Prisma & The Masquerade Menace
Prisma & The Masquerade Menace is in the early stages of development, so early in fact that it’s not even on Kickstarter yet. That didn’t stop the developer from having a fully playable level from the demo at PAX South.
It’s got some rough edges, but it’s already rather polished. At its core, it’s a platformer game in which you take control of Ray, a girl who can switch between different colored dimensions to make objects appear or disappear. Each of these dimensions also gives her abilities like high jumping, fast running, and block destroying. Once you get used to switching between dimensions, it becomes much more like a Sonic game in which you feel compelled to go as fast as possible, switching dimensions quickly and trying to think on your feet.
Prisma is still in its early stages, but give their Kickstarter a look when it goes live later this month!
Sundered is a game that leaps out at you from a sea of titles at a gaming convention. It’s art style has a way of pulling you in, making you want more.
Sundered is a Metroidvania style platformer/exploration game in which you take control of Eshe, a wanderer exploring seemingly endless, always changing caverns filled with eldritch horrors. The controls solid and responsive and the game’s difficulty is a little more than Super Metroid (we died 3 times in the demo), making it feel like a substantial single player experience. Details like the hand drawn art and pencil marks when the camera is really zoomed in all combine to make this a visual feast that also delivers on a tight experience.
Sundered is coming out to PS4 and PC in July but you can Kickstart it right now here!
In RiME, you play a boy exploring a strange island trying to work your way to a pillar in its center. Along the way, you’ll solve puzzles, meet a super cute fox, and try to figure out the mysteries of your surroundings and what could have happened to make it the way it is now.
RiME feels a lot like Zelda mixed with Journey in the best possible way. The art style is stark and gorgeous, varying dramatically for different areas in the game. The world is all laid out in a way that’s easy to understand visually, which is a good thing since the game features no dialog or text, so you’re relying on just trying things out and being observant to solve puzzles.
RiME is due out summer 2017 on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
Want more PAX South 2017 coverage? All you had to do was ask!
Monster Boy, Warlock’s Tower, and Has Been Heroes
Minit, Beat Cop, and Strikers Edge
Arms, Splatoon 2, and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Monster Boy started as a Kickstarter project called “Flying Hamster.” Since then, the team welcomed Ryuichi Nishizawa and turned the game into Monster Boy, based off the Wonder Boy in Monster World, a mashup between the Wonder Boy and Monster World series. Please go look those up if you have no idea what we’re talking about.
The player takes control of Jin, a boy who can transform into five different monsters to solve puzzles and take down enemies with a variety of abilities. This platformer hearkens back to old school platformers in the 80s and 90s — simple gameplay, peppy music, bright visuals. Like a Saturday morning cartoon video game that you set your alarm for.
Monster Boy is simultaneously releasing on Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One later this year.
Some game developers try to emulate the style of classic pixel games and achieve something between nostalgia and amusement. Then you have a game like Warlock’s Tower, which just looks like it’s always been a Gameboy game and dares you to tell it otherwise.
The graphics of Warlock’s Tower look exactly like an original Gameboy game being played on the Super Gameboy player, complete with being able to change main color from green to orange yellow. All of that helps Warlock’s Tower in the charming area, but the underlying gameplay is really cool, too.
At it’s core, Warlock’s Tower is a puzzle game in which you take control of a mailman trying to avoid monsters and deliver a letter to the warlock of the titular tower. Each move you make takes away one life, but there are tokens on each floor to increase the number of lives you have. It’s a puzzle to be able to figure out which tokens to get at what time and using what directions. The game even has Twitch integration so you can interact with your chat while you play.
Warlock’s Tower is out now for PC.
Has Been Heroes
Has Been Heroes is a Roguelike inspired by Plants Vs. Zombies.
Oh, what, you need more?
In the game, you’ll take control of three characters, each with their own lane. Each character has a different number of attacks, attack power, and control of spells. It’s up to the player to time their attacks accurately, swap characters, and utilize spells cleverly to fight back hoards of enemies.
At first, it takes a bit to get used with character switching and the concept of enemies having points with which to block your attacks, but very quickly, you’re pausing the game less, attacking with one character, swapping another in after the shield is broken to follow up with a health attack, and using spells on the fly. It’s satisfying to feel in control, but also like your heart is in your throat trying to figure out if your abilities will be off cooldown before the next enemy reaches you.
Has Been Heroes comes out March 28th for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Want more PAX South 2017 coverage? All you had to do was ask!
Good Morning Kids!
It’s April, which means that PAX East 2016 is right around the corner! Sub Cultured will be descending upon Boston from April 22nd through the 24th like a pack of geeky vultures, bringing you all of the latest the gaming world has to offer. The sprawling floor of that massive convention center will have everything from consoles to tabletop to PC.
Of course there will be the big time “huge-booth” studios that will be in attendance like Blizzard, Square-Enix and Bethesda. But the great thing about PAX events is that it’s not just the big guys that get spotlight. The Indie Showcase will be featuring some more bite-sized offerings for your mobile devices, and the Indie Megabooth is boasting 87 games so far from 83 indie developers. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of creative things these devs come up with – there’s a PAX mainstay Dragon Fin Soup, a horror mystery in Night Cry, and crossdressing and social manipulation as themes in Ladykiller in a Bind.
… Yeah. And that’s only 3 out of the 87.
If the trend of gaming shows I’ve been to holds up and combines with recent developments in hardware, I’m expecting to see a lot of VR demos. The Gear VR is a device becoming more mainstream because of its affordability and and the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are granting new higher-powered VR platforms for development.
Make sure to keep up with Sub Cultured during PAX East to keep up with all the PAX East happenings – and if you’re there or see us on the floor give us a shout!
PAX South attracts a number of small indie studios to showcase their wares. This year saw a number of really cool ideas from even cooler people.
You know when you were playing Goldeneye with your friends and two of them knew the drill — no screen looking. But then there’s that third guy who always claimed to be cheating, BUT HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PREFIRE IN A LOCAL MULTIPLAYER GAME, BRADLEY? WE ALL HEAR THE SAME NOISES, BRADLEY. YOU’RE FOOLING NOBODY.
This game is either a giant middle finger or pat on the back to all the Bradleys in the world. The game is a simple enough multiplayer death match with various weapons, but the catch is that everyone is invisible. You can only find out where your opponents are by looking at their screens to see what they see. There’s also other cues like gunsmoke or particle effects, but mainly, you’re just looking at everyone else’s screen.
The result is a frantic, sometimes confusing, always entertaining competition to see whose spacial reasoning is the best, or who has the most luck. The only flaw is its local multiplayer only status, since there are some of us who don’t go over to friends houses anymore because when we punched Bradley in the teeth for Klobbing us one too many times, we don’t get the invite anymore.
Ever wanted to play Bomberman capture the flag with 8 players?
Now there’s Knight Shield! Up to 8 players are in a top down maze structure all struggling to get a chalice in the center of the map and bring it back to their spawn point. First to X amount of points wins. The map also has powerups like bow and arrow or drill about to make the game more interesting.
Inevitably you have a tangle of deaths and it somehow winds up near a little dweeb like me who just spawned, so I grab it and score a point pretty easily. Then I do this:
It’s great fun, especially with the max of 8 players. Luckily, you don’t need any real life friends to get that since this game has online multiplayer. It’s definitely more satisfying to do the laugh in real life though.
REalM Walk of Soul
The first thing you’ll notice about this game is how striking it is. It’s aesthetics are equal parts Tim Burton, Madoka, and the random scrawlings on the walls of horror games. In it, you take control of Iris who wakes up in a mysterious, bizarre world just begging to be figured out. You’ll solve puzzles, meet weird characters, and feel slightly unsettled the whole time.
The gameplay is kind of like an action/adventure game. It’s nothing revolutionary in that it’s a puzzle game and there’s really only so many puzzles one can put in a game. What is really interesting, though, is the world the game is set in. It’s not necessarily scary, but it is very offputting and unnerving, like a fever dream after watching Corpse Bride. It’s also not necessarily not NOT scary either — there’s definitely times in the trailer where I question whether or not I should play this in the dark. If the full game is anything like the demo, it should be a really interesting ride.
The game is coming out in the first half of 2016. You can find out more about it here.
PAX South 2016 saw a pretty exciting announcement from LootCrate, one of the largest monthly box subscription services catering to the nerd community — LootGaming.
As you probably already deduced, LootGaming is focused on games and gamer culture, but that’s not the only change. The new subscription comes with a slightly higher price tag of $25/month as opposed to their $15/month standard subscription. Their reasoning is that they see how excited people get about the 1-2 big ticket items in their boxes, so they figured they’d reduce the amount of smaller items and increase the number of big ticket items. The unfortunate side effect is that the subscription is a little higher in price, but the hope is that you’ll be happier about all the items, rather than just a few.
The new service is trying to focus on games everyone has played, regardless of system. For instance, their first box features items from Skyrim, Street Fighter, and Halo. Although Halo is an Xbox exclusive, it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t at least played it.
Another interesting bit of info is that though the box currently will not include any actual games, they’re looking into doing that in the future. The problem is that they don’t like giving people something they already have, so it’s a bit difficult to widely give games to people and not have them disappointed with duplicates. It seems like they may actually have some developers make LootGaming first release titles in the future, which is pretty dang cool. If they can pull off the next Sneak King, I’m in.
Halo 5 Guardians Arena Multiplayer
Yup, that’s right, Halo 5 Guardians has a demo-able multiplayer and I got to play it. And guess what? I’m still as bad as I remember.
In this version of multiplayer, you’re playing 5v5 last man standing with the magnum pistol and assault rifle/battle rifle. Essentially, the rifle is full auto when you’re not aiming with the scope, but burst fire when aiming, which is a nice settlement to the age old question of which rifle was better, Halo 1’s or Halo 2’s .
The map was rather boring and looked more like an American Gladiators map than Halo. Glassy polygons with ramps and a few hallways punctuated by laser edges in space doesn’t really scream Spartan to me. That aside, the combat feels better than it did in Halo 4, but still a little slow. The controls are the same millenium-era FPS controls of B for grenade, but that’s for sake of legacy and kind of gives it a nostalgic feel. Speaking of nostalgia, this game mode didn’t let you select your starting weapons and there were no loadouts. I’m not sure if that’s how the rest of the multiplayer will be, but that was almost a welcome restriction. The last thing I need is Call of Duty in space.
Overall, it seems Halo multiplayer is still intact. A little different than before, but then again it always is. What I really want to see more of is Master Chief in the desert with that chip necklace that makes me tear up. You know the one.
Platforms: Xbox One
Release Date: 2015
One of the most exciting new IPs coming to Wii U is the competitive third person shooter title Splatoon. The objective is simple — over a map with more of your team’s paint color than the other’s. It’s a third person shooter featuring humans/squids.
That’s a weird sentence.
Your human form has your ink gun, which you use to splatter the field and shoot your enemies, and your squid form can travel quickly through your ink color and recharge your ink gun. Since you’re hidden inside the ink while in squid form, this adds another layer of strategy so you can lie in wait to surprise the enemy. Your squid form can also traverse ink that’s on walls, and go under barriers, allowing for more maneuverability and varied terrain play.
The concept and ideas behind this game are great, but I found myself getting killed a lot. And I mean a lot. It was only toward the end of my second round that I realized why — I kept screwing up my aim. The demo I got to play set up aiming with the gyro controls on the Wii U gamepad, with the second joystick acting like a slow camera. This strange waggle motion was incredibly disorienting for someone who’s used to camera being on the second joystick and having it be responsive. I’m kind of a panicky Pete in games like this, so when the fighting starts, I lose all thoughts and just try to shoot as much at the other person as possible. Accuracy is not my forte. As a result, I was pointing down with the gamepad, but moving the joystick around so I could focus on the top screen instead of the map on the bottom and I ended up dying almost every time (or at least that’s what I tell myself).
Overall, the game is incredibly fun and fast paced. The sneaking elements on it, surprise attacks, power ups, and quick gameplay make it an awesome game to play with friends either online or in the same room. I just hope they realize some of us are very disoriented by gyro aim so I can go back to flailing about and shooting wildly a little better.
Platforms: Wii U
Release Date: May 2015
Local multiplayer puzzlers seem to be making a bit of a resurgence, diversity also seems to be growing as the internet understands what it means to be an inherently global community and its members request more representation in all media.
Together is the story of a mother and child on a quest through the mysterious forest to find the cure for an illness that has befallen one of their loved ones. The story of the game was written by Arab-American author Saladin Ahmed, known most recently for his novel The Crescent Moon Kingdom.
The game features an overworld system kind of like Super Mario World in that you walk around a world map, choose a puzzle to solve, and are warped to the puzzle. Once inside, your objective is to collect all the white, glowy butterflies in each level to proceed onward. The transition between world map and puzzle is a little jarring, and the game’s style of narrative delivery, standing on a circle on the world map and reading text, also leaves something to be desired. Unlike Chariot, there’s no real flow between levels or areas, and everything seems pretty well separated.
The puzzles themselves are pretty interesting, featuring standard mechanics like pushing something to one area or pressing a button to allow another, but there’s also things like poison projectile immunity for both mother and son if they are standing together. It’s a bit like Goof Troop on the SNES or Legend of Zelda Four Swords in that both players have to work together to enable the way for each of them.
Together is an interesting game that offers up to five hours of gameplay and provides perspective of a culture not often explored in this medium.
Release Date: TBD