Back in October, Enthusiast Gaming hosted EGLX in Toronto, Canada, featuring many games from indie developers. A lot of the titles showcased were early in development, with developers of each game present to talk to. With the many other shops and artists populating the show, as well as the Canada Cup going on, the show was lively and filled with energy.
Some games stuck out more than others, but all made an impression and showed off what the upcoming indie developers are working on for the future. A list of many of the single player games can be found below in alphabetical order.
Blightmare looks like a lighthearted game, but its child-friendly visuals deceive. The game is a psychological horror that delves into the fears and nightmares of the main heroine Blissa. The game starts off cute but becomes darker as time goes on while the player tries to fight off the nightmares that plague Blissa’s imagination. Blightmare has been successfully funded on Kickstarter.
A bug net is Blissa’s tool of choice. The player will use the net to interact with the many bugs that are around the game’s setting: a beautiful forest in the character’s dream. By netting a caterpillar’s head, the bug will climb up walls allowing the player to get to other areas. Other bugs, such as moths, will let the player float down to the ground slowly for a controlled descent, while also allowing the player the option to a double jump if they want, but the jump will use up the bug. Essentially, bugs act as finite power-ups. The game has other objects to help with platforming such as cocoons that the player can bounce off to help get to higher areas or grab with the net to climb ledges, as well as objects that Blissa can swing on, with an emphasis on momentum.
Blightmare is still early in development, in an alpha stage. For what the game has presented, it shows promise to be an interesting experience. The level design is creative but still looks to be a traditional platformer, making it easy to get into but has an aesthetic and style that will be sure to win over many people, making it stand out.
Steam, Nintendo Switch
The Switch has been getting a lot of quality titles as of late, and many more are coming. Double Cross by 13AM Games is one such title. The game is a love letter to all the platforming games of the past and present with a new modern spin. The level design harkens back to games such a Sonic and Mega Man Zero, which have been loved by many for a long time.
The game sports a story where the player has to discover clues throughout the world and talk to teammates to find out who Suspect X is: the Sigma-inspired villain who has attacked the R.I.F.T. headquarters.
To find out more about Double Cross from the Lead Designer Tom McCall and Narrative Deisinger Unai Cabezón click here for the interview conducted at EGLX.
Fork Parker’s Crunch Out, Little Medusa
Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Nintendo Entertainment System
No one thought that in 2018 studios would still be making games for retro cartridge consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis, but Mega Cat Studios is still making retro-style games for the consoles today. As a way to bring the passion of the studio for old games to the modern day, the company has been making games that only work on old consoles. The studio’s newest title being has been fully-kickstarted, entitled Fork Parker’s Crunch Out for the Super Nintendo. The studio also showed off Little Medusa for the NES, SNES, and Sega Genesis.
Fork Parker’s Crunch Out plays like a diner dash game where the player has to keep the members of the game studio working as they upgrade and move to bigger and better offices. The player will have to revive, feed, knock sense into workers, and repair the internet to make sure everyone is working at full capacity. Money will drop on the floor and be available to be collected for upgrades later. Two obstacles to success are the wife constantly calling which has the player trying to get off the phone as fast as possible to get back to work, and the pet pig that wanders around and distracts the main character, putting a halt to his movement.
Little Medusa is a puzzle action game, where the gamer needs to turn creatures to stone and kick them into the water to create paths to get to gems while avoiding being hit. Along the way the player will encounter boss battles as she attempts to save Mount Olympus from angry titans and restore her body.
Both games work perfect on the old consoles and still feel modern while being built as an older game. For people that like to collect for older consoles, Mega Cat Studios has been making great additions to add to any set of games
Top-down Metroidvania shooter Glo Phlox is a work of passion, with its developer intending to build a beautiful world inspired by Hyper Light Drifter and gameplay harkening back to games such as Enter The Gungeon and Titan Souls. The world holds many secrets and a few additional bosses for the player to find, along with the lost memories due to a wolf’s attack on the main character.
After being in production for a long time the developers are doubling down on the project, especially after having a great showing at EGLX this year. Patrons of the show came by and refused to give up despite the game’s gruelling difficulty, working hard at beating the demo and finding all of the game’s secrets.
To find out more about Glo Phlox and the main character Cordette click here to see an interview with the creative director Justin Sennema
Nintendo Switch, Playstation Vita, PC, Android, Apple IOS
From the creators of Guns Of Icarus comes a whole new style of game from them in the kung fu game Hamsterdam, staring the lovable Pim as he beats down crooked rodents taking over the city. For a game that incorporates many different control styles, the game feels responsive and fast creating an invigorating experience. Most people remember old school motion control as just shaking a controller randomly to attack, but not in Hamsterdam, as moving to the game’s rhythm and knowing where the enemies are is the key to success.
The game had a strong showing at EGLX, showcasing on Switch and mobile. Playing the game with motion controls was surprisingly fun and not gimmicky like most would expect.
To find out more about Pim and Hamsterdam, click here to see an interview with the programmer Cameron Bajus from Muse Games.
Hellbound The Awakening
Hellbound The Awakening is 2D Metroidvania brawler game set in a dark and Gothic 18th century Europe during the Black Plague, where the player will have to fight off large bosses, skeletons, exploding monsters and much more. A heavy message in the game is about people getting dealt a difficult hand of cards to live with, being a reference to an old adage about trying to make the most of life with any given circumstance that is out of the person’s control. This philosophy is brought into the game as a mechanic, adding to the game’s fatalistic theme. Before the level in the demo the player is dealt a hand of tarot cards, that can then later be found and added to in the game world, which gives the player special abilities and powers.
No word has been given if the tarot cards will be random but they do add a sense of flair to the game. The lone hero will use the hand he is dealt to deal with the dark lord that has come to kill off humans as the Black Plague. Using tarot cards as the mechanic for the story’s philosophical message is a smart way to incorporate it, and depending on how the final product comes out the idea can really be something worth checking out.
As the game is now, while still very early in production, is still fun to play, but does need some smoothing in the combat. The game is heading in the right direction to be a solid action game as the level design really does feel like a cross between Metroidvania and Devil May Cry with the exploration. The music is a fantastic metal instrumental that suits the game well, keeping the player pumped. Hellbound The Awakening is looking to be a solid indie title at release, but there is still a lot of work to go into it.
Games are an art piece, they delve into thoughts and concepts through a visual interactive medium. Infini carries this idea of concepts by being set in a world where concepts become personified. The player acts as hope and interacts with such ideas as war, memory, and time to name a few. The visual side of the game is quite interesting and psychedelic, with images seeming nonsensical but create a weird experience where the player questions what they are seeing and why.
The gameplay is a new take to the infinite falling style of games. The character will loop from bottom to top and side to side and needs to use that to get to the exit avoiding the obstacles in the way. Other tools the player has is to slow down and speed up the descent, helping to avoid objects and accelerate away from enemies that follow the gamer. The last tool, which adds the most depth to the game, is the ability to grow what the camera sees. Unless an obstacle is on screen it can not affect the player. By slowly growing what is seen the player can get around and create new pathways as they try to get to the exit. As the screen grows the camera can and will shift in certain areas that may even hide objects to open a new path.
The art may take some getting used to but there is a weird story about Hope escaping an infinite dimension which consists of falling and ideology of many topics. The gameplay may be the best part and worth checking out for the right price on release.
One Finger Death Punch 2
Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
The developers at Silver Dollar Games are back to pack a punch with One Finger Death Punch 2, taking what they learnt and did not like about the first to make an even better game this time around. The game is a visual treat to watch, even on a convention floor; watching players who are so intent at getting a high score is exhilarating. With over 1000 animations for combat, different weapons, and special skill the game is fast but enjoyable to see how all the action unfolds.
The game was showcased at the convention holding a $1000 reward to whoever had the high score by the end of the show. Continuously there were people around the both watching and waiting to play.
To find out about the kung fu inspirations and more about the game click here to watch an interview with Jonathan Flook, the game’s programmer, one of the two brothers developing the game.
Project Zephyr is a 3D puzzle platformer whose main character is a fragment of a giant object that has the power to control nature. The character is the “runt of the litter” but is on a journey to collect all the fragments and bring them back together by changing the seasons to alter nature and creatures to get past puzzles. The game has a major focus on exploration with leaf collectibles hidden around the worlds that can be gathered.
Switching seasons is a quick process that changes the looks of the world immediately, so the game has no load times when switching. Most of the puzzles are akin to the average 3D platformer with jumping around and exploring as a way to solve challenges but Project Zephyr adds in the changing season that adds another layer to the exploration and challenge. For instance switch to winter freezes water that the player can then walk on and makes animals disappear. In summer, pumpkins can be picked up and grow to a large size in fall to be used for accessing higher ledges.
People that enjoy exploring creative and interesting worlds will enjoy Project Zephyr, the game is also suitable for all ages as the challenges and aesthetics work well for younger and older people.
Real-time strategy games usually involve building up troops and attacking an enemy or multiple while taking over land, except in Radio Violence the game has no troops, instead opting for towers. The towers are used to take over land, and the more land a player has the more resources they have. The game is meant to be a quick battle and last only a few minutes, with matches intended to be pick up and play. Maps are made up of hexagons and come in different shapes and sizes, along with different obstacles. Players each get up to three towers that can be picked from a set of five before starting a match.
Radio Violence’s world is ruled by dictators fighting for dominance using radio towers to spread propaganda. The more towers and the stronger the signal on an area gives control of it. After wars and conflict many dictators have arisen and now fight for total control of the world. Players will take control of a dictator and then fight for dominance using propaganda to get the people to follow them.
Currently, the game is missing a single player component but the mode is in production. The story mode will cover the back story of the dictators and the lore of why the world is in the state it is now. Radio Violence is a quick and simple pick up and play real-time-strategy game that forgoes a lot of the micromanaging troops and resources, making a good entry point for new players to the genre.
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam
Riverbond is a dungeon crawler that is made up of voxels, sharing a visual comparison to the Zelda-like 3D Dot Game Heroes. The lighting in Riverbond really helps to bring colour and life to the world. The voxel particle effects help to bring vibrancy to the world as they add to the overall aesthetics, for example, the dust cloud behind the feet of a running player. The game started as a single player experience but evolved over time to incorporate multiplayer. Even with the changes the game is still completely playable as a solo experience.
The level design is based on a highly destructive world and Zelda. Players will have to venture and find new equipment and weapons to combat the many enemies and bosses. Levels will even draw inspiration from other games such as Pac-Man and Q*Bert to list a couple. With the voxels used as a way to build the handcrafted worlds, players will be able to destroy many things including cutting grass like traditional Zelda games, along with many objects. The game will also have many collectibles and secrets to find hidden throughout the world. One of the fun mechanics that gamers are able to use is picking up objects to throw at enemies, and even picking up the monsters to whip off of a cliff.
For what started as a single player game the title has come a long way and looks to work well both in single player and multiplayer. Riverbond is a good title to get to cover solo play and something to engage with when people come to visit. The world and gameplay will be highly enjoyed by those that like Zelda and even Diablo style of games as a dungeon crawler and loot gathering game.
The Floor Is Made Of Lava
One game many kids have played is ‘The Floor Is Lava’, which has them jumping from furniture to furniture as they try not to touch the ground. Salvadora Studios have taken this old kids game and turned it into a story where Jimmy, the protagonist, embarks on a new journey as he tries to save his brother from the darkness. The journey will be through areas full of lava, graveyards, and various different locations featuring many creatures and bosses. Along the way, Jimmy will be able to find tools that will help along the travel.
The gameplay is like any other platformer, but the real draw of the game is the journey as the game will get progressively harder with around 80 levels. Along the way will be many bosses and enemies that come from Jimmy’s imagination to stop him. Jimmy will also find new equipment and tools to help along the way and can use them in past levels to access to new areas and rewards, adding a degree of Metroidvania level design to the game.
While the game still has bugs to be worked out, it has been Greenlit for Steam and can be put on a wishlist, and the studio’s website has a free demo that can be downloaded. The game looks like it has the potential to be a cute and fun platformer full of challenges and exploration. The game is worth keeping an eye on for those that love indie platformers.
Steam, Android, Apple IOS
November 7, 2018
Inspired by cartoons such as Fairly Odd Parents and Power Puff Girls, Traplabs draws inspiration from Real Time Strategy games when it comes to its controls and maze-like level design. Each level is short, but difficulty can make them seem a lot longer. The game features over a hundred levels and will get progressively harder. Timing becomes a large aspect of the game and so does patience. Challenges need to be studied to see the pattern and then execute a strategy. Some levels will focus on timing, while others may focus on speed and precision to avoid traps and collect all the coins on screen.
Story-wise, Traplabs follows a simple premise: Billy needs to get money to buy a new console. Billy, in a touch of youthful naivete, agrees to earn money by going through rigorous testing stages. Each stage ascends in difficulty, bringing Billy one step closer to paying for the console and ascending to his much-desired status of “cool”.
The game works well on both mobile and PC. On mobile, the character will move to wherever the player clicks, such as the real-time strategy style of game. On PC, players can use the arrow keys to move freely and get to each exit. The game’s art is a huge highlight and scratches the nostalgia itch associated with childhood cartoons.
Speedrunning has brand new ways to play games and has also brought many new challenges, competitions and videos. X.O.-GO has taken the challenge of speed running and built a game 2D platformer around the idea. The title tasks the player to run through areas collecting ammo to drop bombs and get to the end. Along the way, enemies will get in the way and so will obstacles. Enemies will die to a bomb, but getting the timing right to avoid or to kill them is important to completing levels quickly. Another major hurdle along the way will be boss battles, one example is a helicopter that shoots at and follows the player. The way to beat the helicopter is to jump out of cover and drop a bomb in the air so it will explode and damage the boss.
Areas start off linear but start to get larger and more complex and have the player exploring to find the exit. The character can also grab ledges to climb up and wall jump to reach new areas. Levels will also have some puzzles, for example, doors that won’t open unless the player finds the control panel and destroys it. At the start, the player will be able to pick between two different characters with different stats as they go to stop a nuclear war from breaking out.
If people want a game that can challenge them then X.O.-GO is one to look forward to. Players will have to learn levels and game mechanics as they try to get better in attempts to get the best time possible. Having a story to go with the game helps to sell the setting and gives more reason to play. The controls are solid and X.O.-GO looks like a promising title in the future.
Co-op Gaming Shines at EGX Rezzed With We Were Here Together, Phogs!, and Cake Bash
Over the years, jolly co-op gaming has been in decline, especially from AAA developers. Several recent games have been standouts, such as A Way Out, Strange Brigade, and the Far Cry series, though the latest pioneers of co-op gaming will likely come from the indie community.
While exploring EGX Rezzed, the atmosphere was filled with a sense of mutual enjoyment as gamers came together to play a plethora of team-building games. Among these games were some of my personal highlights including We Were Here Together, Cake Bash, and Phogs!
We Were Here Together
We Were Here Together is the latest co-op adventure puzzle game by independent studio Total Mayhem Games.
The title continues on from two previously released projects, We Were Here and We Were Here Too, with the former available on Steam for free. Set amidst a frozen landscape, the first two games centred on exploring a mysterious castle while solving puzzles as part of a two-person team. Players were separated throughout the playthrough until the final moments, which featured a touching scene where the puzzling pals would eventually meet to conquer the remaining conundrums.
We Were Here Together immediately shakes things up by starting the game with both players working together in the same environment. The EGX demo starts off outside of the castle grounds in an expedition outpost where two explorers suddenly receive a distress call from somewhere in the frozen wastes. Players must work together to decipher an incoming transmission and correctly pinpoint the distress beacon.
The location itself is the answer to a series of puzzles, requiring both people to work together. A great example of teamwork is one player adjusting an outside satellite while the other stays inside to alter the radio’s frequency until a voice can be heard. This is where the creative ingenuity from the developers comes into play as solutions are different for each playthrough. The puzzles themselves remain the same, but, by using the same example as before, the voice may only be heard on a different frequency. Similar situations where the outcome changes include changing co-ordinates and figuring out which key may fit a particular door.
Roughly one-third of the game will be set in a shared environment while latter parts will take place back inside the castle in a traditional, separated format. Two paths are laid out later for the players to choose between, providing avenues for replayability. The changing solutions also add to the replay value as it prevents veteran gamers from going back and telling their new partner the answers.
The moments where players are physically apart highlight one of the unique features of the game: the radios. Both characters are equipped with walkie-talkies so players can communicate with each other. Radios are a brilliant immersion tool as the mechanic works exactly as a two-way radio should, with the wielder having to hold down a button to speak and release to hear the other. The radio mechanic is optional, though, as players can simply use a third-party chat. However, the added difficulty and roleplaying add an extra element to an already rather tricky title.
We Were Here Together is a fun shared experience that proves a challenge for even the most seasoned puzzle solvers. The release date and price of the project are unknown at present, but the game will be available on Steam.
During EGX Rezzed 2019, the Coatsink team had a glorious display full of plush animals, colourful scenery, and even a rather large and comfortable dog bed.
I was lucky enough to go hands-on with Phogs! and play a few rounds of Cake Bash with PR and Events Manager Jack Sanderson. Both games proved to be a real treat to participants, with Cake Bash serving a much-needed helping of raucous fun in a series of mini-games.
Not unlike many beloved party games—such as Mario Party—Cake Bash is an up-to-four-player competitive game featuring several rounds of friendship-ending challenges. The design of the title instantly stands out with an adorable and vivid visual style that brings a certain charm to the characters and settings.
Before each round, players choose a character from a selection of delicious desserts as their combatant. During the demo, only two game modes were available, the first of which required players to gather falling pieces of fruit and throw them inside a giant meringue. A single point is awarded for successfully tossing a piece of fruit into the bowl. However, a rare golden fruit, worth ten points, will appear every so often. Competitors must be wary of descending fiery boulders that can briefly daze any dessert. These boulders can also be picked up and lobbed at rivals. Not only can enemies launch these rocks at one another, but they can also punch and beat each other to force someone to drop their fruit.
The second mode available was a race to gather the most jellies to become the tastiest treat. Player avatars run around an arena, gathering multi-coloured jelly beans to cover their chosen dessert, and the sweet with the most treats at the end wins. While the first game mode mainly had the individual focusing on their own points, this round directly pits people against each other as limited jellies can be found, and players can steal them by whacking opponents.
While the game looks stunning, gamers will have to wait until 2020 to get their hands on Cake Bash. The late release has allowed for an increase in scope and additional modes for players to sink their teeth into.
The other title playable at the event was an equally adorable project called Phogs! The game can be played solo or with a friend, as the player controls one or both halves of a two-headed dog. The two heads can be moved independently and are able to stretch, bark, and bite.
Phogs! is set in a dream-like environment where the ground is made up of soft duvet sets and pillows, while the skies are filled with tranquil clouds gently floating in the distance. The level designs are built in a way that eases the player into the various mechanics, offering something new or demonstrating different ways to solve puzzles. Early enigmas would require both sides of the dog to work in unison to pull an object or levers simultaneously. Later levels would add a glowing orb that can be used to remove dark shadowy walls or illuminate pathways to walk across. Even the orbs are based around the idea of working as a team as one side of the dog bites onto the light ball with the other opening their mouth to act as a torch.
The charming personality of the game really shines in the various character designs and their functions within the levels. One of the final missions of the demo featured a sleeping giant that dreamed of bridges in floating thought bubbles. Players could then use the camera perspective to align the dream bridge with a section of a missing platform to cross. Other cutesy critters include wailing alarm clocks that can disturb the giants, preventing them from dreaming up a way to progress. The clocks can be led to nearby beds where they will quickly start to drift off and stop ringing.
Despite the levels being fairly linear, additional tasks can be completed to gain collectable dog biscuits. These tasks often require the dog to present characters with a particular item, for example, bringing a storybook to an owl.
The whole experience with Coatsink was a delight, both games offering a mix of controller-clenching competition and jolly cooperation. Like Cake Bash, Phogs! will also be arriving in 2020 on PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One.
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