Skyhill – Preview

World War III has come and gone and, as one of the few survivors, you opted to hide out in your fancy-ass penthouse at the Skyhill Hotel while things settled down. Life was good until you noticed your supplies were running out. When you headed downstairs, you discovered that mutants had filled the building, and the only way to fight them off was to craft weapons while you solve puzzles to get out.

skyhill03In Skyhill, you control one person (multiple characters are said to be in the final version) and trek from room to room, scavenging for supplies and fighting mutants. In shelves, drawers, and on desks you will find weapons and other objects that you must craft together to get past puzzles. In the demo, you are blocked by a security door and must first put together a card scanner, a battery, and a code book in order to program a card to get past.

Making your way through Skyhill is dangerous. Everything is out to kill you (which is easy to do), and your stamina is weak. It’s clear that your character did not spend those three months in blissful relaxation working out. Every action depletes your stamina bar, and food, which restores stamina, is in scarce supply.

I finished the demo after a number of attempts, most of the re-attempts being due to a low amount of stamina. Your reward is to be treated to “Ain’t He Sweet” by Annette Hanshaw for some bizarre reason.

I experienced an amusing bug that I couldn’t recreate. After one of my deaths, the character spawned outside of the building. He couldn’t go anywhere and when he tried to move to new floors, he just jogged in place.

One final note: I really liked the music of the demo stage. I walked a way for a bit while the Unity player loaded and came back, wondering if I had left a music player open. Nope, it was just a pleasing game soundtrack.

What Worked: In combat, you’re given a likelihood percentage of landing a targeted attack that does X amount of much damage depending on where you hit. This leads to a risk vs. reward system that actually feels rewarding.

skyhill01What Didn’t Work: The demo may be overtuned. While I enjoy a challenge, running out of stamina so quickly was a huge source of frustration. I’m not quite sure the system needs to exist at all but it’s hard to be certain when one is given such a small window to see the game from via the demo.

About the Game from the Dev: Skyhill is a roguelike story about staying alive when there is no reason to. It’s been developed for PC, MAC, LINUX and mobile devices.

Developer: Mandragora

Game Website: Skyhill (Demo)

Release Date: When it’s ready.

Venus Explorer

*Activate Strong Sarcasm Mode*

Team Shuriken has done it again. They’ve got a game-of-the-year, summer blockbuster of a sleeper hit on the Marketplace. It’s another classic to add into their ever increasing hall of fame of surefire winners.

Venus Explorer has everything a choose-your-own-adventure-type game needs! Boobs, semen jokes, art from their fap folder, and an actual lack of meaningful choice if you actually want to progress in the game.

You may be asking yourself why you aren’t playing this right now, and I’d have to ask the same question of you.

*Deactivate Strong Sarcasm Mode – Resuming normal levels of sarcasm…*

At the very least, these guys aren’t even trying to hide what the game is: a cash grab for suckers who see big boobs on the cover art. I can respect that and, unlike subtle sexism that is common in media, here it is front and center for us to oogle at.



The game begins with a cut-scene of you being a lonely teenage boy in the 80s looking for a game to…be thrilled by, if you catch my drift. You don’t? Okay, he’s horny.

What follows is an attempt at emulating old adventure games on the PC. “Will you go north, west, or east?” “Will you shoot the robot in the brain or torso?” “Will you try to jump into the semen bath with the buxom babe or make a comment about how it stinks?” The thing is, for most of the game, it’s all an illusion of choice layered over a direct path to the end. If you choose the route the game doesn’t want you to take, you will be killed and forced back to the checkpoint. Oh god the checkpoint system.

Imagine you’re running a 5k race. Okay, scratch that, we’re gamers. Imagine you have an extremely perilous staircase that leads to the bathroom upstairs. There are 20 stairs filled with traps and pitfalls trying to prevent you from relieving yourself in a civilized manner. Thankfully these are magical stairs that have checkpoints to revive you should you die. A fair system of checkpoints would bring you back to life say, every five stairs. You’d think that was decent while you mentally chewed out whatever being cursed your staircase.

Restarting the human race from two people is a silly notion. There has to be incest!

Restarting the human race from two people is a silly notion. There has to be incest!

Well, in Venus Explorer, those checkpoints are on stairs 1, 18, and 19. In a game that forces death upon you at every wrong turn because you aren’t following their story exactly, this is both a case of frustration and boredom. I flopped on the couch, barely paying attention to what I was lazily pressing as I made my way back to where I died so I could hopefully make the “right” choice.

Along the way to the end, there are some minigames and an arcade game to play. The minigames are halfhearted at best. One has you avoid moving objects while you fly up about 50 feet in a spacesuit. Another tries to emulate R-Type but gives you no weapons to fire, only more objects to avoid. That arcade game I mentioned? It’s a half-assed attempt at making a fighter by having you decide, “Dodge left, right, or center as your opponent comes at you with a flying kick.” You also are only allowed to play it only once every 30 minutes unless you do some fancy button-pressing that isn’t worth it. Not one bit.

Spoiler warning—I’m going to reveal the ending of the game to you. You get to make babies with the only other surviving human, a woman who saves you at the last second from certain death.

Venus Explorer was developed by Team Shuriken.

If anybody needs me, I’ll be in my bunk…regretting the loss of my $1.

Oh, and I got this screen after finishing the game. I suspect it’s a true statement as I don’t know why anyone else would bother putting the time into it that I did.

Fancy Skulls – Preview

Watch Miko play Fancy Skulls here!

I admit that when I first saw Fancy Skulls, based purely on the art, I thought it was going to be someone’s first attempt at a game. The graphics looked plain and combat rather simple. I think there’s an expression about not counting chicken covers before they’ve hatched into books that fits here. Something like that.

fancyskulls01Fancy Skulls is a first-person shooter which pits the player against a different enemy encounter in each room they enter amongst a series of floors. Enemies are activated by walking over a large button in the center of the room and it’s your job to determine in an instant what you’re fighting, what safe zones you have, if any, and how you’re going to clear the room. Once the room is cleared, you’re free to advance to another. Progress is not entirely linear and is dependent on what the random level generator creates. Sometimes you open a gateway to the next floor immediately, sometimes you need to clear the entire floor before you can move on.

While most enemies tend to fire red and blue balls (heh) at you, some launch “heat-seeking”, floating bombs in your general direction that lock onto you. You can either shoot them back at the attacker or kill the attacker outright if you can get a clear shot. A particularly painful baddie bounces around the room, firing lasers at you and demands quick reflexes to take out.

fancyskulls04The art style I mentioned above is Googie-esque (think The Jetsons or classic Star Trek sets) and is pleasing to look at. Enemies have peculiar shapes that are really cool and fitting. I got a kick out of this.

What Worked: The game isn’t on rails and allows the user to to begin a fight when they are ready. Randomized secondary weapons that spawn create a different experience each playthrough. While I poked fun at the art style right away, once I saw it in action for myself, I really enjoyed it. Then again, I recently discovered that I love Googie design almost as much as I love Art Deco. FINE! Call me biased!

What Didn’t Quite Work: Some of the art assets look very similar to treasure chests. So much to the point I was confused for a bit when a box wouldn’t open for me, no matter how much I spammed the Use key.. While I eventually figured out the difference between black box vs. off-kilter black box, it’s confusing for a new player. The UI had some some sounds and glowy things going on that I’ve yet to figure out.

In a few instances, a locked treasure chest spawned but I wasn’t able to collect a key until the second level and couldn’t go back, leaving me feel like I’m missing something or the random generator isn’t perfectly tuned yet. Finally, some of the non-weapon items are a bit confusing such as a “Happy Eye” that left me no clue what it did until I used it.

About the Game from the Dev: Fancy Skulls is a challenging first person shooter with procedural generation, permadeath and distinct art style. It has intense and tactical combat, unique weapon mods and items that change the way you play.

It has been inspired by games such as Nethack, Binding of Isaac, Spelunky, Bioshock, Quake and Team Fortress 2 as well as abstract impressionism, tribal art, and low-poly 3D modeling.

About the Dev: tequibo has eight games to their name dating back to 2009. Working on Fancy Skulls for a year and a half, the hope is to have it Greenlit on Steam to have it played on Early Access, using the money to support working on it to pay for rent, food, and socks.

fancyskullslogo02Developer: tequibo – tequibo

Game Website: Fancy Skulls

Release Date: When it’s ready.

Always Sometimes Monsters – Preview

Always Sometimes Monsters (“ASM”) is a game about the choices we make in our everyday lives that have a profound impact on us in ways we don’t notice. Here, you’re chasing after the one who got away, and you have one month to raise funds by helping people around town, picking up odd jobs, and networking to get across the country to stop their wedding.

ASM01ASM offers the player an experience that will be almost entirely distinct to them. Depending on whom you talk to, when you talk to them, and what you ultimately decide to do about them, the game plays out differently. Almost every action has a consequence (good, bad, or something in-between) that affects the outcome of your journey. Will you help a little old lady clean her apartment or help a friend set up for his concert? Will you blackmail a doctor to save your friend’s girlfriend, who you hate with a passion?

In my playthrough, I worked at a tofu factory, wrote some articles, walked in on a couple having sex, and met the devs of the game as they sat in a cafe. Something nailed here is that I felt bad whenever I discovered that I could no longer help someone out, like I let them down (sorry people who lost their homes to a development project).

With a storyline that molds to whatever you make of it, Always Sometimes Monsters toys with your morality along your journey to the end in ways that make you go happy or wretch with disappointment at yourself. It’s fun! (Oh, and you can finish the game in three minutes if you want. You’ll see!)ASM02

What Worked: I have never experienced a game quite like this before, and it was very memorable. ASM pulls at the heartstrings and allows you an enormous amount of freedom while still keeping you within the confines of the story it tells. Oh, and thank you to the devs from the bottom of my heart for not giving us an incredibly small inventory.

What Didn’t Quite Work: The in-game time flow of time can be confusing. You don’t know exactly how long each event you’re doing is going to last, so you don’t know if you have time for things you want to do that day. The clock, which resides inside your inventory, can also be difficult to read as it has a meter that fills once you do something story-related. It wasn’t until I understood that I’m not going to be able to go back and help both Friend A and Friend B that I finally felt better about advancing. Unlike Harvest Moon, you can’t squeeze out a bit more time to both harvest and talk to townspeople. You only get to do one or the other, and then it’s the next day.

About the Game From the Devs: The game was largely inspired by a cross-country backpacking trek called Gamer Unplugged where ASM’s writer and co-creator, Justin Amirkhani, traveled around America meeting game developers in an effort to figure out what made them satisfied and happy with their craft.

I did some digging and found this in-depth article on Polygon about the trek here: It’s a fascinating read.


Developer: Vagabond Dog –

Game Website:

Release Date: May 21, 2014


You can watch me play some of the game here!

In this latest installment from Frogdice, they take a tried-and-true puzzle concept and add to it by throwing in some magic and incorporating city management, which makes for a unique experience.

Building on the Bejeweled match-three (or more) system, your rune combinations send out a magical onslaught against invaders that slowly walk towards your castle walls as they try to destroy your defenses, thus ending the stage. Making a vertical match sends out a wave that attacks a spread of three lanes, whereas a horizontal match sends out a row of attacks that hits multiple targets in the same lane. Complete a series of waves of monsters, and you advance to the next stage until you reach a boss fight.

The boards that hold your runes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each with its own challenges.

The boards that hold your runes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each with its own challenges.

Not only is the game a puzzle game—it has some elements of city management as well. Between each stage, or battle, you are brought back to your town, which requires some administrative attention. While you’re off fighting, the citizenry either get themselves into trouble or quibble over disputes of various kinds and need your help in deciding what to do. Depending on the nature of your decisions over time, you may receive bonuses in the playfield.

The proud town of Mikoville.

The proud town of Mikoville.

The city also includes such areas as a farm, lumber mill, granary, and others to gather resources. You use these resources to build or research items that aid you while defending your towers such as explosives, weapons, and offensive and defensive magic. These items are key for the more difficult stages where there is wave after wave of attacking mobs, and there would be no way you could stop the sheer amount of monsters by using the runes of the puzzle alone. Using your spells to their maximum efficiency and saving them for just the right moment is fun and rewarding when you take out a number of foes in one blast.

While ReignMaker is a fun game, it isn’t without a few flaws. One of the issues I had was that when starting the game, you’re dropped into your mostly vacant city and told to build a few things. At this point you don’t truly understand why and say, “Okay, I guess I’ll build a farm. That sounds like a good thing. Lumber mill? Sure! I have money!” While there were some pop-ups describing some of the concepts to me, I didn’t feel like I actually understood the game without some trial and error on my part after playing a few rounds. That in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and once I did get it, it was an easy concept; however, I felt as though I fell into it and didn’t actually learn it.

I rule!

I rule!

Some additional guidance on the benefits of using items would have been beneficial as well. I almost stopped playing the game out of frustration somewhere after the first boss because stages were getting too difficult. After a series of defeats, I turned off the game, only coming back hours later after telling myself, “There must be something I’m missing or forgetting.” Sure enough, I was right. With a bit more experimentation, I discovered that the frustration I felt was related to the fact that there were a number of situations in which there was no way I could make a match in the lane that a monster was using, and no amount of clearing runes was helping me. It turns out that I could craft a dagger that allowed me, as the player, to attack a particular monster. Later on, I figured out that some magic allows me to destroy a single rune which helps against tricky, out-of-the way monsters, and other magic helps me to restore the hit points of my castle.

These flaws, though, are minor. ReignMaker is a genuinely fun experience you shouldn’t miss if you are a fan of the genre. Frogdice has proven once again that they know how to make a well-crafted puzzle game.

ReignMakerlogoReignMaker was developed by Frogdice Games.

IGTlogo-01$15 is all it costs to have your own kingdom these days. It’s a pretty good deal for a game to play on a reigny day. OH COME ON! That’s comedy gold! Hey, don’t walk away. Come back!

Indie Gaming Doom and Gloom

This article on Eurogamer by Christian Donlan is saying that we’re saturating the market with games, particularly on mobile and on digital distributors such as Steam. For every Flappy Bird there are a hundred clones. For every AAA game released on Steam, there are ten games that had no business being greenlit getting greenlit. We are heading for another video game crash.

The Atari version of Pac-Man is unquestionably more responsible for the great crash than E.T. It's also potentially lethal for Cathy thanks to the insane flickering.

The Atari version of Pac-Man is unquestionably more responsible for the great crash than E.T. It’s also potentially lethal for Cathy thanks to the insane flickering.

There certainly is no shortage of games these days. On May 1 and 2, 2014 alone, there were twenty-one indie games released on Steam and seven on Desura. We are living in a sea of virtual bliss. Back in the day, a shortage of games is something that Atari was trying to prevent and they made certain that they had a large library for their consumers. The problem though, was they went for quantity, not quality. With a glut of crapware, such as the infamous E.T., Atari did itself in as bad game after bad game was released. When nothing but shit is coming out, people see the pattern and they stop buying games.

A few things are different in this generation that differ from the era of the video game crash in the 80s, primarily, the internet. With 28 games released in only two days, one could argue that the same problem that plagued Atari is plaguing us again. However, is it such a bad thing? It’s been this way for some time and I don’t see any sign of a crash.

Thanks to the internet, we have ourselves multiple ways to talk to each other about what we’re playing, see what others are playing, and a number of outlets to purchase games from. We can now vote as a community as to which games are great and which games to avoid. Ranking systems which are player-driven in real time rather than making us wait for a monthly gaming magazine to give us review scores. We don’t have to wait for our neighbor down the street to save up the cash to gamble on a game that “sounds” cool. We can pull up a review in seconds, view clips on YouTube, and download a demo of the game.

Flappy Birds might suck, but and it might be getting cloned to death in the most pathetic gold rush in gaming history, but it is NOT going to crash the industry, people.

Flappy Bird might suck, but and it might be getting cloned to death in the most pathetic gold rush in gaming history, but it is NOT going to crash the industry, people.

App markets and digital game markets have been flooded with crap for years now and the industry hasn’t crashed. The best tend to rise through the ranks thanks to curation and a social community that ranks the best. With so many games though, I’d argue that it is possible, even with all of our tools to help good games succeed, that some may be overlooked. It’s harder to stand out with so many other games to compete for gamers’ attention.

Don’t stop trying though. Make a good product and do what you can to get your voice heard. Part of the reason I started game reviews is to help people out be it by pointing their game out, or giving my thoughts on improvements that could be made for their next game.

We are not heading into a crash and anyone who says to is fearmongering. We’re in a great era for indie gaming and in the gaming industry as a whole. Knock that shit off.

Note from Cathy: this is Miko’s first editorial at Indie Gamer Chick. I quite liked it! Be sure to give feedback and encouragement. Make sure you follow her on Twitter too

Retro Runner: Princess Power

In Retro Runner: Princess Power (“RR:PP”), you play the role of a princess who no longer desires to wait for a prince to rescue her from captivity and plans to make her escape. Along the way she encounters enemies and bosses who try to stop her, as well as weapons and powerups to destroy them, in this storied version of an endless runner.

rrpp01Ever since Temple Run and Jetpack Joyride became big, endless runners have been showing up more and more. Many are clones with their own graphics, such as Agent Ride or Pitfall! (the runner version), and some try to add a bit of their own flavor into the mix. Retro Runner is one of the latter, and the game differentiates itself from most endless runners in a few ways.

The first is that the playfield changes as you progress through the story, traveling with the princess through different eras of gaming, from the Atari generation, through the SNES/Genesis consoles, and the current period. This means that your character and the environment gain better graphics and sound along each leg of the adventure. Each stage plays the same, but the advancing graphics is a fun trek through time.

Most endless runners have some sort of currency collection as a carrot to keep you playing and let you gain powers, and this game is no different; however, RR:PP also includes weaponry to fight enemies along the way. With the point of a finger, you chuck knives, energy shields, throwing stars, and homing pigeons at your foes. Yeah, homing pigeons. They’re deadly! At the end of each stage is a boss that takes a different strategy to defeat.

The story is fun (yay for a princess taking care of herself!) and the gameplay is a joy, but there are some things in the game that I felt could use improvement, most of which left me confused when I first encountered them.rrpp02

In the tutorial, you encounter what seems to be the final boss of the game who is undefeatable in this mission. At this point I had no way of knowing that and spent a considerable amount of time avoiding his attacks and hitting him, unsure if I was doing any damage. The game made it sound as if I was hitting armor, but again, at this point there wasn’t a way for me to know this wasn’t the default “hitting a big enemy” sound. Finally I got hit again and the story advanced. It turns out that I was supposed to “die”.

Games such as these allow you to collect or purchase currency to use in-game to buy powerups that make the game “easier”. But in RR:PP, the amounts required to purchase anything after the first level of any category are enormous and made me feel that I had to purchase in-game currency if I had any intention of boosting my character. I don’t want a free ride, and in-game purchases are the driving force as to why games like this exist these days, but the initial curve feels extremely steep.

A few of some very important things to me in a game is both control and the UI. Control in this game is fine, it’s hard to go wrong with a runner really though admittedly, sometimes incoming enemies are difficult to see because you need to have a finger on the right side of the screen, covering some of the playfield.

Outside of gameplay, the UI for the game needs improvement. Level selection shows you all of the stages in the game, but there is no indicator as to which levels are open to the player; they are all the same color and clickable. When it comes to the powerup purchase menu, it isn’t intuitive what you can click on to gain a skill without randomly pressing around and seeing what happens as, again, everything is clickable, but you don’t find out what you can click on without trial and error. On the bright side, since I started writing this review, a patch has come out that makes the powerup purchase menu brighter, but to a new user it is still not particularly easy to understand.

rrpp03While I like that the game asks the player a quiz after each death as a chance to gain bonus currency, no matter if I failed or not, the question stayed up and allowed me to keep clicking on answers in a now-dead interface.

I encountered three bugs that I hope are easily squashed. The first is that once I purchased some currency, I still received ads until I restarted my device. Secondly, after one death, the second end boss joined my next run. It didn’t attack me, but it hovered ominously up and down while I tried to make my way through the stage again. Finally, before I made a purchase to remove ads, I confused the game by turning on airplane mode. Naturally it couldn’t load the ads and gave me a blank screen, but in order to be able to keep playing, I had to open the home screen and return to the game.

The thing about mobile games is that you need to be able to entice users right away as they tend to be fickle. Leaving them to hunt and peck their way through your interface is a surefire way to lose many of them which is a shame because the game underneath here is pretty fun. Keep it clean and simple. I want to suggest the game but not just yet. Let them get a few things worked out and I would gladly do a IGC Second Chance.

RR:PPRetro Runner: Princess Power was developed by Stratum Games

The game is free, supported by in-game ads and in-game currency purchases, and on iOS, Android, and soon the desktop. Oh and the game is fucking hard, too! Fuck!


I played the PC version of this game. It is out for Mac and iOS as well and I cannot speak for how it plays on those platforms.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this one when I read the description. Hell, even after watching the trailer, I still wasn’t sure what to expect when I booted it up. What you see is a square flying around as it throws things at a number of other shapes. While it’s clear something is happening, it’s unclear exactly what until you try it for yourself.

The "Skittles" are what you shoot at enemies.

The “Skittles” are what you shoot at enemies.

Playing the part of a square named David, you are on a quest to destroy a number of evil, polygonal figures with your “slingshot”. This slingshot is your only attack and uses a drag and release method of mouse control that requires a bit of precision in setting up and launching your attacks against the quadrilateral onslaught.

To avoid enemy fire, or the enemies themselves as they have a tendency to launch their entire bodies at you, you bounce around each stage with the WASD keys. It can be tricky at first and I’d be lying if I didn’t say my hand cramped up a bit, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to excel at. During the time that the game flows at its “normal” speed, movement itself feels similar to that of Super Meat Boy. The majority of your time, however, you are in a slowed down state as you charge up and aim your shots. In this altered state, you plot out where you’re going to move next and where you should attack next. The experience leaves you feeling like you’re a leaf on the wind after some practice.



The only thing in the game that had my head scratching is the use of confusing symbols used in some of the game over screens. Perhaps there are some universal meanings behind them but the only way I discovered what they meant was through trial and error. (Yes, the screenshot to the right was taken from my phone. Shush.)

This is a short game and it won’t take long to get through the “easy” version of the missions. Taunting you, however, is the fact that in order to truly beat the game, you need to run through the missions again on the hard difficulty in order to reach the final boss. The stages all play exactly the same except unlike in easy mode you have a fair amount of hit points, hard mode leaves you hanging with only one. Deaths in this mode are frequent but limitless and they rarely feel “cheap” and that you cannot improve upon what you tried before.

All of this may sound like a lot but by the time you complete the ninth mission and replay the missions at a harder difficulty, you discover that at some point along the way you got really good at this game. Completion only took me about an hour but at its price point, it’s well worth the cost and it’s fun and easy to pick up. The game sucks you in without you even noticing it and completing the more difficult missions feels satisfying.


David was developed by Fermenter.

IGTlogo-01For $2 (temporarily $1) you, too, can help me translate the glyphs in that menu system in this fun adventure.

PAX East 2014 Overview

PAX East 2014 is over and I’m beat. The four days of adrenaline kept me going without much food or sleep but now it’s time to recuperate. While I sniffle and hack away at my desk, recovering from PAX Plague, here are some previews and first impressions to a handful of the indie games that were there. I wish I could do a “Best of PAX” but there is no way that I was able to play everything that was shown. Maybe this time I’ll give out the, “Indie Gamer Chick: Not a Bad Build Out of the Relatively Few Games I Was Able to Play Because There Are So Many Here” Award.

Note, the following are not all-encompassing previews. They are synopses based on a very short amount of time with the games and there may be inaccuracies based on where the presenters decided to start the game or how much background to give me. (Case in point below, Flem would have appeared far different if I hadn’t asked for more info.)

Always Sometimes Monsters (by Vagabond Dog)

The feels, this game gave them to me. Here the player is asked to witness the results of their choices in life. In the demo I played, I played a man whose roommate wanted me to scope out his crush and see if there was any chance the guy he liked, liked him back. I don’t want to spoil what happens but what you decide to do once you do it changes how the game continues.

One of the more mentally deep games I played, this one promises to make you think.

Assault Android Cactus (by Witch Beam)

A dual-stick shooter that’s influenced by bullet hell games. In this 1-4 player game, you’re killing seemingly endless waves of monsters as you make your way through the end. You get to play as a number of cute androids, blasting the ever-living hell out of everything, trying to rack up combos and get the best grade you can. It’s fun and if you can get a few friends locally to play with you, it’s even more of a blast.

The three folks that I played this with kicked the crap out of it, allegedly the first folks of the con to beat the boss at the end.

Bik (by Zotnip Games)

A point-and-click adventure where you play a young boy who was abducted by aliens. Teaming up with some fellow mercenaries and other aliens met along the way, you go through a number of adventures before returning home. Inspired by the point-and-clicks of yore, their focus wasn’t on trying to make you wonder about all the ways you can’t Get Ye Flask and let you have fun experimenting different things. The game even auto-saves for you so you don’t have to worry about being unable to undo the horrible things you’ve accidentally done.

The demo had me set up in a spaceship as one of the aliens. There was a fire in the engine room and I had to save a crewman and stop the fire. It took me a few tries to complete the section for apparently turning off the air supply and killing us was not the immediate solution (I PUT THE FIRE OUT THOUGH!) and sticking a mop into the fire (don’t ask) didn’t do a thing.

Bounden (by Game Oven Studios)

While playing another game in the Indie Mini Booth, out of the corner of my eye I caught some folks making some strange motions while holding a phone between them. Intrigued, I dropped the controller and shoved everyone in my path out of my way.

This mobile game makes heavy use of the gyrometers within the phone to have you “dance” with a partner as you both hold onto the screen as you move together to move objects on the screen. It had us rocking the phone back and forth and even at one point, holding it overhead and twist in a ballet-like maneuver. It had me intrigued as a little party thing to share a fun experience with your friends.

Buddy and Me (by Sunbreak Games)

Adorable. You play a child who is racing through a dream world with his Never Ending Story-like pal named Buddy. It’s meant to be a non-stressful version of an endless runner where you can still “lose” easily but the pace isn’t too fast and you have the cutest imaginary friend to travel with you and help you out over some obstacles. I was able to play a preview of the new female character, which the dev says will be available soon to players in an upcoming update.

The dev tells me that the level generator determines your skill level as you play and makes things more or less difficult for you as you go (but still providing a challenge).

Darknet (by E McNeill)

I talked about this game a little in my “Oculus Rift: Second Impressions” article posted from the show floor (

This is a strategy/puzzler that makes use of the Oculus Rift to give you a virtual reality version of cyberspace akin to those of the 90s hacker movies. The goal is to hack into servers, break the security, and retrieve the data you’re after. Once you retrieve that data, your reward is money to buy various hacks (power-ups) to help you break into other systems.

It was one of two experiences I had with the Rift over the weekend and stood out as a one of the better examples of what it can do.

Delver’s Drop (by Pixelscopic)

This is a dungeon crawler which had its camera angle inspired by The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. This build was a bit early and it was missing many of the game assets and enemies, leaving things a tad barren. The dev had to point me in the right direction a few times because I’m an explorer.

It has a number different characters, all which move and attack differently. I admit, in the short time I was able to devote to it, the “fluid” control and momentum felt clunky but it was by design as each character you can select plays with slight differences. I suspect that after a bit more time, the player gets used to it and it’s a non-issue.

Distance (by Refract Studios)

The only game on my list here that I didn’t get to play up front but I did get to chat with the dev at length while watching a few folks play. This is a survival racer heavily inspired by the racers of the late 90s (Rush, Extreme-G) where you speed through a high-tech city, avoiding obstacles on the track that trashes your car. The game is gorgeous and flashy and hits all the right buttons for this TRON-lover.

Interesting note, this game is based on another game of theirs they worked on while attending Digipen. Since it was a Digipen project, the school owns the game so they wanted to do with again under their own names.

Flem (by Henchman & Goon)

Walking by this display and seeing some folks play, my mind immediately went, “Super Meat Boy” clone and I almost kept walking. The crowd around the screen left and I was the only one there which inclined the presenters to ask if I wanted to play. I said sure and thought there may be there’s something here.

It started off just as I suspected. Difficult levels that try to kill you and you restart immediately to keep you going. The presenters (these gentlemen did not work on the game but were marketing students) were telling me about the game and it felt like they were describing Super Meat Boy. I don’t know if they hadn’t played it or not but I had the sense they didn’t know the comparison at all. It wasn’t until I had the chance to ask, “What makes this game differ from it? What makes it stand out?” That’s when I got it out of them.

A few stages in, you gain special powers that allow you such moves as to hover temporarily among a few other things. It requires a different kind of precision to finish a level than jumping, jumping, and more jumping. I asked if I could test out those special powers and they seemed surprised as if no one else had brought it up before me. They were right for at that point, the game changed and was much more fun.

I have a feeling that folks may pass this one up prematurely because of the initial few levels. Stick with it!

Future Unfolding (by Spaces of Play)

In a randomly created, gorgeously styled world, you are one person trying to find your way out of a forest. There are no weapons, no health bars, and no mana – you are one person who uses clues in the environment to find which way you need to go next. “Using” a pair of stones in the ground that don’t quite fit may open up a path in the forest. Connecting some unusual trees together may make bad creatures appear which give chase. You don’t know what’s going to happen until you experiment.

If you are one who loves exploration, keep your eye on this one.

Hand of Fate (by Defiant Dev)

This game weaves a tale like no other that I’ve seen before it. Using tarot cards, the story is told with randomized encounters and events based on your draw. Once a combat card is shown, your character slips into a battlefield in which you fight using a combat system that’s simple but fun as you get to not only punch and smash your way through enemies, but dodge their blows as well.

Over time and as you complete aspects of the game, you’re granted more cards that are shuffled into your deck. It all makes for a fun and random game each time you play.

This one is a bit on the expensive side for an indie game but it may very well be worth it once it’s released for PC and PS4.

High Strangeness (by Barnyard Intelligence Games)

Readers may soon be cluing in on a a weakness of mine. If your game reminds me of A Link to the Past, there’s a good chance I’m going to like the game. Harking back to the late 80s and early 90s, this game mixes up 8-bit and 16-bit, creating what they call a 12-bit experience. This adventure has players bouncing between the classic era and … slightly less classic era to solve puzzles and kill monsters. When you’re in the 8-bit world, enemies may not have complex attack patterns, but they hit harder. In the 16-bit world, game assets are more detailed so you can see where you need to place a certain object.

The Phantom P.I.: Mission Apparition (by Rocket5 Games)

Another game in the adorable category, you’re playing a ghost buster of sorts in a puzzle/adventure game which places you in a spooky, maze-like mansion to put an end to the chaos caused by the thief ghost, Baublebelly.

Along the way, you encounter traps and puzzles which you need to solve by collecting objects and using them at the right moment. You may need a fuse to activate a switch, or bucket of water to put out a fire.

All in all, it’s a cute little package that works well on a touch screen.

Revolution 60 (by Giant Spacekat)

Set in the future, our hero is tasked with trying to find out why a weapons platform has gone offline which sets you on a course of killing baddies and robots and all sorts of futuristic things. Combat is a mixture of quick-time events and tactics strategy and the narrative combines a choice system that determines the reactions your character has to certain situations. Our hero is this badass woman who stays calm under pressure and looks good doing it. Basically, it’s like playing a blonde version of me. Har. Har.

Normally, I hate quick-time events (QTE). I don’t find it enjoyable in the least when a game is prompting me to smash the hell out of X at just the right moment or move the joystick in just manner so sitting down to play Revolution 60, I was rather skeptical about what I was going to experience. It turns out that I now have an addendum to my hatred of QTE and that is, on touchscreen devices they make much more sense. Why is that? One thing I hate even more than QTE is trying to use controller-like controls on a touch screen and I’m so glad they didn’t do them here. QTEs fit well as they don’t require intense button smashing and still allowed me to enjoy the story.

I introduced myself at the Revolution 60 booth as Bri and the woman who I talked with made a comment about how great that was since their head was also named Bri (Brianna). Interesting fact, the team is entirely (or nearly so) women and I had the opportunity to see Brianna at a panel the shortly before playing the game (that’s me in the pink dress up front in a picture she took:

Rollers of the Realm (by Phantom Compass)

Obviously, these folks have some sort of randomizer for the folks behind Rollers of the Realm somehow got the combination of pinball and RPG. You know what? It’s fun! Set in a medieval world, the main character is a thief girl who is trying to make it on her own with her pet dog. The two, and lots of people you meet along the way, are represented in-game as pinballs, each with their own physics. The playfield is based on the location the storyline is in such as a village with people standing around, boxes to destroy, and more.

Sentris (by Timbre Interactive)

I suck at music. I have no rhythm and typically I couldn’t tell you who sings what. For example, if you know it, it took 20 years for me to be able to pass the Yoshi Island on Mario RPG before I finally “got” it. Always up for a challenge though, I walked up the Sentris booth and said, “Girl, I’m going to try your game. I’m going to suck and you’re going to pretend I’m doing well to help my ego.” (This conversation may have only taken place in my head.)

The playfield is sort of like an LP that spins constantly, playing a background song that you can affect by inserting colorful segments of different sizes into the playfield. Different beats and… other music words… (sorry, I told you I’m inept) begin with each additional segment, leaving you with a unique song that’s truly your own with each play.

Completing certain color matches, you “beat” each stage. That is a bit of a misnomer for you don’t actually beat anything, only move yourself to the next stage to create another musical wonder.

Vertiginous Golf (by Surprise Attack Games)

Long gone are the crazy golf games we used to have; Wicked 18, Kirby’s Dream Course, and so on. When I saw this steampunk-themed, mini golf game, I had to try it out. Given a steampunk controller to control the action, I was given a large number of obstacles to use and bounce off of and hazards to avoid in reaching the pin of each stage. The stages are large and have plenty of going on with plenty of ways to try to reach the end.

There was an Oculus Rift version of this game but it was not demo-ing when I had the opportunity to play.

We Are Doomed (by Caffeine Monster Software)

Another dual-stick shooter to add to the large volume of this type of game, but this one is really, really pretty with bright, vibrant colors that almost has a papercraft-type feel to it. It doesn’t add anything new to the genre but it is fun and doesn’t break the budget. Something about this title kept me interested longer than a lot of dual-stick shooters do.

Woah Dave! (by Gaijin Games)

I broke this game when I played it. Sorry Dant.

Unashamed to admit that it is heavily influenced by the classic Mario Bros. game and Joust, Woah Dave is a mash-up of the two where you are trying to destroy bat-like monsters that get really angry and when they touch the lava on the bottom of the screen. When they hit it, they jump back up to the top of the level, hoping to reach the lava so they can get more pissed. …or something. In any case, it’s fun. It doesn’t try to be anything more than a simple game that is enjoyable and it succeeds.

If you want to know any more about the above games, check out their pages in the associated links. PAX East was an amazing experience for me and if you haven’t been there before, I highly suggest going if you can. Thank you to everyone I got to talk with and meet. Our time was short but it was a blast.


Cubesis is one of the most challenging turn-based puzzlers out of the box that I’ve encountered.

You’re given a 2.5D view of a world in which you have to accomplish a few objectives for each level. Objectives typically involve collecting treasure but also can also include such things as, “gather X amount of food” or “build a thing”. Treasures are spread out across the map and to collect them, you need to figure out how you are going to terraform the world by appeasing or displeasing the gods with the use of churches and monoliths. You’ll also need to determine which buildings to build while you wait for the world-changing effects to take place. Being able to store more food, sometimes build a second city for more population, weather control devices, and so on are all important.


The concept of the game is simple but it takes a long time to master. Much of the difficulty lies in trying to figure out just which buildings you need to build, for if you waste your resources on the wrong one or too many of one, you may waste precious turns because the planet is often either heating up or cooling down. If it gets too hot your people burn or if the sea levels rise too high and flood the land, you’re done for and must start over.

As you progress through the game, restarting the level is very common as many of your actions are trial and error. “If I build this, that could happen and then… OH GOD NO MY CROPS ARE DRYING UP!” Game over. Fuck!

One of the more frustrating parts, but also rewarding, is the terraforming (disguised as swaying the gods). To raise the sea level or push it back, you must build a certain type of building to make them happy, the above-mentioned churches or monoliths. The annoying part is that you need the right balance, or lack thereof, to force the effects you desire but sometimes what you need to create that balance is confusing. Building one of the buildings doesn’t seem to have any effect so you overcompensate and build three. RESULT! Oh, I spent too many resources building them all? Fuddy.cubesis03

Now, is all of this fun? Yes and no. See, I had some fun with the title. There were times where I was really feeling it and into it and others where I was frustrated and didn’t want to play anymore. This IS a good game but for a certain type of person and I apparently am not that person. It is no fault of the devs as I feel it’s a quality product. If you like real thinkers and a challenge, not minding having to start from scratch when you mess up, yes. Get this game. For me folks like me who I’ve discovered are not that person, skip it.


Cubesis was developed by Ikkju.

For $5, this game will last you a while as you try to figure out how to pronounce it. “Cube-sis”? “Cube-eh-sis”?

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