Editorial

Indie Highlight Reel – May 28, 2017

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Welcome back to the Indie Highlight Reel where every week OnlySP runs down the most promising titles to emerge from the indie scene. The field was packed this week, with a huge number of promising games popping their heads up, but a socially-conscious platformer, a reborn tactical RPG, a 2D dark fantasy adventure, and a strange but stunning genre hybrid managed to stand out amongst the competition.

AQUELOO

Aqueloo is among the new wave of socially-conscious games hitting the market and is focused on contemporary environmental issues. As such, players take the role of Aqueloo, a tiny drop of water that is also Gaia’s champion.

With the world in dire straits, Aqueloo must work through several different environments, from a forest to a desert and even more perilous surrounds, to find and overcome the source of pollution and poison. As the game progresses, the character gains the ability to transform itself into different physical states, adding a gaseous cloud form and solid ice form in later levels. Not only are these different states vital for platforming, but they also give Aqueloo the ability to deal with obstacles and threats in varied ways.

In keeping with the game’s theme and mechanics, Aqueloo adopts a stunning watercolour aesthetic that goes hand-in-hand with the adorable character and environment designs. The visuals are supported by a simple, yet engaging and enthusiastic, piano soundtrack.

Aqueloo is being developed by a debut Spanish team called InfiniteGames and is currently seeking €5,000 on Kickstarter. The developers have also released a demo for the game, which is playable online.

THE RISE OF MOONCREST

The Rise of Mooncrest is Rick Burton’s second attempt to bring his fantasy universe of Nocturne to life, following the failure of an extremely ambitious Kickstarter campaign back in 2015.

In contrast, the new project is much reduced in scope, but remains an intriguing prospect. Mooncrest’s bombastic premise of a third-person action RPG taking inspiration from Bioware’s blockbusters has given way to a more muted strategy RPG that makes use of symbolic representations of characters, rather than intricately detailed character models.

The game takes place in the wake of an invasion and tasks players with organising the defense of the last bastion of hope for the Nocturne people from the city of Mooncrest. Players must defend the city and fight back the invading forces in tactical turn-based battles, making the most of both regular forces and the high-impact, high-importance Commander characters.

The Rise of Mooncrest is currently on Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter, seeking $35,000. More details on the game are available in the exclusive interview that OnlySP recently conducted with the the game’s lead designer, Rick Burton.

BLASPHEMOUS

Blasphemous is a twisted, non-linear 2D action-adventure game that has taken off on Kickstarter since being unveiled earlier this week, more than doubling the campaign’s goal of $50,000 in four days.

Developed by The Game Kitchen, the Spanish outfit behind the highly-acclaimed horror series The Last Door, difficult, fast-paced combat lies at the heart of Blasphemous. Players will most frequently be facing off against humanoid enemies, though the game will also include a series of daunting bosses who rule the game’s world. Although weaponry appears to be limited to a single sword, a range of relics are able to boost various abilities, and careful timing will also unlock a “Martyr’s Excommunication” technique, greatly increasing the playable character’s strength and speed.

Players will take on the role of The Penitent One, the sole survivor of a religious group cast into an abyss for their beliefs. Details of the story are limited at the present time, but the main goal is seemingly to overcome the evil that plagues the once-religious land of Orthodoxia.

The game adopts a retro-styled pixel-art aesthetic, taking inspiration from both classical art and the cityscape of Seville, Spain, to create a terrifying dark fantasy world.

Blasphemous is currently targeting a release in late 2018 for PC, although console versions are also being discussed.

DISTORTIONS

Finally, Distortions is a hard-to-pin-down game eight years in the making. Mixing action, adventure, RPG, and rhythm elements, the game stuns with the simple beauty of the debut trailer (embedded below).

Distortions puts players in control of a girl who wakes in a strange place with no recollection of who she is. Exploring the world, she quickly comes across a journal, which leads her to a violin, and, from there, the game opens up. Music in this world is magical, capable of being wielded as a weapon, but also opening paths that would otherwise be impassible.

Just as the game refuses to adhere to a single genre, players also will be subject to a range of different viewpoints and gameplay styles, from first- and third-person adventuring to 2D sidescrolling and aerial views for overworld exploration. While this blend may make Distortions sound like an unclear mess, the style on display showcases that considerable work has gone into ensuring that the game is in equal measures cohesive and  eye-catching.

Distortions is being developed by debut studio Among Giants and is currently in Steam Greenlight, targeting a PC release, though no other platforms or intended release dates have been announced.

As ever, these are just a few of the projects announced and uncovered over the past week, and many more exist that have not been covered. If you are an indie developer just starting to market your game, get in touch with us here at OnlySP to bring your game to our attention. Otherwise, let us know what from this list has tickled your fancy.

Damien Lawardorn
Damien Lawardorn is an aspiring novelist, journalist, and essayist. His goal in writing is to inspire readers to engage and think, rather than simply consume and enjoy. With broad interests ranging from literature and video games to fringe science and social movements, his work tends to touch on the unexpected. Damien is the former Editor-in-Chief of OnlySP. More of his work can be found at https://open.abc.net.au/people/21767

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