The Name Says it All – Planetary Annihilation: Titans Review

THUD! THUD! THUD! DUN! DUN! DUN! Give it up for the great intro music, and amazing game play scenery in the introduction! If you watch the whole thing it is a bit long, but every second is worth it. It is satisfying when a games introduction, music, and cinematic all tie together to get you in the mood to play that genre. Not only when all of the intro is finished, but when you’re in the intro screen it should continue to have perfect, on point sound. This game is one of the first games I’ve played in a long time where I didn’t have to immediately adjust the sound, or the like. It was perfect, and I’m not someone who usually focuses on the audio quality. I usually care more about details like graphics, storyline, and gameplay. However, I’ve been captivated. Quick, someone save me, hours of my life are about to melt away.

Like most games, you want to get into the action and start playing. So, what I did is just that. I knew I wasn’t ready for multiplayer and I headed towards single player and clicked the first option I saw available. It offered me a tutorial, and how could I refuse? “Tutorial Initiated”. This is how my world conquering began! After the first level of the tutorial I was a murderer, a destroyer, a conqueror, all in a giant robot. I knew I’d have to watch out though, Optimus Prime was out there. By the second tutorial I was again a conqueror, but this time starting with nothing and extracting the resources and building the army from scratch. I was reminded of games of my childhood. Like Command & Conquer. More pylons needed. Yuri is master.

ss_c0b029f385e804414d6d4e136c7bc1ae71b09530.1920x1080.jpg

Depth, I was realizing very quickly how much depth their was to this game. Not only were you just attacking other players and killing their commanders, you were also conquering planets, and their starsystems. Searching them for new technologies, then using these technologies to conquer the universe! I mean, well one solar system at a time, and sometimes using moons as large rockets. Who’s counting? I’m just here to win! Oh, and yeah I was an hour into the tutorial and hadn’t even made a dent into the actual game yet, but I was enjoying myself. This tutorial was put together excellently. It puts just enough details in voice, visuals, and text that anyone can figure out this game. Its complicated, but it’s just like any old RTS you’d play. How did it differentiate?

Besides the space conquering, the planetary destruction, and all the things in between, the game takes you for a ride. It combines unique elements of all the different thing you would like in an RTS. A ton of units on the field crushing your enemies, while advancing through claiming systems, and leveraging both slow and fast play. Honestly, without ruining too much of the fun, I’d suggest trying this game now yourself. If you enjoy getting spoilers, continue reading!

img_gamefeat01.jpg

I joined my first annihilate them campaign and I was excited. I instantly figured out that I could collect technologies ahead of time by exploring non-occupied planets, which would help me in my battle. It was clear that technologies mattered because they decided the majority of the things that I could build. Next, I found all my paths blocked by rivals and soon I was fighting on the Death Star. Extracting resources is a haul, this must have been long after the Jedis fought here. In the present, the galaxy was found? This is when I noticed that the tutorial speed was increased to teach the player how to play the game, the game is set at the same speed of other RTS games. Where it takes time to build troops and extract resources. Which is good! Gives time for exciting strategies.

After losing myself in the game for several hours, I realized I could write a review no more! There is so much to explore, and enjoy in this game. For those who enjoy RTS, this is a must have.

The Most Depressing Thing About They Are Billions Isn’t The Zombies

In the bleak, far future of They Are Billions, humanity has mostly fallen to an endless wave of billions of zombies. Your plucky group of colonists has ventured to the frontier to try and carve a new settlement among the sea of hungry, animated corpses. At any moment, they could break through the perimeter and destroy everything you and your community have worked to create.

But despite the constant threat of undead destruction, the most depressing thing about They Are Billions isn’t the zombies – it’s that so far along the destruction of humanity itself, capitalism has still survived.

theyarebillions8

One of the primary (and probably the most important) resources of the game is gold – with it you pay for building maintenance, research upgrades and pay wages. More citizens in your colony means more coin you can raise by tax to pay for all of that good stuff.

How depressing is the thought that after everything else about humanity has been stripped away, all that’s left is to go to work, pay your taxes and hope you don’t get munched on by the billions of zombies on the other side of the city walls? I can do two out of three of those right now!

2018-01-13 12_20_32-Greenshot

I mean, what could the denizens of this post-apocalyptic steampunk world possibly be doing with all of that cash? It looks like art galleries, organised sport, nail salons and cinemas all took a major hit when the zombies attacked.

Judging by the soundbites of the military units, the Soldiers spend all of their spare time in their bunk “cleaning their weapon”, while the Rangers spend every evening lost in erotic bliss, almost too tired to perform their duties the next day. I don’t even want to know what the flame-loving Lucifer does during his time off.

TheyAreBillions3

Thanos seems like he’d be fun on a night out, but there’s not even anywhere to go and get a drink. Unless you count the Tavern of Doom that pops up on Google Maps near your new colony. The place is under new management, and the locals seem a bit feisty, but it might be worth a look, it says that they’re offering a new menu.

Maybe you could mount a few strobe lights on the city walls, blast out some Kraftwerk and pretend you’re at a rave. All of those vacant faces waiting to get in to a venue remind me of a few nights out.

2018-01-12 10_18_47-Greenshot

Even the scientists are at it, sitting in their workshops on the edge of extinction with the rest of humanity, holding the essential secrets of sustaining human life – but not without a paycheck first, of course. Next, the government will be increasing tuition fees to try and plug the gap budget cuts make in grant funding.

But it’s not all bad out on the ragged edge. At least there’s still a democratic process, with periodically elected mayors granting bonuses to your colony with big promises and boons granted to them by private industry, like extra buildings, free technology or bonus troops. Almost a bit like a bribe. So, actually, pretty much like it is now.

Maybe life won’t be so different once the zombie apocalypse hits after all – get a house, get a job, pay your taxes and vote for the lesser of two evils. The only real difference is you’ll literally be eaten alive at the end.

Check out EnomView’s review of the excellent, ruthlessly challenging zombie RTS They Are Billions by clicking right here, and check out the game on Steam.

A Vibrant, Fairy-Tale Universe – Stories: The Path of Destinies Review

Stories: Path of Destinies is set in a vibrant, fairy-tale universe, where you follow the ex-pirate and unintentional hero, Reynardo the Fox, on his journey to save the Kingdom from the Mad King. The game features charming, hand-drawn illustrations, a colourful storybook aesthetic, and a unique choice-based narrative in which players explore different storylines to find the path to victory.

This game is what I’d consider a hidden gem. It seems to have been forgotten in the annals of time, a damn shame considering how much fun I’ve had with it. It isn’t perfect, with an equal amount of cons to balance the pros, but it puts a unique spin adventure RPGs.

I didn’t know what to expect going in, but I’m pleasantly surprised by the story, and the large variety of choices offered to the player. After the opening prologue, you can choose between a series of choices, to advance to the next chapter. There are four to five chapters to get through, to get an ending.

Some decisions are obvious in their morality but others, less so. I wasn’t expecting a gut-wrenching tale, but there are moments where your bad choices culminate in a truly twisted ending. The anthropomorphic characters eradicate any sense of realism, but it plays in the game’s favor because unexpected twists feel more impactful as a result.

Your decisions have consequences, and you can choose to follow up your actions in the previous chapter, or deviate entirely. This flexibility allows for varied endings, keeping me on my toes even after my first playthrough.

The game has a total of twenty-four endings. This might sound like a nightmare, but only four are required to unlock the True End. I won’t spoil them for you, but they are easy to figure out after finishing the game once. These endings are centred on important characters, and objects, in the game.

I have mixed feelings about the gameplay. Fighting enemies is little more than button mashing, and though you have an upgradable skill tree, the skills aren’t very useful. Enemies die quicker as you level up, but the button mashing remains a constant. An interesting mechanic is the ability to impale your enemies with your sword and throw them off the platform, which eases the repetitive combat.

The combat isn’t terrible, but considering you need more than one playthrough to finish the story, it can get tiring. Level design is mostly linear, with alternate paths that can be unlocked by different swords. You craft these swords by collecting ores you find in treasure chests. Thankfully, the game isn’t stingy on that front. Gathering materials is easy enough and gave me an incentive to explore every nook and cranny of each level.

The narration is a thing of art. The funny, sarcastic, wall-breaking comments livens up an otherwise mediocre game. The disembodied voice never feels overbearing. He’s an integral part of the story, narrating the dialogue of every character with flair and enthusiasm. If the story takes a turn for the dark, the narrator changes tack and matches how he speaks to the urgency of the situation.

He even has quips ready while Reynardo is engaged in combat! I often felt like I was being cheered on by a friend who was watching me play, making for a fun experience. If you know any dissenters who think voice acting isn’t important, just whip out Stories: Path of Destinies.

For anyone who wants a good RPG, with multiple endings and a well-written story, you can’t go wrong with this game. It might rough around the edges, but it’s definitely worth a buy.

Indie Games to Support on Kickstarter

 

The beauty of Indie games is how humble they are. Developers pour their hearts out for our enjoyment. The love, sweat, and tears of beautiful minds clashing and coexisting to create their dreams. It’s sad that not as many developers have the opportunities to paint their canvases. So, when we do get the chance, we should definitely consider supporting developers. Here are some epic games you can support on Kickstarter right now!


Your Adventure 

Knight Time is a wave-based survival combat game. The adventure begins with our small floating hero setting out across the kingdom on a mission to vanquish evil and set the balance straight after a great corruption.

The Book

Each new page of our dark fairy tale book holds an individual realm ready to be conquered. Each realm contains an enemy stronghold– all of which are themed differently and boast an array of enemies, challenging combat and the mighty lords themselves. Reaching the final pages of our story will produce three outcomes dependent on the overall achievement of your adventure.

Knight Time is a game that we’ve put so much time and effort into already, so we’re excited to be able to finally show everyone exactly what this adventure is all about. We’ve already built a functional and solid foundation for Knight Time, and with your help, we can make this experience something truly amazing.

For us to really make this game work and bring out its full potential, we need to start working on it full time. This is where you can make all the difference. With our small team completely focused on completing Knight Time, we can bring to you a truly epic adventure across an expansive fantasy kingdom. For you, we will build a large array of enemies, interesting new realms and heart-stopping boss battles that reach our full design potential.

Here’s the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/256827408/knight-time/description


  • A game by students and junior animators, made by fans for fans;
  • A Colorful cartoon universe based on the top English-speaking gaming YouTubers;
  • Fast gameplay with crazy and easy chainable combos;
  • Various humorous interactions to experiment inside with YouFight, a fancy parody of YouTube hosting the wildest combats!
  • Numerous Unlockables like in the Golden Era of easy to learn fighting games!
  • Fighting style impacting the narrative;
  • At least 5 Characters to Play: Poodiepie (Pewdiepie), Jackaboy (Jacksepticeye), ToastyKen (Cinnamontoastken), Markimoo (Markiplier), Unannounced Boss;
  • 3 more Characters depending on the Stretch goals: YandereMinx (RPGMinx), Cryatomic (Cryaotic), The SexBo’Bomb (Game Grumps).

Here’s the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1886196940/subscribe-and-punch?ref=video


NetherWorld is a horizontal side-scrolling adventure game, where character development, dialogues and narrative have a special role.

Immerse yourself in a sinister world: explore its darkest corners, get along with weird NPC’s, use flames and handguns to battle horrific bosses or just get drunk in a bar.

Your life is perfect in the dark and decadent land of NetherWorld… until your wife abandons you for a creature with longer tentacles.

cc4bf28875bb55f9af2361fe0739220c_original.png

You handle your misfortune with alcohol and other sins

…and in no time at all, you’ll be involved in a surrealbloody and twisted journey surrounded by quirky fellow travelers.

Gameplay

Dialogues and relationships between characters will be key for story progression. That’s why most of the fights will be against final bosses.

Fight with swordstorches and shields alongside of firearmsFlamethrower too? Of course.

Each final boss will have unique mechanics, ensuring epic and intense battles. To defeat them and help our miserable hero to get over his depression, we’ll have all kinds of weapons. However, sometimes we’ll have to use nearby objects or just flee as fast as possible. (More or less like Shadow of the Colossus with bigger pixels and more tentacles.)

Here’s the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1522665641/netherworld-drugs-sex-and-pixels-adventure-game/


3b19965208d855615261f3f86c2d7d81_original.jpg

Here’s the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/80348891/once-upon-a-coma-from-the-creator-of-pinstripe?ref=video


Foundation is a grid-less, sprawling medieval city-building simulation with a heavy focus on organic development, monument construction and resource management.

The game features in-depth resource management akin to the Anno (Dawn of Discovery) series, expertly mixed with city building elements from SettlersSimCity, and Pharaoh all topped with narrative encounters inspired by Crusader Kings II to create the ultimate medieval ant-farm simulation.

In this strategy city-builder economy simulation game, players must create a prosperous settlement as the newly appointed lord of a region untouched by man.

Setting to redefine the city-builder genre, Foundation puts the emphasis on the organic aspects of urbanism in the cities of old, powered by Polymorph Games’ in-house game engine, Hurricane, which allows for full mod support and is optimized for the thousands of moving parts that come with building humongous cities.

Among other things, the engine provides the player with robust building tools to create countless unique monuments that can then integrated into your settlement.

With medieval architecture and urbanism at the forefront of its design, Foundation’s vision is to allow players to recreate cities of that period as they envision them or even as they really were.

Grow your untapped land into a great sprawling kingdom as you appease the political factions of your area, all while listening to a beautiful original soundtrack by the veteran composers who’ve created music for Paradox Interactive’s Crusader Kings IIEuropa Universalis IV and The Guild 2-3!

Here’s the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/polymorph-games/foundation-a-new-era-of-organic-city-building-simu?ref=video

Virtual Reality Ninja Shenanigans – Sairento VR Review

Virtual reality shooters come in all shapes and sizes, from zombie wave shooters to gun ranges to multiplayer army simulators, but when comparing these to traditional shooters they seem to lack a certain craziness older non-VR games had. Don’t get me wrong, many of these virtual reality games boast an impressive array of good quality and polish, but in the end, they tend to play it safe to stay clear of virtual reality’s biggest enemy: motion sickness. Sairento VR breaks the mold in this regard so hold onto your seats, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Sairento VR is a first-person virtual reality shooter developed by Mixed Realms. It’s currently available for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. You don the mask of one of the silent ones, an enigmatic organization trained in the ancient arts of martial arts and fighting techniques of the ancient samurai and ninja. To put it into layman’s terms: You are a badass cyber ninja killing machine, and it’s a hoot!

The thing that makes this game such a blast to play is the unique locomotive system. The basic controls aren’t all that different from other VR shooters such as Robo Recall, you hold a button, point to a location and let go. Voila! You’ve teleported. This is a common locomotion system among VR games because it helps fend off the effects of motion sickness (or as I like to call it: the VR buzzkiller). Mixed Realms seems intent on wiping its bum with this notion, however, because if you angle your neat little teleport ray up you’ll soar through the sky in a massive leap, preferable whilst raining death upon your enemies. Using the motion system takes up a regenerating resource called ‘focus’, another use for focus is briefly slowing down time so you can feel like Neo in the Matrix. You have the option to turn on a full body model so you can see your legs and elbows move while doing all this. It feels just right.

Besides jumping through the air, you can also use this system to backflip off of walls or do wall runs. If you bend your knees before landing a jump you will slide across the floor, decapitating enemies as you go if you choose to hold your katana out to the side. It’s a breath of fresh air to be able to perform these feats of athleticism as other games seem so hellbent on tethering you to the ground. While this locomotion system is rather intense, the motion sickness it incurs really isn’t as bad as you would think. The developers laboriously tested and tweaked the systems to make sure the levels of intensity are always manageable. I personally don’t experience motion sickness all that often, and Sairento VR didn’t trigger it either. A remarkable feat seeing as I was soaring through the sky, jumping into an unsuspecting enemy with my katana in hand.

And that brings is to the weapons in this game. Although I dubbed this game a ‘first person shooter’, ‘action game’ might actually be a better term for it. The game boasts a selection of katanas, handguns, shotguns, assault rifles, throwing weapons and even a bow. All of these weapons are usable in the sky and during wall runs which makes for a pretty great experience. Unfortunately, most of these categories only contain about three weapons, I would really have liked to see more. Shotguns and assault rifles also aren’t that fun to use, so I pretty much stuck with the basic setup of dual-wielding pistols at my hip, a stronger pistol on my bum and dual wielding katanas behind my back, occasionally switching out a sword for a throwing star or bow.

Swordplay is also lackluster. The slightest movement of your wrist will whip your sword around doing major damage. Even just turning around will often make your katana clip through an enemy. It doesn’t feel like you deserve most of your sword kill, and it lacks the weight of combat that games such as Gorn have. A redeeming quality of the weapon selection is the option to infuse your weapons with various relics. During missions enemies can drop ammo, currency and relics. Relics basically serve as upgrades for your weapons increasing their fire rate, damage, headshot efficiency and many other things. Relics of a higher rarity can even give weapons special effects, I especially enjoyed the ability to make my throwing stars explode on impact. These RPG elements are a neat addition, although I would have liked to see them fleshed out a bit.

You start the game from a central control room where you can select random missions, the campaign or multiplayer. I haven’t been able to get into multiplayer so I can’t give an impression of this. I started out doing a few missions but quickly found that the map selection is rather limited. Missions got repetitive quickly so I tried my hand at the campaign. The campaign is basically a set of missions with tacked on dialogue. Seeing as the combat itself is just so darn good it’s disappointing to see that the campaign didn’t manage to hold my attention for long. Coupled with the limited map selection this put a serious damper on my experience.

Things go south even further if you consider the technical difficulties the game has. The graphics aren’t bad, but they are generally unimpressive, it’s also very easy to teleport yourself through a wall of floor, forcing yourself to reset your position to the beginning of the map. Sometimes my character would get her arm stuck behind her back, warping her arm length so one was shorter than the other. These are also a number of general bugs which I won’t go into. It’s such a shame, because the fun factor is so damn high! Despite all of these issues I still played this game for hours on end. It’s the kind of title where you make your own fun. Crank up the difficulty, pick up some creative weapons and you’ll be sure to have a great time! Just don’t expect the same amount of polish as something like Robo Recall.

Lunar New Year Steam Sale – Indie Games

10. Slay the Spire

ss23.jpg

Roguelikes have been a dime and a dozen over the last decade. While it is an interesting video game genre with a high difficulty level and clever progression mechanics, many of the games that belong to it have flown past the radar for many because they failed to differentiate themselves from kingpins like Rogue Legacy and Spelunky. Not only that, but all too many games seem to be implementing Roguelike elements into their gameplay seemingly at random. But despite the over-saturated market Slay the Spire, which just released on Steam early access, manages to feel fresh and engaging.

I know, I know, it’s heresy to review a game while it’s in early access, but this is one of those games that deserved to be checked out now. You’re not missing out on any story (of which there is none, in typical roguelike fashion) and all mechanics are in place. All to be added is some additional game modes, characters and cards. ‘Cards?’, I hear you ask. Yes, cards. In this game, you defeat your enemy using a deck of cards, each with unique offensive, defensive or skill based powers. You use these cards in turn based fashion to deplete your enemies health pool while saving your own hide. If you are thinking Hearthstone, then you are on the right track. Check out our full review of Slay the Spire here!

Slay the Spire is on sale for 20% off on steam! Click here!

9. Hollow Knight

ME3050868557_2.jpg

Come one, come all to those with creative minds, a willingness to learn, and patient, patient souls. In this, the player moves from chamber to chamber–room to room–in an attempt to solve first-person puzzles to progress.

While it may get a little too well-acquainted with this games stylized art approach, Antichamber’s game designers clearly had originality in mind–and their game will get your critical thinking juices flowing any day.

8. Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition

DIrME52-cWjdCfWXKBW9xtJcaOZUIlcOLiW7D0l-x54.png

The forest of Nibel is dying. After a powerful storm sets a series of devastating events in motion, Ori must journey to find courage and confront a dark nemesis to save the forest of Nibel. “Ori and the Blind Forest” tells the tale of a young orphan destined for heroics, through a visually stunning Action-Platformer crafted by Moon Studios. Featuring hand-painted artwork, meticulously animated character performance, a fully orchestrated score and dozens of new features in the Definitive Edition, “Ori and the Blind Forest” explores a deeply emotional story about love and sacrifice, and the hope that exists in us all.

With a sequel coming out, it’s the perfect time to pick up Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition. At 50% off, click here to check it out!

 

7. Oxygen Not Included

base.jpg

Not everyone likes the sound of a tower defense, but the RPG elements intertwined within Dungeon of the Endless have a way of pulling you in. As the member of the crew that fell victim to a crash landing, your goal is to go deeper. Deeper. And deeper into the depths of a strange dungeon–as implied by the name.

While this game is definitely a tower defense, expect to feel like you’re also sometimes playing a top-down dungeon crawler like Pokemon Mystery Dungeon. Advance through every floor and find out if it ever truly ends.

6. Don’t Starve Together

The game may be called “Don’t Starve Together”, but there are a lot more ways to die than pure starvation in this colorful, but bleak little world. Playing as a scientist, your job is–fittingly–to experiment with your surroundings to learn best how to survive.

Just about everything you encounter will beg the hopeful question of “Can this help me survive?” and the not-so-hopeful question of “Will messing with this get me killed?” A grimdark naturalist will be forever at home here.

Pick up the game at 40% off here! 

5. Dead Cells

Very few rogue-lite, Metroidvania, action platformers hit the nail on the head like does Dead Cells. Controlling a character without a head, you battle through and delve across a perilous castle with enemies galore.

There are no repeats in this game. No saves. No respawns. No checkpoints. To quote the description on Steam: “Kill, die, learn, repeat.” Though that description leaves out the key difference that you always keep all your upgrades–unlike other games in this genre. If you want a real challenge that’ll leave you feeling like a champion after your first playthrough, then this is the game for you.

We mentioned this game in our Top 10 Indie Games of 2017 article, which you can check out here.

Check it out at 25% off here!

 

4.  Human Fall Flat

Human-2015-10-28-14-00-00-08.jpg

Human: Fall Flat is an open-ended physics based puzzle game in which you take control of builder Bob helping him resolve the mysteries behind his recurring dreams of falling. Your goal is to escape those dreams full of puzzles, dangers and surprises using everything you find in the levels. The world of Bob dreams is built on his daily experiences, hopes, fears and memories interweaved in a net so sticky and hard to escape. All this mess is actually a carefully crafted work of… wait! You are the one to find it out! Bob is a human. Just a human. No hero. Zero superpowers. Period. Bob is more handy than he’s handsome, but latter would not help much in:

  • pulling the stuff around
  • pushing the stuff with hands
  • pushing the stuff with feet
  • carrying the stuff
  • climbing the stuff
  • breaking the stuff
  • using stuff to interact the other stuff

With open-ended simulator at its core “Human: Fall Flat” allows you to relive Bobs story your own way. Every shortcut can be taken, every solution is welcome! The game requires creativity and imagination. These often surreal environments do obey very real laws of the physics, if you think an object could be moved then rest assured it can. Replay value is limited only by your imagination.

Check out the game here at 50% off here!

3.  The Long Dark

ndnmrarjqucqfjdiwhuz.png

How Far Will You Go to Survive? Imagine the lights go out, never to return. Bright aurora flare across the sky, and all humanity’s technological might is laid to waste, neutralized in a kind of quiet apocalypse. Everything that has shielded humanity from the disinterested power of Mother Nature is suddenly wrenched from us, dropping us a few links down the food chain. Food and water are scarce. The roads are no longer safe. And winter approaches… Welcome to The Long Dark —an immersive survival simulation set in the aftermath of a geomagnetic disaster. Experience a unique first-person survival simulation that will force you to think and push you to your limits with its thought-provoking gameplay and mature storytelling.

Our review of this awesome survival game is coming soon, but you can start playing it here!

2.  Cuphead

cuphead_screenshot_0003.png

Cuphead is a classic run and gun action game heavily focused on boss battles. Inspired by cartoons of the 1930s, the visuals and audio are painstakingly created with the same techniques of the era, i.e. traditional hand-drawn cel animation, watercolor backgrounds, and original jazz recordings. Play as Cuphead or Mugman (in single player or local co-op) as you traverse strange worlds, acquire new weapons, learn powerful super moves, and discover hidden secrets while you try to pay your debt back to the devil!

We’ve talked about this game a ton over the past few months. Check out our review here, and the game at 15% off here!

1.  Enter the Gungeon

screenshot1.png

Enter the Gungeon is a gunfight dungeon crawler following a band of misfits seeking to shoot, loot, dodge roll and table-flip their way to personal absolution by reaching the legendary Gungeon’s ultimate treasure: the gun that can kill the past. Select a hero and battle your way to the bot­tom of the Gungeon by surviving a challenging and evolving series of floors filled with the dangerously adorable Gundead and fearsome Gungeon bosses armed to the teeth. Gather precious loot, discover hidden secrets, and chat with opportunistic merchants and shopkeepers to purchase powerful items to gain an edge.

We LOVE this game. Definitely check out our review here, and pick up this addicting game at 50% off here!

The Importance of Sound Design

Hey, I’m Max from Max Louis Creative and I work with indie developers day in and day out to help produce and market their games. Sound design is one aspect, a whole handful of devs I’ve seen, just completely underthink.

Let’s begin with a mini quiz, before we discuss sound design.

When you think about the following games/TV shows, in your head, what are the first sounds you think of?

  1. PAC-MAN
  2. Super Mario
  3. Scooby Doo

Super Mario Model Sound Design

Ok, let’s go through each one. We assume that you have played/watched at least one of these!

  1. “WAKKA-WAKKA” may have been your first thought! This is the iconic sound of PAC-MAN.
  2. “It’s a me, Maaaario!” is likely to be what you thought of. Everyone knows this catchphrase!
  3. “Shhhcooby Dooby Doo!” or “Shwaggy” might have been your first thoughts.

So, WHY do we remember these sounds immediately when we think of these things?

Sound effects and music make certain scenes, in both game and film, memorable for people. Every time someone hears the sounds, they will recognise it straight away and remember where they heard it from.

Over time, indie games have been losing sight of the importance of sound design. Some developers don’t realise the power and impact that sound has on an audience. Even if you don’t actively notice the sound, it is making an enormous difference to your viewing experience and pleasure.

The Reasons Why Sound Design Is So Powerful

Sounds are as important as visuals. In fact, they work together and each element complements each other. Without one, the other wouldn’t be as effective. Imagine Jaws without the impending doom sound effects, but also imagine it with just this sound and no visuals. It wouldn’t make any sense for the audience! Similarly, having particular music or sound effects make a certain scene memorable.

Good sound design encourages the audience to connect more with what they are watching. It helps to understand the film scene/moment in the game and creates the atmosphere. In other words, sound appropriately sets the scene and can tell a story in itself. Every jump, step and crouch have a sound effect, which all create realism. Also, without us realising, it makes it more pleasing for us to play.

The experience of watching horror films is greatly improved in the way that sound is used. Sometimes they don’t even use sound in parts! It is used to create suspense and make the audience jump.

Sound design makes things more realistic. It brings life to games/films by adding the time of day and the mood.

People playing game sound design

What Our Sound Designer Thinks…

We asked one of our sound designers why they think that sound design is so important in games and/or films. Here’s what he thinks!

Both film and games are pieces of art that require multiple senses to usually enjoy or to get the full effect of emotion or thought to relay to the audience. Music helps flesh out the visual and mechanical aspects, in short, it helps provide context for the experienced interactive art for the audience.

Greg

So, sound and music help to enhance the audience’s experience, by making them feel the full effect of emotion. Greg’s point about “music helping flesh out the visual and mechanical aspects” reiterates our earlier point about visuals and sounds working together. This is so important to remember!

So, Why Do You Need To Do It Right?

Having carefully constructed sound design in a game or a film changes the whole viewing experience; it alters how a moment is perceived emotionally by an audience.

Take a look at this interesting article about how some well-known sounds in films and TV shows were actually created. Some of them are very surprising – my favourite was the Toy Story one!

Careful choices need to be made during specific moments in a game or film, to define the emotion and character of the moment.

Sound designing

What Our Other Sound Designer Thinks…

What are the key things you have to think about when creating sounds for a game?

Picture a sailboat floating at sea.. you hear staccato, violin stabs which may signal impending doom or a shark attack (Jaws?). Now you hear whimsical, Studio Ghibli-esque score and you are put at ease. Finally, picture the sounds you would most likely hear, the ocean crashing, wind blowing, and maybe seagulls squawking. All of these moods paint a musical mosaic over other mediums of art and are essential to making a clear aesthetic. Art paints the surface, sound paints the space. The next time you watch a horror film, plug your ears during a jump scare, suddenly it isn’t so scary.

Most important techniques in sound design – Layering, reverb, sidechain compression, dynamic mixing, eq and filters, and layering. Did I mention layering? Layering. Combine all this with clever mic selection/placement, DAW mastery, and a good ear and you just might have good sound design!

Trevyn

Trevyn’s point about “art painting the surface and sound painting the space” is a brilliant way to wrap this blog up. Sound makes the visuals work and this definitely shouldn’t be forgotten about. Visuals will NOT have the same effect on the audience if there’s no good sound design behind it.

So, if you’re making a game or a film…

DON’T FORGET ABOUT SOUND DESIGN!

If you want some brilliant, well thought out sound design for your game (or anything else you’re working on!), then our sound designers would absolutely love to help you! Take a look here to see our work and be sure to contact us if you would like our help.

 

Rise of Industry Out in Early Access

From the publishers of the Tropico series, Rise of Industry is currently out on Steam Early Access. Travel back to the early 20th as an industrialist in a beautiful, procedurally generated world. What drew me to the tycoon experience was the unique design. The simplistic color palette and modelling truly personify a 20th-century world.

Rise of Industry Early Access Trailer

RISE OF INDUSTRY IS A STRATEGIC TYCOON GAME THAT PUTS YOU IN THE SHOES OF AN EARLY 20TH-CENTURY INDUSTRIALIST.

As a budding entrepreneur, you will build factories, construct efficient transport lines, move raw materials, produce finished goods, and arrange trade with the world’s developing cities, providing them with the resources they need to flourish – for as they grow and prosper, so do you.

Designed with an eye towards both accessibility and depth, Rise of Industry has enough strategic complexity and replayability to satisfy the most experienced fans of the genre, while its simple-to-understand mechanics ensure that new players will love it as well.

240372_pi39xI22CX_industry.jpg

We’re looking forward to more of this simplistic, 20th-century business world. Check out the game here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/671440/Rise_of_Industry/

Alpha Computing – Computer Tycoon

I was introduced to this lovely screen… then the game crashed. I thought, maybe this was a one time hiccup, so I launched the game again. The game launched successfully on my second attempt, and I was introduced with some nice hip music. I started getting in my retro grove, I immediately felt like I was on roller skates in some archaic restaurant with a jukebox playing. Not to mention, the game was nice enough to show me all of the people whom had contributed to the game by writing reviews, and the like. Since I also approve of this kind of help from the community, and that every game developer should always show appreciation to those whom help them, I’ll repost this achievement wall.

After clearing through the thoughtfulness of the developers by clicking the big red X in the top right of the window, like it was an annoying pop-up. Somehow even though the previous screen was extremely thoughtful, the art of this game still had me convinced that it was some annoying Windows pop-up that had to be deleted. I was introduced with a portrait of the young Steve Jobs next to his brand new Macs. All I could think of was Steve yelling at some employee, and telling him to get the hell out of his building. I was excited, I got amped. I was a little disappointed that on the right there was a C:\ drive reference, when that doesn’t match their overall theme of Apple references. I feel like this screen needs a bit of design work. I continued on to the ‘New Game’ option. It was time to ride the rainbow of this multicolored display.

After clicking new game, I was prompted with the new game screen. Where I could select all my options for the new game. I clearly had to become Steve Jobs because I couldn’t find a good avatar for Billy Gates, which I hoped for. There are a few avatars that are well created that represent avatars from the past, however they’re not all there. I will say they’re very good graphics, but there was nothing to actually design my character which was a disappointment.  On this screen, I could also tell that the game is still in early build phases because they also have a button for ‘Random Events’, which is disabled. It’s a work in progress, but I pushed forward. A lot of the screens here need polished.

Pressing forward like the train that I am, choo-choo. I was introduced by a dialog that emphasized how this was a new game in alpha, and that a single developer created all of this. I was impressed by how much work was done for a single developer already. I can tell that the game needs a lot of work, but it looks like it may still be fun to play, so I hunkered down and began to play. The game was simple, don’t go bankrupt, and survive until retirement. Retirement was defined as the year 2034, Elon Musk made it to Mars yet? I then read about two other ways to win, by running my enemies into the ground by bankrupting them, or to invent all technologies before my opponent. Seemed easy enough, I prepped for my crash course into the game. Helmets on!

The tutorial to the game is looonggg and teeextttt based. I wish there would have been a walkthrough of the game showing visuals right away, as I’m one of those people who can’t focus on text that long and I get distracted easy so I skipped through hoping the game would explain itself. I clicked my starting country of Madagascar, and had no idea what I was doing other than the fact that the preference was largely blue. Once I established an industry site in Madagascar, I got excited by the 3D design layout. I was ready to build my empire and rock this island. Anyone have some buckets in case this plan starts going down with the ships?

I immediately built one of everything, not sure what I was doing. I also found out it takes time to build all of these things, I had accidentally paused the game. With 4 million bucks to spend though, I was worried. Then I was hit with a voice that sounded like Mom, my buildings were upgraded and built! She disciplined me, just like she use to with my homework, that my research queue was empty. After a few minutes of tinkering, I got distracted by gameplay.

In-depth, steep learning curve. I spent at least a half an hour trying to figure out how all the things fit together, and immediately was glad that I’m a computer developer by trade because there is a lot of technical depth to this game. If I didn’t have the background I do, I feel like I might drown. However, that is also a good thing, showing how much time and effort went into all the details of this game. After several hours of gameplay…

I’ll wait until the game is more polished.

Check out the game for yourself, here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/686680/Computer_Tycoon/

C’mon Gamers, Do The Locomotive – Railway Empire Review

Name: Railway Empire
Developer: Gaming Minds Studios
Publisher: Kalypso Media Digital
Release Date: 28 January 2018
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One (click here for the Steam link)

The transport game genre has been around for decades, being popularised by gaming pioneers like Chris Sawyer and Sid Meier, with their Transport Tycoon and Railroad Tycoon series way back in the 1990’s. These titles hooked gamers into plotting tracks across an isometric map, moving  passengers and cargo from one station to the next, trying to outdo competitors and make the biggest profit.

The genre is one of several that didn’t make the transition to 3D very smoothly. Some titles, like RollerCoaster Tycoon and other theme park-themed franchises have managed it very well; others that focus on the more pragmatic side of rails and tracks seem to struggle.

Despite an admirable effort, Railway Empire, the new title from Gaming Minds Studios – the minds behind the classic Patrician series of games – don’t quite manage to succeed in fully breaking free of those shackles that have inhibited similar recent transport genre games since making the jump to 3D.

But let’s focus on the good, for now, because there’s definitely a lot of that to find here. Railway Empire is, initially at least, every bit as engaging as its spiritual predecessors. At its core lies the addictive drive to perfect transport lines between different cities and industries, making the maximum amount of profit in the shortest time and distance.

It’s a really pretty game to look at and get immersed in. The art style sits in a happy place between cartoon-like exaggeration and accurate realism, while the music evokes a sense of the period its set in, with yankee doodle folk music trilling happily in the background.

20180127130705_1

As you’d expect of a transport game, there are a vast array of historic trains to utilise on your lines. The tech tree has a really good selection of era-appropriate innovations to dig in to, and the industries scattered throughout the maps lend themselves to the overall ease with which you can slip into early nineteenth century America.

The story campaign mode is also surprisingly interesting, even outside of the gameplay. You explore the construction of one of the most important transportation routes in the world at different stages and times during its development.

You interact with historical figures from the time, and although Railway Empire displays a certain nostalgia and enthusiasm for the railroad, it surprised me by not sugar-coating the murkier side of that period of history. It hints at ruthless and possibly illegal  industrial practices, as well as portraying more obviously immoral acts such as the resettlement of Native American people for the sake of “progress”.

20180127130524_1

There are also a few new interesting mechanics, like being able to send spies and saboteurs to make mischief with your competitors – who can do exactly the same thing to you, of course.

Railway Empire makes several advancements on mechanics that were major stumbling blocks for the likes of Transport Fever to result in an overall package that, on balance, is enjoyable to play more often that it isn’t.

For example, railway tracks can be planned in advance. For me, this is the single greatest thing about the game. Instead of laying a track halfway across the map and nearly bankrupting yourself in the process, you can forecast how much construction will cost, and plan the track’s route around obstacles to be as cost-effective as possible.

Railway lines are also, on the whole, easy to set up and assign trains to. There’s no need to place depots and buy a myriad of carriages and containers; simply select the cities the train is to visit, assign the engine, and the train will automatically pick up passengers and cargo, up to its maximum capacity.

20180210143658_1

Sadly, this is where the system begins to derail. Railway Empire is great fun during the initial set up of rail lines; but when the game reaches the point where you have to go back and start adding to, or editing, what you’ve done before, it can quickly become a bit of a nightmare.

The biggest one for me was trying to expand the rail network. At first you’ll just be able to afford a one track line between two stations, but naturally, once more destinations and locomotives are added to your network, you’ll want to add to that. But short of deleting all of the trains currently on the tracks, it can be extremely frustrating to get anything built.

You’ll often end up in a deadlock where you can’t add a new track because of an existing junction, which you can’t delete because there’s a train waiting at it, because the line needs a new track for it to move on to. It’s a chicken-and-egg situation that usually ends up with the frustrating outcome that you’re best deleting everything and starting again; which is ultimately self-defeating, eliminating the benefit of pre-planning tracks before construction.

20180210124315_1

It feels like there are several layers of menus and detail missing to allow you to micromanage the game to the extent that you need to in order to set up a well-oiled transport network. For example, once a city gets to a certain size, lots of passengers and goods start getting generated there to be picked up. It’d be really handy to have a means to tell trains what to prioritise when they’re choosing what cargo to take first, but there isn’t.

It’s hard to be so down on Railway Empire, because there’s definitely a lot of good to be found here. The transport genre is crying out for a modern-day rival to Planet Coaster, which triumphantly brought the historically equivalent theme park genre into the post-3D world. Railway Empire is that game – as long as you play the first 30-60 minutes of any game and don’t progress past that point.

Although it should have been on track to deliver an engaging experience, a few points manage to derail it. But you may want to choo-choo-choose Railway Empire if your love for the transport genre can survive some frustrating gameplay niggles.

EnomView Score: 7 out of 10