Ravenshire at SXSW: Video Games (Part 1)
In recent years one of the growing parts of SXSW Interactive has been the SXSW Gaming Expo. At this Expo there is a unique mix of games, from AAA titles to first time offerings from indie developers, from digital to tabletop, some currently available while others are still works in progress, and from traditional games to unique experiences. Here is a list of some of our favorite indie video games we saw at the Expo this year. We hope that you will check out and support all of these games for yourself, just as we plan to offer full reviews once the games are released and we have the chance to play them. I hope you will enjoy this part of our Ravenshire at SXSW Gaming previews, and are ready for the next two that will be coming your way soon!
I have always been interested in genre mash up games, particularly when the genres are two, or more, of my favorite genres. This game from Funkatronic Labs is a combination of tactical turn based strategy, exploration, and action-platformer. You play as a science-vessel and must navigate through various foreign planets in search of scientists that are lost. When navigating the vessel, it is done so by moving up, down, left, or right, there is no restriction on how fast the vessel can move, but each move is a turn. Enemies can be attacked, and some barriers can be broken, by simply running into them, but caution must be used because the possible moves are often surrounded in darkness. Particular areas are only revealed once a move has been made, and the vessel will take damage if it accidentally hits walls or is attacked by enemies. Upon playing the first area of this game, I found the first few levels fairly easy, but when I encountered the second set of enemies I started to see the puzzle elements of this game. If you are interested in indie games, it is likely you have heard of this one, as it has won several awards. The art style is inviting, and the gameplay allows for several different play types. It will be available this year on all of the current major consoles and on Steam.
The local multiplayer experience seems to be regaining some popularity, and this game is one of many that showed the fun that could be had with several people playing on the same display. Paperbound’s core idea is four players using paper cutout characters in a fight to make it back through their, literal, tear in reality. Each paper cutout must accumulate enough victories over the other players in a round to allow their particular portal to open. The fights are based on a one hit kill, or in this case a cut, system, and each character is able to use a regular attack, throw a pair of scissors, which must be retrieved before they can be used again, or an ink bomb.
Additionally, a player can, and must, change their gravity during the course of a match, to allow their character to walk on the ceiling of the battlefield. The hectic pacing of the fight creates a fun and unpredictable battle; while the graphics and tone ensure that the game remains lighthearted. This game will be available on Steam and PS4 on March 31, 2015, and will be a blast to play with a large group of friends.
Many people debate the importance of various parts of video games. Some maintain that gameplay is important above all else, others are only looking for a visually interesting experience, and there are groups that simply want a story in which they can become invested. What originally attracted me to this game was its cool neon art style and crazy techno music, but I soon found that this game is more than a traditional side scrolling platformer. Klang is actually a rhythm game, but instead of just pressing buttons at pre-determined moments within a song; jumps, attacks, and strategies must be timed to the environment in addition to the rhythm of the music. When I see this game I think of a cross between Mega Man X, Strider, Amplitude, and Lumines, which is a very good thing. It is, without a doubt, very different from many of the offerings that I saw at SXSW, and it is different in a great way. I would highly recommend that everyone out there keeps an eye on this game through the developer’s Twitter and Facebook posts.