Mortal Manor bids itself as a Metroidvania, but also wants to stand out with a different approach to gameplay. Fortunately, this includes a vast sprawling world and tons of weapons to collect. Unfortunately, the approach also includes instadeaths and enemies that are as annoying as %*#&.
Any indie gem has rough edges and I’m not going to sugarcoat it – Mortal Manor‘s edges are about as smooth as rock golem’s butt. For those with the same sort of patience as an eternal being, though, there’s a massive game here, crammed with varied areas and bursting with weapons, relics and secrets to find.
There hasn’t been a great deal of beat ’em ups that used RPG mechanics. There sure have been some good ones – the old arcade D&D games and River City Ransom were pretty cool. Zombie Smashers X and Castle Crashers were some pretty interesting indie attempts, circa the early 2000s. Yet, overall, not many have tried their hand at the unpopular genre-fusion.
The Lair takes a step to reconcile this, though it’s more a nifty little RPG-flavoured beat ’em up than true fusion of dungeon crawling and combo juggling. Still, it’s pretty darn fun, with impressive graphics for the minimalistic game-making tools used. Yes, I like this. More, please.
Those anime protagonists sure know how to wield a massively oversized impractical sword. You’d think that by the time they actually manage to lift it, a ninja would’ve already stabbed them in the face a few times, but apparently not. Nevertheless, Bold Blade puts my theory to the test, with gameplay entirely swiveled around (pun intended) the art of sweeping a screen-clearing hunk of metal through wave after wave of monsters.
Bold Blade clearly channels the impractical sword-wielding antics of Ginormo Sword, but where that effort happily jumped into a lo-fi psychedelic deep end without abandon, Blade is far more polished in appearance and follows a much more grounded 90s arcade approach, and I could easily see myself playing this on the SEGA Megadrive as an angst-filled teenager, when giant swords where the best solution for most problems.
Back in the late 80’s, cartoons seemed to be based solely around the idea of grabbing everything a 10-year-old thought was awesome and merging them together into a force of protagonists who fought overtly evil bad guys who try to take over the world for no more reason than because it’s there. It worked well enough for a while, endowing us with gift like Transformers, He-Man, and erm, Dinoriders, before we all got totally sick of it and the too-cool-to-care 90’s emerged.
Clash Force is sort of like traveling to a world where this never happened, and an endless stream of colourful robot-animal hybrids continued to beam into our television sets and game consoles. It also harks back to a simpler time for games, gifting us straightforward running-from-left-to-right, shooting everything that moves, and kicking the odd bosses’ face in as you move from forests to deserts to caves. It’s a simple arcade affair to be sure, but sometimes that’s all you need.
Nightkeep is, well, as its indiegogo page puts it: “an action RPG platformer inspired by such classics as Castlevania Bloodlines, Demon’s crest and a variety of JRPGs” – yes, please. Ture, it’s yet another retro-style game wearing its influences strongly on its sleeves, but the demo here is polished enough in its own right that Nightkeep looks to be shaping up to serve an interesting mixture of platforming action.
Drift Stage is another retro-inspired racer that isn’t afraid to express its love for neon. Admittedly, the alpha demo (download below) isn’t much and came out ages ago (sorry about that), but the project looks very much alive and has been receiving regular updates, anyone interested might want to test the ignition.
Burst Fighter is a slick looking indie effort that harks back to classic 2D shoot ’em ups of yore such as Raiden. The game was recently greenlit on Steam and we decided to hop in the cockpit and take the current alpha demo for a spin.
Capcom may be taking its latest zombie-or-hillbilly fest back to its survival horror roots, but Murder Mansion takes the same concept back to its roots in a much more literal way – placing a Jill Valentine lookalike in an eerily familiar looking mansion full of undead creatures waiting around for you to shoot the crap out of them.
It’s more of a homage than actual survival horror, with its easy to disaptch enemies and tongue-in-cheek humour making it more fun than scary. It also has a little, unexpected surprise…
Zenodyne R is a retro style 90’s inspired vertical shooter, where memorising bullet patterns is the order of the day. It’s highly derivative – following pretty standard conventions of the decade such as different ships to choose from, powerups and large boss encounters. And, apparently, starting the name of the game with one of last three letters of the alphabet (see: Xydonia, Z-Exemplar)