What better way to spend Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart(s) than playing one of the oldest and best freeware local multiplayer deathmatch games, Liero? Released in 1998 by Finnish programmer Joosa Riekkinen, Liero quickly became a cult classic for its slick controls, destructible terrain, and numerous diverse weapons. Although the original source code was lost, fans have released a number of successful clones and remakes, such as NiL and Gusanos.
Last year, however, a new, “official” version of Liero was released, 1.36. Although not developed by Joosa Riekkinen, Liero 1.36 is more or less an exact simulation of the original and has received the creator’s blessing to use the name. This update runs “on almost any OS”, fixes the few bugs that were present in Liero 1.33, and also adds a host of welcome features, such as post-game stats and an enjoyable new mode, called “Hold a Zone”, where players must claim and protect small sections of the map for a specified period of time.
The AI is also significantly improved, making single-player Liero a viable way to play for the first time. So even if you’re your own Valentine today there’s no reason why you can’t also enjoy the sweet sounds of bleeding worms violently grunting amidst hails of Zimms, Mini-Nukes, Banana Bombs, and other classic weapons.
The teaser trailer above comes from Team Junkfish, announcing their next game, Monstrum. Previously known as Project: Maize, the game promises to be “Like Alien, but at sea.” Team Junkfish hopes to “[focus] on the oft forgotten ‘survival’ element of survival horror games,” by thrusting players into the dark corridors of an abandoned cargo ship, cut-off and alone – except for the presence of a deadly beast that stalks their every move. Players will have to avoid the monster as they search the ship for a possible way to escape, ” using their wits and guile to evade the monster hunting them, running, hiding and luring it away with distractions to avoid getting killed.” Offering permadeath and a procedurally-generated ship that changes each playthrough, Monstrum will also support the Oculus Rift for added
immersion pucker factor.
Team Junkfish plans to show off some gameplay at this year’s GDC (Booth 1238) and EGX Rezzed in March, but curious players can follow the team’s postings on on the Team Junkfish website or the Monstrum Facebook page for more information as it surfaces.
Red Hook Studios’s gorgeously gothic RPG Darkest Dungeon went live on Kickstarter just nine hours ago, and is already looking ready to slay its goal of $75,000. Boasting the traditional roguelike staples of procedurally-generated levels, permadeath, and turn-based combat, Darkest Dungeon also promises an “uncompromising, unforgiving, and unconventional” approach to the classic dungeon crawler. Drawing influence from the creeping terror of H.P. Lovecraft’s literary works, Red Hook Studios hopes to implement an “Affliction System,” forcing the player to contend with “paranoia, abusiveness, fear, irrationality, and a host of gameplay-meaningful quirks” as they lead a team of heroes ever deeper into the dungeon.
With the game set to meet its funding goal within the first day, and with a long list of stretch goals promising ever more content and polish, Darkest Dungeon is a project I will certainly be keeping my eye on. To learn more, jump on over to the game’s site, or head straight to the game’s Kickstarter page to get on board.
Frozen Endzone entered public beta toward the end of last year. This futuresport uses the same turn-based system that was implemented so well in Frozen Synapse, the creator’s first game – instead of players taking discrete turns, there is a planning phase before both players’ moves are executed simultaneously. The sport behind Frozen Endzone bears some small resemblance to American football, with robotic athletes running and passing a ball to reach the endzone, although obstacles (both hand-crafted and randomly-generated) are present on the field.
Mode 7 is planning all the single and multiplayer features that are expected of such a title, but are counting on a successful beta period to help them achieve these goals. So if this type of game sounds like your thing, you should take a look – the developers clearly know what they’re doing with fast-paced tactics titles.
After what seems like forever on the exhibition circuit, Mark “messhof” Essen’s fighting game Nidhogg has been finally released, on Steam. In it, two players face off in a fencing duel across one of four surreal arenas. Death is temporary, but comes swiftly and gives the other player a brief opportunity to race towards the “goal-zone”, thereby winning the match (and receiving the honor of being devoured by a dragon). Early versions of the game let you attack, parry, jump, and throw your sword, but the release adds some new moves, like sweep kicks and jumping off walls.
Nidhogg offers local and online multiplayer, a single-player mode, and a tournament mode that supports 3-8 local players. The dynamic soundtrack is by electronic musician Daedalus.
You play a samurai wielding a sword and a gun in a small arena, and the first player to 10 kills wins. The fast paced gameplay will feel familiar to anyone who has played Towerfall’s versus mode, though Samurai Gunn is more focused on close-ranged combat as your bullets are limited and easily deflected.
There’s not a great deal of content for the 15 dollar price tag, with nothing but the basic versus mode and a co-operative survival mode. However, the game has a great deal of polish put in to it and part of the fun is discovering the subtler mechanics, like changing stances or playing dead– or just tapping the up button in the post-game scoring to make it look like your character is laughing.
The game also has phenomenal sound design, with excellent music by Doseone (which was released as an EP with added vocals), and a different voice for each character.
Desktop Dungeons was finally released on Steam a month ago, after a long beta period. The roguelike-inspired puzzler was first introduced as a freeware game in 2010, when its popularity led South African studio QCF Design to turn it into a larger scope commercial title with numerous improvements, including a fully-realized town and, of course, more dungeons, monsters, character classes, and all that good stuff. The visuals and audio are completely new, as well.
If you never played the original, don’t be thrown off by its name and inspirations: aside from the fantasy theme and randomized levels, Desktop Dungeons bears very little resemblance to a traditional roguelike. The tightly-packed, single-screen levels, static monsters (who only attack when attacked), and transparent rules make the game feel more like a puzzle game than a dungeon crawl. But that’s not a bad thing – the freeware version was so fun that I made my own tileset for it, and this one is better in all respects.
FourbitFriday’s game Catacomb Kids has just under 5 days left for it’s Kickstarter campaign. The game is a platformer roguelike with a heavy emphasis on the roguelike elements when compared to similar games, with random enchantments on equipment, the ability to chop limbs off of your opponents (or have your own cut off), and deep interactions between objects in the game.
Though its reached its goal already, Catacomb Kids is worth checking out if just for the depth shown in the short video above.
Michael “brog” Brough’s 868-HACK is a hacking-themed roguelike on iOS that eschews exploration for focused, single-screen tactics. In the game, the player must traverse 8 levels, called “sectors”, filled with data – either points, which are used for scoring, or progs, which are used for defense against the enemies that are summoned to stop your intrusion. Enemies come in four types and move in simple patterns that are easy to exploit in small numbers but quickly become deadly in diverse mobs.
There’s a lot to like about 868-HACK, like the fun theme, the obvious risk/reward mechanisms, and the innovative zapping attack that hurts and stuns enemies. Figuring out how to use zapper and prog to clear out large groups of enemies is extremely satisfying. In many ways, 868-HACK distills the roguelike experience down to the parts where you’ve been dropped into a room full of monsters you’re not fully prepared for and each move is potentially life-threatening.
The free, Windows version that was made for 7DRL is called 86856527 and is still available for download, but the changes for iOS are well worth the $5 price tag, in my opinion. A port of 868-HACK to PC is also planned, but there’s no release date yet.
After nearly a year of open beta, Path of Exile has finally reached version 1.0. The release will conclude this chapter’s story and bring with it a slew of new features, including a prestige class, the Scion, which is unlockable by beating the game in Normal Difficulty. It’s also available on Steam for the first time.
Path of Exile’s itemization and passive skill tree impressed me when the open beta first began, and since then it seems like Grinding Gear Games has made good on their promise to continue making improvements and expanding their ambitious multiplayer modes. And it’s free-to-play still, so if you’re a fan of ARPGs, there’s no reason not to try it out – PoE is supported entirely by the purchase of cosmetic effects and account improvements (extra character slots and stash tabs).