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PAX East 2018 Roundup

PAX East brought its usual treasure trove of games to show off. Here we take a glace and give impressions of just a sliver of that.

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PAX East 2018 may be well behind us, but that doesn’t mean our coverage is done. I’ve already written a handful of articles on some games that left particularly large impressions on me but there were many others that deserve some mentions as well. In no particular order, here’s a quick shotgun overview of the rest of the games I got my hands on during the show.

Yoku’s Island Express

If you’ve ever had dreams of using your pinball wizard skills for the common good then you’re in luck, because this game was made for you! You take control of the titular Yoku, a dung beetle that is tasked with delivering mail through a tropical island. He navigates the land in this 2D side-scroller by rolling his ball of “goods” around and launching it, along with Yoku himself, using paddles found around the world.

Each puzzle is organically built into the environment and, in addition to introducing unique gimmicks that consistently keep things fresh, requires precise control of when and where you launch you adorable little beetle. Just like any other pinball machine, the slightest difference in timing can result in wildly different trajectories and outcomes. There were numerous puzzles in my demo that came down to such timing and while they were certainly challenging, they never seemed unfair and overcoming them granted equal shares of satisfaction. More importantly, I just didn’t want to hear poor little Yoku yelp in pain whenever he went down the drain to what often led to spikes…

yokus-island-express PAX East 2018

Releasing May 29th for  Xbox One, PS4, Switch, & PC.

Planet Alpha

Following in the trend of 2D puzzle platformers is one that takes place on an alien landscape with odd flora and fauna all about. In Planet Alpha you control an as-of-yet unnamed humanoid alien as you explore this foreign landscape. This alien has the power to control the time of day, turning dawn to dusk in the span of seconds and vice versa just as easily.

This mechanic allows for some creative applications within the world, the simplest of which was gigantic flowers that would bloom during the day that acted as platforms across gaps. Another scenario demanded that the player hide within a floating rock structure, then advance the time of day so that the structure moved past a swarm of giant wasp-like creatures. As the demo advanced it became necessary to change the time of day on the fly in order to clear and/or create a path forward.

The time-changing powers not only allowed for interesting puzzle setups but also sceneries that could only be described as “spell-binding.” The range of colors on display that shift from day to night is nothing short of astounding, and the dynamic lighting effects are simply dazzling. After seeing just one environment, a jungle-like habitat, I can’t wait to see what else Alpha Planet will have in store for the game’s release.

planet-alpha PAX East 2018

Releasing in 2018 for Xbox One, PS4, Switch & PC.

Due Process

This is a game that takes the tried and true “disarm the bomb” multiplayer mode that is so standard in other multiplayer shooter and refines it to a T. Due Process is a team-based FPS where one team defends a bomb and the other attempts to disarm it. Before each round, both teams will be presented a floor map of the stage that is randomly generated each time. During this planning period, teams can draw on the map to mark breech points to break through or choke points to hold and these marks that will remain on the field- even after the planning phase is over.

The catch is that between the three rounds of a match, resources consumed do not replenish. This includes; ammo, grenades, door charges, and other special equipment, adding an element that is one part blackjack card-counting and one part chicken. When and where to use your resources is critical to succeeding as well as keeping track of what your opponents have used. For instance, if the attackers have already used all their flash bangs and door charges, it’s reasonable to assume they will try a frontal assault on the following round and the defending teammates can set-up accordingly.

Pulling off a meticulously crafted strategy with flawless execution is exhilarating. By the same token, being thwarted by an equally impressive execution left me in awe and made me almost want to shake the other team’s hands. Communication is key here, and I can only imagine the tactics people will devise once the game is out proper.

due-process-map PAX East 2018

Releasing for PC. Currently no release window.

Antigravitator

Futuristic racers tend to fall in one of two categories. Items are either picked up off the track to be used against other racers, such as in Wipeout and Sonic All Stars Racing: Transformed, or it focuses on boost gameplay, such as FAST RMX. Antigravitator takes elements from both sides with a unique twist on “combat” part. You still pick up energy on the field, but instead of wielding it as weapons against your opponents, you instead use it to trigger traps on the track such as a landslide of metallic cubes. This same energy is also what you use for boosting.

As you weave throughout the tracks, icons will pop up indicating a nearby trap that can be triggered. Deciding whether to use your collected energy for traps or conserving it for a later boost is part of the strategy of the race, in addition to reacting to traps sprung on you.

Antigravitator is an interesting take on the combat racer formula, as it allows players to plan out their race since all possible racer interventions are fixed points on the track. Is one particular trap another player loves to trigger giving you a headache? Maybe save some boost to get ahead of it, or trigger a previous trap that will grant you a shield to protect yourself. This results in a much more cerebral racing experience than most other games because you manage when and what to use your energy on. Antigravitator will definitely be interesting to see what mind games happen when a full group of friends comes together to play.

antigravitator PAX East 2018

Releasing for Xbox One, PS4, and PC in Q2 2018.

Head Snatchers

In the same booth as Antigravitator is Head Snatchers, this party game about snatching other players’ heads. Who woulda guessed? In this zany, Japanese game show inspired title, four players are given a task, minigame style, that involves stealing and doing something with each others’ cartoonish heads that take up half their bodies.

Antics range from feeding heads to the sharks to doing slam dunks. The goals may differ but the mechanics are the same. Stun your opponents with a punch, rip off their heads, then carry it to the objective. Heads can be recovered after they’ve been lost but once your opponent completes the objective with them they are gone for good and you’re out of the game.

Unfortunately, because of the methods of stealing and recovering heads is identical between minigames, they ultimately ended up feeling rather samey, despite the varied objectives. There were other game modes on the main menu but I didn’t get the chance to try them out so I do not know if those shake up the formula a bit more.

I did get to fiddle around with the head creator that had a staggering number of options, though, and created some green, alien monstrosity with an elephant’s trunk and the mouth of a chupacabra.

headsnatchers PAX East 2018

Releasing for PC on May 18th with a PS4 version sometime after.

Just Shapes and Beats

Rhythm games are another genre that seems to always be innovating itself in a unique and fascinating way and Just Shapes and Beats is a testament to that. Take the frantic nature of a rhythm game then slam it together with the frantic nature of a bullet hell game and you get a controlled chaos like no other.

The premise is simple, you and up to three other friends control a small shape (triangle, square, etc) and move it around the screen as you avoid all manner of projectiles flying about at breakneck speed, all matched to the tune of a heart-pounding electronic song. There’s so much going on at the screen at any given moment that the game would appear impossible if muted. Add in the song, though, and everything just seems to fall into place. You can feel what’s going to be thrown at you because you feel it in the song, which is thanks to just how well each stage is mapped out.

That’s not to say the game becomes easy, though, it just becomes manageable. My buddies and I died multiple times on the final “boss” stage before barely squeaking by with just one player left standing. It was a battle well fought, and I can’t wait to have more like it in the full game.

just-shapes-and-beats PAX East 2018

Releasing May 31st for Switch and PC.

Dauntless

Let’s get this out of the way, comparisons of Dauntless to Monster Hunter are going to be unavoidable. It’s an action game in which up to four “slayers” team up in order to take down hulking “Behemoths” that don’t have a visible health bar. That’s not stopping developer Phoenix Labs from carving out their own part of the niche, and they certainly didn’t hold back at PAX as they had one of the biggest booths dedicated to a single game on the showfloor.

Dauntless favors an aggressive style of play as each weapon has a special attack that is charged by landing hits on the Behemoth, but that charge rapidly dissipates when not attacking. On top of that, if you take a hit yourself you lose all of that charge at once. As someone who generally prefers a defensive playstyle in these kinds of games, it took some adjusting before I was able to settle into a groove. Being able to get off my super charged laser special by deftly weaving through the Behemoth’s attacks and landing my own in-between was a satisfying coup de grâce as a result.

Slayers can also support each other with unique lantern abilities on a cooldown that are set before the battle begins. Mine granted my teammates a shield that would absorb damage and help them stay alive while the Behemoth was in a dangerous rage state. Players can also revive each other on the field, assuming the danger level of the area, which is affected by numerous factors, isn’t at 100%. This all goes into making a familiar, yet distinct, cooperative experience.

dauntless PAX East 2018

Goes into open beta for PC on May 24th.

Code Vein

Continuing in the “vein” of one game being heavily compared to another, Code Vein is a title that I have been cautiously optimistic about forever since the game’s initial reveal was as a Dark Souls-like game with an anime flair. While I’m still not entirely sold on the story and setting, I can at least say that any worries I had about the gameplay itself have been laid to rest after trying it first-hand.

Combat is fluid and gratifying and provides the same visceral moments of triumph one would expect from a game of its kind. In addition to standard light and heavy attacks (which felt a bit too “whiffy” but that’s a minor gripe). There are also four ichor abilities and four ichor buffs. These ichor abilities range from a small projectile meant for attracting enemies to an explosive damage-dealing fireball.

The game encourages liberal use of these abilities as ichor is restored at a decent clip by attacking enemies normally, relieving the stress that is sometimes associated with using special abilities in similar titles. Taking notes from Bandai Namco’s own God Eater series, there is also a consume mechanic that drains enemies of their ichor which restores your own while also increasing your max capacity for it, a particularly rewarding maneuver when pulled off.

Your AI companion, Mia, is also an impressive aspect in how meaningful her presence is. She can deal damage just as well as she can avoid taking it.  Having her handle part of a large group of enemies on one end of the room while I tended to the rest was a godsend in some instances. Even more helpful was Mia’s ability to transfer part of her health to your own in a pinch, including when it hits zero, meaning that death doesn’t necessarily lead to a Game Over.

code-vein PAX East 2018

Releasing for PS4, Xbox One, and PC in 2018.

Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn

Sometimes in life, you just wanna beat some fools up. Other times in life, you just wanna to be The Shaq. So why not both?

For those of you who missed the gem that was the original SNES and Genesis classic, yes, Shaq Fu was a thing and is a thing again with this brand new reboot. In this side-scrolling beat ‘em up you play as the legendary Shaquille O’Neal himself as he punches, kicks, and shoes his way through an alien plot to take over the world by impersonating famous celebrities.

The plot is just as ridiculous as it sounds, and A Legend Reborn revels in that ridiculousness. Every B-rate kung-fu flick cliché, every NBA reference, every wax on and wax off; it’s all featured here in full force. For the duration of the ten-minute demo, I was, at a minimum, grinning like an idiot to, at maximum, laughing hysterically like an idiot. The fact that the game plays like a solid beat ‘em up is just a bonus and secondary to the entertainment the script will provide.

Shaq-Fu PAX East 2018

Releasing for PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on June 5th.

PAX East 2018 Take Home Message

If it wasn’t already obvious, it’s a good time to be a gamer and shows like PAX East only cement that fact even more. There are so many stellar games on the horizon and these are only the games I got the chance to play and fit in this article. The gaming industry has been and will continue to grow at an explosive rate and it’s astounding that it still manages to deliver novel and interesting ways to entertain every step of the way. So chin up because that Steam backlog is going to keep growing, that game case pile will rise even taller, that desire for a better TV/monitor will get even stronger. Our jobs as gamers ain’t getting any easier, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Heralding from the rustic, old town of Los Angeles, California; Matthew now resides in Boston where he diligently researches the cure for cancer. In reality, though, he just wants to play games and watch anime, and likes talking about them way too much. A Nintendo/Sony hybrid fan with a soft-spot for RPG’s, he finds little beats sinking hours into an immersive game world. You can follow more of his work at his blog and budding YouTube channel below.

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10 Years Later: ‘Mass Effect 2’ is An All-Time Sci-fi Classic

Mass Effect 2 didn’t just nail the formula for a successful sequel, it tied together one of the greatest science fiction tales ever.

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Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect launched in 2007 as the boldest science fiction project ever conceived for consoles. The complex mythology, history and the many alien races, each with their own political/religious beliefs offered a depth rarely seen in the medium. Only a game as ambitious as Mass Effect 2 could not only match the pedigree of such a massive project, but surpass it in every single way imaginable.

Released 3 years after the original, a full decade ago, Mass Effect 2 set the benchmark for not just sequels but for science fiction gaming as well. Few sequels are able to overcome the weaknesses of their predecessors with such perfect accuracy while also doubling down on what made them good in the first place.

The first task that fell to Bioware was to refine the combat. The original game had more of a strategic angle to it but that strategy meant the game was constantly stopping and starting, stuttering the action and ruining the flow of the game. By streamlining the combat into more of an action RPG experience (emphasis on action), Mass Effect 2 created a much better sense of tension in battle sequences. Aiming, using techniques and issuing orders also flowed more smoothly with these changes.

Mass Effect 2

Another major change was the removal of the Mako, an exploratory rover the player drove around alien planets with. While a novel idea, the Mako often lead to aimless wandering as the player sought out resources on the many planets of Mass Effect. Instead of driving to their destination, players were now warped directly to the area they would be exploring. Resource collection was overhauled as a result.

While few players will talk about the thrill of spinning a globe around and aiming a reticle in order to collect resources in Mass Effect 2, the simple speed by which this process was streamlined offered a hefty margin of improvement over the original game. Resources that might have taken a half hour to collect in the first game could now be found in 1/10 of that time. Resource collection, while a vital part of the game, was never meant to be the time sink it was in the original Mass Effect, and by speeding up this process, Mass Effect 2 allowed players to get back to the meat of the game: doing missions and exploring the galaxy.

Of course, these aren’t necessarily the most significant changes that players will recall from their time with Mass Effect 2. The story and character roster were also expanded considerably from the first game, and these are without a doubt the biggest improvements that this sequel is able to mount.

Mass Effect 2

While Mass Effect had seven playable characters, Mass Effect 2 expanded that to twelve. Not only was the amount of characters an improvement, though, the quality of the characters on offer was also much stronger this time around. A full nine new characters were introduced for players to utilize in combat, strategize with and get to know throughout the game. Among them were badass assassin Thane Krios, dangerous convict Jack, morally dubious Miranda Lawson, and hivemind robot Legion.

In fact, the cast of Mass Effect 2 is so good that it has rightfully become a benchmark for the creation of a compelling cast of characters in RPGs, and video games, in general. The sheer diversity on display in the looks, personalities and movesets allowed for the cast is awe-inspiring, and this is without even considering the trump card that Mass Effect 2 flashed throughout the experience of playing the game.

The monumental suicide mission to raid the Collectors’ base and save humanity is the impetus for the entire plot of Mass Effect 2, and the reason for which the player is recruiting the baddest mother fuckers from all over the galaxy in hopes of success. It isn’t just a suicide mission in name either, many, or even all, of the cast can die during the completion of this mission, adding a layer of suspense and finality to the final stage of Mass Effect 2 that few other games can match.

Mass Effect 2

To this end, players were encouraged to get to know their crew through loyalty missions specific to each cast member. By undertaking these optional missions and completing them in a way that would impress or endear themselves to the character in question, players were able to ascertain the unquestioned respect and loyalty of that character, ensuring they wouldn’t go rogue during the final mission.

Still, even passing these prerequisites with flying colors wasn’t a guarantee for success. Players also had to pay attention to the strengths and weaknesses of the characters when assigning tasks and making split second decisions. Who you would leave to recon an area, repair a piece of equipment, or lock down a path, could make the difference as to who was going to survive the mission. Further complicating things, the characters you wanted to take with you to final branches of the mission might be the very people best suited for these earlier tasks.

Getting everyone out alive is a truly Machiavellian task, requiring either a guide or multiple playthroughs in order to get it precisely right. To that end, my feeling is that it’s better to go at it honestly the first time around, dealing with the requisite losses that this experience entails. After all, it isn’t really a suicide mission without a couple of casualties right? Even with all of my preparations and foresight, I lost Tali and Legion in the final mission, but for the fate of the human race, these losses were an acceptable cost.

Mass Effect 2

Even outside the strength of this fantastic cast and the monumental undertaking of planning and executing this final mission, there were other key characters and elements introduced as well. The Illusive Man, voiced by the great Martin Sheen, emerged as a necessary evil, saving Commander Shepard from death but asking morally complex decisions to be made as the cost of doing business. The relationship with, and the choices the player makes, in regard to The Illusive Man have far reaching consequences for the remainder of the series, and as he emerged to become a primary antagonist in the final game of the trilogy, the considerations to be made were vast and insidious by their very definition.

With so many factors working in its favor, Mass Effect 2 is the rare game that is so perfectly designed that both its predecessor and sequel suffer by comparison as a result. While the improvements of ME2 make it hard to go back to the original game, the scope and ambition of an entire cast that could be alive or dead at the end of the journey also neutered the third game, causing many of the best characters in the trilogy to be excised from the final leg of the trip.

Truly, Mass Effect 2 isn’t just one of the greatest science fiction games of all time, but one of the best science fiction experiences in any medium, full stop. Like The Empire Strikes Back before it, Mass Effect 2 is the best exemplar of its universe and what makes it compelling and worthwhile in general.

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PAX South 2020 Hands On: ‘Speaking Simulator,’ ‘Iron Danger,’ and ‘Wildermyth’

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Iron Danger

PAX South brought an extremely diverse lineup of games to San Antonio, and in this next roundup, it’s time to look at another diverse assortment of titles. These include Speaking Simulator, the surrealist take on the art of speaking, Wildermyth, a beautiful new RPG based on D&D, and Iron Danger, a surprisingly player-friendly take on roleplaying.

PAX South

Speaking Simulator

When asked why he was inspired to develop Speaking Simulator, the developer promptly responded, “I don’t know!” That was exactly what I felt while playing its demo at PAX. It left me mystified, amazed that it exists, overwhelmed by its complexity, and delighted with its absurdity. Speaking Simulator follows a highly advanced android tasked with assimilating into human society in order to gain world domination – and to do that, he’ll need to learn how to speak first. Players are thus tasked with controlling every aspect of this android’s face and guiding it through increasingly difficult social situations.

Speaking is an awkward art for many people (including myself), and Speaking Simulator is just that: awkward. You can control nearly every aspect of the android’s face. You can move its tongue with the left stick and its jaw with the right, while manipulating its facial expression, eyebrows, and more with other buttons. This leads to a delicate balancing act where complete control feels just barely out of reach so that you must always be alert and able to sufficiently direct your mechanical face.

PAX

During each conversation, you’ll have so many different moving parts to consider. You’ll have to follow prompts about where to move your tongue, how to adjust your mouth, how your face should look, and so on. The more complex the conversation, the trickier it is to speak. Scenarios during my demo included a date, a job interview, and the most normal social situation of all, speaking to a man while he’s using the toilet. And of course, if you don’t perform adequately in these conversations, then your face will start to explode – which is only natural for awkward conversations, after all.

Speaking Simulator is the definition of controlled chaos. It shows just how difficult it really is to be a human – controlling the face alone was far more than I could handle, as my frequent face explosions during my demo showed me. Playing Speaking Simulator was an equally hilarious and surreal experience, one that I can’t wait to experience in full when it releases on Switch and PC at the end of January.

PAX

Iron Danger

Iron Danger was one of my biggest surprises at PAX South. When I arrived at the Daedalic Entertainment booth for my appointment with Iron Danger, I didn’t expect to enjoy it half as much as I did. As a western-styled, point and click RPG, Iron Danger was outside my comfort zone. Yet the game is explicitly designed for players like me, who can feel intimidated by the immense amount of strategies and decisions that the genre requires. This is thanks to its core mechanic: time reversal. Perhaps this mechanic isn’t entirely unheard of in RPGs (Fire Emblem: Three Houses comes to mind as a recent example), but the way it’s implemented in Iron Danger makes all the difference.

It begins simply enough for an RPG. Your village is under attack, and as you attempt to escape to safety, you have the misfortune of dying. But death is only the beginning: just as you fall, a mysterious being blesses you with the ability to rewind time at any moment you’d like. That means that if you ever make a wrong move during combat, then you can reverse that decision and try something else. Time is divided up into “heartbeats,” which are measured in a bar at the bottom of the screen.  If you want to go back in time, simply click on a previous heartbeat. There’s no limit on how often you can use this ability: battles become a process of trial and error, of slowly rewinding and progressing as you discover what works. If you end up walking into an enemy trap, simply click back to the heartbeat before the ambush, and try a different strategy.

Iron Danger takes the stress out of roleplaying. RPGs are all about making decisions, and typically, making the wrong decision comes at a high price. But thanks to the time-reversal mechanic, Iron Dungeon gives you the room to experiment without consequence. As the developers at the booth explained to me, the ability to undo your actions turns Iron Danger into more of a puzzle game than an RPG. It’s all about evaluating your situation, the abilities at your disposal, the locations and actions of different enemies, and so on. And if everything goes wrong, then there’s nothing to worry about.

That doesn’t mean that Iron Danger will be too easy, however. Current indications point to the opposite. After I played through the tutorial, the developers took over and showed me an advanced, extremely complex level from later in the game, filled with deadly enemies and dynamic environments to consider, with fields that can catch on fire and explosive barrels to throw at enemies. You’ll have to constantly skip forward and backward in time only to survive. This combination of player-friendly mechanics and hardcore roleplaying combat is an exciting mix, extremely appealing for someone like myself who loves RPGs but doesn’t enjoy the stress that often comes with them.

Wildermyth

Wildermyth

In addition to video games, PAX South also had a substantial portion of the exhibit hall devoted to tabletop games – including, of course, Dungeons and Dragons. But if you wanted to experience D&D-style action without leaving the video game section of the expo, then Wildermyth perfectly fit the bill.

This new RPG is a hybrid between DnD storytelling and worldbuilding with XCOM-esque combat. Like D&D, it allows players to forge their own adventures and stories. Decisions during story events can impact everything from the way the larger story plays out to the weapons your character can use in each battle. Story sequences play out randomly, with events occurring differently depending on which enemies you’ve faced, which characters are in your party, which regions you’ve explored, and so on. It’s an extremely variable story, but with such adaptable writing, each story sequence feels natural, despite its apparent randomness. Instead, it should encourage replayability, to experience every possible story beat there is.

Wildermyth

Combat plays out in a grid-based strategy style, similar to games like XCOM. Each character is decked out with unique abilities of their own, and can interact with their environment dynamically. My favorite ability to experiment with was with the mage character, who can imbue environmental objects with magical abilities, such as attacking enemies who get close or inhibiting nearby enemies with status debuffs. I loved exploiting my surroundings and constructing the best strategies during my demo, and cleverly using special abilities like these will likely be key to strategically mastering combat later in the full game.

Like so many other games at PAX, Wildermyth also boasts of a visually distinct art style. The entire game is framed as a storybook; narrative sequences play out in comic book-like illustrations, and environments and characters consist of flat paper cut-outs in 3D surroundings. Pair this with a muted color palette and a simple, hand-drawn style, and Wildermyth has a quaint, comfortable art style that really supports the fairytale feel of the whole game. Currently available on Steam Early Access, the full game is set to release later this year.

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Indie Games Spotlight – Pastels, Parenting, and Pedestrians

Check out five of the most creative and compelling upcoming indies in the second Indie Games Spotlight of 2020.

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Indie Games Spotlight

Indie Games Spotlight is Goomba Stomp’s bi-weekly column that shines a light on some of the most promising new and upcoming independent titles. Though 2020 is already scheduled to have several of the most anticipated indie releases of the last few years, this time we’re going to focus on games coming out in the immediate future. From vibrant brawlers to daughter raising simulators, you’re bound to find something that tickles your fancy in the coming weeks.

Super Crush KO; Indie Games Spotlight

Be John Wick for a Day in Super Crush KO

The neon-tinged shoot ’em up Graceful Explosion Machine quickly became one of the best indies on the Switch in 2017. Almost three years later, the same crew at Vortex Pop is back again with Super Crush KO, a fast-paced brawler set in a vibrant, near-future city. Despite the change in genre, however, it’s clear that Vortex Pop haven’t lost their design sensibilities in the slightest.

Super Crush KO plops players into a pastel world full of evil robots and cat-stealing aliens. Such is the situation of protagonist Karen when she’s rudely awoken to find her fluffy, white-furred pal catnapped. Thus, she embarks on a mission to punch, kick, juggle, and shoot anyone trying to keep her from her feline friend. Just like with Graceful Explosion Machine, the goal here is to clear levels with style, rack up high scores, and climb the leaderboards to compete with players around the world. Super Crush KO is out now for Switch and PC.

LUNA: The Shadow Dust Rekindles Lost Memories

Luna: The Shadow Dust is an absolutely stunning, hand-drawn adventure that follows the quest of a young boy who must restore light and balance to an eerie, enchanted world. This lovingly crafted point-and-click puzzle game originally began as a Kickstarter and is finally seeing the light of day after four long years of development.

Beyond its frame-by-frame character animation and appealing aesthetics, LUNA also promises to offer all manner of environmental puzzles to keep players engaged. Control will be split between the boy and his mysterious companion as the two gradually forge a bond and try to uncover the boy’s lost memories. With emphasis placed on emergent storytelling and atmospheric mastery, LUNA should be well worth investigating when it releases on February 13th for PC. Don’t miss trying out the free demo either!

Georifters – An Earth-Shattering Party Game

Genuinely entertaining party games are shockingly hard to come by in a post-Wii world. Georifters looks to fill that gap by offering a multiplayer-centric platformer centered around spontaneous terrain deformation. Players will be able to push, flip, twist or turn the terrain to overcome challenges and battle competitors in hundreds of stages in single-player, co-op and four-player multiplayer modes.

Of course, multiplayer will be where most of the fun is had here. Each character boasts a unique terrain-altering ability to help them attain the coveted crystal in every match. This makes character selection a serious consideration when planning a winning strategy against friends. To drive this point home even further, there will even be dozens of unique themed skins for players to customize their favorites with. Just like the original Mario Party titles, get ready to ruin friendships the old fashioned way when Georifters launches on all platforms February 20th.

Ciel Fledge; Indie Games Spotlight

Master Parenting in Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator

To say the simulation genre is ripe with creativity would be a massive understatement. Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator takes the Football Manager approach of letting players manage and schedule nearly every aspect of their daughter’s life; classes, hobbies, time spent with friends, you name it. The week then flies by and players get to see how their decisions play out over the weeks, months and years that follow. To keep things engaging, extracurricular activities and school tests are taken via a fascinating blend of match-three puzzles and card-based gameplay.

Just like in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, it’s easy to imagine the strong bonds that’ll form after investing so much time and energy into Ciel’s growth into an adult. Better yet, Ciel Fledge is filled out by what Sudio Namaapa calls “a cast of lovable characters” for Ciel to befriend, learn from, and grow up with. Prepare to raise the daughter you always wanted when Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator releases on February 21st for Switch and PC.

The Pedestrian; Indie Games Spotlight

The Pedestrian – Forge Your Own Path

The Pedestrian puts players in the shoes of the ever-recognizable stick figure plastered on public signs the world over. From within the world of the public sign system, players will have to use nodes to rearrange and connect signs to progress through buildings and the world at large.

The Pedestrian is a 2.5D side scrolling puzzle platformer, but the real draw here is the puzzle aspect. The core platforming mechanics are on the simpler side; players can jump and interact with different moving platforms, ladders, and the occasional bouncy surface. The possibilities of where this novel concept can go will all depend on how inventive the types of signs players can navigate will be. The character is also surprisingly charming; it’s inherently fun to guide the little pedestrian man through buildings and environments he wouldn’t normally find himself in.

Whether you’re a puzzle fan or simply appreciate the aesthetics, be sure to look out for the full journey when The Pedestrian launches on PC January 29th. Get an idea of what to expect by trying out the free demo too!

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