Rogue Soul 2

Side scrolling has never looked this good while also being simple and fun at the same time! Rogue Soul 2 has a lot of improvements and new stuff compared to the original. Note that you don’t need to have played the first game to enjoy this edition. The game opens up with an old prisoner and two guards. The protagonist quickly finishes off the guards and frees the prisoner only to tell him he’s just after the loot. We then proceed to a tutorial level and after learning the basic controls, we go to the first few levels where we can hop on enemies, collect loot and slide through obstacles. There are awards and achievements and a book with data about all the enemies and some other stuff. We can also unlock skins and buy upgrades and weapons and parachutes. A lot of stuff to discover!

The Lost Sloth

Sloth is one of the laziest, if not the most laziest animal on Earth (except teenagers). There is a certain appeal to it, though. Imagine a life full of lazy laying, chewing some herbs, and moving only to go get to a new location with fresh herbs just to do it over and over again for the rest of your life. However, sloth is much more than pure laziness. According to the Animade team, sloth is a whole bunch of things.

According to the developers, The Lost Sloth is an animated web-toy meaning there is no story or actual game play, just a means to enjoy yourself. Using the cursor as an x-ray machine of sorts, your task is to scan one apartment building, as well as the surrounding terrain to find where the lazy sloth hides. Once found, a note shows up with a touching and hilarious proverbs such as “Sloth is love, sloth is life” or “A slothless life is a meaningless life.” Though finding the sloth is the main task, there’s plenty to be seen in the process.
Everything is drawn with shades of blue and pink, while x-ray vision is in grey and black with occasional pink elements adding more contrast to the two worlds. Not unlike real life, you will discover some pretty weird neighbours on your scanning tour. From gift-eating Santa and a giraffe who is watching TV, over some game and cartoon associations to an apartment filled with water like a giant aquarium, you will find some pretty crazy combinations, drawn with great care. Some of my favourites were R2-D2, Totoro and Adventure Time characters.
The sounds change as well, adding even more to the ambient. For example, country plays when you focus on the cowboy, and salsa can be heard near the dancers.

Altogether, The Lost Sloth is a brilliant web-toy, offering simple relaxation and humour allowing the brain to rest for a while.

Anabasis

Are you creative? Do you wish to find out more about yourself? Are you patient? Do you know the answers to all of the questions above? Don’t worry; this isn’t an advertisement for a self-help book. These questions can be answered much simpler. All you have to do is play Anabasis.

Anabasis is a pixel drawing game made by Alexis Huet. It is a game of changing colours, actually. The game consists of a 10 x 10 squared lobby. Each square is a room with 10 x 10 tiles. Each tile is coloured either dark blue or light blue. By clicking on dark tile it changes colour to light blue. However, once the tile is light blue, it cannot be changed to dark again. This way your creativity is limited to the first try, and requires planning on what you wish to draw and how to do it because mistakes can’t be corrected. With ten thousand tiles to click on, the choices are plenty and the final result is up to your creativity and patience. You can use each room as an individual canvas, or all rooms together and lobby as a canvas with much more possibilities.
If we put the artistic part of the game aside and search for a deeper purpose of the game, or even a way to finish it, we will find a challenge. It is a simple one, yet it takes time and patience. In order to finish the game, your task is to find one tile among ten thousand (yup, it’s that easy) which is different from all others. When you find that special tile, the game is over and you can see what you and other people have drawn.

Altogether, Anabasis is an interesting concept, with artistic and challenging components which go hand in hand. All you have to do is arm yourself with patience and creativity and hop inside the blue ambient of Anabasis.

Alpha Wars

Real time strategy games have fallen behind in modern gaming due to a tsunami of first person shooters which flood the gaming community nowadays. Alpha Wars, made by Studio Hoppe, doesn’t have what it takes to rebuild the population’s interest in this genre.

Alpha Wars, as said before, is an online real time strategy game. Before playing, you need to register, which leaves an impression of a serious game. The game starts with a tutorial explaining movement and basics like moving and using your army as well as managing your base. Beautiful graphics add to the good general impression but a game cannot rely entirely on graphic design, it requires matching mechanics of same quality in order to succeed and that is where Alpha Wars fails.

First of all, the mobility and responsiveness of the troops is catastrophic, making you wait up to ten seconds before starting to move where you want them to. In addition to catastrophic mechanics of the units, the base is disappointing as well. At first glance everything looks in order, thanks to great graphics. However, once you start collecting materials and/or building units and upgrades, the game shows its true skin. There is no resource gathering over time, instead you have to use a building to gather resources. As an idea it isn’t that much of a problem but once you start collecting from one building, it lasts for one minute and during that time you cannot use any other buildings. The buildings have three times of collecting: 1 minute (which you activate by clicking on a hand drawn rectangle shown when you move the mouse over the building, completely destroying the perfect graphics image the game wants to impress you with), 1 hour (which costs 1 Titanium and can, of course, be bought with real life money and costs a LOT) and 15 hours (15 titanium). Furthermore, units and upgrades cost hundreds of thousands of materials, and one minute of steel gathering gives you about three thousand steel, making this game impossible to play unless you pay for the Titanium, which shouldn’t be the main goal when making a game.

Last of all, Alpha Wars has a nice concept which got run over by modern day greed, destroying a potentially good RTS game.

Dodger

Dodge ball is one of the best childhood games because it requires coordination, precision, awareness and, most of all, reflexes. Dodger is a browser game made by Rasmus Enhörning and Andreas Herman which requires all of the above as well. The only difference is that in dodge ball the ball hurts a bit when it hits you while in Dodger you have to evade and/or shoot fireballs which kill you the moment they touch you.

Dodger is a platform shooter game in which your mission is to reach a certain score in order to be able to play the next level. You control a green alien by using W for jump, A for left, D for right and SPACE to shoot your laser gun.  Score increases with time, meaning that the longer you manage to avoid the balls, the bigger your score will be. Furthermore, each destroyed fireball gives you additional 5 points. The game consists of fifteen well designed levels, each requiring a different approach so the minimum for the next level can be reached.

Each level has something unique about it, adding diversity to the game. For instance, instead of fireballs, cannons on the edge of the map shoot snowballs, which grow bigger as they collide with each other. On another level the fireballs are immune to your laser for a certain period of time. There is, of course, the-floor-is-lava level and so on…

There are four Dodgers to choose from: happy green one (the one you start with), suspiciously content orange one (unlocked when the game is finished), one eyed pink alien (when your average score is over 1000 points) and the cool blue alien (this one is unlocked when you like the game on Facebook).

Dodger is an example of a small game in which passing a level can makes you feel like you actually achieved something, a feeling games of the old times used to awaken.

Fragger

Grenades are dangerous! That being said, we can move on to Fragger, a 2D stationary shooting game created by Harold Brenes. Technically it’s not a shooter, more like grenade-throwing-in-order-to-kill-some-Grunts-and-being-very-precise-about-it kind of game.

The mechanics of the game are similar to those of Angry Birds, but not exactly the same. Power of your throw is controlled by moving the cursor to the bottom (for low power) or the top (for more power) of the power meter which is at the same time the trajectory cursor. It takes some time to learn how much power, combined with the right angle, is required to land the grenade where you want it and even then the smallest of adjustments of either power or trajectory will cause you to miss your intended target.

You play as Fragger, a guy dressed up in what seems to be  S.W.A.T. clothes, and your mission is to kill all the Grunts on the level. At least that is my guess since there is no background story to follow which is a shame considering how many good excuses can be made for throwing grenades at other people (do not try this at home). However, even though there is no story, the design and sound effects quality is quite high, keeping you interested from the beginning to the end.

The game has 30 levels which get rather tricky by the end. Some levels even force you to stop and think about your next move even though you can restart the level as many times you need. The whole game on normal mode can be finished within one hour. For the perfectionists there are hard and elite modes to play as well as several achievements to unlock.

All in all, Fragger is an interesting albeit short game, just perfect for those lazy Sunday afternoons.

Awesome Conquest

When a game has the word “awesome” in its title, usually it’s a sign that the creators of the game don’t feel the game has enough to offer. Awesome Conquest on the other side is a well created, enjoyable strategy game without any major flaws. The game was created by Jim Chalwin and Carl Trelfa.

As far as the story goes, an evil red army stole blue people’s amulet and they want it back. It is up to you to help them retrieve it. The game consists of twenty two levels in which you have to eliminate all enemies on the field. You can’t control your army but, since the gods are on your side, you can use acts of god to help you fight the enemy. There are five acts of god: Lightning Strike, Tsunami, Tornado, Finger of God and Meteor, each with unique effect on the battlefield and the enemies.

Between the battles you are returned to your base for one minute. The base consists of a gold mine, a workshop, a temple and barracks. Each building can recruit more workers, depending on the level of the building. For example, the level one gold mine can have a maximum of 4 workers, level two can have 8, level three mine can have up to 12 and level four a maximum of 16 workers. Barracks are similar but the fighters recruited in the barracks will go to the field and fight on the next level. After each successful mission you will be rewarded with one upgrade to choose from. It can either be a level-up for a building or new unlocks (Acts of God, new types of soldiers or better equipment for mine workers).

Altogether, Awesome Conquest is a fun game to play, requiring some strategic planning and approximately one hour of your time to finish it completely.

Blue Box – A minimalistic puzzle game

Minimalism is by definition a style that is characterized by extreme simplicity. The best description of minimalism as a method can be found in the phrase “less is more”. Maciej Targoni and Michal Pawlowski, the makers of Blue Box, embraced the minimalism and created a beautiful platform puzzle game.

As said before, Blue Box is a platform puzzle game in which you are playing as (yes, you figured it out) a blue box. Starting from the green box, your task as a bouncing box is to destroy all other blue boxes before reaching the red box which is the end of the level. The boxes vary in size and the bigger the box the more times you have to jump onto it in order to destroy it. There is a catch, though: if you jump twice on the same box it will return to its original size (unless you jump onto the smallest-sized box, in which case the box will disappear). On some levels there are dark blue boxes which act as power-ups allowing you to jump twice on the same box lowering its size with each jump. In later levels portals are introduced forcing you to think the level through before you start jumping around.

Blue Box has 30 levels and can be finished in a relatively short amount of time. What I enjoyed most, other than some pretty amazing puzzles, was the music. Everything gets better when beautiful, relaxing music plays in the background.

All in all, Blue Box is an amazing idea which turned out into a fantastic game, with all components balanced. It is a really enjoyable way to spend some spare time and hopefully there will be a sequel with even more bouncy blue boxes to destroy.

Slope – A good old game by Rob Kay

Remember when you were a kid and each time you were running down the hill you wished you were able to turn into a giant ball and just roll to the bottom? Then later in life you figure there’s something oddly satisfying with watching any item move down the slope, even more so if the item is round shaped and bouncy. Slope, a game made by Rob Kay (lead designer of Guitar Hero), is all about going downhill.

As the name already says, there is no even ground in this game, only infinite slopes on which you roll a ball. Sounds simple, right? It is far from simple, though. The ball you are in control of by pressing the arrow keys (only left and right) is pulled by gravity and once it gets momentum, there is no stopping it. The ultimate goal of Slope is to keep the ball on the green surface as long as possible without touching the red walls or red obstacles. Levels are based on short segments which are connected by small jumps and each segment counts as one point. Keeping the ball rolling as long as possible leads to a better score as the number of segments passed increases. Some segments have a lot of red obstacles which tests your coordination, whilst others are very narrow and demand precision. Falling from the edge into the abyss will result in game over as will touching anything red.

Slope has 3D design with green lines showing the boundaries of each item therefore giving the game a very inside-of-a-computer retro look.

Altogether, Slope reminds of “the good old” games where there is no ending, just a highscore waiting for you to beat it again.