Welcome to another semi-regular (or slightly-better-than-infrequent) IncGamers Quickies, in which we have a look at some of the many, many alpha/preview/review codes sent our way on a daily basis. I can say that now because this feature actually made it to a second installment. Incredible.
Much as we appreciate all these eager missives about games here at IncGamers, we’re not the largest writing staff in the world. At any given time we tend to be a bit tied up looking at, oooh, I don’t know, The Sims 4, or Dark Souls 2 or something. IncGamers Quickies is an attempt to give some of these other games a bit of coverage. Selection is based purely upon what happens to be nearest the top of the inbox (and looking interesting) in the period where somebody on staff is actually free enough to write one of these.
In this edition, I’ll be having a look at Hero of Many, Warlocks and Bravada. One of those is out later this month and one is a Kickstarter project, so don’t consider these full reviews. They’re more gentle preview-ish suggestions to help you keep these games in mind.
“Used to be an iOS/Android game” can be a bit of a stigma thanks to dreadful efforts like Deus Ex: The Fall and my innate phone prejudice (phones killed my family,) but Hero of Many drifts so politely into some sensible mouse/keyboard controls that you’d probably never know. Except that I’ve just told you, obviously.
In Hero of Many you control an underwater orb of light, rounding up and guiding many white, motile unicellular organisms that definitely don’t look like spermatozoa. Other than the fact that they totally do look like spermatozoa. I mean, you’re a luminescent, egg-like thing with leadership qualities so there’s clearly something going on there.
Anyway, it’s framed as a classic light vs dark tale, and the dark not-sperms have been hunting down and destroying all the light not-sperms. It’s up to you to gather up the stray organisms and lead them through the level to safety, avoiding (or assaulting in numbers) the rival dark not-sperms and keeping away from other obstacles like spiky undersea growths.
These little single-cell creatures are imbued with a fair bit of personality, in spite (or maybe because) of a wordless narrative. I was determined not to leave too many behind, and got a bit upset about the pained noises they’d make when attacked.
That’s a classic indie game trait, really. Poking your protective nerves until you care about a cluster of underwater glow-sperms. Well played, Hero of Many. Well played indeed.
Though I didn’t venture much beyond the first quarter or so of the game’s 26 levels, I’d already learned how to dodge shadow “patrols,” look after and bolster my group, captained what was effectively a jail break and run into what must surely be my nemesis: a sinister shadow egg-orb-thing.
Hero of Many is coming to Steam on 15 September. It’ll no doubt cost money, but I’m not sure how much.
The Polish team behind this Kickstarter effort sent out an early alpha version of this primarily co-op focused game, which I tested out in probably the least flattering light possible: a wave-based single player survival mode.
That was my fault rather than Warlocks’, since I didn’t have the necessary gaggle of eager friends on hand for some local multiplayer. But despite this, I had an alright time. The pixel art is lovely, as so much pixel art is, though I was as much impressed by the variety in character function than by how they looked.
I started off as an ice lady, but didn’t especially warm to her (oh ho.) Not because of bad dialogue puns like that one, which I have a surprisingly high tolerance for, but because the voice acting was absolutely terrible. And probably just a place-holder. I hope. The other characters I selected had no voice acting, which only increased my desire to use them.
The shaman lady was interesting, as she actually had seven skills instead of the regular four thanks to a toggle that transforms her into a more aggressive stance. Poison and healing seemed to be her thing (including an area buff that was kind of pointless in single player,) so I spent a fair amount of time hopping from one end of the map to the other switching between dumping poison on my foes and doing a self-heal. Again, Warlocks is very much intended for co-op play.
After that, I played as a lady riding a robot ED-209 type thing and that was predictably great. She/it had an overcharge skill that allowed me to pump out rapid-fire blue lasers and mow down legions of shadowy enemies. Yep, like Hero of Many some of the bad guys are evil shadow creatures. What do you have against shadows, developers? They’re just minding their own business, denoting an absence of light.
Management of your cooldown skills and nimble fingers (plus, you know, enough nearby people for some co-op) seem like the main deals here. You can also periodically grab some bits of loot, although I was mostly too busy trying to dodge around and avoid being killed to properly read the descriptions of what I was yanking off the ground.
Warlocks is after $25,000 USD on Kickstarter. You can also sample what appears to be the same preview demo thing that I did, over here.
The one game out of these three which is already out and available to buy. Bravada could be described as a turn-based tactical title with an RPG-ish party, but that wouldn’t quite convey the unusual mechanics at its heart. It’s a turn-based approach I’ve really only seen recently in The Nightmare Cooperative, where a directional input moves your party in unison.
To explain that a little better, if you have two guys stood next to one another and one has a tree stump in front of him, pressing “up” a couple of times will move the fellow not trapped behind a stump northwards and leave the other chap behind. Meanwhile, enemies will be encroaching on you with each input you make.
Bravada starts off in an incredibly chill way, with a simple tutorial and an opening sequence where you’re just lazily destroying hypnotised chickens with your dwarven might. It gets complicated pretty quickly though, and soon enough you’re in some collapsing tunnels having to ponder the fact that a rock is going to fall on those squares, moving will give the five foes to your north-west a chance to advance further and you need to heal up one of your party by heading towards the apple over there. That’s not even particularly far into the game, either.
You can restructure your formation at any time by dragging and dropping somebody into a more helpful position, but this eats up a turn as well. There are some neat additional mechanics like the (limited) ability to clone a copy of any enemy you come across and add him to your party, a consumable time-rewind function and some straightforward RPG-type item grabbing and levelling.
Bravada’s the type of deceptively straightforward and cheery game that actually houses quite a vicious tactical heart. It costs $10.00 USD on Steam. Most likely on other digital platforms, too.