Let’s talk about … – Skara, multiplayer hack ‘em up, going F2P

Skara: The Blade Remains is a multiplayer hack ‘em up currently in Early Access on Steam. Released back in October 2014, the title was received to ‘Mixed’ reviews, and is now preparing to move to a completely F2P model.

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Sales of Early Access on Steam will close by September 30th, moving Skara to a new, invite-only model until early 2016 when it moves completely to a F2P model. 8-Bit, the studio behind the title, have assured players that have bought into Early Access that they will continue to be able to play the game. This also extends to people who supported the game on Kickstarter and Greenlight.

“Of course, anyone who already owns Skara will get to keep playing it!” commented Pablo Rodriguez, Skara’s Creative Director. “We wanted to make sure ‘limited edition’ actually means something: Exclusive access to the game’s development while we finish testing, the rewards we detailed in the packages, and eventually their money back in virtual currency upon the game’s full F2P release.”

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8-Bit keep pushing with content updates as it nears it’s new, free model, and have this week released a new build featuring a tutorial, new combat features, refined UI and a player ranking system. A list of full features in the 0.5.4 version is as follows:

  • A new playable tutorial (including a new environment: The Khilma dungeons).
  • Power up items in the arenas (specifically health power ups and damage buffs).
  • Try all three characters without leveling up! This is something a lot of our users requested and we were very happy to change.
  • Class skills are now attached to different buttons (Q&E on the keyboard, X and Y on Xbox controller)
  • The Melee combat is faster now, the Hit stun is reduced. Also the free target mode has been modified to allow characters to dodge without losing focus on the target.
  • Rankings! Who will be the best? Find it in the War Log in the UI.
  • We also changed the Duel Game conditions to make it feel more like a Versus fighting game.
  • We’ve worked on the animations for all characters to make them more realistic and more spectacular. Characters should blend to sprint mode now and a lot of other features: Check them out!
  • New in-game HUD: Now you can check your enemy’s shield meter as well as the skills they’ve equipped. There’s also a new effort meter when sprinting.
  • Bug and crash fixing to make the game more stable. Please as usual send us feedback if something isn’t working by either writing in the forums, sending us an email, or filling out a bug report.

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If you’re interested in playing Skara you can sign up for an invite to the new build here. Either that, or wait until it releases as F2P early next year! If you just can’t wait, the Early Access build of Skara is still available on Steam.

Here’s the trailer for the latest version!

Indie Showcase … – CaesarIA

CaesarIA is an open-source remake of the strategy classic Caesar3. After making its way through Greenlight, the title is now on Steam in Early Access and is looking to develop a more substantial following as it moves towards a full release. Promising all the greatness of Caesar3 and more, it’s certainly worth a look.

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Community projects like this are fantastic. The game is open-source, and is available freely through Steam, so development is driven purely by a passion for the genre. There is no need to make money, so the entire focus on making the best game possible. According to the Steam page:

‘CaesarIA is a remake of an old-school economic strategy game, Caesar III which is a masterpiece among the games of this genre in our opinion.’

Current game features include:

  • Upload of the map from the original Caesar III game;
  • Construction\demolition of buildings and edifices;
  • Migration of population;
  • Farming and product distribution;
  • Entertainment, healthcare, religion, education;
  • Empire trade network with computer towns;
  • Extraction of raw materials and manufacturing;
  • Prefects, engineers, apprentices, soldiers, etc.;
  • Advisers;
  • Dynamic town modelling;
  • Changing the level of the houses according to the environment;
  • Healthcare and water facilities;
  • Military buildings.

Here is the Steam trailer so you can check it out yourself.

 

I must say, looking at the Steam page the game is currently sitting on Mixed review status with 65% positive reviews. I think this is a bit unfair. The biggest complaint seems to be the lack of content, but given it’s an open-source community project, and is free, I think more patience is needed. You only have to look at something like OpenTTD to see what community projects can bring off the back of classics. Give it time.

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If strategy games are your thing then it’s certainly worth checking out on Steam. Hell, it’s free, so there’s nothing to lose. The team are also always looking for people to contribute to the project, so if you’re a talented artist or programmers etc. then visit their website for more information.

Let’s talk about … – Sonic gets a free app to celebrate birthday!

For those unaware, as I was, Sonic was first seen June 23rd back in 1991! To celebrate, the renowned Sonic Team have created a 2D side-scrolling infinite runner, Sonic Runners,  that will be releasing 25th June for IOS and Android. Best of all, it’s free!

The game will see Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles racing across endless worlds, collecting coins and gems whilst avoiding enemies from all directions. The environments look great, and are a throwback to the SEGA Mega Drive generation.

Sonic Runners was first released in Japan back in February, and from June 25th will be available worldwide* for both IOS and Android devices. A nice gesture from the Sonic Team to celebrate its 24th birthday!

*excluding China and Panama

Let’s take a look at … – Dirty Bomb (Beta)

We covered Dirty Bomb last week as the title prepared to transition from closed to open Beta. Well, the game is now openly available through Steam, so here are our thoughts on what we’ve played so far.

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In-case you missed our last article, Dirty Bomb is a FREE-to-play FPS from Splash Damage. With a heavy emphasis on fast, team-based combat, it’s all or nothing. The game starts with a clear and concise tutorial, covering not only the basics of a first person shooter, but also a quick guide to class specialties and skills such as the medic (Aura) being able to throw down healing stations and quick-revive fallen comrades. Right from the tutorial you can see the production value of the game. It’s so well done, with a witty narrator introducing you to the game.

Once you’re into the game you have the possibility to land in a variety of environments ranging from the classic Underground tube stations to the Aged Chapel, each with their own objectives. My favourite initial map had to be “Bridge” in which your objective when attacking is to repair your mobile vehicle (EV) and escort it to the completion zone. I loved the map’s mix of open areas for sniping, and tight alleys with their sharp corners for the more close-combat mercenaries such as the medic that utilises the shotgun and fast heals to capitalize on the funnel-like corridors.

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The game consists of multiple classes known as mercenaries and it’s up to you which you choose to play with. As a new player you’ll have a few standard mercs unlocked, with the others requiring unlocking either through in-game currency or cash; the same system that MOBAs tend to use. At the time of writing each merc costs £7.99 or 50k in-game credits, or you can wait until that merc is in free-rotation to try it out for a limited time. Before each match you’re able to choose 3 to take into battle, and each time you respawn you have the opportunity to change between them, allowing you to respond to battle situations as they arise. Each has their own weapons, perks and loadouts, which are also handled in a unique way.

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Loadouts in Dirt Bomb are handled through a card system. It’s really rather nice. Through playing games you unlock in-game currency which can be either spent on mercs or equipment cases. From each case you’ll receive a random loadout card for one of the mercs. This is how you get gear, and the cards come in a range of qualities, ranging from iron (a basic card) to cobalt (an epic card). You don’t unlock weapons, sidearms, and special equipment separately, then build a class, you unlock an entire loadout in a single card! Inevitably you end up with duplicate cards, so you can use them to ‘trade up’ to a card you want. It’s akin to the crafting system in Hearthstone; you use the value of existing cards to create others. So say you want a cobalt loadout for the sniper class, but don’t want to open a boatload of cases to get it. Well you can craft one providing you have enough cards of the right rarity. This is cross-class also, so you could dump all your cards for a certain merc you don’t play to create an epic loadout for one you do!

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The developers and trailers all boast that the game is reliant on teamwork, as most FPS titles do, and this is a vital component to Dirty Bomb. Whilst I was able to rush round saving my fellow mercenaries with my speedy revives, when it came to drawn out standoffs with the opposing team I found myself relying heavily on my teammates generosity and their ability to deploy ammo packs as I rapidly fired through my few shotgun pellets and found myself backed into the corner desperately trying to defend objectives with solely my pistol and knife. Whilst this initially seems limiting, it does force team co-operation which led to some intense gameplay as teams set up stations with healers and ammo focused players as they progressed to their objectives. If you don’t play as a team you’re going to lose.

There are currently 2 gamemodes available: Objective and Stopwatch. In objective the goal is to either complete the level objectives, or stop the opposing team from completing them. Each map has different objectives, it isn’t a simple capture the flag deal, so there’s lots of fun and variance in gameplay to be had between maps. The other mode, Stopwatch, is a race to complete the level objectives as fast as you can, then stop the other team beating your time.

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The standout factor of Dirty Bomb for me is the speed of combat. As soon as game starts teams pile forward relentlessly towards one another. This relentless back and forth continues throughout the game, and since it doesn’t take much to down you, sticking with your team is vital. If you do try to be a hero … well that won’t happen. You’ll run into a group of the opposition and you’ll be dead before you’ve even thought about shooting. It’s fast-paced, relentless team combat just as they promise.

The game’s art style and models are similar to that of titles such as Warface and Loadout with a detailed cartoonist art style, allowing for immersive gameplay without too much direct realism. Whilst there where minor texture issues, the game was in closed beta during my game time, I found the overall graphics to be fitting for the game style and pleasing to the eye, with the TF2 like animations such as the healing bay and ammo pickups. There is also a good range of options for player to alter their settings allowing those with non-high end rigs to enjoy the title.

The audio for the titles is enjoyable and solid as the rest of the game. In-game sounds are fitting and what you’d expect in any form of shooter, with a clear instructional voice describing the objective on each level.

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Overall, after clocking a few hours on the title and ranking up to level 5, I think that Dirty Bomb is a fun and enjoyable F2P game which I can see myself spending around three to four hours on per session, especially if playing with friends as I would want to try and incorporate a full team skill set into some matches. The game feels incredibly solid and polished with an already impressive set of maps and loadouts and will only get better. If you’re into your shooters then this is a must-play.

Check out Dirty Bomb for yourself on Steam http://store.steampowered.com/app/333930/ or on the official site Nexon Site http://dirtybomb.nexon.net/, be sure to let us know what your thoughts are on the title via our comments section below or via social networks!

Tl:dr – Dirty Bomb is a FREE-to-play fast-paced shooter with a heavy emphasis on teamwork. With a unique approach to characters and loadouts, it feels fresh, and although in beta is a very much a solid and high quality game. It will only improve, so if you’re a fan of the genre it’s a must-have.

Rating – 9/10

Purchase – Steam FREE

Trailer –

Let’s talk about … – Dirty Bomb enters open beta June 2nd

If you’ve not heard of Dirty Bomb yet let me introduce you. Dirty Bomb is a free-to-play team-based shooter from Splash Damage, the team that brought us the likes of Brink and more recently Batman: Arkham Origins. It’s been in closed beta for a while, and starting June 2nd it transitions to open beta so everyone can now get in on the action.

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The action-packed objective-based FPS sees you controlling a mercenary, fighting in a whole range of battles in the post-apocalyptic city of London. With the moto “What’s a little radiation sickness when there’s money to be made?” the player fights through a variety of environments to complete objectives and gain experience and credits. These credits can be used to purchase “Cases” containing a random class load out with the potential reward rarity ranging from lead to gold.

Combat is fast is relentless; if you turn it down a notch you’ll have your ass handed to you before you know what’s hit you. With the focus on team objectives, you can’t hold off. You’re either on the front lines, fighting toe-to-toe with your team and the enemy, or you’re going to lose. Simple as that. We’ve had lots of fun with the title so far, and are pretty confident you will too if you’re a fan of the genre.

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Although still in Beta the polish of Dirt Bomb is awesome. When you first load the game there is a very well presented, and funny, introduction to game, followed by an optional tutorial. Once complete, or skipped, you’re ready to jump into the multiple game-modes and maps that are included in the beta. If you’re a fan of shooters, especially objective based ones, Dirty Bomb should be at the top of your ‘To Play’ list. When the game launches into full open beta next week we’ll be back with a full review, but for now we’ll leave you with a video the takes a close look at the title. Make sure to check the Steam page from June 2nd to get in on the open beta.

Let’s take a look at … – Aperion Origins

Aperion Origins is a free twin-stick space shooter from the guys over at aPriori Digital. It’s fast paced, neon, high score based goodness and is certainly worth a download. Let’s take a look.

Right off the bat Aperion Origins feels fast and arcade-like. The main menu sees you flying through a star field, the music is upbeat techno and the graphics are very bright with neon colours. It all works really well.

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One thing I always check in apps is the settings. With mobile apps, I mostly only see things like Volume checkboxes so don’t comment on them, but Aperion Origins has loads of settings! You can change the sensitive of the controls, control type, thumb stick type, HUD visibility and more. It’s great that there’s that level of customization available and everyone will be able to set the game up to best suit them.

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Moving onto gameplay, Aperion Origins is all about fast paced explosions, high scores and combos. Fight spaceships, get gems, rank up, upgrade your ship, upgrade your powerups and rinse and repeat. The more powerful your ship becomes, the more carnage you can do which stops it getting stale; it just gets more awesome! Each time I died, I never felt like putting it down, I just wanted to get right back to the action.

There’s four ships in total to unlock each with different stats. They take quite a few gems to unlock so I only have the first! There’s also 12 powerups that you can unlock and upgrade depending on your rank and the number of gems you have. After choosing your ship, and spending the gems you have on upgrades, you choose what arena you want to fight in.

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There’s 8 in the free game and 16 more that can be purchased with micro-transactions. I’m not a fan of micro-transactions in games, but given the game is awesome and free I’m fine with that. There’s gems that you can purchase which I’ll be avoiding as I don’t like to pay to win, but Aperion Origins might just be the first app that I purchase micro-transactions from as I want the other arenas!

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The final step before battle is choosing your difficulty. There are 4 in total to choose from for each arena; ‘Easy’, ‘Normal’, ‘Hard’ and ‘????’. As you can tell I haven’t unlocked the final difficulty yet, but since I often die on Normal I’m already terrified of it!

It’s time to battle. The gameplay of Aperion Origins is simple; Kill everything, don’t die and collect powerups to help you. The controls utilize twin-stick movement, so you use the left side of your screen to move, and the right to aim and fire. For the most part this works great, but I have one small gripe. The movement controls could be sharper. The game is very fast-paced, and you’ll often find yourself cornered but you can’t for example swap direction immediately. The ship will instead move on a smooth arc, which looks and feels great, but I feel it sacrifices responsiveness to achieve that.

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The graphics are one of my main reasons for loving Aperion Origins. Everything has an old-school neon aesthetic, so when you have loads of enemies chasing you, explosions everywhere and gems flying around it looks great. My main critique of the game lies here however, and that’s the general polish of the game. There’s quite a few places where text isn’t centred correctly, is the wrong size, overlaps etc. and I just think it could have had more time spent on it and tidied up. I’m sure this won’t bother most players, but it caught my eye as something that could be improved.

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Given my only critiques of the game are that I think the polish could be improved and the controls could be sharper, you can tell that I’m pretty fond of it. It will be staying on my iPad for sure, and I keep finding myself picking it up and playing a few rounds whenever I want a quick break. For a free app it’s really good, it would certainly be justified to be a paid game, so I do recommend picking it up and giving it a go.

As we always rate game out of 10 at Indie Gamers, so I’m going to give Aperion Origins a 9. It’s rated 5/5 stars on the Play Store and iTunes, and the only reason I haven’t give it a 10 is for the lack of polish in places. Awesome free app, so if you have an android or IOS device you should certainly give it a download. The links to do so are below.

Play now on IOS

Play now on Android