PuzzleScript

By: Derek Yu

On: October 16th, 2013

Heroes of Sokoban
Heroes of Sokoban, by Jonah Ostroff.

PuzzleScript is a simple, open-source game engine by Stephen “increpare” Lavelle that allows you to easily create turn-based puzzle games using a unique scripting language. The engine is HTML5-based and games can be built and shared (along with their source code) straight from your browser. The graphics, which are composed of 5×5 tiles, are also designed within the editor, in the same manner that levels are defined.

There are already quite a few clever games in the burgeoning PuzzleScript gallery, showing off the flexibility of the engine, as well as its ease-of-use – although some of the developers are seasoned indies (like Terry Cavanagh, Joseph White, and Stephen himself), quite a few of them are from first-time creators (like Jonah Ostroff, who made Heroes of Sokoban, shown above).

Kerbal Space Program 0.22

By: Alehkhs

On: October 15th, 2013

The 0.22 update for Kerbal Space Program is scheduled to launch tomorrow, and will bring with it a new research-and-development system.

This update will be the first version to allow players access to the structured “Campaign” mode, which attempts to provide more structured gameplay than the current “Sandbox” mode. Players will now be able to collect scientific data on their various missions, which can then be used to progress along a branched tech tree and unlock new, more advanced parts. The game’s development studio, Squad, has plans to add even more of a “tycoon-like” structure to the game in future updates, with a part-cost system and procedurally-generated missions.

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Preview: Revenge of the Sunfish 2

By: Derek Yu

On: September 7th, 2013

Revenge of the Sunfish was a delightful find in 2008. Equal parts horror and humor, it’s a bizarre, genre-blending game that reminds me vaguely of both WarioWare and the cult classic PS1 title LSD. Five years later, JinxTengu is following up Sunfish with a sequel that looks much more ambitious but lacking none of the crude charm and aggressiveness that made the original so enjoyable to play.

According to this interview with JinxTengu, the game is slated for an October release on PC, with iPhone and Android to follow. A $5 price tag is probable.

Interview: Pixeltruss on Ripple Dot Zero

By: Paul Eres

On: August 19th, 2013

[This is a guest post by Offal.]

From the early arcade to the Dreamcast era, Sega had a stable of first and second-party developers regularly producing vibrant genre-defining games, inventing and reinventing convention. Today that experimental spirit has largely died off, or been dialed down into tame sequels and re-releases of classic titles.

Amateur developers like the Arcane Kids have stepped in to fill the gap, and now Simon Stalenhag and Tommy Salomonsson (collectively Pixeltruss) have released Ripple Dot Zero, their own game in the free-spirited high flying blue skies style.

Ripple Dot Zero is free to play in browser.

We spoke with Pixeltruss to discuss the history, release, and future of the project. It’s a long one! Interview past the break.


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Papers, Please

By: Derek Yu

On: August 17th, 2013

Papers, Please by Lucas Pope

Set on the border of the fictional communist country of Arstotzka, Papers, Please puts you in the shoes of an Arstotzkan immigration inspector, approving and denying entry to a long line of hapless travelers each day. This entails shuffling documents around with your mouse and highlighting discrepancies in them, such as mismatched passport information or photo identification. With each passing day, your time limit remains more or less set, but the number of possible discrepancies you need to be aware of increases, ramping up the challenge.

This is a lot more exciting than it sounds, since your entire family is counting on your paycheck and a good day on the job will barely allow you to cover the necessities of living. Even when you’re 99% sure that someone has the right papers, it’s always a tense moment as they walk out the door and you listen for the familiar click-clack of a costly citation paper being printed out. But what elevates Papers, Please above a game jam novelty (far above) is that there’s a lot more going on than what takes place in your cramped inspector’s booth – politics, violence, moral ambiguities, and even humor pass through along with the people, and as you keep playing you start to realize how much power you have in your little role. It’s not long before your decisions begin to extend beyond your family’s sustenance (although that remains paramount).

It’s a bizarre premise for a video game, but it works very well, thanks to some great design on the part of creator Lucas Pope. The myriad details and keen audiovisuals bring the small booth of the immigration inspector to life, and from behind the dull counter top I felt more like a spy than in most of the spy-themed action titles I’ve played. Glory to Arstotzka(?)!

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PAX Teaser: Enemy Starfighter

By: Alehkhs

On: August 15th, 2013

You expected to smash the colony ship and its escorts. What you didn’t expect was a Federation military fleet jumping in before you were finished.

Back in December of 2012, my radar lit up when a prototype gameplay video of something called Enemy Starfighter hit the web. I hadn’t heard of it before then, but I immediately knew it was something I had been waiting my life for: a dogfighting space simulator with an integrated “planning phase” akin to that seen in early Rainbow Six games. Select the ships for the job, customize their weapon loadouts, designate their targets, and begin the assault – then jump into the cockpit of the wing leader and engage the enemy directly. It all seemed like a game I would dream up while playing Wing Commander or Homeworld when I was younger, and it was real.

Today, Enemy Starfighter has come quite a way from that original prototype video. It is still far from complete, but developer Mike Tipul has seen fit to show us its current state in a new teaser trailer and several new screenshots over at the game’s website. Enemy Starfighter is the debut game for Tipul’s one-man dev studio Maurader Interactive, and he has been working on it non-stop for the past year. Both the intense dogfighting and the beautiful planning phase that we saw in the original video have been polished, and larger ships have been unveiled, including capital ships, carriers, and even beam frigates.

For the finished project, Tipul is planning to inject a bit of a roguelike element into the game by means of a procedurally-generated campaign. Players will be tasked with leading the Empire’s Harbinger Fleet from system to system, crushing any and all Federation forces that lie in your way. Every time you start a new campaign, the game will generate a new galaxy for you to conquer with different systems, different enemy forces, different missions, and – hopefully – different emergent stories for you to tell of how you crushed the Federation beneath your heel.

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MirrorMoon EP

By: Alehkhs

On: August 11th, 2013



Playing the beta for Santa Ragione’s upcoming indie title, MirrorMoon EP, I am immediately reminded of another game of space exploration, Noctis. Like that spiritual predecessor, MirrorMoon EP sees players drifting aimlessly from star system to star system in a shared, procedurally-generated “galaxy,” exploring planets littered with strange features and mysterious ruins. A bit of multiplayer flair is added by the ability for players to name any system that they are the first to explore – a designation that will be seen by any other players exploring that galaxy. Throw in a bit of the zen-like feel of Proteus and an interactive cockpit that draws inspiration from the infamous controller from Steel Battalion, and I quickly found myself entirely immersed in this gem of a game.

Scheduled for release on September 4th, MirrorMoon EP is currently in beta (available for a discounted pre-order price of $8.99USD), providing players with a tutorial level from the planned single-player “Side A” and thousand-system galaxies on the multiplayer “Side B.” Santa Ragione have ensured that the game will procedurally create new galaxies as needed so that there will always be new systems to explore, and they are also actively using player feedback from the beta to shape the gameplay and puzzles encountered throughout the game. So why not check it out and let them know what you think?

Preview: Lacuna Passage

By: Derek Yu

On: July 30th, 2013

Lacuna Passage, by Random Seed Games

The game is a story-driven exploration and survival game set on Mars, drawing inspiration from titles like Dear Esther, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and even Pokemon Snap. You play as Jessica Rainer, the only survivor of the crashed Heracles mission, investigating the disappearance of the first ever manned mission to Mars. You have several tools at your disposal, but most important are your skills of observation. You will need to uncover mission logs, recorded audio files, and other physical clues left behind at critical mission locations in order to uncover the story. An interplanetary trail of breadcrumbs is waiting for you.

With a little less than a day to go, Lacuna Passage has met its Kickstarter funding goal of $40,000, but is seeking a little more for support of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Slated for a late 2014 release, the title promises realistic simulation of 25 square miles of Martian landscape in a believable hard science fiction setting.

Steam Greenlight: Lacuna Passage

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Mercenary Kings

By: Derek Yu

On: July 29th, 2013

[This is a guest post by phubans.]

Here’s a guest review for Mercenary Kings. I even made a video to go with it!

Mercenary Kings is simply amazing. You can always tell when you like a game – you start playing it and spend the next 8~ hours continuing to play it. It’s that good. When I started out, I did the online co-op with a few friends over a Skype call, playing on my TV with a gamepad for the full experience. Co-op was great, but I kept playing for hours after everyone else left, completely immersed in the level of depth the game had to offer.

Let me just say that this game seems to have ticked all the right boxes. It goes without saying that a game featuring the awesome art and animation of Paul Robertson is going to look great, but beyond that it even feels great; the feedback couldn’t be better. The music is also one of the game’s strong points, with driving, energetic tunes that will have you humming along. But as great as it looks, sounds, and plays, I think the most compelling feature of the game is the weapon crafting system.

As you play the game, enemies and chests will drop common, uncommon, and rare materials. Back at base camp you can use these to craft weapons, armor, and accessory upgrades. But it isn’t as simple as upgrading your gun to level 2. Perhaps the greatest aspect of Mercenary Kings is that every part of your gun is customizable – the receiver, the barrel, the stock, the magazine, etc. Using this system you can mix and match to create one of thousands of unique possible combinations.

The game also features a rank system where you’ll rank up by completing various missions, including scenarios like hostage rescue, scavenger hunts for materials, and simply neutralizing or capturing enemies and bosses. Completing some missions will unlock new NPCs to interact with as well new missions, areas, and weapon parts to craft.

If RPG elements aren’t enough to sell a Metal Slug-type game for you, then it’s probably not your cup of tea, but as far as games in this genre go, this one is pretty great and easily one of the best games I’ve played so far in 2013. For fans of the Contra and Metal Slug series who also enjoy high-level weapon customization and RPG elements, this game is most certainly a must buy.

Grow Maze

By: ithamore

On: July 26th, 2013

After celebrating an 11th anniversary, Eyezmaze has released a new game: Grow Maze. If you persevere ardently, you’ll be able to discover all its charms and whims.