Gunpoint

Gunpoint is a stealth-based, action platformer developed by Suspicious Developments. The game originally released in June of 2013, and went on to become one of my favorite games released that year. The clever level layouts made it more rewarding to experiment with the game’s gadgets and systems, than it would have been to just simply shoot my way through each level…though that too is a possibility.

The trailer does a great job showing off the various mechanics in play. If you’re having trouble following along, one of the spy’s gadgets allows him to rewire electronics to interact with other electronics. So you can connect a light switch to a nearby automatic door; when a guard goes to turn on the light, the door will trigger and swing open, knocking the guard out. Anything in the building can be rewired, so there are plenty of possibilities to play around with.

Gunpoint is available for PC and Mac, on Steam.

[Gunpoint Official Website]

Dungeons of Dredmor

Dungeons of Dredmor is a turn-based roguelike that was developed and published by Gaslamp Games, Inc.

The developers currently sell Dungeons of Dredmor for $4.99 for the base game, and $6.99 for the complete collection which includes the two additional DLC packs (which regularly cost $2.99 each). The “You Have To Name The Expansion Pack” is a free bit of DLC that adds in additional items, enemies, rooms, and skills.

Steam Workshop support allows players to further customize their Dungeons of Dremor experience with fan-made mods. One in particular that caught my eye is the Wrestlemancy mod that adds in a skill tree themed after a professional wrestler.

Dungeons of Dredmore was PC Gamer’s US Indie Game of the Year for 2011.

[Dungeons of Dredmor on Steam]

Deadlight

Released in 2012 on PC and Xbox 360, Deadlight obtained acclaim for presenting a cinematic experience in the form of a side-scrolling platformer. Deadlight’s developer, Tequila Works, would go on to develop WonderWorlds, The Sexy Brutale, The Invisible Hours, and Rime.

Of Tequila Works’s games, Deadlight stands apart as the grimmest, by far.

From IGN’s review of Deadlight: “Deadlight lacks neither style nor substance, and it lasts just about the perfect amount of time. The story is minimal but engaging, and the ending is unexpected — in a good way. A couple of sections stumble a bit, but not enough to detract from what is an engaging, memorable experience.”

Deadlight: Director’s Cut was later released for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Published by Deep Silver, the Director’s Cut features updated graphics, a new “Survival Arena” gameplay mode, improved controls, and new animations.

[Deadlight on Steam]

They Are Billions – Hands-On With Early Access

They Are Billions is a single-player game that’s all about survival. Yes it’s a game about the zombie apocalypse (go ahead and roll your eyes, I’ll allow it), but it’s challenging and fun enough to be worthy of your time. Trust me. I sunk four hours into this game without even realizing it.

Currently in Early Access on Steam, They Are Billions is city-building race-against-the-clock survival game. Players must manage the economics of a growing settlement while also attending to the defenses of the settlement. Neglecting the latter leaves the door open for the zombies to stroll on in and quickly decimate the population.

The zombies spawn randomly around the map, and it only takes a few seconds of them clawing unattended at a building to to transform the inhabitants of the building to blood-thirty zombies themselves. In seconds, a settlement can go from quiet refuge to a bustling metropolis of flesh-hungry citizens.

The longer a settlement exists, the more zombie attention it will attract. The trick is to quickly establish a strong economy in order to afford the necessary defenses to repel the ever-increasing zombie attacks. Walls, soldiers, and traps all must be strategically constructed to deter the attacks and delay the inevitable. Eventually, the settlement will succumb to the zombie onslaught and you’ll watch as everything you built so hard is trashed. It’s frustrating, but with each playthough you’ll learn a bit more about how to establish your settlement’s economy and how to best deploy your defenses.

They Are Billions, as of this writing, has no tutorial, so your first few attempts will likely end in swift defeat. However, the mechanics of the game are not complex, and I was able to obtain a firm understanding of the core aspects of the game by the time the zombies overran my first settlement. My second settlement lasted almost four times longer; learning how to play They Are Billions is not difficult, which makes me that much more likely to return to it, once I eventually burn out.

As the game is in Early Access, I expect additional content and developer updates in the coming weeks and months. Currently, They Are Billions features a Survival Mode (which is the aforementioned experience), and a Campaign Mode is expected to be released in Spring of 2018. I’ll certainly keep Epic Brew updated with any major updates to They Are Billions.

As things stand now, They Are Billions is a very promising game, even in Early Access.

[They Are Billions official website]

First Look At Episodic Murder Mystery, The Council

What happens when George Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte, a Cardinal, and a handful of other 18th Century fancypants have dinner together? No really, this isn’t a lead-in to a joke. It’s a question that upcoming, episodic murder mystery game, The Council, will answer.

Developed by French independent game studio Big Bad Wolf, The Council allows players to make decisions, develop social skills, and shape the outcome of the story. The results of their actions can lead to permanent physical disfigurements and psychological traits that affects a character’s mentality throughout the duration of the story. The game employs a Social Influence system that allows players to choose how to manipulate the characters around them; be a detective and uncover secrets to catch people off guard, be a likable diplomat and gain favor, or engage in the occult and creep everyone out, the choice is in the player’s hands.

From the press release:

The Council begins in 1793, with players taking the role of secret society member Louis de Richet after he was invited to a private island off the shores of England by the enigmatic Lord Mortimer. Joining him are a number of high profile guests, including Napoleon Bonaparte and President of the newly-formed United States of America George Washington. The strange nature of this private reception goes beyond just the prestigious guests―Richet’s own mother has recently gone missing on the island, while each member of the colorful cast seems to have their own hidden agendas.

Look for the first episode of The Council this February, on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

Teslagrad on the Nintendo Switch – Impressions

Rain Games recently launched their 2013 platformer Teslagrad on the Nintendo Switch. I played Teslagrad during its original release, so I was interested to see how well the gameplay experience translated to the Nintendo Switch.

Teslagrad is a puzzle platformer adventure game set in a fictitious, vaguely-Serbian, city. The looming Tesla Tower dominates that city, and within its imposing walls is where the core of the game takes place.

Utilizing various gadgets, the young hero must out-wit the tower’s elaborate obstacles and….well, I’m honestly not too sure what was going on in the story. Something about an evil king who was evil and everyone disliked him because…he was evil. Something like that. The protagonist stumbled into the king’s old tower, the aforementioned Tesla Tower, after he ran from bad guys…it’s all very vague. The plot, and lack of any real narrative, was a sore spot for me, especially when the game could have used an interesting narrative to hold together the simplistic, puzzle-based gameplay.

As many obstacles as there were in Teslagrad, the hardest was the game itself. Sections of the game seemed purposefully difficult, like one particular segment that required the player to use their momentum to roll a ball with themselves inside of it, hamster-style. Missed jumps due to odd ledges, made some of my deaths feel cheap and easily avoidable, had the jump just connected. There is one portion of the game that takes place in an aboretum and some of the platforms are branches. Due to the art style, it’s difficult to ascertain exactly where the ledges begin, and that zone in particular was frustrating.

The art style, however, was the high-point of the game. I really enjoyed the animated character models, and apart from a few design decisions, Teslagrad is a very appealing game to look at.

Teslagrad wasn’t my type of platformer. I prefer a good amount of combat or action to break apart the puzzle platforming elements (Trine 1 and 2 do this well, for example). The generic puzzles that typically revolved around a red and blue magnetic force, were simple not enough to keep me entertained.

Teslagrad is a great game, if you appreciate a puzzle-heavy platformer, with little to no action. The Nintendo Switch version ran flawlessly; in undocked mode, which is how I use the Switch the most, I encountered no framerate issues and the resolution was crisp and the game’s visuals vibrant.


A retail copy of Teslagrad was provided to Epic Brew for the purpose of this article.