Develop Brighton Indie Showcase – Bumper Preview Bonanza Part One Ben Meredith July 11, 2014 Features, Previews Develop Brighton is mainly a vehicle for lectures and talks from industry experts and developers, but each year there is a small expo during which they hold the Indie Showcase competition. The ten finalists are given a booth in the middle of the expo and guests are able to play them all. Given that we’re a website that covers indie games, I live up the road and (most importantly) entry to the expo is free, I thought I’d pop along and give them all a try. These will very much be first impression and my knee jerk reaction to the games, since I only got to spend about ten minutes with each so this might not be the best place to look for in-depth analyses of each game. Now, in no particular order, I present the first five, with the second lot to follow tomorrow. Rush Rally – Brownmonster It’s a rally game available on Android, and many of those mobile racing games are terrible. However, this one is actually good. The main difference from other racing games on mobile platforms is the attention to physics and realistic movement of the cars on different terrain. I was playing using digital controls and it actually felt like I was directing a car with weight and momentum and all that fancy jazz, as opposed to sliding a car shaped box along a surface of digitanium. It’s free to play but limits your – each attempt (even if it’s successful) costs a life, which then takes half an hour to return, and free players have 5 lives. You can buy unlimited lives for £2.99 – or as I like to call it, buying the game instead of a bloody extensive demo. There are 36 levels across 6 different locations and ultimately… I can think of worse ways to spend three quid. 4PM – 4PM Game This one was perhaps the wobbliest of the games that I saw. I don’t mean it’s bad by any means, but it might suffer from the small amount of time I had to play it. You play as Caroline, an alcoholic, and after waking up with an awful hangover you realise you’re late for work. The game then leads you through the day until the eponymous 4 p.m. What I got to play was a flashback to the previous night in which I struggled to vomit into a toilet. The writing’s actually not too bad, and the voice acting seemed rather decent too. The sound design is particularly nice, the club sounded authentically clubby – which meant it was really awful, but in a very true-to-life way. Unfortunately the animation wasn’t great and it all came off a bit weird and stilted as mouths morphed and models flailed. I understand that it’s really really difficult (and rather expensive) to do properly, but then why have a story which relies on so much face to face interaction. I respect the vision, but worry about how the implementation will affect the impact of the drama as a whole. Robocraft – Freejam Have you ever been playing World of Tanks and thought “Well gee, tanks are good an all, but all this one gun and efficient rectangular design malarky sure does get samey. If only there were this game but with CUSTOMISABLE ROBOTS”? If so, then this is the game for you. Like the title would suggest you craft robots and fight them in team battles, with deathmatch or base capture objectives. Opponents are tiered so you won’t end up fighting a Baneblade with your boxcar and the whole thing works on a free to play model, hence the World of Tanks comparison. You can choose to pay real money for instant blocks (which can be earned through play), cosmetic upgrades (which cannot) and a premium account (which slightly increases the in-game money you earn as well as granting early access to any new blocks which are released). (parentheses). At the moment you can only (only?) fly, hover and trundle, although the devs told me that the many-spidery-legs mode of transport is going to be implemented. Bipedal movement and actual tank tracks are also definitely on their intended development lists – so yes, you should eventually be able to build Transformers and mechs. Myriad – Bifrost Entertainment This one is potentially the most interesting of the bunch, mainly because I felt the same sort of playfulness that I got off of The Floor is Jelly. It’s sort of difficult to describe but I’ll give it a go: A top down shooter in which everything reacts to your actions. The levels are created by the remains of the enemies you kill, exploding to create circles of substance amongst the void. You can move these around as you wish in order to dodge and move, as your shooty blob (it’s a blob that shoots, sue me) gravitates towards the circles of something when you manage to catapult yourself into the nothing… like I said, it’s difficult to describe. Visually the game is overwhelming: colours, shapes and things are everywhere all the time, mixing to create tapestries of chaos. Music will also build up around your actions, but hadn’t been implemented in the build I was playing. The game will also allow you to record and stream everything, allowing you to share your games or rewind if you break a flow. The dev described it in terms of remixing music, I’m not sure precisely what that’ll entail but I’m certainly intrigued. You can tell I’m really interested in a game when I wax all lyrical about… also the dev described the enemies as “those bastards” while I was playing, which will always endear me to a game. Darklings – MildMania Another mobile game, and again, another mobile game that mixes it up slightly. It’s a you-defense game where you have to fend off monsters by tracing symbols on the touch screen. Hooray for games which make use of their medium instead of poorly copying the control schemes of others! The game’s been out for a while and is iOS exclusive, although Season 2, which will be out soon, will be available on iOS, Android and Windows phone. The devs are also hoping (and I stress that no-one confirmed anything so that I’m not killed by angry publicists) that the game will come to PS Vita and Wii U, because goodness knows the Wii U needs some games which make proper use of the gamepad. The game itself is pretty damn fun, you need to time your kills to create combos, as combos make more stars and stars extend your time. During my brief time playing I wasn’t very good, but I got the impression that Darklings is the sort of game which makes you feel like the god of video games when you get your flow on. 9 squiggly lines out of 10.