Something to Play: “SpeedRunners”


In the lexicon of the gaming subculture, one of the most common terms thrown around is speedrunning, meaning to play through a level or game as fast as possible. From the popularity of this style of play comes SpeedRunners, the latest in a long line of time attack styled, speed-based platformers. It lays a solid foundation,but could use some more polish.

The gameplay of SpeedRunners can be compared to the likes of Super Meat Boy or ‘Splosion Man. No matter which character you choose, you’ll be able to run really fast and race through increasingly difficult 2D obstacle courses to beat the clock. You’re then encouraged to play though the level again to perfect your time and score.

Now, before I get into some of the weaknesses of this game, I should note that, at the time of this writing, this game is in what Steam calls “Early Access”. This means that, while players can purchase and play the game, it’s still technically in development. However, I want to go ahead and tell you about the game as it stands right now.

With that in mind, let me go over the one slightly weak spot in the game: the story mode. Here, you’re cast as a superhero sent out to protect the city from a mad bomber. It makes for an entertaining diversion, but you can easily beat it in about an hour. On top of that, the stages themselves don’t get to be particularly challenging until the halfway point.

What does make this game more unique is the multiplayer mode, where you can race against three other players until you’re the last man standing. You can also play as several different characters, including caricatures of actual YouTube stars if you care to buy the DLC. There’s also support for user-created levels, as well.


Again, this is a game in development. And for what it’s worth, you’ll get some fun and exhilarating gameplay. But when you compare it to the competition, you may find that your money may be better spent elsewhere. Pick it up if you’ve already played the time attack essentials and looking for a little something extra.

You can find SpeedRunners on Steam, here.

Something to Play: “Octodad: Dadliest Catch”


Okay, so today I’ve come up a little short on brand spanking new things to talk about. So I’m gonna stretch back about a year to tell you about a little gem that I’ve just recently gotten to check out. Allow me to introduce you to Octodad: Dadliest Catch.

An off-shoot of the 2010 indie freeware game OctodadDadliest Catch places you in the role of a father and head of a 1950’s styled nuclear family. There’s only one little twist: you’re an octopus, disguised as a human. You’ve put on a good act so far, but you’re wife is finally starting to get suspicious and a psychotic seafood chef is doing anything he can to expose you for who you are.

The gameplay is built entirely around the concept of moving around without a skeleton. Each tentacle is controlled independently and you have to carefully coordinate their movements to accomplish your goals. You’re often being watched by others, so screw up too much and you’ll tip people off that you’re not human.

Depending on your tastes, you’ll either find the nature of the gameplay a huge amount of fun or extremely frustrating, but’s it’s definitely unique. I found the this clumsiness simulator pretty fun, for the most part. There are some parts of the game (the final level comes to mind,) that require so much precise control of your tentacles that it may take you more than a few tries to get it down.

From a representational perspective, Octodad also shines, again for the most part. The polygons can sometimes come off as a little too low-rez for one’s taste. But’s the art-style looks very pleasant, and the story is both charming and funny. The star of the show, Octodad himself, is excellently animated and his voice actor does a great job of embedding appropriate emotion and subtext in the characters blubbering.

Once you’re done with the story mode (and the two downloadable levels), there’s also support for the Steam Workshop.You can download and play mods, levels and experiments developed by fans. It probably won’t be enough to keep you entertained long-term, but it’s good for an amusing diversion.

So if you haven’t picked up this one already, there are two ways to check this one out. You can download it for PC and Mac from either Steam or the official site. If you want to wait just a little longer, it will also be available for download April 22nd on Playstation 4.

Something to Play: “Tri: Of Friendship and Madness”


Two of my all-time favorite games are Portal and Portal 2. Story-driven puzzle games with puzzles that can be as difficult to wrap your head around as they are satisfying to solve. I long for a game that can provide me with an experience like that and, while Tri: Of Friendship and Madness doesn’t quite reach that level, it comes pretty close.

To explain the premise of Tri‘s story, we need to start with a simple assumption: foxes are gods. Now that we have that out of the way, we can follow a masked monk-like figure into a spiritual realm. There, we must piece together a story about two fox-god friends so we can figure out how one of the fox-gods disappeared… Well, the important part is that, to accomplish all of this, you have to make your way through a series of towers and dungeons.

To help you with that task, the game equips you with a devise called the Tri, this game’s answer to the portal gun. The Tri allows you to create triangular platforms to help you traverse and interact with the environment. And this becomes the crux of the puzzles: how to get from point A to point B with gaps and walls standing in your way.

Eventually the triangles you create will allow you to walk on walls, opening up a whole new range of puzzles. The environment will sometimes switch such elements as gravity on you. It all makes for a very fun ride.

Graphics are simplistic, but the aesthetics make use of a vibrant color pallet and a wonderful art direction. The lighting does a great job of mystifying rooms and highlighting trees (which, yes, have triangles for leaves). It’s a very pretty game, overall.

Again, it’s a fun ride, but not without some hitches in the track. I’ve mentioned that, by connecting triangles, you can create a path that allows you to walk on walls. But what exactly qualifies as a connection can be a bit confusing, meaning you’ll sometimes have to fiddle around with triangle placement just to see what sticks. Among the presentation issues, the voice acting can be a little flat, lacking the nuances to effectively portray the poignant tale.

But once it gets going, it’s a lot of fun to play. The slightly free-form puzzles are fun to figure out and the world is a beauty to look at. If you’re looking for another story-based puzzler, or if you’re looking for a game with a quirky atmosphere and story, you could do a lot worse than Tri.

You can pick up Tri: Of Friendship and Madness on Steam here. By the by, it’s 75% off until tomorrow! So if you want it, don’t delay.

Something to Play: “Cloud Chamber”


First of all, I’ve gotta give a shout-out to the folks at Extra Credits, a YouTube show that discusses the evolution of video games from a developer’s point-of-view. It’s because of their recent episode “Interactive Video” (which you can watch here,) that I even heard of today’s game. It’s a very well thought-out out show and if you’re really into indie games, they have a spin-off, James Recommends, that’s all about that.

Anyhow, the game I’m talking about this week is called Cloud Chamber, and I honestly haven’t played any other game that’s anything like it. Here’s the concept: A filmmaker has been developing a documentary about a secret laboratory that’s on the verge of a scientific breakthrough to end all breakthroughs. However, after a strange and disastrous happening, he decides to upload everything he has gathered to an online database, represented here as a 3D landscape, with the height of the landscape signifying the importance of the information. Your job as the player is to investigate all of this information and work with all of the other players to determine what happened and in what order.

Still with me? Great. It’s best summarized as a massively-multiplayer mystery game. Every node of information, be it audio, video, or article, has a comment section built into it. By participating in the community and adding things to the discussion that people find worthwhile, you unlock more information to further discuss.

If you ever had an in-depth discussion with your friends after watching a deeply thought-provoking movie, you know what this is like. Cloud Chamber takes that kind of conversation and implements it into every part of the story it’s trying to tell. It’s very detailed, too, with subtle clues sometimes being the only indicator of a clip being before another clip, or after it.

This is not a game for everyone. If you prefer games with more direct interactivity, or if you’re not one to converse through message boards, you should probably look elsewhere. It’s not perfect, either. There’s some overacting in the clips and I still can’t tell if one of the main character’s accent is supposed to be American or British.

But Cloud Chamber is definitely one of the most unique and creative concepts for a game I’ve seen in quite some time. At a $20 price tag, it might be a little pricey for those not sure if this new kind of game is something they’d enjoy. But if you’re looking for a game that’s nothing like what you’ve played before, it might just be worth the price of admission.

You can pick up Cloud Chamber on Steam here.

Spotlight on Adult Swim Games


Note: Those of you who read my “Discovery” article on Ghostly International should know that this is the continuation of that category. However, in the interest of self-explanation (and the desire to sound less pretentious), the category is being renamed “Spotlight”. Enjoy!

In a couple of past posts, I’ve mentioned [adult swim], a comedy network that shares channel space with Cartoon Network. They’re no strangers to the indie scene. Independent and experimental music is used regularly in the network’s promotions and packaging, and they even have a annual series of free downloads dedicated to highlighting some of these musicians. For the world of indie video games, they have a different approach. The publishing business.

[adult swim] Games focuses on finding independently developed games and using their connections to publish the games on various platforms, including Steam, the iOS and Android app stores and even their own website. They then use their position as a TV network to advertise these indie games to mass audiences, producing (often animated) commercials to air on breaks. On one occasion, they even went so far as to produce a full-length, live-action trailer to accompany a game’s release.

They’ve published a number of titles over the past couple of years. Let’s take a look a of few of them.

Retro Throwbacks

Games such as Super House of Dead Ninjas and Volgarr the Viking fit this category nicely. Defined by 16-bit graphics and a brutal difficulty, they harken back to the days of trial and error and memorizing passcodes in front of your Super Nintendo.

Mobile Games

Here you’ll find arguably the publisher’s most popular titles, the Rainbow Unicorn Attack series.

Not your thing? Me neither. Maybe Major Mayhem is more your speed!

Or how about my personal favorite, Monsters Ate My Condo!?

And… Everything Else!

Super Puzzle Platformer traps you in a Tetris board and challenges you to survive.

Soundodger mixes the music genre with a “bullet hell” style.

And Jazzpunk… Well, I still don’t know how to describe Jazzpunk (although, I did try).

I have a lot to respect for [adult swim] Games. This is a company that could have easily (and rightfully) focused on publishing games based on the network’s popular shows, but they instead do something really cool for the indie game landscape. Curating unique and interesting games and helping the developers get the exposure they deserve.

You can find more games published by [adult swim] by visiting their website, Steam page, iTunes page, and Google Play page.

Something To Play: “Jazzpunk”


So I’ve been looking over some of the indie stuff I’ve gotten my hands on in the months before I started this blog. I may be plunging into that archive a few times before this year is over. One particular thing that stuck out to me is a strange little game, developed independently by Necrophone Games and published to Steam by none other than the video game division of experimental comedy network [adult swim]. Welcome to the world of Jazzpunk.

Where do I even begin with this one? Well, the story (nonsensical as it is,) places you in the role of Polyblank, a secret agent running espionage missions in an alternate-reality Cold War era. But don’t be fooled. This is a absurdist comedy, first and foremost. You’ll be asked to perform completely insane tasks to achieve slightly less insane results.

Need to get into a room? Go collect a bunch of spiders in a jar and let them loose on the guard. Need to fool a security camera? Go the copy-machine, take a picture of your butt and show it to the camera. Get the idea?


As you do these strange things, everything happening around you becomes even stranger. Suddenly, your boss’s office is becoming flooded with water and octopuses. Now you’re standing in a creepy land made of pizza. It’s best to just go with the flow.

Actually, the best thing to do (in my opinion,) is to follow the story straight through on your first go. Then, after the end credits have finished, play again and go as far off the beaten-path as possible to see what else you can do. There’s pigeons to smuggle, frogs-with-Mohawks to escort and references to other video games to find.


Both playthroughs will only take you a couple of hours, but I think it’s worth the price of admission, anyway. It’s really funny and I don’t think you’re going to find a game with this sort of look and feel anywhere else. What else can I say? Jazzpunk is a game where you’re thrown into a weird little world and asked to go see what you can make happen. If that sounds like fun to you, then hop on board!

You can find Jazzpunk on Steam here.

Spooky Things: “The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter”


Let me get this out of the way before I talk about what game I recommend for this October; I do not do jump scares. At all. I don’t enjoy horror movies, I don’t play many horror games and you can forget about convincing me to go into a haunted house attraction. I can, however, enjoy dark, supernatural stories with creepy atmospheres. And that’s why, today, I’m talking about the recently released indie game, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.

Developed by the independent Polish studio, The AstronautsEthan Carter places you in the shoes of Paul Prospero, a detective with the ability to sense paranormal activity. Through his eyes, you investigate the town of Red Creek Valley to find the titular child, who requested your help before, well, vanishing. Along the way, you’ll solve puzzles, gather clues and communicate with the dead, as you come to find out more and more of a dark, ancient force corrupting the town.


It’s telling that, upon starting a new game, the first things that show up on screen are the words, “This game is a narrative experience that does not hold your hand”. True to it’s word, you start out wandering in the forest with very little instruction. It may take you half-an-hour or so to formulate a game plan, but once you start accomplishing something, it all clicks into place.


The biggest selling point for this game is the atmosphere. Ethan Carter is one of the most aesthetically beautiful games I’ve ever played. Nearly every second of gameplay would be worth photographing. More impressive is that the entire world of the game can be traveled without a single loading screen ever popping up. The game doesn’t forget where the roots of it’s story are, though. This idealistic country-side town is made all the more eerie with the supernatural, occult-centered events.

So as much as I’ve been raving about the game up to this point, it may surprise you to know that I haven’t beaten it, yet. Why, you ask? Well, let’s go back to the start. I don’t handle jump scares very well, and, despite the lack of indication anywhere that there would be some, there are some.

The section of the game I’m talking about is a side maze in the mines. It looks like something you can skip, but you come to find out that you cannot complete the game without completing all of the side activities. So my game abruptly ends there. It would be nice if The Astronauts could patch in some kind of work-around option for the more squeamish, because I know I’m not the only one.

However, if that’s not an issue to you, than I highly recommend this game. It’s beautifully atmospheric, the puzzles are creative, the crime scenes are fun to solve and the story is intriguing right up to the end. It’s an enormously impressive debut effort from The Astronauts and I’m very interested in where this new studio goes from here.

You can check out The Vanishing of Ethan Carter on Steam by following this link.