In the mood for a humorous, pixel art, medieval cemetery management sim? Then Graveyard Keeper could be for you.
Coming out later this year on Xbox One, Graveyard Keeper lets you build and manage your own graveyard while finding shortcuts to cut costs, expand into entertainment with witch-burning festivals, and scare nearby villagers into attending church. This is a game of capitalism and doing whatever it takes to build a thriving business.
Slipping under the radar somewhat at E3 this year has been a curious game by the name of Mr. Shifty, which surprisingly isn’t a reference to our very own Greg.
Mr. Shifty is being billed as a new kind of action game. This top-down title encourages you to stop creeping through the shadows and memorising security patterns. Ditch the fancy toys, be an expert thief and a master of infiltration. Playing as Mr. Shifty, you should be able to get inside any place you want with just the power of his fists and his teleportation skills.
This speed-stealth, kung-fu brawler follows the exploits of Mr. Shifty as the game combines top-down fighting with the ferocity of ’90s Hong Kong action cinema.
You will pound your way through 75 levels of heists, rescue missions, boss battles and down ‘n’ dirty brawls. Outsmart your opponents by luring them into traps and tricking them into shooting each other. Activate your slow motion powers to dodge the bullets when the gunfire gets too thick. Watch your back though, it only takes one shot to bring you down.
This frantic new title looks to be coming to Xbox One in 2017 and comes from a close-knit group of four Australian based developers at Team Shifty, who previously worked at HalfBrick and will be published by tinyBuild Games.
I’m sure we’ve all been there… It’s 3am, and you’re in bed, staring at the ceiling as the flat downstairs jumps and pounds with the sounds of a party. Regardless of how we feel, I like to think we would never resort to any kind of violence. The same cannot be said, however, for the protagonist of TinyBuild’s tactical “stab’em up”, Party Hard.
The main goal with Party Hard is to infiltrate a local party and kill everyone at there without being caught. Your default weapon of chaos is a simple knife, but scattered within each level are various objects which can net you more kill-points. Explosive speakers, the ability to set fires and being able to push party-goers over the edge of buildings. These can change with each play-through, providing a variety of different options for your killing needs. In each level there is also a special pick up which can help you gain further points, depending on your execution. You may get lucky and be able to pick up the bomb, or stun bomb, which can wipe out a fair number of people. One which I found the most useful, however, was the ability to change your clothing. This allowed you to easily evade the police, but as it was a one-time use item, you had to work out when to take your chances with it. Of course, no decent serial killer would leave their prey open to discovery, so littered around each level are various ways to dispose of the evidence, be it in a skip, down a man hole, or into a rooftop fan.
Party Hard appears to have a steep learning curve, however the base game is very simple. The difficulty comes from controlling your own patience, as well as developing strategies for each level. Sometimes you will be able to rush through, kill everyone, and be finished within three minutes, however more often than not, you will have to wait for the perfect opportunity to strike. Much like Hitman, Party Hard is all about taking calculated risks and learning from your mistakes.
There are a total of 12 levels to complete, but appear to follow the same pattern, just increasing in difficulty as you work your way through. Party Hard adds replayability in the guise of randomised levels, and the lure of beating your previous time and point total. Other than that, you have the standard achievement grind, but nothing much more to keep you coming back.
Party Hard is a nostalgic throw-back, visually, with its pixelated 2D style. You will often find references to geek-culture littered about in each level, with Darth Vader, Mario, and others making an appearance. The aesthetic is bright, bold, and rarely distracts from the task at hand. However, I did find that I lost myself a few times, because of how cluttered levels can get when first loading, especially when it is full of party goers. Using the left trigger will also bring up visual prompts, helping you scope out the available traps and hiding spots with ease. The soundtrack is equally bold and bouncy, with its electronic 8-bit style, fits the party atmosphere perfectly, and sits comfortably in the background without being distracting.
Party Hard is available now to download from the Xbox store for £10.39.
Lovely Planet from QuickTequila and TinyBuild Games can best be described as a twitch shooter, but to limit it to such is to do it an injustice. With a somewhat minimalistic story, it falls on the other components with which to endear itself to you.
The overall premise is decidedly simple. Make it to the end of the level, eliminating enemies and navigating platforms while avoiding all damage as a single shot will put you back to the beginning on the stage. Although this sounds simple, it most certainly is anything but. The key mechanics are exceedingly straightforward, simple and precise with only a jump and a shoot button at your disposal.
Each level follows a linear path to completion, with increasingly difficult enemies and obstacles introduced periodically to prevent stagnation, frustration or boredom. These begin as simple foes who stand in place to shoot at you, upgrading to those with tracking projectiles you must destroy to survive to what can only be described as apples, that reset you once they complete their trajectory and touch the ground or nodes that create an area of damage after a short countdown that you must sprint through to survive. Alongside this, you have civilians who, should they be shot accidentally by yourself or by the enemy, will also cause you to fail the level.
All of these varying hurdles are triggered sequentially ensuring you traverse the level in the fastest speed possible ensuring a hectic, sometimes frustrating , sprint from the start to the finish pole.
To this end, each level has a preview mode, which allows you to view all of the enemies you must face and enables you to plan your path and course of attack.
There are a lot of similarities that can be drawn between Lovely Planet and the Katamari series, each having a very simplistic yet inherently Japanese stylisation to them, and it suits Lovely Planet perfectly. The simplistic pastel coloured world is accompanied perfectly by the cheerful, upbeat music that accompanies each stage, thus ensuring that each of the five worlds and 20 plus stages for each, have a different feel to them despite the elementary graphics utilised.
With the pacing of the game being extremely fast and the controls exceedingly precise, it is not easy to spot the flaws, yet they are there, albeit minor. Your own and enemy bullets sometimes clip through each other, and when the game permits no mistakes, this injustice can cause some frustrations, especially when it repeatedly occurs within the same difficult stage.
Thankfully, this does not occur very often and my frustration never reached the point where it felt overwhelming.
There are some games that defy simply categorisation that, when examined, fall under a multitude of genres. This is always a fine line to tread, as “Jack of all Trade” games tend to lose some of their impact by spreading themselves to thin. Lovely Planet, while suffering from some of these problems manages to hold the line, striking a balance between Twitch shooter and puzzle platformer with few missteps and remains a joyful, unique, frustrating yet eminently enjoyable game that can easily satisfy the most hardcore of twitch shooter fans while remaining accessible to more casual players.
Thanks to Xbox and TinyBuild Games for supporting TiX
TinyBuild Games, the team behind Speedrunners, Divide by Sheep and their launchpad title, No Time to Explain, have now after 4 years released their primary title on the Xbox One.
NTTE challenges you with chasing down your future self through time and alternate realities while fighting giant monsters, collecting hats, and eating cake! No Time To Explain is a game about Time Paradoxes, Jetpack Guns and Ribs In People’s Eyes.
The rebuilt release has 4 player local co-op, redesigned boss fights and an updated soundtrack, and is available now to purchase on Xbox One.