Flowstorm is a 2.5D racing and aerial combat game from two person development team Neat Corporation. An evolved version of old school Thrust clone games, Flowstorm is a “brutally unforgiving” experience that demands player skill “rather than your character virtually becoming better through gaining skills or increasing your level,” one half of the dev team Joachim Holmér tells us.
For those that don’t know, the Thrust clone genre started back with Lunar Lander and Asteroids in 1979 and is centered around a player controlled ship with full directional acceleration that is affected by gravity — you know the ones — a more recent example being PS1′s Gravitation.
Creative director Justin Novelline tells us the game “could be compared in aesthetic to something like Final Fantasy 7″ with gameplay reminiscent of titles like Super Mario World, Super Meat Boy and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.”
Like its name, Bleak is set in a dark, industrial setting on a planet referred to as “The Pinnacle.” Players will go through 70+ levels across a vast and rich game world that “celebrates heavy lore and character driven story-telling.”
The world of Pinnacle is inhabited by several different races each with their own agenda, belief systems and language, something that effects the gameplay significantly. How each race communicates “varies immensely” said Novelline, “We’re excited for Pinnacle to reflect this in a bold way.”
We have some gameplay footage and some screens below along with our exclusive interview.
Players will take control of three different characters: Bleak the Sourcer, Sky the Sylvan and Bug the Beardstaff, and like the various NPCs and enemies in the game, their race, beliefs and language will play large role in how each character can interact with the world. Each of the three playable characters are unique in combat as well with their special abilities, something we get into more detail about in our exclusive developer interview below.
Another interesting feature in Bleak is its two tired approach to the game’s overall design. When players enter a town or city of some kind, the game’s perspective transitions from a sidescrolling action-platformer to a “top-down adventure game to provide the player with a more immersive relationship with the world and its characters. This is two beautiful games in one.”
JHS: What is “Bleak” all about and what sets it apart?
Justin Novelline: “BLEAK” is a dark fantasy platformer that celebrates heavy lore and character driven story-telling. It features unique governments, religions, races, territories, alphabets, ecosystems and a host of compelling characters who you travel along side your journey.
JHS: If you had to, what existing games would you compare to Bleak?
JN: “BLEAK” could be compared in aesthetic to something like Final Fantasy 7, it has dark mechanized steampunk elements. In gameplay it’s closest relatives are a mash up between Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
JHS: Can you elaborate a little bit on the story and setting of Bleak? What is The Pinnacle?
JN: “Pinnacle” (Or more formally “The Pinnacle”) is the attempt at the perfect society (that always works). It’s a planet where the accidental discovery of a new precious metal called “Core” has sent an otherwise simple and peaceful race of people known as “Sourcer’s” into a greed fueled tail spin. In addition to Sourcer’s there are six other races who have watched as their once beautiful home has rotted beneath thanks to greedy Sourcer’s building factories to process and refine core on a massive scale.
JHS: What kinds of influences, games or otherwise, inspired the team at Tenwall to create Bleak? What other games are you guys playing right now around the office?
JN: We’re heavily influenced by story-driven games like Chrono Trigger, Deus Ex, Skyrim, Dark Souls and Bioshock/Bioshock Infinite. Anything where the player is invited to get lost in a games world and lore is really cool and exciting to us.
JHS: Bleak has “3 Playable Characters Each With Their Own Special Abilities.” Can you tell us more about the game’s combat system and how each of the playable characters differ?
JN: In-game you will have the opportunity to play as Bleak the Sourcer, Sky the Sylvan and Bug the Beardstaff. Each character has their own personality, belief system, temperament and of course abilities. The combat system is primarily player vs. environment as their are few offensive abilities. We thought this reinforced how incredibly lethal Pinnacle was and how small and relatively insignificant the protagonists are.
As for specific mechanics:
Bleak: Abilities: Sprints. Power Slams and has the ability to construct helpful machinery.
Sky: Glide jumps. Swings from branches. She can use her flute to commune with the red, summoning spike like brambles and vines to do her bidding.
Bug: Small. Agile. Capable of triple jumping and crawling through small spaces. Can ride an assortment of mounts including the powerful Gorumph.
There will be specific levels that can only be beaten a certain way with a certain character, this not only adds a level of completionism to our game, but also helps in connecting the characters species to the world.
JHS: “Each race in the world of Pinnacle has been fleshed out to such an extent that even their languages are based on unique alphabet glyphs. These will appear throughout the game on signage and in tomes (if you’re lucky enough to find one).” What happens if you do find one? How do these “languages” integrate into the gameplay?
JN: The alphabets will be sprinkled throughout Pinnacle whether it be on “warning signs” or in history books. Your ability to understand them depends on how much of the “Key to the World” (Our game’s Rosetta Stone) you have uncovered. It’s just another level of detail to help the players sense of immersion, because like here on Earth, when you have thousands of miles of terra firma inhabited by different nationalities (never mind different races) how they communicate varies immensely. We’re excited for Pinnacle to reflect this in a bold way.
JHS: Pictured to the right “is a diagram detailing the various belief systems that occur throughout Pinnacle.” Can you tell us more about the belief system in the game?
JN: There are eight different belief systems in game. Each one caters to different races and geographic ideologies. Seeing as there are no cell phones or internet on Pinnacle, communication is far more limited. It was important to us to look at what a Sourcer on Wither might believe versus say an Ero on Glimmer.
Belief systems also effect how NPC’s will react to you. For example, one belief system centered around “The Marauder’s Bay” is called “The Gray”. Followers of The Gray way of life only respect who has the sharper sword. They will attack anyone they think they’re capable of robbing on sight in favor of a brutal and anarchistic life style. If you run across anyone wearing the Gray emblem, good luck.
JHS: How does Mount and Airship Travel work and why is it used?
JN: Both mount and airship travel are carefully correlated to the game’s lore.
Mount’s will be accessible only when there is a good relationship between the player character and the “mount”, which they will be permitted to ride on a case by case basis to aid them in tricky situations. One example of this is that Bug is a Beardstaff. The Beardstaff’s have cultivated a respect and understanding with the “Gorumph’s”, gorilla like creatures with enormous mouths. If the player, playing as Bug comes across an idle Gorumph, they can climb into their mouths and steer them like a wrecking ball through the level. Other playable characters will simply be ignored.
As for Airships, you get to take control of these core powered floating processing plants after meeting the surly Sourcer Pilot “Zep”. His vehicle isn’t much to look at it, but it’ll get you from A to B… or will it?
JHS: There are so many independent games on the radar these days especially with the rising popularity of crowd funding. What does it take, in your opinion, to make an indie game that really stands out from all the others?
JN: Passion and conviction. Believing vehemently in BLEAK and his adventure. This isn’t so much about a game accompanied by a story as it is about a story and universe you get to experience through a game.
JHS: Can you tell the Jace Hall readers something secret about the game we might not already know from the pre release material and Kickstarter?
JN: Some of BLEAK’s most exciting twists are right under everyone’s noses.
Thanks for the questions!
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is said to be the definitive version of the game. Although many of us are disappointed that Eidos Montreal didn’t announce a new game in the Deus Ex series, the Director’s Cut is poised to be more than just some cash grab Wii U port.
At first it seemed as though Nintendo was grasping at straws trying to get some hardcore games over to its new and, to some, struggling platform. As more information is revealed about the Director’s Cut, we can clearly see that Eidos is not only adding new features and game mechanics to the experience but also altering it to better meet fan expectation.
Shovel Knight is a 2D love letter to the 8 bit era of gaming that has been receiving a lot of attention lately after its strong showing at PAX. Now well past its goal on Kickstarter, Shovel Knight is a “a sweeping classic action adventure game” heavily inspired by games like Mega Man, Castlevania and Dark Souls.
[UPDATE: Yacht Club Games has announced that Manami Matsumae who composed classic songs for Mega Man (Cut Man and Elec Man Themes among others) and U.N Squadron will be writing two tracks for Shovel knight along side Jake "Virt" Kaufman who is working on the rest of the games score.]
Shovel Knight is being developed by Yacht Club Games, a team comprised of Sean Velasco and a “crew” of devs from WayForward who have previous experience working on projects like “Contra 4, A Boy and His Blob, Thor: God of Thunder, Mighty Milky Way, BloodRayne Betrayal, and most recently, Double Dragon Neon.”
The game was recently announced to be making its way to both the Nintendo Wii U and the 3DS as well as PC.
Dishonored released worldwide in October of last year to an overall positive reception among critics. The game won the Best Action-Adventure game at the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards and the Best Game award at the 2013 BAFTAs, not to mention the Jace Hall Show Game of The Year 2012.
The question is: how did the team at Arkane come up with such a compelling and unique AAA experience in a world rife with sequels and off-the-wall indie games?
Set in the dark, plague ridden city of Dunwall, Dishonored introduced gamers to a fresh new IP when we needed it the most with some incredibly interesting and new game mechanics like the “Blink” and “Possession” abilities. Players are able to chain these abilities together allowing them to tackle various situations in an individualized and personal way: Summon rats using “Devouring Swarm” then slow time using the “Bend Time” ability, attach a mine to a rat, then possess it and walk it into a group of unsuspecting enemies. Continue reading “Dishonored Co-Creative Directors Raphael Colantonio and Harvey Smith Talk Early Iterations of “Blink” and Empowering The Player” »
Humans Must Answer is a 2D space shmup that is poised to reinvigorate the genre while attracting new players to it. With its open beta available, the dev team at Sumom Games is already noticing players that don’t normally gravitate towards these kinds of experiences enjoying the game.
How is Humans Must Answer doing this?
The game manages the delicate balance of offering an experience hardcore shmup fans will appreciate while allowing enough of a unique approach to the genre that new players are interested as well.
With its slick, “eye-popping” graphics and over the top explosions, on the surface HMA is what every shmup fan wants. But when you peel back the layers here, there a number of advanced weapon systems like “Support Weapons” and deployable turrets as well as non-linear gameplay and tactical boss battles. Continue reading “Sumom Games To Reinvigorate 2D Space Shmups With HUMANS MUST ANSWER (Now in Open Beta)” »
Larian Studios has recently taken to Kickstarter to fund the latest entry in the Divinity series, Original Sin. The game will feature classic turn based combat, non-linear campaign, co-op and an extremely interesting “disagreement” mechanic built right into the game’s dialogue system.
Divinity: Original Sin is an isometric RPG that brings to the table much of what fans of the genre will expect as well as taking the experience to a new level with the game’s unique elemental system and “very reactive/interactive environment.”
Mongrel is a new deeply customizable fighting game for iOS in development by two man team, Blake Whitworth and Stephan Messier. The two just recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Unreal Engine powered mobile fighter.
Mongrel is set in a fascinating alternate version of human evolution where “Animals have evolved into humanoid hybrids.”
You are a Mongrel–low on the caste system, you are a lesser hybrid and a slave. You must fight your way through perilous battles with other mongrels and giant beasts alike. “To quickly gain status in a harsh and brutal world, they are given the opportunity to fight for their freedom in the mongrel arenas,” artistic lead Stephan Messier told us.
In the year 2287 Earth has sent out its very first ships to colonize the planet Maria. After crashing, players will take control of the stranded colonists and thrown into a sandbox like game world where they must “explorer, gather, build, create, fight, and ultimately, conquer the land.”
It has been a weird and interesting ride Kojima has taken us on with this whole Phantom Pain fiasco and today he hit the stage at GDC with what many hoped would finally clear the air–and now it is.
We now know that both The Phantom Pain and Ground Zeroes together make up Metal gear Solid 5.
You can watch the new MGS5 trailer below.
With the release of Bioshock Infinite this week, we sat down with the game’s composer Garry Schyman, to get an inside look at what it takes to create the score for such an ambitious title and how sound and music enhance gameplay.
The Bioshock games have always been known for their mood setting environments and stellar sense of immersion. The characters and settings (visuals) in games are what many people focus on when it comes to whether or not a game really sucked them in or not. A game’s soundtrack has a lot to do with the way player’s experience a title as well, both in their understanding of the characters and the way a game “feels” overall. These are all things that Schyman takes very seriously when composing for anything and especially with the Bioshock franchise.
Don’t Starve is described as an “uncompromising wilderness survival game” by its developer Klei Entertainment. Klei was previously responsible for the fantastic Mark of the Ninja and both Shank titles.
Players will take control of Wilson the “intrepid Gentleman Scientist,” using magic and science in order to survive in a curios and unique game world filled with scary monsters that want to eat you. Its a game that respects the player’s intelligence while challenging it in a fun and immersive way.
Running on a day/night cycle, player’s will have to gather items and loot from the environment and fallen enemies while crafting and researching new items “that match your survival style.” You can also create campfires at night and build structures to keep the baddies out as well as hunt and gather food to feed Wilson when he gets hungry.
Last week we covered the inspiring story of Mackenzie Wilson, a nine-year old girl who successfully raised over $21,000 on Kickstarter with the help of her mother Susan, to fund the creation of her very own RPG.
Along with learning how to create games Mackenzie wants to open doors and encourage other young girls to do the same. Mackenzie’s mother Susan helped her daughter open a Kickstarter campaign so she could not only learn how to make games but also to prove that Mackenzie could fund it herself.
Consortium is a unique new RPG developed by Interdimensional Games. Inspired by games like Mass Effect, Half Life and System Shock among others, what makes this game so unique is that it “obliterates the fourth wall!”
You can check out our interview and some exclusive video footage of Consortium with developer commentary below.
The fourth wall is the separation between the audience/gamer and a piece of media. Breaking the fourth wall in gaming has, for the most part, come in the form of comedy–think the Dead Pool trailers. To some this can be effective but is considered more useful as humorous moments because it can break the player’s immersion in more serious situations.
One of the most beloved NES games of all time, DuckTales, is getting the HD treatment and will be re-released for XBLA, PS3 and Wii U this summer.
Below we have several screens of the remastered game’s slick new graphics (via GT) along with the announcement trailer.
The game is being developed by WayForward for publisher Capcom and is called DuckTales Remastered. The team is taking the levels and layout of the original game and expanding them while enhancing the gameplay, graphics and sound. The remastered version will feature “hand-drawn and animated sprites, across a backdrop of luscious, re-envisioned level backgrounds.”
Mackenzie Wilson is a 9 year old girl who is making her very own RPG. She recently started an already successful Kickstarter campaign with the help of her mother Susan to fund the game. We got a chance to speak with Susan today to get some more insight on this inspiring story, you can check it out below.
Her older brothers didn’t think she could do it so she took to Kickstarter to prove them wrong. With a goal of $829, Mackenzie raised over $11,000 in just one day. Kickstarter has an age restriction so Mackenzie’s mother had to post the project under her name. Continue reading “9 Year Old Raises Over $10K On Kickstarter To Create Her Own RPG [Video]” »
World Wide Maze is an interesting little game that turns any website or google search result into a playable 3D Maze game that is created by Google Japan(via Fumi Yamazaki)
Restructuring the design of a given site, the browser app forms a 3D Maze out of the various site elements and adds in jumps, elevators and collectibles. The goal is to reach the end while collecting as many of the blue crystals as possible.
Below you can see some images of the JaceHallShow as a 3D World Wide Maze.
PowerUp is a classic style side scrolling space shooter that recently caught our eye on Kickstarter. The side scrolling shooter is currently being created by one-man-dev-team Mike Hanson with plans to be released on consoles, mobile devices and PC.
Heavily inspired by classic sci-fi schmups like Project-X and Hellfire, PowerUp features “modern rendered 3D graphics,” unique weapon mechanics and epic boss battles while still maintaing that addictive and chaotic feel of the classics.
The mysterious title Phantom Pain is widely expected to be a Kojima production. We last reported to you on the fiasco when Joakim Mogren appeared in person on GTTV (maybe). The game made the biggest splash when it was revealed during last year’s Spike Video Game Awards and is widely speculated to be the next title in the Metal Gear franchise.
A recent Tweet from Hideo Kojima seemingly confirms the MGS creator’s involvement with the Phantom Pain. The Tweet came along with an image showing a video editing suite that features a file called:
Today we have some new details on the highly anticipated Thief reboot. A post on the Eidos Montreal blog gives us some new information on what players can expect come launch day including scalable difficulty and no kill playthroughs (via GameSpot).
In the recent coverage of the game the team talked about how it intended to tone down the gothic look and feel of Garrett to make him more “mainstream.” This raised some concern among long time fans of the series.
It looks as though these concerns may have been blown out of proportion as the team seems to be scaling the character back to more closely reflect the Garrett of past entries. Thief game director, Nicolas Cantin had this to say: