Isabella Loskutoff ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
On Saturday, September 14, 2013 Massachusetts Institute of Technology hosted the Boston Festival of Indie games, or BostonFIG for short. A multitude of independent game developers brought the future of gaming to the Boston scene, and Emertainment Monthly was there to get some of the first looks at various 2D, 8-bit, and side-scroller games. Now, let’s take a look at the top 5 games from the BostonFIG, as well as the Editor’s choice.
5. Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller
Cognition is a point-and-click episodic adventure game that focuses on Erica Reed, a Boston FBI agent who has the power to read an object’s aura in order to see the past. The player uses Reed’s intuitive powers to track a serial killer who took the life of her brother, Scott. You are given a small inventory that contains an FBI badge, a gun, and a cell phone. As you play through the game more objects are added to your inventory such as a shovel and a plate. Each item has a spec ific function that will allow you to delve further into the mystery in order to reveal the killer’s identity. While at the game’s booth, I was given the chance to talk with Katie Hallahan, a designer and writer for Phoenix Online Studios. She discussed the recent addition of episodes 1 and 2 to mobile devices, such as the iPad 2, as well as the background of the game. The development of Cognition was started back in 2011 and brought to life through the use of Kickstarter. Katie also revealed that her favorite aspects of the game are the story and the character. She believes that the presence of a strong female lead is sought out in the videogame world and that Erica Reed satisfies that call. The game is heavy on storyline and is good for gamers who invest themselves in the character’s they play. Episode 4, the final episode, was debuted at BostonFiG, and is set to release on Steam Thursday, September 19, 2013.
Read more about Erica and Katie here: http://www.postudios.com/cognition/episodes.php
4. High Strangeness
High Strangeness, an 8-bit and 16-bit hybrid action adventure game, comes in at number 4. Ominous, hooded creatures appear in the protagonist’s, Boyd’s, house one night, and Boyd must fight them off with the use of a flashlight in order to survive. When he wakes up the next morning, it is as though nothing has changed. Then, Boyd’s cat runs away, and Boyd must search for him in his home town. Upon entering the local record store, Boyd is given a new weapon, CD’s, in addition to his flashlight. Soon after, the townspeople turn into mindless shadows and another fight against the hooded creatures commences. Now Boyd can use the CD’s to stun his enemies (which comes in handy when they run after you) and hit them with his flashlight. Boyd is then transported into another dimension after entering a portal of white space. Through use of a red crystal skull, Boyd jumps between an 8-bit and a 16-bit world. The 8-bit world allows the player to see hidden paths in order to solve puzzles and move through levels, whereas the 16-bit world allows Boyd to move faster as to avoid danger. I met with Ben Shostak, Owner and Lead Developer of Barnyard Intelligence Games, and he discussed the inspiration for the game. “High Strangeness was inspired by old-school games like Zelda, but we wanted to give it something different,” remarked Shostak. The fluctuating pixel art perspective of this game as well as the mysterious storyline makes it truly one of a kind. High Strangeness can be found on current and next generation consoles as well as Windows, Mac, and Linux in late 2013.
What happens to Boyd? See for yourself: http://highstrangenessgame.com/presskit/
3. Bit Blaster
Bit Blaster (working title), is a top down, arcade style, dual stick shooter that focuses on head to head local multiplayer combat. The game currently allows 4 players to pick up their controllers and fight each other to their diminishing deaths. You are a tiny space ship that flies through the stars dodging colorful asteroids while shooting at the enemy players (a.k.a your friends) in an arena style setting. Think Hungry Hungry Hippos meets Beat Hazard. You are able to customize your ship by building up your armor (square pieces), thrusters (triangle pieces), and guns (circular pieces). Each time you are hit, a piece of your ship crumbles away until there is nothing left of you. However, you are able to quickly re-spawn and seek vengeance once more. Whoever has the highest score/most kills by the end of the round is declared the winner. Null Foundry founder, Etienne Magnin, was present during the festival, and he mentioned games like Galaga and Space Defense as being part of the inspiration of the game. “This is Bit Blaster’s second convention,” Magnin said, “Too Many Games was its first back in June.” He also said that it was “very new” and that he and his team were still deciding on a title. Bit Blaster is set to be released exclusively on the OUYA, a ground breaking new console, and later on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Get more info on Bit Blaster here: http://www.nullfoundry.com/p/project-bit-blasterworking-title.html
Much like Bit Blaster, Collide is a top down, twin stick shooter in which 4 players immerse themselves in arena style, free-for-all combat. However, Collide is currently browser based, so the multiplayer combat is not restricted to local players only. Players are also able to customize and test their ships in Collide, and each part has detailed functions. For example, some parts are designed to deal damage by crashing into other players, while others are used for long and short range artillery. Players are also given 3 pre-sets of ships in order to get them started in the game. This function is particularly intriguing for new players who are unfamiliar with the game’s mechanics. Each round lasts about 5 minutes, and each player is ranked based on their kills and deaths. Developers of Collide were eager to mention the various changes the game would see in the future. Eventually, Collide will be faction based so that players can create ships based on stealth, strength, and defense. Alongside free-for-all combat, players will also be able to join in online capture the flag servers and juggernaut mode. Juggernaut mode will feature one, slow moving, tank-like character who will face-off against three smaller, stealthy players. Also, developers want to give gamers the opportunity to set up their own servers in the game where they can choose the play style, design the map, and host a private or public match. “It is like building blocks for building blocks,” said one Collide representative. This game is great for playing with friends as well as independently on public servers and can currently be found via Google Chrome and Firefox. Collide doesn’t require any extra downloading or bulky plug-ins, so it is as simple as click and play!
Play Collide today: http://co.llide.com
1. Candlelight (Editor’s Choice)
Candlelight is a 2D puzzle-platform exploration side-scroller game where players control two characters at the same time. The boy character, controlled by the arrow keys, carries a lantern that allows him to see the world differently than its initial appearance (revealing hidden locations and switches), and the girl character, controlled by WASD, wears a mask that grants her the powers of the animals she encounters. She can also reach high ledges. Players must use these characters together in order to complete puzzles and move through the game so that they may figure out who they are, what they are doing in this strange world, and why they must overcome each challenge. Candlelight is like a Limbo/Portal mash-up that causes gamers to differentiate between perception and performance. What makes this game utterly jaw-dropping is the split screen element that occurs when characters are unable to be encompassed by a single view-point. This dynamic split screen was designed to show the distance between the boy and girl characters at different points during the game. For example, if the boy character remains at a low point and the girl character continues to climb higher and higher, your view will slowly split in the middle of the screen. Say the boy character is moving too far to the left or right, the screen will split directly down the middle. It also splits diagonally if your characters are in different corners of the puzzle. Typically, games focusing on two characters will abruptly break apart if one is too far from the other, but Candlelight delicately splits apart in a way that is almost indescribable. Candlelight’s shadow puppetry aesthetic immediately draws onlookers into the game, and its mysterious plot, dual characters, and split screen function keep players enticed for hours. Candlelight is set to release on Windows, Mac, and Linux in early 2014, and I highly anticipate its arrival.
Get the latest info on Candlelight here: http://www.idleaction.com/candlelight