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Posted by Thomas Faust

Developer Impact Gameworks' first title has you setting out into the unknown in order to escape your dull life underground. Enter the mysterious labyrinth known as Tangledeep, follow great adventurers, and make your way to the surface - all in classic roguelike fashion, but with lovely 16-bit pixel art, an amazing soundtrack, and some quality of life improvements.

At its core, Tangledeep is a fairly traditional roguelike offering: you explore sprawling, procedurally generated dungeons step by step, ascend stairs, fight monsters, pick up loot - you probably know the drill by now. What sets it apart is its wonderful job system.

There are no regular wizards and warriors to be found here. Instead you can play as floramancer, commanding thorny plant-creatures, as graceful sword dancer, or crippling your foes with kicks and punches as the mighty budoka. Each of these classes has a set of talents allowing you to customize your character.

However, you're not bound to one specific class. For a small fee, you can just swap your jobs in town and then try your luck as another class while keeping all of your learned abilities. This allows for some truly versatile builds, and with 9 classes already in the game and more to come, character customization alone will keep you busy.


As is par for the course, permadeath is the default mode. You die, you stay dead. However, every item you choose to store in town can be used by your next character. If that feels too unforgiving, you can also play on adventure mode, which sends you back to town whenever you die and robs you of some experience and money. Mind you, the game is still challenging enough whichever way you play.

Now, the other reason you should consider Tangledeep is its presentation. Looking and sounding like a 16-bit SNES era title, this journey into the unknown is a pure nostalgia trip. While the game is in early access and some animations haven't been implemented, it is already gorgeous and the character designs are utterly charming as well.

Impact Gameworks plan to flesh out the in-game lore and also add a little bit of everything until Tangledeep wraps up development at the end of the year. However, the current version feels polished enough, so you shouldn't let the game's unfinished state keep you from exploring its many secrets.

You can purchase Tangledeep from GOG or Steam for $14.99. For more information, visit the game's website or give developer Impact Gameworks' Twitter account a follow.

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Posted by Julia Couture


In Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, possibilities are almost endless and overwhelming, at first. Your main objective will be to explore this vast world and purge the evil murk that plagues the world. As long as you don't get distracted by hoarding materials for crafts, discovering all sorts of wildlife, and visiting bustling communities.

The amount of activities presented in Yonder is immense. You can craft items from materials you gather from the world and level different professions like Chef or Tailor! If that doesn't satisfy you and you want to explore the world, it is there for you and even changes as you travel. You can see the seasons and weather change - even the animals move to their preferred climate!

Personally, one of the coolest features I found was the ability to cultivate farms in different climates. Being able to change scenery from time to time is refreshing, and may provide some respite from those who chose to explore the world and record every living creature (maybe even befriend and adopt them!).

Yonder has an undeniable attraction that makes you just want to peer into the world. I highly doubt that people will walk away without trying at least one of the activities. It's a beautiful world full of adorable and quirky creatures - go out and wander the fields and just embrace the vastness of the world!

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is available for purchase on Steam here or on the PlayStation Store! You can also check out their website and their Twitter here!

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Posted by Julia Couture


Tourist Guide Dog. The title of this treasure of a game leaves no question as to what you'll be doing. You'll be playing as an eccentric dog, guiding the tourists to the best sights of the city (although your tastes may differ at times!). The simple look of the game masks a fun set of mechanics on how to keep both human and canine entertained and excited.

With Tourist Guide Dog, you have to take into account the entertainment and anxiousness of both the human and the dog. Some things the dog might find interesting (a pile of leaves) may not create excitement with the tourists. The tourists also have energy that can only be replenished by staying still or seeing wonderful things. So, to keep everyone happy, you have to find the sights that will please everyone without exhausting either party!

Tourist Guide Dog is a contender in the Game Maker's Toolkit Jam, so if you think it deserves some recognition, go vote for it!

For more information on Tourist Guide Dog, check out their itch.io page! You can also follow the developer on Twitter.

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Posted by Joel Couture


The tears of a witch have turned into a key that allows evil to enter the kingdom of Castille, only that kingdom and its onslaught of monstrosities has gotten a little smaller and a lot more portable with the 3DS release of arcade sidescroller Cursed Castilla. Just don't expect a smaller challenge with the smaller screen size, as the foes born of European folklore haven't gotten any less hard to overcome.

Created in the vein of Ghosts n' Goblins, Cursed Castilla has you controlling Don Ramiro, a brave knight with a resilient spirit. You'll cross the eight stages of the game's countryside, dealing with platforming challenges like windmills, floating turtles, and fiery pits, all while throwing an array of different weapons at the zombies, knights, gryphons, and other folkloric beasts that want to stop your journey. Just don't expect them, or the game's nineteen brutal bosses to make that easy. AT ALL.

The 3DS release has some neat extra features, like a simulated arcade cabinet to play the game on (complete with controller movements), 3D effects, and achievements, all while giving that same vicious arcade experience that Locomalito excels at doling out. The game's got four possible endings depending on secrets you find and how good you are at staying alive, so you may be at this one for a while. Don Ramiro is indede resilient, but there is a cost to constant revivals, after all.

The 3DS version of Cursed Castilla is available for $11.99 on the Nintendo Store. For more information on the game and developer Locomalito, you can head to the developer's site or follow them on YouTube and Twitter.

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Posted by Joel Couture


Your front door is a hellish maw upon which all manner of brigands, ne'er do wells, and postal workers can find entry to your home. As such, a simple knock on the door can bring the promise of death, doom, and bills, leaving most sensible people a quivering husk at the sound of a curled knuckle rapping. Luckily, we have The Awkward Steve Duology to teach us something about coping with the world beyond those closed doors that keep us safe.

This striking art piece stars our everyman, Awkward Steve, dealing with two door-opening situations. The first, A Stranger Comes Calling, involves a knock on the door while sitting at home working on the next great American novel, and how one must muster the strength to open it through rabbit petting, tea drinking, and Game Boy phone calls. After all, just because the world outside is scary, it doesn't mean we can't go out and meet it. Murderers may await, but sometimes it's free puppies, too.

The second, Don't Turn your Back on the Ocean, involves poor Steve in the bathroom at a raging party being thrown by his roommate. His desire to avoid the party finds itself in a struggle against knowing someone from the party will need to use the bathroom, leaving him in a spiral of anxieties that must be dealt with quickly. But there are no rabbits in the bathroom to soothe him and give him strength. Or are there? For the world of Awkward Steve doesn't bend to the rules of the real world.

The pair make for some delightful absurdist experiences about the anxieties many of us feel about social situations, helping us all laugh a little bit at the way our stresses make us act when potential interactions are imminent.

Plus watching a guy talk into a Game Boy is funny.

The Awkward Steve Duology is available for $3.99 on Steam. For more information on the game and developer Oh, A Rock! Studios, you can head to the developer's site or follow them on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

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Posted by Joel Couture


A princess has lost the five keys to her castle, and rather than lower herself to climbing in through the window or something, you can control Patrick or Patricia and take them out into the countryside to look for them in Omegaland. Expect platforming fun, treasure collecting, beating up the locals when they get in the way of your cash-collecting, using that money so you can further stomp the locals with better weapons and tools, and...oh, this is kind of depressing.

Omegaland will let you wander around its world as you see fit, exploring twenty-five levels of hopping on indigenous life forms because a royal figure can't be bothered to wear a key finder. Still, at least you're getting fabulously wealthy along the way, right? Why would these animals and key-stealing savages need their wealth for, anyway? They're not on an adventure for a princess like you are! What government assignment do they have?

From developer Jonas Kyratzes, it's an ordinary platformer about stomping on enemy heads and getting stacks of treasure! One where you invade other lands and hurt the people who live there! One where you do it for personal wealth and to assist a clumsy, lazy political figure. But hey, it's just some harmless platforming, right?


Omegaland is available for $2.99 on Steam. For more information on the game and developer Jonas Kyratzes, you can head to the developer's site or follow them in Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

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Posted by Christian Valentin

Hyperun isn't the first game to have you drifting around tight corners, but most don't have your vehicles leaving sparks in their wake while sliding at a ninety degreee angle at 700 km/h.

Controlling your superbike through procedurally-generated tracks, every stage in Hyperun is a test of reflexes and precision timing, chaining boost pads and drifting at the perfect moments to maintain speed. Drifting in Hyperun isn't a graceful arc, but a hefty direction change around angular turns and along huge loops.

Mistime your turn or position on the track, and you'll just as likely to wipe out in a stylized explosion as you are to lose your speed through bumps and crashes. But master drifting and turns and you'll be able to reach incredible speeds that turn the track into a blur. Vehicle customization lets you mold your bike's performance while doing flips and spins mid-air build up your score to climb the leaderboards.

Hyperun is available for $9.99 on Steam and Itch.io; you can find more details on the game and developer Concrete Games on their site, Twitter, and Facebook page.

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Posted by Christian Valentin

Wacky weapons, massive hordes, and impossible bosses have a place in this belated Screenshot Saturday.

They Are Billions
Numantian Games | PC | Fall 2017
Many zombie games pit you against massive hordes, but few can match the size of They Are Billions, a post-apocalyptic tactical RPG that lets you build armies and bases to hold back the many thousands of infected that threaten overwhelm your survivors.

Canopy | PC, Mac
Torla blends survival and adventure in a surreal RPG, challenging you to explore, craft, and endure in a whimsical and surreal world filled with otherworldly secrets and locations.

Cairn4 | PC, Mac, Linux | $3 alpha
In Mewnbase, you must survive on a barren planet, scavenging abandoned items to manage and maintain your oxygen, suit, and habitat.

NEO Impossible Bosses
Edwin Fan | PC | 2017
In this party-based RPG, you don't your magic and weapons against mobs and dungeon creatures, but against a series of powerful bosses. Each arena unleashes a fearsome enemie that can overwhelm your party wirh ruthless magic and attacks; only superior tactics can defeat them.

The Swords of Ditto
Onebitbeyond | PC, PS4 | 2018
A colorful action RPG, The Swords of Ditto lets you explore a mysterious island alone or with a friend, wielding cute weapons like vinyl frisbees and golf clubs, across a sprawling world and deadly dungeons.

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Posted by Joel Couture


Ili, a young woman haunted by regrets who longs for a more idyllic past, will take the player on a journey through her memories, acknowledging the player's control over her and their place in this exploration of her thoughts. In doing so, player and character join together on a colorful, otherworldly journey to make peace with her past. Or flee it.

Ili gives the young woman's memories a physical structure and colorful presence, but these worlds aren't bound by the same laws as the real world. Ili's movements through them aren't constrained by the laws of physics, letting her maneuver through these places in ways that will make the player feel like a drifting ghost. Likewise, color and physicality crumble for the environments as well, with places distorting into abstract colors and shapes, giving a sense of feeling a way through a memory rather than watching a mental recording of an event or place.

Throughout this dream-like adventure, players will chat with Ili, sharing in the strange experience of steering this woman along through her decisions and meanderings. They will share in choosing what to do about her uncomfortable past, reaching several different conclusions through the time they spend bonding with her.

Ili looks to connect with the player, rather than give them control, bringing them into the young woman's life instead of having them inhabit a role as outside force. It's a bonding experience, one that will be rich with sensation should the game meet its funding goal and release.In the meantime, you can meet Ili and start getting to know her through the game's demo.

For more information on Ili and developer Misha C, you can head to the developer's site or follow them on Itch.io, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. You can also donate to the game's development through Kickstarter.

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Posted by Joel Couture


Think you can run your own coffee shop? Want to make up your own recipes? Fiddle with the decor? Arrange events to bring people in? Avoid being murdered by your competition (wait...what?)? Then it's time you opened your own digital store with Beans: The Coffee Shop Simulator.

Beans: The Coffee Shop Simulator will let you happily tinker with all sorts of aspects of your shop, taking a lonely, barren room into a chain of places for people to hang out and try to write their manuscripts in despite a few dozen inane conversations going on around them. You choose your staff and train them to give them the skills you're looking for. You choose how to decorate the place with various kinds of furniture to provide seating, as well as the kind of look that draws people in. You can even mess around with ingredients to try to make new blends that will drag in the customers.

When you've got that down, it's time to deal with the people coming into your shop. Does your store make people want to enter, or flee in fear? Is there enough room to sit, and cashiers to get people rung through fast enough? If you've got that down, you can also bring in events, using those to get more coffee buyers. Not that you can control all that happens, as random events may bring a bus of seniors, a bunch of tourists, or an oddball pirate captain in to mix things up.

All the while, you'll also be navigating a story of murder and redemption involving your competition, who isn't afraid to do anything to get you out of the business. Are you a worthy heir to the Coffeebottom Estate, or will you fall into obscurity after an untimely accident with the bean grinder? Grab Beans: The Coffee Shop Simulator to find out.

Beans: The Coffee Shop Simulator is available for $4.99 on Itch.io and Steam. For more information on the game and developer Whitethorn Digital, you can head to the developer's site or follow them on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

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Posted by Joel Couture


Developer James Earl Cox has recently completed his 100 Games in 5 Years, having wrapped up development of his taxing, rewarding journey with a cute game about a kitten in a blanket that likes to meow about things.

Games about the horrors of war. Games about the horrors of getting caught watching porn. Games about racing fishmen, the well-mannered homeless, cows, sacred snails. Games about silliness, life, despair, world issues, and anything and everything in between. Cox's work has explored many, many different themes, as well as the scope of the developer's sense of purpose and humor.

Now, at the end of the adventure, Cox is left to reflect on what's he gained from this undertaking, finding he's learned a great deal from working with so many different genres, ideas, and stories.


Sharp Cuts

The end of Cox's journey was an emotional one, which became clear upon being asked how he felt now that he had completed it. "Relief! Dread. Satisfaction. Emptiness. Excitement. The challenge became a background element of my life as the years went on, a part of my identity. So finally making the 100th game brewed up a cocktail of emotions. I may have shed a few tears when I uploaded the final game!"

This last game, Bundle Kitt, would finish Cox's years-long project. It would also come to represent the kind of learning and adapting Cox had been doing throughout the project, standing as a testament to the lesson's he'd learned along the way.

"Deciding how to conclude the challenge was its own peach salad*. Many suggested I make the final game a sort of 'pick which game to play' game. Ultimately, the challenge's 5-year deadline was hurtling towards me full sprint, and I couldn't spare the time for an extravaganza game. As each game of the 100 pushed my boundaries in one way or another, and as I wanted to try my hand at a cute game, Bundle Kitt fit the docket and was a short simple nice idea. I'm happy with how it all ended!" says Cox.

A time limit and a desire to try something new helped Cox choose what he wanted to do for his final project, showing the developer's constantly-honed abilities for assessing his situation and making it work with his creative mindset.

"The 100 game challenge trained me in the art of feature-cutting, a skill that applies to every time-sensitive project. It's an ability that continues to pay off generously. Inwardly, it's given me a nice sense of scale and scope. Towards the end, if a project was growing outside of its allotted development time, I'd know which features to cut before too much time evaporated."


Cox has been working under a strict time limit from the very beginning, and in doing so, has learned a great deal about cutting what is unnecessary to capturing what he desires from a project. It has taught him the value of clarity of vision, which not only helps in the practical sense of time, but also helps make the project come into a sharper focus.

Yes, Bundle Kitt is a game about a cute cat meowing at things, but Cox also knew how to create a cute game by distilling it down to a single core idea that fit within his available timeline. There were not dozens of things the kitten could do to add more adorable interactions, but a focus that gave the game a single emotional focal point. This would allow him to make a game that could be completed on time, but also give the player a powerful sense of exactly what he wanted them to feel. Having had to do this for five years gave him the necessary abilities to do this, and do it well.

This process of cutting has also worked its way into how Cox subverts genre expectations with his work. Often, his games are designed to look at genres from different angles or discard them entirely, looking to find the source of play and what draws people to games, as well as explore exactly what games can be and do.

"The easiest way I've found to subvert expectations and remove elements is to frame your game within a genre while using your narrative to explain the genre elements you're removing: if you make a horror game about looking at porn for the first time, you can avoid using monsters or death in your game, replace them with the fear of being caught."

In his work in focusing his games, cutting features for speed has also allowed him to really look into what makes a game's identity. Does a certain genre have to possess specific elements to maintain that identity? In the above example, what do we need to feel fear from the horror genre? By cutting elements away, Cox can explore what makes us feel in a given style, or examine how games can bring us to a given emotional state. He can look at the core of a set play style, and see how it can be molded, adapted, or moved away from entirely.


This came from a practical sense of scope, in a way, and over the course of years of constantly making cuts and looking at what can be removed, Cox has a deeper understanding of how the parts work together as a whole - how play and emotion come from a certain digital construct. It's something that obviously pleases the developer in the work that he loves doing.

"The challenge has given me a fleshed out stable definition of 'game'. All games require the player to believe it has: rules, a feedback system, an end-state, and voluntary participation. This definition came about while making games, and once it was formed, it honed the elements I am interested in digging at." says Cox.

"I feel that we may be a few generations away from an audience that'll be fine with truly distanced games; ones that fully embrace digital interactivity without callbacks to past forms. At least I can help pave the way."

This streamlining of ideas isn't the only process that Cox has sharpened over years of making and releasing titles. "An unexpected change is how side processes became streamlined: uploading to distribution sites, making thumbnails, recording demo videos; these little (yet time consuming) peripheral elements were no longer daunting by the end." says Cox. "Half of a game's development is spent on the non-game polish and surrounding media. Repeating it so many times, they became incorporated into my workflow."

There was little time wasted messing around with the more mundane details of release when Bundle Kitt was ready for the world. Time was running short, but over the years, it always had been. This forced Cox to also get good with the finer details of launching a game across various platforms, creating descriptions, choosing screenshots with care for each storefront, and being able to communicate and promote his game. Each idea had been literally practiced one hundred times, giving Cox a great deal of experience in the nuts and bolts of release, a vital thing many devs find they have little experience in once it's time to get their game out to players.



Cox's journey wasn't one spent poring over code at every waking moment. The perfect game was not waiting to be created in a vacuum, even if the skills he was developing were technically personal. What Cox would discover over the years was that the friendships and community around game development - the connections made with other creators - would also fuel his learning and growth, as a developer and as a human being.

"Besides a portfolio of squirming interactivity, I've taken away a sense of community. There's a lot of people who I wouldn't have met if hadn't been pushing out all these different projects. Working on so many games has given me opportunities to ask different people for different applicable advice. It's also given me a sense for how broad the word 'game' is. There is so much we have yet to capture within that realm."

We are all striving for identity and expression in our existences. We all aspire to understand, and be understood. We all speak in different ways, and Cox's work has helped him connect with many other voices over the years, learning from them in how they communicate their own thoughts through art and games.

"Throughout the years, the loudest critique echoed along the lines of 'Why not just make one really good game in 5 years?' Crafting one game might work for some people, but I wouldn't have the community I have now if it wasn't for the 100. Heck, Forbes 30 Under 30 only happened because of the challenge and the games that came from it." says Cox.

These friendships and connections would fuel the developer in his quest for his own answers, driving his questioning mind and sense of humor into exploring what games could do. This would further enhance his growing skillset, and helped him become more confident in who he is through seeing how others confidently let their works speak for them.

"The games' lengths and scales increased over the course of the 100. I don't know if I'd say my style has changed as much as it became more confident. If you told younger me that I'd win an IndieCade award, younger-me would believe you (pompous little jerk). If you told him it'd be for a game about looking at porn for the first time, he'd take a bit more time to wrap his head around it." says Cox.

Having a community of supportive people all striving to make themselves heard, or exploring what it means to be human through play, would help the developer grow. It is not just a matter of a correct answer on what games can be, or what they are capable of, but the living journey of expressing ourselves with what we create - what we leave behind in the world. Cox would feel this through his connections with others, becoming part of a community of those simply wishing to understand the world and themselves.


A Single Step

Cox is far from finished with his journey. "There's a lot to still do: some half-built games I want to finish as well as pushing forward with Seemingly Pointless, my brother's and my studio. We've got some larger game (and non-game) projects in the works. Hello publishers! Contact us at SeeminglyPointless@gmail.com. We look forward to responding to your email."

"Having just graduated from USC's Interactive Media and Game Design graduate program, I'm in the middle of a large transition: moving in with a few other creatives, seeking out publishers (wink wink), working ahead on the next big projects. In terms of a break, I always have to be working on something. If not games, some other medium. I might take a break from games, but there'd still be something in production." says Cox.

One doesn't set out to create so many projects in such a short time just to take a break when they're done. The same desire to create that would carry him through the years and that drew him to the project to begin with still burns bright within him, and will now be channeled onto other things. Like the project itself, it is a journey, not a single task.

"The nicest part of having completed the goal is that I can now take time to learn new engines and let hobby projects run their course." says Cox. "It was hard to justify learning new engines when I felt proficient with GameMaker and needed to keep a steady stream of games. And some games just take time to develop. I had to sidetrack larger projects because the projected development time was simply too long."


"There's a sense of purpose the 100 games gave me that I'm channeling into other projects. Believe it or not, once I'm acquainted with a new game engine or two, I'm considering doing the game-a-week to solidify them." he continues.

Cox has an answer to the origins or play, and a voice he has sharpened through years or careful craft and cutting. Still, there is still so much to look at and see. So many new voices to meet in the game development community. So many stories still to share. So much laughter, joy, and understanding that needs to be shared. So much more fun to be had.

Would he suggest others try it? Sort of. "I do recommend making at least 5 game-jam games, alone. Not quite 100 games, but the perspective it gives on other development roles and what it'll reveal about your own sensibilities will be invaluable. I was in the right place, right time, and right mindset to make the 100 games work out."

Creating all of these games over the years has given Cox some valuable experience, both in creating games as a task and as an emotional outlet. He has learned mechanics of games as business, but also as means of expressing ourselves and challenging the notions that games have to be one thing or another. Games, like other artistic expressions, exist for so many different reasons, and people come to them for just as many. It will take a lifetime to know them all, and Cox's intense project is still just the start.

"Ultimately, I want to use everything gained from the 100 to some end: helping others with the insight gained, developing my own IP, or pushing the edges of play."

*I'm allergic to raw peaches**.

**All raw fruit and vegetables***.

***That's its own story.


For more information on James Earl Cox III and his works, you can head to the developer's site or follow them on Itch.io, YouTube, and Twitter.