Feed the beast in Swamphole

A developer that manages to surprise me consistently throughout a series of releases, has actually something really special going on for him. Arthouse Games (which I knew as Cullen Page), is bringing my mind back to the times when I was discovering geniuses such as Tom van den Boogaart or Jake Clover. I've been enjoying all of his recent games, and Swamphole, is definitely one of a kind.

It's a short sidescrolling adventure game, and I suspect it to be set in a swamp, funnily enough. The visuals are simplistic, pixelated, and acually made of a few greeny shades to strengthen the idea of being in disturbingly damp environment. As stupid as it sounds, it took me a while to realize that there was something other than the first scene. You can move the stickman with the arrow keys. But since the screen is essentially borderless, I walked in two different directions going off the screen before realizing that heading to the right was going to bring me in a new scenario.

I liked how in the bottom, the game actually describes with a short sentence what's going on. I don't know why, but it definitely made the experience a lot more weird than it should've been. After a while though, you'll be noticing a fading orange tail accompained by a loud ringing sound effect. It could've been an insanely ravenous monster, but in the end, it turned out to be a giant mouse all worried about feeding his mom. To interact with it, you just need to press your spacebar. Which is going to work the same way once you will find a big hole in the ground. Clearly, there's someone in it, you can tell by the red eyes that stand out in the darkness. And then, by hitting once again the space while standing on it, it will yell  asking to be fed.

It took me a few moments to realize what came next, but by reaching the ending scene on my own, I felt insanely good. It involves some backtracking, but that's the only thing I'm going to spoil. Swamphole can be downloaded on Game Jolt for free; sadly, works only on Windows.

(Late) Video Wednesday: Little Phobia

It's late, it's super late! But Leon gave us some footage of Little Phobia, and you shall watch it regardless!

It's a fun, and even quite challenging horror platformer, plus, it runs directly on your browser. I wrote some words on it that you can read here, but in any case, I suggest you to check today's video nonetheless.

Leon's Youtube channel is consistently offering some great content. If you want to see more of it, subscribing to him is free. What are you waiting for?

A modern Frankenstein: Belladonna

For those who still don't know, I'm also sharing cool games on Warp Door. Plus, above all the cool initiatives run there, I myself contribute once a week with a Screenshot Saturday round-up. Where, basically, I pick the most interesting screenshots of games in development and then dig into their stories. Last week, I stumbled upon Belladonna in development by Niklas Hallin, and after a closer look, I thought that you may have wanted to keep track of it as much as I do.

There isn't anything playable right now, and although I know that I've lost already half of the readers, I just wanted to get that out of the way. I'm here to share my excitement about games in general. It doesn't matter whether they're already out, or still in the protptyping stage. Belladonna is a classic point and click adventure game. It's set in a Victorian-styled mansion, and by guessing from the several screenshots on its website, most of the backgrounds are entirely hand-painted. The compelling trailer, at the end, was supposedly suggesting that the game was coming out the past summer. Which didn't happen, evidently. Though exactly because I found it through the Twitter's #screenshotsaturday hashtag, we can be sure that it's still being worked on.

The story remains partially undisclosed, and most of the assumptions I'm going to make, are solely made based on the rough guideline available. Belladonna, main character and wife of doctor Wolfram von Trauerschloss has lost her child. The dramatic circumstances, lead her husband to perform dangerous experiments centered on overcoming death at all costs. However, it seems like his first attempt at creating a sentient entity out of mechanic parts and flesh, will be actually performed on none other than Belladonna.

Playing as what's left of her body, you'll have to dig deep into your memories and look for clues around the castle to finally unravel the many mysteries behind the events of your "initial" death. I couldn't find the platforms on which Belladonna will run, but I'll make sure to let everyone know as soon as there are more details about its release. The website is often updated, so you can check it too!

Biblioteca, a horror browser-based RPG

In case anyone wonders, biblioteca in italian means library. Then guess it? Yeah, the game I chose today is indeed set in a library. What a fantastic coincidence, I might say. Anyway, Biblioteca has been developed by Vitaly Margevich, and, above everything, it's always good to play something complex without the need of downloading anything.

Biblioteca comes with pretty much all the visual elements that I would expect in an RPG Maker game. However, the last time I checked, it wasn't possible to bring games made with it on any browser. But let's move on. We're talking about a horror RPG game, and like most of them, it heavily relies on easy puzzles often about finding keys to unlock doors. Other than that, since it's obvious that you can't expect people to be scared of tiny 2D characters, the developer did a great job on the sound department. The so called jumpscares are limited, and when they happen, it's best to have the volume (especially if you're a headphones user) turned down to the minimum.

The plot could've been definitely better. Creepy mansions in which you're locked in and screaming ghosts don't exactly feel fresh anymore. However, I liked the premise that casts yourself in a playable version of the nightmare that the main character has every night. As a natural follow-up, the whole story will be then set in the run-down library of the dream that you've finally been able to recognize. The game doesn't go easy on you, as it presents almost instantly chopped heads laying on a table, or even the first apparition of a ghostly girl that you'll eventually hate as the events unfold.

What's even better about this, is that the game, divided wisely in acts, has a sort of built-in save system. Of course, you need to keep your browser cookies intact. But then, providing that you haven't anything to do with all of that geeky business, you can leave the game whenever you want without having to start over the next time.

Biblioteca can be played directly on itch.io.

Crystal Rift, horror challenges ahead of us

Whenever I can't find anything worthwhile already released, I like to surf Steam Greenlight pages. Most of the times, I must admit, it doesn't pay off. But today, I'm instead so proud that I haven't spent my time for nothing that I can't stop giggling. Crystal Rift is being made by Job Hibbins and Nick Pittom, and is supposedly going to come out in the third quarter of 2015. Moreover, regardless of it being still in the early stages of development, playable builds are being released as new features get implemented.

Crystal Rift is described as a first-person challenge game. Which practically, means that the gameplay revolves around overcoming increasingly difficult levels through mysterious and dark locations. Deadly traps are set up in order to prevent you from discovering the dark secrets hidden in the dungeon you're exploring, but that, shouldn't be your first concern. The game's horror elements are a lot and pretty varied, that's what worries me the most.

Furthermore, it's good to notice that the game has been specifically designed to be played with virtual reality devices. The devs, however, are also planning to release its 2D version, which is coming respectively for both Windows and Mac systems.

The story will be unfolded only by playing it, and if you're having troubles to visualize its playstyle the trailer should help you out. I wonder how the grid-movement system will work out considering that everything seems to be running in real time. Though regardless of that, the more I read about Crystal Rift, the more I think of it as a horror-styled Legend of Grimrock.

An Oculus Rift alpha version can be downloaded for free on IndieDB. I honestly tried it without having the right tools just because I wanted a sneak peek. And if I have to be honest, it's been enough to make me want to play it as soon as it comes out. Thus, if you're interested as much me, you can help it out by voting yes on its Greenlight page.
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