Friday, December 20, 2013

Featured indie developer: Cory Martin

We here in the deep, dark basement like to get sucked into a good game or two. Luckily, the newest Ludum Dare package has 25 sweet games to choose from, a few of them worth a play. One artist and developer, Cory Martin, from Tennessee caught our eye for this Ludum Dare with his game, "You Are Disabled".

Flung into a dungeon, players experience one of a few different randomly generated disabilities from the beginning of the game. Players may be crippled and move slowly, nearly blind and only see what is immediately surrounding them, they could be spastic and have little control over their character, or illiterate and not able to read the clue signs sprinkled throughout the game. My personal preference was illiteracy, given that most of the signs in the game are creepy insults. HOWEVER, in the spirit of personal challenge, I reset after playing through with illiteracy and tried every one. Lots of fun. 

As simple as the gameplay is, this game is 100% addictive. For fans of the Mario Bros dungeon aesthetic, that super fan of Bowser's castles and the underworlds, "You Are Disabled" delivers a fun and casual gaming experience. Strangely eerie music(?) plays in the background, sounding more like a dying internet modem than anything, players star as a shy-guy look alike who's only strategy is to overcome his disability by jumping (or crawling) across stages, avoiding hot lava. It seems pretty easy at first, but as the game progresses, players must master their timing and succeed against the odds. Bridges disappear, electrodes pop into existence, fireballs burst from their pools of magma. I liked this game so much that I played all of Irock's other games and for the most part, they were good too. My favorite of the 8 available on Stencyl was "Reaching Finality"…

"Reaching Finality" is that overhead adventure game you just can't help but love (or at least we can't). Like a more basic "Seedling", players begin with a vague quest, a direction to go and soon, a weapon in hand. Enemies pop up after a while, and soon you are in a dungeon fighting flying skulls and bats (what's the deal with gamers and bats anyway?). At first, RF moves a little slow. I remember thinking to myself, "Continue?" after finding a rake as my weapon instead of a sword (nasty flashbacks to Harvest Moon time wasting) but the different angle intrigued me. I am certainly glad that I didn't venture off onto another developer's site because the adventure which took place soon after acquiring my rake was quite fun. 

In fact, my true adventure started in the most classic of settings: The underground! Everybody is thirsty for a good dungeon sesh and in "Reaching Finality", that thirst is well quenched. It's an enjoyable, "Kill the baddies, get the key, open the door, kill the boss." cycle, which in truth, ends in one of the most fun mini-boss battles we have played on a web-based indie game. The only thing missing from RF is some nasty chip tune to glue it all together. Call me a purist, but in reality garage band type music seems to cheapen the experience of an 8-16bit game. I am aware that I am playing a web game thanks to the music and in effect, the game harkens back to some of the first to build bridges for sites like AlbinoBlackSheep or NewGrounds. The early days were flash, mostly pen style animation and with a "soft piano" rave song in the background. Shudder.
 I wasn't truly able to lose myself in the 8-bit ambiance OR the feeling of transcending web/flash to console, given the casio-esque tunes playing in the background. 

That aside, I had a lot of fun finding my way through Martin's version of a Zelda dungeon. The enemies were fun to kill (aside from the cyclops slime things…WAY too defenseless, felt like a dick.), the world became joyfully intricate, and the ending made me FEEL good about the game I just played. For this, we in the Basement say hats off to Cory Martin aka Irock and hope he makes more games in the near future!

Wicked Basement Rating: 6/10

Wicked Basement Rating: 5.5/10

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