The inimitable Michael Brough has got a new game for us soon, and it’s a big shift from the roguelikes he’s been making lately like 868-HACK and Zaga-33. In fact, it’s probably best described as an arcade game, but being a game from the Mind of Brough, it’s not quite like any arcade game you’ve ever played before.
Putting neat labels on Brough games is like Helix is like trying to write an OK Cupid profile for Sybil, but Helix is a little like playing Geometry Wars on Pacifism mode: you’re besieged by creeps that want to kill you, and you’ve got nothing to shoot back with. Instead, you make orbits around them — draw the right pattern while avoiding contact with the bad guys, and they’ll destroy themselves.
Helix might be a little more reflex-oriented than some of Brough’s other stuff, but it’s still a Michael Brough game, so you can bet we’ll be playing it around here. Brough told me he’s getting very close to releasing it on iOS — he’s just sorting out some iOS 8-induced bugs in his final build.
Lady F and I were at the RA this weekend to see the Dennis Hopper photography exhibit, and were greeted by this installation of U-boats lurking in the entryway. None of the young ticket-rippers working that day seemed to know who the artist was or what the work was called. Sorry about the glare — unlike Mr Hopper I’m a crummy photographer.
This week’s Almanac isn’t a story or a rant; it’s just a clear-out. My sinister office here at PT HQ high atop Mount Hexmap is almost completely papered over with post-its and notes written to myself on the backs of Woolworth receipts and racing forms — I can hardly keep my plans for superweapons straight from my schematics for mind control devices. Intolerable.
After the jump: small updates from developers we care about and stuff that has slipped through the cracks over the last couple of weeks.
We had some good fun earlier this year with Glyph Quest, the fantasy/puzzle RPG from husband-and-wife team Leanne Bayley and Alex Trowers. One fact you might recall about Glyph Quest was that it was made while Leanne was very, very pregnant — probably not easiest state from which to concentrate on game development.
In a couple of weeks, Bayley and former Bullfrog man Trowers will be launching semi-sequel Super Glyph Quest, which is “pretty much all the things we wanted to get into Glyph Quest but just didn’t have the time to with the baby on the way,” Leanne says. (Said baby is absolutely beautiful and can be seen here, by the way.)
Super Glyph Quest will have new glyphs in the puzzle matrix and new spells to cast (over 70), more monsters, quests, crafting… more everything, basically. It’s going to be a nice premium three-dollar game with no IAPs.
I’ll let you know when it arrives on iOS, and you can try the original Glyph Quest for free to see if it casts any particular spell on you. The Super Glyph Quest trailer is below.
Some more new releases have materialised this morning, joining last night’s batch. Chief among them is Keith Burgun’s Auro, a game best described as turn-based fantasy sumo wrestling. It bears a broad resemblance to Hoplite, one of our favorite games of this year.
The catch with Auro is that it’s only on Android for now. The creator of last year’s remarkable deconstructed 4X Empire had intended on a simultaneous release for both allegiances but he was stymied by an iOS 8-induced bug in Adobe Air. Specifically this bug, Burgun tells me — though I will decipher the Voynich manuscript before I can make heads or tails of that link.
Auro will be with us for iOS just as soon as that’s resolved. Android types can make with the wizardly ring outs right now for three bucks.
Auro’s trailer and three other notable new iOS games after the jump.
“…and this is where Thing from the Addams Family is buried.”
A couple of years ago I was wondering what had become of Myst-style immersive puzzle games, a genre that was getting non-gamers into gaming when the Angry Birds were still yolks. Then Fireproof’s The Room came along and won a million billion fans and pretty much every award going.
Unlike Myst, there’s not a lot of imitators of The Room, probably because the art intensive style is expensive to attempt. Here’s The Secret of Raven Rock, a game that probably doesn’t have the high gloss sheen of Fireproof’s masterpiece but looks like an earnest effort to give it a little competition.
In this game, which drops next week for iOS, you return home to your town and find that its inhabitants have vanished. Thoughtfully, they’ve left a bunch of puzzles that will unlock the secret of their disappearance once solved. You’re going to be really embarrassed when it turns out this is just your surprise birthday party.
Spare me your space age technobabble, Attila the Hun.
Soon you shall have more choices of space exploration sims than you have for mobile phone providers, TV talent competition shows, and ways to contract influenza. Aspiring Captain Kirks already have the incomparable FTL, and will soon have Tiny Trek and Interstellaria to muck around the galaxy in: you can add Spacewrights to that list.
Spacewrights calls itself a 2D empire-building game, though you will apparently be a lot more hands on than your average space Caesar. You build your own ships and control them in real-time combat and lead your own away missions to explore strange new worlds and seek out new life etc etc. This empire isn’t ever going to get its crap together if the Emperor doesn’t learn to delegate — but the game sounds fun.
Here’s a note of caution for you: this is the first release planned from Missouri-based ArithmeBit, who don’t seem daunted by such a big project. I hope they pull it off, but we’ve seen ambitious titles from first-time developers get derailed before.
You can read all about the planned features on Spacewrights’ website, and the devs tell me that there’s a Kickstarter in this game’s future. The game is in development for iOS and Android (both phones and tablets and the ever-increasing number of devices in-between) and for desktops. There’s already a playable demo for Windows.
Last night, under cover of darkness (zing!), Playdek released yet another full expansion for Ascension, this one called Darkness Unleashed. Much how Rise of Vigil introduced Energy Shards and treasures to the game, this one introduces Dark Energy Shards which, apart from the effect an Energy Shard would have, also allow you to banish cards from your discard pile. It also introduces the Transform mechanism, which allows Heroes and Constructs to evolve into a different, more powerful card. It’s a similar effect to your first coffee in the morning.
It was just over 2 months ago when we discovered that Playdek and Stone Blade Entertainment had decided to not part ways, but instead keep Playdek in the developer’s driver seat regarding Ascension. Since then, they released the well-received expansion Rise of Vigil and manged to release Ascension for Android devices. Not bad for an app that, just a couple of months ago, we weren’t sure would still exist after 2014.
Like all of Ascension’s expansions, this one can be played standalone or mixed and matched with the other sets. On top of all that, it also features a bunch of great new artwork by Eric Sabee, whom Owen talked to at length a couple of weeks ago. At this point, Playdek’s digital Ascension has almost caught up to the tabletop version: there’s only one expansion set available in cardboard that isn’t in the app yet.
If there’s one thing the App Store is lacking, it’s solid single-player puzzle games. Seriously, sit back and think about it. Are there any out there? I know I can’t think of one.
Noodlecake Games, makers of PT-favorite time-waster Super Stickman Golf, is putting a stop to this travesty today with the release of new endless puzzler, Joinz. In Joinz players have to form Tetris-style shapes from blocks on a grid. Blocks can be slid in a line to form shapes, which removes those blocks from the board. Every time you move a block and don’t create one of the shapes, however, new blocks enter the puzzle. Eventually, new colors are added, shapes get more complicated and the difficulty skyrockets.
Even if that description doesn’t trip your trigger, try this on for size: it’s $2 with no IAP or ads. That should be worthy of your attention at the very least.