PAX Indie Game Round-Up Part Three
In this final installation of the Indie Game Roundup, Staff Writer Carolyn Koh explores more likely looking RPGs and a couple logic puzzles – just because.
Moon Hunters is a hand-painted pixel RPG by Kitfox Games in Montreal, Canada, which lets you build your hero’s mythology and reputation through the choices you make. As the title suggests, you are seeking the moon. Why? Well, the moon is the source of all magic and spiritual power but it is now gone from the sky. Without it, monsters and evils arise and you must seek it out to restore balance to the world.
Through solo or co-op play for up to 4 players, you wander through a procedurally generated world and exploration is key to this game. With every stranger and landmark you encounter, a myth may be explored or explained and your reactions will grow your and shape your character. The world reacts differently to you depending on the decisions you make. Will you seek out traitors to kill them righteously? Train in the dark arts and lure the traitors and persuade them to share their secrets? There isn’t a linear way to play this game and there are no correct or incorrect decisions to make.
On a quick hands-on mission, I saw the number of different decisions that could be made even the party camped for the evening, we could meditate, cook, sleep, hunt, and each activity helped or provided for one stat or another. Surely an intriguing game, launch is planned through Steam for the PC in February 2016 with PS4 and Vita versions in spring.
Potions: A Curious Tale
Billed as a crafting-adventure game, I was curious enough to stop by and play the early build demo’ed at PAX. Young teen-aged witch Luna adventures through the enchanted forest to gather ingredients for her grandmother and learns to make potions from her. Along the way, she meets and dodges monsters, animals and humans who may not have her best interest in their hearts.
Potions: A Curious Tale, by Seattle based Stumbling Cat, makes players re-think the standard hack-n-slash, kill-the-monster gameplay. The player has a number of slots in their belt that they can use to defeat a monster or merely slow it enough for Luna to escape and maybe save those potions to defeat a monster that will yield the rare ingredients needed for a more powerful potion, or a healing potion.
Almost every bush and plant you encounter can be gathered in this game and story and quest driven, potion recipes are gained via quests as well as experimentation and one of the goals in Potions is to provide a learning experience. Luna is given advise by creatures she meets, but not all of the advice is good! Grandmother will caution that she has to weigh the advice and who it comes from, and use her own mind and heart to decide if she will heed it.
The developers hope that kids will identify with the trials and tribulations of the story’s heroine, Luna, while adults will reconnect with their childhood as they play through this game.
Through the Woods
Set in a forest in Norway, a mother searches the dark woods for her missing son. Billed as a 3rd person psychological horror game, the story is told from the mother’s perspective as she relates the events that happened. Created by Norwegian indie studio Antagonist, the developers have attempted to recreate the forest of their childhood, complete with Norwegian mythological horrors and fairy tales of the nasty kind, and the fright of wandering lost through a dark forest.
The game banks heavily on audio-design as part of the core-mechanic, much like the game Thief did, with sound clues telegraphing what may be out there, and in which direction it is. Running and crashing through the woods and all you hear are you own footsteps and heavy breathing, masking other sound clues. The graphic use of light and dark – especially the circular beam of light from the flash light you wield adds to a tense atmosphere, and the blend of light and sound builds expectations that might trick your senses.
Fans of the horror RPG genre might want to keep this one on their radar. Release is slated for Q1 of 2016 but there is a playable demo that can be downloaded from the studio’s site.
Created by bromoco Games, Cloud Grove is a logic puzzle. Who’s in charge of the cycle of nature? Who moves water from ground, to clouds, to rain, and back? In Cloud Grove, you do! We started at level one with a goal to clear all trees and each square could be a tree, a seedling, dirt, water, lava. Each time a new feature is introduced, the challenge scales back for you to learn how the new feature works before it is incorporated into the current difficulty level and all previous features.
Remove a tree by clicking on it and water runs in straight lines through the adjacent squares. However if water runs into a tree, it drowns and that’s a no-no. Some levels provide a one use shovels to dig up a square. Seedlings when watered grow into a tree, and you must grow all the seedlings, ice stops the water – you get the idea.
Charming and challenging, Cloud Grove is planned for Steam, Mac, PC, iOS and Android in 2016 but the curious can try the prototype on Kongregate here.
Here’s a fun and interesting one. With hints of a blend between Katamari and World of Goo, this 2-D side scrolling puzzler has you not exactly pushing a fungus around but wielding an eraser. As you rid the blob of spores on one side, it grows on the other. The blob oozes and flows, comes apart and adheres back together. Created by Untame Games in Brooklyn, it is at once strange and different yet intuitive and fascinating as you move this amorphous blob across the landscape; over, under and through obstacles, overcoming mechanisms that oppose it by simply running your mouse pointer in a pushing, erasing manner.
This game did not just fascinate me; it has already won a number of awards including “Best ofs” at several Indie shows and an award from PAX 2014. There is just something compelling about the juxtaposition of the steampunkish earth tones and industrial obstacles against the glowing neon green outline glow of the fungal blob as you move it across the desolate post-apocalyptic landscape.