by Lee Hazell
We had the opportunity to go to RTX (which I assume means Rooster Teeth Expo, but good luck getting confirmation on that, I certainly couldn’t) and sampled some of the most hotly anticipated indie gaming experiences this season. Here is a roundup of the most promising titles.
Earth Atlantis is the latest from Headup Games. A side-scrolling shooter that has you controlling a sub beneath the waves of a post-apocalyptic earth. Taking cues from R-Type, as your tub swims through the Metroidvania-like environment, you find yourself picking up various weapons that round out your arsenal as you wreak havoc on the local ecology. Each lettered bubble you collect either beefs up your primary weapon or gives you a new toy to play with. Some were homing missiles, others fried any nearby enemies with electricity. Each new area you discover has the potential for a boss monster to appear and they provide a spike in the challenge; and that spike feels needed as the game lacks challenge early on, when the difficulty did heighten, it was a tad too severe. One of the abilities your ship has is to turn and start firing in the opposite direction. However, it takes a few frames and one of the bosses had a bite attack that caught me in that animation, hitting me twice and taking my health from a full bar to leaving me a rusting heap at the bottom of the briny deep. It felt a tad disheartening. Still, it’s satisfying to carve up swaths of mechanical marine monsters with a souped-up submarine firing three weapons at once.
Earth Atlantis is available on the Nintendo Switch right now.
The deliciously profane title of ClusterPuck 99 is a deceptively vivacious name to give such a simple premise. A multiplayer sports game for people who don’t like to wonder how much FIFA pays its players for appearing in their football sims, ClusterPuck 99 pits two teams of triangles against one another to see who can get the circle into the other team’s goal. The game could not be simpler than if it was educated at Bash Street School. You have to move the triangle into the circle to pick it up. You then fire the circle at either a teammate to pass it, or the opposition’s goal to score. If you want to rough the other side up a bit, you can charge into your opponents, tackling them or sending them flying off the edge of the pitch. The board you occupy is a symmetrical playing field, abound with bumpers and spikes, adding an element of chaos and risk to your attempts at scoring. Its simplicity makes it accessible to anyone, making it perfect for parties, but fun enough that it brought out my, and my frenemies, most competitive instincts.
ClusterPuck 99, featuring 8-player local competitive action for PC, Mac and Linux, is available now on Steam for £6.99.
SEUM – Speedrunners from Hell
Speedrunners from Hell would be the most metal game ever made if Brutal Legend didn’t have King Diamond in their soundtrack. The only clue you have to the origins or the form of your player-character is a pair of demonic hands in front of you; mostly shooting fire and throwing up the horns. The game is made up of several tiny levels, most of which can be completed in less than ten seconds. It won’t be quite that simple though, as each level is designed as part test of skill, part puzzle, so if you are going to make it to the end in time it will take some rehearsal and some brain power. The game encourages a fast pace; the controls are tuned with so much acceleration they would make the Top Gear crew feel motion sick. Everything from the movement and the sensitivity of looking around with the mouse, to the projectiles and powers is so swift it demands polygon perfect timing. Platforming in first-person is always a peculiar notion and to demand you do so with such precision is an alarming prospect, but the game, while frustrating at first, is immensely satisfying, making each new challenge prime fodder for the ‘just-one-more-round’ crowd.
SEUM – Speedrunners from Hell is a Headup Games joint, available on Steam for £10.99.
RiftStar Raiders is a top-down, dual-stick shooter from Climax Studios. You transvers space stations and asteroid fields using the left stick, while you aim the nose of the ship with the right. Your ship has two modes of fire; one long concentrated stream of bullets that fires further, but requires accuracy, and the other is a wide spread perfect for close combat scenarios. Apart from that you have a grappling hook and there is a nice touch where you actually have to move the ship if you want to drag objects with the grappling hook, rather than just have the player press a button. One aspect that we didn’t get to try but is one of the game’s starring features is the four-player co-op. Items that were difficult for me to carry on my own would be made easier with help. In addition to the combat, there are also sections that demand tight control of the ship to navigate some dangerous space. Luckily, the ship has a precise movement system that makes these sections easier but not unchallenging.
RiftStar Raiders is coming soon to PC, PS4 and Xbox One.