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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.


Affordable “Creator Edition” of Game Maker Studio 2 Now Available For $39 USD

Posted on November 15, 2017 by Rae Michelle Richards

Development software provider Yo-Yo Games has released a more cost-effective version of their latest game creation software titled Game Maker Studio 2: Creator Edition. 

GMS2 (and by extension GMS2: CE) offers amateur and professional game developers an integrated development environment that supports both prebuilt functions that can handle common tasks like collisions and animation as well as its own proprietary scripting language to help developers write more complex solutions.  

Creator Edition provides aspiring developers with access to the Windows and Mac OS desktop exporters.  It removes a number of the limitations that are present in the current trial version of Game Maker Studio 2 and includes full access to extensions, shaders, source control and other professional level features but seems to be limited to the two platforms mentioned above. It is priced at $39.99 USD for a 12-month license through a SAAS (Software As A Service) model. After the 12-month term ends developers have the option to upgrade to the full version of Game Maker Studio 2 with a 30% discount. 

This post contains details and images provided by Yo-Yo games PR. We previously covered Game Maker Studio 2 as part of our GDC 2017 coverage, which you can read here.


Punch Club Devs Partner With Tiny Build For New Graveyard Management Game

Posted on February 24, 2017 by Rae Michelle Richards

Have you ever wanted to enter the lucrative graveyard management business? It might sound morbid or even macabre to consider but that is exactly the premise behind the latest game from the minds of Punch Club, titled Grave Keeper.

Set in medieval times Grave Keeper allows players to expand their graveyard enterprise into the entertainment sector by offering admittance o up public witch burnings, explore new business opportunities like selling the blood of the deceased or finally figuring out what parts of the human body are perfect for recycling. Players will not only be able to acquire new land for their thriving body disposal business but also explore dungeons to find the truly rare loot that is necessary for the efficient disposal of the dead.

Lazy Bear Games will host a publicly available alpha for testers who sign up for it. Grave Keeper will be playable at PAX East, for those not attending the convention Tiny Build has also released a number of animated GIFs from the game as well as a trailer which you can check out below.


Scott Cawthon releases Sister Location

Posted on October 8, 2016 by Meghan Kass

Five Nights At Freddy’s fans can rejoice again, Scott Cawthon has delivered the next chapter of his hit series is out. Not only are there new animatronics to meet and fear,a new setting to explore, new voices and new clues to the ongoing and increasingly convoluted lore. Will this be a hit with the fanbase or will it be a miss? Either answer, what isn’t debated is the excitement.

Early in the day today, Five Night’s at Freddy’s: Sister Location was in the Steam Store, ready to purchase and play. While FNAF: World may have been a disappointment to both Scott and many fans of the series, Sister Location appears to be a return to form with its dark, eerie atmosphere, claustrophobic setting and uneasy voice guiding you through the work you do at your new job. The job this time is a late night technician at Circus Baby’s Pizza World. This game not only connects to previous FNAF games, but also references the novel “Five Nights at Freddy’s: Silver Eyes” with the character William Afton, who eventually in Silver Eyes becomes the infamous “Purple Guy”.

Youtubers, such as MatPat from Game Theory and Markiplier excitedly streamed the game, while commenting with their thoughts and theories on where Sister Location fits in the FNAF universe and what it means for the lore. It seems this takes place before all the previous FNAF games as this shows the early work of Afton as a technician and it also appears any classic FNAF animatronics are shiny and well kept. This game promises to be a welcome Halloween treat with plenty of jump scares and eerie mechanical murderers whether you are a fan of the theories and lore of the game or not. If you want to join the FNAF fun, pick up your copy and enjoy.


SWD tech is off to an interesting start with it’s first game, Pixel Noir

Posted on August 22, 2016 by Meghan Kass

SWD tech games is an indie development team founded in 2013. This diverse group of passionate game developers, co founded by Len Stuart and Kunal Mujmdar, are going to be releasing their first game in November. After working in the industry on multiple types of projects from small to AAA, the group has successfully come together to crowd fund and develop Pixel Noir.


Pixel Noir is a retro style RPG game in which you are a detective who has lost his career as a police officer, his partner and his sanity; you must piece together what happened and through detective skills, making sense of hallucinations and finding allies, prove your innocence.  The game displays a turned based combat system, similar to a JRPG, has a focus on a rich story and characters. Straight from the 16 bit era of the SNES, this game finally has a demo after one failed Kickstarter and a successful second crowd funding effort and has also been greenlight on steam and became a Kickstarter staff pick. They have promised two crossover elements with other indie games, including Shovel Knight and Heart Forth Alicia. According to the Kickstarter, there will be Easter eggs and moments that reference these games, though details are still yet to be announced. These crossovers were sought out by SWD tech because they were inspired by fellow developers such as Yacht Club Games.

The developers plan to include features that will make a mobile phone version of the game easier and also plan to make the game available cross platform, which includes a 3DS version due to meeting their stretch goals. As there are updates on this game, SWD tech has been updating their development blog, Facebook and Twitter. You can follow this indie developer’s story and try out their demo on their website http://www.swdtechgames.com/ .

You cannot pre-order the game as of yet, but the website states they have plans for pre-orders and exclusives in the near future.



Rainbow Jam ’16 and how game jams help the industry

Posted on August 19, 2016 by Meghan Kass

As August continues, a number of game jam events are scheduled to take place.  These game jams are giving opportunities for smaller indie developers to showcase their skills and network with others in the gaming community, all while enjoying a fun atmosphere.

One such event in particular taking place is Rainbow Jam ‘16. This is a game jam, in the Scottish community, starting August 20th and continuing until September 4th. What makes Rainbow Jam special is their focus on the LGBT+ community and diversity in gaming. Their goal is promote safety in the gaming community and for developers to create freely and openly without fear. They also have a goal of creating future meetups and opportunities for communication locally in “various Scottish cities”

According to the itch.io page, the theme for this game jam was selected by getting suggestions from participants and then the top category was voted to be the theme used for the games created, this year the theme is “Identity”. The top games in each category will then be awarded prizes. To participate in the jam, you do not have to be a certain nationality, sexuality or gender; everyone is encouraged to join the celebration and use whatever skill they can bring to help create. Submissions are made through itchi.io and participants can work in teams up to four or individually.

The jam was started due to the feedback and discussion from the Facebook group Scottish Rainbow Game Dev. and they are looking for more sponsors and participants for the jam and possibly for future jams. You can join or learn more about this open game jam at the website https://itch.io/jam/rainbowjam16.

This game jam is just one example of how to encourage diversity and new talent in the gaming industry. New voices, ideas and styles can mean a breath of fresh air and more choices for not only publishers, but for consumers as well.


Image source: Rainbow Jam 2016 Facebook page


Road to Ballhalla is out now on Steam

Posted on August 5, 2016 by Fionna Schweit

One of my most beloved publishers, tinyBuild Games, is having an amazing year. With over a half dozen published hit indie games this year alone, tinyBuild is truly on fire. Today they bring their latest to Steam. If you like rhythm, great music, puns, and challenging gameplay you are going to want to check Ballhalla out. Developer Torchedhill have put a fresh take on the classic ball rolling genre by adding rhythm elements, a framed it a beautiful world of muted colors and light.


Rhythm, balls, puns, and great music

Torched Hill have brought to the table something totally new in the world of simple rolling ball games. Adding rhythm elements reminiscent of Crypt of the Necro Dancer, this is a fresh take on a genre as old as video games.The aesthetic is a beautiful minimalism but with contrasting bright colors, and the game itself looks absolutely fantastic,  and because tinyBuild are truly insane:

Introducing Twitch Plays Ballhalla

Head on over to our twitch channel to participate in Twitch Plays Ballhalla. The chat is challenged to complete this unforgiving marble-rolling game, and will be rewarded with Steam keys for both Road to Ballhalla and other tinyBuild titles.  I personally cant wait to see what happens with this one, as Twitch plays is usually hilarious to watch.

So head on over to that Steam page and pick up this gem for 10% during its release week! meaning its at the low low price of just 14USD!


Clickteam Fusion 3 Hopes To Revolution Indie Game Development [World Premiere]

Posted on March 19, 2016 by Rae Michelle Richards

Games have been my passion since I was very young and along with this passion came the spark of creativity – hoping that someday I would be able to develop my own video games. A piece of software from then little-known French software creation firm Clickteam called The Games Factory helped me explore the core concepts of game design. 16 years later, Clickteam is still around and their most current piece of engine technology, Clickteam Fusion 2.5 powers some of the most popular indie titles such as Five Nights at Freddy’s and The Escapists.

The next generation of Clickteam developers who grew up using Yves Lamouruex & Francis Poulain’s original engine technology are now taking the helm and preparing to user in their most ambitious development tool to date – Clickteam Fusion 3. While this product is still in a very early state -and isn’t expected to release for some time – Chris Carlson & Anders Riggelsen were more than happy to give BrokenJoysticks the world premire look at their next generation engine in the making.Read More


Stardew Valley has sold 425,000 copies

Posted on March 10, 2016 by Fionna Schweit

I wonder if Eric Barone ever thought that a game about farming would be his crowning achievement? Stardew valley started out as a way for Barone to learn to program, and in an interview with PCGamer, Barone has now confirmed that the game has sold over 425,000 copies as of yesterday. To put that in perspective, that is just 12 days after its launch.  You cant go anywhere on the gaming related internet with out seeing this game. My discord is full of pictures of people’s farms, its on Twitches list of top games for the last week straight, and videos of farms are all over YouTube. I never imagined that a game so small could generate so much hype. Not since the holy Minecraft have I seen a game that was developed by one person, and experienced so much sucess.


To put in to pespective how monumental it is to sell a half million games on Steam only six titles managed to do it in 2015.  Stardew Valley is halfway there aready, and its only been two weeks. The game is already one of the most sucessfull steam games of all time, and has shot up the popularity charts and stayed there. Something that is extremly difficult to do with the likes of Tom Clancys: The Division, Hitman, and The Culling all vying for space.

Barone told PCGamer “he never expected the game to be this popular. ‘I thought it would be popular with people who were fans of Harvest Moon or Rune Factory, and I thought that would pretty much be it,” Barone said, “I never expected it to have such wide appeal. I mean, I’m super happy about it and I’m blown away by the reaction, but I’m surprised too.'”

To put that in to back of envelope math, Baron is probably getting about 1/3 of each of the sales of the game, with Steam taking 1/3 and Chucklefish taking the other. Even if Baron only get 5$ per sale hes walked away in just 9 days with over 2 million dollars. Even with all of that money Barone told PCGamer “I don’t want it to affect my life in any way. My lifestyle isn’t going to change. and that  he also intends to keep the scale of development at a similar level, saying he’d consider hiring help for more technical aspects of the game, but that he generally prefers to work alone. ” No matter how you cut this cake, this is a monumental effort, and Barone has onece again shown that indie games can fight with the big dogs.

Are you playing Stardew Valley? Show us your Farm on Facebook or Twitter!


IndieDB 2015 Indie of the Year Awards!

Posted on December 30, 2015 by Tamsin Heineman

IndieDB has just released the list of their top ten independent studio games of 2015 and the winners are just plain outstanding.

  • First Place – Space Engineers – Keen Software House – Early Access Oct 22, 2013
    This years winner is a personal favorite. Space Engineers is a procedurally generated voxel based space and building and exploration sandbox with both survival and creative modes as well as online play via hosted servers. In this game you build ships, stations and anything else you can imagine with their elaborate building system and wide variety of highly customizable blocks.
    Everything from programming blocks, gyros, thrusters, rotors, pistons, remote control, armor, and  just about anything else you can imagine make the possibilities endless.  Did I mention mods? This game has full access to the Steam Workshop and custom fanmade content.
    Almost forgot to mention their newest edition, PLANETS! A lot of new features have been added along with them. Also of mention is their weekly updates. They’re always tweaking and adding things and making the game overall more enjoyable for everyone. There’s really too much for me to go over in just this short blurb, so pick it up and check it out!

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Jotun is a fun, beautiful, romp for all 5 senses

Posted on October 19, 2015 by Fionna Schweit

Do you like Beautiful hand drawn art and simple but challenging combat with massive bosses? Then Jotun is the game for you. The game’s hand drawn art is so beautiful you’ll wonder if you’re playing a videogame or a story book.  Jotun is an exploration game created by William Dubé, originally launched on kickstarter, and now released on steam for $14.99. You play as Thora, a Viking warrior who died an inglorious death (falling off her ship and drowning) and must face the challenges of purgatory to escape and be allowed to enter Valhalla. Along the way she will have to face the Jotun, massive monsters from Norse lore, and explore a wide open set of 6 unique worlds. She fights with the aid of the same gods who denied her entrance to Valhalla barrowing their powers to aid her. Her kit for this massive task, a simple iron axe, with a light and a heavy attack, her wits, and a dodge roll, but that’s all she will need to impress the gods and kill the Jotun.

[youtube id=”uB37tkDDNJA”]

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Life Is Strange Episode 2 ‘Out of Time’ Rewinds Time on March 24th

Posted on March 16, 2015 by Rae Michelle Richards

The second episode of Dontnod’s excellent indie themed time traveling episodic adventure Life Is Strange: Episode 2 “Out of Time” will be released on Steam, Xbox Marketplace and the PlayStation Store next Tuesday March 24th.

Alongside a brand new batch of Episode 2 screenshots Square Enix also released a brief gameplay clip from Out of Time over the weekend. We’ve also included the previous developer diary ‘Creating Academy Bay’ which focuses on the game’s absolutely fantastic soundtrack.

I purchased Episode 1 Chrysalis  when it was released this past January and absolutely loved it. We’ll be posting some impressions of Life Is Strange Episode 2 next Wednesday morning!

Each episode is priced approximately around $5 CDN per episode and a season’s pass for PS4 is available for $16.99 CDN as of press time.

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