TinyKeep Review

Game: Tiny Keep
Developer: Phigames
Publisher: Digital Tribe
Platform: Steam
Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie, RPG
Completed: Not yet

TinyKeep was in a Steam sale recently, so I grabbed it, who isn’t a sucker for a Steam sale? The first chance I got to play it was today, when coming to write this review, however my 3 year old son has had a few goes, and today I noticed that the main menu includes a running tally. A tally of how many times your fleeing prisoners have escaped and how many they have perished – this was sat on 0 escapees and 17 perishes. I need to turn him into a better gamer.

This is rouge-like game, but on the slightly less ‘hard-core’ side of rouge-likes – TinyKeep has a fantasy setting, with procedurally generated dungeons and permadeath … death which will happen quite often, and has done for me.

As TinyKeep is an indie game, it includes some light character customisation, allowing for the creation of quite a few different looking characters. However, this customisation is mainly changing the colours of various aspects of the character, the only changes available to the model are different heads and setting the sex of the character between male or female. There are quite a few different heads, which are the same between male and female options (though I believe the female head doesn’t get a bearded option). I’m not one for spending hours on customising the look of my characters, so the options available in TinyKeep are sufficient for me, though limited.2015-06-24_00006

Getting into the game is quick and easy, load time are fast … between screens the game offers extra narrative in the form of short quotes about the dungeon, these are a nice addition to the game, giving a sense of a world beyond the different levels dungeon, however they can sometimes be on screen for a bit too long and aren’t skippable – perhaps some non-visible background loading is happening. You start off on leve 1 of 20, in a small square prison cell with a letter from an acquaintance, Maggie, who appears to have been your cell mate. Maggie says she has the keys and is getting outta there, but won’t wait for you to wake up, she’s been kind enough to leave the door open for you though, so hurry up and get outta there!

The gate to your cell is unlocked! Hurrah, let us escape this filthy dwelling, it is not fit for us! You leave the cell, weaponless and defenceless, unable to attack at all, not even with your fisticuffs. The first level always includes a shield and a sword to find, so it’s worth exploring the entire level of the dungeon to find both before progressing to level 2. It would be a pretty extravagant dungeon to hold just the 1 prisoner, as that’s not the case, there are other prisoners in cages to be found throughout levels. These other prisoners can be freed, but they’ll do 1 of 3 things:
– Join you in the escape, following you around the dungeon and fighting guards for/ with you.
– Run off trying to flee on their own, fighting guards they meet.
– Become enraged, insane I guess, and attack you but not the guards.2015-06-24_00003

I am yet to reach it to the exit with a follower alive, I hope if you’re able to they join you on the next level. As you progress through levels, your health is replenished but everything else stays the same – same weapon, shield and upgrades. The exit on the first level is accompanied by a shrine, a shrine which asks for 15 gold – gold is acquired from killing guards, or the occasional found chest. Giving the shrine gold upgrades your character and weapons, it’s random each time and the shrine can be used more than once, if you’ve got the gold to do so, so it’s worth exploring the entire dungeon and farming it for all the gold!

Up to level 2!
A bigger dungeon, with more dangerous traps and a locked gate before the exit, which requires you to defeat a boss to get the key and 2 shrines – another 15 gold shrine, and another that requires 100 gold.

The A.I. in TinyKepp is fairly dumb, but it works to the betterment of the game. So far I have encountered 2 types of guards, 2 types of bosses and 3 types of invading enemies (more on these later). The melee basic guard has a club, and will run after you with little care for his own life, only jumping over spikes and not always attempting to avoid the rotating spike barriers in a way that a brutish thug with a small brain would. The archer basic guard acts much like the melee guard, with the addition to running away from you when you get too close, this is to be able to fire arrows at you. Neither the guards or other prisoners feel it necessary to avoid fire, fire which you can push over from fire pits – avoid setting yourself on fire like the plague, though being set on fire doesn’t do a drastic amount of damage to you, it does slow you down drastically allowing for guards to catch up to you and beat/ arrow you to death, all whilst you slowly burn with some DoT.

Enemies that I have encountered so far only require 3 slashes, stabs or jabs (all the same, so 3 hits) with your sword to banish to the depths of whatever hell they believe in, except for the bosses, which require a lot of hits. There is no health indicator on screen for the enemies, this is something you need to track yourself. Bosses are quite a bit harder than normal guards, I’ve only managed to beat 1 boss once so far, and that was accidentally.

Accidental boss kill…
When triggering the boss fight, I had another prisoner with me, for a short while at least. As soon as the boss arrived, a rather large armoured fellow with a shield and large sword, the other prisoner ran to the boss and started attacking him, a valiant effort with his fists and no armour, the boss blocking all his advances. As I neared swinging my upgraded razor sharp sword, I realised I was doing more damage to my prisoner friend, than I was the boss, so I backed off only to see my prisoner friend slayed as I did. I ran, in hope to find traps to help me defeat the boss, I ran into many more guards, and got damaged quite a lot by the speedier-than-I boss. Time came to go defensive, very defensive, and find some health!2015-06-24_00002

Holding block, and backing away slowly, occasionally getting hit by an arrow due to the direction you’re holding your shield to block matters, I managed to get to the food I’d left earlier and gain some health … health which just happened to be near some fire, knocking over the fire, and grabbing the health I was situated in a corridor where the boss got shot in the back several times by the archers. This finished the boss offer, allowing me to finish off the rest of the guards, collect the gold and the key to escape!2015-06-24_00004

Ascending to level 3
Level 3 added another game mechanic, one which I’ve not seen used in games for a long time, one which took me back to my childhood … coloured doors which require the same coloured magical sceptre to open the door. A simple mechanic which works well in this setting, a mechanic I’ve strangely missed a little. Finding all the keys and accessing a new room that entices you with a chained up skull and a note saying “I’ve taken a super dangerous looking sword, don’t touch this super dangerous looking skull …”, well of course, you’re going to hit it loads, leading to an invasion of the dungeon by skeletons, which drop more valuable gold – it was by slaying these dastardly skeletons I managed to acquire over 100 gold, if only I hadn’t died before reaching the 100 gold shrine!

I was out numbered, and had wasted health items before releasing these hellish minions upon myself, there was little time to work out what the big smouldering cauldron of green stuff was for – perhaps a way to send back the skeletons and their massive leader boss type guy from whence they came? Who knows? Not I, I died.

This is the farthest I’ve managed to reach so far, the repetitiveness of starting over again means that I’ll play TinyKeep in short sittings, then turn it off to come back to it later on. [Edit: I’ve since found that on the character customisation screen you can select to start at a level you’ve already completed, instead of having to start from the beginning each time] Looking through the achievements, and I see a few very difficult looking goals, which offer additional replayability should I want to (attempt) to complete TinyKeep to 100%. The achievements here are interesting looking ones, rather than just “Complete level n”, “Kill n enemies” or “Run n miles”, they offer new challenges and ways to play through the game, for example “Complete the game without directly killing any enemies”, “Complete the game without a shield” and “Complete the game without being hurt at all”.

Controls
Movement is responsive, with the mouse and keyboard (TinyKeep does have full controller support, but I don’t have a PC controller), and attacking/ blocking is a simple left and right mouse click away respectively. It can be quite frustrating getting stuck on objects and dead bodies around the level, which hasn’t directly lead to a death yet, but could well do so. TinyKeep’s camera angle takes on a top down view, where I find myself trying to constantly view farther ahead than is allowed and would love to rotate the camera a bit on the Z axis to be able to do so – probably making the game easier.

Graphics
The graphics settings are limited, which is expected with an indie game, with just the option to change the quality from economy/ low/ medium/ high/ best.

TinyKeep is a very enjoyable game, and deserves more attention from the gaming community, go give it a try.

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New Places

If you’ve stumbled upon this blog, hello, but it’s an old blog that I have pretty much abandoned now.

However!

I do have somewhere else for you to check out, both with blogs:
http://enigma23.co.uk – my indie game dev site, detailing game development related things about my games.
http://enigma23games.com – my games website, detailing the games I’ve released and where you can get them.

Half-Life 3 Announcement!

Half-Life Lambda symbol

Half-Life Lambda symbol


Last week I read this Kotaku article, and all the way through was thinking “Half-Life 3! But it won’t be real.. Half-Life 3!”, as you can see from the article, I was wrong – as I’m sure many others were too.

This got me to thinking, if when HL3 is released, I hope it’s released without any announcement what-so-ever. Just placed quietly on the front page of Steam, and let the internet do it’s thing of spreading the news.

I would just LOVE for Valve to do this, for two reasons:
1- Just to see what happens, the fallout, the sales, the reviews, etc.
2- I think because fans have been hoping for HL3, for a long time now (nearly 6 years since the last instalment), any announcement and then 6-12 month wait will be accompanied by so much hype and anticipation, that it will taint many views of it.

How cool would that be? Of course, retail would hate it, maybe. Do retail really care about PC games? Doing this would only affect the PC version.

I also love the AR announcement they did for Portal 2. If they could perhaps find a way to do the same for HL3, then not confirm anything once that’s worked out, and just silently release HL3. Job done. Free PR as everyone races to talk about the release of HL3 and find out the story of why no announcement!

Name the Game Answers

Answers for Name the Game are below! And below them, the full sized screenshots used.

Answer card:
01. Diablo III – PC – Beta – 2012 :: 2 Points
02. TERA Online – PC – Beta – 2012 :: 2 Points
03. Magicka – PC – Released – 2011 :: 2 Points
04. Legend of Grimrock – PC – Released – 2012 :: 2 Points
05. Rayman Origins – PC/ Xbox 360/ PS3/ Wii/ Vita/ 3DS – Released – 2012 :: 7 Points
06. Fez – XBLA – Released – 2012 :: 2 Points
07. Ghost Recon Online – PC – Beta – 2012 :: 2 Points
08. Dead Space 2 – PC/ Xbox 360/ PS3 – Released – 2011 :: 4 Points
09. Limbo – PC/ XBLA/ PSN – Released – 2011 :: 4 Points
10. Age of Empies Online – PC – Released – 2011 :: 2 Points
11. Rock of Ages – PC – Released – 2011 :: 2 Points
12. Orcs Must Die! – PC/ XBLA – Released – 2011 :: 3 Points
13. Batman Arkham City – PC/ Xbox 360/ PS3 – Released – 2011 :: 4 Points
14. Command and Conquer: Tiberian Alliances – PC (Browser) – Beta – 2012 :: 2 Points
15. Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning – PC/ Xbox 360/ PS3 – Released – 2012 :: 4 Points
16. Alan Wake – PC – Released – 2012 :: 2 Points
17. Microsoft Flight – PC – Released – 2012 :: 2 Points
18. Max Payne – iOS – Released – 2012 :: 2 Points
19. Burnout Crash! – iOS, XBLA, PSN – Released – 2012 :: 4 Points
20. Tribes Ascend – PC – Released – 2012 :: 2 Points
21. Batman Arkham City Lockdown – iOS – Released – 2011 :: 2 Points
22. Death Rally – iOS/ Android – Released – 2011 :: 3 Points
23. Diamond Dash – iOS/ Facebook – Released – 2011 :: 3 Points

Name the Game!

Name the game from the section of a screenshot! And for bonus points, can you name the format(s) the game is available on?! All games have been released during 2011 and 2012, or are currently in Beta.

Name = 1 point
Platform = 1 point per platform*
Total points available = 64

* Does not include MAC or OnLive.

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Answer card:
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Mirror’s Edge (iOS) – Review

Release Date – September 1, 2010 (iPhone), April 1, 2010 (iPad)
Platform – iOS (iPhone and iPad separate downloads)
Review Platform – iPhone
How good is it? Possibly the best “traditional” game available on the mobile platform (that I’ve played). Good graphics, execellent controls that have been specifically designed to work with the platform and make the game a really enjoyable experience. Levels are short, fun and allow for a bit of exploration to search for the hidden bags, perfect game for when you’re negotiating the releases of some chocolate hostages!
Bet­ter than …? A good addition to the “full” Mirror’s Edge game.
Any new features? Controls that are actually designed for touchscreen. Achievements available, but not linked to any social gaming (no EA Origin, Apple Game Center or Open Feint)
Price (at time of writing)? £0.69p

Rat­ing – Five Mirrors

Video:

Game Intros

As part of my Designers course, I need to look at game intro movies/ sequences, what games do you instantly think of as having good intros? And what games come to mind when you’re asked about bad intros, or boring intros?

Ones that come to my mind are:

– Half-Life
When I first got Half-Life I was awestruck, truly amazed at the atmosphere and the feeling I was experiencing. I remember enjoying the intro, taking the monorail car through a big facility environment, looking around and listening to the woman giving out the rules and instructions of Black Mesa. But, having to do this for a second or maybe third time onwards, I would find it boring and a waste of time wanting to skip the intro!

Here it is (If you have a spare 5mins..)

– DC Universe Online
Now, I haven’t played this, but the intro was also used as a trailer, and I love it, will always enjoy watching it. I hope it sets up the game well, it certainly does the job of making me want to play it..

– League of Legends
Now, not TECHNICALLY an intro, because it’s not in the game, just a cinematic trailer online. I just love it, especially watching it again now, now I’ve played it for a long time and know the characters and the game. It gives a glimpse of the summoners controlling the champions, and even getting hurt when a champion does. Hopefully they do another one for Season 2! (and/ or Dominion)

So, while I look for intros, what are your suggestions of excellent/ good/ bad/ boring intros I should look at?