The PAX Rising Indie section of PAX Aus 2016 was chock-full of awesome innovations, new stories and some returning favourites. Here's a quick look at Lost Castle, a Chinese-developed side-scrolling hack 'n' slash just making its way to Australia.
Everyone remembers 2012’s Castle Crashers, a great little side-scrolling beat ’em’ up with a cool fantasy aesthetic. Well here is Castle Crashers' sadistic cousin.
Lost Castle was was described to me as Castle Crashers meets Dark Souls and Streets of Rage. I feel like that’s a pretty great comparison.
Indie developer Codex Worlds has revealed that its upcoming tactical space action game Infinium Strike will be coming to Xbox One in Q2 2016.
Previously announced for PC, and even enjoying an open beta late last year, Infinium Strike was announced today to also be coming to the Xbox One. Developer Codex Worlds, founded by ex-Ubisoft employees, expects the game to hit the console in Q2 2016. It’s a positive boost for the console’s indie scene, which is struggling to match the number of indies appearing exclusively on the PS4
Infinium War is set in the far distant future: an intergalactic war with the Wrog – a race of sentient alien ships – is threatening to bring about human extinction. After decades of futile resistance, a last minute saviour appears in the form of a powerful resource called Infinium, which is best described as a living metal. The humans use this Infinium to create a battlecarrier called the Freedom Strike, which looks to be humanity’s last hope.
Players control the chief weapons officer of this ship, and will mastermind not just the weapon systems, but a whole fleet of ships and all the cutting edge technology available in the fight back against the Wrog. Described as a mix of action and strategy, it's a twist on tower defence whereby you need to out think the enemy by upgrading and placing weapons on your ship to deal with incoming alien threats as the emerge. You need to manage many sectors at once and not all of them you can see at the same time, leaving blind spots requiring a constant juggling act or management and scouting for trouble. Infinium Strike was funded on Kickstarter and has been in development for three years. It will feature two main modes; a Campaign that allows you to rise through the ranks from private to admiral, and Deep Space, a galactic-sized Horde mode.
Space is definitely the hot setting for 2016, with a host of big name video games on the horizon looking to change the way we view gameplay in the stars – think Star Citizen, No Man’s Sky and Eve: Valkyrie VR. Where will Infinium Strike sit when it’s all said and done?
If you’re looking for more great underground indies for the Xbox One and own an iPad, be sure to check out Episode 8 of award-winning digital magazine Grab It.
Indie developer Camouflaj has brought its dystopian episodic stealth series to the PlayStation 4 and it’s a great win for the console.
When we first spoke to Camouflaj founder Ryan Payton, he told us he wanted to make a console-quality game for iOS. Payton wasn’t your average indie developer; a veteran of the blockbuster console space who had spent years working with Hideo Kojima on Metal Gear Solid, before jumping onto Halo at the dawn of 343 Industries’ tenure. So back in 2012, he took this idea to Kickstarter with high concept video and art, and a celebrity cast (including David Hayter, Jennifer Hale), and just scraped through at the last minute on his US$500,000 goal.
République recalls both the oppressive atmosphere of a BioShock or Half-Life, and the stealth gameplay of a Thief or Metal Gear Solid. Yet it feels truly unique. You play as you; an individual on the outside who makes contact with a young girl called Hope, who is being held against her will in a totalitarian fictional country called Metamorphosis. Here the elitist Prizrak citizens perform experiments on the pre-cals, which include people like Hope, and she desperately wants to escape.
You have hacked into Metamorphosis and you contact her by phone. She pleads for your help and as the silent protagonist, you guide Hope through a sprawling complex by viewing it through security cameras. Guiding her to secret areas, keeping her out of sight, instigating distractions and occasionally helping her with combat – which is effectively self-defence – is a unique playing experience that worked seamlessly on the touchscreen.
We fell in love with République instantly; it has a visual style and production values that really did nail that “console game on iOS” feel. While the world’s lore, characters and story have become increasingly more intriguing as each episode has released. At the time of the game’s initial launch in late 2013, we featured it as our inaugural cover star for Grab It Magazine, including a detailed making of interview with Ryan Payton and other Camouflaj staff. It’s an amazing read and filled with exclusive assets, and if you have an iPad you can pick it up completely free here.
So for all the reasons listed above - Payton's background, similarities with BioShock and Metal Gear, killer voice cast and production values - the news the game is now available on PS4 as a console exclusive is great reason to celebrate. In addition, the developer has spent a year re-tweaking the controls and cover system to work with the DualShock, and we’ll also see all five episodes strung together in one cohesive campaign that will make for a meaty 10-hour experience.
If you are wondering who we are, we're primarily a digital magazine for the iPad focused on the coverage of indie video games. Run by the former editor of Game Informer, you'll find worldwide exclusives, but also an interactive media experience unlike any you have seen before. If you have an iPad, you should check out the free sample issue at the very least, or enjoy one of our other episodes as listed below.
Activision has confirmed that the upcoming Skylanders: SuperChargers will have an online Mario Kart-like racing mode, but very little is available out of the box.
Today Activision confirmed what many had expected – the new vehicles coming to Skylanders: SuperChargers will do more than just provide some gameplay variation in the story campaign. A Race Mode will allow for a Mario Kart like experience via two-player splitscreen or four-player online multiplayer. Global leaderboards, time trials, online matchmaking and boss battles are promised.
We had a chance to play it today and it sticks to the genre template as you’d expect. There’s boost pads, power-ups, shortcuts and miraculous come from behind victories as eight karts (with bots making up the numbers) doing battle. The air, land and sea based tracks remain separate – no category jumping mid-race a la Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed – and of the six tracks I played, all were circuit-based bar one point-to-point experience.
While it offers nothing particularly special from a gameplay perspective, it’s fun. The spectacular visuals, incredible amount of environment detail and interactive elements are eye-catching. While the genuinely creative ideas in the layout and obstacles help ensure it will be a very popular destination for gamers. Kids in particular will love the opportunity to compete with their friends.
With this in mind, only having six tracks available with the Starter Pack seems like a missed opportunity. While better than nothing, six really doesn’t feel like that substantial an offering even if it is a secondary mode. It gets worse too, as you only get a car vehicle in the Starter Pack, so unless you buy additional water and air-based vehicles, you will only be able to play two tracks out of the box.
Activision has revealed a further six tracks are in the pipeline for release, separated across three Racing Action packs. As well as two tracks per pack, you will get a SuperCharger, their vehicle, access to four bosses and even new modes. We’re not sure when these will be released – and one of these may be available at launch – but this would bring the total to 12 once they are all available. A much more satisfactory number.
Skylanders: SuperChargers does have a full campaign to enjoy, which sets it apart from the likes of a Mario Kart – the latest version of which launched on Wii U with 32 tracks. But having only two tracks available out of the box on such a promising and fun mode feels like a real disappointment. For many parents, knowing that two additional purchases are required just to be able to use the full six tracks on the disc – and five additional purchases to get the full complement of 12 – is a bit rich.
Hopefully, news will surface before the September 24 release date and we'll discover that more is available as part of the initial launch.
"...it was the journey and the constant sense of discovery that shone through for me, rather than the destination and a sense of completion. Combining the choose-your-own-adventure and resource management genres causes every run to feel different, and to create its own story."
We first posted about the huge incoming update to Mi-Clos Studio's excellent Out There back in July 2014, and the iOS version has finally landed today. We've had a brief chance to jump in and check out the shiny new makeover and can confidently give it the thumbs up.
Loads of small flourishes add atmosphere to what was already a fantastic experience. The depiction of your ship orbiting a planet is no longer a static screen - planets now spin lazily in space, solar flares erupt from your current system's sun, while the background is a constant evolution of gaseous movement in space. None of it distracts, it all just comes together to give the effect of a soothing lava lamp while you plot your next move.
The Omega Edition is much more than just a few extra animations though. Check out this huge list of new features straight from the App Store description:
- Complete graphics makeover! - Extended soundtrack by Siddhartha Barnhoorn - 3 new spaceships - 1 new ending - 50+ new interactive stories - 15 new alien species - 10 new achievements - New leaderboard - English, German and Spanish localisation revised
A new ending! And the best part? If you already own the original Out There, you'll get all of that goodness as a free update to your current app.
For newcomers, we've got a ready-made article of Essential Survival Tips right here so you can learn from our mistakes. There are no spoilers so fear not, it's just some basic ideas to guide you on your way.
Out There is one of our easiest recommendations of 2014 for iOS gaming, and this Omega Edition - which also brought Mi-Clos' masterpiece to PC and Mac - is a no brainer. If you're still not convinced though, you can grab Episode 3 of Grab It for our full review and an exclusive making of interview with Mi-Clos.
The return of X-COM in the form of XCOM: Enemy Unknown in 2012 was a supremely pleasant surprise. But will the just announced sequel join its predecessor on mobile.
If you hadn’t caught the news, legendary strategy specialists Firaxis has announced that a sequel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown is hitting this November and it’s coming to PC. Following the critical acclaim and relatively impressive commercial success of the reboot, a sequel is no great surprise, but still a very exciting proposition.
The game will grow the winning template in all the right ways, too. Procedurally generated randomised maps are a heck of a start, but we’ve also been promised “five updated soldier classes, increased soldier customisation, more alien and enemy types, evolved tactical combat and more.” The setting is great. It’s 20-years after the original, and we discover that the aliens won the original war, however the enslaved human race doesn’t even know the worst is yet to come. The XCOM initiative is now a bunch of freedom fighters, recruiting in the shadows and using guerrilla tactics and stealth to fight back and expose the truth. You are now the invader, even though it is your home.
While that is all great, the question for many mobile fans remains unanswered – will XCOM 2 come to iOS and Android devices? It’s a pertinent question, as XCOM: Enemy Unknown not only made the mobile move, but did so incredibly well. It’s a great, fully-featured port that you can check out here.
We believe it’s not a question of if, but when. Firaxis have the knowhow for working on mobiles, and also a knack for doing in ways that critics warm to. In addition, the developer is very pro-mobile, with head figure Sid Meier releasing a number of iOS only properties over the years, including excellent instalments in his Civilization Revolution series, Haunted Hollow and Ace Patrol. Most recently Sid Meier’s Starships hit iOS. Furthermore, publisher 2K Games are also on the mobile bandwagon, even bringing across the full BioShock experience last year to the shock of many.
The gap between the PC release of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and the release on iOS was substantial - it was eight months. We anticipate a slightly smaller wait this time given that can walk in the footsteps of its predecessor, so you can expect XCOM 2 to make its way to mobile devices around Q2 2016.
Gamespot editor Dan Hindes is putting his money where his mouth is, making the switch from critic to creator with retro stealth platformer Wildfire.
As a fellow member of the relatively small games journalism clique here in Australia, I’ve known Dan for a number of years and I enjoy the way he talks about the industry. I’ve never worked with him directly, but when I hear him address a crowd at a panel or speak to him, I get the impression he understands not only good gameplay, but the machinations and politics of games media. As the regional face of Gamespot, he’d have to, right?
Back in February we rounded up details on some of the most exciting indie games on the horizon (see them here) One of those games was Technobabylon, the cyberpunk point-and-click adventure from Wadjet Eye Games. You might be familiar with the developer from its other well received point-and-click games including Gemini Rue and the Blackwell trilogy (you can read our review of the Blackwell games)
The idea of a futuristic cyberpunk setting in gaming certainly seems to have gained traction over the past few years. Deus Ex: The Fall and Shadowrun: Returns hit the nail on the head. The upcoming spiritual successor to Syndicate Wars, Satellite Reign (read our preview here,) also looks incredibly promising. And from what we’ve seen so far, Technobabylon is equally exciting. You can check out some of the screenshots below, but they already give off that creepy vibe of a slightly off-key and bleak future in which humans and cyber genetics smash together in an unholy union.
It's a question you would expect The Big Bang Theory's Howard to ask Raj:
"Who would win in a fight between Kratos and Shovel Knight?"
A conversation of Geek God proportions would ensue.
Yacht Club Games is bringing its 2014 retro platforming hit Shovel Knight to PlayStation hardware on April 22, with a special guest appearance from one of Sony's cutest and cuddliest mascots. In a fun twist, you won't actually be playing as the God of War hero, you'll be fighting against him, and anyone who's had first hand experience dipping into Kratos' grab bag of death dealing tools will know this will be no easy task.
The developer announced today on the PlayStation Blog that the battle is just one of many secrets and "double secrets" to be found within the game. What the hell is a double secret? We're pretty keen to find out.
Check out the trailer below and wait until the very end for a glimpse of everybody's favourite bull in a china shop.
Windward is nearing its release on Steam Early Access and the below trailer has emerged showing more of how the action will unfold. Like a blend of Minecraft and Sid Meier's Pirates, the title looks like a retro-flavoured strategy game set on the high seas. In truth, however, it is an action-focused naval combat game akin to Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, and set in a randomly generated open-world ocean. Tasharen Entertainment's game looks like a stack of fun and will launch on May 12!