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Sunset – Witness a Revolution Unfold | Hands-On Preview

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Sunset Preview Title Image

This successful Kickstarter project sees an unfolding revolution in fictional 1970s South America. A housekeeper, Angela Burnes gets a birds-eye view of the violent uprising from the top-floor penthouse of her client Gabriel Ortega.  This February preview build gave us a small glimpse into the world of Sunset, taking place over three nights within the game’s storyline — one night each, at the beginning, middle and near the end of the story.

Our first glimpse of Angela is in the soft reflection she projects on the metal door frame of the elevator she rides to Ortega’s penthouse. Her agenda for the evening is showcased on the right side of the screen: empty ash trays and clean the desk. Her inner monologue plays (and is recorded in an accessible diary), and we begin to learn about the uprising. It is early, small explosions and turmoil have begun to infiltrate the city, but as we enter the penthouse any concerns are momentarily pushed a way as we follow a soft operatic voice to the first floor patio and garden where a record plays.

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Here the flowing colors of a rapidly setting sun breach the large overhead skylight, raining down on the water feature below and a fire burns brightly in a nearby fireplace — it is noted that a fire, though a source of warmth and comfort can also be a means of destruction. These sort of touches instantly remind us that in this beautifully, minimalist, art-deco styled world we are moments away from danger, glimpsed from the balcony of a high-rise penthouse, or perhaps, more subtly through the contents of the dwelling itself.

Passing again by the wet bar towards the balcony, Angela scratches off one of the items on her to-do list by cleaning up the ash-trays. As she does so, our screen cuts to a shot of the city at dusk and times passes more quickly. This is the key function of the game. Each night provides Angela with an hour to complete her tasks, however there is often more to see and do, even in this brief preview build. Returning from the still of the city, the light has further dwindled – brilliant pink, peach and orange tones are overtaken by the purples of approaching dusk.

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We know from Angela’s opening monologue that she is much more than a housekeeper; she has a history as a political activist. When moving into the office to clean the desk, she notices important documents on Gabriel’s desk, and here the choices begin. Does she simply place the documents in the briefcase and clean, or do so and add a note offering help?  In the distance a smoke plume rises from a lone building – a small taste of the fires of revolution just beginning to burn. Eventually the hour is up and we jump forward to Christmas Day of the same year (1972).

Things are clearly different now. Angela’s words let us know that Gabriel is firmly a part of the revolution against the government. Is she involved, or has she simply gained this information from things she has picked up during her weekly visits to the Penthouse?  The view from atop the world has changed as ashes rain from the sky like soft snow and the visibility is cut by the haze of constant fires. The rumble of gunfire and explosions are consistent in the distance. As she approaches the window a military helicopter rises above the railing and pauses as if searching for something.

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In our second night of the preview some areas of the penthouse are now closed off, whereas certain sections that were once closed are open for searching. The suite has become filled with various boxes and pieces of art. It’s suggested that Gabriel is doing his best to save the history of the city amid the chaos. But what else could be going on here? A makeshift cot is being used as a bed on the upper floor. A lovely living area pond is now boarded up and many of the boxes throughout the loft are unmarked.

If we have any doubt as to Angela or Gabriel’s intentions in regards to the revolution, they seem to be laid to rest as the third day of preview begins. But… we’ll leave that up to the players to discover. Sunset certainly does an excellent job of establishing intrigue in this mini-preview. The graphics are fairly bare-bones and I’m not sure how much of an upgrade this small title will receive in that department when it comes time for launch. Angela has a few set tasks — how much those tasks play into the how the game changes are unclear, however the choices she makes with regards to getting involved obviously will. Amongst the obvious tasks there are also various notes that Gabriel leaves throughout the house, which she can respond to. IF this changes their relationship or the story is unclear, but I’m willing to bet it has an impact.

The focus is on the narrative setup through, the mood, music, dialog and the distant sounds of increasing chaos. The music in particular, helps to set the tone – which is one of contrasts. This beautiful penthouse and the lovely operatic or folksy tones from the record player are set against the backdrop of incoming disaster. This is an early build, so there are issues with collisions, the occasional texture problem and a bit of stuttering here and there, but that’s all common for these types of builds. The preview successfully sets the stage for what we should expect from the game and we’re looking forward to it. The Revolution is coming and it begins at Sunset.
 

Preview build provided by Tale of Tales. Pre-order available here. Game set for release Spring 2015.

Freelance writer and used-to-be artist based out of the Pacific Northwest. I studied Game Art & Design in college. I have been writing web content for the last 6 years, including for my own website dedicated to entertainment, gaming & photography. I have been playing games dating back to the NES era. My other interests are film, books and music. I sometimes pretend to be great at photography. You can find me on Youtube, Twitch, Twitter, 500px, DeviantArt and elsewhere under my nick: JamesInDigital.

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Co-op Gaming Shines at EGX Rezzed With We Were Here Together, Phogs!, and Cake Bash

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Co-op gaming

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.

Cake Bash

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 PartyCake 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.

Phogs!

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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