Been bouncing around among a bunch of games. Here are three I actually finished:
Rocketron (thanks again for bringing this to my attention, @Spacewalk!) is a sidescroller where you, a giant robot-cyborg-thing, use a jetpack-esque boost and a handful of guns to explode other giant robot-cyborg-things. It’s good, straightforward fun.The boost mechanic in particular feels great: it had that satisfying learning curve where I went from faceplanting into insta-kill spikes because I tried to boost while the gauge was empty to gliding through waves of enemies and projectiles with ease. It’s one of those things that feel more enjoyable the better you get at it, and I suspect it would make speedrunning the game a blast.
My main complaint is, predictably, the weapon durability system. Unless you’re so good that you just don’t get hit at all, you’ll probably find yourself grinding for the infrequently dropped health pick-ups at some point. Being forced to use unfamiliar weapons after making too many mistakes can be interesting, especially during boss fights, but the same dynamic could have been achieved in individual sections even if the devs had thrown the player a bone and, say, repaired weapons at save points. As it stands, it just interrupts the pace of an otherwise propulsive game.
Cheeky tip: upgrading weapons restores their durability to max. So if you don’t mind running around with slightly underpowered firearms, you can hold off on upgrading for when your fave gun goes out of commission.
Remnants is a small game in an RPG Maker-style engine (not sure if it was actually made with that program) about exploring some ruins. The ruins themselves are thematically varied: there’s a body horror room with fleshy faces in the walls, a pastel vaporwave room, a room covered in flowers, a room filled with petrified party-goers… it’s that kind of post-Yume Nikki game. It’s two main selling points (I use that term but the game is pay-what-you-want so you can get it for free) are that each pixel is hand placed (which can be seen in the lo-fi attention to detail of its rooms) and that almost everything can be interacted with for a short description, like using the look command on absolutely everything in an adventure game. The descriptions aren’t super poetic or witty or insightful or anything like that, but they are enjoyable. They’re arguably the whole point of the game as well.
It’s main weakness is its ending. Some people complained on the game’s page about how the ending doesn’t answer anything. That’s not a problem per se in my eyes; these kinds of endings usually work by being evocative and inviting the audience to fill in the gaps. It can be a fun, game-y way to tell a story, and the term “play” has been used in conjunction with this kind of thing. The problem is that Remnant’s ending is just… bland. It doesn’t answer anything, but it’s still kinda an obvious way to end the game, and it doesn’t really frame the rest of the game in a way that makes you want to how/why they are how they are. The journey getting to the ending was enjoyable enough, at least.
Did a second playthrough of Luna Nights, a Touhou-themed metroidvania. Didn’t actually finish my first playthrough; reached the second phase of the final boss and decided that I had had my fill. Some updates and a new bonus stage and boss drew me back in, and I’ve properly finished everything save for the boss rush mode.
It’s a very good game. The combat is some of the tightest in the genre, the controls are knife-sharp, the enemies and obstacles are well designed and play off your abilities in fun ways. The big feature/mechanic is probably the time-stop ability, which lets you casually step out of the way of a speeding projectile or throw a thousand knives at an enemy before it even gets a chance to react to your presence. The other one is the graze mechanic: getting close to a projectile, enemy, or obstacle without actually touching it slightly restores your hp, your mp (which is used for your basic attacks), and your time gauge. Even the most basic enemy, a floating orb, can be fun when you run straight into it and change directions at the last second. And I appreciate the fact that it’s a non-shmup Touhou game that actually incorporates a grazing mechanic (grazing in the original Touhou games is mostly for score, so it doesn’t translate as readily to genres that don’t really cater to score chasing).
I do have some complaints. For one, hitboxes can be unclear, especially with corkscrew-shaped obstacles/lasers or projectiles that explode. Sometimes, walking into an explosion hurts you; sometimes, it doesn’t. As much as I enjoy the grazing mechanic, it could be improved: the health restores can be abused for some cheesy tactics, and the activation range occasionally feels overly generous, especially when you stop time (you can be meters away from a boss and still activate graze). I also wish it had difficulty options. Some of the bosses feel like they could go from great to amazing if their patters were bit a more dense and complex.
But yeah, adored my time with it overall. It’s one of those games where it’s fun to just move around and attack, but the way it pairs that with very enjoyable encounters and bosses makes it one of my favorites in the genre. And the dev is releasing another game this year, so I am quite excited for that.