This year’s Fantastic Arcade is happening right now, so if you’re in Austin or a short drive away (n.b., a “short drive” in Texas is anything under 8 hours), you should go. Admission is free, gas is cheap, and Shine Boch actually tastes good if you drink it in the Lone Star State.
There’s a complete schedule of events here. Festivities started on the 22nd and run through this Thursday (the 29th).
If there’s a tear in your beer (Shiner or otherwise) because, like me, you can’t go, you can play the games of Fantastic Arcade (some of them) at home with this itch.io bundle, presented by Juegos Rancheros in conjunction with Fantastic Arcade, and benefiting the Juegos Rancheros nonprofit.
Unlike Fantastic Arcade itself, the bundle’s not free, but for $15 you get five new games by Moppin, Takahashi, Saltzman, Klondike, Lawhead and SOKOP. Viva los independientes!
A third Samorost game is “coming later this year”, according to Amanita Design, who released a lovely trailer for the game this month. You’ll definitely want to watch this one fullscreen to see all the little details in the artwork.
Lucas Pope has released a very early development build of his latest project, Return of the Obra Dinn. While the website warns that there’s “not much content”, the build does a great job of conveying the game’s wonderful atmosphere and introducing a few of the key concepts behind the title. Obra Dinn is the name of the merchant ship on which your adventure takes place. Lost on route to the Orient in 1802, the ship has returned to port four years later, and you’ve been sent to investigate as an insurance adjustor for the East India Company’s London Office. Figuring out what happened aboard the Obra Dinn appears to be the central premise for the game, but how you accomplish that task is anything but ordinary.
Pope was the creator of the surprise hit Papers, Please, which made the seemingly mundane job of immigration inspector feel exciting and personal. It’s great to see him take that unique outlook into his next game, but with such wildly different themes, mechanics, and audiovisuals (which he describes in great detail in his fantastic TIGForums DevLog). Can’t wait for more.
Indie studio Dopterra has just three days to reach the modest goal of $6000 for its colorful 8-bit title, Creepy Castle. Promising a mix of 2D platform-based exploration and turn-based RPG combat, the game follows the adventure of Moth (note: an actual moth) within the halls of the titular Creepy Castle in an effort to uncover and thwart a looming threat. Dopterra has also teased several other protagonists, playable in an assortment of scenarios that intertwine with Moth’s story.
With a graphical style inspired by the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and a catchy chiptune soundtrack, Creepy Castle certainly aims to present a fantastically old-school experience – but its six-person dev team is not afraid to pay homage to the modern indie game scene as well: It’s been revealed that characters from recent indie titles such as Shovel Knight and Super Meat Boy will appear in-game, possibly even in the form of playable characters.
With only three days to go in its Kickstarter campaign, Creepy Castle is tantalizingly close to reaching its goal of just $6000. Whether you’ve long dreamt of fluttering your way as a moth through a labyrinthine castle – drawn not to a flame, but to your awaiting destiny – or you simply enjoy old-school graphics and gameplay, Creepy Castle might just be the game for you: Head on over to the Creepy Castle Kickstarter page to learn more and pledge. You can also vote for Creepy Castle right now on its Steam Greenlight page. Finally, if you simply want to watch the game as it develops, be sure to check out the Creepy Castle DevLog on TIGForums.
In a turn-based reality, an alternate spacetime of real-time has been discovered. Unfortunately, the conflicting spacetimes have ripped apart the cosmos in a “real-time/turn-based time-vortex.” That is the setup for Funktronic Labs’ upcoming game, Nova-111, where turn-based strategic planning meets real-time reactions and urgency. The player is placed at the helm of the titular Nova-111, a relatively harmless research vessel tasked with exploring cavern after cavern in an effort to rescue survivors stranded after the vortex smashed the two spacetimes together.
Along the way, players will discover powerful upgrades to their ship and encounter many different types of obstacles in the form of environmental dangers and monsters. Some of these monsters will attack in turn-based time, and some in real-time. These two time scales, along with the monsters’ differing attacks, fuse together to create an almost puzzle-like experience, and the player is quickly taught to approach enemy encounters more in dances of infighting and timing rather than simply engaging in direct combat.
Fans of La-Mulana rejoice: Indie dev team NIGORO has a sequel in the works and is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund its development!
The direct sequel to the Steam-and-WiiWare remake of the first game, La-Mulana 2 follows the adventures of Lumisa Kosugi, daughter of the first game’s curry-loving protagonist, Lemeza Kosugi. This time around, players will guide Lumisa through the ruins of Eg-Lana, which will have Norse mythology serve as a motif. Promising more of the deviously-designed traps, puzzles, and boss fights that made the first game so great, NIGORO also wants the sequel to be “a fresh new experience for people who enjoyed the first game, while also giving newcomers a chance to enjoy the series without being forced to play La-Mulana first.”
The game’s Kickstarter campaign has just 11 days left and has raised nearly 90% of its funding goal in pledges, so if you would like to see a sequel to La-Mulana, head on over to the campaign page and help them leap past their goal.
Boldly making its presence known last night during the Spike VGX Awards, No Man’s Sky is the latest project by indie studio Hello Games (Joe Danger), and the latest title to emerge in the apparent Space-Sim Revival of 2013. Alongside the gorgeous combat of Enemy Starfighter and the trade-and-fleet management of Limit Theory, No Man’s Sky looks to focus primarily on planetary discovery and exploration, offering the player endless solar systems of procedurally-generated planets that they can seamlessly land on and explore by foot.
I’m getting strong Noctis vibes from the concept and trailer, and I’m pleased to see yet another amazing-looking space sim coming from the indie community. It’s a good time to game.
Night in the Woods is an upcoming game from Alec Holowka (Aquaria, Towerfall) and animator Scott Benson. From the Kickstarter page:
Lovely audiovisuals and I’m intrigued by the story and characters. Really looking forward to this one!
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(?)!
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?