WHAT UP INTERNET?!
In my humble opinion, one of the most underrated aspects of RTX/SGC is the accessibility of indie video game developers for ConLife lovers. Being able to pick up and play these labors of love while getting to chat with those who dedicated their time and effort to crafting something is an absolutely awesome experience, and one I recommend to all gamers. Due to the unique opportunities afforded by my attending RTX, I decided to spend a majority of Day 2 getting hands on time with as many titles available to play as possible.
Looty Dungeon (iOS, http://lootydungeon.com)
Looty Dungeon is a platformer where the objective is to explore a seemingly never-ending dungeon. Movement is intuitive and one must simply swipe in the direction you’d like your character to move and they will hop one block in that direction. You’re also able to attack enemies in an adjacent block simply by swiping in their direction. Each room was filled with a good mix of environmental hazards and enemies, eventually culminating in a boss fight. The objective I was tasked with was to defeat 5 bosses, however in order to allow other RTX attendees a fair shake at experiencing the title, I only played up to the first boss (WHICH I DOMINATED WITHOUT EVEN TAKING A SINGLE HIT. TAKE THAT, DUNGEON BOSS WHOSE NAME I DON’T RECALL! #MLG #NotReally).
Movement was fluid and each room during my limited play through felt as if it grew progressively more difficult. Defeating the boss required a fair amount of strategy, and while I was able to clear it rather quickly, I’d imagine levels will grow increasingly complex. With simple controls, a number of environmental hazards, concise level design and a wealth of characters, Looty Dungeon is a title I can’t wait to download.
Den Vanstra handens stig (Greenlit on Steam, http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=491164827)
This particular title isn’t so much a game as it is an “interactive” experience. The objective of the game is for the lone character to complete their journey, which they do autonomously. The character is an A.I. and over the course of the their journey they traverse the world, learn from their mistakes and eventually reach the end. Everything in the background of the map is something the A.I. will eventually encounter during the course of their travels. This entire process takes approximately 4-5 hours, per a conversation with Lead Senior Employee M. James Short.
While each world (and consequently, each play through) begins with the same map and layout, random in-game events can impact and change the world for individual characters. For example-one player may see a bridge far off in the distance; however a random event may make it so this bridge no longer exists in their world. This ensures every time a character begins their journey, they will experience a unique play through.
The only interaction you as a player has with the game, is to push a single button (aka a blood sacrifice). If you press this button, your character loses all progress, forgets everything they’ve learned about the world they’ve been traversing and starts over from scratch. This game is more a passive experience, and you witness your compilation of sprites live, learn and die. So…do you press the button?
Katastrogon 3D (Android/Amazon App Store, http://www.sp-ent.com)
K3D is a title old school gamers will recognize as similar to the classic, Breakout. While the core fundamentals are similar, K3D takes the familiar formula and adds an additional layer of complexity. Different colored blocks can be destroyed with elemental power ups for your main ball, and although it was a bit tricky for me to activate them on the device I was using, this addition created an interesting dynamic with the tried-and-true gameplay formula. (Gameplay pauses when navigating between and activating power ups, which is incredibly useful. I attribute my suckage solely to my using a device other than my phone-doesn’t that always feel weird to y’all?!),
With gameplay that’s instantly familiar to anyone who has spent time with Breakout or any of its incarnations over the years (shout out to Javanoid from my middle school days!), K3D is a title that’s easy to pick up, but difficult to master. After only spending a few minutes with it, I’m excited to spend more time perfecting the use of elemental power ups. I could easily see this being a game someone can always go back to, whether it be for a quick round or a marathon session.
Gunmetal Arcadia (PC, gunmetalarcadia.com)
This particular title bears a striking resemblance to classics such as Castlevania and Zelda II, and while it is certainly inspired by these famous titles, it is anything but a carbon copy. The game immediately establishes its lore by introducing you to the two different factions, the Gunmetal Vangaurd and Seekers of Arcadia. That being said, considering my time with the title was limited I thought it best to focus on the gameplay mechanics of the title, so I opted to skip conversations with many of the NPCs I passed. That being said, numerous NPCs were available to engage with, and all of them either contributed to the lore of the title directly, or offered useful gameplay tips.
If you’re familiar with classic 2D platformers (a genre I’m personally quite fond of) or modern incarnations such as Shovel Knight, you’ll feel right at home jumping into the world of Gunmetal Arcadia. Movement is quick and never feels like a chore. You’re armed with a sword and can do the classic high/low attack, but also carry a limited use ranged weapon, similar to the variety of weapons offered in Castlevania. I’ll readily admit when I found a secondary weapon which handled similarly to Castlevania’s axe, I was quite the happy camper. The gameplay is tight, there are a variety of weapons and enemies as well as locales composed in a classic art style which reminded me of Super Mario Bros’ underground sequences (which is a very good thing).
If you’re like me and lament the dearth of 2D platforming titles available on the marketplace, I’d recommend checking out Gunmetal Arcadia. I know whenever the title is released, it’ll be on my radar!
Videoball (Steam, PS4, Xbox One, http://videoball.net/)
This is a title I had never heard of prior to the PAX East 2016 Omegathon, which is always the close of the show. Because of this, I was unable to get any hands on time with the title. The gameplay is essentially like soccer: you control an arrow, you can fire a weak or charged shot (although if you charge your shot fully it becomes a defensive block and drops) and the goal is to shoot the balls dropped in the middle of the arena into your opponent’s goal. Simple enough, right?
While the concept and gameplay are simple to pick up and comprehend, spending just a few minutes with the title allows you to familiarize yourself with the core concept, and consequently develop a game plan for countering your opponents move. Do you stick with the classic mantra “the best defense is a good offense” and try to score quickly? Do you establish defenses before attacking? Do you primarily fire charged shots to try and overpower your opponent? After playing only one game, I was instantly hooked.
The physics are phenomenal-speed and power are handled exceptionally well in the title and are an integral part of strategy. With fast and frantic action (especially when four players are participating), a varied number of boards, an intuitive concept and easy to pick up gameplay, Videoball is a title which will undoubtedly be popular when it drops later this month, and deservedly so. The title is perfect for both parties and competitive play and I can see it becoming a fixture of the gaming rotation over at TruBros HQ.
Livelock (PC, PS4, Xbox One, https://www.arcgames.com/en/splash/ads/livelock)
This is a booth I was immediately drawn to for…reasons. Eh, I’ll just show you why:
Hey man, I’m a sucker for giant robots. If you aren’t, you probably aren’t a NerdLife enthusiast! Or maybe you’re just not distracted by big shiny things. At any rate, this top-down cooperative shooter tasks players with banding together to blow things up and pummel enemies. I don’t know about you, but if you let me control a big robot (players select from three classes: Hex, Vanguard or Catalyst. Needless to say, your Bro opted to be the resident tank, the Vanguard) and virtually smash stuff, I’d say we’re starting off on the right foot.
Although my character had no range due to my specific loadout, I’d imagine each class has a multitude of weapons to select from. Wanting to jump straight into the action, I only gave the menu a cursory glance and read the descriptions of the arsenal I already had equipped. My class was great for controlling hordes of enemies, as not only did I cart around a large shield (think Reinhardt from Overwatch), but I was able to push enemies back to provide my allies with a bit of breathing room. The gameplay was quick and easy to understand, as I could easily see many players jumping straight in and not even opting to utilize the wealth of abilities provided.
The graphics were gorgeous, and I wish I’d taken more time to examine the wealth of colors and animations when smashing my mechanic enemies. If you’re a fan of robots, smashing things or top-down shooters in general (and I imagine all gamers would fall in to at least one of these categories), I’d definitely recommend checking out Livelock.
These are the video games which caught my eye at RTX 2016, and I’m glad I got to spend some hands on time-albeit limited-with each of them. Getting to try out games prior to release, whether they be developed by recognizable names or not, is easily one of my favorite aspects of living the illustrious ConLife. As I mentioned previously, as a lifelong fan of video games, it’s incredibly cool to get to chat with developers/creators/studio employees about the product they’ve devoted themselves to while actually playing the game. If you’ve ever the opportunity to try out a smaller video game while at a convention, I definitely recommend giving it a try. At worst, you’ve wasted five minutes of your time. At best, you’ve discovered something new to share with your crew and you’re helping out someone who is living their dream. Until next time, Bros!