Release roundup: TrollHunters, Unrailed!, Projection: First Light & Inertial Drift

Today we’re looking at no less than four new releases that came out this past month, with TrollHunters: Defenders of Arcadia, Unrailed!, Projection: First Light and Inertial Drift.

TrollHunters: Defenders of Arcadia

Originally a collaboration between Guillermo del Toro, Netflix and Dreamworks, TrollHunters has been a hugely successful television series that’s now getting a videogame tie-in. Developed by WayForward of Shantae fame and published by Outright Games, responsible for plenty of family-friendly titles already, we were looking forward to seeing how all that talent would blend together in a TrollHunters game.

Defenders of Arcadia ties into the series loosely by combining elements from all three seasons through a simple action platformer formula. You control Jim Lake Jr and face off again Porgon the Trickster Troll, but you can also pair up with Claire using the game’s couch co-op mode, which is arguably one of the most appealing parts of the game as it allows for parents to play with their children in a game that’s accessible enough for youngsters yet not too simple for adults. It’s quite generic though, so if you don’t have a young TrollHunters fan to play with you won’t get much enjoyment out of it.

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In addition to basic platforming and (also very basic) combat, you can also upgrade your character and pick up tons of collectibles in-game – which help you shop for cosmetic items in the in-game store as well. More importantly, however, progressing will also let you run into other characters from the series, many of whom which are voiced by the original voice actors. This makes Defenders of Arcadia sound great, and it’s a shame that the visuals aren’t more inspired than they are – they look like a last gen 2D platformer, with animations that should have been better considering the source material.

Still, for a game that should provide a bit of co-op gameplay for about six hours with a younger Trollhunters fan, this isn’t bad. Just don’t expect to fall in love with it without a lot of affinity for the source material.

Unrailed!

Daedalic’s making a bit of a comeback these days, and the company that was once mainly known for quality adventure games is now coming out with a few surprising games – Unrailed by Indoor Astronaut is definitely one of them. It’s out now for PC as well as consoles, and it’s one of the most accessible and fun survival-esque games I’ve played so far.

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Unrailed! is designed with multiplayer gameplay in mind, and works best in local multiplayer where the action gets frantic and quick communication becomes vital. You see, no one is working for themselves in this game, but you’re all joining forces to keep a train running along a never finished set of tracks. Within a procedurally generated world, it’s your job to keep adding tracks, get rid of obstacles in your way, and upgrade your train with wagons that grant you new abilities.

In a way, Unrailed! is a mix of survival elements, but also feels like a blend of games like Overcooked and classics like Pipe Mania, where you had to keep the water flowing through a series of pipes that you had to place as the water was approaching. Your train will move slowly at the start, giving you time to find the much-needed resources for your tracks. Before long you’ll also need to start tending to your train though, which might need protecting from some engine failure or bandits looking to rob you.

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That may sound like the premise for a complex simulation, but Unrailed! is action-oriented and the action can get quite hectic, and things get faster and more complex as you go along. There are a few different gameplay modes available as well, but they’re still variations on the same theme, offering competitive multiplayer, a limited timeframe in which to play or a more stress-free sandbox environment.

Although it may not have the diversity and depth of a game like Overcooked, Unrailed! is easy to pick up and learn and provides fans of couch co-op games with a great new take on the genre.

Projection: First Light

Developed and published by Shadowplay Studios, Sweaty Chair and Blowfish Studios, Projection: First Light is a new puzzle platformer with a novel mechanic for its puzzles. It’s out now for PCs as well as all major consoles, and we tested the PS4 version of the game.

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With its silhouette-style characters and foregrounds, it’s easy to compare Projection to the likes of Limbo and Toby: The Secret Mine. Projection: First Light makes shadows an integral part of the gameplay experience though, and features shadow puppets as characters while using light and shadow as the core puzzle mechanic as well.

Narratively speaking, you control a young girl called Greta as she travels through various parts of a shadow world filled with mythological shadow figures. Helping you is a small butterfly, which is controlled with your right thumbstick and has the ability to shine a light upon the scene you’re in. More important than the light, however, are the shadows you cast in the process – Greta is able to walk on them, so you’re constantly transforming the scenery in order to progress and get past holes and obstacles.

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It’s a mechanic that’s visually striking and quite unique, though I did end up missing the puzzle variety of games like Limbo after a while – puzzle elements are frequently reused with only minor differences. Positioning your shadows can also feel too finicky for its own good, sometimes because the level itself will scroll forward a little bit and cause you to fall off. This can be mildly frustrating as it breaks any kind of flow you might have had for a moment.

Projection: First Light certainly isn’t the most polished or memorable puzzler out there, but the new mechanic is certainly worth checking out and the game has one of the most fitting uses of the “Limbo” aesthetic I’ve seen so far.

Inertial Drift

Released in the first half of September, Inertial Drift is Level 91’s fresh new take on the drift racing genre, with PQube handling publishing duties for all major consoles and the PC. We played the PlayStation 4 version, after previously trying out a demo on PC.

We actually first laid eyes on Inertial Drift during the preliminary round of the UKIE EuroPlay contest that took place around Gamescom, where the game was one of the nominees for the UK. We met with Level 91’s Michael O’Kane during the show as well, and he talked us through some of the game’s unique mechanics, which were a pleasant surprise.

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When you think drifting and arcade racing, games like Ridge Racer quickly come to mind. Inertial Drift doesn’t try to emulate that AAA kind of experience, but instead has some unique control mechanics and looks like a mix of games like Horizon Chase Turbo infused with cell shading and a dash of neon colors from Tron.

This isn’t a drift sim like Drift21 or a straight up arcade racer like Ridge Racer that you can easily jump into – Inertial Drift features a learning curve that slowly gets you used to its unique control method, which revolves around the right thumbstick acting a ‘drift modifier’ – controlling the angle of your drift. Of course your initial reaction is to go nuts with this, but you’ll slowly learn the nuances of steering around corners without losing too much speed.

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There’s even a story mode to help ease you into the game, and over the course of the game you’ll get access to a selection of different cars – each controlling slightly differently and thus providing a new and slightly more challenging experience as you progress through the campaign. Once completed, you can also dive into online multiplayer modes and attack the global leaderboards, but one of the most fun ways to play Inertial Drift is through its split screen local couch co-op mode.

In the growing field of interesting indie arcade racers, Inertial Drift certainly deserves a top spot, and if you’re into drifting mechanics then this is a title you’ll want to try out.

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