How SYNTHETIK Makes Meaningful Changes To The Roguelite Shooter Formula

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SYNTHETIK is a roguelite arcade shooter with randomized levels and fast-paced gameplay. These kinds of games feel awfully familiar by now. And yet, this one manages to stand out thanks to a couple of small design changes that have a big impact on how the game feels.

First, there's weapon handling. When you empty your clip, you don't just hit a key to reload. You hit another key to toss away your magazine and then you load your weapon again. This feels completely unnecessary at first, but it adds additional tension to the firefights and shakes up the whole feel, the rhythm of confrontations. This small extra step leads to a more deliberate sense of weapon handling, and it makes a huge difference.

Accuracy is another element that's handled quite differently. Mousing over your enemies changes the size of your reticle (and thus your chance to hit the target), depending on factors such as distance, weapon range, and movement. Simply firing a few rounds in their general direction doesn't do you much good. Positioning and timing are actually important! Pulling off a well-aimed headshot feels good. Even more so when you're being swarmed by enemies and are forced to constantly move around.

The Way Of Life Shines Light On Each Stage Of Life

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The Way Of Life highlights moments from childhood, adulthood, and old age, examining moments of existence from perspectives of characters at each of these ages. These times come with happiness and sadness in this emotionally-driven game, and players will be forced to make life-altering decisions that, ultimately, choose each of these three lives will lead.

The Way Of Life stars three characters at different points in life: a child, an adult, and an old man. The developers have pushed to make players feel 'their age' by adding certain design mechanics to drive it home. For example, when you're a child you have much greater range of movement and colors are bright. Life is exciting, of course! Compare that to adulthood, where the world seems a bit bleaker and apathetic, and the world doesn't seem as big as it used to.

With each moment in life comes choices for these three protagonists, with the end results dictating how your life unravels. These decisions won't be easy, either, exploring subjects from bullying to euthanasia. The Way Of Life doesn't turn its head from these dark tones, but merely contrasts them with the joys of life, like love and growth.

Football Game Promises An Unsettling Night For A Local High School Football Hero

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Football Game is an adventure game about a strange, discomforting night for Tommy, a high school football star who finds himself at the center of some dark events.

Football Game quickly weaves a bleak, unsettling atmosphere with its colors and visions of a dark world, as well as its choice of unsettling music. Tommy's life may seem quite normal at first, but this game works quickly to make the player feel unsafe here long before things start to go awry.

Football Game is an experience best gone into blind, but if you have interest in twisted, Lynch-ian narratives and have an hour free, you probably won't regret it.

The Long Reach Lets You Walk Among Your Dreams And Nightmares

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Science does a lot of good for humanity. Unfortunately, sometimes experiments can have some hiccups, like, say, having nightmares manifest themselves when you're awake. Adventure game The Long Reach revolves around a protagonist whose dreams and nightmares appear during the day, threatening his sanity with some grotesque imagery and heart-pumping chases.

In the town of Baervox, all hell breaks loose - or at least it looks like it. An experiment gone wrong has hallucinations feeling like reality, whether it be a happy dream or blood-curdling nightmare. It seems to be more the latter, and with enough time enduring this disease, the protagonist, Calvin, just may lose his mind. You'll be in charge of solving the puzzles he comes across or running from them, choosing how to safely deal with his unsettling fate. Players can also take a break and chat with other characters to try to gather important information or just appreciate the comradery in the collective nightmare.

Inspired by games like Lone Survivor and The Cave, The Long Reach features long, eerie side-scrolling that make you just want to stop short of discovering what lurks in the depths. Pair terror with some witty writing and you'll find yourself nervously laughing, all while wondering what travesty awaits you to balance it all out.

Hey, Friendo. Paratopic Is An Eerie Fever Dream Worth Having

about X hours ago from
Hey, Friendo. Paratopic Is An Eerie Fever Dream Worth Having

There is an air of wrongness to Paratopic, a feeling that reality is just a thin layer and there's something underneath, wriggling, trying to break through. And sometimes it does.

This eerie fever dream of a game follows an assassin preparing for her kill, a man smuggling contraband VHS tapes over the border, and a young girl who finds the rusted remnants of illicit industry deep in a dark forest. It's also full of "weirdness, gore, and body horror."

Featuring a glitchy, unsettling PSX aesthetic (which is quite gorgeous, really) and BeauChaotica's appropriately atmospheric soundtrack, this one stays in your mind long after that hour or so you spent with it. Seriously, the less said about it, the better. Paratopic needs to be experienced.

Ghost Of A Tale Serves Up A Big, Stealthy Adventure To A Tiny Hero

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In Ghost Of A Tale, you'll be in control of Tilo, a mouse minstrel, on a quest to find their true love, Merra. As such a tiny rodent, your defences are lacking against predators, but your cunning mind and soft, quiet feet will help you sneak past an otherwise untimely encounter with the large lethal creatures who mean to end your journey through a medieval world that's run by animals.

Ghost Of A Tale doesn't shy away from putting players in a seemingly defenceless position as a mouse minstrel - your enemies will not be swayed by your sweet symphonies. Using the environment and your petite stature, you can sneak around your enemy's senses. If that option doesn't seem to be working out, you can try luring your enemy into a trap, slamming the door right in their face as they try to pursue you. Between stealth, disguises, and a little help from the animal allies you meet, you should keep the minstrel safe to play his tunes another day.

Overflowing with highly detailed areas, whether in tight castle corridors or large, sunlit fields, Ghost Of A Tale urges players to delve deep into the world, searching every nook and cranny for new friends and new, striking vistas. Using the information you find from the environment and pairing it with the chats you have with other animal-folk, you just may be able to find your true love!

Take A Serene Black & White Flight With Bird Game

about X hours ago from

Bird Game offers a calming flight through pretty black and white woods, having players swoop among the insects and flowers along their way.

Not that it is ALWAYS calming, though. Being a very tiny bird comes with a few challenges, after all.

Players will guide a bird through woodland areas throughout Bird Game. Most of these will have insects and other creatures flitting around or getting in the way, creating many opportunities for the poor bird to bump into someone and mess up its flight. Not only are those creatures causing trouble, but the plants and logs that dot the environment sometimes start moving around or getting in the way, turning a relaxing flight into a more white-knuckle journey. The game CAN be calming, but it also offers a challenging experience for those who don't want their time as a bird to be too easy.

Pipe Push Paradise Turns Plumbing Into A Challenging Puzzle Adventure

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As Mario might attest, it's not easy being a video game plumber. But at least he only has to jump over pipes. In Pipe Push Paradise, you need to...push pipes across a mysterious island, where limited space and odd pipe shapes craft brain-breaking spatial challenges from seemingly simple mechanics.

On an isolated island, local piping is in disarray and it's up to you to repair them and learn about the island's inhabitants along the way. "Repairing them" here means pushing pipes around through Sokoban-style puzzles that feel reminiscent of Stephen's Sausage Roll, in how pipes rotate in space when moved from certain directions. Maneuvering pipes within the tight confines of the game's stage can be a challenge in its own right, but needing to consider orientation and connecting pipes correctly adds other layers to consider. that difficulty only increases as more mechanics such as 3D space and switches are introduced; that colorful aesthetic belies a fiendishly tricky design. Thankfully, a step-by-step undo encourages experimentation rather than frustration.

Science Fiction Meets High Fantasy In Azure Saga: Pathfinder

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Spacefaring scientist Synch crash lands on an unknown planet with his robot companion Noide. Things are taking an interesting turn when they are drawn into a war - featuring swords and sorcery. Fantasy and Science Fiction don't always mix that well, but Azure Saga: Pathfinder seems to make this work just fine.

Mechanically, Azure Saga: Pathfinder feels rather old-school: it has all the turn-based JRPG fights, tropes, and it even has a fishing mini-game. There are no elaborate skill trees or a bazillion equipment slots for your characters - things are kept simple instead, making this an ideal game for players new to the genre. Nevertheless, this is a solid little game with an interesting story. It is also awfully pretty!

You can purchase Azure Saga: Pathfinder from Steam for $12.99. For more information, visit the game's website or follow developer MassHive Media on Facebook or Twitter.

Survive Low-Poly Tsunamis In Hectic Arcade FPS Swarmlake

about X hours ago from

The horde of enemies have always been a staple of the arcade and dual stick shooter, not just for the tense retreat to survive but for the satisfying rush of obliterating such an overwhelming threat with your superior skills. But in Swarmlake, overcoming the horde, the tidal wave of danger, isn't an option. All you can do is survive longer and beat your high scores as the low-poly flood washes over your shotgun-wielding avatar.

First glances may bring to mind the hellish arena and swarms of Devil Daggers, but play Swarmlake and the game reveals itself to be its own beast. If Devil Daggers offered desperate breathless survival against nightmarish odds, Swarmlake is something more calming and graceful, as you rocket-jump over the waves to outmaneuver and reposition before landing to collect your point shards and continue the dance of evasion. That dance and wave surfing is Swarmlake's distilled gameplay loop; no other modes to master, no other weapons, just you versus the endless crush of low-poly foes, beat your high score.