Something to Play: “SpeedRunners”

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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.

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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: “Cloud Chamber”

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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.