Chilled Out Noodling: Ojoon EP

By Alice O'Connor on September 4th, 2014.

Sooner or later, we all make the little flowers grow.

“Enjoy a relaxing moment on a break from work, or set the mood for a chill party,” suggest the makers of Ojoon EP. Don’t mind if I do! With clocking-off time nearing, I’ve had a lovely few minutes noodling away on the “visual instrument”, watching colours and shapes grow and twist as I tap out rhythms and futz with the pitch. Ojoon was released for free this week by creator Jukio Kallio, who you might better know for working on the Luftrausers and Nuclear Throne soundtracks under his stage name of Kozilek. It’s free, and it’s a balmy Thursday evening, so come chill.

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Salt: Hands On With Some Open World Piracy

By John Walker on September 4th, 2014.

I would never have imagined, just a few years ago, that we’d be spoilt for choice when it came to open-world adventure/survival games. I remember back in 2010 writing about my wish for more games that would just let me hunker down, find a cave, and survive the elements.

At the time, a few suggestions for games offering this were made, but many were very primitive (in the wrong ways), or far too close to management games. But now we’re overwhelmed with them! Just recently there’s been the mix of genteel to ultra-terrifying with Eidolon, The Forest, Darkwood, The Long Dark, Miasmata, Rust, 7 Days To Die, Nether, Project Zomboid, Don’t Starve… and now you can add first-person early-access explore-me-do Salt to the calmest end of that list. My thoughts so far, and 25 minutes of in-game footage, below.

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Freeware Garden: Zagalike

By Konstantinos Dimopoulos on September 4th, 2014.

Procedural pixels populating procedural prison-cells.Michael Brough’s Zaga-33 is an excellent game and Tony Perriello’s Zagalike an excellent homage to said excellent game. And no, it’s not a clone; it’s an inspired and very honest remix. An homage that’s perfectly capable of standing on its own.

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Spend A Quiet Few Minutes With Loop

By Ben Barrett on September 3rd, 2014.

Not quiiiite right

I have learned one very important thing from Loop: all games should have an ambient rain slider in their sound options. I’ll be contacting our John to get it on his next list. It is that most tranquil, serene of things and matches this simple puzzle game marvellously. You move hexagonal pieces around until lines of colour match up, flowing together in the titular loop. Developer John Cullen has deliberately included no elements that lead to a fail state or frustration, so you can go forever until you work each puzzle out. It’s not finished yet but you can play a demo of the first six levels.

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Freeware Garden: Dust City

By Konstantinos Dimopoulos on September 3rd, 2014.

Meta-post-modern landscape architecture is the vice of the future.I can’t quite explain why playing through Kitty Horrorshow’s Dust City felt so great, but I suppose it must be due to a combination of the joys of exploring strange worlds, the realization that some truly clever things have been included in this game and the brilliant atmosphere that evokes an ungodly mix of Pathologic, Geoff Crammond’s Sentinel and Phenomenon 32.

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Freeware Garden: Star Commander

By Konstantinos Dimopoulos on September 2nd, 2014.

Starry-eyed pilots killing each other in outer space in traditional turn-based battles.

Having distilled the core elements of 4X strategizing into a sleek and easy to get into game, and thus having done away with lengthy tutorials and hefty pdf manuals, I am happy to declare that Star Commander has achieved an uncommon straightforwardness.

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Project Godulous: Reprisal Universe

By Adam Smith on September 2nd, 2014.

Almost three years ago to the day, Reprisal appeared and I saw that it was good. Firmly in the terraforming tradition of God game Godfather Populous, Reprisal is a game of powers and control over tiny little warring tribes. The free version is still available to play and it may act as a perfect antidote for any poor souls inflicted with a severe case of projectile Godus. The expanded commercial release is due on September 15th and it’s looking tasty.

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Desert Island Risks: Wayward

By Adam Smith on September 1st, 2014.

Survival and crafting are strongly linked concepts in gaming. Here in the real world, I survive by writing about toys (and the occasional art-toy), an onerous duty that is deemed worthy of financial reward. I use the dosh to buy chips and fizzy pop, and somehow that seems to be enough to keep my tiny engine running. Truth is, I’ve never crafted anything in my life – I had to phone a friend to help me out last time I bought a piece of furniture from Ikea. If I found myself on a desert island, like the player character in turn-based survival sim Wayward, I’d walk around looking for a Wifi hotspot until the landcrabs ate me. The game is free, in beta and a damn fine example of the type.

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Freeware Garden: Haunted Castle

By Konstantinos Dimopoulos on September 1st, 2014.

A skeletal head-scratcher appears.

Nobody knew about it, but Haunted Castle is a game that has been around since the 1970s and, apparently, this makes it beyond any doubt the oldest game this column/garden will ever cover. Most probably one of the oddest too, as the Haunted Castle really isn’t much of a video game. It’s a board game.

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It Got Out: Containment Protocol Demo

By Ben Barrett on August 29th, 2014.

I first saw Containment Protocol at Rezzed this year when the large banner showcasing its simplistic, beautiful art style immediately caught my eye. It’s difficult to describe in ordinary genre terms, but it’s close to a survival/exploration game. You remotely control a quad copter exploring an abandoned scientific facility, only able to see via its lidar scanning the surroundings. It’s atmospheric to the max–sounds echoing in empty corridors, clinical beeping coming from the automated defenses of the facility. You can explore too, as solo dev Byron Atkinson-Jones has dropped a new in-browser demo on its site (the build he’ll show at EGX, in fact).

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Freeware Garden: Level 2 – Virus Master

By Konstantinos Dimopoulos on August 29th, 2014.

Better than X-OUT!

Listening to a thundering heavy metal soundtrack while blasting enemies straight from the 16-bit demoscene is, almost surprisingly, exactly as awesome as it sounds. Level 2 – Virus Master, on the other hand, is not as awesome as it sounds. It’s way better.

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Oooh! Twitchy Spinny Dodge ‘Em Up oO

By Alice O'Connor on August 28th, 2014.

Everything is going FINE.

As much as I’d like to spin around inside a washing machine, I know how that ends. But lovely, lovely video games can let us do impossible things, and games like Super Hexagon offer that dream of spinning around inside a round thing filled with jagged edges and crushing surfaces. oO has been out for a while but only twirled before my eyes today. It’s a one-button dodge ‘em up about spinning around and jumping between conjoined circles filled increasingly with death.

It’s free and it’s fun and it’s difficult and it’s late in the day so let’s all lark about a bit playing it.

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Makoa And Meercats: A Rite From The Stars

By Adam Smith on August 28th, 2014.

A Rite From The Stars is an adventure game, inspired by nineties classics and modern marvels alike. The setting and plot are interesting, but we’ll move on to that in a moment because there are far more important statements on the Kickstarter page. Developers Risin’ Goat (only enough in the budget for one ‘g’) claim that the game will not feature ‘pixel hunts’, ‘pointless walks’ or ‘boring inventory management (also known as “Use the stick in everything until it works”)’. I reckon all three of those things should have been left on the Lucas and Sierra cutting-room floor a long time ago, along with almost every puzzle in The Dig and the many deaths of Roger Wilco. A Rite From The Stars isn’t simply emulating the past and I’m grateful for that. The Kickstarter has eight days left on the clock and $15,000 of a $40,000 target left to raise.

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