Ravenshire at SXSW: Video Games (Part 2)
Hopefully, you enjoyed our first two articles of our SXSW 2015 picks. Here is our second round of video game selections. By no means is this anywhere near a comprehensive list of all the games shown, nor are the titles mentioned being ranked in any order. They are simply some favorite games that stood out to us this year, which we had the opportunity to play and were able to talk to members of the development team. After reading the previews/opinions, and kindly sharing this article with your friends, show some support to the creators of these independent and small studio games.
The Flame in the Flood
From a group of former AAA developers from Irrational Games comes The Molasses Flood’s first project, The Flame in the Flood. This game sees your character, a young girl, along with a her dog, travel along winding rivers and rapids to small island-like wilderness locals in the goal of finding out what happened to society. Drawing inspiration from classic survival games, you must attempt to ward off diseases and injuries in a timely manner, as they will get worse in time, while fighting various creatures lurking in the wilderness. While this game, much like the recent crop of indie rouge-likes, has “permadeath” for your character, you can give Aesop, your dog, items to hold on to for your next playthrough.
The hauntingly beautiful art style creates a sense of awe and unease, as you will want to look at the detail in every area of the game, while still being aware of the things lurking in the brush. If pieces of this art remind you of pieces from another popular game, don’t be surprised, as the art director of BioShock is one of the team members working on this project. Additionally, it should be noted from the Flame in the Flood’s Kickstarter page that the game features, “an original full length soundtrack by acclaimed Alt-Country rocker Chuck Ragan featuring The Camaraderie, The Fearless Kin and other special guests.” While I am not very aware of this particular genre of music, I really enjoyed what I heard and it fits very well within the context of the game. The Kickstarter is over, but if you want to support this game by pre-ordering it, or the soundtrack, check out their page.
Salt and Sanctuary
One type of game that has sustained its popularity over time has been the side scrolling action adventure game that has an expansive map and focuses on the exploration of the world. When I first looked at the gameplay of Salt and Sanctuary it seemed to be just that, but the longer I watched I became impressed by the strategic elements and combinations within the game that goes beyond what the genre normally offers. Additionally, I was very impressed by the beautifully dark hand drawn art style employed to make the dungeons look like something of a cross between modern gothic art and, I think, the darker art of the middle ages and early renaissance periods. The music fits perfectly with the rest of the content within the game. The game will be coming soon to PS4 and PSVita first, then later to Steam and Xbox. Make sure to watch the full announcement trailer here.
Assault Android Cactus
Inspired by classics like Robotron 2084 and Smash TV, with a hint of some of the more obscure Dreamcast titles, comes the twin stick shooter, Assault Android Cactus. This is a crazy name for a delightfully chaotic game, which immediately lured me in to watch some gameplay. In this game you choose from a group of very colorful cybernetic heroines, and attempt to save your spaceship from the ships own renegade robot workers. As mentioned in the previous SXSW review, the idea of local multiplayer as a choice, instead of online only multiplayer options, and this game features a very impressive local co-op design. The colorful and cartoon-like animations, and art style, seem to draw their inspiration from the late 90’s Sega style. One of the things that I found the most interesting about this game was how quick players of all ages were able to enjoy the arcade style mayhem. Assault Android Cactus is currently available for early access on Steam, and the team is working on versions for all of the current consoles. I would highly recommend giving this game a playthrough for its arcade style gameplay, dynamic levels, and art style that may make you nostalgic.