Monthly Archives: October 2018

Fight’N Rage

fight-n-rage-gameplay-screenshot-1Developers don’t need to reinvent the wheel to make a great game. Sometimes a heartfelt love letter to games of old can be a lot of fun too. This is what we have with Fight’N Rage, an old school arcade beat ’em up. With beautiful sprites, exciting combat, unlockables, and branching paths to experiment with, there’s a lot to like here.

Taking place in a dystopian future where despotic mutants rule the world (basically animal people a la The Isle of Dr. Moreau), players control some of the few humans left (and their mutant sympathizers) in a fight for their freedom. There are three characters that can be played. First there’s Gal, a girl who escaped from human traders. She’s the most agile of the bunch, able to get in, do damage, then back off quickly. Next there is F. Norris, a runaway ninja with a mysterious past. He’s the glass cannon of the bunch, as he hits very hard but his defenses aren’t great. Finally, there’s Ricardo. He’s a minotaur human rights activist. Seeing as he’s a wrestler, Ricardo has a lot of strength and good defense, but due to his size is the slowest character.

fight-n-rage-gameplay-screenshot-2Once a character has been selected, it’s off to go punch mutants in the face. Here players will see that the combat in Figh’N Rage is actually quite robust. Of course, each playable character handles in their own unique way. Adding even more depth, though, is just how varied the enemies are. There are quite a few different enemy types, and they each have their own move sets and behaviors that players must learn. As the game progresses, there will be a lot of these creatures on screen at once all doing their thing. So, players are going to have a lot on their plate between managing the hordes of enemies, how they attack, and how to make the most of each situation depending on which character they’re using.

This doesn’t even begin to touch the bosses in the game. These things are orders of magnitude more difficult. They have powerful moves that are very much so telegraphed, but it takes time to figure out how to get past their defenses. Even when one manages that, it’s usually about the time where the game will decide its a good idea for henchmen to start spawning, making the fight all the more challenging. Players will likely get through these boss fights eventually since there are unlimited continues. However, doing well in these fights is something else entirely. It will take a lot of practice to really nail the fights and make them look easy.

While all of this is going on, Fight’N Rage adds one more layer to everything. There are actually a number of branching paths in the game. Some of these are fairly obvious, with arrows pointing to other areas players can go to. Other times, players’ actions will determine how the story unfolds.

fight-n-rage-gameplay-screenshot-3A quick example of this is the first boss of the game. He’ll take a human hostage and threaten to slit her throat if players approach. Ignoring him will result in that outcome, and send the player off to some sewers with a mole man boss in the next stage. However, if the player is holding a weapon and throws it at the boss, he’ll be startled and drop the hostage. After defeating the boss, the hostage will take players to a different underground path that leads to a village. So, players will need to experiment a bit to see all of the different areas that they can go to.

Each time one plays the game, they will accumulate points. These can be used to unlock all sorts of goodies. These include extra game modes, costumes for the main characters, as well as being able to unlock all of the different mutants and using them in the extra modes.

fight-n-rage-gameplay-screenshot-4As one can see just by looking at all of the screenshots here, the game goes for a retro, 16-bit look. The pixel work is very detailed, and all of the characters and enemies are oozing personality. Stages are varied and have nice little touches for those who care to look. Meanwhile, the music is high energy, guitar driven fair, just right for facing off with hordes of angry mutants.

There have been quite a few beat ’em ups to come along in recent years. Each is clearly heavily influenced by the classics of the past. They’ve captured what made these games great to varying degrees. However, Fight’N Rage stands head and shoulders above most of these. The sheer quality of the game’s combat alone is reason enough to play. Its quality visuals and music, unlockables, and such are just icing on the cake. People looking for a quality beat ’em up should seriously consider trying Fight’N Rage out.

Figh’N Rage is available for Windows.

Osmos

osmos-gameplay-image-1There are probably a lot of puns that could be used which describe Osmos as an absorbing game. So, let’s try hard to avoid that. This is a game where players control a circular blob, maneuvering it around a field so that it can run into other smaller blobs and get bigger, while avoiding larger blobs. It’s a simple concept that makes for a very relaxing experience.

Players control a sphere of bio mass with the goal of absorbing other similar blobs, sometimes with specific types that need to be hunted or avoided. As the blob travels around, it will absorb any smaller blobs that it collides with. However, if it runs into a blob bigger than itself that larger blob will begin absorbing mass from the player’s bio matter. If the whole thing is absorbed, it’s game over. Complicating things further is that the blob propels itself by ejecting a bit of its own mass, causing it to shrink, and leaving a stream of tiny blobs behind it. So in order to move, accelerate, slow down, or change directions, players need to risk their blob getting smaller.

This creates a bit of a balancing act. Players need to decide when to be aggressive and when to be patient. There will be times where the game basically forces players on the offensive. This is especially the case on stages where there are a lot of other blobs slightly bigger than the player’s. This necessitates finding suitably sized blobs to collide with all while not bumping into the bigger ones, as well as to do at a fast enough rate to start going after the large blobs before they absorb too many blobs themselves and become insurmountable huge as a result.

Often times, though, it’s better to just wait it out. Simply allow your blob to slowly float across the screen, casually absorbing smaller ones. If one is smart, they’ll pick out an advantageous trajectory early on for their blob. Then all they need to do is let it keep going, getting bigger with ease.

osmos-gameplay-screenshot-2Osmos is actually very relaxing game as a result of all this. Blobs take a while to get moving or change directions. Their slow, fluidic nature is downright soothing to behold as a result of this. Often times, one doesn’t feel rushed to do anything, and can just enjoy watching their blob move around, absorbing others and getting bigger.

This is further amplified by the game’s aesthetics. The various blobs have a soft, warm glow to them, their illumination becoming brighter as they grow. All the while they appear to be floating along the surface of some sort of otherworldly intergalactic petri dish. While this is happening, tranquil ambient music is playing. As a result, much of the game culminates in providing players with a very relaxing experience.

Osmos is the sort of game that is great to spend some time with before bed when trying to unwind, or if one needs a brief oasis of calm in an otherwise hectic day. Just let it pull you in and enjoy the experience.

Osmos can available for Windows, Mac, and Linux (via Steam), as well as iOS and Android.

Akane

akane-gameplay-screenshot-1Sometimes it’s nice to get dropped straight into the action in a game. Little to no preamble explaining the protagonist’s motivations, story trickled in only as necessary. Put the player in an arena with a few weapons, then begin the unyielding onslaught of enemies. This is what players can expect from Akane. It’s a very straightforward overhead view arena battler in a cyberpunk setting.

Taking place in Mega Tokyo in the year 2121, players control Akane as she fights hordes of yakuza, street thugs, and hitmen. She wants out of the street life she’s been stuck in. However, she’s going to have to fight for that future.

With that, players take on wave after wave of bad guys. Akane is equipped with a katana and pistol, so there are a few ways to deal with them. She definitely leans toward her sword due to limited ammo and reload times. However, slicing up enemies speeds up reloading. As such, there’s a symbiotic back and forth between Akane’s melee and ranged attacks.

akane-gameplay-screenshot-2As the game progresses, the number of enemies increases, requiring players to be on their toes. It will get to the point where Akane is being chased by dozens of yakuza, street punks, and the like. When this happens, it’s best to find ways to herd them such that they bulk up. When this happens, either turn around and slash them up until Akane’s stamina runs out, stay back and open up with her pistol (you’ll get about ten shots before she’s out of ammo), or, if there’s enough meter, use Akane’s special move. This will cause her to instantly charge through a huge swath of enemies slashing them to pieces all at once.

She won’t always have this luxury, though. Often the game likes to throw a spanner in the works by spawning priority targets. Some of these are very large enemies that Akane doesn’t want to get near. In this situation, she cannot use melee attacks on them because they’ll just grab her and beat her to a pulp. As such, she needs to keep her distance and use her pistol here. The other troublesome enemy is a hitman. Players will know one has spawned because they will see a retical over them. When this happens either take cover, dash in and kill the hitman right away, or start swinging Akane’s sword to deflect incoming bullets. When all of this happens at once, things get very intense.

As Akane defeats enemies, a counter at the top of the screen keeps track of this. Once the player has hit a certain number of kills, the boss will spawn. His name is Katsuro and he’s a cyber ninja. Players will fight him over and over again, and he’ll evolve with each subsequent fight. He’s not too bad at first, but will get pretty tough later on.

The game itself is actually quite difficult as Akane can be killed in one hit. As such, players need to be very careful. It’s not hard to come across the game over screen if one gets overly aggressive. Then again, if you pull off a really in-your-face set of attacks, it’s extremely gratifying.

akane-gameplay-screenshot-3While all of this slashing and shooting is going on, players will have a bunch of goals presented to them. These can include reaching certain kill string counts, katana accuracy, number of enemies shot, and so forth. When players achieve these, new gear will be unlocked that can Akane can equip. As more items are unlocked, players will have more and more options in terms of their loadout. Equipment includes obvious stuff like new swords and guns, but there are other interesting bits like gloves, boots, and different brands of cigarettes for Akane to smoke.

The game’s aesthetic is simple, but gets the point across. It has a nice pixel art visual style that does a decent job of capturing the gritty neon look central to cyberpunk. Music, though, is very repetitive, so players may want to consider muting it and putting on their own stuff if they are planning to play for a while.

With all of this, Akane is the sort of game that can be enjoyed in both short spurts and marathon sessions. Whichever way one goes, the combat is very enjoyable, and people who like unlocking new equipment will have a lot to sink their teeth into. Better still, the game is super cheap at only around five bucks, making it a nice distraction for cyberpunk fans.

Akane is currently available on Steam.