Mistakes can often come back to haunt you when you’re a sentient outline. Outline is a platformer where your character is defined through an absence of space and everything it touches is erased from sight, which adds a new layer of challenge to the act of backtracking through levels while simultaneously creating a unique aesthetic identity.
Tag Archive: 2016
Long ago, I stumbled upon the demo for cloudphobia and expected to never be able to access the full game as it was only available in Japan, so seeing an official Steam release for this game was a massive, nostalgia-fueled surprise to say the least. Setting itself apart from every other shmup I can remember, cloudphobia incorporates a strict time limit into each of its levels and players must make use of a speed boost ability to complete each stage before running out of time while also watching their own health as well as the health of the unseen mothership. If you ever thought the shmup genre could benefit from some added complexity, then this is definitely a game you won’t want to pass up!
The boss fights are often the best parts of bullet hell shmups, so Cylor vs The Bullets From Hell cuts right to the chase by focusing entirely upon a single, ever-evolving boss. Over half a dozen difficulties gives this game plenty of replayability and the fight itself has many memorable twists both aesthetically and in terms of gameplay.
Now here’s a game about something most of us can relate to, though hopefully not to quite the same degree. Initially made as a Ludum Dare entry, Good Impression gives you a mere three minutes in which to clean up your impressively messy apartment before your mom arrives for an abruptly scheduled visit. Every plate must be washed, every stain must be rubbed clean, and every piece of trash must be disposed of as the clock continues to tick down and the music continues to escalate into a panicked frenzy. It may be tempting to toss a pile of unpaid bills into the closet or to shove an empty pizza box under the bed, but every inch of the apartment will be inspected and you can only make a truly good impression by putting everything where it properly belongs.
Good Impression excels at capturing the feeling of rushing to clean up for unexpected guests in a lot of little ways which makes the whole thing come together. Movement is slightly slippery and items are often far away from where they belong, which leads to fumbling around and running into furniture and pizza boxes while running around the room painfully aware of every wasted second. You need to mash X to clean up stains, but this also almost inevitably leads to temporarily dropping your improvised rag of choice after the stain is clean, wasting another second. Clothing is particularly tricky as the only way to tell clean and dirty clothes apart is to read the item names and even a single misplaced sock can tarnish your impression. The biggest factor of all in replicating the feeling of a hasty cleaning rush is the way storage works. First, items are removed from storage in the order in which they were put in, so if you realize that the last item placed in a storage container actually belongs somewhere else you’ll need to quickly pull out everything which came before it and scatter those items around the floor. Secondly, there isn’t a perfect amount of storage and what goes where isn’t always clear. Some hiding places have an excess amount of storage, others seem to have too little, and yet others just shouldn’t be used at all. Is there a way to toss all of the different types of pizza slices into a single box, just where can all the obvious trash go, and what can be shoved in the closet? These questions and more will race through your mind as you desperately tidy up your apartment and you’ll gradually gain a sense of accomplishment and pride at how clean the apartment begins to look, or at least you will until you realize that you left a dirty shirt on the floor behind the couch without a second to spare.
NOTE: A longer version of this game is currently in active development!
Derelict was made for Game Boy Jam 5 and takes full advantage of its setting. Taking place on a deserted space ship overrun by evil robots, Derelict requires players to gradually restore power in order to open doors and make their way deeper into the ship. The twist here is that power not only controls the doors, but also the artificial gravity. As a result, there is initially very low gravity in each new region and players will have to hold down the jump button to rapidly accelerate through the air, but fully restoring power allows for backtracking through previous rooms in a new way with a more standard jump which sacrifices raw freedom of mobility for much more accurate control. Shooting the gun also results in a fair bit of recoil while in low gravity conditions, especially if multiple shots are fired in quick succession, which can lead to being flung backwards out of a room or straight into some spikes. The two modes of travel feel wildly different with low gravity requiring more cautious play where the best course of action is often to find ways to avoid enemies and hazards while normal gravity encourages a much more aggressive playstyle.
Though there are some references to Metroid along the way, they don’t actually share much in common beyond the abandoned space station setting as there aren’t any upgrades here and progression is largely linear beyond some minor exploration for the sake of power cells. Difficulty is also well-balanced for the most part, though the first boss is far too easy to kill simply by spamming attacks and the third area can at times feel overly punishing as it is a large, low gravity region filled with spikes and bumping into a spike even once can start a chain reaction where the protagonist is mercilessly bounced between spikes until they die. Gun upgrades also feel underwhelming as they only occasionally drop from enemies and getting hit even once will knock down the gun’s level, so they tend to not stick around for very long. Otherwise, this is a remarkably polished and, relatively speaking, lengthy contest entry as the only updates post-contest as of this time have been bug fixes, few balance issues, and some very minor content updates.