Ah, Steam Nextfest. AKA “Hope you got a week free to play a lot of demos.” Well, I played a few, and I figured that it might make a good article this week, so…Here we are! A large chunk of what I played over the course of the event, and my thoughts. Looking for some new games to wishlist? You might find a few here.
This one is probably my favorite of the demos I played for Next Fest. If I had to describe it in a couple words? “Metroid Souls.” You’re a girl in an arm cannon equipped powersuit that runs around fighting monstrosities on an alien planet for reasons unknown. So what’s the Souls part? Well, your cannon can’t fire forever: It has a heat limit that acts as a sort of “stamina” function for your arm cannon. When you overheat, your fire rate plummets. HOWEVER! When your gun is overheated, that excess heat is diverted into your melee attacks, which start out with using your cannon itself as a blunt instrument, but can expand to other melee weapons as you find them, though melee attacks cost stamina from an actual stamina gauge. What we basically have here is a game that does a really neat job of encouraging a mixup of attacks by having each naturally flow into the other. Fire until your cannon is superhot, then beat people to death with it until it cools off. It’s different, but it works *REALLY* well. You also gain the usual “currency you drop on death” that is spent to level up, allowing you to upgrade your suit’s health and resource meters (Stamina and subweapon energy), improve gun power, or improve melee power. You’ll also come across modules that give you additional secondary attacks for your arm cannon that use their own sub gauge (though some may also produce heat), and passive bonuses. You’ve also got the usual “item that heals you and is restored at save points” thing going on, so yeah, it’s very much Metroid Souls. What honestly makes me enjoy this so much is the fact it’s a 2D Souls-like that puts just as much emphasis on the ranged combat as it does the melee, as opposed to each style being its own build type. This is a game where you are expected to mix it up and use both guns and melee to deal with threats, and I love the way both are quick, responsive, and seamless to switch between. Most of the time, Souls-likes make the ranged weapons slower as a tradeoff for their range, where you have to aim and wind up a shot…Here it’s more akin to Metroid. Point, shoot, shoot more, shoot until it’s dead. You have the option to run and gun, but also have a dedicated aim button for more precise shooting, Metroid Dread style, and you’ll be using that one a lot, trust me. Oh the defensive side of things, you quickly gain a dash that costs a chunk of stamina, but gives you brief invincibility so you can pass through enemy and attack alike. A neat twist: Dashes only cost stamina when used repeatedly. Using a single dash won’t cost stamina, and if only dashing again during a recovery window shown by a meter will actually cost stamina.
So, mechanically, this basically nails everything I like about a good combat system for a 2D game. It does feel a tad on the slow side compared to Metroid Dread, but it’s still plenty fun despite the slightly slower feel. Shooting and melee feel great, dodging feels great, moving feels great.
In terms of the world: It nails everything a good Metroid-like should. It’s a world that feels alien, inhospitable, and at times, downright terrifying. There’s tunnels that just sound alive in this game, and going through them was incredibly unsettling in a way I haven’t felt in your typical Metroid game. I absolutely cannot wait to see more of this alien hellhole we’re stuck on.
My only real complaint: Movement does feel a bit slow compared to Metroid Dread, which definitely set a new standard for good feeling movement in a Metroid game. You do gain a sprint function, but the sprint speed feels like what the normal run speed should be. The combat however more than makes up for the slightly slower movement, which I guess does fit the more souls-like atmosphere of the game.
Again, the highlight of this Next Fest for me, and the game I want to be out already so I can play through it. Good Metroid likes are hard enough to come by, and I am more than okay with one that also takes some Souls influence and does it right.
It may be running on the GZDoom Engine, but playing Selaco like DooM will result in you dying very, VERY quickly. Honestly, if you weren’t told Selaco runs on GZDooM and never opened its save/load menu, you wouldn’t even know it. The game’s UI is entirely done from scratch aside from the prior mentioned save/load stuff, resulting in a game that uses the GZDoom engine, but forges its own identity despite.
Selaco’s premise isn’t something I know a lot about due to the story not being a focus of the demo: You appear to be some kind of security lady at a martian city where a terrorist attack has turned the entire place into a warzone. What makes Selaco feel so unique and not just a DooM game despite the engine is the absurd amount of interactivity on top of aggressive enemy AI that is designed to beat you down quickly and efficiently. Virtually every object in this game can be picked up and thrown: We’re talking Deus Ex levels of interactive items here. Soda cans, boxes, stacks of paper, everything! And the enemies, like I said. These are not dumb, slow moving undead with guns. The enemies in Selaco are elite killsquads that use teamwork and tactics to overcome you, with lethal aim and speed that makes each shootout with them incredibly tense.
That’s not to say Selaco is a tactical slow paced shooter, because oh my lord it’s FAST. It’s just that you have to approach things very differently than in DooM. Cover is vital in Selaco, moving between it quickly, or even creating it at a moment’s notice by flipping over certain objects that can be turned into cover such as hospital gurneys. Precision is also important, as Selaco DOES have headshots, and they can quickly bring down your enemies. And on top of that, for the moments you get a window of opportunity or feel just plain crazy, you can slide kick into lighter foes to knock them back and onto their butts, leaving them vulnerable for some lead to the face. You can also quickly dash backwards or to the side to get out of harm’s way, meaning some shootouts will be all about cover, others will be about quickly dashing and shooting as you go past.
The weapons are pretty standard fare, but that’s not a bad thing. You’ve got your balanced assault rifle, a hand cannon of a pistol with a burst fire function, and of course, good ol shotty. Each of them fits their own role in the arsenal, and juggling between them is a pretty constant thing depending on the situation. You’ll also find equipment like frag grenades that can quickly deal with a group or flush them out of cover, and portable medkits for some emergency healing if you’re hurt bad in a firefight. One thing I do like about the healing in this is that if your health drops below 35%, it can gradually heal back up to that amount, meaning you won’t be getting oneshot by a single hit before you can find your next medkit in most cases.
While Selaco’s no simple DooM clone, it does still have plenty of secret hunting. Thankfully, it’s more of the “Look for things of interest, like a ventilation shaft you could jump up to, or a crate blocking a hole in the wall” instead of “hump every wall until one opens.”
Selaco’s a very fascinating game in that clearly its developers have some love for DooM given their choice of engine, but they’re out to make their own game running on the engine instead of a game that uses DooM as its base. Selaco is a very fast, aggressive FPS that emphasizes quick thinking as you blast away your enemies, and it’s definitely something every FPS fan should check out: Just keep in mind, this is NOT another DooM, even if it’s running on that engine.
“Y’know what would make Doom 2016 more fun? If it was a rhythm game.” Someone said this, and Metal: Hellsinger is the result. And y’know what? I’m okay with it.
Metal Hellsinger has you playing as a nameless demon slaughtering other demons in a rampage through hell, but she doesn’t just do it with style: She does it to the beat! This game has a similar concept to Bullets Per Minute’s shooting and reloading to a song’s beat. But in my opinion? This one does it better.
You get several tools of destruction in Hellsinger, but the rule for all of them is the same: Attacking to the beat of the song does more damage, and also gives you more points. You’ve got a quick sword for up close combat, a fire spewing skull that can keep your rhythm based bonuses going even if no enemies are around, and a pair of firearms: A shotgun that can fire every other beat, and pistols that fire on every beat. In the case of the firearms, you have limited ammo, but unlimited reloading, and reloading on the beat speeds the process up so you can get back to shooting much faster. Also, I did mention Doom 2016, so of course there’s Glory Kills (or Slaughters as they call them in this) which must also be done on the song’s beat, but give you delicious healing when done properly.
Why I think it handles things better than BPM’s shooting to the beat is mainly in that combat as a whole just flows better, and you’re not locked to a single tool for the job. You get a nice variety of weapons to play with and switching to the right one for a situation is key. On top of that, dodging is NOT tied to the beat like in BPM, which makes evading enemies much, MUCH easier. On top of that, you get a much more tangible reward for shooting to the beat: Bigger, better hits that bring down your foes quicker. You also get access to Ultimate attacks which each weapon has its own meter for, and they can be used to quickly clear out a room or deal with a big threat, meaning you can always have an ace in the hole as long as you’re keeping your meters filled with rhythmic shooting. Using the environment is also a bit more important, as you’ve got healing crystal veins you can shoot for some quick healing, and explosive crystals you can use to blow up any baddies near them with a well placed shot.
The way the music is incorporated into Hellsinger is another major factor: As you build more Rage (A score and damage booster) with attacks to the beat, the songs gain more instruments, and eventually vocals at a maximum Rage bonus of 16x. It’s not unlike the dynamic music system used in Devil May Cry 5 where more style means more of the music: making it a thing for a rhythm shooter feels incredibly natural and definitely works in the game’s favor here.
While BPM is a good game, Hellsinger feels like what I wanted BPM to be: A much more engaging rhythm FPS with some great production values behind it.
XEL is a game that has clear inspirations, but unfortunately from the demo I feel it didn’t take the right ones. Right from the getgo, it is quite obvious The Legend of Zelda is a major point of influence for XEL. The problem is that Zelda games are quick to give you the sense of adventure and exploring of a world that make those games so fun. XEL is content to put you through a pretty lengthy tutorial area just to get your sword and shield, which you cannot leave without having both of these tools.
Right of the bat, XEL drops you into this tutorial area with an amnesiac yet very talkative girl, and a robot that we can’t understand but our amnesiac girl can. The result is that she just parrots whatever the robot says, rather than giving us a better, natural flowing kind of conversation between the two. But that’s the least of my concerns.
After some running, jumping, and crate pushing, and…Even more of that, we eventually get our sword several minutes in. It lacks anything beyond just mashing attack to repeatedly strike at foes: No charge attacks or fancy moves here. The shield is equally bare bones, blocking attacks and having a stamina gauge to keep you from abusing it, along with a parry I could never quite get the hang of. The enemies were your basic ‘swing once’ types you could easily evade, then attack mash to take down.
Oh, and that running I talked about? It gets tedious. With no sprint button, going from one area to another in the demo felt like it took way longer than it should have, leaving me to mash the dodge roll button whenever I had stamina. And that dodge roll? It’s got problems too. You can’t do a quick 180 to dodge backwards if you find trouble ahead, and your dodge roll seems to have few, if any i-frames, making it feel almost useless entirely at times.
So, we have a very long, boring tutorial as the only taste of a game that’s again, clearly going for something Zelda-ish. I can’t say it left a good taste in my mouth given the fact the combat just didn’t feel engaging, the movement felt unfun, and the whole thing just felt very…Basic and tedious.
CULT OF THE LAMB
This is one I’m kinda feeling 50/50 on at the moment. Cult of the Lamb takes the idea of cutesy animals being involved in horrible bloody things, not unlike Happy Tree Friends. In this case, you play as the last Lamb of the world, who a religious order is trying to kill in order to prevent said lamb from reviving an ancient god that would threaten their order. Unfortunately in killing you, they just made it so you could be brought back to life by the god, and start a cult in their name to take revenge!
The game does a bit of genre blending, as you have to actually build a base for your cult, manage its members by keeping them fed, and upgrade your cult HQ to be able to better serve your vengeful needs. But the base building is just one half of the game: the other half is going into the territory of the order that killed you to find and hunt down its leaders, taking revenge, and in the process, maybe recruit some new followers too. Oh, right, and SLAY ALL THE UNBELIEVERS. When you go out to do your slaying, the game takes a more Binding of Isaac Roguelite approach, where you have procedurally generated maps made of rooms that contain monsters and loot. What makes things a tad different is that each dungeon is made of up several of these small maps which you can freely travel between. You could opt to try and explore more maps to get more loot for your base, or you could just go straight for your target and take UNHOLY VENGEANCE UPON THEM.
The combat is pretty straightforward, but it works. You have melee weapons of varying speed and power you can use, the ability to dodge roll (even during a melee swing!), and occultic powers given to you by the god you serve, but they can only be used with the BLOOD OF THE FAITHLESS. As you land hits and kill foes, you can PARTAKE OF THEIR BLOOD AND OFFER IT SO THAT YOUR TRUE LORD MAY BRING DEATH AND MISERY TO ALL WHO OPPOSE HIM. Sadly, the demo ends pretty quickly, so you can’t really get a proper feel for the loop of: Do work on base, go out into world to get more materials and followers, make base better. But it definitely has some potential from what I’ve played! It’s not a I MUST HAVE THIS title at the moment, but it’s absolutely one I’m keeping an eye on.
AGENT 64: SPIES NEVER DIE
This one’s pretty straightforward. A game inspired by Goldeneye 64 and Perfect Dark. It uses the same style of shooting, objectives based on mission difficulty, N64 style visuals, y’know the drill by this point if you played Goldeneye.
I’ll admit I don’t have much to say about this one, but that’s *not* a bad thing. I just can’t really think of anything to say beyond “It’s Goldeneye like.” It uses the same kind of semi-auto aim when you freely move, while manual aim does cursor based precision aiming at the cost of not being able to move. Admittedly this is something I hope gets adjusted, being able to pop out of cover by leaning while using aim mode would be a welcome addition, and I hope it becomes a thing. Movement also feels a bit off, but at the end of the day, it’s what I’d hope to see out of a game taking inspiration from the N64’s greatest FPSes: Be a secret agent, shoot badguys, use gadgets to do objectives. Good stuff, though no mention of multiplayer is a bit of a concern. You can’t do this kind of game and then NOT have multiplayer. That said, it’s definitely high on my list.
This is another one I’m probably going to be brief on, but I will say it’s gonna be hit or miss depending on your tastes. Anger Foot comes to us from the guys that made Broforce, but this is a very different kind of game. If I had to compare it to anything, I’d say Hotline Miami. You go through levels, blasting everyone in your way as you try to reach the exit, but have very little health: A couple direct hits without taking a moment to heal by resting and you’re dead. Guns are also used and thrown away liberally. The big thing about Anger Foot is probably your titular foot, the other big weapon of your arsenal. You kick down doors, which sends them flying and turns them into projectiles that can knock out any poor sod on the other end of the door. Said kicks are also used when no gun is available, but ideally you’ll kick your way to a gun and get shooting, replacing your gun with a new one when it runs out of ammo. The big thing about Anger Foot is that it demands mastery.
If you die in a level, you start over. No checkpoints. This means it’s all about executing the perfect run where you quickly clear each room of bad guys with well placed kicks and gunfire while avoiding damage, since again, only a couple hits and you’re dead! You can heal if you stay still and avoid taking further hits, but this is usually only viable once a room is clear.
Given its creators, this is NOT a game to take seriously. Goofy character designs, a story about rescuing your beloved designer shoe that was kidnapped, yeah, this is NOT gonna be a deep trippy story, it’s just gonna be a silly one. I’m okay with that, as I wasn’t really one for the surrealism of Hotline Miami.
Also, the music slaps. Every song booms out a hot bassy beat that is great for the speedy slaughters you’ll be doing in this game, and the way the lights even pulse to the beats and thumps is a nice visual touch (though you can turn it off if it’s too distracting).
So at the end of the day, yeah, this game is all about high speed room clearing and doing it over until you can get it right. If you enjoy Hotline Miami’s formula, there’s plenty to enjoy in this first person take on it. Fair warning though: While it supports a controller, aim assist feels spotty at best and you’ll find long range shots on a gamepad are VERY difficult. This is probably best played on mouse and keyboard. This isn’t one I’m going to get right away, but will probably grab on sale.
MIDNIGHT FIGHT EXPRESS
With beat-em-ups not being the most common genre these days, it’s refreshing to see any new ones that show promise, and Midnight Fight Express absolutely shows it. This one tasks you as a nameless former criminal turned vigilante, guided by a talking quadcopter drone. Your mission? Stop a criminal takeover of your city by beating the problem to death: The problem being every criminal on the streets.
I would say it’s slightly, SLIGHTLY comparable to the combat system of the Batman Arkham series, a full 360 degree range brawler that focuses on dealing with groups. However, unlike Arkham, this game lacks the kind of ‘perfect rhythm’ that Arkham used where button timing was crucial and bad pressed messed with your rating. You’ve got your regular attacks, guards, the ability to counter by guarding just before being hit, dodge rolls, a pretty standard set of toys. What helps this one out is a beat-em-up staple: melee weapons! Clubs, bats, pipes, knives, y’know the drill. Weapons have durability, so while they give you an edge, they only give you one for so long. That said, bonus points to the dev for giving a visible meter to know exactly how long your current bludgeoning tool is gonna last. Melee weapons also offer defense, as you can’t block a weapon unless you have a weapon of your own. Melee weapons can also be thrown at enemies, as well as larger objects. For better or worse, larger objects like chairs and barrels are automatically thrown. Pro: No downtime because of aiming. Con: You may not always auto-aim at your desired target. Oh, there’s also guns, which I always feel mixed about in a beat-em-up, but thankfully they don’t seem to overstay their welcome or dominate the game’s focus, they’re just another tool in your arsenal as you clean up the streets.
Health is a bit of an oddity, in that you get three health bars, and as long your current bar isn’t empty, it can regenerate. That said, if the bar runs out, it’s GONE for that level, with no way to get it back as far as I can tell. This might be an issue in harder levels, and I do hope some means of health restoration beyond regen is available in the final game.
The game also has a surprisingly satisfying progression system, where you can earn skill points to unlock new moves in various trees, and use money to unlock new clothing and other cosmetics to customize the look of your character. It’s a simple set of systems, but anything that adds additional depth and customization to a beat-em-up and does it well is okay in my book!
I also like that the game does not take itself even remotely seriously. The dialogue is extremely silly, but not overly cringey in that silliness. I had a few good chuckles, and definitely look forward to seeing what other gags will be in the full version.
This is definitely one I’m looking forward to the release of, good beat-em-ups are hard to come by, and this one definitely feels like it’ll be a winner.
Starting with a TL:DR here. Did you like the FEAR games at all? If so, you will love TREPANG2.
Okay, for the rest of you: FEAR was an FPS that blended a military style with the supernatural. The most notable feature of FEAR was its slow motion power, which let you slow down time around you and gave you a massive advantage over the enemy troops you constantly faced, as you could suddenly bring down several of them before they could even blink due to how much faster you were after slowing time down.
Trepang2 does not try to hide its FEAR inspirations, and I for one welcome this since FEAR has been dead for a long time now. I don’t know much about this game’s premise, other than the fact you’re an amnesiac supersoldier attempting to escape from a blacksite prison. Even with handcuffs on you, you’re still capable of becoming invisible for brief periods to sneak past the site’s security as you work to re-arm yourself. Once you get your handcuffs off and get a gun though? That’s when this game REALLY begins.
Trepang2 is all about making you feel like a badass supersoldier from the getgo. It starts you out with ridiculous powers other games would make you have to play for a bit to earn: The aforementioned cloaking power, and Focus, which slows time down around you while keeping you relatively fast. The beauty is that these powers each have their own meter, meaning you can mix them up freely without one depriving you from using the other. With Cloak, you can quickly throw off your enemies by vanishing from sight, and move to a new position while they’re still trying to figure out where the heck you went. With Focus, you can turn any gunfight in your favor by suddenly having way faster reaction time than your enemies, giving you ample opportunity to line up headshots against multiple targets before they can even shoot you. On top of this, you’re no slouch in the physical department either. Need someone to stop shooting for a bit? Slide into them and knock them on their ass. Or just beat them to death. Need to move quickly? Sprinting and sliding will let you easily move around and evade gunfire, and also knock people over as I previously mentioned.
The guns in Trepang2 aren’t going to win any originality contests, but they feel great, and that’s all I care about at the end of the day. You’ve got the balanced pistol with decent stopping power and great accuracy, even when dual wielded, the less accurate but bullet spraying SMG, a well balanced assault rifle for long range shooting, and of course a good shotgun for up close, personal blasts to the face. They all feel incredibly fun to use, especially when Focus lets you go Matrix on everyone’s asses with them.
At the end of the day, if I had to call Trepang2 anything? I’d call it a Badass Simulator. In screenshots, it looks like another Call of Duty, but it plays nothing like those. This is absolutely going to be a day 1 purchase when it releases for me, because being a superpowered action hero never goes out of style for me.
Hooboy, this one’s…Interesting. It’s a soulslike that I’ll admit I don’t entirely get the story of, aside from the fact you’re some kind of witch constructed of ichor who can create new shells to enhance herself, but has to eventually discard those shells for new ones, and then face the shells she left behind. I’m probably missing something here, but what really grabbed me here was the gameplay.
If I had to make an immediate comparison? Blasphemous. Specifically in the fact Blasphemous used a more aggressive form of Soulslike combat where you didn’t have a stamina meter for your basic actions like attacking and dodging, and can freely cancel into a dodge in most animations, even attacks. That kind of aggression is a big focus of Moonscars, as only a few hits can kill you, but you can freely dodge out of most actions, and parry out of a good chunk of them (but not all). This makes the combat quite fast, where you or your enemy will be dead within moments depending on how things go. Your basic weapon has a three hit combo, and the ability to cancel into a heavy attack during said combo by holding the attack button, so you get a decent bit of mixup in your normal attacks. Parries are a bit interesting in that a parry will always block attacks that have a red flash warning before them, but only a perfectly timed one gives you a chance to dish out a devastating counter.
Another major combat tool is magic which costs your Ichor gauge, which is also a healing gauge of sorts, though it works in layers. When you consume ichor to use Witchery (your magic), it becomes spoiled, and shows as a blue part on your ichor meter. Spoiled ichor cannot be used to cast magic, but still has a use! Whether fresh or spoiled, you can hold down your healing button to gradually heal your wounds by completely consuming ichor. Your lost ichor, be it spoiled or fully consumed, is restored by landing melee attacks on your enemies. This means you’ll be needing to land attacks quite often to keep yourself going, both in terms of healing and the ability to use your Witchery skills to do damage. In the demo, three are available: A piercing, short range blast, a projectile, and poison imbuement for your weapons. You can equip two of these abilities at a time, and those will be a significant part of defining your build. The other major component is a special weapon you pick early on from a set of three. Each of these weapons has their own negative status they can afflict, and all have lengthy windups that lead into powerful attacks, making them a high risk, high reward option. They have an odd quirk though which I’ll get into in a moment.
Before I go into what makes this different from other Souls-likes, I should mention what isn’t different. Like many Souls-likes, Moonscars has checkpoints that refill your health, ichor, and revive all slain foes when activated. You also have a currency used to unlock new Witchery and spend on items called Bonepowder, which is earned by slaying enemies and is dropped when you die. And if you die again, that Bonepowder is gone forever. Right, now let’s talk about what’s different.
One of the things that is rather different about this game is how many of your bonuses and upgrades are finite. For example, killing enemies fills a Spite meter. When it fills, you gain a Spite level, which gives you the ability to pick from three random perks. The catch? When you die, you lose ALL your Spite levels and the perks they provided, the only way to recover is to kill things and gradually regain your spite levels.
You can also spend a currency called Glands to get temporary bonuses like increased resource gains, but that bonus will be lost the next time you use a checkpoint. In addition, dying without getting your lost resources back too much can actually result in the game being harder until you spend the rare Gland currency to undo the cursed moon that rises from your failures. It’s certainly a different kind of balancing act, choosing what to use your rarely dropped items for: Temporary bonuses? Or insurance in case you screw up too much?
Now we get into the odd quirk about those special weapons I mentioned. Whenever you get a chance to unlock a new special weapon, it comes with a cost. The next checkpoint you come across that hasn’t been activated yet will take away that weapon, and create a clone of yourself at that location. Upon returning to that location later, you’ll have to fight the clone to reclaim your lost weapon, and said clone will have access to the weapon, and your other tools like parries and healing, so expect a tough fight.
Sadly, the demo ends when you kill your first clone, so I didn’t really get a chance to see what an actual boss encounter is like in this game, which I consider an important part of any soulslike. That said, it definitely has potential. The combat is on the fast, aggressive side, so those who enjoyed that approach in Blasphemous will find plenty to like here. On the other hand, there’s very little room for error, so learning the game is expected if you want to survive.
I’m definitely keeping an eye on this one, as it seems like it’ll be a good challenge and a fun Soulslike Metroidvania hybrid.
EX NATURA: NATURE CORRUPTED
Not gonna have much to say on this one, because I just couldn’t get into it. It has souls-like ambitions, but they’re held down by janky movement and animations with combat that just doesn’t feel good.
Weapon swings feel unnatural and lack weight. Movement feels incredibly awkward: Like Sekiro with its jumping but way less reliable in terms of if the jump will get you where you want to go. You also have an airdash that’s equally jank and half the time seems to not work the way you want it to. Overall, this one needs WAY more time in the oven.
This one is another case of ‘needs more time in the oven’ but I’m not going to say it’s bad. In fact I love the idea of what it’s setting out to do and I’m looking forward to the full release.
Mystiqa is aiming to be a procedurally generated take on Legend of Zelda, which means a top down adventure of exploring a big world map, finding secrets and dungeons, and slaying all manner of beasts. Why I think it needs more time in the oven is that what’s in the demo feels very bare bones: You can only hold one main weapon and one item, and the controller functionality is…Really bad. To the point I could only handle the demo on keyboard. But the idea is there, the framework is there, it just needs time to refine issues and actually get all the planned features in. Absolutely keeping an eye on it, and hoping the dev can deliver, especially considering multiplayer is a planned feature: A multiplayer randomized Zelda-like sounds like a good time to me!
Y’know how I’ve made a lot of comparisons to other games in this entire thing? Well, here’s another one for you. Kingdom Gun is basically Risk of Rain 1 but greatly improved upon in a lot of ways. What we have here is a 2D, sideview run and gun roguelite with an emphasis on exploring a big, open level and trying to find a boss portal after looting said level clean. Movement like jumping is just as important as shooting in this, as you’ll find a wide variety of uh…Unique weapons to say the least. Beachball launchers and disco balls that turn floors into damaging dance floors are just some of the oddities I’ve found. You have two heroes available in the demo, each with their own dodge skill, attack skill, and ultimate, all of which have cooldowns you have to worry about in the heat of battle, but are all key to surviving out there.
What honestly puts this up there for me is that the movement feels particularly good. Risk of Rain 1 didn’t really have much going in the way of mobility, and felt very stiff at times. Kingdom Gun is more interested in keeping movement as a major part of the gameplay, which consists of getting gold to buy items throughout a level before heading through a portal to fight a boss. And the bosses? They’re very…Bullet hell. Lots of complex patterns involving LOTS of projectiles to avoid. That said, one thing I do like is that there is a sense of progression with permanent character upgrades, something Risk of Rain lacks. You can bring friends too, so there’s definitely some staying power here if you’ve got friends to play with.
If I can find some buddies interested in this, I’ll definitely be giving the full release a look.
GLIMMER IN MIRROR
Fair warning: The localization in this one is…Not so great. English is obviously not the strong point of the developers, as a lot of the english dialogue comes out feeling weird and unnatural. Okay, that out of the way, what do we have here?
A Metroidvania with a focus on long range combat! Haven’t seen one of those in awhile. You play as a girl who has wound up in a strange, magical world, aided by a crown that has granted her magical powers. In the course of the demo, you’ll do the usual exploring a Metroidvania would have you do, but honestly it’s just refreshing to see one with a ranged combat focus. Your main weapon is a rapid fire light magic attack, though you shortly gain the ability to hold the fire button down to use a charged shot (As long as you have the energy for it, but that recharges pretty fast). With so many Metroidvanias being melee focused, it’s nice to just have one that lets you blast away from a distance for once, as it allows for a different kind of playstyle that leaves you with more room to maneuver and react to attacks.
The artstyle is also particularly charming. It’s got a bright, not quite hand-drawn but still very “artsy” look to it, like something out of a storybook. Character designs are also on the super cute side, so hopefully you’re into that or don’t mind it. Me? I’ve played Rabi Ribi, I can deal with this.
At the end of the day, it’s really the ranged focus that made this one stand out to me. Like I said before, it’s just nice to have a Metroidvania that gives you some breathing room as opposed to having to whack everything in the face with a sword or blunt instrument. There’s also the usual Metroidvania exploration tropes: Find upgrades by exploring to give yourself more health and resources, that kind of thing. Far as I can tell, this is more on the Metroid side, with a lack of level ups, and instead finding things is how you get stronger, so that’s another point in its favor as someone who likes a good “Metroid” side of Metroidvanias. It does offer a few things to mix up the formula though, like cute little critters you can befriend who provide passive bonuses like damage resistance or healing when you do damage, so there will be some element of character customization and building, just not the kind that involves grinding for a lot of Souls.
Language problems aside, yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing where this one goes, and what manner of monsters I’ll be going PEW PEW PEW against with my magical barrages
So, I *might* do more of the games I’ve looked at, because there were quite a few. Unfortunately by that point the demos may not be available any longer as Nextfest demos tend to only be for the duration of Nextfest. At the least though, you’ll have an idea on some games to look forward to!