Indie games that use pixel-art and sprites for the overall look of a game is nothing new. Last year, I covered what seemed like hundreds of games that use this style for their games. You had Crossing Souls, Aegis Defenders, Witchmarsh, The Way, Thimbleweed Park, Hive Jump, and you get the idea. A lot of these games are doing something different whether it is how they look, how they play, or how the game’s narrative will be executed. Since so many developers use this graphical style, you have to stand out and show off why your game is different from the others. Gamers might like pixel-art games of the retro consoles, but they have to be good games and have a lot of variety to them. Let’s check out these three Kickstarters and see what they’ve got going for them.
Children of Morta
Here we have an action game that reminds me more of games like Gauntlet, with some elements of roguelike games. The story revolves around a family, the Bergsons, who are the guardians of a massive mountain called Morta. Their family has lived there for many generations. Unfortunately, a large ominous force called The Corruption basically turns the entire mountain vile and filled with dangerous creatures. It is up to the family that guards the mountain to take down this evil foe.
The gameplay is of a top-down action game that is being inspired by games like Rogue Legacy, Risk of Rain, and Binding of Isaac. You will be able to play as the different members of the Bergson family who have their own unique weapons. The father uses a sword and shield, the younger son uses martial arts skills, the daughter uses a bow, the youngest son uses daggers, the crafter’s only son uses a giant hammer, etc. You will be able to craft potions and items by finding materials while you explore the mountain. The levels will be randomly generated, so each time you go into the mountain, the levels will be different. While there is a set story in Children of Morta, there are randomly generated narrative events that you can tackle and make your play experience unique. You can also find divine relics left over by the gods of the mountain. You want helpful animals? Well, you can get those also, since not every creature will be possessed by the corruption. If this game reaches its $105K funding goal, they can add local co-op.
The game looks gorgeous. This, along with the next game in this list, is the sprite-style game I love. There is a lot of detail, smooth animations, good-looking player feedback when striking enemies, realistic lighting, and an engrossing atmosphere, which is what I am looking for with sprite-based games. The music has a dark fantasy vibe to it with the Mount Morta theme being very foreboding and creepy. It fits the game perfectly since you are going around in a world of corruption and darkness.
If I had any concerns, it would be the regular concerns of being roguelike in design, with hopefully the randomly generated levels are diverse enough so you won’t be seeing the same thing over and over again. Other than that, this is easily one good looking Kickstarter game! It has already reached its funding goal, and it even has stretch goals that range from a PlayStation 4 version, to like I said above, local-co-op. If you love top-down action games like Gauntlet, then you should definitely check this one out. Congrats to the team behind Children of Morta, Dead Mage, you guys get my Kickstarter shout-out!
(If you want to continue the support for this project, go to this link!)
Here is another sprite-based game that oozes a unique set-up. If you like 2D shooters like Gradius or U.N. Squadron, and adventure games like Full Throttle, then this is your Kickstarter! You play as Brick M. Stonewood! By the way, the M stands for metal. Brick is a mercenary pilot who comes from a time where men had chiseled chins and answered questions with their guns, while fighting an evil force known as the G’ell. Unfortunately for him, he ends up getting sucked through a worm hole and is found by space miners inside an escape pod-like capsule. Brick must tackle the universe to upgrade his ship, meet interesting aliens and characters, and find out about his past while saving the universe with one laser blast at a time.
Star Mazer is a mix of a shooter and an adventure game, similar in style to those from LucasArts and Sierra. The shooter segments work out like any arcade-style shooter. If you have played games like R-Type, Gradius, and U.N. Squadron, then you will be familiar with the shooter segments of this game. The point-and-click adventure segments are like any of the classic adventure games. If you have played Sam & Max Hit the Road, Full Throttle, Space Quest IV, Leisure Suit Larry 6, and The Curse of Monkey Island, you will be right at home. You will be going around using items to solve puzzles, and if push comes to shove, shooting a few creeps in the face. The story will also never play out the same way each play-through due to the narrative choices you make throughout the game. So you have a 2D shooter, multiple narrative choices, and an adventure game all wrapped into one project. Everybody got that?
The graphics have a real 90s adventure game charm to them. I know I have brought up Full Throttle a lot, but that is honestly what I think of when I see the animations and how the character talks. It’s charming, and some of the designs that I have seen for the aliens have personality. The music sounds fantastic. If you must know, the team behind this game’s music includes many, and I mean many, talented composers. Some of the composers include Jake Kaufman who worked on the soundtrack to the excellent Shovel Knight, Manami Matsumae who composed music for the first Mega Man and U.N. Squadron, and two composers behind the indie game hit Gunpoint, John Robert Matz and Ryan Ike.
The only real concern I have is that I hope both segments of the game, the shooter and the adventure game elements are polished. I love 2D shooters and adventure games, but the moments that keep me away from them are when shooters become all about trial-and-error, and when adventure games throw in obtuse and tedious puzzles. If this game’s narrative wants to have a good flow in how it’s executed, you can’t be having too many road blocks halt you in your tracks. Overall, I really enjoy this Kickstarter! It’s one of the more creative games seen on the site with its mix of two genres. It is currently at over $127K of its $160K funding goal. If you love seeing some ambitious Kickstarters, then you will love this one! Congrats to Imagos Softworks, Star Mazer gets my official Kickstarter Shout-out!
(If you want to support this Kickstarter, go to this link!)
To round out our sprite/pixel-based Kickstarters, we have Judo. I decided to save this one for last just because it’s very simple. The gameplay is of a player vs. player sports/fighting game where the main goal is to judo-flip your opponent three times. If you are familiar with games like Nidhogg or Bushido Blade, where one attack can kill you, then you will be right at home with this kind of game. You can also play this game with up to four players.
Graphically, it’s very simplistic, with stark black backgrounds where the only things visible are the arena, you, and your opponent. The music reminds me of very early NES-style music, and is once again, very basic. I can respect that this game wants to be all about just you and your opponent. No distracting backgrounds, no fast-paced music, just you and the arena. My only real concern is that this is going to be one of those multiplayer-focused games that will probably be put alongside the likes of Towerfall: Ascension, Divekick, and Samurai Gunn. These are the games that are very simple, but an element of mind games, since all it takes is one attack to call it a game. We have a lot of those, and I am wondering if people are getting sick and tired of these multiplayer-only indie games. Sure, they are fun, and can lead to some great parties, but at the same time, when you aren’t playing them with anyone, they are just going to sit there. It’s the reason why I don’t follow or care for these kinds of games. However, I will admit this game’s simple premise really won me over. I think it’s a promising if simplistic game. Its funding goal is just a measly $5K, and currently has $425. If you love very multiplayer-focused games, games that are easy to get into, and ones that you can play mind games with your friends, then I would recommend checking this game out! Congrats Laboratory! Judo gets my Kickstarter Shout-out!
(If you want to support this Kickstarter, then go to this link!)