Teratogen began as a project to test how well Go language lends itself to roguelike game development. It is graphical and hex-based. There have been several roguelikes with hex maps but Teratogen does it right. Your goal is to go down and find the source of mutagenic Tau wave while not getting chewed, bitten, maimed, crushed or shot. Survival horror adventure at its best.
On each floor there will be zombies and other mutated monsters. You have your hand gun and ammunition for fifty shots. When that ends or you get cornered prepare for a brawl. Various inhabitants of this wasted world generally do not exhibit much intelligence although eagerly follow blood trails. Whenever you splat a monster a disorganized red stain appears. Walk through it and you will leave bloody shoe marks.
The difficulty in Teratogen is your survival is based on two factors. Not getting killed which barely works on top floors and not losing one’s humanity which hardly works on deepest floors. Every defeated monster takes some of your humanity on death. As you become more and more deprived of your very self mutations manifest in your body. These are always very beneficial and useful. You are tempted to fully clear each floor … but that way lies madness. Before you make it halfway to the heart of evil you will turn into a chaos spawn without aware mind.
Mutations are especially noteworthy. One of them is lightning usable every fifteen turns. Use it near a group of enemies and watch as it arcs from monster to monster electrocuting everything in its path. Another is named cryogenics. Freezes targets into neat ice cubes patiently waiting to be shattered. Do so before they thaw or take time to run away. There is space for eight skills but only two are going to be filled.
Sadly development appears to have been put on halt. Google dropped a certain module from Go which is crucial to Teratogen’s code. Since the language has incomplete Windows support the game is playable only on Linux. Without a significant code overhaul this project will get easily forgotten.
Dance of Death is a flash roguelike game. You could be playing it right now instead of reading this review. While wonderfully portable you may need to agree few times to give it more storage on your hard drive. World inside is fully persistent and needs some space. It is divided into pieces just like wilderness map of ADOM. In DoD though, you can only move by going through borders of current area. Remember to use the ‘m’ap key to find the stairs to visit. Look for hints in your quest log. Finishing this dungeon means victory.
Skill based nature of Dance of Death makes creating right character crucial. Carefully tuning your attributes and skills can make the game a breeze. Lets take armor skill. The more heavy pieces of protective gear you wear the more it encumbers you. Up to a certain point decided by armor skill adding new parts will enhance your safety. Continuing above this threshold actually decreases your protection because burden makes you less capable of efficiently using your armor.
Hit point regeneration system is unusual. This does not happen automatically as time goes by reducing tedium of resting after every battle. Boring pillar dancing is gone as well. To heal you have to eat corpses. After a meal you will be revitalized for a short time. During this phase your health regenerates very fast. It is actually so quick there is no need to wait for hit points to reach maximum. Go find another monster or some new treasure. Revitalization is likely to end sooner. Unfortunate blow to this good design are never rotting monster corpses. With several in your pack you can munch some when in bad condition then run away a little while revitalization lasts and come back to finish wounded enemy.
Inventory takes a while to get used to if you have played roguelikes before. Hit ‘i’ to access it and when you highlight an item DoD will present you with number of actions you can take. Remember you need to eat not just to repair health. Bad things happen when your sustenance counter reaches zero. Overall a fine game with a strong coherent world but lacking in content due to still early development phase. Winnable in 15 minutes on second playthrough.
Expedition is just what the name suggests. You take an expedition into the unknown! Find unclaimed land, found a colony there and sail back to impress the royalty of Spain and get rich.
After being granted an audience in Alcazar of Segovia you start with two caravels, one carrack plus a bunch of sailors led by three captains. Make good use of 6000 maravedies you have. To establish a town you need to drop off one hundred people there and build a plaza. So take some colonists along. They are cheap but keep in mind they need to eat too.
One thing to note is controlling your expedition is not exactly straightforward. Left arrow will turn to portboard and right arrow will turn to starboard. Repeatedly pressing left arrow will not get you to America (*cough!* I mean Asia); you will sail in circles instead.
Ships have hull integrity points. Hazards like storms and reefs damage them. If a ship loses all integrity points it sinks possibly forcing you to forsake some cargo. Damaged ships sail slower so it is imperative to keep them in good condition. To make repairs you need free men and logs of wood. Take at least one carpenter with you. Two hundred logs should be enough to make it one way. Devastate some forest to get enough wood to get back safely.
Game is prone to sudden crashes. A rare event but even a hurricane is not as dangerous to your progress. On the good side Expedition has three interface modes to choose from. Java curses based, libjcsi based and graphical.
Expedition has fitting music. Just listen to it while sailing to new lands. Playing the game may seem easy but avoiding storms and trying to not let your crew starve at the same time is bound to cause troubles. May the winds favor you!
Download current version here.
Version 0.5 has two quests available. Completing the second results in victory. You have very limited turns before your first quest “Adulthood” begins automatically. Villagers kick you into the crevice and expect to stay there two days. Look to the right side of status bar for date and time.
Strong point of Cracks and Crevices is unified ‘u’se key which greatly reduces time needed to get into the game. While interface is well done (not counting a few bugs) playing experience is not as smooth. C’n’C is actually real-time. If you do not make a move during a specified interval character is assumed to be resting. Depressing effect it has on tactical play is very visible. Even on easy setting (up to 3 seconds per turn) one tends not to think when fighting because waiting too long will give opponent a free turn.
Combat is much less dynamic than expected. Most attacks end in misses and armor system is plain deflection. With two points of armor you can windshield kobolds. With four you do the same to orcs and so on. Accomplishing second quest consists of getting enough armor to be invulnerable and patiently bashing away until you opponent dies.
Definitely C’n’C is in a state where only hardcore roguelikers or those who wish to help author develop the game would want to play it. If you do press ‘3’ to heal at the temple for free. Hopefully next version will be easier to get into.
Those of you who wish to follow Incursion development might want to join newsgroup where next progress reports will be made. The update recently added on game website is last one for two years or maybe more.
Seven Day Roguelike Challenge in 2010 was very fruitful. There were fifty games released. Some of those are inspiring enough to have a successor. Math: the Roguelike is successful in this regard. Hydra Slayer is another game based on kind of mathematics but was written in even shorter timeframe. First version appeared after one day of coding and another of playtesting. Its uniqueness to the world of roguelikes is based on two factors.
During two months of its existence Hydra Slayer had astounding number of seventeen releases! And that is not counting archives uploaded just to fix really minor bugs which did not have own version. Such development speed is virtually unheard of in this game genre.
Second but no less important factor is theme and scope of the game. Hydra Slayer focuses on a tiny fraction world but fleshes it well. As a student of long forgotten profession you venture deep into Hydra Nest to make yourself a great career. Your goal is to slay all hydras on a level. To kill one you need to behead it. The trick is you cannot use your shortsword (-4) if target does not have at least four heads. Same rule applies for blunt weapons and shield bashes. To use a trisector (/3) on a hydra it has to have number of heads divisible by three.
To further complicate the task hydras have tendency to regrow heads which frankly is not news to anyone. Slayers would be well advised to use weapon imbued with element most effective at defeating chosen beast. Swinging a flaming claymore at a fire hydra will only get you double the quantity of heads you cut. However attacking with a bone bastard sword may give it opportunity to regenerate only one more.
Fortunately there are many items left by previous warriors who were well provisioned. They did not have knowledge of hydra slaying art which you have. Runes of decapitation, runes of cancellation, scrolls of transmutation and potions of power juice are some of things you will find. There is no point describing them here because help system in game is neatly designed.
Main strength of Hydra Slayer is unique theme and easily understood interface. A fine coffeebreak game. After defeating ancient hydra you can ascend and score but also go down for more challenge. Sadly it becomes boring rather quickly.
One of few fantasy roguelikes set in norse mythology. Once a commercial product, now a forgotten freeware gem. The game starts when Fimbulwinter strikes. It is sure sign of incoming Ragnarok. Chaos engulfs known world while Jotuns and Valkyries prepare for the epic battle. Gods benevolent to mankind are outnumbered and underarmed. Norns have proclaimed their defeat. However, legends tell about a human hero who shall help the Aesir fight and perhaps tip the scales of battle. Thus your journey begins.
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Typical roguelike game has wide array of commands to remember, plethora of stuff to use and multitude of mysterious creatures. Add ASCII graphics with several other minor gameplay quirks and you have succesfully scared away another newbie. Over is largely unfinished but it has core elements of roguelikeness implemented. Just a few keys, almost no complexity. This makes it ideal to recommend for newcomer to the genre.
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Lim-Dul shares some tips and tricks about POWDER in his video series. If you have not played the game yet or would like an introduction visit http://www.youtube.com/user/limdul.
I prepared several videos in advance but only uploaded two so far –
I’ll put one up on Youtube each day till next Thursday when I go on a
trip to the Netherlands – then I’ll see where I go from there.
Let’s play POWDER 01: Imps on Acid
Let’s play POWDER 02: Snail Liches, Traps and Water