Category Archives: Previews

Prelude to the Uprising: Smooth Operators

It wasn’t that long ago (a month and change, to be exact) that developer Andreas Heydeck and a smattering of indie journalists, including myself, helped judge the competition that gave this article its title. Now solidly-affixed to the outside of the building, the winning name (and yes, it’s Sade-approved) perfectly encapsulates the feel of the game, which looks to contain all the habit-forming sim-aspects that make micro-management games tough to set aside.

Create and build your own Call Center in Smooth Operators. Develop client relationships while balancing your financials and workload. Plan an efficient operation through micro management of your workforce. Can you create a successful Call Center?

It’s likely not the preferred work destination for most of us in real life, but it offers the chance to run the digital version, to divvy up the skills, set the schedules, and allow the bathroom breaks for dozens of tiny, cute, and fake office people. And you, the one phone to rule them all, able to reward and promote the worthy, or single out and needlessly torture employees that don’t tow your version of the company line.

Oh yeah. I’m already brushing up on my fake people skills.

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Smooth Operators: Call Center Chaos will be released on September 14th.

Interview at The Indie Mine

Preview on Clearance Bin Review

Prelude to the Uprising: Gateways

I almost hate to make a comparison without first playing the game, and I remember my initial thought upon seeing the trailer, but the developer seems to have embraced the similarities, saying Gateways IS Portal. Well, in two dimensions.

Gateways is a 2D puzzle platform game. Alongside the traditional platform elements such as jumping on enemies heads, spikes and moving platforms are the gateway guns. The gateway guns allow you to place two gateways on the walls, floors and ceilings of the lab so that when you pass through one you emerge out of the other. As progress is made through the game different types of gateway gun are introduced with different effects. After the basic gun, you acquire a gun that creates two gateways of different sizes, passing through one way shrinks Ed to half his size and the other way makes Ed grow to twice his size. After this you find a gun where one gateway doesn’t just connect to the other’s location but also its time, allowing Ed to travel back in time and encounter earlier versions of himself. Finally, the last gun manipulates gravity so passing through allows Ed to walk along walls and on ceilings.

Coming from Smudged Cat Games, which made the fun arcade platformer The Adventures of Shuggy, as well as other XBLIGs (Growing Pains sticks out), I’m not concerned about the quality of GatewaysIt’s a finalist in the Dream.Build.Play competition, after all. I was, however, a bit worried about how involved the rooms and their solutions would be. The video below, which is a ‘Dev Diary’ of sorts, aims to better explain how the game and its guns work, introducing ‘Help Points’, and allaying some of my fears about its complexity.

I do like the mention of the game being a ‘Metroidvania’, one big open map with the option to go back and reach previously inaccessible areas that contain other powerups or shortcuts (the mini-map I saw keeps everything, including the main objective, in order). With a bigger arsenal of equipment than Portal, what with Gravity and Time Travel guns besides creating gateways, there’s enough devices present to keep everyone occupied with exploration and experimentation.

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Gateways will be released on September 13th.

Interview at The Indie Mine

Preview on Clearance Bin Review

Prelude to the Uprising: Diehard Dungeon

Fresh from its inclusion in the Dream.Build.Play finals, and launching third for the Uprising III, Diehard Dungeon is a roguelike that looks like a winning mix of Zelda‘s dungeon crawling and The Binding of Issac. That latter mention may anger or excite a few, though the trailer hints at additional minigames and level choices, making Diehard Dungeon more ‘inspired by’ than copy.

“Welcome to the dungeon. Those (un)lucky few that are chosen, face great riches and great perils. Good luck!” A randomly generated dungeon is created every time you play. Discover the dungeon’s many secrets and multiple outcomes. Do you have what it takes to survive the dungeon?

The visuals here are sweet. Developer tricktale previously produced the Bullet Hell Vampire Rage, which at the very least proves they can work at multiple genres and styles comfortably. With DD, the promise and challenge of a new dungeon layout in every playthrough, along with that addictive, ‘one more time’ quality that roguelikes are good for, you won’t mind dying over it a few times in the name of fun.

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Diehard Dungeon will be released on September 12th.

Interview on Clearance Bin Review

Preview on Clearance Bin Review

Prelude to the Uprising: Sententia

Developer Michael Hicks (MichaelArts) is a busy man these days, pulling the double-duty of releasing a game for and co-running the Indie Games Uprising III, opposite the venerable Dave Voyles. Though he’s still a young pup, he’s also behind the previous Honor in Vengeance series on XBLIG, although his Uprising contribution marks a stark departure from spaceships and interplanetary conflict.

You are a special creature, and you have a purpose; but are you capable of holding on to it? Sententia is an “art game” that explores the challenges we face to keep our imagination alive as we grow. Start your journey through life’s forest as a young creature and build your way through it by solving puzzles, interacting with your fellow creatures, and defending your ideas with your own sententia.

Sententia is attempting to go for much more than just being a puzzle platformer, weaving story, emotion, imagination, and the universal idea of growing up and getting older, to hopefully create a transcendent experience you don’t regularly see in gaming. Braid is an inspiration, but this is more a result of Hicks’ developmental shift to making the kind of art he’s interested in seeing / telling, rather than a replacement or successor to an existing favorite. If you enjoy a little bit of thought and life in your games (and you should), this could fill that space.

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Sententia will be released on September 11th.

Interview on The Indie Mine

Interview with Indie Gamer Chick

Just Press Start interview on YouTube

Prelude to the Uprising: qrth-phyl

Among my many talents, I recently added the ability to correctly spell hermitgames’ upcoming qrth-phyl on command. Just don’t ask me to pronounce it. The title is just as odd as all the known information surrounding it. The leadoff game to the Indie Games Uprising III and in the Top 20 for the Dream.Build.Play competition, its listed genre is arcade / part-documentary. Documentary, you say?

From the official description:

Arcade documentary of maze / dot / snake mechanic within changing dimensions, axis locks and the corruption of the system. Collect, grow, avoid your past, find new space, wake up…

The trailer doesn’t show off as much, but from the screenshots, it looks as if collection will play the main gameplay role. That’s just an educated guess. With things like ‘avoiding your past’ and ‘waking up’, it’s anyone’s ballgame. This should be anything but a traditional ‘snaker’. I love the unclassifiable, and the developer recently described the game in an interview as ‘awkward’. Leave Home, from the same guy, which sports a similar cube look but represents an entirely different style of play, was one of the first XBLIGs I bought. That too was anything but a traditional shooter. Still a favorite of mine. Needless to say, I can’t wait to play this.

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qrth-phyl will be released on September 10th.

Preview on Clearance Bin Review

Interview on Clearance Bin Review

Interview on The Indie Mine