Ethereon (Preview Build)

Today we’re checking out an early preview version of an upcoming game called Ethereon by developer InnervisionVR. Ethereon is a first-person puzzle adventure developed by one of the developers behind Riven – the sequel to the influential game Myst. We’ll wander around an enigmatic environment and see what we can do to put together the […]

Steam keys: A Valley Without Wind 1 & 2, Whispering Willows, RocketsRocketsRockets

fkf68.jpgIndieGames and FreekeyFridays bring you another set of free indie games. Freekeyfridays was created as a way to garner exposure for indies through giving away a mix of well-known indie games and up-and-coming titles. This week's games are Whispering Willows (Windows, Steam, Linux Mac), A Valley Without Wind 1 & 2 Dual Pack (Steam, Windows, Mac) and ROCKETSROCKETSROCKETS (Steam, Windows, Mac, Linux).

There are two ways to win this week.

Five sets of codes will be given for the raffle. Enter here:


Three sets of codes will be given for this Twitter contest: Who would be a delicious game related animal to eat during turkey day? (Follow @Freekeyfridays and #FKF68 with response to enter)

Whispering Willows




A Valley Without Wind 1 & 2 Dual Pack




ROCKETSROCKETSROCKETS






If you are a developer with an awesome game and want to be involved with Freekeyfridays, fill out this Form.

Rollers of the Realm blends pinball and RPG to create something fresh

rollers1.jpgRollers of the Realm is a pinball RPG. That might sound hard to pull off, but developer Phantom Compass has done it. At first, during the basic tutorial stages, it just looks like there's a bit of story attached to a series of fantasy-themed pinball tables, but as the game gradually eases the player into more of the mechanics, it becomes clear that the developers thought carefully about how to blend RPGs and pinball together.

Each stage consists of one or more successive pinball tables/areas. If not for the main flippers with their glowing green bars at the bottom of the screen, many of them wouldn't seem like pinball tables at first glance. Sometimes there are obvious pinball bumpers on the playing field, but many of the obstacles are things like trees, fountains, wells, fences, and people. Running a pinball into or over them nets the player money or mana instead of points. To run into enemies, distinguished from non-combat NPCs by health bars over their heads, is to exchange blows with them.

Every pinball in the player's arsenal is a party member with their own stats and abilities. Some deal more damage than others, some specialize in damage from the front vs. damage from behind, and the different sizes of the balls affect both where they can go in the level (larger balls are heavier and can't fit into every space) and how much damage they take. Most party members also have active abilities that can be used when enough mana has been acquired. Gold earned can be used between levels to buy equipment and improve party members' stats. Only one party member can be out at any one time, but the party member can be switched out freely as long as the pinball has yet to be shot out or is stopped against one of the main flippers.

Combat in Rollers of the Realm is really where the blending of RPG and pinball shines brightest. The aforementioned glowing green bars on the main flippers are health bars representing damage the party has taken. As those health bars empty (either by being directly attacked by ranged enemy units or because party members took damage in a frontal melee assault), the flippers shorten, increasing the chance that party member pinballs will fall into the space between them. If there are no enemies present, party members can fall through a hundred times without consequence, but when in combat, falling through causes party members to be lost. The only way to revive party members is to completely fill up the mana bar. But one of the party members is a healer who has no active abilities but instead restores health to the flippers by collecting mana.

rollers21.jpgAs far as two chapters into the game, with each chapter consisting of several stages, the story doesn't seem to be headed in an epic direction. Instead, it features a number of seemingly well-formed characters who come together by chance. The gameplay is unique enough that it's entirely possible that the first couple of chapters together are a prologue designed to ease the player into the mechanics and the story deepens further from there. Even if it turns out that the story is mostly a wrapper to contextualize the gameplay, though, it's a good wrapper and the gameplay is solid as a rock, with a variety of pinball challenges to offer.

There is one unfortunate thing about the game, which is non-colorblind-friendly health bars. Most of the game's interface won't be a problem for colorblind folk, but to anyone who can't see the difference between red and green, the health bars are useless. On the main flippers, that's less a big deal because the flippers themselves break and shorten, but red/green colorblind players will have no way to tell how close enemies are to death. I don't believe the game would be unplayable for colorblind folk, though the borderless health bars might also blend into the background in forested areas. For the rest of us, one thing about the game which is annoying is that cutscenes can't be skipped. It took me about ten tries to beat the first boss (I haven't really played many pinball games since Windows 98), and in spite of having a try again button, I had to sit through all the dialogue every time.

Overall, I would say that if the idea of a pinball RPG sounds interesting to you, you should probably just pick Rollers of the Realm up. It's a neat concept which has been very well executed and polished to a shine. It's fun to play even if your pinball skills are more than a little rusty. The game was nominated for Best Desktop Game at IndieCade 2013 and won Best in Play at GDC Play 2014. You can get it for Windows via Steam or pick it up for your PlayStation 4 or PS Vita.

[Rollers of the Realm]

Kickstarter Pick: Crossing Souls (Fourattic)

Describing Crossing Souls as an action-adventure with RPG elements might be accurate yet also a huge understatement that fails to do justice to the vision behind it all. Now, admittedly I haven't tried any playable code, but the sheer beauty and richness of ideas present in the campaign video (posted above) is impressive indeed. Impressive enough to convince me this is a game worth happening.

The beautiful pixel-art that evokes nostalgic feelings for a version of the '80s that never existed, the Saturday morning cartoon styled cut-scenes, the obvious richness of the setting, the parallel worlds, the multiple playable characters, the dinosaurs and the apparent interactivity of it all have me properly excited. And I always appreciate games with wild ideas that kindly offer me a chance to talk to their denizens.

Crossing Souls should launch for Windows, Mac and Linux in 2015 and everyone who backs it on Kickstarter for at least $15 will have their very own copy waiting for them upon release.

Kickstarter Pick: Crossing Souls (Fourattic)

Describing Crossing Souls as an action-adventure with RPG elements might be accurate yet also a huge understatement that fails to do justice to the vision behind it all. Now, admittedly I haven't tried any playable code, but the sheer beauty and richness of ideas present in the campaign video (posted above) is impressive indeed. Impressive enough to convince me this is a game worth happening.

The beautiful pixel-art that evokes nostalgic feelings for a version of the '80s that never existed, the Saturday morning cartoon styled cut-scenes, the obvious richness of the setting, the parallel worlds, the multiple playable characters, the dinosaurs and the apparent interactivity of it all have me properly excited. And I always appreciate games with wild ideas that kindly offer me a chance to talk to their denizens.

Crossing Souls should launch for Windows, Mac and Linux in 2015 and everyone who backs it on Kickstarter for at least $15 will have their very own copy waiting for them upon release.

Kickstarter Pick: Devil’s Bluff (KBJ Games)

So, a mobster, a Valkyrie, a daemon, a librarian and a wizard have a party and the daemon ends up murdered. Whodunit? Well, it's either you or up to you to find out with a little help from Devil's Bluff. The pixelated online murder-mystery currently seeking funding via Kickstarter and possibly the most intriguing rogue-like scavenger hunt anyone could come up with.

The game will apparently play like a real time, action version of Clue set in a wonderfully retro mansion that's filled with traps, peepholes, hiding places, secrets and concealed passages. You will get to play as one of 10 characters trapped within said mansion, each with their very own special abilities, and either join the Survivors team or be the Devil him/herself.

The Devil, the game's murderer, will start off in costume and try to remain concealed while killing them survivors one by one, whereas the survivors should try and establish trust with each other, work together and go on a wild scavenger hunt. Discovering who the Devil actually is should also come in handy.

Should the game be funded --and I deeply wish it does-- it will initially be available for Windows, Mac and Linux (online only) with more platforms to become available as stretch goals. A pledge of $10 will, if you hurry, secure you a copy of the game upon release.

PC Pick: Glorkian Warrior (Pixeljam)

glorkianWa.pngTim loved the mobile version of Glorkian Warrior a few months ago, and I have to admit I too loved its brand new Windows/Mac port. The very same port you can grab by hoping over to the Glorkian Warrior: The Trials of Glork site and spending a very modest $3.99. The game offers the same, excellent and oddly platformer-influenced take on Galaga the original did, only this time everything feels more satisfying what with the bigger screens and tactile control methods involved. As for the adorable art of James Kochalka, well, it looks cuddlier and bolder than ever.