IGF 2013 Excellence in Design nominee Starseed Pilgrim was released on Steam today (Steam releases were offered to all the nominees this year). This unassuming and enigmatic puzzle platformer has become a hit with a number of indie game developers, including Bennett Foddy (QWOP) and Braid creator Jonathan Blow, who called it his game of the year for 2012. Since so much of the enjoyment from Starseed comes from figuring out how the game works, it’s hard to describe even the basic goals without spoiling it. If that sounds fun to you in and of itself, you should probably give it a go.
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.
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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I’ll be honest, part of me was expecting that we’d all be brains in jars before Cortex Command reached 1.0. But no! After almost a dozen years in development, Dan Tabar’s opus has hit that milestone and is now available on Steam. Players who have already purchased the game, either directly or through a Humble Indie Bundle can get a Steam key here. A Linux build is still in development, according to Dan’s announcement post.
The release marks the completion of the game’s campaign mode or “meta game”, which allows players and CPUs to engage in large-scale warfare, building bunkers and attacking one another across the face of a planet. To find out more about this new mode, check out Dan’s latest playtest video below. And if you’re new to Cortex Command, this is also a good way to see the game’s impressive physics and AI in action.
Congratulations to Dan and the rest of the team on the release!
Continuing the fine TIGSource tradition of posting old news… I’d like to mention that FTL came out earlier this month. The real-time spaceship simulation and “roguelikelike” was released just five months after its successful Kickstarter and is available on Steam, GOG.com, and directly from the developers.
Inspired by Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and other sci-fi television shows, FTL puts you in control of a spaceship and its crew. The bulk of the game consists of flying from planet to planet and battling with enemy ships in real-time. Just like a proper spaceship captain, you’ll have to micromanage the battle and assign crew to tasks such as repairing damage, manning ship systems, or engaging in phaser shoot-outs with aliens that have beamed aboard. Winning these deadly duels garners you scrap (FTL’s currency) and other rewards, like fuel or weaponry.
I’ve only played a couple rounds so far, but there’s a lot of potential here for a great coffee break game!
After four months of hard work the Legend of Grimrock team has released a level editor beta for their first-person dungeon crawl. Due to Steam’s rapid updating capabilities, the editor is currently only available for players who own the Steam version of the Grimrock. To try it out, right-click on “Legend of Grimrock” in your Steam library and select properties. Then click on the “Betas” tab and opt-in to begin downloading the editor.
Almost Human says that it will be available for all distribution platforms after the beta is over.
Snapshot is based around storing objects in photographs which can then be placed in the world at will in order to solve puzzles, but a video is worth an indeterminately large amount of words so the trailer above shows the mechanics far better than I can describe them. The game was designed by Kyle Pulver, who began working on it all the way back in 2008 after finishing the excellent Bonesaw, and will be coming to several other platforms– Linux, Mac, Playstation 3, and PSVita –in the near future.
Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers is a new 3d action title from Black Pants Game Studio. The protagonist is Tiny, a little bean-shaped dude with an impressive laser gun that can cut through solid objects at any angle. The heart of the game involves using Tiny’s laser, grappling hook, and jetpack to solve puzzles throughout its six stages.
Special mention should be given to TnB’s art style, the brainchild of comicker Sebastian Stamm. Characters and environments are detailed with black lines and stippling. Likewise, the game’s dialogue and sound effects are all conveyed using Stamm’s unique word balloons and lettering. Looks quite cool, in my opinion.
You can get the game for $10 on Steam, GOG.com, and GamersGate.
Resonance is a new adventure game from Wadjet Eye Games, known for their Blackwell series as well as The Shivah. The story takes place after the death of a brilliant physicist, whose work included potentially cataclysmic technology. You control four characters simultaneously as they work together to stop a disaster.
Although Resonance is a classic 2d adventure game, it does feature a “memory system” that sounds pretty unique. Acting almost like a second inventory, the system allows you to collect temporary and permanent memories to use in conversations and puzzle-solving.
TIGdb: Entry for Resonance
Indie Game: The Movie was released today as a digital download on the documentary’s website, as well as Steam and iTunes. The doc follows Team Meat (Super Meat Boy) and Polytron (Fez) as the two groups work toward releasing their XBLA titles. Jonathan Blow is also part of the film, speaking about Braid and game design.