Category Archives: In-Development

In Development: Garrison: Archangel

garrison-archangel-gameplay-screenshot-1Back in the 80s and 90s, mecha anime was all the rage. Shows like Gundam, Macross, VOTOMs, and countless others battled it out for viewers’ attention.  For a lot of fans, these things were the future. Who cares about flying cars when you could have giant robots instead?

Of course, as these things’ popularity grew, all sorts of merchandise related to them began to spring up. It was only a matter of time before mecha video games would become a thing. During the late 90s and early 2000s, there were two series that captured people’s imaginations for a time. The first was SEGA’s Virtual On. The second was From Software’s Armored Core.

While they both had players doing battle in giant robots, the series took decidedly different approaches to them. Virtual On went for a pure arcade experience. As a result, combat was very fast as players whizzed around arenas blasting at their opponents before hitting their thrusters and going in for a melee attack. Each robot was like a character in a fighting game. The mechanized killing machine was pre-made with a very distinct identity to it.

Meanwhile, Armored Core felt a bit more like it was trying to be a simulation. There was a lot more variety in how mechs handled. Some were pretty nimble, but there were a lot of other ones that had a slower, lumbering feel to them. This is largely a result of the extreme levels of customization that players had at their fingertips when choosing a mech here. They could swap out torsos, arms, heads, legs, even do away with legs in favor of tank treads. There were internal systems that could be swapped out as well. This doesn’t even take into account weapon load outs. Really there was a ton of options in terms of how players could go into battle when it came to the Armored Core series.

garrison-archangel-gameplay-screenshot-2So, there were two very good mecha games that each approached the genre in their own way, each garnering their own audience of dedicated fans in the process. They were both good games, but that’s all in the past now. Studios haven’t made games like that in a very long time. It’s kind of sad, really. But perhaps fans of giant robots shouldn’t give up hope just yet.

Indigo Entertainment has been working on a mecha game of their own for the last while: Garrison: Archangel. What makes it particularly interesting is that they are trying to combine a lot of what made Virtual On and Armored Core great, and put it all into one game.

It takes the fast-paced arena combat of Virtual On while giving players the customization of Armored Core. As such, players are given a lot of options for how they want their giant robots to perform with regards to stats, appearance, load outs and the like, while being greeted with very frenetic gameplay when competing in matches.

So far, customization provides a lot of options, with millions of possible combinations as to how one’s robot will look and perform. This mode will give players a lot of avenues as to how they want to approach combat. There is a worrying lack of tank tread or quadruped options in the leg department, but here’s to hoping that maybe these get added at some point.

garrison-archangel-gameplay-screenshot-3Meanwhile, the matches’ tempo are very quick, making them very reminiscent of Virtual On. Mechas have thrusters equipped the that allow for quick side dashes, blasting forward to close space, as well as taking flight. All the while, players will blast away at their opponent and / or slice them up with a melee weapon. It all happens very fast, keeping fights very exciting.

At the moment, many of the arenas are very sparse. In versus matches, they tend to be large, open rings. While these give a lot of room to maneuver, having terrain to work with would add a lot to the experience.

So far, the game’s horde mode appears to be the only place players will find this. Here, players find themselves in a seemingly virtual environment with wire frame buildings. These give one places to take cover from incoming fire, as well as opportunities to take advantage of high ground. This adds a lot to combat and it would be nice to see this in other modes as well, or at least make it available as an option.

Thus far, the game’s graphics are looking pretty decent with some nice mechas to choose from. Meanwhile, the soundtrack has a feel to it that is very similar to arcade games of the 1990s. One can quickly tell that the game’s developers have spent a lot of time with classic mecha games and are pouring their enthusiasm for these into the game’s aesthetics (and everything else too, obviously).

There will plenty of game modes for players to sink their teeth into in Garrison: Archangel. The game will include both a single player and online versus mode. Versus combat will actually support up to four players, so things can get pretty hectic. There will be a survival mode where players face off against one robot after the next. Also, there will be the horde mode alluded to earlier, which does exactly what players will expect. Between all of these and heading off to the garage to make custom robots, things are shaping up to give players plenty to do.

As it stands, there is a lot to like in Garrison: Archangel. The game has quite a bit of potential. At this point, it largely needs more meat on its bones. It’s still in early access, though, so there will be plenty of opportunity for that. Versus-styled mecha games sort of fell off the face of the earth. This game could help to bring them back. It’ll be exciting to see where the developers take things from here.

The game is currently available on Steam Early Access.

In Development: WORLD OF HORROR

world-of-horror-gameplay-screen-1Games on the original Macintosh had a certain charm to them. There was so much detail for the time in many of the games to appear on it, especially graphical adventures. Seeing as the computer didn’t have a colored monitor, developers had to make do with the gray scale graphics that it was capable of.  Games like Deja Vu, Corruption, and Shadowgate all wowed players with what they could do with the Mac’s graphics.

These games carved out a visual niche that hasn’t really been re-visited until now. One-person Polish developer, Panstasz, plans to do something about this with their upcoming adventure game WORLD OF HORROR.

The game will take the gray scale visuals of early Macintosh games, then combine it with the spooky sensibilities of Junji Ito and HP Lovecraft. Moreover, rather than telling a single story, WORLD OF HORROR will give players the choice of three creepy tales, each with their own protagonist. Well, there are three stories to choose from in the demo. Maybe there will be more in the full game? Who knows?

As mentioned, the game has three scenarios available thus far. One features Kirie Saito who is a recent transfer student to her high school. Students have been daring each other to stay in the abandoned washroom after school, which is apparently a scary place. However, when one of them dies trying this people start wondering if the legendary killer Aka Manto has returned. It’s up to players to help Kirie solve this mystery.

world-of-horror-demo-gameplay-2Next there is Kouji Tagawa, the classroom photographer. His friend was killed recently by an otherworldly being described as unnaturally tall woman with an monstrously wide smile. Kouji must go over his friends notes as to how he can correctly summon the creature to this world and kill it forever.

Finally, there is Mizuki Hamasaki who is an aspiring teen idol. She has been invited to a remote village for a festival that only happens once every 27 years. However, upon arriving she discovers strange sounds emanated from the nearby forest. This just don’t add up and Mizuki has to figure out just what is going on.

By the looks of things, there may be more that players will be able to do with these characters in the final game, but it’s hard to say. Presumably there will me more, otherwise WORLD OF HORROR would be very short.

Once players choose a scenario and are given the lowdown on what’s going on, they are then given a few choices on how to proceed. Some of these appear to have stat checks against the character being played. If their stats are too low, the check will fail. If it’s high enough things will be fine. This feels like it could wind up being a bit like Long Live the Queen where players will have to make mental notes of where they failed and either make sure their stats are high enough to succeed in future playthroughs, or simply pick another option the next time that choice appears.

While players are doing this, they will acquire items that should make life a lot easier. This is especially the case when discovering a weapon that they can equip. Battles aren’t terribly frequent, but being armed for them makes it easier to dispatch deranged foes. Combat itself is a simple turn-based system reminiscent of old 8-bit JRPGs. Players will be presented with a portrait of the enemy and a handful of options. These include observing the enemy to see what the player is up against. Then there is a special move (often associated with magic) and the ability to actually attack.

Events in the game give things a roguelite element, as they recur on multiple playthroughs and can happen in different characters stories sometimes. With that, there is a slight RNG feel to some of the events in the game.

Interestingly, with many of the choices that a player makes a Doom Meter of sorts begins to fill. It’s implied that when it reaches 100% an Old God of some sort will enter the world, and this really sounds like a bad thing. There doesn’t seem to be a way to reach 100% in the demo, presumably because there isn’t enough content to get there. However, it does act as a tool to nudge players along and not doddle. They will already have things that they need to do in a timely manner for their main quest (Kouji’s scenario in particular exhibits this), but the Doom Meter adds an extra layer of urgency / tension to the mix.

This is something that WORLD OF HORROR is doing a good job of so far: setting a tone. The game is heavily influenced by Junji Ito and HP Lovecraft after all. With that comes an onslaught of unsettling art and situations. For using such a simple color scheme in its graphics, the game quickly makes the player feel uneasy, worrying about something terrible happening to their character. There will be frequent situations where players enter a room and are greeted with a scene that makes them think, “Well, that isn’t good!”

There is also the constant reminder that Old Gods are returning to the world and people are losing their minds. As such, there will be random unsettling moments that may not even be entirely related to a given game scenario. These serve to give a sense that even if these high schoolers weren’t solving some creepy mystery, they wouldn’t have a happy, safe life to return to. The world as a whole is still going down the tubes in the worst Eldrich horror way possible.

From what can be seen of WORLD OF HORROR thus far, it looks promising. It has the art style and mood locked down. The stories being told are suitably creepy. Mostly what it needs is more content and maybe more ways to impact choices. There is plenty of time to work on that, though. The developer isn’t planning to release the game until at least 2019. As it stands, the game is being developed for the PC, PS4, and Switch, so a number of different platform users have something to look forward to. In the meantime, there is a demo available for those curious. Feel free to download it from the dev’s Itch.io page.