Welcome to our weekly open thread for the discussion of gaming plans, nagging questions, and whatever else we feel like talking about. No matter what the topic, we invite everyone in the comments to tell us: What Are You Playing This Weekend?
Last weekend, I attended IndieCade East here in my native New York. It’s a public festival that celebrates independent game development. It’s been called the Sundance of game festivals, and just a couple years ago, it kicked off an East Coast event to complement the West Coast operations. The exhibited games this year focused on the themes of love and rejection, with memorable inclusions like Gone Home, Geometric Porn, how do you Do it?, and Dark Room Sex Game. While those are all great fun to see, play, and talk about, I was more interested in the games I hadn’t seen before, so here are a few of the projects that got me most excited.
Probably the most active crowd was for EarthNight, an infinite-runner game tapped to debut on PlayStation 4 later this year. Set in a future where dragons have taken over the Earth, players dive through the skies onto the beasts’ backs, then collect loot and hop over enemies as they make their way to the dragon’s head and stab it repeatedly in the eyes. Then you leap off to repeat the process on another colorful serpent. Small children in particular were clamoring for this game, probably thanks to its hand-drawn art style, two-button controls, and an aggressively peppy chip-tune soundtrack that could be heard from several rooms away. A goading death screen announced “That was PATHETIC” when each player eventually died, only riling up whoever was next in line to put on an even better show.
Nintendo’s space was noticeably more relaxed, with attendees bouncing from station to station lazily experimenting with each game on display. The one that really got people talking was KnapNok’s upcoming Affordable Space Adventures. Conversation is the whole point of the game, a multiplayer adventure that requires constant communication between its players. Three of us collectively controlled one derelict spaceship with our three different controllers: dials and power nodes appeared on the Wii U Gamepad; thrusters were controlled by a Wii Remote; and the lights, flares, and scanner were assigned to the more familiar Wii U Pro Controller. Players can’t get through obstacles on their own, so we all needed to discuss and strategize our approach before every puzzle and alien encounter. I was already a fan of KnapNok’s previous effort, Spin The Bottle, so it was a lot of fun to see that focus on real-life communication extend to a more traditional adventure game.
Perhaps the most impressive game I saw, though, was Aboard The Lookinglass. Donning an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, players explored an empty spaceship, solving puzzles to remove obstacles in their paths. Looking through the ghostly image of their own left hand, players could see what the room looked like in the past, while looking through their right hand showed the future. This was thanks to the nifty trick of affixing a Leap Motion controller—a little motion-sensing gadget—to the front of the Oculus headset, making for an intense guided adventure. Aboard The Lookinglass is available as a free download right now, but it requires both the expensive and so-far-so-niche virtual reality peripherals to play. I don’t see that happening in my immediate future, so I’ll keep enjoying this YouTube walkthrough of the game for the time being: