up an appointment to see the current state of the game.
I finally caught up Two Tribes co-founder Collin van Ginkel at the RIVE booth where he sat me down for a little hands-on with the game. I'd had some time playing an earlier version that was released last fall before leaving for the show, but what was on display at PAX East this year had obviously seen some major improvements.
For starters, the demo on hand had my previously ground-based, spider-like vehicle transformed into a nimble spacecraft, dodging and blasting its way through an asteroid belt on route to the facility to where the rest of the demo takes place. The addition of side-scrolling flying sections was a pleasant surprise and I hope that in the final version, there's even more of them.
The touchy but precise movement controls while flying were a little tricky to get used to, but by the time I had passed (collided with) a few asteroids I had full control of my ship, chewing through all that was in my path and easily outmaneuvering the spinning, laser-firing turrets that appear towards the end of the section.
Over the last three years, Kickstarter has totally changed the game for many developers. With the option to crowdfund projects, cut out the middle-man (publishers), and communicate directly with fans to help create the game, we've seen a number of projects find audiences well before their release. And many of these projects seek to offer something a bit different than what you'd expect from retail releases.
That's what the developers at GRIN Game Studio (no relation to former developer GRIN of Bionic Commando: Rearmed fame) are planning with their uniquely macabre journey through fairy-tale fiction in Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries. In this re-imagining of the classic tale, Red must exact revenge against an army of clockwork soldiers while traveling through a dark and twisted world filled with monsters and other foes from fairytale fiction.
During our chat with the CEO of GRIN at the Game Developers Conference, we learned about their vision for this two-part adventure, and how crowdfunding breathed new life into the project.
The PAX East expo floor is one of the least peaceful places to play a game. There are sweaty crowds, children who haven't learned to use their inside voices, and booths blasting dance music and/or eSports commentary. And yet, at the back of the floor sat Tasharen Entertainment's booth, where I was able to don some headphones, relax, and lose myself in the high seas of Windward.
Before I knew it, half an hour had passed, a line was forming behind me, and I felt like I had hardly scratched the surface of the genre-blending ship game. I needed more time with it to get a really good feel for it. I started up the Early Access build the other day and the time melted away. I managed to get six hours of play in that same day.
At PAX East this year I walked past many of the larger booths and gave them little attention, as I am typically more interested in indie games. I got invited to a press-only demo for Gigantic -- a game I only knew of by seeing the signs for the booth on the show floor -- by fellow Destructoid editor Rob Morrow, so I went to see what it was all about. I'm glad I got to get hands-on time with the game, otherwise I wouldn't know just how fantastic Gigantic is.
When I first laid eyes on Gigantic it was breathtaking. The colorful graphics pop off the screen and are reminiscent of something you'd expect to see from Pixar or DreamWorks. The characters are all unique and really stand out from the equally colorful environments. The animation of character movements are all really fluid, especially for the game only being in alpha.