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Someone Save Me from Clicker Hell

clickerheroes

This week Clicker Heroes launched on Steam. In case you haven’t heard of it, this started out as an incremental browser RPG. Basically, you click monsters to accumulate gold. You level up the party of heroes with said gold, and can do so infinitely many times. The stronger everyone is, the better your click damage, and the more efficient it becomes to kill larger foes. But at the end of the day you just click, idle, rinse and repeat.

I actually already suffered through a big obsession with the game when it was available in browser but eventually got over it. But now that the darn game has launched on Steam I’m back idling and clicking away. I have already put in 9 hours of heavy idling and slight play in one day. Why?!

Well, Clicker Heroes has Steam Achievements now. It’s hard to say if that’s the entire reason why, but there’s just something satisfying about seeing numbers go up and up. And yes, before you ask, I am still playing AdVenture Capitalist as well. That one seems to have grown less glitchy with time. At the moment Clicker Heroes faces saving issues (apparently) which makes me afraid to close the game.

Perhaps a really horrible loss of data will cause me to reevaluate my current revitalized excitement over Clicker Heroes? We shall see!

Yep, I’m Still Playing AdVenture Capitalist

Adventure Capitalist Logo

Two weeks ago I reviewed AdVenture Capitalist, the first incremental game released on Steam. It follows the same general formula of titles which came before (ie: Cookie Clicker) but with a “fun” capitalist spin. Basically, you’re meant to get your hand into as many industries as possible to reap the most monetary benefits.

Although enjoyable in simplicity, my review touched upon how this outward design aesthetic wasn’t nearly as engaging as the weirder progenitors of the genre. This still holds true. Yet, I can’t stop playing. It’s a weird issue to have – although not worth much complaint. Since the game runs continuously I don’t even have to “play” it to accrue funds.

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The TPB Bundle 6: Ahriman’s Treasure

Ahriman's Treasure Logo

Developer: Nik Sudan
Platform: PC – Game Jolt

This post is part of a series on The Pirate Bay Bundle.

Ahriman’s Treasure was made for the Indie Speed Run 2013. In it, players jump on a magic carpet and fly left, avoiding any obstacles in their path. This is a task much easier said than done.

Along your seemingly never-ending path there are columns with gaps in the middle. Surviving these is just a manner of lining up the carpet to get through. Other issues include bats and boulders that spontaneously fall from the ceiling. You can move up, down, left, and right although heading backwards is really slow.

Ahriman's Treasure Screenshot

The game has a pixel art aesthetic but manages to look strangely distinct. Perhaps it has to do with the lighting around the main character, or the appearance of depth thanks to two layers on screen. Who knows? All I can say is I was quite enchanted by the visuals. In particular, the magic purple carpet is really cute thanks to little sparks and stars that trail behind it.

There’s not much to Ahriman’s Treasure but it excels thanks to simplicity and infinite replayability. If you play it on Game Jolt your scores are also saved on the leaderboard. I’m not about to inject my name because I’m frankly terrible at the game.

TPB Bundle 5: Abomination

Abomination Logo

Developer: William Dyce
Platform: PC – IndieDB

This post is part of a series on The Pirate Bay Bundle.

Platformers are all over the place in the indie community which often makes it hard for any to stand out. Abomination is one title that easily rises above the rest for me. Featuring a strange purple and black “abomination”, your goal is simply to retrieve a teddy bear placed somewhere on each stage. However, getting there proves to be quite the challenge across 25 levels.

One of the things that struck me most was simply that there is no obvious tutorial. Instead, players are quickly taught the mechanics simply by exploring the initial stages. By doing so you realize that the character can climb up walls and what sort of hindrances there are to that. For example, some walls are easy to climb while others leave you sliding down fast.

Abomination Screenshot

The art was simplistic enough to get the point across, but still included some flourishes. As you scramble to stay on a wall, pixel sparks fly out in response. When the character gets going too fast they end up bumping into a wall and falling down. Even the skirt that they wear flows as they run and jump from platform to platform.

There aren’t many mechanics to these puzzling platforming stages but the last few were still very difficult! With that said, because there are under 30 stages in all it took maybe half an hour to beat Abomination. It was quite an enjoyable period of time, though. No narrative ever had to explain why the abomination was so invested in teddy bears but I was more than happy to keep collecting them to completion.


Developer’s comment: Abomination was my second Game Maker 7 game. The protagonist is a Frankenstein’s monster meets Edward Scissor-hands: I had a lot of quite ambitious ideas where the theme is concerned, I wanted the game to talk about dealing with rejection and disgust. Basically if your appearance is monstrous is there any reason not to act like a monster? After all people will treat you like a monster no matter what you do. Of course the project never got quite that far, even if the core gameplay is pretty strong.

I made it a point of honour not to include any textual tutorials, so the levels are designed to very gradually teach you new things. This is a big improvement on Supersoldat, my first game, which had tutorial messages on every single level and a huge number of button combinations to remember.

Everything is made by me, William ‘wilbefast’ Dyce except the music, which was created by Henrik Roslund.

I hope you enjoy the game, please let me know what you think!

TPB Bundle 4: Abandoned

Abandoned Logo

Developer: Joep Aben
Platform: PC – Direct

This post is part of a series on The Pirate Bay Bundle.

Abandoned is a bit odd. After the main menu, there’s an incredibly brief cutscene showcasing a hatching egg. Then, you’re immediately thrust into playing with little explanation as to what needs to be done. There’s a  timer ticking down from 10 minutes, colored squares blocking exits, and then there’s you. Whatever you are.

The player controls something that looks like a Frankensteinian creation. Part bird, tree, and alien (?), your sprite flaps around stages. There are many rooms to explore and many appear to be dead ends at first. It’s only after grabbing a power up item that the gameplay conceit is revealed. Grab power ups, which grant access to more areas, then grab other ones and so on.

abandoned

I enjoyed the art style simply for the inherent alien nature of it. Despite being pixel art, the lead character is certainly unique. So too are the backdrops which start out fairly average but quickly become more interesting. For example, some areas look somewhat like crackers, while others make you feel like Abandoned takes place in someone’s intestines.

The music is a definite high point. It is ambient but still manages to enhance the sensation of being totally alone. If not for the 10 minute time limit I would have probably enjoyed it more. However, that must mean it can become a quick game if you can remember (or map) where everything is and how to reach them. Still, I don’t think Abandoned is something I’ll be looking to speedrun in the near future.


Developer’s comment: “Abandoned” was my first attempt to express myself through games and base my game design choices on enhancing the mood and atmosphere, instead of what would be the most ‘fun’.

It is still a goal of mine to make games that express my feelings and thoughts in some way, and I think “Abandoned” is an important part of what set that in motion.

TPB Bundle 3: A Tale About Life, Death, and a Looser

A Tale of Life, Death, and a Looser Logo

Developer: Sébastien Bénard
Platform: PC – Web

This post is part of a series on The Pirate Bay Bundle.

Created for Ludum Dare 21 (Escape), this has proved to be the most surprising of the bunch thus far. A Tale About Life, Death, and a Looser at first irked me thanks to purposeful misspelling of “loser”. After a while though I began to think that this character was such a loser that he really deserved the typo. Anyway, let’s get into discussing it.

You play as a red-headed guy who goes through his terribly average life. At various important moments, such as birth, college, and fatherhood, the player is presented with one of two options. They are continue or escape. Depending on what event you’re on the results of the choices will be different.

A Tale of Life, Death, and a Looser Screenshot

In a way the game felt a lot like Alter Ego, in which you attempt to navigate the life of a virtual human from birth to death. The main difference here is you can only be this loserly fellow and there are a lot less choices. Of course, that’s to be expected given the time constraints during creation! With that said, the pixel art is fairly nice as is the amount of screens you can see while playing.

There was definitely something that bothered me while playing A Tale About Life, Death, and a Looser and that was its sour display of women. Certainly, the entire game is meant to paint a very dreary picture for the lead character but it could have taken things in another direction. Or maybe, the plot of each woman could vary from the other rather than both of their stories converging into the same stereotyped view. Who knows?

TPB Bundle 2: A Lonely Moon

A Lonely Moon Logo

Developer: Tyrus Peace
Platform: PC – Direct

This post is part of a series on The Pirate Bay Bundle.

Made as a Ludum Dare entry, A Lonely Moon at first appears to be a fairly standard platformer. You play as a little dark grey cube with eyes and stubby feet. The landscape is similarly cube-like and not particularly incredible. Walking to the right, you begin your brief adventure.

Apparently the game jam theme was “alone” which definitely helps explain why there are no enemies to stomp on. Well, there is an enemy thanks to lava, but that’s not likely to be considered a living being. Although it feels very much like an average platformer, A Lonely Moon subverts that notion by leaving this poor cube all by itself.

A Lonely Moon Screenshot

The concept of aloneness is further intensified as the screen subtly pulls back as you play. Eventually, the character is practically a spec against the landscape. It’s a very cool element and I didn’t realize it was happening until the most pivotal moment in the game.

As with most Ludum Dare experiments, the game is quite short. It takes five minutes or so to beat. I just wished it could have pushed itself to even more microscopic limits. A Lonely Moon is playable via browser or as a download for Windows or Mac PCs.


Developer’s comment: Thanks for playing A Lonely Moon, or at least downloading it and glancing at it after unzipping the archive. That’s nice of you. I appreciate it. You can check out my other, potentially more long term, projects at tyruspeace.com .

Exploring itch.io: Belong

Belong Logo

Developer: Liz Threlfo
Platform: PC – itch.io

Even if we don’t admit it, oftentimes people simply want to feel like they “belong” somewhere. This is why we often see groups and cliques form. The gaming community is notorious for this by trying to shoehorn out people who like different games than them, or speak about games in a different way. Belong takes those experiences of being shunned and transforms them into a poignant game.

You start out as a small shape and explore a black landscape for others willing to accept you. Some are different shapes or different colors but no one wants to let you in. Yet, the game has suggested that there is a place for you. But where is it? Wandering the bleak blackness leads one to believe there is no end to the game. Maybe there really is no place for you?

Belong Screenshot

Visually, Belong removes anything that could be construed as distracting from the experience. There are no genders or races or religions on display but simply a square, triangle, and circle of three color configurations. Simplicity allows all players to wedge themselves into the plight of one lone, slightly different shape.

There is an ending, and I felt surprisingly satisfied by it. All in all the game takes ten or so minutes to complete so there’s little reason to avoid playing. It’s a very simple title with a message that we can all relate to. Belong may have been the first game I’ve played by Liz Threlfo but it definitely won’t be the last.

TPB Bundle 1: 45 Guys 1 Brain

45 Guys 1 Brain Logo

Developer: Armel Gibson
Platform: PC – Web

This post is part of a series on The Pirate Bay Bundle.

When loading up 45 Guys 1 Brain for the first time I was certain it had to do with zombies. Not only does it have “brain” in the title, but the color scheme is various shades of green and there are tiny little people wandering about! As it turns out, it’s not about zombies at all.

In the game you have to guide a group of 45 pixel people through a stage, starting from the top left to reach the bottom right. Of course, there are various walls, gaping holes in the floor, and electric gates that impede the otherwise simple trip.

25 Guys 1 Brain Screenshot

Each character is controlled at  the same time too. Using the four directional buttons for group movement you must find the best way to keep the majority safe on their trek through stages. The first stage isn’t too bad but by the time you get to the last, it’s likely that most of the tiny characters will end up dead.

There are only four stages in total but that’s all you need to see that the idea behind 45 Guys 1 Brain is quite solid. Even though you only need to keep 10 alive to pass a stage, there’s fun to be had retrying a few times to increase your best score.


Developer’s comment: What the fuck is a pirate bay bundle?

Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon Review

Frayed Knights Featured

Frayed Knights Boxart

Developer: Rampant Games
Publisher: Rampant Games
Platform: PC

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

If you miss the feel of first person dungeon crawling then you might be initially swayed by Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon. It sets you off on a quest with four warriors as they trek around dungeons, collecting loot and facing monsters as they go. What makes this so different from other games of the genre? Well, for one, the crew are one odd bunch.

Perhaps the biggest way to differentiate this game from other RPGs is the effort done to give each character a distinct personality. Each of the teammates is unique and converse with each other regularly. Through these conversations players get to see how ineffective and ridiculous their team seems. Thankfully, they can perform their roles of attacking, using magic, or anything else effectively.

Frayed Knights Featured

That level of uniqueness is unable to penetrate the rest of the game beyond some enemy designs. If you look past these features, then you’ve got a mostly by the book dungeon-crawler. One neat bonus are so-called Drama Stars which can grant you aid when it’s most needed (ie: reviving a party member), but that’s not a major tweak. Battles can be breezed through if you hammer on keyboard shortcut keys. This is convenient but unfortunately other GUI elements are less user-friendly.

It’s easy to see what Rampant Games were going for when creating this title. Although there is a definite amount of effort evidenced by the title, it would have done better to be backed up by more entertaining gameplay as well. If you can handle the grind, then it might be worth adventuring with the crew of Frayed Knights.


Score: 1.5

1 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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