I’m not sure why the 2015 platformer Ink is suddenly coming to consoles, but it is. Whatever the reason, this is pretty great news becuase Ink was freaking phenomenal. The game was surprisingly challenging and a little too short in my opinion, but i still thoroughly enjoyed it. If you’re looking for a platformer with an interesting set of core mechanics, i can absolutely recommend Ink. And hey, maybe if you buy it i’ll get the sequel I’ve been wanting for ages now.
I. Fucking. Love Shovel Knight. The work Yacht Club has done has been consistently pronominal. The fact that most of it has been free is one of the most beautiful gestures in gaming history. They could have easily charged and other $15 for both previous prices of DLC and i would have happily paid it. While i can’t yet say the same holds true for the upcoming King Knight DLC, the dev team has at least earned the benefit of the doubt in my book. While King Knight wasn’t exactly my favorite of the games bosses, i very much doubt they would have picked him for an expansion if they couldn’t do something interesting with him. Sadly i wont be able to try the game out at Pax West becuase…well, i’m poor. So very, very poor. If you go, feel free to tell me what you think. I can’t wait to see what the team does here.
And If you’re interested, here are all my reviews for the franchise so far (warning, the first two are old and not very good….)
Bleed and it’s sequel two of the best surprises I’ve played since i started reviewing games. They’re both a bit on the short end, but they are both marvelous little games. And luckily for you, if you missed the game when it was regionally released for the Xbox 360’s Xbox Live Indie Games service and don’t have a computer, next month the original game will be coming to both the PS4 and Xbone One. Xbox owners will even get a 20% discount if they pre-order the game. If you’re in the market for a really good action platformer that you can get on the cheap, i can’t recommend Bleed enough.
And if you want to read my review for Bleed 2, you can do that HERE.
I reviewed Talent Not Included back in November. While i apparently have it one of the harsher reviews it received, i did enjoy my time with it well enough. The game wasn’t life changing or anything, but it was fun enough to recommend if you’re in the mood for a platformed and have already blazed through the new Shovel Knight expansion (which i also reviewed). I don’t really have a hole lot to say about this one, just wanted to bring it to your attention.
By William Shelton
Release Date: December 1, 2016
Obtained By: Gift from Indie Gamer Chick (she wanted me too suffer with her)
Dispersio is kind of like BDSM gone wrong: it’s demanding nature and punishing difficulty should get me all excited, but poor level design and some truly stupid decisions had me calling out “red” way too often. It took me 93 minuets to beat the game’s first level. Part of that was because of the Dispersio’s intended challenge and retro sensibilities. Part of it was novice level design that added unneeded frustration. And part of it was the fact that there is no in-game way to check the controls, forcing new players to quit out to the main menu to learn how to play and then forcing them to redo the opening level. Dispersio isn’t good, but it is an interesting kind of bad. Much like Volchaos I did find myself oddly compelled by the game, but the pay off to frustration ratio simply isn’t worth the effort most of the time.
The games story is that at some point in the future the Earth blows up, leaving behind only a few themed asteroids that hold treasures from the old earth. Why these asteroids also give the player character level-specific powers is never brought up. Frankly, once you get past the tutorial level (the one that took me over an hour to beat) the story isn’t ever brought up again. At least not in what I could be bothered to play through. It’s hard to have a real opinion about that fact though. On one hand I do really like post-earth/post-human sci-fi and would like to get some more of it. On the other hand, the story clearly wasn’t going to do much with the set-up, and from what we got it’s clear that any addition probably wouldn’t have been that great to begin with. While it was nice of the developer to quit while they were ahead, that doesn’t make up for a dull and uninteresting story.
But, I’ve always said that a bad story doesn’t necessarily make a bad game. Gameplay is king after all. So long as that’s good the game can still be worth your time. Unfortunately, Dispersio drops the ball here too. The game aspires to be a difficult retro-style platformer, which is normally right up my alley. I do get a certain, almost sexual, satisfaction from taming and mastering bratty…..I think I got off topic. I like a challenge, is what I’m saying. There’s just something magical about overcoming insurmountable odds. And to the games credit, at its best Dispersio comes close to giving me that fix. In the three levels I played to completion, the game only reached its best once. One room, just one single screen in three levels, did the game ever live up to its full potential.
Dispersio single biggest issue is the level design. While the game usually does do a good job communicating where the player needs to go and what needs to be avoided, the levels often make most of the challenge stem from compensating for the odd lay outs. Platforms are usually placed in such a way that jumping from one to another often ends with the character colliding with a third platform. Typically, this will send the character into another danger, killing them instantly and forcing them back to the last check point. So not only do you have to find the exact pixel to leap from so other platforms don’t interfere with your jumps, you then have to deal with the timing of gunshots or enemy patters in order not to make contact with them upon landing. That wouldn’t be so bad if the game played a bit faster, but the character moves at a more leisurely and plotting pace. It’s almost like Mario being placed in Super Meat Boy.
Not helping matters is the fact that the game only saves upon completing a level. And I don’t just mean saves game progress, I mean it doesn’t save anything until you beat the tutorial. If you reconfigure the controls and the game crashes on you, you have to reconfigure them again upon restarting the game. And would you like to know how I found that out? The dev told Cathy and me over Twitter because we were complaining that the game wasn’t saving. That’s right folks! Important information about the game is not told to you in the game. Lack of information is another real issue Dispersio has.
Like I said earlier, there’s no in-game way to check the controls. I had to quit out a few times to learn how to actually play the fucking thing, and had to start from the beginning again. The checkpoints don’t stand out enough upon first glance and can easily be missed. So if you go in trying to play it safe you can end up playing long sections repeatedly before the game forces you to hit one to teach you what they are.
Checkpoint placement is also frustrating. The dev clearly knows that adding checkpoints after a hard section is good to do, but they tend to be in the same screen as the challenge you just beat. So you regularly have to go through a part of the previous screen to get back to the area were you died. I know that doesn’t sound too bad, but in practice it felt like needless busywork between deaths. And other times they’re so close together it’s like the dev is overcompensating for that fact. In one of the easiest rooms of the game there are four check points. Two at the top and two at the bottom, one set literally being on the same platform.
I used the phrase “novice level design” in my opening, and I really do think that’s the best way to sum up Dispersio. Hell, the game is the only thing on the developer’s Steam page, so I’m pretty sure this is his first game. It is painfully subpar, but it shows that the developer has some creative energy. That energy needs to be refined and worked on, but it’s there. I’m sure as shit not going to give the game any points for that, It looks like crap, sounds even worse and plays like ass and proves once again that “user reviews” are completely useless with its “positive” sitting on Steam. Dispersio is a total failure, but it is an interesting one. It’s Tommy Wiseau in indie game form.
The more i see of this game the more the exact same issue pops out at me: the levels seem almost lifeless. I’ve said before that in game that may not be an issue and that i can’t say for sure until i get my hands on it. That remains true now, but this trailer does help illustrate why i’m concerned. Look at the part at around 23 seconds in when the character pulls the lever on the slot machine. Look at the vast empty space that surrounds it. Look at how there are almost never more that three enemies on screen in big open spaces. I really hope i’m wrong about this: i really enjoyed what little i played of Banjo Kazooie as a kid and want to see more games like it and after Mighty No. 9 i’d really appreciate one of these throwback games to…you know…good. But for right now, i’m worried. i would love, LOVE, to be wrong but until i hear from reviewers i trust that it’s good i’ going to have to lower my expectations.
Shovel Knight may very well be one of my all time favorite games. I liked it so much in fact that i played through “Plague of Shadows”in one go in order to get a review up for the team i was working with at the time. With that said i think it’s pretty obvious that i’ve been super excited for any and all updates as to what Yacht Club Games had in store. And holy shit did they deliver.
If there was one complaint to be had with “Plague of Shadows” it was that the levels felt way to similar to each other. While that did make playing as the vastly different Plague Knight easier as you were more learning how to get through the same environments in new ways, if it wasn’t for just how fun it was to play as the new character the game would have been rather samey. From the look of this trailer that doesn’t seem to be the case. Some of the levels look unrecognizable, and several of the bosses look like they’ve been totally reworked too. All of that plus Specter Knight looks to have his own vastly different skill set to set him apart from his playable peers. I can’t lie, that makes me really excited to get mu hands on this as soon as possible. Really the only disappointing thing about this and the rest of the planed DLC is that it means we have a good while to wait until we see what else Yacht Club has up their sleeves.