ClickShake Games have done it again. In a new sequel to their game The Visitor, they have completely changed the gameplay mechanics to keep a novel little title fresh and interesting.
In The Visitor games, you play as a pink parasite from outer space. You are driven by hunger and eat every living creature you come across. However, to tackle critters much larger than you, you have to have the right abilities. Good thing you absorb the characteristic traits of any creature you eat and grow in size with each feeding.
Using a variety of clickable objects, you must consume the raccoon in The Visitor Returns 2011.
In a welcome change from the looser overhead adventure game format, The Visitor Returns 2011 transitions into a point-and-click puzzle game. You need to figure out the correct sequence of actions to get the upper hand. Otherwise, you will be destroyed instantly.
The puzzles are clever. Only the first stage (pictured above) relies on a blink and you’ll miss it bit of interactivity. The rest of the game does not overstay its welcome. In five scenarios, you reach the credits. The final stage has six possible solutions sure to please any gore fan. Better than that, the visitor actually retains all of his abilities in this game. You’ll need them in the final stage.
I’ll gladly add The Visitor Returns 2011 to the Play It series at Sketchy Details. It’s short, it’s clever, and it’s fun. You can get to the game at Newgrounds.
On this edition of Play It, we look at a novel spin on a well-worn physics puzzle engine.
Words and Physics is a new online puzzle game from Turbo Nuke/keyboi available at Newgrounds. The objective is obvious to online puzzle fans: knock the target object off it’s platform by any means necessary. How Words and Physics is in the conceit of the game itself: it’s text-based puzzles.
Sometimes, a video game succeeds in spite of its flaws. On this edition of Play It, we’ll take look at an art game that works so well thematically that it succeeds in its author’s intent.
Love’s Cadence is an online platformer/art game from Red Harvest. You play as Cadence, a young woman, pursuing Dirk, the man she loves. She’ll climb over mountains, jump through pits, and follows any lead she can for her feelings. Her heart is her guide and no amount of logical thinking or warning will stop her.
The first thing that sets Love’s Cadence apart from other art games is the platforming element. This isn’t a WASD/arrow keys control scheme just thrown in to be called a game. Actually negotiating platforms and puzzles is integral to the story. Life or death is the greatest stake in the game and being able to fail repeatedly to reach that ideal life only helps the narrative of the game. The controls are not as precise as they should be, but neither is any ideal romance. There will be problems and being able to miss something important because of a minor slip-up only enhances that.
Lab of the Dead is an online zombie simulation/mystery game. You play as scientist Allen C. Tyler, a man who wound up in an underground military complex shortly before the zombie apocalypse escalated to nuclear destruction. He has tasked himself with discovering the cause and cure for transformation into a zombie.
The gameplay is strictly point and click. You have a series of items at your disposal to hand over, feed, or attack your zombie subject with. Your job is to quantify the reactions and alter the subject’s mood, hunger, and humanity to elicit different results. You also have to research upgrades to your facilities, new objects to test, new research methodologies, and what happened to the previous scientist examining the zombies.
As repetitive as the gameplay is, there is something compelling about this grotesque simulation game from Evil-Dog at Newgrounds. (warning: image of deteriorating zombie after the break)
I like a good tower defense game. One of the better ones I’ve encountered in a few weeks is Candystand’s Cursed Treasure. It is not a particularly innovative tower defense game, but it’s so well made that it becomes a must play game for fans of this genre.
In a narrative twist (not a novel one, but a rare one), you are playing as the bad guy. You must defend your five precious jewels from the hoards of heroes trying to earn fame. You build temples (flames), crypts (heat seeking projectiles), and dens (arrows) on varied terrain to destroy the heroes before they touch your gems. Lose all five gems and you’ve failed the level.
Unlike traditional tower defense games, Cursed Treasure is broken into different levels. Each level has multiple waves of enemies. Your goal is to build up experience to upgrade your buildings and spells to better deal with the increased difficulty curve. This could be upgrading the speed of the weapon, magical properties of the weapon, strength of a spell, or penalties for heroes who get too close to the gems. The game is balanced enough that even doing the minimum upgrade on a certain element is enough to make a noticeable difference. You’ll reach a point where if you don’t upgrade, you can’t progress any further. The stages are incidental to the need to constantly improve your arsenal
You are a warrior. You’re about to have your lunch outside when a giant bird steals it. This is unacceptable. You require revenge. And you will get it with a sword, a grappling hook, and a seemingly unending field of Titans*.
Titan Launch Retaliation is a new game from Berzerk Studio on Adult Swim’s website. This takes the launch the [animal] games to a whole new level of absurdity. Instead of shooting a turtle out of a cannon or a frog in a rocket ship, you are jumping off the edge of a cliff and stabbing your way through the air. Every creature you kill gives you a boost of energy to jump further until you hit a more complicated boss. Those require multiple hits to kill. Your ultimate goal is to get back your lunch.
The controls are simple even if the game is difficult due to random generation of monsters. All you need is the mouse and the space bar to navigate the menus. In the game itself, you just need the space bar or the left mouse button. This launches you off the cliff, shoots your grappling hook into smaller enemies, and slays the larger beasts.
Wonderputt is a unique online mini golf game from DampGnat at Newgrounds.com. If you’re thinking “How can a mini golf game be unique at this point?,” you have a right to your skepticism. For years, the only major change in most golf games worth trying was the style of course. You’d still drag back with the mouse to power up and aim the club and let go to hit. You’d deal with either an overhead 2D or angled 3D perspective. It felt like the same game over and over.
Wonderputt has a big novelty factor going for it that I haven’t seen before. The entire course is on the screen from the first hole. You just don’t know it yet. Every time you sink that last putt, the environment moves to create the next hole. One minute, your golfing in a pasture a group of cattle just ate through. The next minute, a cloud arrives to fill the screen with snow, transporting you to ski slopes. It’s refreshing enough to make this mini golf game a must play.
The game is clean and graphic. The controls are responsive and the music and sound enhance the experience. The cut-scenes to produce the next course are clever and often unexpected. Even the difficult ramps up in unexpected ways. It’s not that the course becomes progressively more challenging. It’s that the challenge is constantly shifting in ways that change your playing strategy. Even turning one hole into a near-mirror image of the previous hole is enough to keep the game interesting.
Vampire Vision from Center for Game Science is a fun and challenging spot the difference game. You are a vampire hunter. Your job is to use the clues given to you during a tarot reading to rid a village location of vampires. The cards might reveal that vampires will have red eyes or run in the dark. You then take a field-wide view to point out who the vampires are, stake them through the heart, and save the village.
The goal of the game is to be a sort of vision training exercise. You working on the ability to follow multiple objects at the same time and make quick distinctions between them. Hidden behind the novel vampire hunting/shifting attributes theme does wonders to make it fun.
There is no experience curve as you could randomly be placed in the hardest style of recognition for you after the initial training stage. Maybe you do great identifying which vampires are dressed different, but struggle to tell which vampires can move quickly at night. The game makes it challenging enough to feel like you should invest your time, but simple enough to progress that anyone could take a stab at the game.
For a fun time-waster with some good novel concepts, you should try playing Vampire Vision.
Today we have a restaurant simulator and a puzzle platformer to go through.
Papa’s Taco Mia is an online game where you win a taco restaurant in a taco eating contest. Without any additional staff, you have to take all the orders, grill all the meat, and assemble all of the taco orders. You have to keep the customers happy while they’re waiting and please an ever-expanding range of tastes.
The mouse controls the entire game. You click on a customer to take their order. Then you drag their ticket to the line on top of the screen. Then you switch windows to the grill, where you fire, cut, and flip the ordered meat for the taco. Then you pull the meat off the fire and assemble the taco on the assembly screen. You have sauces, vegetables, beans, and cheeses to contend with. You shake the mouse back and forth over the taco to spread the desired topping in the correct order. They all fall at different rates which are hard to gauge after the first stage. You then wrap the taco, attach the order slip, and see how much you get paid.
Corporation Inc is a real time strategy game about building a business from the ground up. Literally. You own a soon to be mega-corporation and make all the decisions. You build the offices, hire the staff, provide elevators and restrooms, and motivate your workers to earn more money per click of their mouse finger.
Though the game play never evolves beyond drag and drop, there is a refreshing sense of achievement when you complete even the most mundane objective on the game’s task bar. These range from learning to move on the screen to building an elaborate hook system to deliver employees to their respective offices.
There are so many options in construction and hiring that the game can probably never be played the same way twice. Do you hire all office workers and little management, or do you hire a lot of management to force a smaller group of office workers to earn more money individually for the company? Do you research all kinds of developments at once, or level up just the hiring system to promote workers faster? And what about mood-boosting decor? Is it enough to earn a free cat every “x” employees hired or should you start spending money on plants, water coolers, and vending machines?
Corporation Inc is easy enough to be played right away by anyone but expansive enough in its nebulous goal of growing a company to be played for a long time. Just do yourself a favor and sign up for an Armor Games account. There is nothing more frustrating than going back to your game and seeing your 100 floor mega corporation has turned into an empty screen with the “learn to control the game” objective highlighted on the bottom screen.
I almost feel like I’m in a gaming rut. I’ve been digging through sites to find new games and consistently have been drawn to strategy/defense games. I can’t help it if the indie game developers are doing interesting things with this style of games.
Rebuild combines two of my loves: zombies and defense games. You have managed to stave off a zombie invasion in four blocks of a large city. You have a farm, a police station, and two sets of houses. Your mission is to rebuild civilization one building at a time. You scout out abandoned houses, malls, stores, and other structures for food and survivors. You kill off the zombie population then reclaim the building for your new society. Your primary objective is to survive. To beat the game, you must bring government into the new society. You have the option beyond that of both eliminating the source of the zombies and eradicating the zombie population.
You make choices with each action that change how your society will grow. Do you build a laboratory to better defend yourself against the zombies or a bar to boost morale and lower crime and desertion? Do keep population low and food supplies high at the expense of saving survivors? Do you waste your leaders trying to recruit outside survivors or do you hoard them to maintain order in the town? And how many soldiers will you assign to protect the city at the expense of not being able to expand quickly?
Try it. It’s addictive. You can log a few hours into this game without even trying. And that’s on the normal difficultly rating. It goes up to hard, harder, and even nightmare.
It’s a rare day that I find a real time strategy game that interests me. Even just basing a game in history isn’t enough to draw me in. But an RTS about the Opium War/British Imperialist period in China? Sign me up.
High Tea places you as a British entrepreneur, buying opium from Thailand to sell to port cities in China. You use this money to buy tea to ship back to Great Britain. Failure to sell enough opium will result in the collapse of the British economy. The Brits were so addicted to tea, they were buying it by the case-load with silver, the base of British currency. Opium gives them their only chance to obtain tea from the otherwise uninterested Chinese traders without destroying the entire empire.
The ClickPLAY series is a fun, sometimes frustrating, set of puzzle games. They aren’t regular puzzle games, though. Your objective is to find the continue button in each level. You manipulate objects to make the PLAY button (like a VCR, ([>)) appear. This is rarely as easy as it seems.
ClickPLAY 3 boosts a whole new series of puzzles with even more bizarre conventions. The series has tipped its hat toward the popular WarioWare games on the Nintendo consoles with this edition. One puzzle sees you feed a monster a box of cereal and a quart of milk for him to poop out the PLAY button. Another sees you picking the petals off of a flower until only the PLAY button remains.
In this edition of Play It, I recommend a randomly-generated sidescrolling platformer, an action-puzzler-strategy type game, and an experimental puzzle art game.
Paranormal Shark Activity (mercifully) has nothing to do with a similarly titled film. You control a young man trying to go for a swim. Unfortunately for him, a giant mutant blood-thirsty shark tears through the dock and chases him. You use the arrow keys and space to jump from floating platform to floating platform. To slow the shark, you must collect bombs using special jump platforms scattered throughout the game. There are obstacles: you get stuck on grass platforms and gymnastics-tinged vault platforms send you the opposite direction you’re trying to go.
This is an endurance sidescrolling platformer, where the goal is the highest score you can get. Your primary objective is to stay alive, but if you can hit five platforms in a row, you set off a bonus rainfall of gumdrop-colored orbs falling from the sky. You get points for narrowly avoiding the shark’s advances and sending him off the screen, as well. It’s an addictive time killer that I feel compelled to play whenever I think about it.