With Rezzed well and truly behind us now, it’s time to wrap up some of the last few stragglers. In today’s round up, we’ve got a game that sees you doing your best Winston Wolfe impression, a colourful shoot ’em up that keeps you thinking, and an interesting game that sees you telling peoples fortunes.
Serial Cleaner | PS4, Xbox One, Windows, Mac, Linux | iFun4All | Summer 2017
When you think of games in the stealth genre, you tend to think of something deeply serious, perhaps with some kind of spy or espionage theme. It’s an understandable connection to make given this is the genre that encompases titles like Metal Gear Solid, Splinter Cell and, delving further back, Syphon Filter.
While Serial Cleaner’s premise, cleaning up crime scenes ala Pulp Fiction’s Winston Wolfe, steers well clear of that espionage element, it’s a concept that could end up tonally quite dark. Instead, developers iFun4All have gone in the complete opposite direction and created a game that feels fun, silly and light, and is all the better for it.
Presented from a top down perspective with a highly stylised look, the game’s movement is fast and snappy, with police officers that try to hinder your work sporting clearly defined vision cones that you have to try and dodge while removing bodies, evidence and blood from the crime scenes you’re sent to clean up. The first two tasks are relatively easy to manage, although you will have to retrieve a body and move it all the way back to your car to be successful. Blood is a little trickier, but also much funnier, seeing you sucking blood off the floor with a classic bag vacuum cleaner that looks like it could have come straight from a Tom and Jerry cartoon.
The AI really adds to the game’s general feeling of ridiculousness. They’re not exactly the smartest coppers, blindly chasing after you if you cross their vision cones, but quickly returning to their preset patrols if you can manage to get away from them, ignoring obvious hiding spots like a conveniently placed camper van. Leading a police officer or two on a merry chase before suddenly escaping their clutches really adds to the game’s cartoony vibe, which chimes nicely with the art style.
If you want to check out Serial Cleaner right now, then it’s available on Steam Early Access for Windows, Mac and Linux, and will be finding it’s way to PS4 and Xbox One this summer.
Pawarumi | Xbox One, Windows, Mac, Linux | Manufacture 43 | 2017
Do you have those genres that you enjoy playing but are, ultimately, terrible at? To be perfectly honest, there’s quite a few of those for me, although shoot ’em up’s feature prominently. They’re great games, often full with beautifully vibrant art and slick, fast moving action that keeps throwing new challenges at you. I am, however, absolutely terrible at them, generally falling to bits rapidly.
In a weird way, the fact that I’m still kind of awful at Pawarumi is a mark of its quality. If I was any good at it, I’d be worried that there’s something missing from the title. Instead, Pawarumi seems to be the real deal, feeling like a mixture of classic military style vertically scrolling shooters in the vein of Capcom’s 1941 series, and more modern titles like Ikarauga, if I can call that modern. In fact, the comparisson to Ikaruga is an apt one, as Pawarumi relies heavily on colour. However, unlike Ikaruga where you switch between white and black to avoid shots, Pawarumi uses a rock-paper-scissors approach.
Enemies are coloured red, green and blue, colours which match your three weapons. It’s not quite as a simple as your typical blue weapons beating green enemies though, although that’s certainly true. Attacking red enemies with your blue weapon won’t take them out quite as quickly, but will charge up your ships super weapons, while matching blue weaponry with blue enemies will recharge your shields, although also boosts any enemies you attack. It’s a smart approach that keeps you on your toes, forcing you constantly reassess your situation and what side effect you want from your weaponry.
Given that heavy use of colour in the game’s mechanics, it should come as no surprise that Pawarumi is visually excellent, with everything leant a vivid neon tint. In a nice touch, the backgrounds are slightly more muted, allowing you to easily pick out enemies, while also managing to present you with a highly detailed, 3D panorama to battle above.
If it sounds like Pawarumi would fill a shoot ’em up sized hole in your life, then you should know that the game is currently on Kickstarter, altough the campaign ends on Wednesday.
Night Bizarre | TBA | Laura Dodds | TBA
Night Bizarre is something a little different. Although it’s certainly got game like mechanics, Night Bizarre feels a lot more like something that fits into the “experience” category. While other titles at Rezzed gave me a feeling of excitement, joy or tension, Night Bizzare is instead refreshingly peaceful, leaving you with a general feeling of calm after spending a little time with it.
Set in a Cambodian night market – can you spot the pun in the title? – you play as Srey, a novice fortune teller who’s finding her way with the guidance of her mother and grandmother, two figures who frequently find themselves at odds. While the grandmother is completely convinced of the real mysticism of fortune telling and Srey’s ability to tap into it, a viewpoint that the game’s visuals and mechanics heavily back, Srey’s mother is instead far more cynical, disregarding any supernatural element and instead encouraging Srey to just tell people what they want to hear to earn more money.
The actual mechanic of fortune telling in the game is very similar to tarot cards, asking you to select and deal cards that you feel work for the current fortune. Interestingly, one step of this process has you blindly selecting cards from a deck, while another asks you to place these cards in various positions when you’re not yet aware what all of the cards are.
By directly bringing over these elements from traditional fortune telling systems, you’re set an interesting challenge. There’s nothing about this process that is overtly game-like, and instead you’re asked to interpret, with the assistance of an in-game almanac, the hand you’ve dealt yourself in a way that pleases your client, or to be as truthful as you can.
While the build of the game that was available felt quite early in terms of some visuals, the overall sense of what the target for Night Bizarre is was very clear. This is something that feels a little different, having you inhabit a character far more than most other games do. With the potential of a VR version of the title on the horizon too, it’s easy to see how you could really find yourself drawn into Night Bizarre’s world and unwinding for a while.