When graphic designer Jon Caplin found himself with time on his hands while recovering from a broken jaw, he began work on a personal art-design project that drew from his memories of playing the classic god game Populous. What began as a simple hobby project arrives today as a full, completed game. Titled “Reprisal,” the finished product features one of the most gorgeous presentations of pixel art I’ve seen and is free to play in-browser.
A fantastic take on the classic Lunar Lander-style game, Lunar Flight is currently discounted 75% until May 25th. This drops the price of this challenging and (perhaps unexpectedly) atmospheric game to only $2.50 on Steam, Desura, and simMarket.
I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy my low-gravity maneuvers, and drifting over the surface of the Moon in Lunar Flight really captured my attention. Whether the mission is transporting cargo from one base to another, recovering lost items, or simply exploring the lunar surface, this game provides an incredibly immersive experience that’s still approachable by people not looking for a entirely hardcore simulation.
TIGSource hasn’t covered Crawl since 2007, back with Linley’s Dungeon Crawl, and it’s changed a lot since then. Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is the living branch of Linley’s Dungeon Crawl (the original branch hasn’t been updated since 2003). Most fans of roguelikes have played it or at least know about it, but for those seeking to get into roguelikes this is a good place to start. Ortoslon got me into this particular game, and it became the first roguelike I ever finished (albeit as a Minotaur berserker, one of the easiest combinations to beat the game with).
The new update added (among many new features) a new species, octopodes, which can wear eight rings, but can’t wear armor except hats. In Crawl, species matters a lot more than starting class, class just determines which skills and items you start with, but is non-binding because you can always learn other skills and find other items: so you can begin as an elven fighter but then find a spellbook and decide to focus on magic anyway. Your species determines how fast you can increase different skills (varying from -5 to +5 learning rates), your movement speed, body size, metabolism, whether you have horns or claws or other features, and so on. If you get into the game you’ll probably try out all the species at least once, but then stick with a few favorites.
Release 0.34.01 fleshes out world generation (including massive cities complete with sewers, dungeons, catacombs, marketplaces, and outlying farmland), creatures (including werewolves, vampires, mummies, and necromancers capable of raising the dead), and many other features.
(Image Source: Fault, of the Bay 12 Forums)
The long-in-development indie FPS/RTS title Natural Selection 2 has reached an important milestone: The gorilla-like evolution for the alien team, the Onos, and the marines’ jetpack accessory (both of which were important facets of the original Half-Life mod that NS2 is the sequel to) are now in the game. These additions, along with a brand new map, “Mineshaft,” are just some of the over 100 new features, balances, and tweaks for this build, which is now available to all pre-order customers.
Check out the fantastic new trailer that shows just how far this project has come:
The levels in Dustforce aren’t long or particularly difficult, but my progress has been really slow. This is due in no small part to the results screen, where, if you’re like me, you’ll likely spend an inordinate amount of time checking your ranking, checking your friends’ rankings, watching replays, and formulating plans to improve your run. Case in point, I probably replayed the tutorial level a dozen times alone before I was satisfied enough to move on to the rest of the game.
I’ve seen Dustforce compared to Super Meat Boy as an “ultra-hard platformer”, but the point of both games seems different. The challenge of Dustforce isn’t so much to beat each level as it is to beat them well, achieving S ranks in both completion (debris cleared) and finesse (number of deaths), and doing it as quickly as possible. This point is driven home by the climbing and dashing mechanics that are based around speed, and the fact that enemies end combos and slow you down, but never outright kill you. You also get keys for SS ranking that will unlock more levels in the hub world.
The controls feel great (gamepads supported) and the levels are designed well around the game’s purpose and your character’s moveset. Watch the replays of the highest scorers and you’ll see some amazing precision, but even with just a little practice you TOO can feel like a ninja! The graphics, which are stylistically too close to free Flash web games for my taste, nonetheless animate extremely fluidly and support the acrobatics nicely. No complaints about Terence Lee’s soothing soundtrack, though, especially “9-bit Expedition”, the song that plays during the tutorial.
Aside from a few interface issues I ran across, I’m having a wonderful time with Dustforce. It’s a great release to ring in the new year with.
TIGdb: Entry for Dustforce
Brogue is a roguelike that’s been in active development since 2009. It’s unique in that it eschews all other attributes – dexterity, intelligence, charisma, wisdom, etc. – in favor of strength, which can only be gained through potions. Likewise, this single stat only determines one thing: whether or not you can wield better weapons and armor without incurring a penalty. Potions of strength are obviously important in Brogue, but so are scrolls of enchantment: enchanting items not only increases their power, but also reduces their strength requirements.
In a game like Nethack, for example, you’ll often encounter monsters and items that are similar to one another, like the four different types of short swords that only deal slight differences in damage. In Brogue, however, everything is much more distinct. Many monsters have unique attacks, like thieving monkeys or goblin conjurers that summon spectral blades to chase you. And it’s easy to tell whether a weapon or armor is better by simply looking at the strength requirement (although some types of equipment have special abilities, too, like hammers and spears which deal damage across multiple spaces).
Brogue is streamlined, and even though it sports ASCII graphics it reminds me of console roguelikes like Shiren the Wanderer, due to its intuitive interface (fully mouse-accessible) and simplified mechanics. It still manages to be challenging, but the challenge lies less in knowing trivia about the game than simply making smart decisions. The graphics are actually very pretty, too – Brogue’s dungeons are quite naturalistic and sport all kinds of colorful areas, from green-and-brown fungus forests to blue-and-purple sun-lit grottos. Even caustic gases and deadly wildfires look great as they spread slowly across the floor… just make sure you don’t get backed into a corner while you’re admiring them!
TIGdb: Entry for Brogue
I asked people what their personal favorite indie game releases of 2011 were in the forums; this is a compiled list. Each mention got one vote per person. This is a sequel to last year’s list. There were a lot of ties, so don’t comment asking what’s up with the numbers, like everyone did last year. See the full list under the jump.
Unity of Command nearly passed under my radar, which would have been a shame – even a casual strategy fan such as myself can tell that the game is something special. For one thing, long-time TIGSource readers may recognize the artist, Nenad Jalšovec, who created Rescue the Beagles and Ablation. Indeed, the artwork in Unity of Command is lovely – a far cry from the low-res pixel art of his previous games, the semi-iconographic style he employed here is much more detailed but nonetheless just as eye-catching and functional.
Set during the Eastern Front of World War 2, the game lets you play as either Germany or the Soviet Union in a campaign that includes the Battle of Stalingrad. You command at an operational level, with the campaign divided into scenarios where you control divisions of soldiers and earn prestige bonuses based on your performance. Supply lines are crucial to victory in each scenario – units quickly lose their effectiveness once they’re cut off. To emphasize this, Unity of Command lets you view supply easily and the AI, which has been praised by sites like The Wargamer, jumps on any chance to starve your army.
Alongside the campaign, UoC offers individual scenarios (including a tutorial), internet/hotseat multiplayer, and replays. It also comes with a 40-page PDF manual that is as well-put together as the rest of the package (just look at how much effort went into the cover art for this digital game!). With the manual, tutorial, and intuitive interface, even newbies can quickly get up to speed and start enjoying the more intricate aspects of the design.
TIGdb: Entry for Unity of Command
As our column of tanks rushed down a hill towards an enemy column, one of my fellow tank commanders – apparently a raven wearing a top hat – screamed, “Kill them all!” That was the moment I decided that T-17 Tanky was a game for me.
T-17 Tanky is the first game by the one-man studio Preen Dog Interactive. The game sees two armies – the bird-populated country of Egalitaria and the rat-lead Crat Empire – warring against each other. While an actual campaign is still on the way, the game currently offers a custom battle option, which places the player in charge of a squad of tanks from Egalitaria and tasks them with destroying similar squads piloted by the Crats. In addition to standard heavy and light tanks, the player can add truck-mounted flack cannons, rocket artillery units, and even airplanes to the battlefield.
Similar to Kerbal Space Program, T-17 Tanky is charming in the fact that it has a very cartoony, very light aesthetic to it, yet goes deeper into the simulation field of gameplay than you would have suspected. Each vehicle has several weapon types to choose from, and can be damaged in various ways: tires and treads can be shot off, engines can be critically damaged, etc. There is a ballistics model and even a simple targeting computer, which the player calibrates for distance by clicking the middle mouse-button to “laze” the target.
Currently, T-17 Tanky is still very early in development and still a little rough around the edges, but there is a free demo available for download at the main site. The developer has also set up a funding page over on 8-Bit Funding, where you can pre-order the game and support its development.