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Indie Platformer 20XX Is Now On Nintendo Switch!

Posted on July 11, 2018 by Rae Michelle Richards

There is no shortage of brand new indie titles to play on the Nintendo Switch these days, especially since Ninty’s stated goal is to get at minimum 30 brand new titles per week up on the shop in the not so distant future.  

If you’re looking for something new to play it’s pretty easy to recommend Megaman inspired rogue-like platformer 20XX to fellow indie game enthusiasts and lovers of gorgeous pixel graphics. Defeating powerful bosses, making daring leaps of faith and collecting devastating powers from your foes is of course the name of the game in 20XX but the developers at Batterystaple games have incorporated some modern approaches to game design to spice things up.  

Levels found within 20XX are procedurally generated meaning while they’ll share similar enemies and mechanics between iterations, the placement of baddies and layout will always be different. Throughout the adventure players collect silver bolts which are used to purchase to re-equip upgrades that remain unlocked, even after death.  Also on offer are two playable characters – ACE or Mina, brutal daily challenges and multiple difficulty setting. 

In a statement the founder of Batterystaple Games had this to say about today’s launch: 

20XX is a celebration of classic action-platforming remixed with modern roguelike design …After a wonderful reception on PC, we’re so excited that console players can finally get their hands on the game.”  

20XX is available for the Nintendo Switch E-Shop in North America for a suggested retail price of $17.99 USD. It is also available on Steam for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. 



Celeste (Nintendo Switch) | Review

Posted on March 23, 2018 by Meghan Kass

Version Reviewed: Nintendo Switch

Another Example of Why Games Matter

Everyone has a mountain to climb, sometimes symbolically, sometimes literally. Everyone has their own journey they need to go on and their own life goals. It is in this way, I believe everyone can relate at least a little to the game Celeste.  

Celeste was brought to you by the Canadian team, “Matt Makes Games”, who also brought us Towerfall back in 2013 for PS Vita, PS4, Xbox One, PC and other platforms. Celeste is a 2-D platformer that makes full use of Microsoft’s now defunct XNA framework. The platforming is challenging, but fluid and when you perform a move, it seems to work with little to no problems. Celeste is a tight game with great controls and little in the way of annoying bugs or omissions.

In Celeste, you start out slow, doing basic moves and jumps. You eventually learn more maneuvers across a number of levels – mastering moves like double jumps and mid air dashes that will assist you with problem solving; be clever however, because you can only hold onto walls for a limited amount of time and can only mid air dash once before needing a cool down or regeneration item.

Throughout this game, there are also puzzles to solve as well. Some involve pattern recognition, some involve timing and others involve careful maneuvering. The puzzles are challenging, especially those that involve gathering collectibles or special items. Puzzles also get more challenging as you climb the mountain, but that is nothing out of the ordinary.

Celeste’s graphics are simple, but the pixel art is a work of beauty. There are scenes when the use of shading and clever lighting look like mosaic paintings. My only wish would be that the character designs were a little more detailed in terms of overall design. They are perfectly serviceable, I just wish the sprites had a little more expression. This one area that could have been just a little better doesn’t take away from this game in the slightest. This game may have a simplistic visual design, but don’t underestimate the art that Amora Bettany and Pedro Medeiros created for Celeste.

Celeste has a beautiful story to tell on top of having beautiful pixel art and wonderfully executed gameplay. You play as Madeline and her desire to climb to the top of the titular mountain, Celeste. This mountain is unlike any other, in that is can turn one’s “inner turmoil” and “true self” into reality. She meets many other characters along the way and goes through many trials and tribulations leading to her main hurdle, her mental health. She starts to come face to face with her depression and anxiety and her many inner demons. I am not ashamed to say this was extremely relateable and had me teary eyed at many moments.

Celeste is a beautiful allegory for those fighting their own inner demons and climbing their own mountain. Madeline is the type of hero we don’t see nearly often enough in the video game medium. The only other recent example of something similar was Senua from Hellblade. Madeline may be troubled, but she’s a fighter. She is brave and even when faced with the scariest in her life, she keeps climbing that mountain. This game is the perfect opportunity to set an example for those dealing with similar issues feel that they are not alone and that they too can overcome. Seeing as this game is also rated E for everyone, this game can also reach younger players who are still figuring themselves out at a vulnerable time in their lives.

Celeste is not only a well designed and executed game, but the type of important game that brings the industry to a higher level. It is always my pleasure to come across a game like this and contribute to the attention it deserves. I am happy to see others review it, feature it and show it to a wide audience. Play it for yourself and support Matt Makes Games so they continue their work and surprise us with their future creations.


88 Heroes: 98 Heroes Edition | Review

Posted on October 19, 2017 by Meghan Kass

On August 8th, 1988 at 8:08 am I was but an infant when one of the most terrible acts of evil was attempted. Doctor Evil H8 almost had destroyed the world unless he was delivered his demand of .$88 octillion with a deadline of only 88 minutes! In order to save mankind from destruction by nuclear warhead, we needed the help of the brave, the bold, and the silly 88 heroes! This is the set up for developer, Bitmap Bureau’s, game “88 Heroes”. Now this game, published by Rising Star Games has come to the Nintendo Switch with some interesting challenges to add to an already interesting game.

The main game is a chaotic 2D platformer, with emphasis on the chaotic. You are given a random hero to make it through a level in 88 seconds. These heroes are what make the game different from other indie platformers like it. Some heroes possess great powers or weapons that can help annihilate enemies such as Laser Kittie who can shoot across a level with their laser or Hammerstein who can literally break through floors which can literally open opportunities to shorten your time getting through a level. Some heroes, however, are less than impressive such as Hard Hat Harriot who has an impressive jackhammer, but does nothing with it and has no impressive abilities or Wang Wei the panda on a unicycle who does nothing except the somewhat amusing trick of riding backwards which means an added annoyance for the player who would need to change how they control a hero in order to progress in the level.

If you lose a hero during a level either through death or time running out, that’s no problem at all! Another hero can take its place immediately and might even be better for the situation at hand. You have 88 chances to get through 88 levels and most of them will get you frustrated and groaning as you figure out how to get past traps, what awaits you around every corner and what types of heroes will help you succeed. If you get a hero you don’t want to use or won’t help you, you can “deton8” your hero and move on to the next if you wish, but I find there is literally no point in not at least trying to get past a level without blowing up your hero and losing one of your 88 lives anyway.  Along with a way to destroy your hero, you can also gain a hero back if you collect $88 worth of coins and picking one to be “reborn”. My favorite hero, personally, was Ms. Fortune simply for her gimmick. You can make her flip a coin and depending on the outcome she will either get you to the end of a level or die instantly. Most of the times, the heroes gave me a smirk or an amused groan usually due to a pun or silly pop culture references.If you need more of a challenge, there is always the magnificent 8 mode which lets you only chose 8 heroes to get through 88 levels with.

Overall, aside from a few frame rate issues that I didn’t experience almost at all, the game is a solid 2D platformer indie game. The Switch looks like it quite the console for indie games and this game is a fun addition. At the price of $30, I might recommend waiting for a sale for this game, but if you are craving a fun, lighthearted platformer, support an indie developer with a solid product and enjoy.


Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice | Review

Posted on August 30, 2017 by Meghan Kass

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice has made quite the splash in the gaming scene as of recently. It is the indie game with the AAA quality looking to make a point to publishers, that it can be done without the AAA publishers sticking their fingers in the pie. Ninja Theory has labeled this game as the “independent AAA” game because of its focus on their strengths of strong character story, combat, and unique art style. They wanted to take these three key elements are far as they would go without anyone holding them back, but with that large ambition comes huge risk. Did this game pay off? Did it prove its point? A look at Ninja Theory’s claimed three key elements of story, combat and art will help make a conclusion. Is Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice more than just it’s slightly silly name? Or is there something deeper.

When we look at Ninja Theory’s first claimed key strength of character’s stories, there is a huge advantage that Senua has over many large budget AAA titles. It can take the story in directions that would scare off a lot of big publishers. In order to portray the main character’s psychological illness and psychosis with a degree of accuracy, neuroscientists were consulted along with non profit organizations who specialized in mental illness. Senua’s Sacrifice uses this aspect of Senua’s character to not only give subtle hints and guidance to the character through whispers informing you of incoming enemies and someone being behind you so you can evade or block them, but it allows for some interesting and even eerie imagery and visual storytelling. Senua’s visual hallucinations also allow the player to explore this character more deeply because we see how she reacts to different, sometimes extreme situations even though she wasn’t there, like when you meet a character named Druth and experience his horrifying story from when he was a captured slave through Senua’s psychosis and a bit of the supernatural. She also interacts with her auditory hallucinations occasionally or they sometimes try and speak for her intentions or her feelings. This could be assumptions that we have to decide are truth or mockery, but it adds to Senua’s character by showing the player her vulnerability and insecurities about her journey at least. Deep down, she has these thoughts and fears in her mind, adding greatly to her fairly silent character. Overall, Ninja theory has great characters and uses Senua creatively to tell an interesting and haunting tale that had me shaken down to my core at times.

The combat in my opinion is the weakest element, but still effective. Using the voices in Senua’s head to guide her during combat was a creative choice by Ninja Theory. The enemies are intimidating and while there are only but a few at a time, that works in the game’s favor as it makes the fight seem more intimate, intense and have more weight. There is no horde to slice through like a hot knife through cheese, but just you and your literal demons and a few strong monsters at a time. They won’t go down with a simply slice, you need to be fast and reactive and know when is best to hit and when is best to dodge. You also don’t want to forget your ability to slow down time and get some well placed hits in that hard to kill enemy which is especially effective for a more casual or less talented player. This is good, considering you are warned at the beginning of the game that if you die too often, your story is done and you need to start over with your save file deleted. Play on easy mode if you are the more cautious sort.

The art in Hellblade is the third element Ninja Theory mentioned and is very striking to say the least. There are often bright colors against dark colors to make the, at times, frightening images stand out so you take notice and allow it to stick in your head. The puzzles that have you searching for a matching symbol in the scenery are a great excuse to take your surroundings in and appreciate the well detailed textures and eerie environments. Senua herself is a beautiful character design with her face paint, large emotional eyes and strong looking body., It’s also haunting if you begin to fail your combat and see the black rot take over her body slowly.

Overall this game is a wonderful story of love and devotion and strength told in the most disturbing and eerie way possible. With its striking art and imagery, intimate and intense combat and haunting story telling, this is a homerun for Ninja Theory and its team. It is easy to tell they had a goal and were determined to reach it and they succeeded. Hopefully, more indie developers show that AAA publishers are not always needed to put out AAA quality products.



The Final Station | REVIEW

Posted on July 28, 2017 by Meghan Kass

The Final Station is the base game coming to you from development team Do Our Best games and publishers Tinybuild Games . This game is quickly gaining fans and it is easy to see why; with a story that is full of intrigue, interesting game play that challenges you and plenty of content it’s hard to not see why so many are enjoying this game and why it is starting to get add ons and DLC to add to the experience. Do Our Best has definitely delivered something special and the team is definitely passionate about this project. After watching the trailer, the game definitely grabbed my attention and I am happy it did not disappoint.

The Only Station throws you right in the middle of the scene. You are conducting a train in the middle of what appears to be some sort of illness or epidemic going around. In the beginning it is simply your job to keep passengers  safe and healthy and of course to find the key code for the next train to continue. This could entail something as easy as asking a coworker for the code, to having to travel and perform a favor for it or find it hidden somewhere. As the game progresses, the mystery begins to reveal itself. There are monsters and an  illness and you caught in the middle just trying to get passengers to safety. You may have to fight your way through hordes of enemies, but you are on your mission to get that train to its next stop and find the next code that keeps the train running. You can choose to continue saving these passengers or you can let them die and loot their bodies for money and supplies. As for the deeper nuances of the story, you can explore and read fan theories and speculate, but some parts are left a purposeful mystery to add to the fun.

The aesthetic of this game is entirely pixelated retro style. Everything is very blocky without much detail in the design, but that can work to the game’s advantage. I found the silhouetted enemies to be quite alarming at times along with the survival aspect of the game. You need to budget your ammo and tactically plan your way around the world and not waste your resources. I found it took some getting used to when it came to aiming your gun to shoot down your enemies, as when you are moving your arm to aim your gun, it can be slightly sensitive and make it more difficult to aim and hit your mark and it can make you waste bullets. If you can get past the less than perfect combat and hordes of enemies, what you have is truly something special. Discovering this world, finding secrets and unraveling the mysteries of this game are what really make this game worth playing. It is clear the team behind this spent a lot of time weaving this story for their audience with care, making sure to carefully place all the hints, easter eggs and answers deliberately.

Overall, The Final Station base game is truly something special. It is an indie gem that deserves the following and attention it has gotten and then some. I look forward to playing the DLC and continuing the story and learning more about this dystopian world and what it has to offer. You can play it now on Steam or XBox One. If you enjoy eerie atmosphere, mystery and pixel art, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. Each level is short enough for those who don’t have long periods of time to play games or you can binge the game, it’s up to you. All aboard and enjoy the ride of the Final Station.



Soulless Wonder Needs Your Steam Greenlight Votes

Posted on March 22, 2017 by Les Major

Soulless Wonder Conversation

We’re getting close to the release of the Soulless Wonder Kickstarter. It’s a wonderful game drawn by past Marvel and Dark Horse comics artist Rod Espinosa! The story itself is quite deep too. Gamers help make decisions of Lantz, a bard who is cursed to have to date Monster Girls. It’s a comical adventure but also takes on some very serious issues as well!

It’s an important game to Darkain Arts and we hope you’ll give it a look. Covering topics like mental health, bullying, and even transgender issues hasn’t been an easy task, but the writing is top notch. The game isn’t preachy. It’s about building relationships and getting to know each of the games complex characters.

Inspired by the conversation mechanics of NIS America titles but with lots of decisions like a Telltale Games adventure, Soulless Wonder is an ironically titled game that’s full of spirit.

Give the team a vote on Steam Greenlight and help get Soulless Wonder closer to a digital release: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=874540710

There’s lots more to come on this fantastic new title so stay tuned. If you’re a Steam user, be sure to vote! It costs nothing to vote yes. It’s a poll and it shows your support for this title. The game is still in development after all.


Monster Dating Game Soulless Wonder Hits Steam Greenlight

Posted on March 1, 2017 by Les Major

Soulless Wonder Title

Sister site Darkain Arts Gamers has released their very first game on Steam Greenlight and it’s a doozy! Lantz is a cursed bard who has to adventure out beyond his kingdom to try to convince monster girls to fall in love with him. Why? Because the Paladin Queen of the kingdom shattered his soul and it’s the only way to restore his spirit to his body!

Lantz can try to romance eight different characters ranging from a fox girl, zombie, slime girl, goblin, succubus, and even an eldritch horror inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft to name a few.

Inspired by companies like Telltale Games and NIS America, Soulless Wonder is a dating sim with meaningful choices to make and complex characters to get to know. Even more amazing, Rod Espinosa of The Courageous Princess fame is doing the artwork! He’s working for companies such as Marvel and Dark Horse comics in the past, as well as being nominated for both an Eisener and Ignatz award! The news just keeps getting better with composer Joel Steudler creating the music for the game. He’s best known for creating music packs with Degica for RPG Maker in recent years.

Show your support today and vote for Soulless Wonder: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=874540710


PT Inspired Horror Title ‘Allison Road’ Has Been Cancelled

Posted on June 5, 2016 by Rae Michelle Richards

Indie horror darling Allison Road is trapped in a dead end with the announced on the game’s official twitter account that the project has been scrapped. No other details have emerged at this time but an official state is expected to be made in the coming days from the development team.

Allison Road came to prominence at the end of June last year when developer Lilith Ltd released a 13-minute long pre-alpha demo showcasing the survival horror title’s PT-esque first person perspective and tense narrow environments. Comparion’s to Konami’s then recently cancelled horror title where inevitable, especially since Allison Road felt almost like a spiritual successor to Kojima’s cancelled Silent Hills revival.

In October of last year, Lilith Ltd announced that they had suspended their Kickstarter for the game, which sought to raise $384,000 for the game’s development, in favor of partnering with publisher Team 17. At the time of that announcement Lilith had expressed excitement about working alongside the creators of the Worms franchise, saying:

“We are delighted to announce that we will be joining Team17’s highly successful games label.”

Was the cancellation of Allison Road brought on by a lack of progress during the last 8 months? Has the team behind the game decided to work on a different project alltogether? There are no answers to these questions at the moment but here is one for our readers: Is there a market for a first person horror title in the same vain as Allison Road or P.T? or is the tremendous success of Allison Road‘s brief moment in the gaming industry spotlight a result of being announced at a time when the cancellation of Silent Hills was still fresh in our collective mind?

Check out the original prototype video below:



Rememoried | Review

Posted on October 8, 2015 by Broken Joysticks

Review Written By: Focks

Rememoried is an indie game developed by Vladimir Kudelka and published by Hangonit. It is a first-person adventure game with puzzle game elements. A very minimalistic, surreal game focused on the exploration of the levels.

One of the main ideas of this game is that dreams become memories, and those memories are then turned back into dreams. Vladimir’s own dreams and memories have influenced the making of the game. One dream can modify previous dreams. Falling asleep while stargazing can make your dreams much more intense.

Many of the levels hover between being abstract and concrete and focus on imagery of that specific level. Flickering pixels and misplaced polygons can be seen in many of the levels. The game is visually stunning and exploring the levels before figuring out how to beat them will let you experience the beauty of this game.

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