The indie scene is alive and well, and we’re looking at three recent/upcoming releases. Join us as we explore Speed Limit, the console release of Wildfire and the upcoming 1.0 release of Shattered – Tale of the Forgotten King.
Speed Limit brings supercharged retro arcade gaming
Speed Limit, from developer Gamechuck, comes out next week on all major consoles and PCs. We’ve already played the PlayStation 4 version, and can’t wait for arcade gaming fans to get their hands on it as well. Some of you may remember the game from an interview we did with the developer during Gamescom, so it’ll come as no surprise that we were eagerly anticipating this one.
Essentially a love letter to the arcade games of the late eighties and early nineties, Speed Limit is an adrenaline rush of an action adventure game in which you constantly swap between different arcade game homages – from shooting and platforming to driving and flying, and from 2D to (pseudo) 3D. It’s easy to see where the inspiration came from, and if you remember arcade games like APB and After Burner then you’re in for a nostalgia-fueled road trip.
Arcade games were always designed for short gameplay sessions – asking you for another quarter after two or three minutes – and Speed Limit is no exception. The first level is an exciting train shootout/escape scenario, and the action just keeps going from there. You’ll die quickly and often, but you can always just hit that restart button and keep going – no quarters needed this time. Progression is near-constant as well, despite the deaths, so there’s always that urge to get a little bit further – much like there was for all those arcade games.
Because of that, you’ll probably blast, jump and drive your way through the campaign in an hour or two. Master the levels, and you can do it in well under an hour. That’s going to hurt the lasting appeal for the game (despite an ‘infinite mode’), but luckily it has a price tag to match the short running time. It also features wonderful retro aesthetics, with pixel art 2D visuals realized in different styles to accurately convey the look and feel of the games that inspired it. If you have fondness for those game, you’ll enjoy Speed Limit a lot while it lasts, and will likely come back to it as well. And if you enjoy physical editions, then Speed Limit is available in that format as well: https://store.strictlylimitedgames.com/collections/speed-limit
Wildfire now available on more systems
We actually missed this one earlier, but during the holidays Wildfire came out for console systems after its earlier release on Steam. This 2D stealth game where fire becomes a gameplay mechanic was developed by Sneaky Bastards and published by Humble Games, and because it’s been a joy to play on PlayStation we didn’t want to ignore the chance to highlight it.
In Wildfire, you have control over the elements through magic – most notably an ability to start fires. Your fellow humans don’t look too kindly on your skills though, and after being branded a witch you’re cast out and need to evade the soldiers that hunt you down on sight. It’s a thin but effective premise, and it sets the stage for an excellent 2D stealth/puzzle game that borrows from games like Trine, The Mark of the Ninja and Thief but succeeds in being its own thing.
Although starting a fire and seeing it run wild can be a thrilling way to get rid of enemies (although you can be put in harm’s way yourself as well), fire isn’t your only power. You can invoke the other side of the elemental spectrum as well by freezing water, or you can manipulate the earth and things that grow in it. Your abilities grow and develop over time as well, keeping things fresh as you run into new situations in which to use your powers.
It’s almost hard to imagine that this was a PC-only title first, because the controls work absolutely great on the PS4 (and PS5) as well, and the game even features single screen cooperative multiplayer, which is a blast to play and something quite unique for the stealth genre. If you haven’t had a chance to pick it up, definitely look into Wildfire.
Shattered – Tale of the Forgotten King leaves EA on February 17
Shattered, from Redlock Studio, has been in Steam’s Early Access program since June of 2019, but it’s set to leave EA with its final version very soon as it will release on February 17. With definite hints of games like Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls, is this one to look forward to?
Redlock is certainly ambitious when it comes to their game, because they’re crafting a game universe for it that is meant to transcend the world of Shattered – Tale of the Forgotten King with more titles already in the works. You play as a Wanderer in the world of Hypnos, where the king has vanished and the world fell apart as a result.
The gameplay is reminiscent of the recent remake of Demon’s Souls in a number of ways. The world is designed and divided up into zones, each with a distinct visual identity of its own and a collection of NPCs and bosses to fight. We’ve been playing the Early Access build for a while and couldn’t help but notice the similarities, but Shattered also has a few elements that it can call its own.
The combat definitely emphasizes dodging and a conservative use of stamina – much like the Soulsborne games – but also adds a layer of agility with it double jumps, jumping attacks and dashes. This agility also translates to other parts of the game, where the perspective changes to a 2.5D view not too unlike that one in NieR. For a game from a smaller studio, it’s certainly impressive to see even in its Early Access state.
As with many Early Access games, it’s also still a little rough around the edges. Combat can feel a tad unbalanced at times, and we did run into the odd bug here and there as well. Luckily, the upcoming 1.0 releases will come with a major update that should smooth out the experience in a lot of areas, so come February 17 we’ll certainly dive back in again.