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07 January, 2015

New Footage from Uppercut's Submerged Emerges

Easily one of the highlight titles on the indie scene this year is Uppercut Games' Submerged (PC, Consoles, Mobile). Mixing the adventure of an Uncharted with the ethereal artistry of an Ico, the Australian developer is using Unreal Engine 4 to deliver a truly memorable looking title. At PAX AUS in late 2014, the developer showed off a demo of the game in action for the first time, and you can find that just released footage below.

You may be wondering why the game wasn't in Grab It Episode 8 - which covered (almost) every indie game at the PAX AUS floor with hands-on features and interviews with every studio - didn't include Submerged. Uppercut was a late addition to the event, and we'd already wrapped the guide at the time. A huge shame, but if you like the video below, we highly recommend grabbing Episode 8 and seeing the other impressive titles of the event. 

If you are wondering who we are, we’re a AAA digital magazine that you can pick up on the App Store anywhere in the world to get dedicated coverage of the indie iPad gaming scene. We’re trying to not only push the boundaries of what a digital magazine can be by making the reader experience feel like playing a dynamic and interactive game, but we’re also full of hours of reviews, exclusive developer interviews, footage, images, insights and more. Below you will find links to each edition.
     - Episode 1 - Includes The Making of République (*free sample issue*)
     - Episode 2 - Includes The Making of Oceanhorn
     - Episode 3 - Includes The Making of Monument Valley
     - Episode 4 - Includes The Making of Last Inua
     - Episode 5 - Includes The Making of World of Tanks Blitz
     - Grab It Episodes 2-5 Bundle
     - Episode 6 - Includes The Making of Magic 2015 - Duels of the Planeswalkers
     - Episode 7 - Includes The Making of Tiny Troopers Alliance and Midnight Star
     - Episode 8 - the PAX AUS edition
     - Grab It Presents Nihilumbra - Classics Collection

07 December, 2014

Guacamelee! Dev Drinkbox Studios bringing next game Severed to PlayStation Vita First

If in an alternate universe Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana went into game development instead of music, something like the upcoming game Severed might be the result of their strange inter-dimensional union. And just for the hell of it, if we were to continue along that weird line of musing, who would take their place in the music world? The great universal scales must be kept in balance, otherwise we have a vacuum, or maybe a black hole, and anyone who's seen Interstellar knows that black holes can cause bother on a grand scale. So maybe the game development world would lose... hmmm... maybe Jeff Minter and Jason Oda? Seems like a good fit to me. 

Okay, still with me? Onto the task at hand. 

When we posted earlier this year about Severed (here and here) the platforms Drinkbox Studios were targeting were as yet unannounced. The gameplay style - mixing Fruit Ninja and Infinity Blade - seemed to infer touchscreens and so we assumed iOS. Drinkbox today announced however that the game that had us making all sorts of stereotypical psychedelic drug references is actually heading first to the PlayStation Vita. 

Sony's handheld, which looked to be dying a slow death over the last couple of years, has recently been repurposed as a companion to the PS4. (Mostly thanks to the new-gen console's Remote Play function, which allows PS4 games to be beamed onto the Vita and enjoyed from kilometres away.) I once predicted that the Vita would be the last ever dedicated portable gaming device made, thanks to the rise of smartphone gaming. I'm about as accurate with my predictions as I am with playing darts. Sometimes I'll hit the board purely out of luck. 

It would be sad to see the Vita go the way of the dodo, as the device is a small gaming beast, so hopefully this renaissance will see more developers targeting the platform. 

Drinkbox Studios describes Severed as an "RPG-light adventure." With upgradeable abilities, branching paths and puzzles, players will "take control of a one-armed heroine wielding a living sword as she knits together pieces of her story from both the past and the future."

Other platforms haven't been ruled out, as the developer's site for Severed says "no comment" in regards to whether iOS, Android and/or Kinect players will be dismembering enemy limbs. 

Coming in Q2 2015, Severed is looking so far like another indie gem, set to garner itself a cult following like its previous game Guacamelee! - a great 2D platforming brawler. Check out the brand new trailer below. 

Garry Balogh

Infinity Blade
Fruit Ninja
Continue?9876543210 (from Jason Oda)

06 December, 2014

No Man's Sky gets a Brilliant Live Action Trailer

It's that time of year when we start looking eagerly forward to the next one, and the gaming greatness it might hopefully bring. We've had a look at five of our most anticipated indie iOS games, and are also keeping a very sharp eye on Submerged

One of the most ambitious titles set to hit in 2015 would have to be Hello Games' No Man's Sky. An infinite, procedurally generated sci-fi exploration game, Hello Games are reaching for the stars and beyond with this one. In fact its reaching so far beyond that in No Man's Sky, you could potentially discover planets that no other player will ever see. That's ambitious. 

Early trailers for the game saw a player travelling seamlessly from an underwater environment, to walking on land, jumping in a nearby spaceship, lifting off into the planet's atmosphere and eventually leaving the atmosphere to emerge into the blackness of space. It was jaw dropping stuff. 

The new live-action trailer just released today, lightens the mood and has a player trying desperately to get his head around the fact that No Man's Sky is a game that embraces infinity. With hilarious results. 

You can also check out Hello Games' Joe Danger series, the iOS iterations of which are great fun - Joe Danger Touch and Joe Danger Infinity

Garry Balogh

27 November, 2014

PC and Console Classic Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath is Out Now on iOS

Update: Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath seems to have missed its original release target of Q2 by exactly two quarters, but with gaming classics, the old adage of better late than never still holds water. To be honest, until it showed up on the App Store today, I'd completely forgotten about it since posting the original story back in March, which you can read below. Grab the game right here and let us know on the social feeds what you think as far as how successfully Stranger's Wrath has translated to touchscreens. Enjoy!

Original Story: In 1997 Abe's Oddysee launched on the PlayStation One, blending dark humour, subversive social commentary, fresh puzzle platforming ideas and visuals that were next-gen for its time. These ingredients all came together to forge an absolute classic.

Several games followed all set within the Oddworld universe, including Stranger's Wrath in 2005. The tale of a bounty hunter saving up money for his operation is being brought to iOS by developers JAW (Just Add Water) and Oddworld Inhabitants. 

Combining third-person adventuring with first-person shooting (with ammunition that gives a new meaning to "live ammo"), the gunplay will be an important factor in the success of Stranger's transition to touchscreens. The developers are giving players a choice of aiming via a virtual joystick, or a gyroscopic method, with movement to be handled using a twin-stick approach. We'll be keen to see how all this comes together in the final product. 

Enhanced visuals, an interface redesigned for touch and hidden easter eggs (!) are also on the list of things to look forward to.

Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath is set for a Q2 2014 release, which means we won't have to wait long. It's great to see developers bringing these former console and PC classics to iOS, and taking the platform seriously. Check out the trailer, and also check out some other classics that have already made their way to iOS in the awesome list below. 

  - Baldur's Gate
  - Baldur's Gate II
  - Bastion
  - Broken Sword: Director's Cut
  - Carmageddon
  - Castle of Illusion
  - Contra Evolution
  - Doom Classic
  - Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project
  - GTA San Andreas

Garry Balogh

24 November, 2014

Music Rhythm Game SineWave Will Be The First Game of 2015

Update: Good news everyone! We've just received word of a hard date for when rhythm-based tunnel shooter SineWave is set to drop on iOS. In slightly bad news, we'll have to cool our jets for just that little bit longer - mark January 1, 2015, in your calendars. But the wait is definitely going to be worth it. We recently managed to get some hands on time with the game and came away thoroughly impressed. Be sure to read our initial impressions below.

Original story: For some time now, I’ve been following with great interest the debut project from indie developer Mad Fellows called SineWave (previously known as Salvage.) If you haven’t heard much about it, SineWave is a rhythm-based tunnel shooter in which you fly forwards through a 3D world in a little spacecraft – dodging obstacles and shooting other drones – all to the beat of heavy bass warbling soundtracks. If you've played games like Record Run or Guitar Hero Mobile, the concept will feel immediately familiar. But even more awesome.

One of the things which excites me the most about SineWave is that it’s in incredibly experienced hands. Mad Fellows is comprised of ex-Guitar Hero and DJ Hero veterans (and all-round nice guys) Paul Norris and Dan Horbury. So you can rest assured these guys have the chops to make a pretty decent music game. To my delicious anticipation, I recently got some hands on time with the game before its impending release.

07 November, 2014

The World of Black Annex, A Technophobe’s Nightmare

Lance E McDonald, the brain behind developer Man Fight Dragon and sole creator of Black Annex, and as we learned in our huge interview on the making of the game, he has worked in marketing and sales for a Telco company for the past ten years. During this time it became clear to McDonald that there was a firmly embedded paranoia about the technology industry, and the bureaucracy behind it.

“I speak to customers every day who have this weird, jarring concept of how the industry works, and I’d like to play that up to create a future based on that vision.”

With its upcoming title, Black Annex, Man Fight Dragon plans to use these fears and delusions to shape a bleak and despondent dystopia setting. I had the chance to jump in to Black Annex’s dark and gritty office world in preparation for Grab It Episode 8 - The PAX Edition - and I had an absolutely killer time with this indie gem (killer time– as in I was killed over and over). McDonald’s droll vision of the information-technology future is a satirical symphony of the strange and somewhat wonderful conspiracies that emerge from the divide between consumer and product.

“People believe in this strange, overarching technology that can see and control things, and bureaucrats who have this insane level of complete access and control. Marketing companies with more money and influence than governments. I want to bring this world to life, and then propel it hundreds of years into the future to find out where it goes.”

But that’s just what’s on the surface of this brilliant action-strategy game. Black Annex boasts multiple character classes, collectable weapons and upgrades, and a complex, Syndicate-esque management system. Black Annex definitely stood out for me amongst the horde of quality titles charging the gates of PAX last weekend. If you weren’t fortunate enough to attend PAX AUS, or even if you just happened to miss this spectacular looking indie, then pick up the latest copy of Grab It to find out what all the fuss is about and to read our exclusive access to the developer, the title and the assets.

Brodie Fogg

 - Black Annex
 - Grab It Episode 8

06 November, 2014

Year Walk and Device 6 Developer Simogo Release The Sailor's Dream

I wish I was in the Northern Hemisphere right now. 

The in-between limbo of Autumn would be perfectly suited to the wistful melancholy of Simogo's latest work of art. I haven't experienced The Sailor's Dream yet, but watch the trailer below and dare to disagree. A reality of rust-coloured leaves with a chill in the air would complement nicely those gun-metal oceans hiding their secrets. Those islands that appear impossible to set foot on, and impossible to leave, look to be a puzzle unto themselves. 

Following up the critically acclaimed artful gaming experiences of Year Walk and Device 6, The Sailor's Dream rounds out Simogo's trilogy, tied together only by a haunting, intangible quality that all three games have.

In Simogo's App Store description you'll read this; "A peaceful narrative experience, in which the only objective is to satisfy your curiosity." 

Sounds perfect for a night spent with EarPods in place, and a finger or two of single malt by my recliner's side. Wishing for Autumn and escaping into The Sailor's Dream. 

Grab the game here as it rolls out around the world.

Garry Balogh

Year Walk
Device 6
The Sailor's Dream

30 October, 2014

Forbidden Film Studios' Upcoming Cannibal Fever - A Zombie Game with Brains

The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) is always a smorgasbord of game announcements and new projects. When writing Grab It's PAX AUS companion app we stumbled upon Cannibal Fever, announced this year by Forbidden Film Studios. It’s an ambitious project by this small Victorian developer with a background in films. If you’re tired of the industry making cookie cutter zombie shooters, and want to see something with more substance, this could be for you. Cannibal Fever looks smart, tactical, multi-faceted and challenging.

The Kickstarter campaign has only just begun, working towards a $550,000 goal in 29 days.

Cannibal Fever is slated to be a fast-paced real-time-strategy game about leading a horde of zombies. The story involves an avant-garde marketing campaign for the latest zombie film Biohazard triggering the real zombie outbreak. Plunging the world into chaos, and the player into a writhing mess of undead shamblers. The player takes on the role of the leader of the zombies, or the leader of the surviving humans.

Rather than the usual RTS progression of collecting resources and building units, Cannibal Fever starts at the combat phase, in which you send units to capture buildings and spread the disease, or reinforce to defend, depending of course on your choice of faction. Michael Caroll - founder of Forbidden Film Studios - chatted to us about what seperates Cannibal Fever from the traditional RTS formula, citing Red Alert, Age of Empires and Z as his top influences: 

“No zombie is going to be gathering supplies or building structures, but we wanted to be able to control hordes of infected. The universe is diverse and is meant to be explored and experienced, not just played.” 

The Kickstarter campaign has some ambitious goals, but ones that use the studios background in filmmaking. A number of voice actors are already attached to the project including John DiMaggio, Jim Cummings, and Jamieson Price as well as other secret actors. Characters are also going to be entirely animated using motion capture technology, giving personality and realism to their movements. Finally - in the vein of Command and Conquer - the story is going to be told through live action cut scenes. We asked Michael Caroll about telling stories in this medium:

“During the years we have been operating we have gathered a great bunch of people from all aspects of our industry. I think that this is really important so that we can create the best product possible and push what is capable in gaming.”

Check out the rest of our interview and opinion in the Grab It PAX AUS episode out now on the App Store, and currently free. Also, head over to Kickstarter to have a look at the project.

Nathanael Peacock

Have you collected every Episode?
     - Episode 1 - Includes The Making of République (*free sample issue*)
     - Episode 2 - Includes The Making of Oceanhorn
     - Episode 3 - Includes The Making of Monument Valley
     - Episode 4 - Includes The Making of Last Inua
     - Episode 5 - Includes The Making of World of Tanks Blitz
     - Grab It Episodes 2-5 Bundle
     - Episode 6 - Includes The Making of Magic 2015 - Duels of the Planeswalkers
     - Episode 7 - Includes The Making of Tiny Troopers Alliance and Midnight Star
     - Episode 8 - The PAX MEGA Edition
     - Grab It Presents Nihilumbra - Classics Collection

30 October, 2014

How To Eviscerate Zombies in Virtual Reality With A Real-life Chainsaw Prop In Dead End Alley

It seems to me that the only thing more satisfying than hacking and slashing zombies to a bloody pulp is doing so with a real-life chainsaw prop. That’s exactly the experience kinemortophobics (i.e. those who are terrified of zombies or turning into a zombie) can expect at Stirfire Studio’s booth at PAX AUS in Melbourne, Australia from October 31 to November 2. 

The studio’s upcoming zombie hack-n-slash mobile title Dead End Alley looks to appeal to both casual and more established gamers alike. Stuck at the bottom of a dead end alley, all you can do is watch in abject horror as the hordes of shambling masses creep slowly and surely in your direction. Cue lots of hectic swiping and slashing on your mobile device with ye olde faithful – a trusty chainsaw.

30 October, 2014

The Pursuit of Photorealistic Graphics Is 'Stagnant and Non-expressive' According to Indie Dev Cardboard Keep

At any one time there are so many fantastic indie titles bubbling away in development that it can be difficult to keep up. But one indie title that’s recently popped up on my radar is from a little known studio called Cardboard Keep. Its first major project is the intriguing third-person action-adventure title Warden: Melody Of The Undergrowth.

With clear nods to games like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Banjo-Kazooie, Shadow of the Colossus and Dark Souls, well, you get the gist of why I’m pretty excited. And although Cardboard Keep are keeping much of the story veiled in mystery, a few delicious insights have emerged. What we do know is that the world has been thrown into chaos, with the once harmonious relationship between nature and mankind overturned. Our adventure revolves around controlling a Warden Spirit, a being that is able to shapeshift into Wardens. These Wardens are children called upon by the forest, each of whom has unique and special powers.

An early build of the game will be available for some hands on time at the upcoming PAX AUS in Melbourne, Australia and will be available on PC, Mac, Linux and consoles in 2015. In the Grab It PAX AUS Indie Game Guide, we have a bunch of awesome insights into the game, screenshots and an exclusive in-depth interview with Calum Spring, founder of Cardboard Keep.

While there is much to be excited about, one of the things that really stood out to me was Warden’s stunning Wind Waker-like visuals. Like a wonderful piece of art, the hand-painted scenes are incredibly expressive, coming alive with both colour and character. That’s no accident either, with Cardboard Keep being very deliberate in what it wants to say through Warden’s artistic style. Here’s a snippet from our interview with Spring:

"Clarity and readability are central to our art style, and colour and vibrancy are great for expressing the dangerous and beneficial elements of the world. Plus we don’t want players missing elements that we’ve poured so much effort into! We also wanted to contrast the art style with the more challenging and mature combat, and narrative components of the game. So while Warden is quite upfront in its thematic discussion, it’s not all dark and bleak.

At the same time, this style of art is faster for a small studio like us to iterate upon and generate a larger world out of. We find the pursuit of photorealistic graphics shown by larger studios to be stagnant and non-expressive. You can say alot more with colour."

To read our full exclusive interview with Cardboard Keep and to learn more about Warden, be sure to pick our our PAX AUS Indie Game Guide (which is currently free for a limited time.)

Stephen Mitchell

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