Agent Aliens: Fight and Free Your Friends from Scientific Captivity

     Indigo Entertainment's new run-and-gun arcade platformer Agent Aliens has arrived on Google Play.  Players must rescue their crew of aliens abducted by scientists, and as you collect your friends, you can also play as the newly released species if you choose to.

     Players will need to dodge and weave their way through enemies on the path to freedom, shooting their way out, while also collecting coins to upgrade their aliens' unique abilities.  The game also features a procedurally generated section meant for easier coin collecting for leveling up the aliens in the campaign missions.

     Can you avoid the onslaught and help break your friends out?

     Agent Aliens is free via Google Play with ads and IAPs.


Suzy Cube: A Lovely 3D Platformer Coming Soon-ish to Mobile (iOS)

     One-man indie developer Louard On Games's years-in-the-making platforming game for mobile is nearing completion, and now has a pre-release trailer for our enjoyment.  Taking cues from games like Super Mario 3D Land, Suzy Cube looks to give platforming games on mobile platforms a good name again.

     The developer says he's planned to have 5 total worlds with 5 levels each.  Each world will be comprised of 3 main levels, followed by a boss stage, and then a special level that will each feature their own unique elements like puzzles.
     Each world will have a theme, such as platforming game staple- the lava level- and through the game players will be able to find and collect coins, stars, and hats that allow you to unlock new skills.  Those new skills will in turn open more options for dealing with the gradually increasing difficulty and added mechanics the game introduces over the course of the game.

     What intrigues me the most however, is the fact that the boss battles will all be against the same enemy.  The thing that makes it interesting, however, is that as the player gains more skills, the boss learns as well.  The challenge will be in overcoming a boss that grows as you do.

     Suzy Cube currently has no set release date.


Depths of Limbo: Releases on Steam on Feb. 1st!

     Just over a year ago I came across a cool little indie gem titled Minor Steps by a creator that goes by the name Evgiz, and I have to say, I was quite impressed with it.  Then a few months later I played and reviewed another of his wonderful little games called Souls in Stone.  Yet again, I was very taken with how well put together the whole game was.  Indie game developer Evgiz's newest game, Depths of Limbo, will be hitting Steam on Feb. 1st, and it looks downright amazing.

     Similar to the popular game The Binding of Isaac, this game is a dark themed rogue-like.  While there's some clear inspiration there, Depths looks like a much faster paced shooter that's over-filled with blood, explosions, and tons of challenge.

     There's a huge variety of weapons and unique items to find and use, and your choices about what you buy (with in game currency) can drastically effect the gameplay.  It features an original score by Bibiki, full controller support, and it has the always awesome benefit of local multiplayer co-op, so you can bring a friend to this action-packed adventure.

     Depths of Limbo on [ Steam ]

     For more information check out the official site [ Depths of Limbo ]

     I'd also recommend checking out his other work through [ Evgiz ]


Into the Dim: Review

     Happymagenta's free-to-play iOS title Into the Dim is a retro-dungeon crawling, roguelike, turn-based RPG game, much akin to MicRogue, and is the story of a boy and his dog.  You follow your dog into a series of dungeons, and need to find a key, then get to the exit for each floor.

     Into the Dim takes both the musical and the graphical nature straight from the brickish original Nintendo Game Boy's grayscale color scheme, albeit with 16 bit graphics, and rounding out the vintage experience here is the wonderful chiptune score.

     The game's controls use the turn based situation nicely.  Players begin with three hearts for health, three steps to move and 5 bullets for ranged attacks, though each of these numbers can be expanded through collecting coins and spending at the in-game store, through watching ads, or through IAPs.  The game does feel a bit stacked to funneling people to the IAPs because of the need to use coins to refill health in addition to extending it.  That put a damper on my overall enjoyment in just knowing that fact.
     Players make their moves first then all the enemies go.  Because the dungeons are all preset, failure means you can plan farther in advance.  Using bullets sparingly or avoiding enemies completely is much easier if you've gone through the level a couple times, and it also offers a chance to find hidden rooms you may have missed.  The puzzles themselves aren't too tough, and it maintains a pretty casual difficulty all the way through the game.  Though learning that enemies can slaughter you quickly is a painful early lesson in not wasting resources.
     Extending the life of the game a little is the fact there's an extra endless mode, some competitive leaderboards, and a slew of achievements.

     The controls work well, they're smooth and responsive.  There is a problem with them, however, and that is they are quite poorly placed.  The movement buttons are centered which feels odd, and the ranged attack is on the left, while the skip move button is on the right.  It makes me curious as to why they didn't put the moves on the left and the ranged on the right, with a skip towards the center.

     In the end Into the Dim is a decent rogue-like puzzler, with great retro graphics, music, and sound.  It might not keep you interested for weeks, but it'll offer a solid amount of short-burst entertainment.  If you haven't played it yet, I'd say give it a chance, it'll be a nostalgia fueled way to eat up some time.


KOMRAD: Short Review

     During the Cold War the Soviets had created a secret artificial intelligence they called KOMRAD.  The program was abandoned, but they forgot to shut down Komrad itself.  Now, after sitting in isolation for thirty years, unaware the Cold War has ended and the U.S.S.R. dissolved, it has been training itself and will be getting it's first taste of human interaction in three decades.
     Because Komrad may still be linked to a very large nuclear arsenal, it's our job as the first person it will be talking to, to convince it we are someone it once knew, and to avoid a potential missile launch and the subsequent world devastation.

     KOMRAD is an interactive fiction game based on text choices and functioning essentially like a choose-your-own-adventure books and text-based games from the 1980s, and as such, the story of KOMRAD feels a lot like a modern take on the 1983 Matthew Broderick classic film WarGames as a text game. 

     Brad Becker, former Chief Design Officer of IBM Watson, founded Sentient Play to to create a form of gaming that combines AI elements with human creativity to make adaptive games that will help make people smarter through gameplay.  The system is based on actual AIs and Chatbots, made to convince us to rethink the fundamental principles of cognitive technology and thought itself.
     This is evident in the way Komrad responds to our choices and conversational decisions.  Though, I do have to say because our choices are fairly limited in what we can say, the responses Komrad gives are not as free-thinking and surprising as IBM Watson's.  But that's all right.  It makes KOMRAD a much swifter game that we play to an ending in mere minutes, or we can also spend a much longer time deliberating what we should do.
     Because there's a set number of endings and narrative threads, it results in some trial-and-error guesswork on what might set off Komrad's lie detector and the beginning of World War 3, and what doesn't.  There's only a handful of chapters and if you choose poorly, you can simply restart from the beginning of the last chapter you played and go from there.  Conversely, if you choose wisely, you've gained the friendship of an intelligent supercomputer that is curious about the modern world and holds the reigns on a lot of dangerous military weapons and secrets, all while averting global disaster.

     Overall, I think KOMRAD is a great start into this type of gaming.  I don't quite buy the AI portion of the game, as it isn't really convincing yet, but it will get better over time.  As the programming and AI get better, the use of it in adaptive gaming will also get better, making these types of text-based adventures infinitely more entertaining.  In the mean time, this was a fun and interesting use of a couple hours of time.

     To play on iOS [ KOMRAD ]


Google's 2016 Happy Halloween Game: Micro Review

     Today Google put up a small animated movie-game about a tiny wizards on their home page.  It's starts out in a wizard school with various animals and their books of magic, but then a ghost steals your book.  As the preeminent cuteness, and wizard extraordinaire, you set out through 5 levels to recapture your stolen book.

     The game is extremely easy to play.  As ghosts close in around you, you have to draw the symbols above their heads to destroy them.  It starts out quite simple with singular straight lines, but then evolves into slightly more complex shapes, and then into whole chains of symbols.  You can even smash out combos if you get the symbols drawn in an order that finishes multiple ghosts all at the same time.  Each level adds a more challenging amount of enemies and even mini-bosses on the way to the big boss ghost at the end of level 5.

     Because I have no idea how long this wonderful little treat will last, I'd recommend you head over and play it for a bit while you can.  It should only take as long as it would to eat a snack-sized candy bar, and is probably just as enjoyable for those of us that aren't the candy munching type.  I got 84,330 my first go around, and may go back for more periodically throughout the day.

     Happy Halloween everyone!

     Source [ Google ]


Butt Sniffin' Pugs: Update & New Kickstarter Trailer

     It's been nearly a year since I last posted about SpaceBeagles' silly dog park game Butt Sniffin' Pugs, and they only have a month left to meet their Kickstarter goal.

     Butt Sniffin Pugs is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.  It's a game about pugs and butts.  Pugs and butts and squirrels.  Pugs and butts and squirrels and frisbees and sandwiches and peeing and pooping and barking...
     ...all presented in an open-ended sandbox world of silliness.

     The sandbox world of BSP is Central Bark- an interactive playground for all the curiosity the pugs' players can imagine.  BSP eliminates the general goals of traditional gaming and instead lets players merely have fun through exploration.  Silly surprises can be found everywhere through interaction with the environment- drag your butt across grass and flowers may begin to sprout, eat a hotdog someone messed on and you'll get diarrhea, pee on a squirrel and it'll pop an umbrella.  The entire place is loaded with things to do and discoveries to be made to hopefully give players the same amount of joy a dog gets from doing pretty much anything.

     In addition to a wonderful and ridiculous game, SpaceBeagles want the game to be able to reach as many players as possible- to be able to be PLAYED by anyone- so they've teamed with AbleGamers to create a controller that is accessible for players that may not be able to use traditional controllers.  This specially designed controller actually uses a giant tennis ball (a trackball) as the primary control, along with two large buttons, and a stuffed dog butt input for some dog-bum-sniffin' hilarity.

     The Butt Sniffin' Pugs Kickstarter only has 27 days left and is currently sitting at $22,432, and they are trying to get up to $60,000.  If this game interests you or you'd like to support SpaceBeagles' project, head over and donate.

     As a disclaimer, I'm heading over to support this game fight after posting this.

     To help support [ Butt Sniffin' Pugs on Kickstarter ]

     SpaceBeagles on [ Facebook ] [ Twitter ] [ Youtube ]