Hazardous Software wants gamers to put up $30 or their hard earned cash for the new RTS title, Achron. With a clever time travel mechanic, the game brings something new to the table, but is it enough to warrant the steep indie price tag? See for yourself and watch the latest Armless Octopus video review. This review is based on the single-player portion of the game.
Achron was provided for review by Hazardous Software. It is available for $29.99 on Steam.
In today’s gaming climate, developers are beginning to abandon the PC exclusive in favor of consoles. Fortunately, there’s still an audience for titles geared specifically for the PC, and Polish indie upstart, Flying Wild Hog, seems to have noticed. Many of the team’s members have previous industry experience, as they have gotten their start on titles such as Bulletstorm, the Witcher Series, and PainKiller. This twitch shooter hearkens back to a day where the FPS was king on the PC and it shows. In a world of Call of Duty clones,Hard Reset is a welcome return to the old-school days of FPS shooters such as Quake II and Unreal, where your sole goal was to make it out alive. Sure, there are mission objectives littered about, but they’re typically nothing more than “get to the laboratory.” For the most part, conflict arises from waves of enemies shuffling into rooms that are crowded with health and ammo pickups, so fans of those older franchises will instantly feel at home.
Hard Reset does an excellent job of building a sense of excitement and anxiety through scripting. As players progress down alleyways, the clanking sound of a metal door can be heard flapping in the distance followed by the quick pitter-patter of small robot feet as an enemy makes its way across said alley. These auditory clues warn players of what’s to come, but they also build tension for the conflict leading up to the moment it arrives. The Daft Punk-esque soundtrack kicks in as battles ensue as well, then it slowly fades out to let you know that you’re safe….for now.
When I read a book, and I mean a really good book, I will start from the beginning and continue reading until it’s done. “But Erron,” you’re probably (not) saying, “That’s how most people read a book.” Granted, but what I mean is that I will start reading and not do anything else, sleep included, until that book is finished.
Avadon hooked me in a very similar way. I quickly realized that the game itself wasn’t as important to me as the story that was unfolding before my eyes. Being thrown instantly into a world I had no understand of elicited feelings I’ve only felt from a single book series before: a post-apocalyptic pulp fiction series called Outlanders. I had randomly received a book from near the (then) middle of the series, and the mild confusion and something similar to agoraphobia set in. I had no idea what this massive universe contained, and I had no concept of how the universe had progressed to that point.
I felt those same feelings from the very beginning of Avadon. This obviously massive, intricate world with its own history of politics and policies began to spread out with every action taken, and I had no idea what any of them were. Instead of making me want to wheel away from my computer and collapse into a sobbing, traumatized mess, I found myself intrigued.
Look at those impressive graphics. Don’t they just conjure up hope for an impressive, possibly thought-provoking adventure? Okay, whew, got all that positivity out of my system and I’m ready to talk about Trauma. I’d really, really love to tell you that Trauma is an innovative or nostalgic game, but sadly it flatlines well shy of either. It attempts to mesh an FMV adventure game with an arts-fartsy insightful game, and somehow pukes out an experience that perfectly harnesses the worst aspects of each element.
Trauma is a shell of an FMV game: devoid of any of the embarrassing charm that those 90s grainy videos can provide and lacking the puzzles that made wandering through Myst and 7th Guest rewarding. You play as a hospitalized woman who was brutally injured in an auto accident and is recovering from physical and emotional wounds. The entire game takes place inside her head as she recovers from the unfortunate disaster, with the exception of brief clips that show her conversing in the real world. The game is divided into four chapters that are all immediately accessible, but since the story is so piecemeal and the protagonist is never actually developed you’d be just as fine playing the final chapter first and working backwards.
Normally I’d want to write a review by comparing the game in question to similar games of the same genre to give you an idea of what to expect. There’s a chance you would have played a game I’d mention, and that would give you an idea about the game I’m reviewing. Dungeons of Dredmor falls firmly under the category of “roguelike,” a genre that may solely be excluded from comparisons across games. I could pick two RPGs and while both of them would share similar characteristics, the differences would be varied enough that you couldn’t think of one specific RPG and instantly know the ins and outs of every other RPG.
Roguelikes are the opposite. I can tell you a game is a “roguelike” and if you know the genre, then you will know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ll know the game will have randomly generated dungeons, turn-based actions and permanent deaths. You’ll know that while all roguelikes have the trappings of a story or a quest, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you Indiana Jones a floor, scrape together some cool stuff, and either make it to the next floor or die trying. Death means you’ll be given a total score and start over, with a new character, from the beginning.
That’s what a roguelike is. That’s what every roguelike is. So instead of trying to explain how or why Dungeons of Dredmor succeeds or fails at being a roguelike, I will simply say that it is one and move on to tell you why it is a roguelike you should be looking at.
From mechanized Hitler robots to undersea scientific societies, video games have long enjoyed chronicling the tales that history books thought best to omit. Jamestown continues this tradition as it follows the adventures of the 17th century explorer, Raleigh, a fugitive of the English crown who fled to the New World to discover what happened to the lost colony of Roanoke and clear his name. Except by “New World,” we mean the floating islands of Mars, and by “discover” we really mean hop in his tiny spaceship and annihilate the combined forces of the Spanish Conquistadors and the tentacled aliens.
The premise is unapologetically absurd, but beneath the goofy narrative, Final Form Games has crafted an homage to 90s shooters that would look perfect in a dusky arcade wedged between Raiden and Giga Wing cabinets. That’s not to say it’s a banal adventure (did you read the part about the Spanish-Martian alliance?), but the colorful, gorgeously-drawn sprites and frenetic action channels everything that was so satisfying about 90s gaming. It might not stray too far from that familiar vertically-scrolling path, but the Vaunt system, its stellar multiplayer and the various unlockables help it feel fresh. The hodgepodge sci-fi-history narrative captures the Firefly feel of old mixed with new, and it plays the story so seriously, not once acknowledging how outlandish the premise is as it unfolds through pixelated cutscenes.
On September 10, 2010 developer EasyGameStation released Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale, which was quickly lauded as one of the most inventive and unique games of 2010. Fast forward to 2011 and the indie developer has released their newest creation, Chantelise: A Tale of Two Sisters. With one of the highest rated sleeper hits of last year on their resume, did the developers at EasyGameStation once again push the envelope? Or were they content to simply rest on their laurels? You’ll have to watch our Armless Octopus video review to find the answer.
Many successful indie games overcome limited scope and marketing resources by offering a unique premise or take on gameplay. It’s tough otherwise to stand out in the mass of games that are released on Steam and the XBox Live Indie Games service. The first Solar stood out when it was first released due to its interesting take on open-world sandbox gameplay in which you weren’t a thug, a cowboy, or student, but instead you played as an asteroid, a planet, a star, and even a black hole. The sandbox provided wasn’t extremely elaborate, but a series of provided challenges gave players goals to achieve and sandbox options to unlock. Not only did it provide a unique premise and great atmosphere, but also several hours of entertaining gameplay for a measely $1. Many still consider it one of the best games on the XBLIG service and it was a great deal. With the release of Solar 2, we see the game not only available as an Xbox Live Indie Game but now on Steam as well. Additionally, the price point has increased to $5 on XBLIG and a whopping $10 on Steam. So the question is, does Solar 2 provide enough new and unique content over its predecessor to be worth five to ten times the price of the original?