A Paladin’s Journey Through Steam: March 17, 2015: aRPGs and Indie Platformers All The Time.

Seems we’re getting a rush of 2D 8/16bit indie platformers this week. Think it was about 7 of them out of the 25 or so new releases.

Bit of a tip for indie devs: if you’re going to port a sport/arcade local multiplayer game from console to PC, you should probably port it to Linux/SteamOS as well. That way you can take advantage of SteamOS when it launches later this year/next year. Just seems like a good business decision considering that not a lot of windows-centric gamers play local-only games. But that might change with SteamOS.

This post is part of a series where I take a look at the most interesting games on the new releases list for Steam. You can find out more about it here.

Feature: Woolfe – The Red Hood Diaries

Woolfe - The Red Hood Diaries - Windows Only

Woolfe – The Red Hood Diaries – Windows Only – Recent Early Access release.

I saw this game back when it was in early access. That early access sure didn’t take too long did it… I really wish Steam listed how long a game spent in Early Access somewhere. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks the early period was a little bit short based off what I’m reading from the forums. That’s usually not a good indication but I guess the game was close to completion when they put it on. I don’t quite remember how long they said they would be.

2D action/fantasy platformer and, frankly, in a oversatured genre. That by itself might kill a lot of interest in it. Even the story’s setting is oversatured in media as a whole. I’m hard pressed to really find action dark fantasy to be that interesting. Still, something about it bugs me to feature it in this series for reasons I can’t explain. It should be noted that this is Volume 1 of 2 so this is an episodic game. It’s running on the Unreal engine too so that’ll make it a bit of a hog compared to normal platformers. And I still remain conflicted on it.

Side Note: Sid Meier’s Starships

Umm, ouch. This game is getting hammered by negative Steam reviews, everything extending from a poor PC port to shallow gameplay and iffy graphics. Even the one professional review I’ve seen of it wasn’t all that positive towards it. After the Beyond Earth game, I would have though Firaxis would have been just a tiny bit more careful. Apparently not. I really hope this doesn’t become a trend.

Anti-Feature: Spellbind

Spellbind - for Windows only and No, this is not an Early Access Game.

Spellbind – for Windows only and No, this is not an Early Access Game.

I’m just going to hop right into trailer thoughts:

Trailer Thoughts:

Title. Generic title, goody. First sentence: “Battle Evil Creatures”……..ok and? *First glimpse of gameplay* Oh no…please…please tell me this is an old releas….nope. This is March 17th, 2015. Second sentence: “Find Keys to Unlock Doors”….ok and? Third sentence: “Obtain magical spells”…..ok AND?! *Gameplay is shown between sentences*. Fourth sentence: “solve puzzles”….oh good! I have no idea why I should be doing any of this and you’re not going to give me a reaso-Fifth sentence: “Get past deadly obstacles”….no…of course you’re not going to tell me. You’re just going to shoot yourself in the foo-Sixth sentence: “Discover new areas”….you’re just going to describe how every RPG works, aren’t you? Seventh sentence: oh wait, there’s no seventh sentence. The trailer has mercifully come to an end.

I get that indies can’t afford to do a lot with RPGs. And I get also that marketing isn’t everyone’s strong suit. It’s not mine, I’m actually rather bad at it. But if I do know one thing, your trailer shouldn’t be about how every major RPG has functioned for the past 20 years. We know what to expect (for the most part) from this genre. You telling us, isn’t surprising nor interesting. You need to tell us WHY we want to do this. Is it to challenge ourselves? Is it to explore a dark, depressing world? Is it to save the princess that’s in yet another freaking castle?! WHAT?!

Spellbind is published by oh no….Strategy First. Ok, ok, that explains a lot. If a game came from this publisher, no wonder quality was set so low. I feature this game as an example to other developers on what you SHOULDN’T do with your marketing on your Steam page. Giving a short description that is so vague about the game is an even bigger no no.

 Side Note: Adventures of PIP

Not entirely certain why, but a major theme in indie games last year/this year has been the “evolving graphics” style of storytelling/gameplay. This style has been met with extremely mixed results from Evoland to now Adventures of PIP. I’m a little bit confused why people were clamoring for this. It doesn’t seem all that interesting a concept to me. Woohoo, you are able to make a game with 8bit to 32bit graphics. (Sometimes 64bits). Congratulations. I guess.

Feature: Bermuda

Bermuda - Windows, Mac & Linux.

Bermuda – Windows, Mac & Linux.

Bermuda, an anime visual novel. I know, we don’t get enough of those on Steam. So, the game features full voice acting, according to the description. Yet the trailer features none of it. It’s not that common for AVNs to be fully voiced and yet these guys decide to not show off any of it. Why would you do that when you drop big voice actor names then? I don’t know, it’s a bit of an odd choice from these guys.

Bit of an intriguing concept, being stuck in an alien submarine where you have not only a lot of reading material but “open ended stealth puzzles” as well. It’s also set to be around an hour in length so that its a “succinct story that players can enjoy around their busy schedules”. I can appreciate games that do that. We don’t need super-long ones all the time. I do wonder why it was priced at $2.99 though, I think it could have been higher but I’m not an expert on pricing in this genre.

Feature: Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas for Windows only. Port from Mobile.

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas for Windows only. Port from Mobile.

Mobile games ported to PC games have a lot to prove and need to impress, otherwise they’ll fade into obscurity. Oceanhorn intrigues me. aRPG with a style of gameplay that is no doubt heavily inspired by another infamous series in this genre that I won’t name. But I’ll bet you can guess which one it is. (It’s not that subtle). To be honest, we don’t have enough games trying this style of genre and/or gameplay and I wish more did. The art style looks fantastic for a mobile game. Not really sure what wizardry they used to pull that off.  According to PCGamingWiki‘s port report, it’s a very solid port to boot. Now, now you’ve got me. I’ll put this on the wishlist as I’m very interested to see how it plays out.

Trailer Thoughts:

Not a lot of thoughts really. It doesn’t give you a great idea of the story but it shows off the gameplay very well. Not too pretentious or vague either. Nicely done. I’m looking forward to giving this a go at some point.

Feature: StarCrawlers

Screenshot 2015-03-17 16.01.58

StarCrawlers – Early Access game for Windows, MacOSX and Linux

I’ve seen this game already. Why am I seeing it yet again? Maybe it was in a pre-release state when I looked at it. For some odd reason, games that are “coming soon” will show up in the new releases list of Steam. Well, it’s in early access now. That weirdness aside, I wrote this off whenever I last looked at it. It seemed far too ambitious for it’s own good and/or trying to sell itself on nostalgia. The nostalgia that a lot of gamers seem to have for cRPG dungeon crawlers. For some reason, I recall it name dropping another game as well but I don’t see a hint of that in the description.

Trailer Thoughts:

There are three trailers but I’d say the most important is the second one. It shows off the combat, visual atmosphere and it’s first person grid-based movement & actions. It’s got a very nice soundtrack from what I can hear. I’m not even really sure why I wrote this game off to begin with. I did play an excellent first person cRPG a couple of years ago and this one looks credible enough. The turn-based combat with the hex-based movement is a bit weird though.

Looks like it’s nearly done. The devs have stated it’ll be in early access for six months and has been worked on for over a year. For $20, I’ve seen much worse than this. I can’t help but be intrigued by this title as well so I’m adding it to the wishlist.

Thanks for reading! Feedback is still being sought for this series as I continue to tweak it.


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