Tag Archive: old

Helicopter

Noitu Love 2: Devolution

Official Site || Steam Page

I originally purchased Noitu Love 2: Devolution nearly a decade ago, back in the days when commercial indie games were rare oddities which often could only be found on the personal sites of their developers, and it’s still one of my favorite games to go back to. I’ve praised the dash mechanics in games like Psi Knuckle and Bleed 2, but this is definitely the game which first made me aware of just how satisfying a well-implemented dash could be. With its incredibly fluid controls which seamlessly combine traversal with combat, Noitu Love 2 has withstood the test of time and easily holds on to its position as one of the best action platformers in existence.
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Bleed

Official Site || Steam Page

Bleed 2 is going to be released in less than a week (February 8), so now seems like a pretty good time to look at the original game in this series. For those unfamiliar with Bleed , it is a brutally hard game focused mostly on its many boss fights which are spread out between seven short and rather varied levels. It shows its age a bit in spots, but the crisp combat and the incredibly smooth controls hold up as well as ever.
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Snow Machine

Knytt Stories – Snow Machine by RichardJ

Official Site || Level Archive

It only seems appropriate to bring Knyttmas to a close with a level I stumbled upon where Juni must save Knyttmas. This is a very peaceful level where the only remote sense of danger comes from a small amount of water which poses no actual threat and only really exists for the sake of enhancing the scene. The journey here is little more than a straight line back and forth with a few hills and bumps along the way, but this linearity is completely fine as the focus here is on providing a relaxing atmosphere with some nice scenery to look at. While platforming beyond making a few hops isn’t necessary, there are a few small secrets scattered around slightly off of the beaten path. I am also glad that the game makes players walk back to the start after activating the snow machine as it would have likely been easier to cover the journey with a few picture in an ending slideshow, but being able to witness the way the snow has changed the landscape on the way back is a great reward. Snow Machine makes for a wonderfully calming experience as its lack of danger and its straightforward approach properly capture the relaxing nature of taking a stroll through the snow.

Knytt Stories – Level 5 by BloxMaster

Official Site || Level Archive

Even if it’s not exactly the prettiest level out there, Level 5 has some solid design choices. The initial stretch only has some standard platforming and quickly hands out new abilities, though even this part has a bit of a puzzle element to it when it forces players to find a safe route around an electrical enemy. Things get more interesting once you get the umbrella with a long downward obstacle course and some tricky gliding. The puzzle mechanics start to show up more clearly once players reach Level 4 and need to solve two switch code puzzles in a row. Finding the solutions to these puzzles is a small challenge in its own right and figuring out how to properly apply the hidden codes to the switches is another puzzling task as the answer requires the use of some deductive reasoning. The finale of the stage is the first part where Juni is allowed to break free from the otherwise mostly linear progression as players must navigate old areas in reverse with some new hazards in order to even find Level 5. Aesthetics are the only major weakness this level possesses as the standard Knytt Stories music chosen doesn’t mesh well with the graphics and the spikes can sometimes be hard to see, though I do appreciate the work that went into making the level transition ‘animations’ by rapidly swapping through several similar rooms like a video game version of a flip book.

Knytt Stories – Banishment by Googoogjoob

Official Site || Level Archive

NOTE: There’s no video this time around as several large portions of this level contain copyrighted material.

Banishment is focused almost entirely on its story and atmosphere with a small amount of platforming near the start. The setup of Juni being accused of murder and banished after a villager dies in a mining accident is definitely on the dark side of things and allows for two particularly strong points for this level. First, the villagers have a nicely varied set of reactions when Juni approaches them as some believe she is a killer, others believe she is innocent, and others are neutral or don’t seem to know who Juni is, making for a world which doesn’t seem to revolve entirely around its protagonist. Secondly, the village itself is big and has many entirely optional places to go to, such as the mine and the farm; there’s no physical reward for exploration, but it helps to enhance the setting by making the village feel like a real place. The weakest part of the level by far is when Juni has to arbitrarily platform her way through a cave with some water hazards to get a key which will allow her to leave the village. The platforming challenges aren’t bad and are easy enough, though there’s no checkpointing, but it does feel like an unnecessary step which somewhat spoils the atmosphere. The second half of the game involves Juni’s journey across desolate lands as ancient ruins and dark caves intertwine with Juni’s own fears. The game uses sounds and visuals during this portion to great effect to convey the sense of fear and isolation that comes from banishment without relying on words. The ending is a little cheesy and the level could really do without the cave portion, but Banishment otherwise makes for a compellingly atmospheric short story.