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‘Yooka-Laylee’ and six design choices we hope Playtonic Games implements

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Yooka-Laylee

I backed Yooka-Laylee within hours of it being revealed by a group of former Rareware developers [now calling themselves “Playtonic Games” ]. I grew up on Rare’s 3D platformers, and the possibility of game industry veterans making a spiritual sequel to Banjo-Kazooie has me legitimately more excited than any other game coming out in 2016. 18 years later, that original title has held aged remarkably well and stands as one of the prolific studio’s crowning achievements.

Even if it weren’t being made by old masters, I’d still be excited for any new upcoming 3D platformer because it’s a genre that’s all but died out. Whatever survivors there were seem to get by on brand recognition or by adapting to new trends in gaming. That’s not a knock against those games mind you, but it just feels like no one’s been able to fill that particular void in gaming left by Rare ever since they got consumed by Microsoft.

What little has been shown of Yooka and his winged buddy looks promising, but my cynical mind also remembers the last time I was teased with the return of everyone’s favourite bear and bird duo and how that turned into a car building simulator. I’d also argue that there was more to the original game than having a world where everything had google eyes and spoke in odd murmurs. With that in mind, here are 6 design choices that I think Yooka-Laylee needs to implement to truly capture the spirit of Banjo-Kazooie.

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1. Make Each World Feel Unique

Banjo Kazooie’s level design borrows elements from Mario and Zelda titles. Like the former, there are plenty of wacky and crazy challenges, but they’re weaved together with a sense of consistency that fits the latter. These days, games with a big cohesive world tend to become sandboxes, which have only gotten bigger and more realistic with newer technology. As impressive as that is, there’s more to making a game world interesting than just having a lot of believable ground to cover. For all of the work Assassin’s Creed puts into nailing its historical settings, the environments blur together due to how repetitive they are. That makes it really difficult to develop a complete sense of geographical awareness and is sadly why “objective markers” have become so prominent recently. Banjo Kazooie had no need for those though since every corner of the map had something unique and distinct to look at. This not only made it easy to recognize where you’ve been, it made you anticipate each new thing coming around the corner. Even a level like “Click Clock Wood”, which is literally the same map repeated 4 times, managed to avoid staleness. Each version had a different aesthetic related to the 4 seasons and said season would inform how you could travel and which puzzles could be solved. Hell, the game’s locations were so memorable that the developers were even able to quiz the player on them near the end of the game. [Side note: more games should have deadly quiz shows as a lead-in to the final boss]

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2. Make Exploring the Worlds fun

Going back to the aforementioned comparison, like Mario you have a lot of moves from the onset that all effect your traversal [different jumps, ground pounding, rolling, etc.], while, like Zelda, you’re constantly learning new moves and abilities. In that specific case, though, most of the upgrades were used solely to unlock the next section. They usually don’t make the traversal itself more fun. It also doesn’t help that you only can only quickly access a handful of them without having to navigate menu screens. Granted, that’s fine for the type of genre Zelda occupies, but for a platformer, it would have completely killed its flow.

Actually; quick digression on flow because it’s sort of a hard concept to pin down… The ideal platformer is one such that movement through the level has an almost musical rhythm to it [see Rayman Legend’s music levels for a literal example]. Preserving that sense of momentum with your character is in the back of the player’s head at all times. They should always be thinking: “yeah, I did well, but could I have done it better?” Consequentially, this means that there needs to be some challenge in pulling it off to make this sensation gratifying. Going back to what I said about Assassin’s Creed, the initial thrill of clambering around rooftops dissipates when you realize how little thought or skill is required to get anywhere. Hold one or two buttons and hold the joystick forward, and the rest of the game will practically play itself. It’s also worth pointing out that simply getting from point A to point B faster isn’t a solution to maintain flow if it’s at the expense of bypassing the levels themselves [see Batman’s zip-line glide in Batman: Arkham City].

Going back to Banjo, it’s important to note that nearly every move you learn is accessible with a mere 1-2 button combination. They each had a distinct purpose that built on your previous abilities and they all transitioned into each other smoothly. That quickness of being able to react and perform a move meant the game never wasted your time. To see how this can be mishandled, let’s look at Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts. Full disclaimer: I haven’t played it, I can’t comment on it accurately, and I don’t want to treat it like a great big betrayal without firsthand experience. In any case, that game’s major design decision was to replace getting new moves with getting new car parts, and having those open up the world instead. It seems similar, but the catch is that instead of a few button presses to bypass an obstacle, you potentially have to pause, go to a menu, and rebuild your car with the new components you need. Doing this every single time you get stuck strikes me as being absolutely deadly to the game’s flow, and while it could be a neat mechanic for a different game, it’s a terrible fit for a platformer.

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3. Give the Player Some Freedom in How They Want Progress

Rare’s become synonymous with the unofficial “collect-o-thon” genre, wherein you must collect an assortment of shiny trinkets to beat the game. I maintain though that it wasn’t merely the compulsion to get 100% completion that made this work, but the amount of freedom they gave the player to get there. While there are some Jiggys that need to be obtained first in order to get others, it’s otherwise left pretty open. You got dropped into these big worlds with all sorts of things to see and do at your own pace in whatever order you desire. It’s what made it feel like an adventure. For all that openness, though, they were still able to structure an appropriate difficulty curve by limiting progression based on the amount of notes and Jiggys you found. It’s a great balancing act of never making the player feel too constricted while providing enough structure such that the game can elicit specific reactions from the players. Even players who did want to uncover every secret were rewarded for their diligence with earning extra health and a bonus ending, so this freedom doesn’t simply devolve into an “everyone wins” outcome.

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4. Trust the Player to Think for Themselves

Egoraptor already pointed this out, but it’s worth repeating… It’s amazing how modern titles aim for “mature” and “grown-up” audiences, yet treat the player like a child who doesn’t know how to follow basic instructions. When the game feels the need to constantly remind you what every button does, what you should be doing at this exact moment, or flat out telling you how to progress, you lose that sense of excitement and discovery. You’re no longer playing a game; you’re following instructions. Players want to uncover new locations on their own, master techniques, and figure out the solutions to puzzles. Fortunately, Rare encouraged those elements because they trusted the player to think independently. They didn’t need objective markers or text prompts because all the information you needed came from the world and the characters’ dialogue. They also knew that they could have complex challenges as long as they were fair and not 100% essential to complete the game. Banjo-Tooie had some of the most devilishly clever interconnecting challenges I’ve seen in a game but still allowed less experienced players to keep progressing should they feel some of it was too hard.

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5. Keep the World as Seamless as Possible

Honestly, this entry is more just to address a complaint I’ve always had with the otherwise fantastic 3D Mario titles. Like Banjo, you have a game with a bunch of worlds to explore with each one having its own series of objectives to complete. Unlike Banjo, after collecting each star/shine sprite, they pull you out of that world and you have to dive back in to get more. It’s a minor gripe, but it suddenly makes the game world feel less like a big place to explore, and more like a series of disconnected levels. The goal of any game should be to fully immerse you and make you forget you’re playing a game at all and having pointless roadblocks can suck you out of the experience. To be fair, it’s one thing if the level has changed completely for each objective [this is seen more in Super Mario Galaxy], but otherwise it needlessly disrupts the flow, which, as stated, is crucial for any platformer, be it 2D or 3D

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6. Give the World, Characters, and Gameplay Compatible Personalities

A lot of people like to cite the humor, vivid colours, and the overall quirkiness as to what made Rare games special. That’s all true, but I want to stress that it wasn’t those elements individually that gave them their identity, but how they all worked off each other. There’s no shortage of games that are funny, have great art styles, or eccentric characters. What’s tricky is getting all of these elements to fit together. For all of the absurdity, self-awareness and the occasional breaking of the fourth wall found in these games, there was a consistency that made the universe seem believable. Just look at our main character. We play as a bear wearing yellow shorts whose best friend is a rude bird living in his backpack. Yet, Banjo walks upright like we do, and the dynamic he shares with Kazooie is similar to that of two roommates, or an old married couple. Because they keep some aspects grounded in reality, they manage to create something quite silly that remains relatable. This carries over to the seeming cliché plot where you must rescue your kidnapped sister from an ugly witch who’s jealous of her beauty. As overused as that trope is, I doubt that in most of those interpretations the two sides sparring were neighbours; one living in a quaint little house while the other in a giant lair shaped like her head.

That clash of the regular with the strange is ultimately what informs every other aspect of the game. The worlds all have familiar settings [Beach, Swamp, Desert, etc.] with exaggerated characters and landmarks populating them. The moves are conceptually ridiculous [like having Kazooie stretch her legs and suddenly start carrying Banjo], but they all serve a practical purpose. The dialogue can be cheeky and self-referential, but it primarily served to illustrate the dynamic between the characters to make them credible. It all culminates to a game that would happily acknowledge the absurdity of its own world but always believed in it. This particular detail was, unfortunately, something else that Nuts and Bolts didn’t appear to grasp [at least, that’s how the introduction comes off]. They happily mocked how inactive the bear and bird duo have been by wasting time playing video games and how the old game mechanic of collecting various knick-knacks was archaic and dull, and that this game in question would need to avoid it. These gags, in particular, are sour because it seems like Rare is just being mean to its fans and itself for no good reason. It goes beyond self-depreciation straight into self-shame, which ultimately makes it less fun and belittles the goodwill they earned from fans in the past. Need I remind you that that goodwill is what managed to fully fund Yooka-Laylee in less than an hour?

Daniel Philion

Ever since I could remember, people have told me I should become a writer. I had no training unfortunately, so I did the sensible thing and secluded myself in various hotel rooms with only a typewriter to keep me company. I came out of that experience with a permanent case of disheveled hair, bloodshot eyes and an overall 50% decrease in sanity, and still never managed to type a single word. I still haven't fully recovered, but I now fit in too well with everybody in my MFA class, so I have to keep the charade going...

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Game Reviews

‘Super Mario 3D All-Stars’ Defines Three Incredible Generations

Super Mario 3D All-Stars is the best bang for your buck compilation that the Super Mario Bros. franchise and the Nintendo Switch currently has to offer.

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Super Mario 3D All-Stars

Super Mario 3D All-Stars Review

Developer: Nintendo | Publisher: Nintendo | Genre: Platformer, Action | Platforms: Nintendo Switch | Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch


After nearly half a year of rumors, it was no surprise that Nintendo was going to jump up super high with another compilation title on their red plumber’s next special numbered anniversary. It’s absolutely undeniable to say that Super Mario 3D All-Stars is the best bang for your buck compilation that the Super Mario Bros. franchise and the Nintendo Switch currently have to offer. However, there are still a few pesky problems that persist through its leaking warp pipes. Nonetheless, what you are getting here is three updated masterclass retro classics that I probably don’t have to sell you on.

Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy are not only some of the most critically acclaimed titles on their respective systems, but they’re also among the most influential games ever made. Having all these platformers on one modern console handheld hybrid system sounds certainly promising, but how do they hold up in comparison to other games out on the market today? Is this really the best way to play these three classics? Have they been obliterated by time? Of course they all still hold up exceptionally well, but there are some upsetting answers to be found. Veterans and newcomers of Mario’s three-dimensional adventures will be rather pleased though by what is being offered in Super Mario 3D All-Stars.

3D All-Stars is a great best-hits package that can sometimes skimp out on features and upgrades, but it’s simply exceptional nonetheless.

Taking it all the way back to the past, 1996’s Super Mario 64 still holds a candle to many of today’s modern platformers as it flaunts its rebellious spirit through open environments and selective mission paths. The Nintendo 64’s shining star is just as good as you’ve heard or remember it to be. Despite some of its troublesome camera rotation and weird analog movement, the first three-dimensional Super Mario title still lives up to that high standard you would expect from a Nintendo release. Even after all these years, Super Mario 64 still comes out on top as the king of its generation.

There are plenty of cleaned-up trimmings, including new textures and user interface icons sprinkled here and there that benefit the original game’s noticeably aging areas throughout it’s latest rerelease. In comparison to its bundled successors, however, Super Mario 64 received the short end of the enhanced stick. While I certainly won’t say that Super Mario 64 was utterly cheated out on receiving the gleaming treatment it deserves, in comparison to something like Rare’s remasters of Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, Bethesda’s recent DOOM 64 port, or even just the other games within 3D All-Stars for that matter, Nintendo’s fifth-generation golden goose has disappointingly been adapted to Switch, to say the least.

Not only is the game not in widescreen like the other titles, but the framerate is still capped at 30 frames per second. Nintendo has created an authentic experience for those looking for the same adventure players witnessed when this groundbreaking masterpiece initially hit the public, but that does not mean these features could not have been optional. Considering Super Mario Galaxy is running at 1080p, sixty frames per second, surely Nintendo could have gotten the more primitive Nintendo 64 title up to that pristine quality.

Revisiting 2002’s summer vacation to Isle Delfino was a tear-worthy experience for me that one could say was fludding with nostalgia. I am not going to lie, Super Mario Sunshine was one of the very first console games I ever owned and it is still one of, if not my all-time favorite titles out there. However, ignoring my deep-rooted connection with the GameCube, objectively speaking Sunshine may perhaps be the Mario game that benefits the most from this compilation. Not only does the game look fantastic in widescreen format and high definition like the other games, but that extra field of view increases Delfino’s sense of scale and vision. It is truly incredible how well some of Nintendo’s earliest library of sixth-generation titles hold up visually despite being almost twenty years old.

The biggest concern longtime fans of Super Mario Sunshine will have going into this collection is how the control scheme would function. As someone who has played through the GameCube release dozens of times, I can happily confirm that Nintendo has done a fine job porting the game over to Switch. For those who are unaware, Sunshine originally allowed you to dictate the amount of water pressure F.L.U.D.D. would power out depending on how far you held the right trigger in. Due to the Switch’s lack of back analog triggers, replicating the original game’s experience was going to be difficult from the get-go. Nintendo’s solution was to make the character operate entirely on full power mode. This may sound like a major change, but in reality, the old control scheme was merely a feature that was fun to mess around with rather than a game-changing aspect. Outside of the late game’s irritating casino pachislot before the King Boo boss fight, there is no other area affected by the alteration.

While Nintendo’s newest GameCube emulation is surely impressive, it may not be entirely flawless for every perfectionist’s liking. Sunshine does indeed contain some minor faults that can likely be fixed in a future patch if Nintendo ever so chooses to release one. There are two notable quirks that will bother longtime fans although it should be mentioned that these are incredibly nitpicky changes in the grand scheme of things. For one, I noticed that a specific sound effect heard multiple times before timed missions had been changed to an oddly annoying censored beep- way to make El Piantissimo and Blooper racing bother more newcomers. Secondly, during some of the Fluddless missions focused on platforming, textured blocks that players are not supposed to see can appear that indicate an object’s trajectory.

Speaking of trajectories, its time to talk about the outer space adventure veterans probably have the most questions about. To bring this library to a close, we have 2007’s astronomical hit Super Mario Galaxy– the most critically praised game in this entire package, with the highest Metacritic and OpenCritic scores out of these three monoliths. Super Mario Galaxy is definitely the closest game to hit the modern standard of Mario’s latest globe-trotting adventures. When it comes to gorgeously designed landscapes and compact areas to explore, there are times where Galaxy could quite honestly stand toe to toe with Super Mario Odyssey from a distance. On top of this, we have what is arguably the most heartfelt Mario story to date as its beautifully constructed narrative never pulls any punches with its wholesome story entirely told through chapters of short text and subcontext.

Galaxy heavily utilized the Wii remote and nunchuck, but Nintendo is offering players with quite a few ways to now enjoy the title. Both Pro-Controller and Joy-Con proclaimers can breath easy because Galaxy supports both formats. While they may not be as pinpoint accurate as they previously were, the latest control schemes are exceptional. When playing with either of these controller options, you will have to utilize either motion or gyro to move the Luma cursor used to collect star bits, stop enemies, or solve various puzzles. Since the Switch lacks the intricately designed motion controls of the Wii, the developers have smartly mapped the right trigger to reset the cursor to the center of the screen.

The only aspect of Super Mario Galaxy that can often become problematic is when the game is being played in handheld mode, but this really only applies to specific sections of the game. In regards to on the go action, the game’s motion controls have been optimized for the touch screen, however, anyone who has played the Wii release can probably tell why this would not always work efficiently. When it comes to specifically collecting star bits, Galaxy can be a nightmare to try and multitask as you have to either pull your hand away from moving the left stick or inputting basic action commands like jumping. Menus and motion puzzles work great in handheld mode and can even be easier to play at times, but it is odd that the docked and tabletop control schemes can not be used with attached Joy-Cons.

Outside of the core three titles, Nintendo has opted out of including any special modes or features, unlike some of their various other notable anniversary titles such as Kirby’s Dream Collection or even the original Super Mario All-Stars rerelease on Wii. Without the additional extra content that properly commemorates the history of the Super Mario Bros. series, this anniversary can feel dishearteningly shallow as it looks more like a hangout than a massive birthday on the surface. Aside from including each game’s incredible soundtracks that double down as a way to always mix up your main menu experience, there are no art pages, interviews, design documents, or anything significant to glance at in this collection when it comes to additional trincites to awe at.

At the bare minimum, Nintendo could have at least included each title’s original manual for players to browse through, but even that is absent here. Even Super Mario Maker’s physical release came with a special booklet for fans to peruse five years ago. The games are obviously what matters most, but for something made to celebrate such a noteworthy milestone, audiences will definitely be expecting more from a character as iconic as Mario. The Super Mario Bros. franchise has such a fascinating history with a literal ocean of trivia and art worth exploring that you can find across several official artbooks, social media platform pages, and wikis. It is truly a shame that Nintendo did not go the extra mile to include any of this when commemorating 35 years of their mascot, but once again, the games at the spotlight are what truly matters most.

Despite its minor emulation issues and missing opportunities, 3D All-Stars manages to defy three incredible generations in one worthwhile package.

With its outstanding lineup of three masterclass generation-defining titles, Super Mario 3D All-Stars exceeds in a value rightfully way above its retail price tag as it bundles together three incredible journies into one package. Whether it is your first time getting to know Mario’s fantastical world or you are coming back to relive your childhood memories, this is a special title that offers some of the finest platforming adventures the red plumber has embarked on. Outside of the fact that it is literally a limited-time release, Nintendo’s latest anniversary best-hits extravaganza is well worth running out to purchase. If you have not played Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, or Super Mario Galaxy, you owe it to yourself to experience every one of these games.

Super Mario 3D All-Stars is indeed lacking in bonus content to make this truly feel like a shebang worth celebrating, but its three games keep the entire party from ever being less than exceptional. All three games included still remain tremendously entertaining as they prove to excel upon the passage of time. Perhaps it is not the grand superstar it could have potentially been, but it will put a huge smile on any veteran or newcomer’s face as they explore Peach’s castle grounds, take on a thwarted island vacation, or skyrocket into the cosmos that have brought decades of enjoyment to audiences of all ages. Collect your coins and get it while you can or begin plotting a Bowser-like scheme to score a copy in the distant future.

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Games

PAX Online: ‘Unpacking’ and ‘Infernax’

Our PAX Online coverage continues with a game the calm and relaxing Unpacking and the not-so calm and relaxing Infernax.

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Unpacking and Infernax

Our PAX Online coverage continues with a game that takes a hated activity and somehow makes it relaxing and another game that will leave you clenching your buttocks.

Unpacking

Unpacking game

Platforms: PC
Release: 2021

As someone who is coming fresh off of moving just a little over a month ago, you couldn’t have blamed me for being a little skeptical going into what was dubbed a “zen puzzle” game based on the final stretch of the process. Unpacking is just that, though. It’s a calming, almost therapeutic exercise that happened to serve as a wonderful way for me to unwind at the end of a day.

Unpacking is exactly what it says on the tin. There are no scores, no timers, no leaderboards, just you, and a few boxes with various items in them that need to be placed somewhere. The demo starts with a single bedroom in 1997. There’s nothing in the game that tells you where something should go, only your own taste and intuition; a locked diary would probably go in a desk-drawer while a soccer trophy would probably be displayed on a shelf.

As I slowly unearthed items one-by-one, I gradually got a feel for what the room’s new inhabitant was most likely like. The endless supply of stuffed animals implied someone of younger age while the numerous art supplies indicated someone inclined to right brain thinking. It’s rather engaging to learn about this person’s life purely by their belongings.

Every item taken out was like a delightful surprise and would sometimes even make me feel a little sentimental such as when I took out a small device that was clearly a Tamagotchi. More importantly, Unpacking nails that sinking feeling of when you feel like you’ve used all your available space but still have boxes left. Reaching the point of just throwing stuff wherever it fits is such an immediately relatable feeling that I was almost offended. And that was only for a single bedroom!

Unpacking game

The demo’s second stage was a little more involved with a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen in the year of 2004. The hilarious moments of finding a boot in your kitchenware box or a bra with your toiletries also felt like a call-out to my own hodge-podge packing methods. It’s something I can’t help but let out an exasperated chuckle at.

It was also neat to see how this person has grown since their earlier abode. Much fewer stuffed animals but more art supplies and a brand new computer imply this character is maybe entering the working adult world. I’ve never actually seen this character, but I can’t help but feel a connection to them already, and that was only after two moves. The full game will have eight total moves to follow them through and I am genuinely curious to see how our nameless and faceless protagonist grows throughout them.

Now if only unpacking in real life could be this soothing.

Infernax

Infernax

Platforms: PC
Release: TBA

Some players may recognize Berzerk Studio for their excellent 2018 bullet-hell, rhythm game Just Shapes & Beats. Coming hot of the heels of that hit they immediately pivoted in the new direction with Infernax, a delightfully edgy 8-bit adventure platformer that takes cues from old-school Castlevania titles.

Our hero returns to his land after a successful crusade only to find it overrun by horrible monstrosities in every which direction. With nothing but mace in hand, he sets out on a quest anew to rid the land of the undead filth. Immediately apparent upon starting is just how tightly the game controls; anyone fond of earlier NES titles will feel right at home with Infernax. I quickly got a handle on my exact attack reach down to the pixel and began mowing down the zombies in front of me. It emphasized how much joy a game is possible of eliciting from simply a jump and attack button.

Getting to that proficiency is important too because the game doesn’t waste any time in taking off the training wheels! Even the base enemies shaved off half my HP if I got careless and that difficulty ramped up at a rapid rate as new enemy types were introduced at a decent clip such as flying evil eyes and jumping rodents. Not only do these foes burst into tasty experience points and gold to be spent on upgrades, but also into extremely satisfying fountains of blood.

Infernax isn’t particularly shy about turning up the gore factor, but it’s still impressive by just how creative they get with it using simple pixel art. Nowhere is this more apparent than when you are killed. Every single enemy type has a unique kill animation when they deal the final blow to our hero. From the chump ass pillbugs to the big bad bosses, all of them mutilate you in a different way and it’s honestly morbidly mesmerizing to witness. It made me want to suicide against every enemy I came across just so I could see what creative way they took my life.

Infernax

Depending on your playstyle you might not want to do this, though, as Infernax features two different ways to respawn when you die. Hardcore respawn sends you all the way back to your last save point, just like in those classic NES titles. Casual respawn lets you restart right where you left off with no loss in progress, but choosing to do so locks you out from Hardcore the rest of the game. It’s a sort of mark of shame that I was glad to wear during the demo after I came up against the final boss and promptly got my ass handed to me. It sounds a little cheeky on paper but is actually very consistent with the game’s overtly edgy tone.

Infernax feels like a game that was lost to time during the NES era and is just now being rediscovered. Those looking for for a game that harkens back to the simplicity of the olden days need not look any further.

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Games

Indie Games Spotlight – Going Full Circle

We’re featuring five exciting indie games in our latest spotlight, including the internship roguelike Going Under and the cozy puzzles of Lonesome Village.

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Journey of the Broken Circle

Indie Games Spotlight is Goomba Stomp’s biweekly column where we highlight some of the most exciting new and upcoming independent games. Summer may have come to a close, but that hasn’t stopped big announcements from rolling in. With events like PAX Online and the recent PlayStation 5 Showcase flooding the web with announcements, trailers, and gameplay footage, there’s been a constant deluge of news to keep up with. With so much coming on the horizon, we’re spotlighting five exciting indies that you’ll be able to play sooner rather than later. Whether you’re in the mood for a brutally addictive action game or a cozy adventure and social sim, there’s bound to be a game that speaks to you in this spotlight.

Moving Up Professionally in Going Under

Work is its own payment in Going Under. In this action game from developer Aggro Crab, you’re put in the shoes of an unpaid intern who must explore the endless ruins of failed tech startups while fighting off the monsters that spawn within them. It’s hard work to do without a single paycheck—but hey, at least you’re gaining valuable experience!

As a former unpaid intern myself, the writing in Going Under certainly resonates with me and it’s sure to strike a chord with anyone who’s ever felt underappreciated or overworked. Its vibrant and colorful 3D graphics, as well as its satirical story, only make it all the more enticing. It really should offer a great working experience when it hits all consoles and PC via Steam on September 24.

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Fill in the Gaps in Journey of the Broken Circle

Something’s missing in Journey of the Broken Circle. Like its name would suggest, this puzzle platformer follows a Pacman-like circle with a hole to fill. It wanders through a world that is whimsical and existential at once, searching for a companion to fill its gaps. As the circle rolls through ethereal environments, it encounters different shapes to use that allow for new gameplay mechanics.

Journey of the Broken Circle might be about an abstract shape, but in its quest to become whole, it strives to capture the human experience. It promises to be an intimate experience that clocks in at about five hours to complete. If you’re interested in getting this ball rolling, it’s already available now on Switch and Steam.

Prepare to Get GORSD

There’s a delicate balance between unsettling the player without being outright scary. GORSD treads the line here as a one-hit-kill shooter that stars humans encased in the skins of octopuses, dragons with human faces, and nightmarish environments. Something feels off about GORSD, but that’s exactly what makes it so interesting.

Brought to life with detailed pixel art, GORSD supports up to four players who can face off in chaotic matches in varied arenas. It also features a full-fledged single-player campaign with a vast overworld with dozens of unique stages. Its concept is inspired by its developers’ native Southeast Asian cultures, making for a unique gameplay and aesthetic experience. If you’re ready to dive in and see it for yourself, it’s available now on all consoles and PC via Steam.

Get Ready For a Foregone Conclusion

Saying Foregone is a 2D Dark Souls would be cliché, but accurate nonetheless. It’s a hardcore action game where you’ll fight against insurmountable odds to prevent monsters from overrunning the world. It has a brutally addictive gameplay loop—its difficulty may be excruciating, but because it offers a wide assortment of abilities to leverage, it’s immensely euphoric once you overcome the challenges before you.

This beautiful 3D/pixelated hybrid action game has been available on PC in early access since February, but at long last, it’s seeing its full console release in October. It’s been a promising title ever since its pre-release days, and now that it’s finally seeing its complete iteration, there’s never been a better time to dive in and give it a shot. It’s hitting all platforms on October 5, so there’s not long to wait!

Finding Good Company in a Lonesome Village

Mix Zelda with Animal Crossing and you might get something like Lonesome Village. This newly-revealed puzzle adventure game features Zelda-like adventure in a hand-drawn world populated by animal characters. Players control a wandering coyote who stumbles upon a strange village and decides to investigate its mysterious happenings by interacting with villagers, solving puzzles, and exploring its dungeons.

It’s more than a simple adventure game. In addition to puzzle-solving, you’ll interact with Lonesome Village’s eclectic cast of characters to forge relationships and unravel brooding mysteries. It’s showing plenty of potential with its cozy gameplay loop, and if you want to give it a shot, check out its official demo from its Kickstarter page! It’s already been fully funded in less than 24 hours, but if you want to help the developers out even further, consider contributing to their campaign.

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