I have to admit, I’m not the biggest fan of puzzle platformers (or even puzzle games, to be honest), but when they’re good, they’re good. With The Swapper, Finnish studio Facepalm Games has not only uncovered a fun new mechanic but also crafted an extremely intriguing science fiction tale around it. Though the central themes may not be completely original to sci-fi, the way they come into focus as you solve puzzles and explore the beautiful claymation world is deftly executed. This is a great example of how to tell a story with a challenging game.
However, for your enlightenment:
I hope you enjoy it. It’s quite difficult, but quite beatable, and there’s a proper ending movie and everything.
Jelly no Puzzle is the latest difficult puzzle game from Qrostar. It shares some similarities with his earlier Hanano Puzzle but has enough changes in the gameplay to make it a new challenge. Mainly, the jelly blocks push each other instead of being switchable.
Qrostar is still making tweaks to the game before finalizing it, but I found the current version very playable. The latest improvement-in-progress should help to compensate for colorblindness through adjustments made to the color values. So, if you have something to report or a comment to share with him, you can head over to his diary to post it. That’s also were you can find a link to download alternate versions of levels 38, 39 and 40 that were replaced during development.
The cult classic survival roguelike UnReal World is now donationware as of version 3.16. Creator Sami Maaranen cites faster releases as the reason for the switch, saying “massive AI, end-game and graphics improvements are underway and I’d like to keep releasing new versions whenever substantial new features are up and running”. People who already own a full license to the game are still entitled to free updates should it ever revert back to a paid scheme (a possibility that Maaranen acknowledges).
Although it’s a lesser-known roguelike, UnReal World has garnered a cult following for its complex combat and survival systems, as well as its unique portrayal of Finnish history and mythology. Unlike many dungeon crawlers, UW is extremely open-ended, allowing the player to play a number of non-combat roles such as hunter, hermit, fisherman, or trader. More often than not, the elements are your worst enemy, and understanding how to survive in an Iron Age Finnish wilderness is one of the game’s major challenges.
It’s maybe easiest to compare Antichamber to Portal, but it actually reminds me more of The Manhole, an old children’s adventure game where a boat ride down a river might take you into the teacup of a character you were chatting with earlier. Like that game, Antichamber is constantly subverting your expectations about what is possible, especially with regards to physical space, and gives you a relatively large amount of freedom to explore its interconnected world. However, whereas The Manhole was goalless and sometimes completely random, Antichamber has a logic behind it – a method to its madness – that makes it such an interesting puzzler (and a technical marvel, as well).
There’s no story to speak of in the game and barely even any text. Instead, proverbs are found on posters as you play, encouraging outside and inside the box thinking in life and acting as simple metaphors for the game’s puzzles. Antichamber is almost self-referential in this sense, since, according to its press page, the development got its start 7 years ago through “a series of naive programming mistakes” made by its creator, Alexander Bruce. And just as Bruce must have undoubtedly felt surprised, frustrated, and ultimately elated during his development of the game, so should fans of puzzle games that end up playing this terrific title.
Teleglitch is a top-down shooter set in a gloomy military research facility. The game reminds me of Doom in terms of theme and pacing, but has more of a survival horror bent to it, with scarce ammunition and high-damaging, fast-moving monsters. In a lot of ways, it feels like what I wanted Doom 3 to be – a mostly action-based game with less gimmicky horror elements.
Given the game’s tiny graphics, it’s impressive how detailed it looks. Overall, the aesthetics are great, with line-of-sight and sound design playing a huge part in setting a creepy atmosphere. I also like how much punch the guns pack – even a simple pistol distorts the screen and sounds explosive. This is particularly effective given the scarcity of ammo and gun-toting enemies (at least in the early stages). When I encountered my first shotgun enemy it was an exciting battle that ended with me backed pitifully into the corner of a small room – surprising, given how many similar enemies I’ve mowed down in other games!
Teleglitch also features a unique scavenging/crafting system that lets you combine items to make new ones. A nailgun, for example, can be created from a basic pistol if combined with some other items. This can be upgraded to a tri-nailgun with more materials. Armor is also crafted in a similar manner (out of the tin cans left behind when you eat food). It’s a cool idea that makes exploring more fun and gives the player options as they try to overcome the game’s high difficulty.
The influences on Teleglitch are multivarious (it’s also billed as a “roguelike”) but come together as a coherent and enjoyable experience. I haven’t gotten far enough to comment on whether it holds up throughout all ten of its levels, but so far I’m having a great time trying and dying. Action, horror, and roguelike fans should check it out – the full game is $13, but there is a four-level demo available.
Colin Northway’s physics puzzler Incredipede came out last week. In this unique game you guide a little cyclopean creature named Quozzle to the sunbeam at the end of 60 pre-made levels or a potentially infinite number of user-made levels (currently there are over a hundred in the in-game level browser). The challenge arises from controlling Quozzle’s legs, which are built out of long bones and squishy muscles. Some levels will give you a pre-made body and task you with the movement only, whereas others will let you place musculature or even bones. Needless to say, solutions to Incredipede’s levels can be quite varied and the free-form nature of the puzzles are a big part of the game’s appeal.
Overall, the production values are quite good, with attractive woodblock-style visuals by Thomas Shahan and sound effects by Super Meat Boy’s Jordan Fehr. Perhaps most impressive, however, is the game’s interface, which is quite intuitive, whether you’re adding legs to Quozzle or developing your own level to share with other players online. This is especially important given how often you’ll be tweaking your creations, which, if you’re anything like me, will veer toward the break-dancing, as-many-legs-as-possible variety.
Fans of Colin’s first title, Fantastic Contraption, will feel at home with Incredipede, as they are similar games at heart. Incredipede is available for $15 direct or from GOG.com. An 11-level demo is playable on the game’s website but does not include any of levels where you get to design your own Quozzle.
Steam Greenlight: Incredipede
After six years in development, and on the ten-year anniversary of the original Half-Life mod, Unknown World Entertainment’s Natural Selection 2 has finally been released into the wild.
Natural Selection 2 combines the multiplayer FPS and RTS genres in a showdown of the alien Kharaa vs the Frontiersman marines. Although the gameplay of the two sides differs in units, weapons, and attacks, each is commanded by a single player who views the game from a bird’s-eye perspective while their teammates duke it out on the ground in gun-and-tooth combat. Securing and holding resource nodes, researching (or evolving – in the case of the Kharaa) more powerful upgrades and units, and working as an organized team are key to winning in NS2, and it will be interesting to see what sort of strategies emerge and shift over time.
Speaking of shifting gameplay, NS2 also boasts an impressive suite of mod support, and players have already created new content ranging from new maps to entirely different gameplay modes. This active community element, in combination with steady support, feedback, and events from the development team over at Unknown Worlds, ensures that Natural Selection 2 will continue to evolve well into the future.
Hotline Miami is out now! The debut of Dennaton Games, composed of Jonatan Soderstrom (aka Cactus) and Dennis Wedin, Hotline Miami is a fast paced and violent overhead action game. It’s also pretty damn great, and very difficult. The game has a lot of atmosphere, sitting somewhere between Drive and Scarface, with constant 80′s inspired techno blaring over your murderous rampage.
The crux of the game is killing dozens upon dozens of gangsters, but you’re on even footing with them, dying in a single shot (or swing). Hotline Miami’s hyper aggressive nature and near instant retries create an addictive loop of shooting and getting shot until you finally hit everything just right, everybody dies but you, and then you feel pretty dang good about your ability to brutally murder virtual people. It’s extremely cathartic and that feeling of being a golden Floridian god of death drives the whole game.
While it’s easy to gush about how good the game is, the release is hindered somewhat by a large amount of bugs, though the majority of the crashes have already been patched out. It’s still frustrating to not have achievements unlocking in Steam or getting a mask that doesn’t seem to do anything. The game’s controller support was also removed in the first patch after release due to it causing some severe issues– hopefully its absence is only temporary.
Live action release trailer after the cut:
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Retro-inspired platformer and puzzler La-Mulana will be returning to its PC roots next week.
Priced at $15 USD, the PC version of this remake will include the Hell Temple and Attack Mode features that were made available as DLC on the WiiWare version, as well as support easy modification of the game.
La-Mulana will be available at the launch of Playism’s new English site on July 13, 2012. The original game can still be downloaded for free however, so be sure to check it out in the meantime!