Indie Games Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Indie Games RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Scourgebringer PS Vita Review: Finishing Strong Sat, 01 May 2021 09:00:01 -0400 David Carcasole

Scourgebringer, developed by Flying Oak Games, has been out in the wild since October 2020, but it has only just this month migrated onto PlayStation platforms, including the one platform where it feels most at home: the PlayStation Vita.

Scourgebringer is the other deeply challenging roguelike that's made its way to PlayStation consoles since early April, and Flying Oak Games delivers an experience well worth mentioning alongside the best of roguelikes on any console.

On PS Vita, however, the developer takes it a step further with clever use of the platform’s features, making Scourgebringer on Vita an absolute must-own for anyone still rocking Sony’s handheld phoenix.

Scourgebringer PS Vita Review: Finishing Strong

It’s amazing how a change in environment can affect our experience with something. Even though Scourgebringer released in October 2020, and I enjoyed the game on other platforms, the difference between my first experience of it and my experience on Vita is almost like night and day.

Scourgebringer suits the PS Vita’s form factor so well, and though it’s definitely the smallest version of the game, nothing feels small or understated about it.

The many colors of Scourgebringer pop beautifully on my OLED model PS Vita, and the screen size feels just right, rendering each room without losing any important environmental storytelling details or minimizing important text. It's an important element to consider, since, like other roguelikes, Scourgebringer’s story is discovered over the course of multiple runs and fed to the player through droplets of dialogue from past explorers.

The jumping-off point is that you, Kyhra, are tasked with saving your people from certain death and putting an end to what seems like biblical levels of judgment. Once you enter the monolith, though, that’s when the mystery truly begins. 

The story, however, is ultimately not the focal point of Scourgebringer. The gameplay is the star of the show, and it shines brightly. Scourgebringer is by no means an easy game, but the combat is so addicting it’s difficult to ever put it down.

Throughout the game, you constantly receive random buffs and item drops either from NPCs, by clearing a room full of enemies, or by completing challenges within the different levels. As with every roguelike, Scourgebringer has a number of important and not-so-important buffs. Here they're called blessings, and each run is greatly affected by what you have available to you. You don’t need the best blessings to make it deep into Scourgebringer, but some make things much easier. The only constant to remember is, you can't get hit -- ever. 

And this is where Scourgebringer’s challenge starts to show. Almost every room you explore in the monolith is chock full of well-designed demons, devils, robots, bugs, and all manner of creatures hell-bent on killing you dead.

You start the game only able to endure six hits before you die and start again, though you can increase it to a max of 10 by unlocking higher starting health through the skill tree. It's vital to unlock certain skills early on like Lethal Club, which lets you send enemy bullets back at them. Thankfully, the most important skills are near the beginning of each branch, and even if it's unlocked, you can still read the skill's description, so you can have an idea of where you want to invest your skill points.

Despite the challenge, Scourgebringer is hardly frustrating because I was genuinely having too much fun to care. It helps that the upgrades you receive make it feel like the game wants you to succeed, and supportive NPC characters providing the odd pep talk, as well as plenty of status buffs, don’t hurt either. 

Kyhra’s mobility is Scourgebringer’s key. There’s a certain precision required to master Scourgebringer’s gameplay. Whereas I initially thought controlling Kyhra's dash might slow down the speed of combat, clever and timely use of their gun and fury attacks keeps the pace fast and fluid, creating an immense level of creativity in how each combat encounter plays out. 

All of this sounds great, but what makes Scourgebringer unique on the PS Vita?

Flying Oak goes the extra mile on Vita with how well they use the platform's toolbox. The back touchpad is used for Khyra's gun and fury attacks, and swiping or tapping your fingers to activate them is extremely intuitive. Though something like that may seem like a small change, it’s this change that makes Scourgebringer a must-own for anyone with a PS Vita; it's an experience unlike any other. 

Scourgebringer PS Vita Review -- The Bottom Line


  • Excellent combat and core gameplay loop
  • Clever and intuitive use of the PS Vita's features and form factor
  • Wonderful pixel art design and engaging soundtrack


  • This particular experience is only available on a niche platform, one that most won't be able to acquire
  • The occasional frame dip traveling across rooms

If the wonderful design, intuitive controls, engaging combat, and addictive core loop weren’t enough to make Scourgebringer a fantastic roguelike, there are a few other aspects that give the game an invariable charm.

There’s a large focus on blood within the story and world of Scourgebringer. Blood is your currency, blood acts your skill points, and the blessings you get are from blood, all working in concert to give the impression that Scourgebringer is in some way influenced by Bloodborne. And the music that cracks like a bolt of lightning in every room is reminiscent of the intensity of the Doom soundtrack. Whether or not Flying Oak Games took inspiration from these titles, they feel like intentional nods from one game to another, and it's very charming to see.   

Altogether, there is a lot to love about Scourgebringer. On the PS Vita, there’s even more to love because like so many other indie games, it feels at home on Sony’s handheld. The ease with which combos can be created and how multipliers work to keep the game's frenetic pace is unmatched thanks to the controls on PS Vita non-existent on other consoles. 

In short, Scourgebringer is the latest game best played on PS Vita. If this is the last game to release on the PS Vita, the console has surely gone out on one of its strongest notes it possibly could have.

[Note: Flying Oak Games provided the copy of Scourgebring used for this review.]

Unpacking is a Zen Puzzle Game That Makes Order Out of Chaos Fri, 23 Apr 2021 11:33:01 -0400 Mark Delaney

Do you ever find yourself stress-cleaning? It's that compulsion to tidy up when everything seems to be weighing you down. Maybe work is pouring in, the kids are bouncing off the walls, and the puppy is peeing on the carpet again. It can feel like your only options are to pull out your hair or, as a healthier alternative, clean your house.

It's a way to create some semblance of control. There's something soothing about reorganizing a bookshelf or dusting the entertainment center when you're having a bad day, isn't there? 

The stressors of daily life have only become more burdensome for many folks during the pandemic. That's why, as we seem to finally be turning a corner in this whole mess, Unpacking has become the meditative timeout I wish I had a year ago — but it's one I'm thankful I have today.

As part of LudoNarraCon, this week's indie games festival focusing on story-based games, I was able to check out a few dozen demos of upcoming indie games, but Unpacking is my favorite of the whole event.

In Unpacking, players organize rooms as though they're just moving in. Without so much as a text-based intro or an opening cutscene, the first level drops you into a child's room fit with bunk beds in 1997. An empty shelf and a desk sit there, as do three taped-up cardboard boxes. 

Instinctively, you know to open the boxes and start decorating the room, and the total lack of timers, score settings, or much of anything that would be considered gamification makes it so much more inviting. You're mostly free to organize and decorate the room as you see fit  there are nearly no wrong answers in Unpacking.

Maybe you want the stuffed animals to go on the shelf, the board games to go under the bed, and the soccer ball to sit in the corner beside the desk. Or maybe you want your soccer trophy on display prominently in the middle of your desk, but you're through with the stuffies, so you set them on the top bunk, generously donated vertically to your little brother.

Only a gentle guiding hand will let you know that some object or objects are not in one of their many "right" spots. You can't, for example, just leave the board games strewn about the bedroom floor, but what kind of ne'er-do-well would want to anyway?

All the while, lackadaisical music plays and the game moves only at a pace you choose. For the stress-cleaners, the serial organizers, or even the interior decorators of the world, Unpacking is a unique experience you probably didn't know you wanted. 

Without any character models or dialogue, you're free to make up your own story as you move from room to room, year to year, house to house. Who is this person whose bedroom you've decorated? That stuffed pig toy that sat on their desk in 1997 is now beside their dorm room computer in 2004. Did they bring it to college? It's for you to decide.

Awkwardly, my inferred story even got a bit dark when I imagined the stuffed animals as belonging to the younger sibling in the game's first level, so I put them on their bed, but when I pulled the same pig out of the box in the subsequent level, I had to account for why the big brother brought their sibling's toy with them to college.

Was it a gift from a brother who would miss you? Was it a monument to a child taken too soon? No one knows for sure, but like the act of decorating the room, there seem to be few wrong answers.

Unpacking apparently provides for a vast blank slate for players to fill in their own stories this way, but even if you don't think too much about the details of what you're decorating with, there's a wonderful sense of tranquility in moving room to room, opening up the boxes, putting away their contents as you prefer, and admiring your finished work.

I'm the type of person who genuinely feels a bit of stress when a movie includes a scene with a messy space, like a child's toy room or a trashed post-rager kitchen. The simple act of cleaning a room in Unpacking feels like the cure for what so often ails me, now more than ever in a year where my eight-year-old son has been home-schooling for a year, my two-year-old daughter has never even seen a library or a toy store, and my wife and I work a combined three jobs, two at home and one in a city hit pretty hard by the pandemic.

One can start to feel overwhelmed, even in a family as loving and close-knit as ours. But playing Unpacking gives me the sort of respite I find so inviting and so effective. Best of all, it's so unexpected.

I wouldn't think this game's concept would work, but with soothing music, a nostalgic visual style, and no-wrong-answers design, Unpacking has become the pause in the daily chaos I so appreciate. I can't wait to unpack the full game when it arrives on PC later in 2021. 

10 Games We Love From LudoNarraCon 2021 Fri, 23 Apr 2021 11:00:01 -0400 Mark Delaney

LudoNarraCon 2021 is here, and the third annual digital showcase once more celebrates indie games with a focus on story. That's often my favorite kind of game, so I spent the last week digging into dozens of Steam demos provided by Fellow Traveller, the Aussie publisher and event organizer.

Though I can honestly admit each demo was interesting and often unlike anything I've ever played, I narrowed down my list of the best games at LudoNarraCon 2021 to these final 10.

Mind you, my impressions are only based on these games' demos, so look for full reviews as they launch over the weeks, months, or perhaps even years ahead. But if you're like me and love an innovative indie game, keep your eyes on these.

Kraken Academy

Those who know me may be surprised to see an anime game make this list since I've never really liked the genre, but that's partly why I put it here. It surprised me too. 

Kraken Academy uses anime characters in dialogue and an 8-bit style otherwise to tell an interesting story where players arrive at their new school, make friends, deal with teachers, and discover the trials and tribulations of their new setting. It feels a bit like Stardew Valley in a school, which is enough to pique my curiosity. 


Lake is all my favorite parts of Death Stranding  the quiet, lonesome travels, the quaint music, the job as a mail deliverer  without any of the Kojima weirdness. It's a much more grounded tale that takes place in 1986 Oregon and focuses on its central character, Meredith Weiss, as she returns to her hometown for reasons not totally clear early on.

I can tell something is brewing in Lake, and I'm eager to find out what it is. In the meantime, the game is gorgeous and relaxing, so that's lovely too.

Button City

Button City's prime directive is to be cute, and it nails it. Early in my hands-on time with it, I wasn't sure what kind of game it would be, but as the demo wound down, I started to get a feel for it.

It's a narrative adventure game about keeping what's important to you, and it stars a cast of characters that would be at home in a children's cartoon. With a promising mix of earnestness and silliness, it will definitely appeal to players who love wholesome games.

No Longer Home

Even before I played No Longer Home, I knew I would enjoy it. That's because a text intro reveals the game's origins as the product of a 2016 game jam inspired by the Fermi Problem. Often called the Fermi Paradox, it's a theory that grapples with the incongruity between how likely we are to be sharing this universe with other intelligent life and yet how little hard evidence we have to show for that supposition thus far. 

No Longer Home seems to wrap its alien story around a more human story too, and I'm interested on both fronts.

The Longest Road On Earth

I'd call The Longest Road On Earth the biggest risk-taker of the show. Presented in black and white retro-bit graphics and telling a wordless, slow-crawling story, Longest Road seems to be much more about how you feel when you play it than simply how you play it. 

It's one of those games that wants you to fill in the details yourself, and I'm happy to oblige. This one won't be for everyone or perhaps even most people, but so far, it's for me.


Tunic may be the most high-profile game on this list as it's the only one I recall getting its own spotlight during an E3 presentation.

Debuting back in 2018, I got to see the demo I'd eventually play this week behind closed doors and spoke to the game's solo developer, Andrew Shouldice. He revealed then what I confirmed this week; though Tunic looks lovely, its enemies are less inviting. Prepare for a Zelda and Dark Souls offspring in Tunic.


No shade intended at these other games, but Unpacking is my favorite game from the LudoNarraCon 21 showcase. Its simple directive of unpacking boxes and setting up empty spaces to be lived in is oddly meditative, and the nostalgic visuals and relaxing music certainly help paint that picture of zen.

Like others on this list, Unpacking wants players to tell their own story using gentle nudges from the game's context clues. I found those stories could be sweet, sad, or a bit of both, but whatever tale you tell, the gameplay itself is only ever serene.

Wayward Strand

Wayward Strand looks and even sort of plays like a children's novel. In a semi-sci-fi setting, players take on the role of a young girl and aspiring journalist who goes to her mom's work aboard a floating airship that now operates as a retirement home. It's your job to learn the stories of its residents, be they cranky, cozy, forgetful, or otherwise.

I love Wayward Strand for the way it captures that sense of wonder when you're a kid and finally get to see where your parents work. You feel like a VIP for the day, like everyone already knows you, and you see a whole new side of Mom or Dad. Wayward Strand has that in droves.

Mind Scanners

Mind Scanners is the game that made me feel the most uneasy, but I genuinely do mean that in a good way. It's one of those interface games where you're fed narrative on-screen but interact by pushing buttons, flipping switches, turning dials, and so on.

The idea is you are tasked with scanning and, if necessary, erasing the minds of folks who are believed to be mentally unwell, but you quickly learn the meaning of "wellness" maybe isn't yours to define.

Think of it as Papers, Please in a hospital with all the same yucky feelings stemming from the uncomfortable choices you have to make.

Chicory: A Colorful Tale

Chicory reminds me right away of the classic wholesome game, Wandersong, which I later learned makes total sense as some of that game's team made this one too.

The elevator pitch for Chicory is perhaps an easier sell too. It's an interactive coloring book, where doodling and coloring within and without the lines solve puzzles and advances a cute story about a cartoon dog. It seems like a great family game so far, but anyone feeling artsy should enjoy it, no kids required.

Those are just my favorites from the show, though there are plenty more demos available. You can find more on LudoNarraCon at the show's official website.

13 Indies to Get Even Though the PS3 & Vita Digital Stores are Staying Open Wed, 31 Mar 2021 11:14:26 -0400 Anthony McGlynn


Tokyo Jungle

Platforms: PS3

As everyone learned about the PlayStation 3, PSP, and PS Vita's digital stores closing, this was one of the games atop many lists of recommendations. Made, once again by Japan Studio, you control a cat, exploring a derelict Tokyo that's become overgrown, meeting other animals. It's science fiction that's quiet, all about the years between anything of note going on.




Given the circumstances, it stands as a metaphor for digital spaces long after we've upgraded and moved on. Someday, much of what we love will be unkempt and covered in vines, and our attempts to salvage it will be like this cat, navigating the wilds of a different community that's formed in the aftermath.




Keeping these games gives them another life, one that's just as valid as what came before. What games are you downloading ahead of the closure of these digital stores? Let us know in the comments below. 



Platforms: PS3, PS Vita

The best and worst pitch for Proteus is from its Wikipedia page: “The game was involved in numerous discussions of video games as art, with some debating whether it could be considered a video game at all.”




Upon landing on an island, full of bright green pixel-art trees and greenery, you wander, and then you wander some more, enjoying the sights and sounds, and then you wander some more.




Very little happens in Proteus, but that's the point. In a time when we've barely left our houses for a year, Proteus stands to make you remember why going outside is such a privilege. Games can be many things, and sometimes, what they aren't making us do helps us understand what we can do. Proteus is a video game, and it's a great one.


The Last Guy

Platforms: PS3

A novel spin on the survival genre: you control the character using a top-down satellite feed, rounding up people that are still alive in cities under attack from a monstrous threat, and bringing them to safety. Moving away from the likes of Earth Defence Force or Resident Evil, The Last Guy evokes Snake on the Nokia 3210, growing a tail that you've to constantly maneuver around, moving around the map's buildings and pathways.




Playing it now, you can see shades of what it was trying in 2019's Days Gone. Japan Studio made something different here that's well worth preserving for yourself.



Platforms: PS3

A physics-based platform-puzzler, Might and Delight's Pid won't deliver anything you haven't seen a dozen times already, especially in a post-Celeste world. This still holds weight, however, because you can feel the excitement of its era when you play it.




Arriving in 2012, Pid is part of the tail end of that first wave of Xbox Live Arcade indie classics. It's not genre-defining by any means, but the strange, alien characters and landscapes, and ridged use of corridors and forward momentum still hold that air of mystique that came with exploring the PS3 and Xbox Live stores back then. Retro Family's grooving soundtrack doesn't hurt either.



Platforms: PS3

Another piece of twee magic from Japan Studio, Rain has a lot of Ghibli-esque charm to it. A young boy and girl must escape evil forces in a mid-twentieth century European city, eventually finding themselves in a heartwarming tale of companionship.




Ori and the Blind Forest, Inside, and many other fantastical platform adventures since have dulled this a little, but the watercolor imagery that bookends it, and the Eurocentric locales, do tug on the heartstrings still. Give it a look on a quiet afternoon.


Frobisher Says!

Platforms: PS Vita

Once upon a time, it seemed like Sony believed in the Vita. Frobisher Says! is a product of that. It's a strange, WarioWare-like collection of minigames that deftly demonstrates the touchscreen capabilities of the handheld. The animation looks like something thrown together in Flash, then fixed up in Photoshop, and one of the games is just about finding cats in the living room.




Where many of the Vita exclusives rely on AR cards, making them much harder to pick up nowadays, this just needs you and a console. Up to eight players can take part – when we can all hang out again, there's no better way to remember Sony's forgotten child.


Trash Panic

Platforms: PS3



It's Tetris but it's trash, and if you're anything like us, that'll be enough to perk your interest. For the rest of you, this anarchic version of Alexey Pajitnov's puzzler from Japan Studio is a reminder of just how easy, and endless, sorting out the rubbish really is.




When you're winning, it's good encouragement to keep up with your chores because they only take substantial time if you put them off. When you lose, there's a little sense of understanding that these tasks are forever, and it's OK to be overwhelmed sometimes because we are messy creatures. Tetris clones are a dime-a-dozen but don't let this one get lost in the pile.


Cloudberry Kingdom

Platforms: PS3

For a minute, the industry was obsessed by two things: hardcore platforming, and procedural generation. Spelunky, Super Meat Boy, Terraria, Minecraft, The Binding of Isaac, many of the hits of the late-noughties, and early-tens used one or the other, or both.




Cloudberry Kingdom by Pwnee Studios is part of the latter. You and up to three others can bounce through its loud, freeform stages, engaging in friendly competition about who can die in the most ridiculous way. Rayman Legends and New Super Mario Bros have since become the rulers of this kind of chaotic play, making Cloudberry Kingdom like a strange deconstruction of their wily charms, like either has been left in the sun too long. Good fun.


Ibb and Obb 

Platforms: PS3

Given the success of It Takes Two, it's safe to say co-op adventures have a lot of life in them. Ibb and Obb is a physics-bending co-operative jaunt from Sparpweed Games whose use of warm, garish colors, soft corners, and blobby titular characters make it a solid throwback.




Every surface is a dividing line, and you'll have to take turns to figure out what the best way forward is. Everything's 3D-modelled but held in 2D space, like an internet animation from 1999 come to life, and the rectangular hills give a nod to Super Mario Bros. 3, but as if someone's truly mangled it for their own devices. Delightfully weird.



Platforms: PS3

Some of the finest game developers in the industry came through the PlayStation 3 and Xbox Live Arcade, including Tyler Glaiel, a recurring collaborator of Edmund McMillen's.




Glaiel co-developed Closure, a simple black-and-white puzzler about finding and getting the most out of the light in any given stage, with Jon Schubbe. It's a simple, intuitive game and is part of the foundation of the indie scene we understand today. This is history, and you'd do well to keep the lights on for it.


Papo and Yo 

Platforms: PS3

Three years before we had The Last Guardian, Papo and Yo gave us all the feelings about a boy and his monster. Running from his abusive father, Quico finds himself transported to a strange, fantasy favela where he befriends a gorilla-like companion. Together, the pair solve puzzles, moving around the rooms and blocks of the favela at will to progress.




Lead designer Vincent Caballero developed the game as a way of dealing with the abuse he endured throughout his upbringing from his alcoholic father. The metaphor isn't subtle, but it's well-handled, delivering a heartbreakingly candid ending.


Sine Mora

Platforms: PS3, PS Vita

Remember that time Goichi 'Suda51' Suda and famed Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka worked together on a bullet hell shooter? No? Well, now's your chance to catch up. Co-developed by Digital Reality, this arrived in 2012, the same year as Lollipop Chainsaw, and was very much under the radar as a result.




On top of being a finely-tuned piece of arcade action, the flow of the 2.5D art, especially in the transitions from stage-to-stage, is at times distractingly good. The backgrounds are rich in detail, closely resembling the concept art they're based on. An enhanced version was released for PlayStation 4, but if you want the original, or if you're like it on the go, you know what you have to do.


Eat Them

Platforms: PS3

There aren't many good kaiju games, but Eat Them! is one of the greats. This cel-shaded destruct-a-thon from FluffyLogic is a neat little package of big monster action, featuring single-player and multiplayer.




The action is simple, and the charm of breaking stuff and defeating other beasts does tend to wear off after an hour or two. But those quick sessions are so satisfying that this is one capable of sitting happily on the hard-drive for years to come.




When you aren't crunching through all the buildings and objects in your way, the charming comic book-like menus and layout frame everything like a late-nineties comics event that never happened. 


Editor's note: Sony has announced that it will not close the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita digital stores in summer 2021 as the company had previously planned. They will still close the PSP store, though. You can read more here. The original list follows. 


Sony has announced the sunsetting of the digital stores for PS3, PS Vita, and PSP. This, unfortunately, means a great many games are going to become unavailable for purchase.


The PlayStation 3 was part of a boom in indie development, when the freeware and shareware model from PC finally came to home consoles in the form of the PlayStation Store and Xbox Live Arcade. The result was wave after wave of creativity from some of the best studios and developers of the modern era.


From July 2, 2021, the PS3 and PSP games on this list won't be available to buy anymore, and starting August 17, neither will the Vita games.


Though it seems some major companies don't care much for preservation, you will (thankfully) be able to always download anything you already own, doing your part to keep games history alive and playable.


However, the number of indie games on these platforms is massive, so there may be some you've missed out on. Just in case, we've put together a list of 13 games you really should consider picking up now, lest you miss out on them forever.

Loop Hero Review: Groundhog's Roguelike Thu, 04 Mar 2021 11:17:21 -0500 Anthony McGlynn

To describe Loop Hero, it would nearly be easier to tell you the descriptors that aren't relevant. Part deck-builder, part real-time strategy, part survival horror, this roguelike from Four Quarters is novel and deeply compelling.

After a recent Steam demo piqued my interest, I was excited to dive back in and see if the full game could deliver on those initial strong impressions. What I got was something that's even better and continues to find ways to keep me on my toes.

Underneath the game's colorful '80s fantasy aesthetic lies an engine whose constant motion is a touch bewildering to start, forcing you to make moves on the fly while your hero takes down wave after wave of monsters. But in those fleeting moments where you manage to make everything work in your favor, this is a game that's absolutely worth the timesink.

Loop Hero Review: Groundhog's Roguelike

As the name suggests, Loop Hero involves some amount of repetition. A cataclysmic event has occurred, and the titular protagonist must try and rebuild things using resources gathered from expeditions into the wider world. These expeditions involve doing laps on a randomly generated circuit full of slimes. Defeating slimes gives you cards to build out the circuit with scenery that generates resources like wood and food, as well as spawn points for other ghoulish monsters.

Killing enemies gives your intrepid adventurer new equipment, on top of more cards, and on you go until either the boss is killed, you die, or you retreat. Each successful lap, demarcated by your campfire, levels up the surrounding creatures, and a recurring day-cycle dictates creature spawn-rate and other bonuses.

Published by Devolver Digital, Loop Hero is a lot to take in, at first. Unless you pause, your character is always moving straight ahead, and enemies are constantly wandering around. Battles happen automatically, and though you can switch equipment at any time, if you enter one in which you're badly outmatched, you're pretty much out of luck. It's a gauntlet that harkens back to the Ultima and Might and Magic series, by way of Hades and The Binding of Isaac, but the remarkable thing is just how well it teaches you to navigate this desolate world.

Most of the cards have basic descriptions for things like "Meadow," which gives you 2HP at the start of each day, or "Vampire Mansion," which adds a bloodsucker to any fight on an adjacent tile. Spaces where you can put any given card are highlighted in green, and the majority can be played without any specific criteria. As you play, the map fills up with tiny, solid-color animations for each moving entity, your literal white knight marching to the ominously heavy 8-bit soundtrack.

It's about constantly making moves and seeing what happens. When you change equipment, the previously equipped piece evaporates, and if you get more equipment than the nine weapon and armor slots allow for, the overflow becomes resources in your rucksack.

Many of the cards have some form of stacking effect if you place them close together, like nine mountains or rocks becoming a mountain range for a bonus. But watch out, now you've harpies flying around, and one more mountain or rock and a goblin camp will form somewhere on the path.

Half the fun, and much of the challenge, lies in placing something and realizing you've made a mistake, and now a blood golem's in the way. Keenly, unlike Sunset Games' Into The Breach, another timey-wimey strategy-RPG, I never encountered something in Loop Hero that stopped me dead from making just one bad play. It was always an accumulation, accidentally making a chokepoint full of skeletons and spiders or not thinking about just how fast goblins respawn.

You're always cycling through different modes of thinking, from smart land placement and making sure your champion's healthbar stays up to keeping count on the resources being generated. The different classes each require different strategies, where health regen serves the warrior well, but the rogue is more suited to evasion, and so on. It's important to stay wary, but focusing on one is a recipe for disaster.

There can be a temptation to treat this as a passive game, letting the laps run and resources build, and certainly moments to catch your breath do occur, but they're just that. I always found there was something to do, and the random elements make it hard to do anything on auto-pilot. Nothing in Loop Hero comes easy, and keeping the rewards flowing requires your full attention.

Should you last long enough, one of several Lich entities that contributed to this world reset will appear as a boss. Beating them opens the next stage and grants some lore that helps parse what's going on, and if it can be fixed. Losing sends you back to the campsite, with 30% of what you collected in tow – a manual retreat lets you keep 60%, and defeating the boss gets you the whole lot.

There's no retrieving your body, like in Dark Souls or Hollow Knight, much to my absolute relief. As much is a small blessing amid the continuous deaths when trying to figure out each chapter. Loop Hero's difficulty curve can be as steep as any other modern Souls-like, and on occasion I found myself having to step away after an otherwise prosperous run ended in cold hard defeat. A staple of the genre that manifests a little too much in prolonged sessions.

You gradually build out the camp using materials you've picked up, unlocking improvements to your loadout, new cards, and more. Each new square on-site brings another NPC and some more information on what reality was like before whatever happened happened. Everyone and everything has become trapped in this endless vortex, where time doesn't matter, and a collective amnesia is forcing us all to become reacquainted with the old world and how things used to be.

This isn't confined to people in your camp, either. New enemies will often spark dialogue, mentioning the adversarial roles, remembering it was all part of an ecosystem at one point or another. Loop Hero doesn't necessarily do anything profound with this meta candor, but its inclusion did give me some pause.

It doesn't take much to recognize the way Four Quarters has captured the current moment. Living in a strange stasis between an old world that's gone and a new one that's going to need some work, battling forces that are difficult to comprehend.

Loop Hero is the morbid Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask sequel we never got, where the moon crashed down, and this is what happened. Like Majora's Mask, Loop Hero structures itself around temporal distortion but is not a story about time travel.

Rather than taking the Avengers: Endgame approach of having you battle through the ages to stop the big bad, Loop Hero is about existing in the post-apocalypse and using the tools readily at your disposal to fix things — or at least make them better.

It's an important distinction, amid what is now months of lockdown, because bending the laws of physics is not a solution that is available to us. The allegory of breaking time and space doesn't bring me much comfort, but being reminded that taking each day as it comes, and that doing what I can where I can is enough, does. Someday, we'll beat this thing, and Loop Hero is a very welcome reminder of that.

Loop Hero Review — The Bottom Line


  • Cleverly mixes many different genres
  • Plenty to discover
  • Easy to learn
  • Beautiful art and catchy soundtrack


  • Can be grueling
  • Replaying early levels sometimes boring

Loop Hero is a great game for an exhausting period, as much for being a compelling distraction as for its thematic core. The synergy between the interlocking mechanics is remarkable, making all the spinning plates you've to manage seem effortless.

The range of inspirations gives it a wide appeal, only held back by the harsh frontloading on new challenges. Be careful, this can make days feel like an instant.

[Note: Four Quarters Games provided the copy of Loop Hero used for this review-in-progress.]

Terraria's Stadia Port is No Longer Happening Following Developer Row with Google Mon, 08 Feb 2021 15:14:45 -0500 Henry Stockdale

Update: 3/18/21: Terarria is releasing on Stadia after all. In fact, it's out right now

Terraria's been on more platforms than we can count at this point. First launched in 2011, it's had a long journey from PC to Nintendo Switch, the latter version we thought quite highly of. But if you were hoping to see the sandbox game on Google Stadia, that version has now been canceled.

The move has nothing to do with Google's recent decision to shut down their first-party studios either, which has shaken developer confidence in the cloud gaming platform.

It instead comes down to what appears to be an ongoing dispute between studio Re-Logic and Google, which seems to have begun when Re-Logic's YouTube channel was suspended on January 26 because of what Terarria co-creator Andrew Spinks ultimately says was a ToS violation, despite the channel being inactive for months.



The Team YouTube Twitter account responded to the above-tweet (seen in the thread) with automated replies, sending Spinks to Google's account recovery page and account recovery help page. Other inquiries by Spinks to the Team YouTube account that are seen in the thread received similar responses. 

Since Re-Logic's accounts are tied to his personal Google account, Spinks took to Twitter today to express his continued frustrations with Google and the inability to recover his account.




Google has yet to publicly respond to any of this outside of yet another automated response from Team YouTube on February 8 asking Spinks to share more information. This was in the same thread Spinks confirmed that Terarria would not be coming to Google Stadia. 

Stay tuned for more on Terarria.

[Source: IGN]

Into the Phoggyverse: Bit Loom Games on PHOGS! Inspiration, Co Op, and More Mon, 30 Nov 2020 15:32:50 -0500 Henry Stockdale

There’s genuinely nothing quite like PHOGS! out there at the moment. While most co-op games have you playing as separate characters or entities, PHOGS! revolves around playing as two heads of a conjoined dog, Red and Blue, in a manner reminiscent of the Nickelodeon animated series CatDog.

Developed by Bit Loom Games, PHOGS! was first conceived back in 2017. Having made the rounds at conventions for the last two years, publisher and co-developer Coatsink has confirmed that PHOGS! is now finally ready to launch on December 3, releasing on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and Google Stadia, with backwards compatibility for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S.

Spanning 24 levels between three separate worlds in a realm known as the “Phoggyverse,” you’ll need to overcome obstacles by working together, completing puzzles along the way in a game that promises a unique brand of challenge.

In preparation for the game's launch, we had the opportunity to speak with Bit Loom Games, who were kind enough to tell us more about this adorable new experience.

Henry Stockdale, GameSkinny: First, thank you for joining me. I actually played the demo back at EGX last year. For any readers unaware of PHOGS!, though, could you please introduce yourselves?

Bit Loom: We’re Douglas, Henry, and James, and we make up Bit Loom, a small studio based in Scotland, who are making PHOGS!

GameSkinny: As your studio’s debut game, it must be quite thrilling to finally launch it, but as a small team, have there been any specific development challenges you’ve faced?

Bit Loom: We’re incredibly excited to have the game out. It’s felt like such a long journey to get here. Most of the challenges we’ve had throughout development have been due to us learning how to build the game. We’ve also been ridiculously lucky throughout development to have the support of our co-developers Coatsink, who jumped in to help with art, animation, sound design, porting, and multiplayer implementation. This definitely helped ease the load for some part of the game that wouldn’t have been possible with just the three of us.

GameSkinny: We know PHOGS! revolves around an adorable two-headed doggo, each head called Red and Blue, and it's often been compared to CatDog. Did that show influence yourselves or were there other inspirations?

Bit Loom: While we all grew up around that particular era of cartoons, it definitely wasn’t something at the forefront of our minds while developing the game. We knew that we wanted a silly creature with two ends controlled by two players, and we wanted it to be something simple and friendly.

The dog element mostly came about because we thought that adding arms would look really strange, and it made sense as a creature that interacts with things primarily with its mouth.

GameSkinny: How did this idea turn into a playable concept at first, and what convinced you to take this further?

Bit Loom: We just started off getting the PHOG working and stuck them in a blank room with some boxes to push around, and we knew as soon as we started playing around with the character that we had something interesting.

It just immediately felt like we’d managed to find something fun and exciting that we wanted to explore further, and it was hard to stop coming up with ideas.

GameSkinny: Most co-op games involve you playing as separate entities, making PHOGS! rather unique in that respect. Was it a challenge to create an experience where the players are conjoined?

Bit Loom: If anything, I think it maybe made it easier to make, purely because the characteristic of being joined together generated so many ideas in itself. As well as the fact that it meant we never really had to worry about things like the players getting too far away from each other or setting off things in completely the wrong order since we had more control over where both players would be at any one time.

While it occasionally did bring its own challenges, such as trying to ensure both players had some part to play in each interaction. But we attempted to solve this by having lots of interactions [that] require both heads, such as turning a tap to activate something instead of just pushing a button.

GameSkinny: While co-op play seems to be the focus, we know that single-player options have been included too. Was it difficult designing a solo mode for it?

Bit Loom: Luckily, it felt kind of natural to play the game either way pretty much from the start. As we wanted the controls to be very simple and easy to pick up, we designed them around the idea of using a shared controller. This means the game can always be played on a single controller and while it requires a bit more mental gymnastics to coordinate with yourself, it’s definitely something you get more used to over time.

GameSkinny: Puzzle-solving will factor into gameplay, so how does this work in practice?

Bit Loom: We’ve tried to design puzzles that focus most on working together and using both of your heads. Some puzzles will be a case of using several objects or creatures you’ve been introduced to together in interesting ways, others may be more of a case of experimenting with something new to find surprising ways to solve problems.

From hosing water through your wobbly body to swinging across monkey bars in sync with each other, there are lots of ways to put the phogs’ unique anatomy to the test.

GameSkinny: Can you tell us more about the worlds we’ll visit and what differences they bring to gameplay?

Bit Loom: The worlds of Food, Sleep, and Play each have their own vibe and mechanics.

Food is bright and bouncy and has the phogs hosing water through their body in order to grow food for creatures to eat to overcome environmental obstacles.

Sleep is super cosy and all about putting creatures to bed and using light and shadow to solve more traditional puzzles.

Play is a manic mix of minigames with a bit of magic thrown in for good measure, where one minute you are playing golf, and the next minute you are inside a giant golf ball.

Every level introduces something new, and we hope people fall in love with the wonderful and weird characters along the way!

GameSkinny: Would you say it’s a particularly long campaign?

Bit Loom: Our focus with PHOGS! was to make every puzzle and level feel fresh and surprising for the player, with no mechanic outstaying its welcome. Being a puzzler, it can vary from player to player, On average, though, the story lasts around eight hours for new players. With all the bones to find and characters to meet, you can make it take quite a while longer if you don’t want to rush. When I play the game, I spend half the time choosing what hat my end of the phog wears!

GameSkinny: Have there been any considerations for DLC expansions or a sequel, or are you looking towards brand new projects once PHOGS! is out?

Bit Loom: Currently, we are taking it slow and focusing on PHOGS!. We have plenty of ideas but no solid plans for what the next big project is for Bit Loom. If people really love PHOGS! and want to see more, we might go back to the drawing board. We’ll have to see what happens!

GameSkinny: Last of all, would you like to share any messages with the fans?

Bit Loom: We cannot wait for everyone to play the game and meet the characters throughout the phoggyverse! I also have a question for the real fans out there: what other animal would you like to see become stretchy bellied and double-ended?

Phasmophobia Game Does Not Exist Error Fix: Server Version Mismatch Tue, 27 Oct 2020 16:33:10 -0400 Hunter Boyce

The burgeoning success of indie game developer Kinetic Games' breakout title Phasmophobia has not come without its problems. Following the game's ever-rising popularity, some players have begun to experience major server issues. Now, however, a solution to the Phasmophobia "game does not exist" server version mismatch error has been discovered.

While attempting to play with others in private lobbies, players have been unable to launch co-op multiplayer games with friends because of the "game does not exist," or "server version mismatch," error. 

As the game is still only in Early Access, bugs and glitches come with the territory. That being said, the increasing prevalence of this particular error has caused many to search for answers.

Though Kinetic Games is aware of the error, there are a few things you can do to fix the issue until there's a permanent fix.  

1. Identify your server region

First, you will need to ensure that you and your friends are all on the same server.

Every player's server is chosen based on their region. Consequently, you will likely end up on the "EU" server if you live in Europe or "US" server if you live within the United States. That being said, you can switch your server if need be.

This is important because you will receive the "game does not exist," or "server version mismatch," error if your entire co-op team is not on the same server.

To change your server, simply visit the server region tab in the top right of the "Server Lobby" screen as shown above. From there, you can adjust your server region as necessary.

If you and your friends still receive an error message after adjusting your server regions, then it is time to move on to the next step.

2. Check if you are using the beta version of Phasmophobia

Now that you have ensured your server region is correct, the next step is to double-check if you are still opted in for the game's beta.

If only some of your team is out of the beta server, then you will also receive the "game does not exist" server version mismatch error.

As seen above, the steps are: 

  • Open up your Steam page
  • Right-click on Phasmophobia 
  • Select "Properties"
  • Go to the "Betas" tab
  • The "Beta Build" will either be selected or deselected
  • Deselect the beta build listed within if it is currently active

You'll be able to quickly determine if you are opted into the game's beta version. The beta version of the game can be quite buggy, so it is suggested that your entire team choose to deselect the beta build at this point.

3. Update your game

If you are still having issues playing with your friends, there is one final fix. This time around, you will need to update Phasmophobia.

Without the most-recently updated version of the game, you will not be able to play in private servers. As a result, you may have to manually jumpstart the updating process from time to time.

The steps here are similar to checking it you're in the beta branch, with one important difference:

  • Open up your Steam page
  • Right-click on the Phasmophobia game
  • Select "Properties"
  • Go to the "Local Files" tab

From here, select "Verify Integrity of Game Files." This will re-download any missing or corrupted game files that may be causing the error issue.

After following all of these steps, you should now be able to get around the "game does not exist" error and play Phasmophobia on private servers with your friends. That being said, as an Early Access release, Phasmophobia is still susceptible to new bugs and glitches. So check back in to make sure you are up to date on the latest glitch fixes for Phasmophobia.

Indie World March 2020: Sequels, Timed Exclusives, and Puzzlers Abound Tue, 17 Mar 2020 13:52:51 -0400 Josh Broadwell

It's not a 2020 Nintendo Direct, but the March Indie World presentation was packed full of exciting and interesting new indie titles heading to Nintendo Switch.

The one thing that unites them all, though, is that all of them are basically timed exclusives on the system. Here's a rundown of what was shown and what we can expect as 2020 moves along. 

Exit the Gungeon

As usual, Nintendo saved the game with the biggest hype factor for last: Exit the Gungeon. It looks like it brings with it all of the insane action and quirky style of Enter the Gungeon, which makes sense given Exit picks up right where Enter ended.

It's packed full of hundreds of weapons, enemies, and random rooms. More importantly, Exit the Gungeon launches later today as a timed exclusive on Switch.

Blue Fire

Blue Fire is a slick-looking action game featuring a deadly little chibi character and myriad gorgeous environments. Coming from Robi Studios, Blue Fire seems to be as much a 3D platformer as an action game, and it's one we're definitely keeping an eye on ahead of its Summer 2020 release date. Blue Fire is a timed Switch exclusive as well.


Baldo's been in the works for a long time. It's a lovely, expressive anime title in the visual style of Ni No Kuni that focuses on Zelda-style dungeon and open-world exploration. Baldo finally launches summer 2020 and is another timed exclusive on Switch.

I Am Dead

Annapurna Interactive's latest title is a unique-looking title called I Am Dead. You'll take control of a museum curator in the town of Shelmerston. He also happens to be dead.

You'll save the island by solving a wide range of puzzles and exploring its mysteries and secrets when I Am Dead launches first on Nintendo Switch sometime this year.

Summer in Mara

Summer in Mara from Chibig Games is a unique twist on the farming genre. It follows Koa's journey as she tries to uncover the secrets of the ocean. To do that, she'll have to develop an island, survive the weather, make friends, and explore everywhere, as you do. Summer in Mara launches this spring and, surprise: it's a timed exclusive.

The Good Life

The Good Life takes place in Rainy Woods, the happiest place on earth — except at night, when everyone turns into an animal. White Owls Inc. describes The Good Life as a repayment sim RPG, where you use all your animal skills to uncover mysteries and pay back your debts in a charming, rural British town. The Good Life launches on Nintendo Switch sometime this year.

The Last Campfire

Hello Games is working on a new title called The Last Campfire that's all about hope and empathy. It follows Ember as she solves puzzles and brings light to the darkness surrounding the manifold people and animals she encounters. Light looks like it's literally life in The Last Campfire, too.

It's got a lovely and expressive visual style and an emotive trailer song as well, but no, we're not sniffling. You're sniffling.  The Last Campfire launches on Nintendo Switch this summer.


Faeria, a card-based MMO, has been out for a while, and it's coming to Nintendo Switch in March. You'll build your deck, per usual, and you'll also build the maps you play on in each battle. Even though it functions as an MMO, Faeria offers a sizeable single-player campaign and PvP mode as well. Faeria will include cosmetic packs available as DLC on the eShop as well.

Eldest Souls

Eldest Souls has you slaying gods in a boss-rush battler that's basically the indie version of Dark Souls. It's brutal, you'll die, and you'll agonize over your skill buildout to try and survive the next time around. Eldest Souls looks ghoulishly delightful, and it launches on Nintendo Switch this summer.


And that was that. March's Indie World presentation didn't have any major stand-out titles or shockers, but there's no denying the Switch has a lot of indie goodness coming over the course of 2020. Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more indie game and Nintendo Switch news as it develops.

Vitamin Connection Review — Take Your Medicine Fri, 06 Mar 2020 16:47:17 -0500 Greyson Ditzler

Vitamin Connection is the kind of game that deserves to succeed. It's easy to pick up, exhaustively fun, and vibrantly creative. It's loaded with charm, replay value, and oodles of original ideas. It's the kind of game that every Switch owner should have in their collection one way or another.

Recently-released in digital form on the eShop, Vitamin Connection comes from indie giant WayForward Technologies, the same studio responsible for games such as Shantae and the Pirate's Curse and River City Girls. 

It very well might be one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch. 

Vitamin Connection Review — Take Your Medicine

Open wide y'all, it's time for the pill.

In Vitamin Connection you play as Vita-Boy and Mina-Girl, two miniature beings who pilot a tiny capsule-sized spaceship. They are mailed to the residence of the Sable family, all of whom are afflicted by some sickness or malady. The two tiny teammates use their ship to tackle everything from tickling tonsils to tuning troubled televisions. 

Every sprawling level sees Vita-Boy and Mina-Girl moving on rails through the colorful, bacteria-ridden insides of each family member. Branching paths mean that some backtracking is required, but re-treading areas isn’t the slog it might seem. Not including the game’s nicely varied level design, new hazards present themselves to shake things up. Add to that a wide-ranging catalog of enemies and the more Metroidvania sections of Vitamin Connection are easier to digest. 

Luckily, each level has a full map that fills out as you go so it's hard to get lost, and there's often a collectible hidden down the path less-traveled, compelling you to move forward. 

To get through it all, you'll need to twist and turn your controller, aim and fire your weapon, and control the movement of your ship all at once. In single-player, you do this by yourself using either two Joy-Cons or a Pro controller. In co-op, you can split the controls between two people. 

It can be a little frightening at first; every scenario involves quick thinking and fast reflexes popping as you swap between traditional controls and several types of motion controls. Luckily, it doesn't take too long to adjust to things. Any failure ends up being a light smack, especially with the game's relatively lenient checkpoint system.

In lieu of boss fights, each level subjects you to several mini-games, each of which use the Joy-Con motion controls in a different way. One minute you may be playing a rhythm section with two sets of instructions, the next you'll be guiding a hoop around a wire. In others, you'll be playing air hockey against a computer opponent. 

These sections build off of each other without compromising the game’s light combat focus or its relaxed tone. Consequently, they nicely crescendo into the actual boss fight at the very end of the game. 

It's showing various symptoms of "Early 2000's-itis"

Vitamin Connection reminds me of the early 2000s, a time when Japanese imports flooded the U.S., stunning us with starry-eyed wonder. Vitamin Connection could have easily been a forgotten classic of that era; it carries so much of the same style and energy.

Vitamin Connection’s presentation really is something special. The game’s signature panache comes from Lindsey Collins (also known as 'linzb0t”), who was also the lead artist on the bright and stylish Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche. Her signature round and cutesy style shines through while still looking wholly unique.

Made up almost entirely of simple shapes with bright, primary colors, Vitamin Connection lacks sharp edges and angles (unless when necessary), instead opting for rounded, inviting shapes. This works in tandem with the game’s cartoonish but earnest writing, and its equally heartfelt dialogue. Every cutscene and exchange is fully animated and voice-acted; the production value is quite high considering this is an independent production. 

Director James Montagna has mentioned that both Katamari Damacy and Jet Set Radio were major inspirations for Vitamin Connection’s visuals and music, and it shows. Vitamin Connection has such an amazingly robust and highly-produced soundtrack that most of its songs could have easily been Billboard Top 40 songs from 15 years ago. 

The game is jam-packed with original music from a variety of different artists. The soundtrack spans many different genres, though J-pop certainly dominates. Cheerful lyrics in both English and Japanese are belted out with accompaniment from a variety of both synthesizers and real instruments, creating a happy, high-energy atmosphere that never lets up.

Even when the music drastically switches style, the soundtrack always feels appropriate for each level, whether it be in the form of a rap song or a gothy ballad.

The sound design, in general, is excellent, creating a consistently cartoonish and thematically appropriate soundscape. There are songs unique to each level, and songs play on a shuffled playlist every time you start a level, cutting down repetition significantly, which isn't much a problem anyway because every song is catchy.

The developers even went so far as to have an extra layer of music play whenever the Vitamin Beam is firing and made most songs have their own unique layer. That's just awesome.

There honestly isn't much I can find wrong with Vitamin Connection. Sure, it's a little hard to figure out at first, but the game teaches you all the basics, and doesn't punish you too hard for struggling at the start. Not everyone will dig the style and music, but speaking as someone who enjoys this sort of thing, the whole team executed it perfectly.

Vitamin Connection Review — The Bottom Line

  • Very fun and creative
  • Totally unique gameplay and controls
  • Good by yourself or with a friend
  • Lots of content and replay value for $20
  • Great soundtrack and graphics
  • Somewhat steep learning curve for controls, especially in co-op
  • No 2-Player VS. mode for the various unlockable mini-games
  • Minor backtracking may bothersome

To bring this love-letter in disguise to a close: Vitamin Connection is a game that everybody should play. Not just because it's a great game for families and kids, but because it's just a great game. Creativity and charm like this should not just be celebrated but rewarded. 

The only things I wish Vitamin Connection had that it doesn’t is some sort of 2-Player VS. mode and a longer campaign. But it's also important to remember that when your worst complaint about a game is, "I wish there was more of it", you've still got a great game on your hands. 

Vitamin Connection is available now exclusively on Nintendo Switch. 

In Other Waters: Save Humanity as an AI Program Tue, 04 Feb 2020 11:00:02 -0500 Josh Broadwell

We take on a huge variety of roles in video games, hero or villain, medieval warrior or supernatural fighter. But Jump Over the Age's In Other Waters aims to shake things up a bit by casting you as an AI program.

The world is ending, and humanity must look to other planets for continued survival. Enter Ellery Vas, a xenobiologist trying to find both signs of new life and her missing partner.

She's sent to the oceanic Gliese 677C. As might be expected to cause a bit of drama, her diving suit has issues. On the plus side, you're there to guide her through alien waters.

You see the world as an AI program would. Along the way, you — through Ellery, of course — uncover secrets in the waters, scan and examine the finds Ellery comes across on her journey, and even build a relationship between the AI and Ellery, assuming you keep her alive and healthy, that is.

Jump Over the Age is a one-person studio run by Gareth Damian Martin, part games journalist, part Ph.D in experimental literature, and now part game developer. In Other Waters already won the 2019 IndieCade Europe Jury Prix award and is set for release on Nintendo Switch and PC sometime in 2020.

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more In Other Waters and indie game news as it floats our way.

Sparklite Review: Zelda Meets Roguelike With Pristine Pixel Art Thu, 14 Nov 2019 08:36:46 -0500 David Jagneaux

Sometimes I feel like my tastes in video games don't even make sense to my mind. On the one hand, I absolutely love The Legend of Zelda, but most imitations are off-putting. I love pixel art games but typically don't spend much time with roguelikes or roguelites. That's because I find them too repetitive or lacking in variety, especially if they're procedurally generated, though there are some exceptions.

Sparklite from developer Red Blue Games and publisher Merge Games is one of those exceptions. It just doesn't feel like your traditional roguelite experience.

Sparklite Review: Legend of Roguelikes

In Sparklite you play as Ada, an engineer-type heroine with a trusty wrench and robot that's crash-landed on a strange world powered by mysteriously magical objects called sparklite.

The big bad Baron is pillaging and mining the world to harvest and consume the energy for himself. In contrast, the inhabitants co-exist with the world and leverage its properties to power gadgets and cities. All of the Baron's ravaging has left the world unstable and every so often (read: when you are incapacitated and returned to base) the world shifts.

This means that the actual overworld itself is rearranged entirely. Just like any roguelike with randomization, these areas are split into chunks. Consequently, it's not a truly random setup, but rather more akin to changing the order and layout of the pieces. Everything is very consistent, though, so it feels a bit like a never-ending top-down Zelda game since the overworld is different, but similar, each time. It's like entering Hyrule Field for the first time over and over again.

When you complete significant milestones, though, like defeating one of the bosses, the location is saved on your map even after it moves. 

Back at base, you can deploy upgrades in the form of patches that are sewn onto your gear. This includes things like expanding your pool of hearts for more life, upgrading your energy, improving attack power, increasing defense, and so on. Some patches even enhance your map with new icons, as well.

Once the world resets, you can't just look at the map and clearly see how to get somewhere. Although the landmarks will still be visible for whichever quadrant they're in, allowing you can get a general idea of the right path to take, things are covered in a fog, similar to a cloud of war in strategy games. 

Pixel Perfect

Visually, Sparklite is exquisite. The pixel art aesthetic fits the tone and gameplay perfectly, and it's got an appropriately retro-style soundtrack to go along with it. Enemy designs are bright and colorfully animated across distinct regions and various underground dungeons.

If you played Moonlighter or have ever seen a top-down Zelda game in action, then Sparklite will be immediately familiar. You run around, attack enemies with a melee weapon, unlock and purchase extra gear and weapons gradually throughout the game, and fight fierce boss enemies at the end of levels. It's the same formula here, but with a creative roguelike twist layered on top.

However, some of what makes Zelda so delightful is lost in translation. For starters, the gameplay is a bit less precise especially for ranged weapon aiming and dodge rolling plus, there isn't much of a story in Sparklite other than the overall framing of events. Characters don't speak much, and the plot points are all pretty shallow. 

All told you could start fresh and reach the final boss in Sparklite in a matter of just a few hours, but beating it is another story. The final battle is much more difficult than the prior bosses and will likely result in needing to grind for sparklite so you can upgrade your gear and stats with better patches while stocking up on gadgets. But if you take your time and don't rush, it all evens out as a more balanced affair. 

Sparklite is full of nooks and crannies begging to be explored so, even though I don't want to tell you how to play a game, per se, it would be a bad idea to try and speed through this one. Exploring the shrines, finding hidden NPCs and collectibles, and upgrading the facilities back at the main base really open up the game's hidden variety and extra layers.

Sparklite Review — The Bottom Line

  • Fantastic pixel art graphics
  • Snappy gameplay that expands over time
  • Clever overworld shuffling mechanic
  • Good enemy and gadget variety
  • Controls feel a little floaty sometimes
  • Lackluster story
  • Eventually starts to feel repetitive 

Sparklite doesn't try to hide what it is and immediately draws you in from the very start. It's a tightly-crafted, well-designed, and snappy top-down adventure game that shuffles just enough around to keep things fresh even after a dozen hours of play. And if you're still not sold on the idea, go ahead and download the demo from Steam and try it for yourself first free of charge.

[Note: Merge Games provided a digital copy of Sparklite on Steam for the purpose of this review.]

Carve Up an ‘80s Robot Dystopia in Yacht Club Games' Cyber Shadow Wed, 25 Sep 2019 15:24:54 -0400 Thomas Wilde

There’s a certain kind of side-scrolling action game from relatively late in the NES’s run that doesn’t get a lot of attention these days. The highest-profile example is probably Sunsoft’s Batman, the 1988 movie tie-in, but you could also point to Power Blade, Shatterhand, or Vice: Project Doom.

They’re sort of Castlevania's grandchildren by way of the NES Ninja Gaiden trilogy, mixing Castlevania’s mission structure with Ninja Gaiden’s fast pace and covering it all with an ‘80s-appropriate cyberpunk candy shell.

Cyber Shadow is a deliberate callback to that sort of game, much in the same way that Shovel Knight is a strange beerslam of DuckTales and Mega Man. I usually hate describing a game in terms of “X meets Y,” as it feels reductive, but this is the sort of game that doesn’t really give you much of a choice. It’s wearing its influences on its sleeve.

You play as Shadow, a cyborg ninja, who comes to the ruins of Mekacity in search of the secrets of his clan. The greater world is under the control of synthetic lifeforms, and humans are mostly gone. You soon discover, though, that some of Shadow’s clanmates may still be alive somewhere in Mekacity, and that the ruins might hide the secret of how the synthetics managed to take over in the first place.

In play, the first word I want to use is “smooth.” I got a chance to play through the early game at PAX West this year, and even at its very start, it’s an elegant, fast-moving game.

It does start more slowly than its trailers would have you believe, though. At the beginning of Cyber Shadow, you’re equipped with Shadow’s sword, which you can swing about as fast as you can push the attack button. You can smash lights to pick up currency along the way, in the finest Ninja Gaiden tradition, as well as refuel a blue meter that Shadow spends on special moves.

Periodically, you run across power stations that you can use to refill Shadow’s health. You can also spend currency at these stations, which unlocks up to two special moves at once. The one I saw the most of during my demo was a sort of boomerang shuriken, each use of which automatically slung itself around Shadow as he moved for short periods of time. It was actually a lot like the old boomerang shuriken in Ninja Gaiden, but with that weapon's weird additional functionality made into its entire purpose. 

You can also unlock various passive moves for Shadow by learning the secrets of his clan. Offensive skills, like the forward rush, are executed with Symphony of the Night-esque button sequences. You can also unlock short teleports, wall jumps, and parries, meant to help you deal with specific enemies and situations. The further into the game you go, the more elaborate your moveset gets, and the faster the game becomes.

Most of what I saw while I was playing it, though, made Cyber Shadow mostly look like a modern, almost-too-faithful spin on Ninja Gaiden. I got a chance to play around with a couple of subweapons, but I didn’t see much in the way of the new gameplay-changing skills.

What I did see, though, was an impressively grimy game. Cyber Shadow has an impressive sense of place, thanks mostly to how intricate the sprite work can get. The big improvements it’s got over the 8-bit games it was inspired by (read: stitched together from) are the smoothness of its animation and the big, blocky definition of its backgrounds and enemies.

You can get a surprising amount of atmosphere out of sprites if you really work at it, and Cyber Shadow does. The subdued color palette really helps to communicate the sense that you’re fighting through the guts of a slowly rotting cybernetic hellhole. Sprite work on this level has arguably been something of a lost art; there are certainly games with good pixel art out today, but a lot of them are aiming for a brighter, more cheerful look than this. Cyber Shadow is going hard into a darker aesthetic, which is an impressive change of pace.

For the last 10 years, Cyber Shadow was a solo side project for a Finnish developer named Aarne “MekaSkull” Hunziker, working under the company name Mechanical Head Studios. Representatives of Yacht Club Games found Hunziker’s posts about Cyber Shadow on Twitter, and reached out to offer assistance; the final game is made almost entirely by Hunziker, with design feedback and publishing duties by Yacht Club, and a soundtrack by Enrique Martin and Jacob “virt” Kaufman.

As of PAX West, Cyber Shadow was described as being in a “polish phase,” with no idea as to how long the game has left to go before completion. It’s scheduled for release at some point next year.

Yahct Club Games and Nitrome Announce Shovel Knight Dig Wed, 28 Aug 2019 15:26:07 -0400 Josh Broadwell

Ahead of PAX West, Yacht Club Games announced Shovel Knight Dig, a brand-new Shovel Knight game developed in partnership with Nitrome. Among other things, Yacht Club said that the collaboration with Nitrome helped produce high-color pixel graphics and improved sound over the original as well.

Dig has been in development for more than a year, but Yacht Club said there's still a ways to go before it will be ready for release. However, more information and a playable demo will be available at PAX West, and the game was confirmed for the Nintendo Switch.

Shovel Knight Dig combines two major points of the original Shovel Knight games — navigating stages using clever digging techniques and gathering treasure — but packages them in a completely different style.

Instead of traveling to the right like a traditional side-scroller, the goal is digging further down, as Shovel Knight tries to recover his stolen treasure from the nefarious Drill Knight. As the name suggests, digging plays a significant role in the game and its mechanics.

Shovel Knight gets some new moves to help make the dig easier, too, actions called "Speed Shovel mechanics." What those will look like isn't completely clear, though, since some of the shovel-wielding hero's moves shown off in the trailer resemble special upgrades from the original game.

Also resembling the original game is the familiar loot loop, where Shovel Knight uses all the plunder found during their journey to purchase a bevy of upgrades and new outfits from the world's quirky inhabitants.

Dig's various stages will feature the same kind of crafty design that gave the original its character — but they won't be set in stone. Each playthrough features a different sequence of pre-crafted stages for "infinite replayability." 

Shovel Knight is widely regarded as the figurehead and trendsetter of indie gaming, with its nod to retro greats like Mega Man and Metroid wrapped in a thoroughly modern package.

Along with making its way onto all major consoles, the Knight even made cameos in other major releases, including Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Yooka-Laylee. Yacht Club has been working on Shovel Knight and its various offshoots for a long time, and it seems that's a trend that won't be going anywhere in the near future.

EXCLUSIVE Interview with Redeemer Devs, Sobaka Fri, 19 Jul 2019 08:00:01 -0400 Joey Marrazzo

In 2017, Redeemer, a top-down shooter, was released for PC to some mixed reviews. Critics said the game had heart, but there was a lot of room for improvement that could make this game a great one. 

Sobaka, the developer of Redeemer, listened and two years later, they are releasing Redeemer Enhanced Edition which is coming to PC, and for the first time ever, consoles.

During E3, I was able to talk to Sobaka and discuss their present, their past, and what is to come in the near future. 

Redeemer: Enhanced Edition

If you have played Redeemer or have seen gameplay of it, you know the combat is a bit intense and brutal. The people over at Sobaka had to do some research in order to get the action in Redeemer just the way they wanted. 

"We had played a lot and we had watched a lot of action movies so we didn’t really need a rehearsal. Just like in any good action movie – it is cool to smash faces! Games could be really cool without a bloodshed for sure – at the end it is all about fun!"

When Redeemer first hit the PC market in August of 2017, they not only listened to the critical reception but also the response from the players. Over time Sobaka was able to release some patches, added new languages, and even a Russian voiceover which was made by the community.

However, in order to give the fans the updates they wanted to see in the game, they had to find a new publisher. 

"At some point we were talking to BUKA and then we realized that we should release our game on consoles. Our PC publisher, Gambitions, didn’t see that this way. They figured it won’t be profitable. BUKA figured it the other way. Thus, we’ve reached an agreement with BUKA to port Redeemer to the consoles."

Now with BUKA controlling the publishing rights to Redeemer, Sobaka can bring the best possible version of the game to PC and introduce it to a whole new audience on consoles. 

While it could be difficult to satisfy gamers nowadays, Sobaka listened to what their core audience wanted to see brought to the Enhanced Edition of Redeemer and tried to deliver as much as they possibly could.

"Leveling system is the core part of this update and it was highly requested by community. Certain skills now improve as player uses them, for example, if you fire an assault rifle a lot, then by the end of the game you deal much more damage with it. On top of that, there is a plenty of perks now so player can choose whether to go for a shotgun or for exploding bullets."

Sobaka believes that this is the progress Redeemer lacked in its previous iteration. They knew that something in the game was missing, but didn't know how important it actually was to the player base until after it was released. 

Life of an Indie Game Developer

Mobile games have a bigger audience than any other style of gaming. Just think about it: everyone has a phone, right? 

Developing a game for mobile, and loading it full of microtransactions sounds like a great and easy way to make a lot of money over time. It's that easy!

Well, it isn't. 

Early in Sobaka's history, they were approached and offered a deal to make mobile games. This would've been great exposure for an indie developer and could put them on a great path to success, but Sobaka turned it down so they could focus on their dream game.

"The point is that mobile games are not that profitable as one might assume. For a steady income you should integrate a lot of ads and in-game purchases into your game to pullthe money out of users’ pockets - we believe there’s no creative component in such kind of work."

Not all heroes wear capes.

In addition to just wanting to get more money from the players, the mobile market isn't as easy to succeed in, especially as an indie developer.

"Beside of that, the competition on the mobile games market is pretty tough and a lot of major companies with a plenty of experience, huge budgets and numerous successful projects can easily “suppress” newbies."

When the newest generations of consoles launched (PlayStation 4, Xbox One), the people over at PlayStation wanted to make their new console the go-to place for indie devs to release their newest projects. 

That's winded down over the past couple years, hugely in part due to the release of the Nintendo Switch. The Nindies Program has helped plenty of smaller developers bring their projects to the front row so they could get more exposure in a sea of games that is always very crowded.

Or so we thought.

"There used to be less video games in general so it was easier for a decent projects to make it to the audience. On the other hand, the gaming audience is much bigger nowadays and I guess overall it would be roughly the same in percentage."

Being an Indie dev is pretty hard nowadays. There are a lot of people and smaller developers all competing to have their place on your gaming platforms.

"Millions of the talented indie developers are working on a games of their dreams just like we are. Eventually everyone is trying to win the attention of the more or less the same audience. It’s because of the responsibility why being an indie-developer is not that easy. If you have a steady job at a major company you don't bother yourself with anything apart from your task but if you’re an indie developer you have to deal with a millions of various issues swamping you."

Besides bugs in the game, competition is the biggest obstacle that all indie developers have to struggle with. 

Future of Sobaka

With Redeemer Enhanced Edition coming to PC and consoles, what is up next for Sobaka?

They are currently working on their next game, 9 Monkeys of Shaolin, which is what they call a "true rebirth of the iconic beat 'em up genre in vein of old-school video games."

The idea for their next project started a few months before they first released Redeemer for PC back in 2017.

"A few months before releasing Redeemer we started to plan our next move. We didn’t know how Redeemer was going to perform but we already had quite a bold idea to develop a third- person game remotely similar to Hellblade. It would have been an expensive and pretty complicated project to sell it to publishers. Then we started toying with the top-down camera, and ended up getting a side view. We set it up a bit and it started to look exactly like beat’em up game players would instantly recognize."

When it comes to certain games, players already know what to do and there is no need to guide them. That is exactly the case for 9 Monkeys of Shaolin. It is reminiscent of a brawler that you would play as kids, but modernized with a cool art style. 

While they had the idea for 9 Monkeys, you still need to make some money in order to start the next project. They were hoping that Redeemer would help finance their next game.

"Before making any next moves we have to earn some money. Redeemer didn’t make it quite well. It made some but you can’t even hire anybody else for this money. We’re going to release 9 Monkeys of Shaolin on consoles so we might have a better shot this time. If we still don’t make enough money… well we’ll just start it over with a new game and another concept. As soon as we make money we will see what to do next."


Both 9 Monkeys and Redeemer have plots that are based around the main character avenging deaths of their loved ones. Sobaka prefers to keep the story simple. 

"Revenge is a classic and clear plot idea. Although we want to come up with something trickier, let's agree that a simple story about relentless revenge has its own charisma in it."

While you might have to wait until Q3 2019 to get your hands on 9 Monkeys of Shaolin, you don't have to wait any longer to play Redeemer Enhanced Edition because it is available NOW! 

Redeemer Enhanced Edition is available for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch!

I would like to thank Sobaka for taking the time during their busy week of E3 to talk to me.

Unbound: Worlds Apart Announced, Kickstarter Campaign Begins in May Tue, 02 Apr 2019 12:33:51 -0400 Josh Broadwell

[Update: As of May 7, Unbound's Kickstarter campaign is live, and the demo is available to all, not just backers.]

Romanian game developer Alien Pixel Studios has released an announcement trailer for their new platformer, Unbound: Worlds Apart.

Described as a "dark fairytale", Unbound follows main character, Soli, on their journey to uncover the secrets behind the disaster that befell their world and ruined their homeland.

The trailer features the game's signature art style, atmospheric environments, and Tim Burton-esque character designs. However, it also shows off Unbound's primary mechanic: reality warping.

Soli has the ability to create a sphere around them that acts as a portal to another dimension. This other world operates on different laws of physics, and certain abilities in the main world will be completely different on the other side.

Sometimes, this portal reveals a way around an obstacle in the main world or uncovers secrets about objects that can't be seen normally. Other times, though, it contains new enemies and traps, introducing an element of strategy in how players will overcome the challenges Soli faces.

Unbound has been in development since 2016 when Alien Pixel developed an idea based on a character who could cast a magical sphere around himself. It's easy to see how far the game has progressed since its first concept trailer.

In fact, Alien Pixel said followers can expect a demo release later this spring.

However, to help cover the costs needed for Unbound to be fully complete, the developers are planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign on May 7:

Bringing Unbound to Kickstarter will not only give us a possibility to finance the development of the game, but it will also keep us on our toes and ensure we are committed to our community. We see it as a promise to our players to deliver the best game we possibly can next year.

Interested players can follow the game's progress on Discord and Twitter

Cuphead is Coming to the Nintendo Switch This Spring Thu, 21 Mar 2019 11:42:09 -0400 Joey Marrazzo

To start off the Nindies Showcase on Wednesday, viewers were treated to a rather weird tutorial on how to pour milk. At the end of the tutorial, though, Cuphead and Mugman popped out of the bowl to confirm that the Dark Souls of Platformers is making its way to the Nintendo Switch on April 18.

Originally released back in 2017, Cuphead is a critically praised platformer for the Xbox One and PC; our review said it "it is probably the best example of the genre released in the past 15 years."

Behind its tough gameplay, Cuphead was beloved for its beautiful soundtrack and jaw-dropping art style, becoming a hit with fans and critics alike, holding an 86% on Metacritic

Cuphead on Switch will, of course, support two-player co-op, letting friends die together or make their way through the game's ludicrously difficult levels.

After the premiere trailer, Nintendo thanked "our friends at Microsoft" for allowing this to happen.

Of course, there have been the recent rumors about Xbox Game Pass making its way to Switch along with a port of Ori and the Blind Forest, which might not seem too far fetched considering Microsoft is planning to bring Xbox Live to the Switch

What's more, in a tweet after the showcase by Larry Hyrb (Major Nelson), it was confirmed that players will be able to unlock Xbox Achievements on the Switch port of the game, and that they'll be able to play as Mugman during the single-player mode thanks to a post-launch patch.

Interested players can pre-order Cuphead for the Nintendo Switch here for $19.99. The game is currently available for the Xbox One, PC, and MacOS. 

The Nindies Showcase also unveiled a surprise mashup between The Legend of Zelda and Crypt of the Necrodancer

Late to the Game: Way of the Passive Fist, a New Dawn for Beat 'Em Ups Wed, 06 Mar 2019 13:56:05 -0500 Allison M Reilly

Editor's Note: This review is part of our "Late to the Game" series, which highlights and examines games we initially missed.

Way of the Passive Fist from Household Games is a side-scroller beat 'em up, but, as "passive fist" suggests, the main character doesn't fight. Instead, the mysterious Wanderer uses parries, dodges, and deflections to clear through each wave of enemies.

The only "attacks" the Wanderer does are counters or shoves to remove a tuckered out bad guy. The parries and dodges give Way of the Passive Fist a rhythm game vibe, where it's all about timing versus button mashing or outsmarting the enemy.

It seems like an obvious take on a well-worn concept: the player dodges and deflects everything instead of throwing punches. Yet, Way of the Passive Fist delivers a new-school indie experience that feels straight out of the '90s arcade at the same time.

A Well Executed Twist On A Timeless Concept

The defensive posture of the game's mechanics is a subtle, but refreshing, take on a normally offensive video game genre. Unlike most brawlers, there's also no co-op mode, so Way of the Passive Fist is more story-driven, focusing on the Wanderer's journey across planet Zircon 5 to save what's left of humanity. The game's emphasis is still on the action and clearing enemies, but the story creates a compelling investment in the Wanderer for the player.

Although a beat 'em up, Way of the Passive Fist plays like a rhythm game where the core mechanics are timing and pattern recognition. The Wanderer can counter several enemies at once, but the enemies attack one at a time.

Each enemy has it's own pattern, or rhythm, and each enemy's pattern type gets incrementally harder (both in speed and pattern) as the player progresses through the chapters. The enemies also alternate among themselves when attacking.

Overall, the game has great pacing. Most of the time, each scene feels doable with an appropriate level of mastery.

The graphics and soundtrack are also top-notch, fitting the game's sci-fi tale and ambiance. The 16-bit pixelated visuals is a nice old-school throwback that adds variety to the atmosphere.

Backdrops can be an afterthought in beat 'em up games, since they're not typically about the environment. However, Household Games' attention to detail in the backgrounds, enemy designs, music, and effects augments what could otherwise easily be a boring and repetitive experience.

Small Flaws That Can Ruin The Experience

The critiques I have for Way of the Passive Fist are tiny, but they can ruin the gaming experience if players don't have perseverance or fortitude. For example, the first chapter of the story mode may put some players off.

While it begins as a tutorial, introducing the player to some of the game's basic elements, all of the explanation disappears when the boss, Breen, shows up. Simply, it's not obvious how the player is supposed to defeat Breen, and there is nothing to indicate whether attempts are wrong because of poor timing or because they are the incorrect thing to do.

Although the adjustable difficulty is a positive for Way of the Passive Fist, I didn't appreciate needing to adjust the difficulty just to get through the first boss. It's brutal for new players when late parries don't count toward a combo, especially when they're still learning the game's controls and enemy patterns, and Breen requires combos to be defeated.


  • Awesome graphics
  • Even better soundtrack
  • Original concept


  • Bosses have steep learning curve
  • Not great if you're no good at timing or rhythm
  • No co-op mode

In conclusion, Way of the Passive Fist is a slick, well-executed concept with incredible fun to be had. It's a title that's original yet familiar at the same time.

It's not perfect, but the quirks almost make perfecting every parry and pattern a rewarding goal — it certainly hasn't gotten the recognition it deserves for revitalizing experience it provides. If this is the first you're hearing of Way of the Passive Fist, the way of the passive fist is worth knowing and trying out for yourself.

Roguelite Metroidvania Scourgebringer Scintillates in Announcement Trailer Tue, 05 Mar 2019 05:15:02 -0500 Josh Broadwell

Flying Oaks Games, an independent development studio based in Europe, and publisher Dear Villagers recently announced a new collaborative project, Scourgebringer, an action-packed, roguelite Metroidvania.

The story revolves around main character Kyhra as she uncovers the mysteries of a sinister monolith that has suddenly appeared, threatening the very existence of her world. Along the way, she encounters incredibly powerful bosses, enigmatic ghosts, and secrets left behind by previous explorers.

Scourgebringer's gameplay draws its inspiration from Metroidvania and action games of old, and the developers seek to combine that sense of mystery and danger with fluid controls and aerial combat.

However, it's not a traditional Metroidvania in the sense that Metroidvanias require backtracking with newfound powers. Scourgebringer is all about moving forward and finding alternative routes to do so. The environments Kyhra must explore are pre-built around specific challenges and presented in a procedural style.

Joonas Turner, of Nuclear Throne and Tormentor X Punisher fame, is creating the game's soundtrack, which Flying Oaks and Dear Villagers say will be one of the game's major strengths.

Flying Oaks' Thomas Altenburger said the game has been in development for only a few months, but the process is completely open. That means the team shares progress and even budgets with players, incorporating the feedback they receive in the process.

There's certainly been no shortage of roguelites and Metroidvanias in recent years. However, Dear Villagers's involvement suggests players have something unique to look forward to with Scourgebringer.

The publisher began a few years ago under the name Playdius, but Guillaume Jamet, head of publishing, said Playdius overextended itself with too broad a focus, harming its branding in the process.

The company rebranded as Dear Villagers and plans to narrow its focus on meaningful, mid and hardcore games for PC audiences. Specifically, their goal is working with "indie games that reach for higher, maybe AA-style games. What we're looking for right now are games with very nice visuals, something visually astonishing, and great gameplay with a twist."

Those looking forward to playing such a game might have a bit to wait, since Flying Oak hasn't mentioned an anticipated release date. However, more information on the game's progress can be found via Flying Oak Games on Twitter.

Snail Games Announces Outlaws Of The Old West With Trailer Mon, 25 Feb 2019 12:49:59 -0500 QuintLyn

Snail Games, publisher of a number of free-to-play online and mobile games, recently announced the launch of a new publishing label dedicated to releasing independent games from North America and Europe. The new label, named Wandering Wizard, is kicking things off with an open world sandbox survival western, Outlaws of the Old West, developed by Virtual Basement.

Outlaws of the Old West is set in the nineteenth century American West, and players take on the roles of settlers trying to tame the land. To survive the old West, they'll need to hunt, forage, mine, and craft the materials they need. As they progress, players will be able to construct everything from camps to forts, and they can even become mayor of their own towns.

Gameplay takes place on servers hosting up to 150 people, and as players explore the map, which is filled with deserts, plains, swamps, and mountains, they'll decide the direction the narrative on their server takes. Using a morality system, they'll be able to build their own unique reputations, taking on roles ranging from a defender that protects other players and settlements to a cold-blooded outlaw.

Just as the players drive the narrative, they will also determine the economy. They can mine for gold, farm and craft, and even purchase land deeds that allow them to setup shops and auction houses for trading with other players. Those with the inclination can also make a living hiring themselves out as a mercenary or a guard.

This system will provide something for just about every type of player, as those who elect to become farmers, hunters, and miners will need the protection that can be provided by the gunslingers. On the flip side, fighters are going to need someone to supply them with the basic items for living. Of course, if you feel like more of a villain, you could just try to take what you want.

According to the Outlaws of the Old West Steam page, the game is set to release on March 12, 2019. Of course, this may be the Early Access launch rather than the official one.