Tag Archives: Kickstarter

Beyond Human – Kickstarter Spotlight

With less then 48 hours left in the Kickstarter campaign, Beyond Human is a superbly polished and insanely fun metroidvania title that needs some help from the community to hit it’s funding goal. Beyond-Human’s initial release will be available for Windows, Mac, PS4, and PS Vita. The PC release will be distributed on Steam as well as GOG.com. It’s been depressing to see quality titles like Necrocosmos not hit their funding goals recently and I’d hate to add Beyond Human to the list.

BeyondHuman-Gunplay2

With a well designed campaign and an excellent demo, its bewildering that the development team behind Beyond Human has only raised 60% of the $30,000 budget. With only 2 hours remaining in the campaign, Beyond Human could use your help.

BeyondHuman-SwordPlay2

Melding classic Metroid atmosphere and gameplay, with speedy sword fighting and a touch of character customization, Beyond human deserves to be on any gamers radar. Exploring the demo’s gloomy space station for enemies to decapitate and power-ups to horde was satisfying not only because of great level layout and a creepy sense of hostility around every corner, but also due to how seamlessly the platforming and high octane action brought the whole package together.

BeyondHuman-Keycard

By the end of the demo the main character is transformed into a complete cybernetic bad ass, able to swap between slicing, dicing, and dashing between enemies, even throwing in a hail of bullets to eliminate ranged assailants. Flashbacks of the first time I played Devil May Cry. Powerful attacks are not unlimited though and the player must manage a simple to understand energy system that allows for consecutive special moves, but must be recharged over time. Players familiar with the stamina system in Guacamelee should have a firm grasp of  the concept.

BeyondHuman-SavePoint&Upgrades

Along with health power-ups and your standard fair of other collectibles, player should be on the lookout for any new weapons or mods they can find. Only an assault rifle and plasma sword were available to test. The plasma sword won me over instantly with flashy visuals and an ever evolving move set. Currency found by putting down the occupants of the space station can be invested into learning new moves for certain weapons. Gaining the abilities to perform dash attacks, uppercuts and body splitting dropping attacks was always satisfying and stringing them together on helpless enemies, even more so.

BeyondHuman-Boss1

Mods allow for a bit of customization and extra options during each combat encounter. I only ran across two during my time with the demo, but I see a lot of possibility. Up to three can be equipped at any one time and can be used by holding down the left trigger. I didn’t get much use out of the ones available, but the shotgun blast and bullet deflector could no doubt be powerful abilities in more capable hands. These abilities are also linked to your energy meter and cannot be spammed. Careful combination of weapons and mods will be a must in the final game and if nothing else will promote varied play styles.

BeyondHuman-EquipmentScreen

My time with Beyond Human was a treat and it sounds like the development team won’t give up on the project if funding doesn’t meet expectations, but I implore anyone interested in 2D action adventure, sci-fi, and/or the Metroid franchise to take some time to support Beyond Human, spread the word, and hopefully get this title funded within the next few hours.

List of Beyond Human’s features upon initial release:

• Metroidvania Style Progression
• Environmental Storytelling
• 6 Locations to Explore
• 6 Boss Battles
• 6 Unlockable Main Weapons
• 12+ Mini-Boss Battles
• 20+ Unlockable Weapon Mods

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Nakawak – Kickstarter Spotlight

Who doesn’t want more adventure games inspired by the heydays of the GameBoy? Probably not many, but after stumbling upon the Kickstarter campaign for Nakawak, I can’t help but be impressed by the lone developers attempt at creating a GameBoy inspired Metroidvania title coming to Steam hopefully sooner than later.

NakawakTitleScreen

With only 7 days left in the campaign, Nakawak has well exceeded its goal of $250 and is only a few pledges away from hitting the third stretch goal. The game is actually fully developed, but the developer, Sean Filkins, is hoping to include an alternate, color version of the game. This version of the game is advertised to have exclusive levels and bosses. Its interesting to note that the goal behind this is to replicate Nintendo’s older practices of releasing different version of their titles.

MainCharacter

Gameplay looks solid and the graphics perfectly match the feel of the original GameBoy. Inspiration is heavily founded from the original two Metroid games and the environments and character sprites make this very apparent. Look into backing this game over the next week as just a few more pledges will afford the developer to add even more unique concepts and content to the color version. Two great games is always better then one.  Checkout the Kickstarter Campaign.

Nakawak Color

Necrocosmos – Kickstarter Spotlight

 August 1st marked the beginning of an exciting new Kickstarter campaign in the announcement of Necrocosmos. To be released on PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One, Necrocosmos is bringing a new spin to the Metroid formula, introducing survival elements with a splash of randomized progression. Put simply, players will be challenged to explore multiple planets with unique environments and inhabitants, but the developers claim that progression will be randomly generated from player-to-player. An ambitious idea that I hope can be delivered upon. Thankfully the developers have made it very clear that planets will not be procedurally generated, but handcrafted with care.

 

NecrocosmosTreasure

The masterminds behind Necrocosmos, Andromeda Project3, have designed a very thorough and intriguing campaign full of images, gameplay snippets, lore, and detailed explainations of gameplay features and stretch goals. Little is left to backer imagination and the project looks to be quite polished already. Even better is the option of playing a pretty meaty demo without having to pledge a dime. I’ve spent several hours with the demo and still haven’t completed it, for better or for worse.

NecrocosmosGameplay2

Exploration of the planet on showcase in the demo is a treat and the narrative told through scavenged journal entries and the player character’s reactions to events is surprisingly entertaining. Not to spoil any of the events, but Metroid veterans will appreciate and feel right at home with the events that ultimately lead to exploring and meeting much more of the planet’s inhabitants than expected. Suffice it to say that gamers looking for a fair bit of lore to sink their teeth into will find a lot to love about Necrocosmos assuming the developers put as much effort and detail into the final product’s writing as they have crammed into the demo.

NecrocosmosGameplay3

Exploration and gameplay is pretty vanilla out of the gate. Starting off with nothing but a short ranged rifle and jet pack, our hero isn’t particularly well equipped which allows for the tension of well designed survival games to shine through. A currency known simply as resource is collected through defeating enemies and destroying certain parts of the environment. Resources must be rationed wisely as they have heavy implications throughout. Upgrades to your suit are the most obvious use and can make a huge difference in empowering the players survivability in this inhospitable environment. Consider these upgrades a bonus as they shouldn’t be your first priority. Only through the expending of resources can players repair damage, save their progress, and even continue after death. The extra reliance on resources for such simple factors of gameplay adds a layer of tension that some players will enjoy, while others will no doubt loathe.

NecrocosmosBoss
I have mixed opinions on the matter. I quite like the idea of juggling the importance of gaining a permanent upgrade, healing and saving. Getting a chance to save after a lengthy session of exploration actually provided a rush of satisfaction that most other games in the genre don’t. Every mistake has bigger implications as a player can’t simply farm a room of enemies to replenish health. Actually on more then one occasion I found myself having to chose between healing or saving, without the resources to do both. Necrocosmos is punishing at times, but ultimately smart allocation of resources will reward a player just as much as skilled play. I can appreciate this, but I can not appreciate the way resources are tied into continuing gameplay after death. Upon death, a certain amount of resources are required to continue from the last save point. This system did not bother me in the least for my first few hours.
NecrocosmosSaving
But after several hours of exploration, gaining all of my suit’s upgrades and only a few objectives away from what I can imagine would be the demo’s conclusion, I died. No big deal. This had happened many times and it was my own fault for exploring while on low health. The game asked if I wanted to continue and of course my response was yes. I was having a blast and wanted to continue playing. It turns out that I didn’t have quite enough resources to continue. At this point I was placed at the beginning of the planet with all of my progress reset. No upgrades, zero map completion, nothing. To just lose that much progress, I had to turn the game off for a moment. Hoping to continue again, I booted up the game and found to my horror that the Continue option wasn’t selectable from the menu screen. All of my progress gone. Unfortunately I couldn’t gather the motivation to start again. I hope this isn’t a feature that will make it into the final build of the game.
NecrocosmosGameplay1
This left a permanent bad taste in my mouth after several hours of very enjoyable gameplay. I can’t imagine that having to restart the entire game will be an issue with the final product. Even expecting players to re-explore entire planets/levels is not going to sit well for most gamers. Sure, keeping enough resources stashed away can afford a guaranteed continue, but what about situations where a player finds themselves in a tough situation where they are facing death-after-death? Resources will eventually run dry and they’ll have to potentially replay a good portion of your game? Certain players will feel rewarded by replaying and overcoming the odds, but others will likely walk away in frustration. That’s exactly what I did, even if I tend to find myself in the first camp. Replaying 15-20 minutes worth of a game is acceptable, replaying several hours isn’t.
NecrocosmosSpaceBattle
Necrocosmos does so much else right that it’s hard to not recommend it to any fan of the older generation of exploration games. Fun touches like the vertical space shooter segments when traveling between planets and the collection of journal entries to solve some of the more insidious riddles are just great bonuses. One of the games most touted features hasn’t even been touched upon yet, the DNA gun. Destroying adversaries doesn’t simply reward resources, but also, on occasion, the enemy’s DNA. By collecting and combining different DNA types, the player can wield various forms of firepower. While only a handful were available to test, most create unique firing patterns and even the ability to bypass certain barriers found throughout the map. Alien vegetation blocking your passage? Create a flamethrower and clear the path. Players will only have a limited amount of shots per combination, but the ability to switch between two weapons on the fly will allow for saving precious ammo until the time is right. Yet another flaky layer of survival and problem solving.
As of the publishing of this article, Necrocosmos has 16 more days to hit its $53,000 goal and is almost halfway there. Necrocosmos has a wonderful premise and clearly a very passionate, talented team behind it. If you are at all a fan of the Metroid franchise and want to support more games like it, I highly advise you to look further into the Kickstarter campaign, spend some time with the demo, and take a chance by backing a worthy project.
Check out the Kickstarter and let us know what you think of Necrocosmos in the comments section below.

Unformed – Kickstarter Spotlight

Unformed is a Dark Souls and H.P. Lovecraft inspired 2D adventure game who’s Kickstarter campaign is wrapping up on June 22nd, 2017. I’ve recently played through a good amount of the demo available from the campaign page and I’ve got more then a few thoughts that I’d like to share.

Unformed - Save Point

Unformed is a quite beautiful game and gave me flashbacks to my time playing Guacamelee, but with a much more somber tone. It possesses a beautifully colorful art style and if there is one thing I have to give the developers, Blackfire Games, credit for are the environments. The graphics are crisp, clean, and easily the high point.

Unformed - Dark Cave Gameplay

Unfortunately, the rest of the game isn’t quite as polished, or at least not in the demo provided. Inspirations from the Souls series are abundant within both combat and leveling. A stamina gauge is used to enforce careful decision making during combat. All action besides running take some mount of stamina and combat is, for the most part, fast paced and responsive. Jumping, rolling and blocking are all available in the players toolkit. Anyone who has played Salt and Sanctuary will feel right at home with how Unformed weaves these maneuvers into moment-to-moment gameplay. These tools are great, but not overly helpful when enemies have very little in the way startup animations before attacks. Enemies seem to dash forward and assault the player character without warning. This nearly almost always requires players to guess as apposed to respond. Guessing correctly, dodging through an enemy, and backstabbing them is an adrenaline rush, but not overly rewarding as the player isn’t getting better at the game, but simply getting lucky.

Unformed - Boss Battle 1

Offensively, the player feels strangely limited. Having a basic sword and the temporary use of both a two-handed greatsword and daggers seems interesting in theory, but I had a few issues with this system. To gain access to temporary weapons the player must allow a gauge to fill up and then upon use of these weapons it will deplete. That’s reasonable. Actually using these weapons is where everything goes downhill. Activation requires pressing up or down on the d-pad. That’s already bad design as I have to remove my hand from the left joystick and lose the ability to move my character for a moment. I don’t even like it that much in the Souls series, but the pace and feel of combat doesn’t translate here. Why not map this to the left bumper and left trigger? They aren’t used for anything except bringing up the control scheme, which can be accessed just as easily through the menu. These weapons also don’t feel powerful enough to prove useful in most cases. The daggers might be quicker then the basic sword, but don’t afford the player any more substantial damage over the course of a combo or quicker reflexes to avoid enemy assaults. Add either one of these benefits and the daggers could see some solid use during boss battles. The greatsword is slow and actually quite a bit more powerful then the other two weapons, but cleaving an enemy doesn’t even phase the weakest of them. Knocking back opponents or even stunning them would add a bit more weight and usability to this weapon. These are just suggestions though and this system may very well be refined later on in development.

Unformed - Greatsword

Unformed has a plethora of potential and Soulsborne and Salt and Sanctuary fans should take note of it’s inspirations not just in combat, but also in the similarly inspired bonfire, health flasks, and experience systems. Not to even mention the “You Died” game over screen.  There is also plans for implementing a Final Fantasy X inspired sphere grid system for customization. I know I sound down on Unformed. I’m critical because I see potential, not because I want to see the game fail. With a few tweaks to enemy and special weapon mechanics Unformed could be something special that I’m sure Blackfire Games wants to deliver. Unfortunately without the help of the Metroidvania community it doesn’t look promising that Unformed will see the light of day. With a little more then 2 days left in the campaign, only 20% of the $20,000 goal has been raised. I behoove anyone interested to take a trip over to the Kickstarter page and pledge whatever you feel comfortable with over the next 48 hours.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1737913494/unformed/description

I sincerely hope that Blackfire Games, if this first attempt at a campaign fails, doesn’t give up on this project as they have created a solid foundation for what could be something special.

Unformed - You Died

Unformed - Boss Battle 2

Planned platforms for release: PC and eventually consoles

 

 

Blasphemous – Kickstarter Spotlight

This week I wanted to highlight an interesting non-linear action platformer called Blasphemous that is nearing the end of it’s Kickstarter campaign and is worthy of the attention of any Metroidvania fan. One look at the pixel art and smooth animation is enough to get any fan of the genre on board with what this dark and grisly title has to offer.

Blasphemous Gameplay

Fast-paced, skilled combat and a deep and evocative narrative are the central focus of the player experience. While we don’t have a ton of narrative to go off of, its more then apparent from environmental aesthetics to character designs that players are in for dark, creepy, and truly unsettling adventure. The pixel art design and animation of enemies is phenomenal and the creative team, The Game Kitchen, deserves a lot of credit for putting such imagination, passion and talent toward creating some of the most unique enemy designs in gaming.

Blasphemous Enemy Design Example

Environmental design is also top notch. From dark dungeons, to deserts, to apocalyptic wastelands no area looks the same, but most importantly interesting and detailed. The developers even claim that environmental hazards can be used against your enemies. A pretty cool addition that could help  keep combat fresh throughout the course of a playthrough. While combat basically boils down to fast paced dodging, hack-n-slash action, players will be able to acquire various beads that can be used to customize playstyle. Not much is known about these, but creating unique beads that impart new special moves or sub-weapons would  be engrossing.

Overall there isn’t much to not like here. There are only 5 days left in the campaign and The Game Kitchen has already more then quadrupled their $50,000 dollar goal. Quite a few stretch goals have been met and if you are interested in supporting this game, team, or simply further development of metroidvania style games, then I highly advise you to check out the Kickstarter page and pledge if you are so inclined. I for one am going to back this project as I can’t help but stare in amazement at the masterfully done pixel art and quick, visceral gameplay.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/828401966/blasphemous-dark-and-brutal-2d-non-linear-platform/description

Planned platforms for release: PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Linux