MIX LA 2013 – Bringing a flood of Indie for one night

A limited engagement opportunity was available during GDC Next, it was in fact, MIX LA being held just off-site from the convention. Taking press and independent developers and putting them on a stylish rooftop in the middle of downtown.  We were able to wait through some of the lines and check out some new titles coming to consumers in the future ahead.

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Escape Goat 2 – Magical Time Bean

Love solving puzzles? Using multiple modes of movement to maneuver the myriad of solutions to mind melting challenges? Did you love the excessive use of words with M in that last statement? Well Escape Goat 2 might be something you’re interested in, packing in tons of levels, challenges, environmental factors and a rat friend. Players save sheep, defy death traps and  take part in classic puzzle solving challenges through each space, the world offers multiple paths and the ability to return to old areas if left incomplete.

Personally I made a complete embarrassment out of handling the ice levels and minor gaps, instead of using the tools available I simply thought too hard around every challenge. It happens and it’s likely because there’s often much more to environments so we expect so it’s easy to use excessive movements. It’s still in the revision phase but Escape Goat 2 is something I really want to play more of, even if I horribly botched my initial shot.

Constant-C – IGS

Left to yourself to investigate and fix a damaged ship, that’s the objective for players in Constant-C. Now add gravity control sprinkle in magnetic fields for activity and environment rotation and we’re seeing something special. Constant-C isn’t a regular puzzle solver, it’s hundreds of levels of challenge balancing  the magnetic field of our hero, speed and gravity while trying to reach doors to advance.

Being a helper bot on an occupied ship it makes perfect sense to include lasers, spinning blades and other death devices throughout. It wouldn’t be much of a challenge if it was that easy, we did step in for a few rounds with the upcoming release for Steam (already out on Desura) and it was amazingly hard yet fun. If you’re in for a puzzle solving field day, just slap this and Escape Goat 2 together for the full range.

It’s incredibly simple to lose yourself in the rotation and field control as deaths mount but how it happens is what makes Constant-C a challenge I’d always come back to.

Videoball Videoball… Videoball… – Midnight City

There’s nothing to really say about Videoball, it’s all expressed as you play in heated frustration against your opponents and partner. Teamwork isn’t a natural element in most games, many have to train to operate with others and stop acting like the ultimate hero on the planet.  Videoball forces that cooperation in the wild, get on the same page and play as a group or get decimated, you can amplify the embarrassment depending on the skill of your opponents also.

It’s a game of timing, skill, shooting and defense. You don’t just try to score or move the ball in the step you’re taking, you’re anticipating the extra moves ahead because it’s almost a given your opponent is already plotting numerous ways to completely ruin those plans.  It’s frustrating, it’s magical, it’s Videoball and it will allow you to ruin souls or get yours trampled.

Personally, the leveled up shots bring in extra challenge elements as they cause different velocity levels if you can execute them. For players who always want to go big, you can create an array of blocks by holding in too long for that level 3 shot. Sure it’s almost an instant goal but if it goes wrong it’s just a massive joke when the match is heated. The reality is that a block defense only works if you block the entire goal grid and maintain it without being stunned. It’s not an easy task at all and it removes 1 player from being in the action to generate points. In it’s current state, Videoball is easier and more rewarding to play it on the live field for offense with a partner than it is with 2 stations.

Aztez – Team Colorblind

When I first sat in with Aztez my brain kept pumping “Mad World” constantly, the intense contrast, the bath of blood on the screen, Aztez strikes a comic like element that I can’t help but be drawn to.  We got our hands on the battle arena, while it’s not the primary focus of the game mechanics, it’s certainly one of the most brutal and appreciated of the group. Our goal was to last through the clock against incoming hordes of swordsmen and spear wielding angry fellows. The first run, well that went terribly, something about not dodging or blocking and being impaled by enemies because dancing around in a group of them is a bad idea.

The second round was much more rewarding, jumping, dodging, slashing, using melee attacks and surviving the hordes. While it wasn’t a total win in that 5 minute counter it was still something that felt like a victory to last more  than a few minutes. Hopefully it’s just as challenging when it hits in early 2014, it’s always nice having a game that absolutely shuts the idea of an easy victory down. If you want to win you need to earn it and Aztez lives by that example.

The evening was packed with indie developers, while we saw many games we selected this group to showcase in our impressions from the casual night up on top of 1010 Wilshire. We hope to see more from these devs in the future and bring more highlights as they near their release.