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Well, we might be in January, one of the driest months of the year in terms of gaming, but Kickstarter decided to make sure that wasn’t the case, and there are some great projects that everyone should check out. We have a solid mix of platformers, roguelike RPGs, and action games. By the way, this is going to be a long list. Let’s get to those projects.
Up first is a 2.5D platformer from the crowdfunding site Fig, Little Bug. This game is developed by a studio called Buddy System. It’s about a young kid named Nyah as he wakes up inside a dark forest that is illuminated by a crashed vehicle. She then sets on an adventure with a friendly and helpful spirit. The game lets you control both Nyah and the spirit, ala twin stick controls. Think of platforming in the vein of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. You must use the spirit to help Nyah through the level of dark atmospheric forest, worlds, and creepy-as-all-Hades purple graspy hands. You can even play this game in co-op, and the crowdfunding page says that there will be more than just what you see in the trailer in terms of abilities. To me, it’s a game that looks like there will be more symbolic Braid-style world building, due to where Nyah is. It’s not a bad idea at all, but since you show a car crash at the beginning of the trailer, I’m sure some people can put the puzzle together in terms of what is going on. I also hope the variety of the game is good enough, because nothing is worse than a game with one gimmick getting repetitive. Sure, using a ball of glowing light to save a young kid, and blasting away barriers so she doesn’t get caught by creepy purple hands can be fun, but I hope they take more advantage of the concept.
Even then, I’m talking about it for a reason. It looks good. I like the style of the world and what may or may not have happened to Nyah. It’s also a more simple game to come from Fig that has pretty much based its listing of successful crowdfunding projects on ambitious and expansive games. If you like 2D platformers or platformers with style and atmosphere, definitely go support this project.
Pixel Princess Blitz
Developed by Lanze Games, a developer from Germany, Pixel Princess Blitz follows the story of Kuruna, a young girl who sets off on an adventure across the land of Verad. Pixel Princess Blitz is a 2D roguelike/action RPG where you travel across a hex-based world to save the day. You will encounter random, well, encounters where deciding what action you take will define the future events of the story. Once you enter battles and dungeons, you will be put into these sequences with real time combat. Think of games like Hand of Fate, where you go from the overworld to these arenas, or in Pixel Princess’s case, dungeons, and fight off monsters, other races, and individuals. You will also need to keep track of what resources you have, and manage them since once you die in this game, it’s permanent. There are also other elements to keep track of with AI, which will try everything in its power to kill you, and being prepared with the right weapons when you enter a dungeon, since some enemies might be better off getting killed by something that hurts them. It’s a rather ambitious roguelike, and that will help itself due to how oversaturated the indie market is because of how many developers tackle this one genre.
The game’s sprite work presentation is beautiful. I know it’s very common to see an indie developer use pixel graphics due to how much cheaper it can be than having to deal with 3D polygons, but sprite work and pixel art has to be well done, or else it will look like a jumbled mess.
Still, I have some concerns with how well the resource management will be handled on top of the difficult RNG elements. RNG has started to slowly become a form of concern when a game is said to have it, because of how unfairly it has been balanced, and leans way too much on the luck of the roll of the dice. I just see no reason to have both. Just focus on making one or the other great. Maybe I’ll interview the developer and see how they plan on balancing out the experience.
Overall, I like what Pixel Princess Blitz offers. It changes up enough of the roguelike formula to stand out, and it seems like the developers have a solid foundation on what they want to do and what direction to take the game. If you like these types of games, and anything on their Kickstarter page sounds appealing, then by all means help out the studio.
Probably one of the prettiest pixel games of 2017, UnDungeon by Laughing Machines, is an isometric action RPG, where you play as the seven Heralds. These powerful individuals appeared after multiple dimensional worlds decided to crash into one massive world. The main goal is to travel across these new lands. You choose from one of the Heralds and will have your own abilities and skills to make your way through the unknown/alien-like world. If you happen to die, the mystical item all the Heralds have called The Core, will bring you back to life, but will put you into a different location. You can’t really spam the enemies, for the fact that your abilities that change for each character have a cool-down meter. Pick and choose how you attack, and you should be able to make it out this horrifying landscape in one piece. You will also be dealing with a special upgrade tree, interacting with other inhabitants, and dealing with the choices you make during your journey affecting the world and story around you.
Graphically speaking, this game is gorgeous. It sort of reminds me of Hyper Light Drifter in terms of the look, and even the developers have admitted HLD was a huge influence on the look. I got such a huge kick at how unusual and unique the Heralds look. They are these, well, alien and unhero-looking individuals. You can tell how much effort was put into the animation and crisp-looking sprites. The music by stonefromthesky (yes it’s spelled that way) definitely did a great job at emphasizing this barren dystopia of a world with atmospheric wastelandish tunes with a slight hint of techno added into the mix. It seriously helps make this alien world feel more alive as you traverse the land around you.
My only real concern is that I hope the world around you is interesting, and the changes that are made to the world around you are different enough to warrant the roguelike elements. In the end, I still love this Kickstarter, and if you are looking for a great looking action adventure game to back for PC and PlayStation 4 (so far), then I would highly recommend that you support Laughing Machines in bringing this game to life.
Ayo The Clown
Probably the cutest game on this list, Ayo The Clown by Cloud M1, is a 2.5D platformer, where you play as this cute little clown (I know that was an odd pairing of words to describe a clown, but still) that must save his dog. You will run, jump, and gain simpler abilities, like pushing blocks and grabbing onto ledges as you make your way through this adorable world. You will even be able to ride in tanks and helicopters through certain levels. As you traverse your way through the game, you will be able to collect items to customize your clown.
The graphics are cute, colorful, and whimsical. It definitely reminds me of games from the PlayStation 1 era, where they were still trying to get 3D right and that one way they experimented was with the game being in 2.5D. It’s 3D, but not Mario 64 3D.
It’s an adorable platformer, with probably the only concern I have is that the game doesn’t really do much to differentiate itself from other platformers. It looks like a polished experience, but there is no real hook. There are no abilities connected to being a clown, just a clown platforming through a colorful world. I mean, it still looks good or I wouldn’t be throwing my hat into talking about them, but I do hope the game does enough to make it special, and really executes its platforming perfectly.
Technically, I don’t have to give this one a shout-out because it already reached its funding, but I still want to talk about the follow-up game from Thunder Lotus Games, Sundered. This 2D-animated Metroidvania action game might already be known to the public that follows indie games, but the team decided to come to Kickstarter to get funding to finish the game for its 2017 release. You essentially travel across Lovecraftian landscapes of never-ending nightmares, fighting hordes of enemies and massive bosses. Each time you die, you start back at the beginning, but can upgrade your abilities and progress further into the world. One element of the upgrade system to keep track of is that you can gain special items from bosses to improve your abilities, but be careful about corrupting them. They might be stronger, but they come at a price.
Since this is the same developer of Jotun, the 2D animation is gorgeous and the music is fantastic. I don’t really have too much else to say about this game and its developer. It’s a project that already got funded, and it’s by a developer who has published a Kickstarter success. If you feel like they could use even more money than what they have, then go help them out.
Robo Puzzle Smash
Do you remember those days playing Super Puzzle Fighter? Don’t you wish there were some more games like it, where they combine fast-paced Tetris Attack-style gameplay? Well, Robo Puzzle Smash is the game for you. Developed by PxlPlz and being a popular indie game at festivals, this game is set up pretty much like Puzzle Fighter, where you play a Tetris/Puyo Pop-style game, and the more blocks you delete on your side will end up on the opponents’ side. The main goal is to not let the blocks touch the top of the puzzle screen. So, where does the gimmick come in? You can rotate your puzzle screen and have blocks fall on different sides to unleash puzzle combos. You will be able to play in a couple of modes, like arcade mode, verus mode, online, practice mode, and tournament.
Graphically, the game looks like 3D Dot Game Heroes, in the sense that the sprite characters were turned from 2D to 3D. The character designs are colorful, varied, and do move around a lot while you puzzle your way through the fight. The music is upbeat and catchy, with a vibe similar to Super Puzzle Fighter.
There really isn’t much to be concerned about, besides it might not make its goal. I think if it had come out at a different time and had more interesting backgrounds, it would be better, but maybe it’s for the best. The backgrounds are simple, so the characters and puzzles don’t get muddled within the background. If you like these types of puzzle games, definitely help out this developer.
Probably one of the more visually amusing games of this list is The Pedestrian by developer Skookum-Arts. The main goal of the game is to get your male bathroom symbol character across a puzzle platformer. So, how do you platform in this game? You do it by connecting signs in different spots for the character to traverse and puzzle-solve. The game is very simple, but there is an incredible charm to the overall game. Its graphics are great, but the fact that entire levels are taking place on signs is novel, and definitely sets itself apart from other platformers.
My only real concern is how long this game will be, and how engrossing the story will be. I know the story will be more in the background, but I hope they know just because you put the story in the background, it doesn’t mean it’s going to end up being deep and poetic. Still, I want this game to get funded. It’s a super-charming puzzle game that is, heaven forbid, unique among the indie games on this list. If you want, you can play a demo that is on the Kickstarter page to see if it’s your type of game.
This is another game on Fig, Solo by Team Gotham. It’s a 3D adventure game where you choose a male or female sailor. You traverse islands and find out how far you are willing to go when you are fueled by love for your special significant other. You can choose what gender you want to be and what kind of relationship you have. You will also be solving puzzles using blocks, but you won’t have to worry about how to solve each puzzle, since the crowdfunding page says that each puzzle has multiple solutions. Another gameplay element to watch out for is the story. Depending on what you choose in terms of answers, the narrative and overall experience will change.
I like the graphical style for this game. It’s a 3D cartoony artstyle that’s really charming, and I feel like that fits this game more than something realistic. It’s bright and colorful, and reminds me of something from Wind Waker. I just adore the idea of this game focusing on the love for your significant other. When games decide to really focus on that, like in Lost Planet 3, it makes for some truly memorable moments. I still fondly remember traversing my mech in Lost Planet 3 and listening to the interaction the lead would have with his wife. It gives games like this a lot of life to them.
With all that said, and while I do think this game looks promising, I do hope the puzzles are challenging, and the story can be kept engaging. I know minimalist storytelling is a popular trope in the indie community, but unless done well, it can lead to some failure of story conclusions. If you don’t believe me, play Bound, and you will see what I mean. Still, I find these types of games charming. If you like story-based games with personal connecting stories, then you will probably love this game and want to support it.
And finally, the last game for this article, it’s Legrand Legacy by developer SEMISOFT. It’s an RPG where you play as six unlikely heroes that must prevent a huge calamity from destroying the land of Legrand. If you love turn-based RPGs, then you will feel pretty well at home with what Legrand Legacy is offering. You will be traversing these well-done pre-rendered backgrounds as 3D characters, ala the RPGs from the PlayStation 1 generation. Monsters will be visible in the levels, and running into them will take you into battles. Just like the first few Mistwalker titles, you will be able to place your characters in different spots for strategic purposes, like putting your tanks upfront, and magic users in the back. It also takes a little from the Shadowheart games, where you must press a button at the right time to do more damage and other perks. You will level up, buy equipment, and a pretty impressive feature that I have seen a lot of RPGs tackle these days, army and base building. You can recruit non-playable NPCs to help you build up your castle, go on side-quests, make your castle the talk of the town, and go through Suikoden-style army battles. There will also be side-quests, crafting, and mini-games to tackle as well.
This is a very impressive game in terms of graphics and ambition. It looks like if there was an HD remaster of the PlayStation Final Fantasy games. The backgrounds look crisp and the 3D models look like pretty visually pleasing. It’s actually great to see an RPG get made that isn’t just another indie game trying to capture the Super Nintendo era of RPGs. I love those, but other console generations had amazing RPGs as well. The music even sounds very Lost Odyssey and Final Fantasy, and that’s a good thing. I like my grand epic fantasy scores for a grand fantasy adventure. Sure, it might take its cues from other RPGs, but Legrand Legacy looks like a great RPG. I just wish there was talk of console versions since that’s how I grew up in the RPG genre. If you love PlayStation-PlayStation 2, or even PlayStation 3 era RPGs, then you should really check this game out.