BloodyCheckers and Blood & Bacon (Review) developer BigCorporation is putting the finishing touches on their next project, Dead Kings. The game is a sequel to the beloved castle-crawling, checkers-playing original, featuring a larger castle to explore (six floors), and full co-op support, allowing you to uncover and pillage the castle’s treasures with a friend.
The above trailer doesn’t show off any gameplay whatsoever, but it’s still worth a watch if you’re curious about the work (and some Easter Eggs) going into the game. Only a select few developers could make watching three minutes of menus interesting.
For all the bad press, and some really terrible games, I still believe 2013 was a good year for Xbox Live Indie Games. Hell, I think 2014 will be an even better year, once it’s all said and done. That may be a little overboard optimism on my part, but stopping to consider the quality of some of the recent releases has made me revise my outlook. Narrowing this year’s batch of games down to five top-tier XBLIGs wasn’t easy. That’s why I allowed anyone to include their Write-Ins, resulting in a vote apeice for several games (probably by the developers themselves, you sly dogs), and one vote for Uproar!, which is just, seriously, not funny.
So, without further pomp, and after an exhaustive counting of all the votes on-site (92, to be exact— not very exhausting), here are the Top Five XBLIGs of 2013, as voted by You.
It’s hard to imagine a Metroidvania on XBLIG currently that can hold a candle to Magicians & Looters. Excellent design and near-flawless balancing / pacing combine to compliment a humorous story. Castlevania it is not, sure, but Morgopolis Studios has crafted a solid indie alternative.
You will likely never own an arcade. It’s sad, but the very next best thing to that would be playing Arcadecraft. You don’t get to play the actual games, but you do get to manage what’s in your arcade and how it’ll all pan out. Look at it this way, you get all the retro bleeps and bloops, with none of the snotty kids and inevitable bankruptcy.
Sometimes, you just want to shoot things and watch them explode into hundreds of tiny, bloody pieces. For the sheer joy of firing guns and watching the world turn red around you, you have Blood & Bacon. Featuring online co-op, 100 waves of enemies, epic boss fights, and a tough (but fair) challenge, it just simply satisfies.
As an open-world, third-person shooter on XBLIG, Astralis could win its respective genre by default. It’s just not something you typically see on XBLIG. Not content to rest on existence alone, the game carries one of the best camera and control systems around, letting you explore and cleanse its unique alien environments with ease.
Winning by a comfortable margin, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone that’s played it that Silver Dollar Games‘ One Finger Death Punch wins ‘theXLBIG of 2013’ honors. Using simple controls and an even simpler objective (beat the hell out of every stick ninja that comes your way), OFDP handily checks off the most important gameplay boxes; easy to learn, difficult to master, and ridiculously fun. If you don’t own this game yet, you are missing out on one of the best on Xbox 360, period.
First-person shooters are suffering a crisis. Where once XBLIG was happy to see a FPS, going so far as to forgive bad design or controls just for the sake of playing one, now the problem is over-saturation. Too many trying to copy too much, bouncing from military shooter to zombie wave shooter. Too many falling short of the accepted norm, skimping on content or releasing unpolished messes. Too many recycled ideas and endless pseudo-sequels. Then, like a blood-red bacon… ahem, beacon, of hope, enter Blood & Bacon (240 MSP).
This game is an antibiotic for what ails indie FPSes. No half-baked concoction, no stiff controls, no detrimentally-repetitive waves, and perhaps most importantly, no zombies. Well, no traditional zombies. Instead it’s undead livestock, refreshing enough to feel different, and dead enough not to upset animal rights groups. Yes, it’s a wave shooter (with a 100+ ‘Days’ to fight through), but only in name and format. Trust me, you haven’t played a wave shooter like this.
Nor have you seen this much blood. When the screen gets busy (and it will, with you versus hundreds of enemies possible), so does the exploding viscera. Blood & Bacon is on a liquid-only diet, the self-professed bloodiest game on Xbox Live. It’s hard to argue against that boast. It helps that the weaponry on tap is geared towards said carnage, running from the typical shotgun and rifles to an uzi, grenades, and one very ‘effective’ gun that you earn later on that is best saved for larger crowds.
Rounds and the roster of baddies start off simple, and gradually increase in number and challenge. Enemy types shuffle in and out, never quite the same combination, continually changing the approach and challenging you to mix tactics. Powerups to boost your speed and / or killing potential, as well as ammo and self-revives, prove to be invaluable. By the time you reach the first multi-phased boss, and the even sinister-er Princess Blubbergut (…the experience is memorable, and defies explanation), you’ll have left Easy Street behind and wandered into a rural quagmire, no one there to hold your hand.
Well, save for the online co-op, which is where Blood & Bacon reaches its fullest, Left 4 Dead-est potential. Teamwork here is not a suggestion but a necessity, working together to lead and dispatch tougher, armored foes, and tackle the higher levels. Careful management of the health pumps and keeping your partner standing takes precedence. Victory is not handed over lightly, but the sheer satisfaction that comes from beating a particularly tough wave or exhausting boss fight, alone or with a friend, far outweighs the struggle.
Definitely not for the squeamish.
That hard-fought progress is what keeps you coming back, complimented by the smaller things that build the larger whole; story elements, the excellent voicework and soundtrack, controls / camerawork, and plenty of interesting (and well hidden) easter eggs to be found. Simply stated, there’s nothing here that upsets or feels unfinished, and any faults you may find will be temporary. With the promise of patches and free DLC support (a new map, enemies, have been mentioned) for many months down the road, you can rest easy knowing the game will be updated and expanded upon.
When it’s all said and done, Blood & Bacon stands as nothing less than the resurrection of the wave shooter, all pork and no gristle, full of the exacting attention and care you don’t typically see in indie development. It’s even more impressive to say that after several hours of playtime, I still haven’t had my fill of things to do or see. The game brings with it a new look to the first-person genre on the indie channel, making more than good on great expectations and raising the bar for other developers. An absolute must play.
EDIT 9/1: A ‘lite’ version of the game, re-titled B&B Fatfree, has been released for $1. Comprising the first ’50 days’ (of the full 100) of the game, it still contains all of the greatness I stated above.
BloodyCheckers developer BigCorporation / Kilroyfx has been teasing a first-person shooter for a while now, and that FPS was recently revealed to be the ridiculously over-the-top (in a good way), undead farm animal shooter Blood and Bacon. An XBLIG-exclusive, the game looks to spruce up the typical wave shooting trappings, boasting hundreds of livestock in a round, miniboss / boss fights, and several weapons to do your slaughtering with. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll be able to tackle the waves with a friend. Online co-op is supported.
Gameplay appears to be fast and fluid, emphasis on fluid, as Blood and Bacon is the self-anointed bloodiest game on Xbox Live Indie Games. That speed, and some elements of the HUD, give it a Left 4 Dead taste, which is certainly a welcome comparison. The good news? You’ll be able to judge that pedigree for yourself soon enough.
Blood and Bacon is eyeing a late July / early August release, and will cost 240 MSP. For updates, you can follow the official Facebook page.