A Platformer without Jumping–NightSky Review

It goes without saying that a big chunk of platforming games depend on level design, ambiance and the variation of the enemies. Nifflas’ Games eliminated that last dependency and upped the ante on the other two and have presented NightSky for PC gamers. Originally conceived as a WiiWare game during Game Developer Conference 09 as Night Game that never saw the light of the day, NightSky is a muted and atmospheric physics based puzzle-platformer that will have you admiring each level’s silhouetted and dreamy denizens as you whizz past them.


You control a ball with some sort of life force. In some levels you can speed up the ball or invert the gravity as well. In some levels, you do not have any control over the ball (except braking). That is not all. Some levels allow you to control pinball flippers instead of the ball while others put the ball inside a car, with the ball touching both the wheels of the 2D car. It is interesting to note that the game’s physics are spot-on with the ball’s spin and momentum being conserved and realistically damped. If you’ve catch and throw or any other game involving spherical objects, this game will be very easy for you to get into.


This is also attributed to the game’s design. NightSky is made for casual play, preferably right before you sleep. The atmosphere is mellow and soft with an enchanting music track that suits the game’s feel perfectly. Each level is beautiful and silhouetted against the waning sky ,with quirky creatures of the night looking curiously at you, the player. You will roll past dark caverns (not the scary kind, mind you), grassy meadows at dusk and mountainsides silhouetted against the dark blue twilight sky in the background. Everything in NightSky is designed to ease you into the splendor of slumber.


With eleven worlds (not including the very well designed creditsworld), NightSky will keep you entranced for quite a while, as the difficulty scales up well in the later stages. An easy game to play, NightSky is a welcome break from the hair-loss-inducing VVVVVV and Super Meat Boy.

Get the demo of NightSky at Nifflas’ Games’ website. You can buy the game at either Fastspring or Steam.

First 3D Point n’ Click Announced!

3D technology is all the rage these days. It’s become a synonym for both sales pushand cooleverywhere. German indie developer bitComposer Games has announced its new (and first of its kind) 3D Point and Click game The Rockin’ Dead that will use anaglyph 3D (in other words, using those old-school plastic glasses with red and blue colored lenses) to tell the tale of a metal band singer who ends up in the bizarre world of the dead.


Set in a hilariously exaggerated B-movie atmosphere, the tale is that of Alyssa, member of the very pretty to look at (but unfortunately unsuccessful) band Deadly Lullabyeswho wakes up after a disastrous accident in the tour bus. Apparently her band members are gone, and there are spooky skeletons that rock out at the drop of a chord, and Elvis Presley lookalikes that gyrate almost all the time.


The key features, as elucidated by the site are:-

  • First point’n’click adventure in 3D Optic (3D glasses included). 2D setting also available.
  • Bizarre, hilariously exaggerated background story with numerous recurring images in top B movie style
  • 93 detailed locations in dark and different settings
  • Over 20 funny NPCs, professionally narrated, who skillfully capture the humor of the dialogues
  • More than 120 objects in the inventory that can be combined and therefore require the players’ skill and logical thinking
  • Thrilling and unusual riddles round off the delightfully crazy overall picture

This definitely seems like an indie game worth trying. Also, since I am very lazy, I could use those anaglyph glasses in a game of Minecraft…

AI War Releases Light of the Spire Expansion. Also Becomes Officially Enormous with v5.0

AI War is a huge game already. Arcen Games has ceaselessly released update over update and expansion over expansion over the years the game has been active. This indirectly controlled space-strategy game is pretty big. Running on the beautiful Unity engine, the game is quite brilliant and requires a serious amount of forethought and strategizing to play.


The game has now been updated to version 5.0 and a new expansion pack has also been released, titled Light of the Spire, increasing the number of ships by 180, new music and factions and a new game mode called Defendermode that you can pick up and play. A lot of the mechanics of the game have been rebalanced for better and challenging gameplay. It is also as cold and unwelcoming as ever to newcomers, like Dwarf Fortress. It’s so hard it’s good. Try losing a couple of times (or a few hundred times) before it clicks with you. The game is pretty huge and, if bought from the Arcen Games store, has no DRM.

Do keep on the lookout for a Steam or Impulse sale for the entire AI War series at a discount. The larger this game gets, the more tempting it is for me to get into it. However, the larger this game gets, the more intimidating and cold this game seems; it’s like Minecraft that way (but thankfully I got into it earlier than most. Ha!)

Check out the release trailer for Light of the Spire here.

Recettear Sells a Hundred Thousand Copies. Follow Up Hinted

It’s no secret that I adore the little pseudo JRPG called Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale. I call it pseudo because it is not, in fact, a total JRPG. Instead it has this incredible idea of what if the player was an NPC?. More accurately, what if the player was the shopkeeper to whom the heroes of JRPG games came to buy swords, shields, magical amulet and pink toffees from?. Yes, that is exactly what Recettear allows you to do, and while the idea itself may sound half-baked and prone to cause easy boredom, the game is not. It’s been the darling of many reviews, coming from the Japanese stock and westernized by Carpe Fulgur.


So when a recent Steam sale pushed up their sales to a hundred thousand copies, they are bound to be so happy that they would have stopped developing and gone on a collective vacation, right?

The head business dudeof Carpe Fulgur does not think so. Andrew Dice explains in a blog post about what the sales mean, what they do not mean and what ramifications these figures would have in the future. One of the most important points raised was that the sale was done at an extremely low price. Recettear was sold in a pack for about $1 (five games for $5). Since Valve prefers developers more than publishers, the lion’s share of the profit went to the Japanese developer EasyGameStation. Not that Carpe Fulgur is struggling right now (they are doing very well, but they need to release another game within the next year).

Lastly, Dice very cheekily hints at the next game that would be released by Carpe Fulgur for the world: Another EasyGameStation title called Chantelise.

In all the future of westernized JRPGs looks bright indeed! Yayifications!

Minecraft “notches” it up with Beta

It’s been indie gaming’s very own rags-to-riches to story (well, approximately at least). When Markus Alexej Perrson, better known as Notch, started work on Minecraft back in May 2009, he had no idea that it’d grow so huge before release that he’d have his own company before the Beta release. The blocky (literally) sandbox game is what I have phrased to a friend as lego for grown-ups. Assuming, of course, that these fine folks are still kids at heart.

However, lego for grown-upsisn’t an accurate descriptor of the game at all, I must confess. But then again, if punching trees for wood, making rollercoasters, USS Enterprises and giant statues of dragons, constructing 8-bit CPUs and portals to the netherworld and, of course,   riding pigs on saddles isn’t up on your list of things to do in a game I’m afraid you’re wasting your time here. Minecraft has been infinitely discussed and the number of videos of it on YouTube exceed Quake’s.

Nevertheless, we aren’t here to read about the game, we are here to know what’s new in the game, aren’t we?

Well, actually according to Notch, there’s nothing major planned for Beta. It’s still going to be the same old game as the latest alpha version. However, a few game changes have been planned and implemented, such as these:-

* Working server-side inventory! (the biggest part of the update)
* Made SMP servers save chunks way less often in most cases.
* Moving too far away from a container, or having it blow up, closes the inventory screen
* Fixed /kill
* Introduced leaf decay again. It acts differently from before
* You can now throw eggs

Oh, and the price has gone up from 9.95 Euro to 14.95 Euro. Also, say bye bye to free expansions from today.

Your Humble Indie Bundle, now on Steam!

Remember the Humble Indie Bundle? The brilliant initiative back in May by many indie developers to sell some great indie games, DRM-free, for whatever price that you chose?

Well, those folks have announced that all those games that you purchased can be activated on your Steam account as well! They’ve emailed every Humble Indie Bundle customer with this:-

Dear Humble Indie Bundle customer, thanks for your purchase back in May!   I have some good news regarding your games.   Since launching the bundle, our most common request has been the ability to download it on Steam.   Well, I’m happy to announce that Valve has made this possible

Along with this, they’ve given the Steam redemption code for all the games (World of Goo, Penumbra Overture, Aquaria, Gish, and Lugaru HD). So all you need to do is go to your Steam account, click on Add Steam Gameand copy-paste the redemption key, and lo and behold, you have all five games in your account! Oh, and the Bundle will still be available for direct download forever. I wish they’d follow this model of serving customers in the long run!

That’s not all that the email said, though; they also mentioned that they’re hard at work for the second edition of the Humble Indie Bundle. Kick ass news? You bet!

A Look at Frozen Synapse

There are several reasons why I prefer indie games to mainstream video games. Mainstream games (with a few exceptions) prefer the rock-solid foundation of ideas that their fans have always liked and these ideas change slowly over the years. Evolution, if you can call it, happens with mainstream gaming.
Indie games on the other hand, are playgrounds where ideas evolve in a matter of minutes and are put to test in a relatively shorter time. Where mainstream games stagnate, indie games surprise, amuse and entertain you above and beyond what you paid for.


Frozen Synapse is one such game that took me by utter surprise. Developed by Mode 7 Games, an Oxford based indie game studio, this simultaneous-turn-based competitive match-oriented tacticalgame (that’s the official description!) is insanely addictive even in its beta that is playable if you pre-order the game. I shot a few emails to Paul Taylor, Joint MD of Mode 7 Games along with Ian Hardingham regarding the game that I’ve been playing off-and-on for a few months now and I have mostly tried to convey whatever he said in this post.

The genesis of [Frozen Synapse] came from Ian playing a load of Laser Squad Nemesis and thinking about the things that could be improved or brought up-to-date

While Laser Squad Nemesis was a lot of fun to play, the time needed to set up units, clunky UI and other aspects of the game took much of the joy away when you actually wanted to sit down for a few minutes and play. Frozen Synapse, however, is built like the tactical gamer’s Solitaire; fire up the game and you’re almost good to go with a new game set up with random placements of your units. As Taylor says:-

We don’t enjoy spending ages setting up units; all of the fun of those games seemed to come from the situations you’d eventually get into during the middle phase of the game, so we streamlined everything in Frozen Synapse to create that straight away.


The game forces you to use whatever advantages you have to the maximum, and can provide for long hours of play if you are in the mood (and, of course, if there are others willing to play with you as well). Yes, although this game sports a single player mode, it shines in its multiplayer modes. It uses the old Play-By-Email method of engaging players (since it is turn-based) so you can play this game at your own pace. Again, I reiterate, for a game in its beta, Frozen Synapse almost looks like a finished product. When I asked Taylor what should the general strategy behind a pre-order beta, he replied,

If you’re going to do [a pre-order beta], you have to do it right: you have to be geared up to be commercial and attend to your community, while still working on development.   And you have to have a game that is ready to go: the beta has to be fun and it has to look good.

The attend to your communitypart has been done right by Mode 7 Games. Their forums are lively and full of jibes and jokes with the jargon of the game, as well as a couple of calls for a tourney as much as you’d expect from a fully finished game. Also, the developers wanted to enhance the UI and the general setting of the entire game in conjunction with the community for a more streamlined experience.


The game’s retro-futuristic look, great community support and ridiculously funny single player tutorial in combination with instant death, destructible environment and gameplay suited to your time make this an instant hit for me.

If the pictures and words have failed to have an impact on you to buy this great game ($26 for two copies, DRM-free OR $35 for the premium edition featuring 2 copies of the game, one copy of their earlier game Determinance, a music pack and the chance to have your face on their THANK YOU!!11!list!) I certainly hope that this video will change your mind about it. Support indie games, everyone!

Sacraboar on Impulse just for $4!

Real Time Pig Capturing Strategy is now a few mouse clicks away from you!
When I heard the name Sacraboar, I thought it would be yet another fantasy game about a sacred boar and — what? A sacred boar? Pig capturing strategy?


That’s right, in this game, you are given a set of units and you have to defend your boar while trying to capture the enemy’s boar. This is an RTS (Real Time Strategy) game that has no pesky resource gathering and all the other oddoties. It’s like chess only it’s in 3D, it’s indie and it has pigs. Needless to say, this is aimed for the multiplayer folks and its matchmaking and advancement interfaces are very similar to soccer tourneys.

Sacraboar screenie

This great indie game is available on Impulse for $3.99. Yes! Amazing piggy gaming for dirt cheap prices!

Gratuitous Space Battles Complete Discounted on Impulse

I officially believe that weekend sales are conspiracies against impulsive game buyers like me. So Stardock’s Impulse (that somehow manages to make a pun out of the previous sentence) has put up Gratuitious Space Battles (GSB) complete edition for $20.45 while its original price is $40.92. Why would I buy this inherently complicated sounding game bundle even if its 50% off, you ask? If you ask me, it centers around this line (especially the boldly italicized part):-

GSB also allows you to challenge other players by uploading your best fleets to serve as their opposition, in a massively single-player galactic smorgasbord of laser-death!


In GSB, all the battles are automated. The player plans the moves, customizes his/her fleet and their positions before the battle and then sees how well (or how badly) his fleet performs. It’s a single-player only game. However each player can design a fleet and upload it online. Other players can download this pre-programmed fleet and place their wits against another human… in a massively single-player galactic smorgasbord of laser-death!! (I had to use that line. I really had to.)

The complete edition includes the original game and three expansions: The Order, The Swarm and The Tribes expansions!

Sleep is Death is Cheap as Living – Pay What You Want!

While I bought this game for $9 (and no regrets, thank you), Sleep is Death is worth at least $15. There is a special level of pixelated charm that this storytelling device (as it does not entirely fit into the common definition of video gamein my opinion), and from all accounts this game is awesome. The games stories I played/made on this platform had a whole new level of new-ness attached to them.


So when Jason Rohrer, the creator of this game, tells you that you can buy this game for as much as you are willing to pay for it, you know it’ll make your day. Yes! Though you have to pay the minimum price ($1.75) that covers the cost of the bandwidth for download and payment processing, you get two copies of the game (since this game is two-player only). So, if you will take our advice, GO BUY IT!