April appears to be the Indie release month on Steam, since there’s barely anything in mainstream interests being thrown out there… Just released in the last few days have been an… interesting selection…
On a greater scale, Defiance, released April 2nd, is going the way of classic MMOs in the third-person action adventure department, except it’s a TV show tie-in (from the people who did the Battlestar Galactica reboot, no less!). The developers claim that the show and the game will work concurrently; that events occurring in one will impact the other, and vice versa. I think it’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure that the fanbase of Defiance the show will be interested enough to join forces on Defiance the game, and we can’t be sure that the game won’t be full of people who have no idea what’s going on because they haven’t watched the show. But maybe each will influence players/audiences to experience the other – one to keep your eye on, certainly…
Ms. Splosion Man (released April 3rd) is the sequel to a previously Xbox-exclusive platformer called Splosion Man (damn, companies are getting creative with their titles nowadays). Ms. Splosion Man is different to her previous male counterpart because she’s bright pink and has a bow in her hair, aww. Sadly, I’m not very taken with this approach at all, and it’s not helped by the fact her explosions seem to be coupled with high-pitched girlish laughter. Something for the kids, I suspect. This isn’t the sequel you’re looking for. Move along.
Evoland (released today, April 4th) is an adventure through the ages of videogame design, and what I’ve seen of it so far looks vaguely appealing – starting off in monochrome and moving steadily through the storyline and videogame display technology to current generation graphics by the end, this seems like a good concept. I’ll play it and see how it fares, but until then I’m holding some hope for this one.
Moving straight on past the aptly-named Lords of Football, in which I have less than zero interest, we have a supposedly ‘high definition’ re-release of Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings and its expansion pack, The Conquerors. This was one of my favourite games growing up; Age of Empires as a franchise was always something I was addicted to, and a re-release of the second game so it actually bloody works on newer operating systems is a joy to behold. However, I’m not sure where they’re getting ‘high definition’ graphics from. Screenshots put it down to literally being the same as before, unless they’re planning on throwing out some brand new sprites at the last minute, which would feel less like the original and more like someone else’s work, which has the chance of going wrong – but then again, it’s Age of Empires we’re talking about here.
At the other end of the definition spectrum we have TrackMania2 – Stadium & ShootMania – Storm are the next two releases on the list, by the same parent company ManiaPlanet. The TrackMania franchise is renowned for its very, very high definition portrayals of racing cars, and I’ve no doubt this’ll probably be as loved as its counterparts (Canyon, Nations, Forever). ShootMania seems to be a new one though – but with an in-engine level editor and ‘over 5000 planets’ to duke it out on for replayability value, it may be onto something.
Releasing April 15th, we have La Mulana which, despite the name causing Disney nostalgia, actually appears to be quite the mix of platforming and adventuring, hearkening back to classics like Castlevania combined with Spelunky. Looks like it might actually be worth a try. I’m also intrigued by the blurb’s final warning from the developers: “Play through the entire game till your fingers bleed, give up and throw it out the window, or get help from strategy guides. The choice is yours.”
Sacred Citadel, coming on the 17th, looks to be a re-jig of the classic side-scrolling beat-em-up formula employed by Streets of Rage, Double Dragon, and more recently Castle Crashers. With a basis like that, different character classes to choose from, multiplayer co-op, and an art style looking to be heavily influenced by vectoring, I don’t think this one can do much wrong.
Papo & Yo was previously a PS3 exclusive, abstractly exploring the relationship between the developer and his abusive, alcoholic father, by using a small child and his monstrous friend to explore a less abstract Brazilian favela. The game uses a dimension jumping mechanic as employed by games like Quantum Conundrum to shift into another more magical world (implied to be the child’s imagination) in order to solve puzzles. This has looked good since its PS3 release last August, can’t wait to try it.
Dead Island: Riptide is presumably a sequel/expansion pack/’please play our broken game’ from the makers of the original Dead Island. Star Trek is going to be not only a sequel to a great film, but also a standalone co-op experience against classic Trek villains, the Gorn. Players will probably spend most of their time fighting over who gets to be Kirk and who gets to be Spock. StarDrive is a new release in the under-appreciated 4X genre – another space flight, battle and expansion simulator. And Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine is maybe my most anticipated release for April – the best comparison is probably Ocean’s Eleven or Mission Impossible in game form. Pick the team, plan the heist, try to pull it off, invariably fail somehow, heh. We’ll see, but it’s not until late April, apparently…