Games of Boston FIG: Part 2

Yesterday, I wrote about three games I got to see at the Boston Festival of Indie Games. Here’s three more that piqued my interest–and these certainly aren’t the last.

screen capture of decision points in Revolution 60

A screen capture of Revolution 60’s Mass Effect-like interface from the demo, a video of which can be viewed on its website.

Revolution 60

As the first release from Giant Spacekat, an all women development team based in Boston, I was first drawn to the Revolution 60 booth by the large banner that featured three of its female protagonists. When I told them this, both cofounder Amanda Stenquist Warner and lead programmer Maria Enderton responded that the women-centric story had as much to do with circumstances as anything else; character models are expensive for an up-and-coming studio, after all. In actuality, the final game will feature a diverse cast of men and women on both sides of the moral spectrum, something which is exciting in and of itself. In fact, that moral spectrum is integral to the experience of Revolution 60, as players are frequently faced with Mass Effect-like conversations and decisions, ultimately contributing to a reputation system that will determine which of its multiple endings players earn. Between conversations is a potentially interesting mix of Heavy Rain-inspired quick time events and turn-based combat common in role-playing games. The QTEs featured in the demo were fairly simplistic and thus difficult to assess for the final build–I would have written them off completely had The Walking Dead not proven gaming still has a place for them. However, the turn-based combat showed promise, and I’m interested in seeing how I will be able to build my character in the final game.

Revolution 60 is slated for release on iPads next March, and Giant Spacekat plans to port it to PC and Mac soon after. You can learn more at Revolution 60’s website.

a flock of birds in Apsis

Screen capture from Apsis, a student project

Apsis

Apsis is a game that began as a project for four Cornell University students. With only a semester of work, the current build of Apsis available to play at Boston FIG was already quite polished with a beautiful, distinctive aesthetic for each level–complete with unique musical tracks. One of the developers, Douglas Kazumi Lopes Ugochi, explained to me, this is the kind of game he pictures someone playing before they go to sleep. Even as I tried to get a handle on the controls in a crowded gymnasium, I could see exactly what he meant. The game plays much like thatgamecompany’s Flower or flOw in the sense that Apsis is a game you are meant to lose yourself in. There’s no real fail state as you guide your bird through the environments; instead, players get the most out of the game by achieving a state of flow–by falling into the rhythm of the game urged on by the carefully selected soundtrack.
The game is planned for commercial release on Android devices. You can visit Apsisgame.com for a trailer and updates on its imminent release.
Rite screen capture showing two dimensions/two screens

Screen capture of Rite from its development blog

Rite

Rite is an interesting puzzle game currently in development by Father Octopus. The game is billed as a “puzzle game about multiple dimensions and death,” and while I didn’t really get to see the death aspect, the implementation of multiple dimensions made for some interesting play in the demo. The game starts with a single screen that looks like a cross between an NES or Apple II platformer (think the Zelda II crossed with original Prince of Persia), but flipping a switch soon reveals a second screen with the same avatar but slight differences in scenery. The player controls both avatars simultaneously, and different objects in different dimensions allow for different kinds of interactivity. In addition to the switch that reveals another dimension, for example, there are certain safe spaces on the screen that will freeze one avatar while the other continues forward. This kind of spacial awareness and literacy helps players solve puzzles and progress through the game. It was a fascinating demo to see, and I was surprised that when I wasn’t playing, I understood what was happening fairly quickly. This speaks volumes to designer Geoff Pitsch ability to communicate what is a complex puzzle with simple iconography. You can read more about the game’s progress on Rite‘s development blog.

In the immortal words of Ulala, stay tuned for the final round of games tomorrow plus some discussion on a few story-focused talks.

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