One of the joys of the indie game market is that every now and again, we get a game that appeals to our nostalgia for older types of gameplay. Face Noir is Italian developer, Mad Orange’s, attempt to scratch that itch for good point-and-click puzzle solving while wrapping it in the skin of a post-war detective drama. In some ways, it is successful, but it brings with it remnants gamers were happy to leave behind a few eras ago.
The story focuses on Jack Del Nero, a former cop turned private dick, who goes to investigate a tip from a mysterious phone call and ends up being accused of murdering someone once very close to him. The premise is not atypical in the least, but the game smartly adds fantastical and unexpected plot elements that make this case anything but something out of L.A. Noire. Although the antagonists and their motivations become a tad confusing by the ending, the plot is satisfying. There is also one moment where a character makes a comment on the unfolded events that serves as an excellent observation about the basic nature of interwoven character stories, such as this one. Read more
By now, gamers are used to games set in World War II Europe, Tolkien-inspired fantasy lands, or dystopian futures, but we haven’t witnessed many games featuring Hispaniola or Central America during the time of the Spanish conquistadors. Indie developer, Logic Artists, sought to address that historical period by creating Expeditions: Conquistador, a tactical RPG with resource management and turn-based battle. First shoehorned onto Windows Phone 7, the game was given new life on the PC via their Kickstarter campaign. Given the depth of the 20+ hour campaign I experienced, I’d say that the transition was mostly successful, but not without a few bumps.
Starting a new game of Expeditions: Conquistador greets the player with a wealth of options to choose. Choosing your team involves reading down a lengthy list of possible characters who are interested in joining your expedition. Using a little bit of revisionist history, you are given the opportunity to lead a traditional team of men, mix it up, or run a progressive faction of women. Conveniently, women do not suffer the common trope of lowered defense or offense at all, nor do they wear impossibly revealing armor. Each character possesses a detailed backstory, a specific role to perform both on and off the battlefield, and three character traits, which affect their responses to your actions. For example, aggressive followers lose morale when you avoid battle, and altruistic followers lose morale when you deny the needy of resources. I appreciated the variety, but the backstories were way too much to read. They should have been integrated into gameplay, so players can get started quickly. Read more
Modern games today have become obsessed with accessibility: Littered with tutorial prompts, guiding arrows dictating where to go, and the current objective jarringly flashing on screen. La-Mulana looks to jump back a few generations when these trends weren’t the norm.
Initially designed to imitate the look and feel of games on the old MSX systems, this remake has enhanced the color pallet and sprite resolutions from the original Japanese version (released in 2005) while keeping the old retro-style difficulty intact. Starting a new game throws you right into La-Mulana’s two-dimensional open world with no indication of where to go and little back story on the main character Lemenza, besides the notion that he’s prepared to explore the ruins of La-Mulana. From the beginning it’s emphasized that it’s up to Lemenza to explore and scrutinize the surrounding areas for clues on how to progress. It creates an experience that may be intimidating for some, while other experienced and patient gamers looking for a challenge will find it refreshing.
One could accurately sum up La-Mulana as a puzzle adventure-platformer, and it wonderfully blends the genres together. While Lemenza is able to explore a good portion of the ruins initially, certain paths only become accessible as various power-ups and other items are obtained via solving puzzles or defeating bosses. The puzzles aren’t presented in any particular way, but rather are integrated seamlessly into parts of the ruins. Practically every interconnected screen the player travels through has some secret to be unearthed once a section of the ruin is solved. Read more
I have taken many adventures through a screen, from battling through the lands of Hyrule, having discussions with the people of Midgar, trudging through the swamps of Sanctuary, and flying the skies of Veldt. Two-dimensional pixelated sprites, 3D polygons, monochrome greys, 8-bit colors, luscious spectrums and more can describe the eyes that I’ve seen many of these exploits through. If you take the memories of these feats and add in some subdued humor, then you’re on the right track for what Evoland has to offer.
In my first moment into Evoland, I was dropped into a greyscale land and stripped of any interaction other than moving right ’til I hit a treasure chest. This unlocked left movement and revealed the game’s main mechanic, which should be somewhat familiar if you have played DLC Quest. As you open a majority of the chests throughout the game, they will unlock new features that changs the playing field. These features vary from cosmetic changes like higher color counts, to new mechanics, or even completely new sub-genres within the adventure/RPG formula. Read more
Armless Octopus puts yet another match-three game through the wringer to see if anything decent will come out the other side. This time it’s Dungeon Hearts for the PC via Steam. The game only costs $3, but is it worth your TIME? You’ll just have to watch and see.
Sony’s Playstation Vita, despite having a number of excellent titles available for it, often doesn’t get the respect it deserves. This theme carries true for the protagonist of Drinkbox Studios’ latest Vita offering, Guacamelee,. Juan Aguacate is a down on his luck man who is befallen with the task of becoming the ultimate luchador in order to save the world. An Evil Charro Skeleton is the catalyst behind this event, as El Presidente’s daughter is kidnapped by the mad man apparition.
You may already be well acquainted with Guacamelee as it was one of the first games support by Sony’s Indie Pub Fund. Additionally, it’s one of the few titles to take advantage of Sony’s cross-play compatibility, wherein players can not only transfer their saves across both their Playstation 3 and Vita, but also play with
The Vita screen can also double as a secondary screen, when playing on the PS3. PS Nation does an excellent job of illustrating exactly how to set this up, which allows players to have their in-game map appear on the Vita, and all gameplay occurring on the television screen.