Obviously a cool part of this job is nabbing review copies of my favorite AAA games and a variety of different electronic gadgets, but a pleasant side effect is the different indie titles that I get to check out on almost a weekly basis.
Today we bring you a couple of upcoming indie titles, starting with the quirky, yet incredibly dark and violent side scrolling brawler, Dusty Revenge.
Yes, Dusty Revenge is about a bunny, a bear, and a dog; no it is not warm, fuzzy, and cuddly. The art style and overall tone of the game reminds me of a lovechild between the movie Rango and the game Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath. It presents a heavily stylized western/steampunk atmosphere that does not shy away from the blood and guts of a much more mature game than you might expect.
Dusty Revenge is a revenge thriller, plain and simple. You begin as Dusty, the killer bunny who is out for revenge after the love of his life is killed. Dusty isn’t playing around, he’s out to kill as he comes packed with a shotgun, dual pistols, a scythe, and of course, his trusty fists. Accompanying Dusty are Rondel (heavy weapons) and McCoy (sharpshooter). These allies can be called upon to lend a hand when the situation calls for it, and can also be combined to unleash some devastating pain on the enemy.
The game isn’t terribly long as you can blow through the nine levels fairly quickly, but there are some tricks employed to make the game seem longer….and not always to the benefit of the game.
First off, something you’ll notice right away; the enemies take a LONG time to kill. Nearly every enemy requires furious pounding of the attack buttons, and usually you will kill one after you’ve landed something like a 48 hit combo. Toss in the fact that you never face anything less than a group of 3 enemies, and you have our work cut out for you. It’s not a terrible thing, but after a while I became very aware of the fact that I was just button mashing…and the enemies weren’t going anywhere.
To add to that, the levels tend to be pretty long as well. While there are a liberal amount of checkpoints scattered about, it seemed like each level just dragged on and on. Perhaps it’s just me; I mean, it’s not like the levels are bland or anything. They’re nicely realized and I like the art style a lot; there’s just something right around the halfway point of each level where I felt that things had gone on for too long.
Given the fact that this game is not finished yet, there are some issues to be expected. The biggest one I ran into was in the controls. Being a side scrolling platformer/brawler, I of course chose my PC Xbox 360 gamepad. After all, there’s nothing worse than playing a platformer with a mouse and keyboard, right? Shouldn’t a game like this be optimized for the gamepad?
As it stands, there’s a bit of lag in the controls. For the most part, controls are fairly smooth, but I kept feeling like I was constantly waiting for a reaction. Turning from side to side to attack enemies was a chore because half the time, Dusty wouldn’t even respond to the input. Attacking with the face buttons worked fine, but the platforming sections were somewhat infuriating as well due to the delay in inputs. Again, this game isn’t finished yet and I suspect these issues to be ironed out as we get closer to release.
Dusty Revenge is a fun brawler/platformer where once the bugs are ironed out, could end up being a fast and furious experience. It has a fun premise and you will not find yourself wishing for any action; it’s right there in your face. You can check out its Steam Greenlight page here.
The next game I want to spotlight is Assault Android Cactus, a top-down twin stick shooter that actually has a few gameplay elements that remind me of classic space shooters like R-Type and Ikaruga. At first the game might remind you of something like Tiny Troopers with robots, but as soon as you jump into the tutorial, it’s clear that there’s a lot more to this game than just swiveling the analog sticks around and blasting away.
As soon as you jump into the thick of things and are blasting away, avoiding enemy fire, running around the room, collecting powerups, and adding additional guns to your android, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say it reminds me of Ikaruga. In Assault Android Cactus, you choose between four androids; Cactus, Holly, Lemon, and Coral. As expected, each of these ladies has their own strengths and weaknesses, and depending on your preferred gameplay style, I’m sure you’ll gravitate toward one of them right off the bat.
I stuck with Cactus, since her flamethrower saved my skin on more than one occasion when I was completely surrounded by the enemy. Other specialty weapons include homing missiles by Holly, rocket launchers by Lemon, and a Plasma Ball by Coral, which will push back enemies while providing cover.
Folks, this game is hard. It’s a throwback to the arcade experience where a quarter got you a few minutes of blisteringly difficult gameplay. While this game will never be confused with something like Dark Souls in terms of depth to its difficulty, it will make you scream at your monitor on more than one occasion.
“Screw using your brain,” says the developer Witch Beam, “We’re going to push your fast twitch reflexes to the max.” At least that’s what I THINK was going through their minds, as AAC throws countless enemies at you, always seemingly more than you can handle. However, you’ll eventually end up at the end of the level, wondering how you survived the last wave of enemies, since the ratio of enemies to you was something like 400 to 1.
With that being said, even though AAC is tons of fun as a single player game, the fun really opens up when you add in local co-op, another throwback to the arcade days. Obviously adding a buddy gives you some much needed backup, and the game thrives with a few friends tearing around a level blowing up endless hordes of enemies.
Assault Android Cactus is currently also on Steam Greenlight, which you can check out here.