By Mento 1 Comments
Howdy once again to another showcase of the LA Game Space Experimental Game bundle. As predicted, Patrick is well on the way to publishing a video of several of these games in action, so I figured I better get the lead out if I want people to read some schlub's thoughts in a text blog before they can watch some industry vet's thoughts in a video. Of course, I have the same set-up he does (even down to the mic brand) so why I'm not just making videos of all of these myself is anyone's guess.
But hey! No time for ratiocination! We got some quirky Indie games to discuss!
What Guilded Youth does, like so many of these Indie games, is manage to tap into nostalgia in a pleasingly germane-to-the-era sort of way. I guess this comes from having so many game developers in their late 20s and early 30s. You play a young lad in his teens who is part of a "guild" of, basically, highschool-age urban explorers and pilferers. In particular, you fancy yourself a sneaky rogue who plunders from "dungeons" with an Errol Flynn sense of style. Of course, an actual 14 year old carries himself completely differently, and the game's great at laying that subtext out through his evening adventures.
The game, which is controlled entirely through a text parser like the Infocom games of old, follows a recurring process where you investigate an old manor from the outskirts of town, find a few knick-knacks in the dilapidated manse and come back to your online Commodore 64 BBS chatroom to exhibit your prizes. Showing items to certain guild members convinces them to join you for the following night's raid and thus you are slowly introduced to each character both in- and outside the BBS. Each member also has their own little methods of procuring items from old houses, so you end up finding a little more with each trip. I don't want to get into any more detail than that, because this is still a text adventure at heart and saying too much would spoil the puzzles.
It's a very short game though, and not one that's going to stymie you with some incredibly obtuse puzzles. You'll breeze through it and can focus on the low-key story of a bunch of kids getting into trouble. There's even multiple endings to enjoy (and I was given a code to skip to the big choice, which was appreciated). Some real Stand By Me shit here, and I enjoyed what little there was of it.
Inputting has a coincidentally-similar theme to Alphabet, which I checked out last time: All the tools to progress can be found in the letter keys right in front of you. Inputting has something of a Marble Madness vibe, at least initially. You then start to see the telltale signs of the classic subversive Indie game by how quickly it introduces an unreliable narrator who starts to wander off the topic of what you should be doing and losing himself in little flights of fancy while you figure out what you're doing by context provided elsewhere. The game also has this scratchy filter over it for which I couldn't ascertain a purpose, but it did make the whole thing seem like a drunken haze. I suppose that might've been the idea?
Each stage of Inputting sets up an obstacle course where you have to ensure that a sphere (let's just say marble) gets to a green cuboid "end zone" by means of various shapes with letters on them. Touching the letter that shape corresponds do moves it in some way. If you see the first image on the upper left, the G key will go back if you hold it and then spring forward once you let go, which propels the ball forward like the starter spring on a pinball machine. Most of the stages (there's 18, I think, but I trust the game's presentation as far as I can throw it) follow a similar set of rules.
The game certainly has a lot of neat ideas: while some stages have you rolling across a keyboard to the goal, others might throw a spanner in the works by removing the letter identifiers and asking you to press the button that skips to the next stage. One stage simply presents a ball named "Janice", with whom the narrator sheepishly purports to have had an inter-office relationship that ended poorly. One stage is a straight up shoot 'em up where you have to press keys to move blocks out of the way before your little ship can collide with them. It feels like there's a trend with these Indie games to set up a bunch of rules and then go about subverting them and watching how the player reacts, like a rat stuck in a maze.
Like Depth, Inputting seems like one of the more substantial games in this package. I definitely didn't get to see all of it in the hour or so I played, mostly because Stage 13 is a real doozy. I'll probably revisit it once my head stops swimming from its beer goggles visuals.
LA Death Disk
I don't feel like I can give LA Death Disk its due for right now, since it's a multiplayer-only competitive sports game not unlike BaraBariBall or Rayman Legends' Kung Foot. In a similar fashion, you have players on either side of the screen who are attempting to score points by tossing frisbees into each other's goals.
Oh right, this is an Ultimate Frisbee game, lest I forget to mention it. It's also 80s as hell. I guess that's apparent enough from that Kid 'n Play (or "Kid 'n That Guy From Zombies Ate My Neighbors", at least) style intro screen up yonder. I definitely can't fault its presentation, but without a second human player I can't really speak to how fun it is.
Here's what I can tell you from messing around on my own for a bit: Frisbees pop out of an orb that floats all over the place, providing a necessity bit of unpredictability about where the next frisbee will come from. The player needs to pick up the frisbee and then quickly aim and throw it, as holding onto it for too long causes the holder to explode for some reason. As a result you can't just grab it and run around trying to avoid the other player while lining a shot up, or simply run straight for the goal to make it easier for yourself. Aiming and shooting the frisbee is done in the classic Artillery style of selecting the angle and power and letting loose. You can choose to aim for the goal (it's a relatively small gap in the wall, so some precision is required) or simply whack your opponent with it to stun them for a few seconds and give yourself better odds with the next toss, sans any chance of the opponent managing to intercept it in mid-air or grabbing it after it drops.
Still, this is all rather academic without a second person to test it on, and I'm not one for sharing a keyboard. Maybe the office can check it out on the next UPF. Given their enjoyment of BaraBariBall, this may be right up their street.
So that's another three games from this pack. I'll try for six again in Part 3, since I was a little pressed for time today. They're still releasing new ones too, so maybe I've bitten off a little more than I can chew here. We'll see! Thanks for stopping by!
|Part 1 - Alphabet, Control, Coureur de Bois, Depth, ESNF Fortune Teller, Game Space Space Game.|
|Part 2 - Guilded Youth, Inputting, LA Death Disk.|
|Part 3 - Micomonocon, A Moth in Relay, Pachalafaka, Perfect Stride, Poocuzi, spiralsky.|
|Part 4 - Sunshine, To My Favourite Sinner, uu, VideoHeroeS, Irrational Exuberance.|