Boogey Boy, Preview of Fears

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You know that dream where you are running and running, then suddenly you look back and there is a giant black demon horse chasing you? Goon Studios made a game about that and it is not nearly as terrifying as the dream.  Frustrating at times, but still a lot of fun.  Granted, it’s not completed, so this game is a preview version, but the good news is you can play this preview, too, on Indie Database!  Don’t want to commit to the download?  here are my thoughts on it as it is so far.

You character is a kid in his dreams, which end up having the same exact mechanics as an endless runner, like Canabalt or Crazy Critter Dash.  Interesting that I should compare it to mobile games, since this little blue-haired fucker will be charging his way across PC monitors, Idevices and Androids.  As he runs, his arms flop behind him like he was dreaming about seducing an anesthesiologist prior to arm surgery, then the running started.  His art reminds me of a combination of Coraline, carrying some similarly creepy vibes, and Adventure Time.  Nothing on this fucking Earth would get me to watch that show, but the art looks similar from what I’ve seen on posters at the mall.  You are being chased by a rotating cast of silhouetted eldritch horrors across the terrain of your dreams.

Gonna die!!

If I was being chased by Cthulu’s drinking buddies, I would look like this too.

While you are running, there is the ground itself, which undulates wildly.  Stay on the ground and you’ll be dead in seconds, since the nightmares, I’ll call them, run fast, and you really don’t for the most part.  When they catch up to you, you roll under them like that guy in Ben Hur.  To avoid this, there are a number of floating platforms you can leap to.  Jumping is a lot of fun, and this kid is apparently the blood relative of an ancient ninja: he can double jump.  And his double jump is fucking fancy!  He’ll jump, then double jump and end it with a travolta.  It’s wild and fun, and the best part is that this game is fucking creative.  Sure, you have the usual platforms, floating pieces of road, clouds etc.  But there are also things like beds to bounce on.  As you might expect, this enhances your jump, which can already be enhanced by holding down the jump key.

But you have to move fast, since the nightmares toss platforms aside as they pass under them.  Of course, you don’t control your run so much as struggle to cope with it.  The only way to increase your run speed is to grab stars, which seem to make you speedier the more of them you have.  Much like other running-centric heroes, you will lose your shiny collectibles if hit by an enemy.  Enemies are pretty surreal, too.  They run the gamut from helicopters and frogs to cars with spring-loaded boxing gloves in them.  Most of these you can ‘defeat’ by jumping on them, but sometimes you can run along the top of them to escape.

Aside from stars, there is an array of powerups you can grab, and I have no idea what any of them do.  I will tell you, instead, what I do know about them.  The batteries you grab fill up your batter bar at the top of the screen, which makes me feel good when I get them.  I have not been able to fill it and posit that its effect would be known if I could get the third battery slotted.  Unfortunately, runners are not my natural habitat.  There is also a kid-style superhero cape, which seems to actually be a blanket. You can’t trample my dreams!  There are also dog, bubble, sister and teddy bear pickups.  See if you can uncover their secrets!

Jump on the magical unicorn to briefly escape a horrible death by trampling!

Jump on the magical unicorn to briefly escape a horrible death by trampling!

This is a really fun game.  I have only played a couple unfinished levels, and I am really interested in this title, despite my neutral emotions toward its genre.  Honestly, most of my love for Boogey Boy comes from the art.  The look is really dream-like and surreal:  enemies make a sort of vague sense, platforms are creative and neat.  Another thing is the music.  It leaps and frolics around with you while still leaning on you to keep up a solid pace or be stomped into dream dust.  The controls are simple and the UI is a bit random, but coherent.  Overall, I would be alright paying money for this game.  Its early stages of development generate their own ire, but it is to be expected at this point.  The most annoying thing about this title is the lack of fucking exit button on the menu.  There is also the issue of no pause menu’, so you only get the choice to return to the title menu, but even there you have no exit option.  Again, though most of that title menu is non-functional because this is an early early development preview!  Check it out, but don’t be judgmental.  It’s a great work-in-progress that deserves to have an eye kept on it.

Flem, Sticky Little Preview

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This game is the most adorable game about a booger I have ever played.  Your main character is a little pixel snot, and the style of this game reflects the silliness having such a main character implies.  Its retro-style pixel art and chiptune music make it feel like a long-lost classic from the SNES, but its divergence from the usual recipe of those older games is what makes this game so much fun.  It is also a title appearing this week at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany at the Unity 3D stand.

Flem is a booger.  The first title I saw when I loaded the game read “One day in your nose…”  The tutorial takes place in a little alcove of someone’s nose where other little boogers teach you everything how you will interact with the game.  First there is your basic movement: left, right and jump.  The most important feature of movement is the roll.  Using roll is similar to running in that it increases speed, but it’s a toggle, so you don’t stop rolling until you hit the button again.  When I started, I was as careful as I could be; but once I realized how to progress in the game, I realized I had to step it up.

Final goals tend to define a game, and the goal here is timing.  Each level is a timed race to get past treacherous terrain, flora and fauna.  This is why I found myself rolling through most of the game, since you need to make a good time to progress.  I died a lot, mostly because platformers are not my strongest suit, but also because this game’s squishy exterior is only skin deep.  This is not a forgiving game.  Sure, each level is short, but that doesn’t change the fact that starting from the beginning every time is a pain.  I have cursed Flem more times than any other game in such a short period of time, and he can really be fucking frustrating, too.

Behold! The nostrils!

“What the actual fuck..?”

As you roll along through the game, you encounter a variety of obstacles, with the most common being spikes.  Spikes are literally fucking everywhere.  It’s like Flem got launched from the warm safety of the nostrils into a nightmare world of demon spikes and bizarre animals.  I wouldn’t call the creatures in this game enemies, since you don’t really fight them.  By all means, this game is almost Buddhist in its treatment of other creatures.  That I have found, there is no means to kill enemies, mostly because that is not what Flem is about.  Rather than sterilizing the environment of it natural fauna, you are tasked with slipping by them.  And they are weird.  There are yellow jumping bugs (dust mites, guess), cactus-like plants that launch pellets into the air, flying purple bugs and a myriad of other obstacles, but again, you are not there to kill anything: you just want to get past quickly.  At the end of the level, you’ll be graded, and the faster you completed it, the better your score.  Of course, there are only three scores, noted by different-colored gems.  One of the biggest points of frustration are the buttons to continue the game.  For now, it seems selection randomly flickers from one button to the next, making it equally possible to restart, continue or return to the menu by accident.  It’s really annoying, but in a preview this early, it is good to see so few flaws.

In order to get past, you are given some interesting abilities, too.  One of these abilities is gathering up little purple bubbles to float around.  Of course, there is a gauge that displays the amount of time that you have to hover, which can be refilled by grabbing another purple bubble.  This gets difficult, too, since your ultimate goal is to get to the end quickly, not to collect pick-ups.  There are also orbs that give you speed boosts, let you jump and these are trickled into the game slowly enough that you get a handle on them, and the game ramps up the difficulty at a rate that is challenging and still fun.

Older games have a more specific motivation with an interference-oriented goal.  Mario would vanquish goombas, beat on turtles and kick Bowser’s butt to save the Princess.  Flem is a booger.  He isn’t nearly as committed to combat as the suspenders-clad knight of the Mushroom Kingdom.  There isn’t even a definable enemy, just this sense of displacement that drives Flem onward.  In the very beginning, rather than some foe drawing you out into the world, you are launched out of the nose by a sneeze.  It’s a beginning as goofy as the main character, but it sets a tone of enjoying the pixels of the game rather than selecting and neutralizing targets.  As I have come to expect and enjoy from Norway, there is a talent for creating a fun environment that you pass through and enjoy, rather than tear through like a tornado full of missiles and chainsaws.  I’ll bet that’s the next sequel to Sharknado.

What the fuck is with all the deadly spikes?!

What the fuck is with all the deadly spikes?!

The art in this game is spectacular, despite the simple concept.  The tutorial, which is currently pretty basic, is delivered alongside a gallery of pictures that seem to tell the story of dissenting opinions between the denizens of the nose.  Some ended up leaving, others stayed to cultivate some kind of snot garden.  The music is always whimsical and echoes the style of the environment.  It’s not some kind of modern, pulsating techno-mix of chiptunes; it’s just plain simple bit-tunes suitable for a game on the SNES.  I would expect this title to appear on Ouya and other simple platforms.  Alongside those, Henchman and Goon are trying to get this game voted up on Steam!  I would expect this to be another fun little title for a low-ish price, so go vote it up on Steam and lets play!

Of everything that bothers me about this game, nothing drove me up a fucking wall like the spikes lining every single wall in sight.  I mean seriously!  Is the world descending into the worship of some bizarre demon-god that covers everything in tiny spikes?!  What would the point of that be?  Does he want you to just be permanently uncomfortable?  I mean, spikes are spikes, but at this size it might be, at worst, like laying on toothbrushes.  That might even tickle.  It’s like the world was infiltrated by the most effectively strategizing and bizarrely quixotic aggressor in the world.  Maybe he was invented by Woody Allen?  I dunno, just seems like something he might imagine.

X-Tactics, Genre Fusion By AAA Veteran Devs

 

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Generally, I like to promote games from indies in need, but this is a story too deeply bizarre and intriguing to pass up.  Veterans of the AAA gaming industry have broken off and teamed up to create X-tactics (pronounced Cross Tactics), a game that will link gaming across mobile and PC platforms for an exciting blend.  Honestly, the anime art might not be my usual bag, but the concept behind this game is so vast and exciting that only the Japanese are crazy enough to do it right.  Ingress better watch out, shit’s about to get real.

First things first, who the fuck are these people?  Our developer in question, GAMKIN, is the product of minds from Square-Enix, Sega and Capcom.  Those names drop harder than Skrillex does his bass, but still it stands.  This is a game that will be rendered by veterans from three legendary household names in gaming.  Fuck.  These guys got together in late 2013 and they have spent most of their time in Japan away from the warm lights of our hemisphere.  Mostly they’ve been working with interactive children’s television and collaborating with local game schools to cultivate next-gen game devs.  So these guys are legit philanthropists with a serious mind for our future.  Now they turn their thoughts again toward gaming, and this beast, which they’ve gotten fully funded with 33 days left on their Indie GoGo clock, threatens some formidable levels of awesome.  For a little perspective, the campaign launched on the 8th.  This means they achieved their primary goal in just 6 days.

GAMKIN has a lot on their plate when you look at their plans.  The platforms they will be releasing on include iOS, Android, Kindle (2014), PC, Mac, Linux and Google Glass  (2015), and none of those are stretch goals.  The features of the game are complex and paint an exciting picture of gaming interaction.  First off, this is another genre-fusing game.  Its main components are tactics, fighting and urban exploration, with a 50%, 25% and 25% split, respectively.  In their own words:

When we set out to make X-Tactics we didn’t want to make just another tactical game, nor attempt to create some sort of perfect tactical game. Instead our goal as developers here is to create something new. We combined equal parts of tactical gameplay of classics like that of Final Fantasy Tactics and Valkyrie Chronicles, together with fighting game mechanics and aesthetics, like those found in the Street Fighter series, to create a new gameplay experience, that we at least have not seen done before.

– GAMKIN on Xtactics, Indie Go Go campaign

 

Now this doesn’t explain the other 25% of the game, but let’s stop a minute what this means for PC gamers, as PC and MAC will be options for the game.  The game itself will use turn-based tactics to create a high-speed gameplay environment that focuses on treacherous close-quarters combat, as you might find in an urban setting.  Your heroes won’t be able to take ridiculous amounts of damage to the face, so you will need to make quick moves and calculated risks to achieve victory rapidly.  Failing to do so finds you at the business end of some purple alien’s psychic attacks…

 

... and that suit screams "business time"

… and that suit screams “business time”

Each battles takes up the full screen, and each mission will be comprised of several battles.  With one screen active fights will be tightly fought, so bonuses like flanking, support, destructible furnishings in the environment and traps will give you a serious edge and change the battle’s dynamics every time you play.  X-Tactics will also utilize an initiative system, which they compare to that of Final Fantasy Tactics, but I will translate that to the American readers: shit’s going to battle like DnD.  Initiative will be based on speed and turn order will be thereby determined.  This will also open up the ability for seasoned players to fine-tune their initiative-order to get their team members to unleash dual combos and team combos.  Not to mention, enemies will come in waves each battle, so you really have to get that ass in gear and wipe out your foes before more arrive!

What does this all mean for mobile users?  Honestly, this part looks to be the most exciting.  GAMKIN is going to use GPS information to create a variety of missions that will allow you to defend your neighborhood, school or workplace from outbreaks and other dangers.  Each character you have will even have locale-based storylines that will be unlocked depending on where you are, so the exploration is highly encouraged.  Where this game will really shine is how it will use the GPS of your device to investigate your surroundings, reveal hints and uncover treasures.  This will open up to more modular features where users can organize their own location-based events and treasure-hunts with friends.  In addition to all this, the game will be sensitive to the time of day, moon cycles and even weather to unlock events, initiate outbreaks and influence character abilities.  Having the mobile functionality will also allow for 4-player co-op missions, so you don’t have to be anti-social with this title.  And for those of you guys who shelled out the outrageous amounts of cash to join in on the googe Glass explorer program, the team will also have a companion app that will assist with the urban exploration part of the game.  If that isn’t enough, they will also be updating weekly with episodic content for the game, including missions, items and new heroes all at no cost to players.  If they throw in anything else, my brain might explode.

O, no, wait.  That's just my aunt's baking.

O, no, wait. It’s just my neighbors’ cooking.

This is all well and good, but what is the fucking story here?  Well, it takes place in a story like our own, if our world was controlled by top-secret government agencies and secret societies.  It isn’t, right?  You’ll control a motley crew of secret agents, treasure hunters and adventurers that are working to keep the truth in check.  This means you are more “Men In Black”, less “defenders of the people”.  I expect we’ll likely be killing those free-minded liberators of information, and that makes me laugh with dark, dark relish (enjoyment, not condiment).  And the game is perfectly ok with this.  In fact, the creators have said that it will use dark humor and anime punk art styles to put a new spin on conspiracy theories and urban legends!

And this got funded seemingly over night.  I have known about this game for four days, and it has already gotten its Indie GoGo funding, and they are into stretch goals.  Literally, they got a money enema.  They have 6 hunters with 2 more listed for stretch goals, including some badass ninja panda and a thick list of additional concepts.  Go and check it out for yourself, and wait with bated breath for the release!  Congratulations to these guys for getting their funding goals!  Now get in there and see if we can help them meet a few more stretch goals!

A bit of gameplay for ya ; )

A bit of gameplay for ya ; )

 

Lift Off!, Devious Extra-terrestrial Boardgaming

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As kids, my brothers and I loved to play board games, and when we played they got rowdy.  With five of us all told, whether we started fighting or not, it was always an interesting game.  Granted, my oldest brother always made up new rules, so my second oldest brother was always the one consulting the rule book to shoot him down.  Rainy days, snow days, days we didn’t feel like going outside: any reason would do to ransack the attic looking for one of the numerous boxes of board games that my parents kept around.

Lift off is a board game that would have been an awesome find in one of those boxes.  The art is cool and the concept is simple enough for a bunch of kids to comprehend.  The story is something simple and fun: someone tripped over a cord at the center of the planet and now it’s caused a cataclysmic chain reaction that will annihilate the planet!  Sounds like a doomsday scenario that only a programmer could imagine.  One little tiny thing is off and everything explodes.  When you start a game, you build the board.  This is similar to other board games, except that the pieces are HUGE so there is no way to really mess it up.  You start with the core, which is the center of the planet and the game board.  Apparently aliens hang out at the core of their planet, not the surface.  There are four exit points, providing egress from the core, and four lift off points, to get you the hell off the planet!  Once the board is built, everyone draws two cards, the moon is set at the top of the board and the sun is placed in the day tracker.

Also at the center of the board, there is this giant, ugly gargoyle.  He starts in the same place as all your little aliens, whom are in the midst of a mass exodus from the planet, so that never bodes well.  He looks like the embodiment of planetary disappointment.  Your world’s final ‘fuck you’ before you leave it to explode into space-dust.  If you want to follow along with how you play this game, I am basically writing this article alongside the explanation of the game, delivered by creator Eduardo Baraf on his kickstarter.

A lot of pieces, but at least most of them are big.  I hate it when there are a billion tiny pieces for you to lose... cause I usually do just that..

A lot of pieces, but at least most of them are big. I hate it when there are a billion tiny pieces for you to lose… cause I usually do just that with them..

During your turn, you can do any combination of 4 things.  First, you can move your aliens.  Again, these are the little guys that are trying to escape the planet and the focus of the whole game.  Each turn you get 2 moves.  Typically, you can move one alien out to the perimeter via an exit point for one move.  You can also move that alien from one board section to another using one move.  Now, moving is important and all, but it’s not everything.

The next action you can take in a turn is placing your resource cards at a lift off point.  So, at the start of each turn, you draw two cards.  (for those following along, this means on your first turn you’ll have 4 cards)  Now this is how it works.  You can move your little aliens around the board, but when you place him on a lift off point, you have to spend resources to get them “onboard” the lift off point.  For instance, Ed (the game’s creator), shows us that it takes 2 screws to board the satellite and that it can hold up to 3 aliens.  Once you get an alien to the satellite, you spend 2 screws and he boards the satellite.  It’s like paying Charon the boatman, but instead of trying to buy a badass yacht to shepherd souls to the afterlife, I guess he is trying to build one instead.  I congratulate him on his new-found work ethic.  Removing an alien from a lift off point also costs the same amount of resources as placing them, so, unless you want to be stuck in some kind of hardware pyramid scheme, leave the fuckers where they are.  As the aliens pay to board the points, they start paying the cost.  Once the full cost of the point is paid, the point takes off and the aliens are given to their respective players.

Now, the satellite is an easy take off point.  It costs 6 screws to get going, 2 screws to board and takes off at any time.  Some of the other lift off points are more complex.  Take the rocket for example.  That shit can hold 6 people and costs 6 fuel and 6 screws to take off.  You pay 1 fuel and 1 screw to board it.  In addition, it can only take off during a full moon!  The fuck!?  So apparently this moon mechanic is important.  At the end of each player’s turn, it moves to the next slot over on the board.  If you have any talent for physical extrapolation, you’ll see from the pieces of the board above, it forms a circular shape.  Now, if the moon is directly above a section of the board, say the rocket, it is a full moon at the rocket.  If it is on the section of the board directly opposite the rocket, it is a new moon at the rocket.  When the moon is at any section in between the rocket and the section opposite the rocket, it is a half moon.  So the fucking rocket only takes off when the moon is directly above it.  Fucking showboater.

Personally, I would favor the Stargate.  Cause it's fucking awesome.

Personally, I would favor the Stargate. Cause it’s fucking awesome.

Moving back to the original structure of this article that I seem to have abandoned faster than the aliens in this game leave their planet, the next type of action is using action cards.  These cards are where things get really interesting.  They have a variety of effects on the game, all of which Ed explains, none of which I will explain.  These cards let you manipulate the mechanics of the game so that you can get your aliens off the planet quicker or prevent the other players from lifting off.  So, for instance, I might use terraform to swap out a lift off tile that will allow me to take off faster with one of my aliens leaving everyone else to fend for themselves.  Heh heh heh!  I’ll take the jetpack, you assholes can take the trampoline off the planet!  One of the biggest dick moves is to relocate the gargoyle.  If you move that fucker to a lift off point, it cannot take off at all, regardless of how many screws they gave to Charon.  Granted, you can always move him back to the center on your turn with the gargoyle card or when the moon reaches its original resting point.

The last type of action is pretty simple and common to a lot of games.  Discard.  This is basically a way to trade off items and gamble a little to try to get what you need.  You can discard two cards in order to draw another card.  Discard two resources for an action card or any combo of two cards for another card.

Now the way game progress is tracked is the combination of the sun and the moon.  Every time the moon reaches its starting position on the board, the sun moves forward a spot on the day tracker.  There are several day spots and then a run of explosion spots with numbers.  The numbers relate to a number of players.  So with the most players in a game, five, you have nine days until the planet explodes.  This means that with 8 moon slots on the board, the game gives 5 players a grand total of 40 turns to GTFO.  Of course, who ever has removed the most aliens from the board when it explodes wins the game.

Murder, my favorite pass time!  Also, Red Rum, my second favorite drink!

Murder, my favorite pass time! Also, Red Rum, my second favorite drink!

Why should you give this guy you money?  Well, aside from getting a copy of Lift Off! he’ll also throw in a copy of one of his other games, Murder of Crows.  Eddie B has a lot of neat shit they want to do the more money they can get, so check out the entire kickstarter, review the donation options and get neat stuff!  As of right now, this campaign is 51% there.  With 22 days left, this is a project that is worth betting some money on.  But wait!  There’s m0re!  Are you from the EU?  This game is EU-friendly, so all rewards for backers in the EU and US will ship for free.  Stick that in your pip and smoke it.

AntiHero, Sprinting Preview

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I have been playing a lot of platformers lately, so I got myself a Dualshock 4 controller in anticipation of one day being able to afford a PS4!  For now, I will settle for using one on my PC.  And today it really paid off.  Today I was able to burn through the Anti-Hero demo a couple times and get associated with this upcoming indie title.

Anti-Hero is a fast-paced puzzle platformer that takes you across the universe.  The main character is some sort of spaceman with interesting powers.  Now they aren’t terribly amazing, so don’t get all amped up for some crazy fucking ideas that will rend the universe itself, but the way the mechanics of the game are woven together provides a fun and challenging game that gets me excited to wear in my new gamepad.

First among the mechanics employed by Anti-Hero is the wall-run.  Apparently this space wanderer character is from a distant place where they still have ninjas, because he can run straight up a fucking wall.  As of right now there is even a tutorial that lets you practice wall running.  You run at a wall (moving forward while pressing L1 for me ) then press the jump button (X in my case) twice in order to start running up it.  Simple enough, but as high school does not offer extensive preparation for the real world, so, too, the tutorial is just child’s play compared to some of the wall-run challenges offered by the game even as early as the introductory level.  Now, don’t get it twisted: this mechanic has been woven into the game well.  It feels right, it isn’t terribly hard, but the game doesn’t hand you anything.  After speaking with Matt Lewis, an Artist and Animator on the project, I have a firmer idea on the thought going into the mechanic.

 

We do think about how the player is going to react to situations like wall-running.  People have said “it’s too punishing, I need check points.”  We respond, “The level takes 60 seconds to run through and you want a check point?”  That’s what I thought, wall running shouldn’t be an automatic thing; it should require timing and skill.  The idea was that we didn’t want sticky walls.  We want wall running to be a platform challenge, just like clearing a gap or timing platforms.

– Matt Lewis, Artist and Animator, Couch Fort Gamez

 

Paul DiDomenico, Lead Developer at Couch Fort, also had his own thoughts regarding difficulty of the gameplay:

 

There are too many follow missions these days.  Personally, I want kids to hate me like I hate whoever programmed Mega Man 7

– Paul DiDomenico, Lead Developer, Couch Fort Gamez

 

So the developers don’t want anything to be too easy, so the game feels satisfying with objectives and challenges that are fun and attainable.  But how attainable is wall running?  Well, I am glad I played it with the gamepad.  Despite my preference for my PC gaming input apparatus, the gamepad made the entire mechanic smooth and intuitive to get your hands around.  It is kind of like every other PC platformer in that it should have a warning label: DO NOT TRY THIS AT ASDF!  What is unique about this mechanic is the way it is presented in the demo.  There is a section of it where you have to wall jump up a mine shaft.  Everything about the mine is well-crafted, too.  You are running up a couple walls and jumping back and forth between them in time to catch the other side and keep running.  It takes some practice, but if you get it right, you can end up running up higher than your goal and coming back down to reach the objective.

Seriously, don't try this on any non-controller device

Just.. a little… further!

Another mechanic in the game that adds to the momentum of gameplay is the slide.  Pressing a certain key on the gamepad ( O for me ) triggers a slide, and when executed in certain locations you can slide even further.  Various obstacles throughout the level make you slide on your side for a good distance.  This results in a platformer with a speed and synergy that gets you moving fast and keeps you on your toes.  You want to maintain the momentum you feel with the main character, and it is definitely going to be a good title for speed-runners.

Through the game, you will also be tasked with some fairly simple puzzles.  These include throwing an object through a hovering hoop to unlock a door.  Throwing is accomplished with the left stick, and the character thrusts out his hand like a damn jedi.  You then control the object as it flies through the air.  Since this is a preview, you might have guessed the game is in early development.  The objects, for now, are blue cubes.  As you might expect, the game rapidly builds on the throwing mechanic by immediately having you take an object, throw it through a hoop and over an obstacle, while you slide underneath and catch it to continue the trajectory through to another hoop, which then opens a door.  If it touches the ground, the door doesn’t open.  It sounds like a bitch, but the way the game plays, it is very doable and very satisfying when you complete it.  I have replayed the demo 5 times just to be like, “hell, yea, just another space traveler doing some wicked slam dunks, comin’ through here.”  Using this ability also helps you kill your foes as early in the game you notice the blue cubes just chilling there.  You can take these babies and lob them at your foes, but many times I used them too hard and they landed in a bottomless pit.  Weaponizable objects are best used as “magic bullets” than dumb-fire missiles, swinging them through the air and guiding them closely.  Now, in a game driven toward momentum, this takes you out of the speed a bit, so the best way to just get through it is to watch your foes’ movements and run past them.

I knew my years of slip 'n' slide practice would come in handy some day!

I knew my years of slip ‘n’ slide practice would come in handy some day!

 

Some other elements that I enjoyed were the scenery layering.  Although the level platforms cut a bit suddenly in some places, overall the way the foreground reaches back into the background is great.  That is then layered with various elements that move naturally.  It is not like playing in a diorama but it feels like you are just on a hill in a busy forest-bedecked town. One point of this game that still feels a bit rough is the music.  The music in the trailer on the site is pretty exciting, but that in the game is comparatively overworldy.  It can be best described as platformer jive and it gets you rolling with the game, but it just feels like it should be in a version of this game retailed by Old Navy.  A game this fast-paced featuring a space traveler might feature something a little more techno-sprinter and a little less polo shirt overworld.

Finally, the storyline, though largely conceptual, also has a number of fantastic elements to it.  In the title screen you see a balloon that is rocketing out of the atmosphere to scintillate gently in the starlight.  Paul DiDomenico, the Lead Developer at Couch Fort, revealed to me that this symbolizes a key theme in this game’s golden heart: a child’s wish, which thrusts him into the heart of the story.

 

The idea is that a true wish from the heart can hold great power, and that power always draws more power.  It comes from a place of light and innocence, but it is coveted by those who wouldn’t use it for the like.

– Paul DiDomenico, Lead Developer, Couch Fort Gamez

 

So right off the bat, I get the sense this game will have some serious feels.  But in a brilliant manner of true “yin and yang”, the main character, our space traveler, has a story that is dark and sad.

 

Eons ago his home world was at the brink of destruction.  He and a small council performed an ancient and forbidden ritual as a final effort to save their planet and species.  This effort, though bestowing upon them incredible abilities, ultimately failed and left them with the curse of immortality.  They have since wandered the cosmos decaying until they are mere husks of their former selves, unable to die.  Then, suddenly, one by one, they begin to disappear until only our main character remains, which is where his story and the child’s meet and our game begins.

-Paul DiDomenica, Lead Developer, Couch Fort Gamez

 

I am not sure about you guys, but this game looks and sounds like a lot of fun.  Though it is in its early stages, the amount of heart and work being poured into it makes me optimistic about the final product.  Through everything I have come to understand about Antihero, the only thing that get me feeling frustrated is that it will be some time before this title is finished.  Keep this title in the back of your minds, though.  This is a first look into what is going on with Couch Fort Gamez inaugural title.  Let’s wish them luck and get them the support they need and deserve!  Check out their site and keep an eye out for Antihero.

Keep an eye out to find out more about Antihero and learn what the devs have in store for our main characters!

Keep an eye out to find out more about Antihero and learn what the devs have in store for our main characters!

Estudio Antropo, True Next-Gen Gaming

estudio-antropo-logo

 

Remember is Shadowrun how your characters had 2 different versions of the matrix to deal with?  Yea, sure, one was the Virtual Reality (VR) realm where hackers reign as gods, clad in icons to resemble all the deities of old as their meat body lays somewhere on a bed or floor neglected by the free-roaming mind.  The other was called Augmented Reality (AR) and it is where you find the visual interfaces that allowed you to see what specials and sales stores have going that day by looking at the logo through the right pair of glasses.  Nintendo was the first to really take advantage of this when they came out with the 3DS and its aptly named VR cards, which revealed a variety of simple, fun AR games that had my wife and I battling over who was the better virtual fisherman.  These cards were cards you lay on a table and then look at with your 3DS in AR mode.  Characters would then pop out of the cards or games would form out of the table.  It was fucking awesome.  Then there was this company that fucking decided to make a pair of computerized glasses, which hold the potential to plaster gaming all over the world.  There is another company, however, whose scope is more ambitious than just playing with cards and more exciting than karate chopping at the air or shouting virtual “clay pigeons” to pieces with your fucking thu’um.

Estudio Antropo said “That’s fucking neat and all guys, but what about the goddamn devices the entire society has already invested in?”  Not a direct quote, but one I like to imagine coming out of someone’s mouth.  These guys have developed a game for the boARd format, a Kurzor S.R.O. concept, that allows you to use your mobile devices to play board games.  Now, the trailers for this only show people with their iPads all spooled up and ready to go, but, the game is also scheduled to release with an Android element, as well.  I don’t see it being long before Andriod and iOS players can huddle around the same boARd to play a rousing game of Monopoly, or something.  Estudio Antropo currently have a kickstarter campaign up that ends August 1st.  If anything in this article excites you nearly as much as it fucking excites me, go there and throw some money in!

cartoneros-logo-01-long

 

Check my cardboard swagger.

Check that cardboard swagger

First among the titles that will pioneer the fourth fucking dimension is Cartoneros.  This title is one that has a kind of general appeal that plays out really cool.  Not to mention, even those hippies with their goddamn iPads will love the concept.  Cartoneros takes place in a world where people throw away vast amounts of fucking cardboard.  EVERYTHING is cardboard, including your characters.  Your characters then go out on their mission to clean up the world! Aw, yay!  That is so special!  Yippee! Love is magical!  They then proceed to battle over resources like the humans that undoubtedly spawned them and battle to the death over cardboard.  So yes, good intentions do pave the road to good gameplay.

In this tactical strategy, you control a small team of Cartoneros, these little guys that collect the cardboard detritus of the world.  Each of your cartoneros has strength and weaknesses, too, so it is not all cut and dry combat.  In your mad dash for sustaining cardboard, you will battle with other players.  Now, this carboard you collect isn’t really something you’ll use in-game to pump your cartoneros up, but between plays is when it comes in handy.  As you await your next round of play against your mortal foes (apparently your mom and little sister) you use the cardboard to beef up your cartoneros.  You will even be able to shape the gaming environment by building maps, characters, weapons, monsters and robots!  Its developers liken it to a combination of DoTA and XCOM.  Granted, if you spend your cardboard too frivolously, you will not have enough resources to maintain a competitive  team.  This honestly looks like it could turn into a fucking sport.

Adorable cardboard characters butchering each other with their cardboard shotguns. Isn't that nice!

Adorable cardboard characters butchering each other with their cardboard shotguns. Isn’t that nice!

Each game of Cartoneros will include 1 – 8 players, and the game style will change depending on the teams.  If everyone is on the same team, the game is more like an RPG with players working together to fight monsters and get cardboard.  If you split the players apart, it becomes a DoTA, XCOM fusion-style tactical strategy game.  Monsters in this game fall in three categories.  Little ones that flee, big ones that attack your characters and huge ones that make you crap your cardboard trousers.  Each monster will have special abilities that can be obtained by killing the monsters and eating its heart like a ancient n0rse warrior.  I might have made up that last part about eating its heart, but you really can get the powers of your foes for a limited period by destroying them.  Apparently there are some really neat features to the game structure, as well, allowing you to create your own game.  Maps can be created by arranging terrain on the board, missions can be created by designating objectives and stories created by linking maps.  The game is going to be tough, too; if you lose characters weapons, tools etc. in-game they are gone forever.  You’ll have to be careful how you spend your cardboard between games, but careful planning will pay off big-time in the long run.  You can read about Cartoneros in greater detail on its Kickstarter page.

espio_logo

Does cartoneros sound too much like something that the family will enjoy and won’t be badass enough for your group of awesome buddies that only opt for the finest and most edgy of tabletop games?  The guys backing cartoneros are also developing Espionag3: Berlin Files.  If cartoneros’ strategic gameplay and winsome visuals don’t excite you, the dark world of spies and intrigue laid out in Espionag3: Berlin Files should.

It’s another strategic game where you control a network of spies and battle against your friends.  Berlin files looks really fun and with pitched gun battles and tailing missions, this game looks awesome.  I don’t fucking care what language the goddamn screenshots are in!  The players take up the role of secret government agents in Berlin, who have discovered that the mafia has moved in and are expanding rapidly.  It is up to players to utilize their stealthy spy tactics to overcome and eliminate their mafia enemies.  This gaming format has a lot of possibilities, from the simple and fun ideas to adult level games providing intrigue and excitement.  I could see a game like this taking place in 1930’s New York with players controlling a mafia family and vying for control of the illegal liquor trade.  Want a historical piece?  What if someone developed a game where half the players are the French Resistance fighters and the others are Nazis, and the players duke it out for control of Paris?  See, only limited by your imagination.

On any city street in Berlin...

On any city street in Berlin…

So why does this concept excite me and why should it excite you too?  Do you like tabletop games?  Anyone who has ever played Shadowrun, Dungeons and Dragons or Warhammer and any other such related games should be able to see the potential this poses for awesomeness.  This format could easily be built upon by major developers to create a DnD game that works with ipads, android phones etc. so that you can sit down with your gaming crew and play some serious tabletop games.  You could have endless customization options for your Warhammer armies, all explained at your fingertips by the software of the game.  Terrain customization for Warhammer, DnD and Shadowrun games would be that much more detailed and the worlds you play in would, literally, just be a game screen away.  You would be able to almost touch them.  Super-nerdy niche games not your style?  This format could be used to give standard boardgames the modern update off of console systems they so desperately crave.  Instead of buying the whole box and all the pieces getting scattered by a rampaging dog, you could just play care-free on a paper-board!  Granted, the animals might poke holes in the paper boARd, but it saves you a hell of a lot more time searching for tiny houses.  Those fuckers are a bitch to step on at night, too.  So support Cartoneros on kickstarter up through August 1st!  It could really be the update of next-gen gaming that would really make people feel like they are living in the future!

 

Double-Up Discussion: Color Stairs, Fluff Eaters

colorstairs

 

The first game of today’s double article is Color Stairs!  An interesting concept for iOS systems, you can get this game for free on your iphone or ipad.  It can be found on the iTunes store at this location.  A fairly simple concept, this is a game easier explained than played.  You control a little square and you have to get it as far along the treacherous rainbow-colored terrain as possible.  You will fall in the spaces between one set of platforms and the next, though, so the game makes it easy to keep track of progress.

You’ll pick this up and underestimate it from the start.  Smooth jazz jams on as you tap the screen to move your square.  To start, you’ll tap to drop the square.  I had numerous pit-drops off the bat as the platforms are scrolling while the square is in the same spot on the screen.  Eventually, though, the law of averages has to fucking even out and you’ll get it on a platform.  When it does, tap the screen and don’t stop.  When you see a gap, swipe upward real quick and you’ll jump that shit.  It is a little jarring to get used to, and prolonged gameplay may result in motion-sickness, but once you get a good rol, you want to stay on that shit.  My best play got me to 143 points.  How do you gain points?  They accrued every time you tap the fucking screen.  Sound simple?  You fell into the same goddamn trap I did!  Try it.  Just try it.  It is fun, frustrating and, honestly, satisfying.  But you do not feel bad putting it down: everything required of a good app game and good puzzlers alike.  Do I need another screenshot?  No, the above logo pretty much says it all.

flufflogo

Fluff Eaters is not out yet.  This half of today’s double-up is a preview as of the typing of this article, but it will be released on the 14th!  Check it out on its website!  This game honestly has all the makings of the next big app game that young girls and middle-aged men will latch onto.  A cute main character, lovably devious foes that are charming in their own way and a simple base concept.

Basically, you are playing jacks.  You know, the game played arbitrarily on every sidewalk by young girls in the mid-nineteen fifties.  You bounce a ball and pick up as many jacks as you can.  In this, though, you bounce a cat.  Bouncy the Cat, as a matterafact.  Now these little fuckers, called Fluffs, waited while Bouncy got out of bed and fucked up his personal lounge spot!  This is some unprecedented douchebaggery on their part, so Bouncy needs to get his revenge.  Each level you are tasked with bouncing Bouncy and tapping goals.  Tapping fluffs gets you through the level, but each level there are these little fish crackers to collect.  Getting the crackers gets you more points and killing fluffs gets you through the level with less points.  The goal is to tap all the objectives and then move on.  A simple concept that gets more and more difficult.

... but you end up on whacky levels wondering what you are even supposed to do after enough time.

… but you end up on crazy complex levels wondering what you are even supposed to do after enough time.

I am not going to lie.  For all this game’s adorable trappings, cute sound effects and silliness, it is a pain in the ass to complete.  I found myself on a level where the platforms are angled and you have to catch Bouncy after he gets the crackers but before he hits the WALL OF GODDAMN SPIKES!  This cat would hate me for real, and not just because I am a dog person.  I dropped his ass on more than a few spike traps and into pits, launched him off screen, missed the catching tap and let him double-bounce: you name it, I fucked it up.  And this game gets challenging.  I give serious accommodations to anyone that can get through more than a few acts in this game. Aside from being challenging, it has really good visuals, fun scenery and lovable characters, even if they do seem like a euphemism for cat dander and hairballs.  If you are a fan of fun, cute and humorous app games, this is a title to pick up, and for the asking price of 0.99$ it is a relative steal.

Third World Future, Be a Hero

TWF-logo

 

How many times have you seen someone you know spend hours, cumulatively speaking, playing one of those irritating in-app purchase games?  My wife plays a few of them and I always find new charges I wasn’t expecting.  It drives me up a wall that these purchases are so small and easy to make because you just make them on an impulse.  These games truly are the kings of capitalism in the game world.  But what if that kind of energy could be harnessed and channeled into something better, something worth getting behind.  What if you could use one of those games to help children in Africa get food, clothing, shelter and maybe even a uniform so they can get to school?  If this indiegogo campaign is successful, you can do just that, all while spending your time playing games.

Third world future has an ambitious goal: to make the first game that directly benefits charity organizations.  Just as other game designers are trying to use games as a tool to educate children, TWF’s dream is to use gaming to help people in third world countries.  Do you like Clash of Clans?  How about Farmville? Third World Future will feature a number of elements similar to these games whereby you manage your own African village.  This strategy game will leave players with the ability to make In-App purchases.  60% of the proceeds from their game will be contributed randomly to charitable organizations.  This is just casual gaming, too.  There is a speech on TED Talks where Jane McGonigal talks about how we can use games and encourage gamers to solve real-world problems.  That video brought a few tears to my eyes.  I feel like this is a chance to accomplish the next step for gaming.

Their method for deciding who to fund comes from the people that provided the money in the first place: the players.  Every quarter for 2 weeks, a vote will open up to the game’s discussion board.  Every quarter five non-profit organizations will be selected from the region receiving the benefit.  Players can then choose which of the five organizations they want the funds to go to.  Whichever of the benefits wins will receive the lion’s share of the funding and in-game advertisement with the rest of them receiving smaller amounts and some in-game advertisement.  So, if you have a few extra bucks in your pocket that you can throw at a good cause, visit the Indie Go Go campaign site for Third World Future as soon as it launches on July 14th and give what you can.  Every little bit helps, dammit, 1$ in America  and we’re trying to save the fucking world!

twf_concept

Please note that I will be updating this article and reposting it as more information becomes available.

Skara, Shiney Pre-Alpha Preview

skara

 

Skara: The Blade Remains is a game given the go ahead by the community on Steam Greenlight.  One of many worthy candidates for support, Skara attmepts to step in where many mainstream companies leave off.  Arena deathmatch games typically come with guns and grenades, but this title threatens to drop you into an ancient desert or a volcanic nightmare and wishes you well against the hordes of your foes.  The game looks great and the developer’s site gives a lot more regarding the story and world.

Among alpha-previews that I have played, this title has to be the most difficult to discuss in my fashion.  Primarily, I would ask readers to keep in mind that this game is not even up for sale yet.  It is not even close to finished.  The developers are working hard daily to ensure this game gets to a complete phase as soon as possible.  Having recently played the pre-alpha build, I am certainly excited, but not overly impressed.  If this game were to pre-release today, I would laugh loudly and call shenanigans.  But it is not, so I look forward to the game that the developers are working on, as detailed on their Greenlight page.

First, let me generally name some of the areas that the developers have to improve.  In a game with sword fighting gameplay, you want the character to attack well.  A third-person perspective is granted to the player, and this gives you a much better perception of the presence of your character than other games of a similar genre with their first-person views.  Now, being in pre-alpha, Skara’s animations are a little slow right now and this definitely comes out in the gameplay, making it difficult to maneuver, but it was funny as hell to watch my character swinging a longsword like it was made of white-dwarf matter.  I had to actually start my attacks at a distance in order to “spool up” the animation like it was some kind of minigun with one fucking shot.  Another problem with the animations is the ragdoll effect, but in this it should be called the invertebrate effect.  Upon death all the bones in a corpse seem to magically disappear.  Instant man-jelly style.   Now, one thing that I did notice about the animations while playing was fatalities.  Let’s fucking face it, a game like this is boring without a little extra in the awesome category.  I was able to perform two fatalities that really got me amped up.  I favored the civilized look of the Durno fighters.  They just felt better than the insane, cultist look of the Kharn savages.  I was able to get a few guys to a state of “finish him” dazed-ness.  Once there I ran one guy through and flipped him over my shoulder.  The second one I put a guy on his knees like a priest at a pulpit then proceeded to hack wildly at his muscular neck.  I imagine the head will fly off at the end once the game releases, but the chopping action just finishes the animation with the victim sliding to the ground.

Just wait right there, Shraka!  I gonna keel you!

I’m not waiting here all night, Shraka.  Just get the attack over with already!

 

Arena fighters always need someoneto duke it out or there is nothing to play.  This game currently features the Durno (above left) and the Kharn (above right).  Looking at the models and textures for the races I can see why there are only two at the moment.  And why they turn into man-jelly on death.  The models and textures are detailed as fuck.  Light reflects from their clothes and skin differently and their armor and weapons gleam. It is really exciting to see.

Another element that is important to arena fighters like this is easy navigation, especially as far as the menus are concerned.  There shouldn’t be a learning curve for the usage of the basic elements of a game.  When there is a menu to interact with, Skara makes sure it is easy to use.  The only two menus I saw, however, were the escape menu and the match menu.  When loading the level right now, there is nothing.  The screen is just a dead view on the map your anticipated match will be held. Once the game starts, though you have access to the match menu. The match menu is what displays when you hit the tab button in-game.  This is pretty simple and shows you how many kills you (in a deathmatch) or your team (in team deathmatch) have scored.  The scoring system is the Kills – Deaths equation, which I can get behind.  I played enough Unreal Tournament and grew accustomed to the simple systems of games past.

STBR

Best not ask the barbarians why they all have the same first name. Might insult their savage and unforgiving culture.

 

Now, everything that is wrong with the game can be attributed to the fact that the game is not ready for release, so it is missing a variety of important features, such as a tutorial area.  Tutorials on the operation of the battle combos would definitely be very helpful.  Looking at the explanation of the combos in the PDF that came with the game is a little on the confusing side.  Not because of the manual, that is simple.  Click this button, or press this series of keys.  Whatever, no sweats, man!  Then you get in-game and the ham-handed speed of the animations makes timing combos impossible for anyone.  Unless you are Miss Cleo or a Jedi..  then you can clairvoyantly intuit precisely when you need to hit the next key.  Otherwise it is a frenzy full of confused manipulation, like watching my childhood dog hump a pillow.

Of all things this game does and does fucking well are the sights.  Now, yes, I am very critical of graphics-heavy games with no other matter, but this is a game that is still in fucking development!  Cut me a goddamn break!  At one point the AI had a freakout session as I swung at it, and I think opted for self-preservation.  Either that or the guy was like, “fuck this!  If I die now, I want it to be a badass fight sequence!”  So he turns and runs up this tower, and I immediately give chase.  Bones of fallen warriors crunching beneath my iron-clad feet, I charge after my foe.  Bloodlust is coursing through my mind and bringing that coppery flavor thick into my mouth.  Each step takes me upward and he intermittently flags in stamina, coming into view only to catch a string wind and charge further.  I arrive at the top, only to lose my bearings.  Around me the winds howl and the glare of orange light as the sun reflects off the clay-shot fields of the moors.  Behind me my ambuscade foe howls and comes a hair’s breadth from burying the sharp end of his axe into my skull.  I dodge narrowly and heft my sword up, bringing my slice through his torso.  Dazed and reeling, the Kharn warrior blinks against the dazzling flash of my steel.  Only a blink passes and he opens his eyes to see the sharp tip of my sword pierce his chest.  Back my sword plunges until the hilt nearly touches his bulging muscles.  Kharnish men are brutal, and the warrior sneers and tries to grab my sword with his last breath, but I ram my shoulder into his sternum and twist my blade, flipping him into the air.  He lands with a sickening crunch on the stone behind me.

This is what is looked like in game, and the graphics supported every second of it.  You see a far-flung waste, venomous water gnawing at its shores and warriors struggling against death borne by other men.  I can only image that this game will get better, especially since it has been successfully Greenlit.  My biggest issue here is that the game isn’t fucking done, yet.  I played an unfinished game and honestly cannot wait until it is done, because a fantasy arena fighter would be so much fun to me.  The graphics and textures are gorgeous and the ambient sound is nice.  Perhaps the grunts and groans of the characters sound like they came out of a can, but the wind tearing at the dirt and slobbering waves on the shore sound magnificent.  Add in the ambient wildlife and you have a very graphically enticing world that utilizes the Unreal engine to stunning effect.  Now let’s get the rest of the game done, guys.  This one is set up to be really good.

Here the Kharnish warriors allow a Durnovan man how to perform the Kharnish Hot Foot ritual, performed with axes and clubs by boys at age 4.

Here the Kharnish warriors allow a Durnovan man how to perform the Kharnish Hot Foot ritual, performed with axes and clubs by boys at age 4.

 

World War Machine, Earth-Rending Preview

wwmlogo   So Square Enix has its own crowd-funding site, called the Square Enix collective.  Being removed from most mainstream news, I was unaware.  World War Machine is a title off that site, which sadly did not meet its fundijng goal of $50k.  Its creators, however, seem unfazed by this, and continue to promote the game accordingly.  It did manage to score $12,382 of its funding goal, though, so cheers to that.  After playing the pre-alpha demo of the game, I am impressed and I hope these guys somehow manage to pull it out of the fire.  Looking at the game on the developer’s site, it is something to be excited about.

World War Machine is a transhuman post-apocalyptic game that takes place after humans have thoroughly fucked up the world.  After a mass extinction event wipes out all organic life from the Earth (which you know happens from time to time if you watch Cosmos) humanity has changed drastically.  We used to be “fleshy meatbags full of sloshing” according to HK-47.  Sensing our impending doom, humans started downloading their consciousness to a computer.  Because, you know, even if our bodies die, it’d be cool to allow something of us to survive, right?  Nothing could go wrong here.  Except that the nodes that house our AI’s are damaged from the cataclysm, fragmented and separated.  Some of us forget who we were and our purpose becoming confused machines roving the decimated landscape.  You play one of those who remembers our past and fight to preserve the memory.  See, the other machines don’t know about the past, but somehow you do. In the demo, I had a level 10 machine.  You are basically a mini gundam ( or Jaeger ) and you fight against the damaged intellects of the other nodes, which house the human intellects.  The fight has been raging for centuries and finally one of the machines remembers.  This seems like you.  Now, the pitch suggests that the team here, Tuque Games, wants players to slip in and out of co-op seamlessly to take on group missions then revert to solo missions.  Missions will have a lasting effect on the world war itself, as well.

Did I mention that the concept art is cool as shit?

Did I mention that the concept art is cool as shit?

That is actually a look at your character in the concept art.  And given some of the differentiation visible between the player concepts on the WWM site, character customization seems to be part of the plan.  Whilst I was in the machine shop menu, I noticed something confusing about the character.  It is a machine, sure, but it looked bizarrely organic.  Now, this is not to say that it has fleshy bits.  It doesn’t.  But there are subtle little features, like wraps around the exposed joints and pieces of wreckage made into a front-plate, that make it look like a cybernetic lifeform evolving on its own in a post-human world.  All of the machines have this look, too, from the mongrels that run and kamikaze on you to the snipers and “reaper” artillery bots.  There is a lot more to this game than you’ll notice at first, for sure.

On the topic of enemies, one of the things I noticed is that they come out of the fucking woodwork.  They squeeze through cracks and doorways in the walls, they pour out of ruined buildings… hell! I was walking along when a chunk of the road imploded and enemies came flooding from the crevasse!  The mission in this demo was simply to get to the other side of the map, but that shit was hard to fucking tell!  Not because there was no explanation.  It clearly said to find the other outpost.  Sure there was no “arrow” but fuck, man, I couldn’t exactly try to go through a mountain of rubble!  What I mean is the level was more vast than I expected from a demo.  Every time I played (and I played several times) it was like I was finding another side path off the one I started on.  Not to mention hidden husks.  You can find shattered robot husks that house materials for crafting.

These stashes were usually hidden, but the nature of the engine lends itself to finding these pretty easily. Breaking things is fun to do.  Simple fucking fact.  This game allows you to destroy nearly fucking EVERYTHING!  If you can shoot it, you can break it.  I found myself demolishing walls, ruined buildings – you can even destroy the rubble!  Fucking seriously!  Too much fun with that, actually.  This is how the game makes it easy to miss stashes, if you aren’t attentive.  You could walk past a destructible terrain and miss out on some cool loot.  And loot in this game ranges from crafting items to weapons and cosmetic items.  I went into the machine shop, which is the crafting screen, and I was able to build some fun things.  You collect a variety of Spec Files from fallen enemies and then find the components to complete the blueprint.  These components are things like plastic and metals and can be found by killing enemies and destroying the props and terrain.  And trust me, one you blow up your first taxi or bus you’ll want to get more of them.  Of course, being a robot, you can tell which terrain pieces have something inside that will be useful.  I just had WAY too much fun destroying things.  I made a cape, which hangs from my character looking badass and tattered.  I also made a few weapons

wwmrkt

BOOM! Ha ha ha ha!

Weapons in WWM come in a variety of flavors: MG class, RKT class, SHTG class, MTR class, ATL class, Rail class.  MG class is your standard machine gun.  This fucker spits out bullets and most enemies will have them.  Luckily, you don’t just walk into the bullets like they do.  Not to mention you can widen the spread as you level up.  RKT is your rocket class weaponry, and these were fun.  Above you see the player blasting enemies with the standard locking missiles.  In the demo I got to try out the mouse-guided missiles!  Those were a riot.  SHTG class is a shot gun.  This sprays a wide burst of firepower in front of you.  I attached it to give my secondary a little more punch!  MTR class is the mortar.  This was awesome, but had a lower damage.  The ATL, however, is fucking scary as hell.  This artillery class weapon fires high, so you have to plan your blast pattern, but it is worth the wait.  The rounds are high explosive and wipe out even the toughest bosses in a short (ish) time.  The RAIL class is the only type of weapon I didn’t get to experiment with.  This beast looks awesome, though, as I fought a few snipers that had it.  The thing passes through terrain, enemies and basically everything the magnetic projectile hits.  Thus, this would be my favorite weapon to destroy terrain with!  One of the cool things I discovered is that you can attach multiple weapons to your body at higher levels.  This allows you to fire a shotgun, ATL combination, for example, that will nuke anything close.  And you have three firing modes (for each mouse button) to choose from! So you’re all kitted out with an arsenal of explosives and guns to make a redneck feel uneasy.  But your vortex of vicious projectiles isn’t at its limit.

You also get powers to choose from.  We had access to them all, but among them a few really caught my eye.  First off, there was ultra-velocity, a mega-man super dash that lets you render enemies into tiny bits of scrap.  Another fun power is the EMP.  This will release a massive bust of electro-magnetic power that will stun most enemies.  Makes it a whole lot easier to deal with hordes of mongrels when they can’t even move.  Then there is my personal carnage-wreaking favorite.  Orbital strike.  This is every bit as much fun as you might imagine.  A laser centers on an area then blasts everything in its radius with a fucking cataclysmic death beam turning everyone into a thin vapor with a faint hint of ozone.

"Oo, look! It's shine.."     -Bob 3428's last words

“Oo, look! It’s sparkl..”
Bob 3428’s last words

Now, that is not the end of it.  You can level up, as stated.  I did not see too much of this, as I was level 10 when I got there.  Leveling seems pretty straight forward.  You get points per level and allocate them to your stats per level.  These stats are Weapon System, Operating System, Protection System, Sensor System and Mobility System.  Now, weapon system is pretty self-explanatory.  This is the power and efficiency at which you use your weapon.  Higher weapon system = more dead bad guys.  Then there is the Operating System.  This seems to be the equivalent of intelligance and govern recalculation, knockback and use count.  Use count seems to be the number of times you can use perishable items and knockback looks like it is either how far you knockback enemies or how well you resist the knockback of others.  Then there is recalculation.  Your guess is as good as mine.  Protection systems are fun, and govern your shields.  How well can you take damage?  Well, you want to be able to take a rocket or three, but let’s face it, you won’t be standing long if you take too many shots in the face.  Then there is the sensor system.  Now, this seems weird, but it is how well you can perceive the world around you.  You’ll have your minimap, right and you are constantly emanating this radar “ping”.  Now, when you ping, enemies will show up on your minimap as the ping hits them, got it?  The higher your sensor system, the faster you’ll ping, the further you can see, the longer you’ll see enemies on your minimap before the next ping goes off and the faster the ping will travel.  Granted, at higher levels, I hope the ping isn’t a constant, ear-splitting pain that just hisses in your ears fueling the rage that drives you through hordes of robots.  I am sure they have it under control, though.  Then there is your mobility system.  This governs your movement speed and how much you can carry in your inventory.  Now, the inventory is a perk all of its own, but speed makes sense in this game more than just the obvious.  Some enemies are slow-moving, but come in fucking massive waves that don’t seem to stop.  You will want to literally dance circles around them as you fire into the crowd.  It will keep you alive longer. Alongside the stats is the ability to overclock your character.  You can pick a single stat and each time you hit the button, your character will get a temporary boost to that stat.  Now weaponry makes a lot of sense, but what about a boost to ping?  Maybe you boost your speed to run away from a horde of mongrels?

There is a lot more to this game than will immediately occur to you, and I am finding new things every time I play. It bothers me that World War Machine did not reach its funding, but I admire the spirit displayed by Tuque Games.  Hopefully they will be able to find a way to make the game.  Perhaps do a pre-release and add content as it progresses?  I don’t know, but I sure do hope to see this title soon.  That is really the one thing about this game that pisses me off the most, too!  I am worried that it will just be another piece of vaporware.  A great demo in my Steam Library that collects electronic dust with my other favorite forgotten titles, like SIN Episodes or the original Thief series.

Want to know more about the game?  Check out their site.