There are some meaty games to sink your teeth into this week, including one that’s literally about pâté. We have Ludum Dare 31 to thank for that and for at least one other game this week, so, you know, thanks Ludum Dare, you’re alright. Flappy birds, sentient cubes, and widdling children are also things to expect—this is a Saturday, after all.
Orion is essentially the very first part of a super-detailed space sim—it’s only lacking, er, the entire rest of it. (Not that the rest of it was ever planned: this is a quick, and very accomplished, jam game.) In modelling only a tiny part of a simulation rather than the whole kaboodle, Diego F. Goberna has inadvertently given birth the Space Shuttle Cockpit Sim, and this is the best one of those I’ve ever played.
As a pilot, your job is to find and hit switches as the voice tells you to hit switches, casting your mouse around in an increasingly urgent tizzy. It’s a wonderfully polished and immersive game of switch-flipping, and in another world it eventually blossoms into a full space sim: into a pixel art version of, I don’t know, X3. I’d quite like to live in that world—unless Goberna fancies making it in this one? No rush.
Daniel Linssen has done it again—and by ‘it’ I mean he’s made another scrumptious free game. Birdsong is an extraordinary, Metroidvania-y platformer that manages to display its entire, fairly huge map all at once. How? Well, you can tell by the image, but the game enlarges (bulges, really) the part of the level you’re in, as the rest slinks into the background. It’s a fantastic effect, and a great way to render a whole level while letting the player see what the Hell is going on.
The platformer underneath is solid, quite challenging, and more than a little cute. Checkpoints are activated by dropping branches into nests, rewarding exploration with more locations to respawn from. As you comb the skyscape, your birdy hero will grow in acrobatic power, letting them reach higher and further platforms, and greater challenges.
A one or two-player action game about being a boy scout, which involves a lot more urine, booze and collapsing rafts than the film Moonrise Kingdom led me to believe. As jerks pelt you with fire arrows, and jerk oncoming rocks attempt to batter your raft, you have to, well, survive them, grabbing as many bottles o’ booze and survivors as you’re able along the way. Fires can be put out by peeing on them, an approach that incidentally gets you sacked from your local fire department.
I couldn’t try out the multiplayer, but Riff Raft supports controllers if you’d like to play the game with a friend. (Or an enemy. Or your cat.)
Ultimate Pâté is a silly name for such a technically accomplished game, and one that’s only a few notches below the beautiful Proteus. It’s a walking sim of sorts, and also a sort of hunting thing—the game ends when you shoot five things until they’re dead. These dead things are then turned into a kind of pâté depending on what you shot: another silly touch that suggests a lack of confidence in the artistry present elsewhere. This is one of the few FPSs that works with just the cursor keys, with the view adjusted smartly and automatically as you tramp up hills and down slopes. The wooded area the game takes place in is deliberately indistinct, but nevertheless fairly lovely to look at: the impressive lighting system, and some immersive sound design, lend a lot of weight to those chunky, blown-up pixels.
I wasn’t expecting to find cubrick so emotional an experience, but there’s something oddly beautiful about this abstract cube puzzler that separates it from most puzzle games I’ve played. That’s perhaps a strange thing to say about a game without a story or even a real character, but cubrick’s ambient piano soundtrack gels perfectly with its absorbing, revolving action, and that got to me somehow. You’re trying to turn all the coloured tiles see-through, to activate switches and reach the end of each section, and you do this by rolling onto the dark sides of cubes, turning the world on its head before sauntering over those tiles to make them inert.
I went into this one blind, so I wasn’t aware until I’d stopped playing that you could toggle the perspective, zoom, rotate the camera and create platforms and clones, and that almost seems like too much power to put in the player’s hands. I guess that makes this prototype more of a sandboxy toy type thing than a rigorous puzzle game – but whichever way you choose to play it, I expect you’ll find something elegent and serene, like I did. According to the itch.io page, cubrick hasn’t been updated since February this year, so I hope it’s still being worked on in some capacity.
acatalept’s Parasomnia, and the Oculus Rift-compatible singmetosleep, look pretty nifty as well.
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