Normally there would be slightly more time between editions of Gamebox 2.0 but right after last week’s edition we luckily got inundated with more great games to check out, so we’re back with our thoughts on a bunch of recent releases, including the latest from I-Mockery.
Grave Chase: (Zach) We’ve always been a fan of I-Mockery’s online games, like Abobo’s Big Adventure, Ivan Drago: Justice Enforcer, Bionic Chainsaw Pogo Gorilla for Adult Swim and too many others to list but their latest is on Steam with the arcade action game Grave Chase. Playing as either a brother or sister, you’re looking to get revenge on the evil Groundskeeper, who is killing people to fill the graves of his graveyard and who killed their parents. The siblings are digging up body parts to build monsters to fight the Groundskeeper and you have to survive all 31 days of October to end the Groundskeeper’s rampage. As your chosen sibling, you’ll have to dig up graves and find a specific number of body parts in each stage, the number needed increasing each night, and you also have to fight off hordes of monsters like skeletons, spiders, snakes and zombies, many of which have negative effects in addition to potentially killing you, like the spider’s bite making you extremely slow. The Groundskeeper is also patrolling the graveyard and you have to avoid him because if he catches you, you have to make a mad dash to escape until he tires out, so there’s a stealth element in addition to the old school action. There’s a great risk/reward style to the gameplay where you have to dig up the graves with the monsters or the Groundskepper closing in and you start thinking “Can I dig up that grave before the monsters get here?”. Since it’s an old school arcade action game, the digging/running away reminded me a bit of Dig Dug, where you have to pump up the monsters but you can only do one at a time and the others are closing in, so can you kill the one before the others leave or do you have to bail? The game does an excellent job of ramping up and adding new elements every stage, with new enemy types, vastly different layouts for the graves and things like wooden boards being put over the graves, so you have to rapidly tap the dig button instead of the normal digging action. I also really love the end of each stage, where, after finding all the body parts for the stage, you have to do a mad dash to a portal before the Groundskeeper kills you and his frenzied speed plus the crazily frantic music makes it super nerve racking in the best way possible. Grave Chase is an excellent, super fun arcade game that’s the perfect way to kick off October and Halloween in earnest and it’s well worth checking out on Steam.
Crashy Cars: (Zach) Coming from Headup Games, Crashy Cars is a brand new, free to play mobile game for Android that is a twitchy arcade style game where you have to keep an endless stream of cars from crashing in the middle of a busy intersection. The cars will travel across four narrow lanes and you have to pick the right time to send them across the intersection while avoiding the end of the lane or the other cars you’ve already launched. Bonus coins appear that you can collect to unlock new stages and cars. It reminds me a bit of the airplane mobile game Flight Control, where you had to control airplanes landing at an airport and draw their paths so they wouldn’t collide. Both games get frantic pretty quick and Crashy Cars does a good job of making you do “just one more round” that could potentially turn into many more rounds. It seems like a great little time killer if you’re in line or waiting somewhere and since it’s free, it’s definitely at least worth trying out on your Android device of choice.
Pylon: Rogue: (Zach) Pylon: Rogue comes from QuantumSquid Interactive and it’s a Roguelike action RPG that puts you in randomly generated worlds full of hubs where you need to clear a certain number of rooms containing waves of enemies. There are four characters, although one is locked at the start until you achieve a certain objective, and they all play differently between the fairly standard warrior (although in this case he has Midasesque powers and can perform an attack to turn enemies into gold), a giant rock monster and a fast assassin who favors ranged attacks. The game tries to give you a fairly deep combo system using only the left mouse button, with different combos and attacks available depending on whether you click or hold the button although I really wish there was some sort of universal dodge move for each character. There are defensive abilities for each character but I found myself getting wrecked because I was caught in an enemy AoE attack at the end of a combo that I wish I could have just rolled away from. If you’re looking for a challenge, Pylon is it because right from the start of every run, the enemies are plentiful and relentless and you’ll have to survive upwards of a dozen waves between the different rooms to fully conquer an area. Pylon didn’t really turn out to be for me, especially because there’s not really any story to keep you engaged, and the difficulty was more frustrating than fun but, if just want some straight enemy wave clearing fantasy action, you may want to check Pylon out on Steam.
Hob: (Zach) We got to check out quite a bit of Hob at PAX East earlier this year but the game is out right now on PC and PS4. You play as the mysterious Hob, who is uncovered in a cave and sets out to explore a beautiful but sparse world and try to figure out what has happened. In the opening minutes of the game, Hob is infected by a mysterious spore and loses his(her?) arm and gets a transplant from a friendly robot ally which gives Hob the ability to smash huge barriers and manipulate the world to solve puzzles. Hob also gets a sword and there are abilities to unlock for both your arm and sword. Hob has the look and minimal storytelling of something like Journey with the gameplay and combat of Zelda and it’s an interesting combo. I only just started but I did find myself getting a little bored and frustrated trying to figure out what the hell to do in the first area and felt like I was going around in circles but if I spent more time with it, I’m sure I would probably get a handle on what and where to go. It’s just a personal preference but I prefer a tad bit more guidance or straight forward levels, which is why some of my favorite games are things like Uncharted, where you have a definite path forward plus incredibly strong narrative. If you do prefer more open ended exploring, Hob will probably be right up your alley and it’s definitely cool to see Runic Games branch out into something so completely different after delivering the two Torchlight games.
Splasher: (Zach) Splasher, out this week, comes from Splashteam and Playdius and is an incredible, hardcore platformer in the vein of Super Meat Boy or Slime-san earlier this year. You play as a purple haired young hero who discovers the horrific truth about the paint factory he works in and decides to rebel against the evil overlord, Le Docteur, and rescue his fellow workers from an awful fate. Armed with a spray cannon, you can use different inks to navigate the levels and all the inks do different things, red lets you stick to the surface it’s on and yellow lets you bounce and you also have a normal water cannon that can wash away ink and shoot enemies. The game has an absolutely incredible sense of flow and the different properties of the ink work perfectly together to let you quickly navigate the levels but you still need to be precise as there are all kinds of pits and traps to avoid but the game has Meat Boy’s instant respawn, which slightly negates the frustration of the many deaths you’ll probably rack up in each stage. To add challenge, every level has 6 workers to rescue and 700 drops of special gold ink, which if collected will allow you to free the final trapped worker in each level. If you’re a fan of Meat Boy or similar hardcore platformers, Splasher is an excellent addition to the genre and one to check out.