By Nathan Grayson on December 19th, 2012 at 5:00 pm.
You might look at the RPS team and see a ragtag bunch of goofy, kindhearted fellows who want nothing more than to write about PC games and be intimidatingly handsome, but trust me: you’re making a grievous mistake. The games writing thing? Just a side business to support our worldwide network or incalculable evil. If it can be called a form of villainy, odds are, we’ve got our hands in it. Huh, why am I telling you this, you ask? Well, because you’re currently chained to a table with a laser about to bifurcate your skull, silly. But, in the event that you somehow survive, perhaps you’ll find that a life of irresponsible evil is right for you too. Fortunately, Ludum Dare 25 was all about various forms of villainy, so these games can help you become good quite good at being bad. You’ll find a number of standouts and the maniacal sage wisdom they impart after the break.
Lesson: Keeping pesky heroes out of your lair. (You do have a lair, don’t you? This isn’t Evil Preschool, for crying out loud. This text was banned from Evil Preschools for being too evil. And also containing mild suggestive themes and a bit of coarse language.)
How It Works: Atomic Creep Spawner is a reverse dungeon-crawler, and – while it’s a bit limited in scope due to the rigors of game jam development – the idea’s slickly executed and pretty gratifying. In short, a hack ‘n’ slash hero invades your lair, and you spawn writhing horde after writhing horde of monsters to stop said goodie-two-swords from breaking all your cool stuff. Each of your minion species, meanwhile, serves a different purpose. For instance, zombies do very little damage and die quickly, but they’re great for gumming up the works of various corridors and pathways. Then you can position giant purple golems a safe distance back and let them whittle away at the hero’s health with ranged attacks.
Twirly Mustachio and Top Hat Effectiveness Scale: OHO. MWAHAHAHA. HERRHERR. NYAHAHA.
Lesson: Follow all of the rules – assuming they’re evil rules, anyway
How It Works: No doubt about it, The Villain’s Rules is basically Cabin in the Woods: The Game. It’s a quick little terror-inducer that models its rule set after the excellent Joss Whedon/Drew Goddard horror genre evisceration, and it’s an admirable effort – if not always a flawless one. See, it’s your job to torment a band of Unsuspecting College Kids wandering a Totally Inconspicuous House, but you’ve got to do it through indirect deception. And – most importantly – each victim has to be separated from the rest of the group when you spring your traps. So maybe you’ll drop a phantom cry for help in one room, prompting the fearless American football man to go investigate all by his lonesome. That, of course, is when you summon Cthulhu.
Unfortunately, TVR’s a bit too fast and insubstantial for its own good, and the rules – clever though they might be (I’m particularly partial to “Never, ever kill the dog”) – aren’t entirely clear. For instance, the virgin has to die last, but I was never told precisely which character that was. Ultimately, trial-and-error shined a light through the spooky fogs of poor communication, but it was somewhat annoying.
Twirly Mustachio and Top Hat Effectiveness Scale: NYOHOHO. HMMM.
Lesson: Be a spoiled brat. Or at least, be perceived as one by your awful, heartless mother.
How It Works: This might be one of the cooler gameplay mechanics to emerge from Ludum Dare 25. In short (and tall and medium-sized and maybe all three at the same time), it’s all about perspective. You know that thing super mature people like me do where they pretend to squish your head with their thumb and pointer finger? Well, Tale of Scale’s central conceit is that the world actually works that way. So if you pick up a chair and set it down next to a far-off refrigerator, it will be the same size as that refrigerator when you approach it. But if you take the same chair and squish it up against a wall, it’ll be so tiny that it’d probably get lost in an ant’s dollhouse. Puzzles include things like reaching cookies on top of a refrigerator and cleaning your room, but with the aid of your reality-bending child deity powers. Ah, to be young and capable of re-weaving the very fabric of space-time with my merest whim again.
Twirly Mustachio and Top Hat Effectiveness Scale: AHAHAHAHA. HEHEHE. NERRRRRRRRRR.
Lesson: How to deal with anger management in an appropriate and healthy fashion.
How It Works: You are an angry robot who runs at things and shoots them. Some of those things are people. Others are helicopters. There’s not a whole lot to this one, but it’s satisfying fun while it lasts, and it comes with a file called “GOD DAMN READ ME IF YOU REALLY WANT TO.txt.” In other words, it’s probably the greatest game of all time.
Twirly Mustachio and Top Hat Effectiveness Scale: HOHOHOHO. HAAAAAAA. MURHURHURHUR.
Lesson: How to be a goddamn dinosaur space lord and reclaim Earth for dino-kind.
How It Works: Tyranoforce is kind of like Atomic Creep Spawner, only for bullet hell instead of dungeon-crawling. So you spawn different varieties of ships as quickly as possible in order to outfox some spry, barrel-rolling hero type. Unfortunately, this one’s only a minute long, but it’s good for a few replays, at least. I’d love to see this idea expanded upon (not to mention polished with better AI, etc), because it’s quite inspired until the horrible extinction meteor that is inevitability brings about its untimely end.
Twirly Mustachio and Top Hat Effectiveness Scale: NERHERNERMURRR. BWOHOHOHOOO.
Lesson: You were actually an awful human being the entire time.
How It Works: Double Tap’s all about the art of the not-entirely-subtle twist ending, but the statement it attempts to make is an important one. Let’s just put it this way: there are real-world wartime issues involved, and – if your heart wasn’t already a putrid black hole that devours other black holes for breakfast – you might even feel a little bad about the consequences of your actions.
Twirly Mustachio and Top Hat Effectiveness Scale: HMMMMMM. IN-MWURHURHURH-DEED.
Lesson: How to be a twirly mustachioed, top-hat-clad megavillain from the damsels-in-distress days of yore.
How It Works: Tie damsels to train tracks. Cackle maniacally to score bonus points. Evade the po-lice.
Twirly Mustachio and Top Hat Effectiveness Scale: Eh, it’s alright.
Note: this is hardly the last you’ll hear of Ludum Dare 25 on RPS. The competition got a million-billion entries – like always – so expect more off-the-wall do-gooder-thwarting doodads as we find them.