Long time no blog, guys! But you knew I’d never leave you, and I can’t help but love you more for staying faithful, hopeful.
Indie Game Friday has returned, ablaze, to help you kill time this weekend. In this issue: a sumo-style shoot ‘em up, a not-quite-game but not-quite-book iOS experience, and a dark fairy tale told in Flash. Together, they total 99 cents. Go play.
I’m not a big fan of fast paced shoot ‘em ups, largely because I don’t like challenge for the sake of challenge. (I’m a gamer, not a masochist.) SeizureDome is a unique entry in the shmup genre in more than one way. It’s not only pretty, it’s survivable, and the latter is especially rare among developer Cactusquid’s offerings.
In the words of Cactus, “This is a game that works kind of like sumo wrestling, except you have a gun.” In SeizureDome, bumping into an obstacle doesn’t result in an instakill—getting pushed off the screen (or “out of the ring”) does. Scoring is fairly standard—shove, shoot, kill!—and the power-ups keep things interesting.
The abundance of blazing, blinking lights obviously put the “Seizure” in “SeizureDome,” but the visuals are softened by a lot of blurred edges and a focus on pastels. Add to that the peppy and infectious chiptune soundtrack with vocal samples reminiscent of Pogo, and you’ll be having a grand time shooting boxy sumo wrestlers, female body builders, tanks, and babies. (Antagonistic sumo babies.)
Soundstory is…intriguing. What makes it worth checking out is how it plays with the idea of interactive storytelling. Its second entry is discretely categorized as a book in the App Store, but it’s not something that could exist on paper, and it’s not something that someone unfamiliar with a touch screen could experience. So what is it? No one knows the answer. Not even the creator, Matthew LoPresti.
There are currently two episodes of Soundstory available for iOS. The first is Warm Wisps, set in a grassy field with skyscrapers and a sunset on the horizon. Tapping different areas on the screen opens up different text stories, memories and musings from the unseen protagonist. Each story is accompanied by thematic music—bubbly during an innocent memory, ominous during a discussion of the project that rewrote human history. It gives you just enough of a taste to want to know more, which the second entry, 10:00pm, delivers.
10:00pm lacks the [literal] color of Warm Wisps, but it is overall more sophisticated. Instead of idly tapping on the scenery hoping to find new information, the protagonist is sat at a computer, where he can read emails, journal entries, and refresh a news site. It’s a more guided experience, and it’s timed—you need to gather all the information you can before the in-game clock strikes 10. 10:00pm fleshes out the same protagonist’s tale—or, more accurately, his father’s, as he led nebulous tech project that spun out of control.
Want to know more? Yeah, me too. Luckily, Soundstory numéro trois is on its way.
Straight from the horse's mouth:
@hollharris awesome! glad to hear it! :) Soundstory #3 percolates as we speak;)— Matthew LoPresti (@Cronotriggers) July 8, 2012
You and I both know what to expect when playing a fairytale-esque game with a child protagonist: innocence replaced by gloom and doom, death and darkness, et cetera. Black Square Studio’s Nelly follows this formula…almost.
In Nelly, the titular character follows a glowing butterfly out of her house and into a forest. Before she even gets to said forest, she passes a dead cat seasoned with flies, so the tone is set early on. From there, pits filled with spikes (and there are a lot of them) are the least of her worries.
I was mentally writing notes for this recommendation while playing, and one of them was “really easy puzzles”—which was ironic when I found myself walking back and forth across a series of buttons with no idea how to proceed. Luckily Nelly has a couple of unique gifts that can make not-so-random items (think bridges and bear traps) appear and disappear with a touch of a button.
Nelly is very short and very simple, full of cute-meets-creepy art, sinister and cheeky achievements, and a dreamy soundtrack that gels perfectly with this bleak fairytale. I don’t recall bookmarking it (spooky), but it was an excellent browser-cleaning find. You can play it in your browser, right now, for frees.