The indie scene is always worth zooming in on. Today we’re looking at the recent releases of SpiderHeck, God of Riffs and OneShot: World Machine Edition.
SpiderHeck review (PS4)
When SpiderHeck’s premise of “Spiders with lightsabers” was introduced, I couldn’t help by think of Dr. Evil’s sharks with lasers. Probably a good thing, because it’s a testament to the fact that wacky combinations have a way of becoming memorable, and it made us want to check out tinyBuild’s latest release, which was developed by Neverjam.
SpiderHeck essentially does what its premise suggests – it lets you do battle with eight-legged freaks wielding weapons, and does so in sci-fi environments where physics also play a role. The developers know it’s a silly setup too, as made evident that you can unlock cosmetic upgrades through which you can equip your arachnid with a little hat as well.
And while you’d think that these spiders are pretty quick on their (eight) feet, you’ll find that any kind of serious mobility is mostly handled by web-slinging yourself around the environment – though you have to be careful as some parts of each arena are quite hazardous to you. There’s a risk vs reward mechanic to moving around quickly though, as this is the key to picking up the game’s various weapons, which range from laser guns to old school crossbows.
At times, SpiderHeck felt like a supercharged version of the Worms formula – one that works best in a multiplayer setting, for which there are multiple gameplay modes. The main single player mode is called Tiers of Heck – a wave-based mode that throws different challenges at you through limitations and/or tricky environments. This could mean that you can only use one particular weapon – which can be a serious and frustrating problem because they’re not easy to control and work with, causing the single player mode to be more frustrating than the multiplayer one, where the hectic nature of the gameplay makes up for a lot.
You can also engage in other (less limiting) solo modes, but SpiderHeck is at its best when played locally with a few friends – and you can choose to play cooperatively or competitively. You can also tweak the experience to your liking, setting up the ground rules and thus eliminating a lot of the frustrations you might otherwise run into. It makes for an experience that’s somewhat reminiscent of other party brawlers, but its wholly unique spider-premise makes it unlike so many of the copycats that occupy the genre. Worth a look if you’re looking for something a little different.
God of Riffs review (Quest)
Rhythm-based gameplay and VR certainly seem to mix well, as the continued popularity of Beat Saber and Synth Riders demonstrate. Another strong combination that’s even more recent seems to be metal music and videogames, with games like Ragnarock and Hellsinger. God of Riffs builds on both trends and recently launched for the Quest in addition to the Steam version that had been around (in Early Access) for a while longer.
With the genre getting more and more populated, it’s nice to see that God of Riffs brings something new to the table – disguising itself as an action/combat game in which you have to take down hordes of the undead by swinging guitars at them – all to the sound of the music, of course. Beat Saber fans will recognize the fact that these hordes are color-coded though, and depending on their color you’ll have to either use your left or right-hand “weapon” to take them down. Because the color coding can be as subtle as an eye color, you have to constantly be alert.
As a VR game with a budget price point and an accessible gameplay formula, we’re guessing the most divisive element of God of Riffs is going to be its soundtrack, for two reasons. There’s more content planned, but currently you only have eight songs to play though, which is very much on the low end for any music game. The other thing is genre – heavy metal may be a popular mechanic in gaming these days, but it’s also a bit lacking when it comes to mainstream appeal – which others in the VR rhythm genre have more of. Ragnarock was excellent though, so heavy metal fans will want to keep the ongoing development of God of Riffs in mind as well.
OneShot: World Machine Edition review (PS4)
We love it when we discover an indie gem that’s been really well received by players, yet somehow passed us by. It’s like discovering a hidden treasure that you know is going to be special in some way, and that’s what happened when OneShot’s console ports were announced by DANGEN, who are bringing it to all major consoles after developer Future Cat first launched the game on Steam back in 2016.
OneShot is currently sitting at an “overwhelmingly positive” rating on Steam after almost 30,000 reviews – an insanely high number for any game on the platform. Its popularity got an early boost through an itch.io project, and it’s nice to see they’ve been able to keep the momentum going all the way until now, with the World Machine Edition of the game.
That titular World Machine is actually a gateway within a very “meta” type of game, which engages strongly on its original theme. As that sounds vague, the World Machine is an old school operating system that boots up when you launch OneShot, so when you start launching a game from within that (in-game) OS things suddenly start to feel very meta or “Matrixy”, and it doesn’t stop there. In-in-game, you control a cat-like creature called Niko, and before long he recognizes you as a player, breaking the fourth wall and putting you in the position of a deity of sorts in Niko’s world.
It’s philosophical and existential at the same time, but OneShot is more than its intriguing premise – though it capitalizes on it through gameplay as well, letting you dive between layers by hacking into in-game computers and things like that. Strip that away though, and you’re still left with a more than competent little puzzle adventure, complete with an attractive pixel art style and a solid soundtrack. The unique theme and atmosphere are what make it stand out from the pack though, and even six years after its original launch this is a game that’s very easy to recommend. Console owners should be delighted that this was ported over with a new version and shouldn’t hesitate to pick this one up.