PMG Presents: A Chucklefish Retrospective

Making good games is an art, and some people are just better at it than others.  Now I’ve already talked about Edmund McMillen and Puppy Games both of which make amazing games, but now I’d like to introduce you to another game studio who’s fairly new and who has already started pouring out a stream of amazing games: Chucklefish.  Now not all of the games I’m about to talk about are out, some are in beta, and some are still deep in development.  I’ve been attracted to them for one reason or another so I hope you can find something endearing in the games yet to be released and something fun and amazing in the ones that have already come out.

I’m gonna go ahead and start off with the games that have not yet come out, and work towards the most recent releases.  So to start off I have Stardew Valley a game still very much in development.  Stardew Valley is a very interesting game of the ‘Harvest Moon’ variety but with a few twists.  Stardew Valley pegs itself as “an open-ended country-life RPG with support for up to 4-player co-op.”  In it you are able to customize your character and your home and, in the style of ‘Harvest Moon’ you can start a farm/ranch and court your neighbors and start a family.  An added feature is a large cave system that you can explore to fight monsters and obtain valuable resources.  Now I’ve always been a big fan of ‘Harvest Moon’ and ‘Animal Crossing’ so this game has a great interest to me.  It looks as though it will be a nice, quiet, little, relaxing game to watch the hours pass away.  As it stands Stardew Valley has been Greenlit on Steam (chosen by the community to appear on Steam).  The game has no set release date or set price, but if you are interested in it you can follow its development on the Chucklefish website.

Our second game, yet to be released, is called Treasure Adventure World and it is a metroidvania-style, sidescrolling platformer where you sail the seas searching for treasure and adventure.  Treasure Adventure World is a remake of a little indie game from 2011 called ‘Treasure Adventure Game.’  The original game featured pixelated graphics and a very simple story about a boy and his bird who search for mystical and magical artifacts to fight a demon that threatens the world.  The remake features redone graphics and soundtrack as well as an improved story and revamped puzzles.  The game has a deep ‘Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker’ vibe from the setting to the gameplay.  Treasure Adventure World has yet to be released, but the free version ‘Treasure Adventure Game’ is available for download.  ‘Treasure Adventure Game’ is a great preview for the game to come and shows just how much potential there is in the final product.  The developers are aiming at releasing the game early in 2014 and will cost $10.  It currently has not been Greenlit on Steam, so if you want to see it appear on the Steam platform please go and vote for it.  This game really deserves it.

Next up on the list is Chucklefish’s first release, a game called Wanderlust: RebirthWanderlust: Rebirth is an “online four player co-op arcade-action RPG.”  There are four premade characters/classes in the game, each with their own controls/abilities, which allow for a very versatile playthrough depending on what kind of gaming you like to do.  The game features nice, little graphics which are very reminiscent of ‘The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past’ with simplified characters and enemies in the overworld.  It’s a neat little game, nowhere near the best but still fun especially with others.  I would have liked it if the characters were able to be personalized, but the fact that they’re not is not a breaking point.  If you’d like to pick it up you can on Steam for $7.99.

To move onto the games that I am very fervent of I introduce you to Risk of Rain and Starbound.  To start off let me tell you about Risk of Rain, a roguelike set in space.  You play as one of ten unique characters with their own abilities and styles.  The game has you go around killing monsters to collect money so you can buy randomly spawning powerups.  As you go you progress through the level to find and kill the giant boss which lies at the end.  If you can do this you go on to the next level.  Now this game may seem pretty conventional and ordinary, I mean what’s another roguelike where you kill monsters and collect powerups, well this game features a twist.  The twist is that the longer you play the harder the game becomes.  This simple addition adds a whole new layer to the game.  You have to weigh the cost of rushing ahead into an easier level against to being well prepared with enough powerups.  It’s a hard decision to make and one that you shouldn’t take lightly because despite being fully prepared, the game ramps up in difficulty like you could not believe.  After my countless playthroughs I still find it difficult to make it past level 2 and that’s often while the game is still on easy.  The art of the game is nothing to amazing.  Everything is pixelated and so small that it is often hard to distinguish one enemy from another or even tell what they’re supposed to look like.  Like most roguelikes progress in a game such as this can only come from luck and skill, though mostly luck.  You will find yourself playing this game again and again hoping for one lucky playthrough where you can make enough money and get just the right powerups to progress quickly and easily.  The game also features an online multiplayer to bring your friends in on the action.  If you want to buy the game, you can pick it up on Steam for the nice price of $9.99.

If you happen to be reading this post on the day or week of its release, then you may know about the recent release of the Starbound beta.  Starbound is a game I have been fervently awaiting for about a year.  It is a spiritual successor to Terraria, though it includes vast improvements in the game’s overall feel and replayability, but I’ll get to that soon enough.  Starbound is a 2D action platformer in the survival/building genre of games.  In it you play as one of six customizable, playable races: the Apex, a cross between Star Wars’s Empire and the gorillas from Planet of the Apes; the Avians, a race of wingless bird-people; the Floran, carnivorous plants; the Glitch, robots who are stuck in medieval times; Humans; the Hylotl, a race of amphibious creatures that have an oriental vibe; and the Novakids, bandits composed of the plasma of stars.  You start off the game stranded on a spaceship high above a lone planet without any help and only the most basic of tools.  With this you are let loose onto the universe, free to do whatever you want.  If it’s your first time playing you can follow the tutorial and make your own little camp on the planet and build bigger and better weapons/armor.  All of this leads to the point where you craft a beacon and things get serious.  The world of Starbound is very similar to that of Terraria where the world is randomly generated along with all of the treasures within it.  In ‘Terraria’ you could generate a hundred different worlds and despite some minor changes they would all feel very similar: forest, desert, snow, corruption/crimson, jungle, ocean.  Starbound takes random generation to the next level by randomly generating everything from planets, biomes,  monsters, weapons, day/night cycles, weather, gravity, size; the world in Starbound is just shockingly vast and intricate and unique.  In each world you will find all sorts of unique little things.  My first planet was purple with trees and giant mushrooms and herds of strange orange and yellow pig people.  On the other side of my planet there is a big glitch castle full of knights deadly knights and peasants and deep underground I keep finding lush cave systems.  The world is enormous and I cannot say that I’ve even scratched the surface of what all this game has to offer, but I do see that this game has quite a lot of potential.  So this leads quite nicely to a major point I have to make, being that this game is still in beta.  Starbound for everything it can be, and one day will be, know that as for right now, it’s not all there.  There’s lots that the developers are still working on, things that have not been finished or implemented in the game yet like a full questing system or even smaller things like the Novakids or pets or fossils.  Still this game is gonna be amazing once it gets all the bugs worked out and everything implemented and optimized.  If you want to take a look at Starbound, and I truly recommend it, you can do so on Steam for $14.99.

On a final note with the encroachment of the winter holiday I will be taking a brief hiatus from posting until 2014 rolls around.  I will however try to put out a post on the Steam Winter Sale, to help guide your buying in the winter season.  Happy Holidays!

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