Rogue Legacy! A self-described rogue-‘lite’ where you take control of the ancestral line of a recently wounded king as they enter a cursed castle attempting to retrieve an item which is rumored to be able to cure any ailment. But needless to say, it’s not that easy.
Ladies & gents, welcome to Castle Hamson. Floating eyeballs shoot blood missiles, miniature flying mages attack you with elemental powers, and corrupted knights, guards, and just straight-up skeletons swarm you on the ground. There is no shortage of traps, treasures, and strangely placed carnival games. You, the daughter or son of whoever died there last, are plonked down in the middle of it, and free to explore until you meet inevitable demise — and believe me, in the first few runs, that demise will come quickly.
But what is this game really known for?
The traits! Each heir has a number of quirks, which could be anything from dwarfism to nostalgia, and can prove to be to your advantage or to your disadvantage depending on the situation — for example, gigantism increases your reach, allowing you to clear out entire rooms just by storming through and swinging your sword, but you’ll also have a harder time dodging projectiles when fighting ranged enemies.
In addition to traits, there are also classes — tanky barbarians, mana-heavy mages, vampiric liches, and a bunch more. Once upgraded, they all gain class-specific abilities in addition to their already massive differences in health, mana, and attack power. Spells, which each heir has at least one of, are independent of class-specific abilities, but can help you survive a lot more than you may otherwise if used correctly.
Traits, classes, and spells are generated randomly for each heir. While you can select between 3 heirs on each run, you cannot control them. What you can you can control, however, are you upgrades, armor, and runes, all of which constitute what I’ll call the “build.”
Every time you die, you have the opportunity to apply sticky upgrades and purchase runes and armor that you’ve found blueprints for around the castle, but you can only carry 5 pieces of armor and 1 rune for each piece, so decisions need to be made. I love this part of the game. I feel like, to everything you might encounter in the castle, there is a “solution” build. Can’t stop something from damaging you? Put on a bunch of relation stuff and return the damage. Finding that you run out of health or mana quickly? Vampirism or siphon runes will take care of that. Need a double jump?
The point is, you can customize a lot. As for the in-run gameplay, it’s pretty simple. The castle is procedurally generated, so it’s completely different every time. You run and hit stuff, and try not get hit by stuff. There’s treasure all over the place, often in the form of coins, runes, or blueprints and guarded by traps and obstacles. There are rooms with jukeboxes where you can change the game music. That are shrines that you can pray to, which may endow you with a blessing or a curse. There are “fairy chests” which don’t open unless you complete a specific objective. Enemies don’t respawn, so you can theoretically clear out the map entirely, but you’ll find that some areas as incredible treacherous, making that a loftier goal than it may sound.
And besides, there are bosses. That’s right peeps, there is a method to the madness: every area on the map contains a boss which, upon being defeated, drops massive amounts of gold and brings you a step closer to your objective. But beware: the bosses don’t screw around. There’s no turning back after you enter a boss room. You win or you die.
The combat is everything you would expect of a 2D metroidvania, and while you have access to a variety of spells that allow for ranged attack, there are no weapons except swords. The enemies change in difficulty throughout different parts of the map — the part that you start in, the core of the castle, will seem unreasonably hard on your first run but you’ll soon find that it’s actually the easiest. Cruel, right? But hey, that’s what upgrades and armor are for.
The Good and the Bad
- Procedural Generation - This is really the core of the game’s fun, and I have to say its done very well. Honestly, kudos to the programmer for that.
- Variety - A room may be huge, or it may be tiny. It may contain an eyeball, or 15 flying skulls, or 2 huge skeletons. It may contain a carnival game. You never really know what to expect, which creates a feeling of exploration and discovery.
- Character Customization - I’m obsessed with the runes & equipment. Initially it was a clear choice, but now I change it up depending on what type of character I want to play.
- Art - The sprites and backgrounds look fantastic, and despite the enemies being largely what you’d expect in a fantasy game (slimes, skeletons, etc), the way they’re drawn makes it a fresh take on the genre.
- Clipping Issues - If a wall is thin enough, and an enemy is right up against it (which is often the case when they’re trying to get to you), they’ll be able to shoot through it. This isn’t game breaking, and some enemies actually can shoot through walls by design, but it seems a bit unfairly unpredictable.
- Impossible Fairy Chests - Sometimes you find fairy chests that, if I’m not mistaken, are literally impossible for you to do given your set of abilities. Maybe I’m just dumb though.
- Unclear Special Items - When you pray to a shrine and get an item, there’s no way of really knowing what it does. I found myself going to the wiki to figure that out. I think maybe this was meant to be a “you’re supposed to discover it yourself” type of thing, but for a few of them it’s hard to decipher.
The weakness are minor compared strengths. It is overall a very cool game. You can get it on Steam, from the official website, or if you own a Playstation console, you can now pre-order the game on PSN. It’s cross-buy (when you buy it, you get it on both the home console and on Vita) and cross-save (save on one console and it’s available on another), but I don’t have consoles so I don’t know much about that stuff. :] It only uses like 3 buttons though, so I feel like it’d be cool on a handheld.
Anyway, final rating.
4.5 out of 5 clown portraits - It melts my cynical heart.
I have a cool little free game by Chris Chung for y’all today that you must absolutely get your PAWS on! HAHAHAHA! I’m sorry.
The premise of Catlateral Damage is that you are a cat, and your goal is to knock things off shelves, racks, drawers, and book cases onto the floor. Move around and jump the usual way, right click to swipe with your right paw, left click to swipe with your left, and middle mouse button to stick your paw out forward. Easy enough, right? The specific goal is to get 100K points, which you get by get by making stuff hit the floor — that number is deceptively high, of course. It’s actually not that hard, and I’m a bit disappointed that there are no stretch goals as it stands.
The whole concept of this game, however, is amazing. As I started playing it I realized that it’s the game I didn’t know I wanted. Whenever I see a cat knocking things off a shelf I can’t help but think “hey, that looks pretty fun.” And you know what? It is. Very much so. In fact, I think the only way it could be better is if I were a human in a cat’s play-house, getting revenge.
A bittersweet note on this game is it just leaves you wanting so much, but provides so little. Only one level fairly small level and fairly easy to achieve goal. Luckily, the creator, seems to have big plans for the game according to his to-do list. It’s also going through Greenlight on Steam, so be sure to check that out and vote. If you have Unity you can play the game right in your browser, but if you don’t want to get it, you can also get download any the standalone version for Windows, Mac, or Linux here:
their stuff: fb | twitter | tumblr
Your name is Stanley, and you are employee #427 in some enormous corporate conglomerate of unknown name and origin, that seems to control most aspects of your life. Your job is the push the buttons that your monitor tells you to, and you’ve never had any qualms or complaints about it.
But one day, the instructions from your monitor come to a halt, and you find that you are the only living soul in your previously bustling office complex. You decide to leave your post and investigate.
I’m not gonna lie, The Stanley Parable is a game that I can’t really say much about without diminishing the experience. The original Half-Life 2 mod was released a few years ago by Davey Wreden, and the “HD Remix” (which both looks far better thanks to the work of William Pugh, and expands significantly on the original), has won a host of awards and firmly wedged itself into the #1 selling spot on Steam, where it’s been sitting for a few days now.
It is a game of choices. If you want one image that symbolizes the experience, this is as good as any:
The narration of voice-over artists Kevan Brighting guides you through a beautifully crafted interactive story that pokes fun relentlessly at the typical faults of video game story-telling. How many times has a protagonist made choices you wouldn’t have, or ended up at the same outcome regardless of what you did? Have you ever felt a lack of genuine interactivity in big-title interactive media? This game’s for you.
But I’m not doing it justice here. This game’s packed to the brim with humor and wit, and it will catch you off-guard even if you’re expecting it to. The only reason I describe it so tamely is because I don’t want to ruin anything; it’s best to go into this blind.
Unless you’ve somehow managed to develop an unquenchable hatred for games, humor, and British-accented narration, but the time you’re five minutes into this game you’ll have a huge grin on your face and feel absolutely giddy. It’s not a long game, but personally I’ve been exploring it for hours and continually finding new ways to interact with it.
My only complaint is that you can’t jump. This isn’t just because I love jumping, but also because jumping is one of the most typical ways to get to places that you’re not supposed to be in and exploit games, and I expected Wreden to play on this at least somewhat. I suppose it’s excusable — that would change the mechanics entirely from the original mod and present a whole other development challenge. At one place where I was particularly tempted to jump, it even gave me a cheevo for trying.
Anyway, this game’s definitely worth your $12 (it’s 20% off until Oct. 23rd). Probably one of the most satisfying game or game-related purchases I’ve made this year. It’s a bit reminiscent of Portal and Antichamber in terms of the narration style and humor respectively, but despite featuring no real “puzzles” and giving you virtually only the ability to walk and push buttons, The Stanley Parable doesn’t disappoint in terms of engagement either.
All I really have to say is “thank you, Davey & friends, for this game.”
The Stanley Parable on Steam
Yet another Flash game this week, peeps! I like these because you can read about them and then play them immediately — good feeling, right? Alright, so endeavor is a game released in 2010 by independent developer Zillix, whose main activity lately has been in the Ludum Dare community. It features a mostly soothing (but sometimes intense) score by Jim Peterman, to which you get to play a particularly agile dwarf climbing stuff and overall just jumping around harder than the House of Pain.
Mechanically, this game is at a Mario-level simplicity. It’s no Fallout or Elder Scrolls, yeah, but it has a massive virtue in that it takes you on an adventure using practically just 5 buttons; It feels anything but lacking in substance. There’s a main story arch, there are hidden collectibles, and best of all, there are different paths through the games that lead to different endings. I would say it takes about an hour to beat if you have no idea what you’re doing but are fairly skilled at games in general, making it a very short game. I’m amazed at how much it has stuck in my memory ever since I originally played it years ago.
Throughout your adventure, you run around a big and colorful overworld gaining new powers and improving old ones. You find items that improve your mobility and make your character tangibly more effective and completing tasks, without using the usual ham-handed tactic of just making them hit harder. One of the game’s main focuses is your endurance bar, which dictates your movement by draining when you jump, hang onto ledges, climb, and swim underwater, and recovering when you stand still or run on a surface. As you consume power-enhancing fruit, the endurance bar grows from something like this:
to something like this:
and then, if you play your cards right, maybe something like this:
Endeavor is certainly not the first game to use the “fatigue bar” concept, but the way it’s used makes you feel like your character is genuinely growing in strength as you progress through the game. You’re probably going to need it too, because the ladders are enormous.
While endeavor is just one of many good games to come out of the Flixel craze around that time, I have to say that the amount of world-building in manages to accomplish makes it undoubtedly my favorite. The throwback style makes the creatures and features detailed enough to be distinguishable but vague enough to let the imagination run wild. I’m not saying you have to be the imaginative type to enjoy this, but as with any adventure game, it certainly helps. Anyway, I won’t keep you; click the buttons below to proceed to the game, and/or Zillix’s website.
I’m so jelly if you’re playing this for the first time. Thanks for reading & enjoy!
There’s this small development team called Askiisoft that recently release their second game, Pause Ahead, to some very favorable reviews. Before that, though, if we drift back to the distant time of 2009, they released a Flash game called Tower of Heaven. It’s understandable that people have their doubts about Flash games, but know that when I say Tower of Heaven is a good game, I don’t just mean that it’s just “good for a Flash game”; This one is definitely worth minimizing the Steam window for.
The game consists of using typical platformer mechanics to ascend through multiple floors of the Tower, while an omniscient and omnipotent deity saddles you with arbitrary rules designed to generally give you a hard time.
These rules pile up and gradually change how you think about the game. There’s something about the fact that I’m defying a deity who’s trying to kill me, along with the unbelievably cool 8-bit soundtrack, that makes me feel like a complete badass in this game. It’s one of those die-a-lot games (think Super Meat Boy or Hotline Miami), but it’s not unreasonably challenging and often dangles your objective right in front of your nose. Point being, you’ll want to keep playing.
Let’s talk about the style for a bit too. Low res sprites with classic Gameboy colors give the game a retro feel, but the animation and hitbox mechanics are more modern. Rather than simply imitating classic games, Tower of Heaven takes the good and leaves the bad, invoking nostalgia but also keeping the player more immersed than they’ve ever been with the older titles.
To be honest, I didn’t even notice how challenging it got until I stopped for a second and just looked at it. It creates that effect by allowing the player to keep trying and not annoying them with lives, continue screens, or lengthy death sequences. You just want to get to the top, and you know that if you keep going at it, you will. The mechanics are simple and minimalist, but the high quality programming and design ensures that you won’t run into any glitches or unfair situations — it’s just a pleasant experience overall.
Tower of Heaven is free to play on the developers’ website! Go ahead and click the button below to go there. You know you want to. ;]
And I notice these guys don’t get a whole lot of attention, so let’s give them some love, eh? Here are some more links for your face.
Thanks for reading.
Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land was released for the Game Boy in 1994, and was the first Nintendo game to feature Wario as the protagonist. The premise of the game is that Wario is paddling around the ocean on the dingy little raft, and one day decides to land on an island and kill everything, and it differs significantly from the other Super Mario Land (and overall Mario) titles in that you can effectively attack enemies and are harder to kill as a result. In Mario all of the enemies essentially kill you just by touching you; now you are those enemies. I can tell you that, for someone who’s played a fair share of the original Mario platformers, that is a very satisfying feeling. But I think what I enjoy most about this game is Wario’s face.
This is his expression throughout the game. Let’s zoom in on that.
That little bonus aside, the game’s mechanics are so insanely fun that I’m itching to play it even as I write this. It is a side-scrolling platformer like the Mario games that preceded it, but you start in big-mode and can take out enemies by shoulder-dashing into them, jumping on their heads, or, unless they’re huge or aiming something sharp in your direction, just walking into them. Once they are stunned, you can usually also pick them up and throw them, which is just a nice way to kill 2 birds with a bird.
I’m about to kill this guy by chucking his brother at him. That’s metal as fuck. Now, you might notice that I have a different hat in this shot; much like Mario collects mushrooms super leaves, Wario collects different hats to gain his abilities. The hats also take you back to big-mode in case you get hit by something and turn into Lil Wario:
But even Lil Wario stuns smaller enemies by walking into them, and can pick them up and throw them. That being said, my main critique of in this game is that Wario is actually too powerful and the game isn’t very challenging for me as a result. If you’re coming from something like Super Meat Boy it’ll be a walk in the park, but I can imagine it being hard for casual gamers — I would label it as a good “introduce-your-boyfriend/girlfriend-to-gaming” game. I say that not to degrade it, but actually to emphasize that it is a genuinely good game, and a genuinely good game is an enjoyable experience for players of any skill level.
Though Wario Land generally follows the traditional Mario Land format, there is a greater emphasis on collecting coins and discovering secrets. I haven’t yet confirmed this for myself, I hear there are different endings based on how many coins you have collected. So go, my friend.
Go and tear this island a new asshole.
Seirei Densetsu Lickle, or as its better known, Little Samson, was released for the NES in 1992 by publisher Taito, best known for hit arcade titles like Space Invaders and Bubble Bobble. It was one of those games that, despite being chock-full of content and surprisingly well polished, just never took off in the US market. On one hand it’s saddening to see such a good game so lacking in recognition, but on the other hand I’m almost glad it didn’t become widely known by the US rebranding. I mean, look at this shit:
Little Samson? Really? It was so cute and novel before, why’d they have to go and turn it into this? I understand targeting it more towards an American audience, but here it seems like they just made it more generic and less stylish. They even changed Lickle’s vest color, which was still green in-game. I always wonder about how that type of thing happens,and honestly I think I might have a good idea of it.
While I can hardly excuse the American name and box art, what I can do is look on the brighter side: the INside. Let’s take a peek.
The game begins with a king sending off some soldiers to some seemingly urgent mission. Will they slay a dragon and save the royal heir, or maybe ward off a horde of vicious bandits from a nearby village?
No. No, they’ll just get fucked by this guy. That’s where you come in.
You assemble a band of misfits and then switch freely between them on a journey to the evil wizard’s liar, where he sits patiently browsing Facebook and awaits your arrival. Each hero has different strength and weaknesses, though I found myself gravitating most towards the dragon, who was tankier than Samson, could fly for a limited time, and fired off curved shots which allowed me to hit enemies at weird angles. This only downside of the dragon was that, unlike Samson, he could not climb walls; that sometimes proved necessary. The Golem had the most health and the most powerful attack, but had limited range, was slow, and couldn’t jump high. The mouse, named K.O., was very easy to kill, but could run on walls, place bombs, and go through small spaces. Its main use was discovering secrets and retrieving otherwise unreachable items. Once you went through a short and easy level with each of these four, you were taken to the main overworld.
Oh, I’m sorry, am I playing Skyrim? Because I swear I’m looking at Skyrim. The overworld just screams adventure, and despite seeming to have just 5 levels, it’s not a straight line — you bee-line all around the map in a relentless massacre of all that breaths and moves. The visuals caught me off-guard at first, and I almost forgot that past the introductory levels, this game really gets NES-hard. Though easier than the likes of Kid Icarus and Castlevania, it was still the type of game where you die so much that you practically learn to do some parts with your eyes closed. Luckily it was similar to Megaman in that, if you had extra lives and died to the boss, you would restart right at the boss battle. I couldn’t imagine playing it otherwise, because the bosses in this game don’t screw around. Here’s me half a second from dying to one.
Oh yeah, that’s actually the first one. You won’t be needing any DLC to put 500 hours into this game, I assure you. Overall, the game is just a very well executed platformer with detailed visuals, smooth animation, and generally entertaining level and enemy design. The developers clearly did very well in working around the limitations of the NES. I would highly recommend giving this hidden gem a go if you can find it!
Here is a game with which I’ve had a hella tumultuous relationship, as I do with pretty much every good horror game I play. It stresses me out and it scares the living shit out of me, but I keep coming back to it. Lone Survivor is a survival horror game by independent game developer Jasper Byrne, comparable in a lot of ways to the Silent Hill series.
Although the game is in an “8-bit” style, it was taken far beyond the traditional limitations of 8-bit, using a wide range of colors to play with light and darkness, making look rather nice. You find yourself in an abandoned apartment building, in the middle of a city overtaken by what is presumably some sort of disease. The result of this disease is apparently turning into a terrifying lanky motherfucker and running around the halls making a noise somewhere between screaming and radio static.
These creatures are designed in a way that actually leaves a fair amount to the imagination, and boy does my imagination go wild with it. I’m going to be honest; prior to playing this I did not believe that an 8-bit-esque horror game could be anything but funny , so naturally I was pretty blindsided when this game’s sounds and visuals left me far more frightened and distressed than the seemingly apathetic protagonist.
I almost didn’t even wanna look at the bodies.
Another interesting element of the game is that the protagonist often hallucinates and has strange dreams. Add in the almost supernatural nature of the disease, and it becomes difficult to distinguish the products of his mind from reality. One of my favorite hallucinations of his, which you encounter pretty early in, is Dr. Box AKA The Boxer AKA Boxy “Smooth Operator” Jones.
His favorite pastimes are facing in the other direction, wearing a box, and speaking in riddles. Not once does our beloved protagonist think to just take the damn box off his head, or go around to the other side of him. On the bright side though, when you encounter him in a dream he tends to supply you with whatever you happen to need at the moment, which appears in your backpack when you wake up. He’s always a dick about it though. I felt like he was my sugar daddy or something.
Your main motives throughout the game are to find other humans, to survive, and to escape the building and presumably the city. However, the further down in the building you go, the more the environment seems to be overtaken by the biological waste of the disease, and the more dangerous the enemies become. It also becomes darker and you need to rely more on your flashlight. Essentially, the floor that you start on, which seems like the scariest thing ever initially, will seem like a cakewalk halfway through the game.
Personally, I would recommend this game for the story, and if not for the story then for the premise, and if not for the premise then for the visuals. It is, without a doubt, an excellent game. However, if you are easily deterred by scary stuff, then perhaps it’s not for you. Jump scares would be too simple; this game is constantly unsettling.
It’s available for $10 on the official website or on Steam. There is also an online demo offered through Kongregate on the website to give you a sense for the game mechanics. If you’re not really feeling the immersive horror right now but still wanna explore the game (perhaps while sitting back and enjoying some tea yeah?), this guy will gladly play it for you.
I thought I would share with y’all something that I’ve been playing recently: a little action roguelike called Delver. The game first piqued my interest several months ago, when it was in very early alpha and didn’t yet have a website; I downloaded it then and was charmed by the Minecraft-esque visuals and simple, no-explanation-needed premise. It came to find again recently, so I decided to check out the progress. It’s been polished and expanded significantly from when I last played, and needless to say I’m very satisfied.
You start off looking into a mysterious hallway, just begging you to go in. What could await you there?
A HOST OF FEARSOME AND POWERFUL ENEMIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO:
DIRE BAT, AND ASSOCIATE
THE THING THAT I DIDN’T GO NEAR
The dungeon is randomly generated, and your objective is to head deeper and deeper into it, finding increasingly powerful weapons and gear, fighting off hordes of monsters, and avoiding traps. As for what’s at the bottom…
I’ll leave that for you to find out. Not because I wanna tease, but because this is a game I don’t want to spoil for anyone. I’ve been playing the up-to-date version for the last few days, and while individual playthroughs don’t last all that long regardless of whether you win or lose, the randomly-generated aspect gives the game amazing replay value.
One more thing though: when you die, you die. As in, your save file is gone. It’s like Minecraft in hardcore mode.
So, while I wouldn’t say the game in actively difficult (although I have yet to beat it completely), I would still recommend treading carefully. You don’t wanna die to something stupid, like a Magic Asshole.
You can buy the game here (it’s just $5) and vote for it on Steam Greenlight here.
Personally, I expect very good things from this game in the future.