The Underwater Indie-cade: Risk of Rain
I was stumbling along Kickstarter looking at games when I should be picking up games like FTL or The Bridge to play and I saw a nice little picture of a game called Risk of Rain, which had JUST started its funding campaign. Curious, I jumped in and looked at what they had to offer. “An action platformer, huh? Haven’t played one of those in quite a bit…”. I was attracted by the 8-bit cover art, the interesting title, and one of the pictures on the Kickstarter campaign webpage that had about 700 enemies or bosses or whatever. Being the gaming masochist that I am, I assumed this game to be challenging. Next thing that caught my attention– free demo. “Why not? Can’t hurt, right?”
When I started up the demo, I instantly went into controls, as I normally do with any game. To see controller support on a demo of a game that just started its Kickstarter was a good sign. It definitely brought the impression that these guys really want this game to be as accessible and fun as possible. I don’t necessarily like using the arrows on the keyboard, as I’ve gotten so used to the WASD controls from all the Counter Strike: Source and Team Fortress 2 that I’ve played that any alternative sounded barbaric to me. I hooked up my Xbox controller and started mapping. It took a bit of fussing, but I think I found the best solution. If you would like my layout or if you are having problem finding a suitable layout yourself, just leave a comment or tweet me and I’ll find a way to distribute it, as I do believe I found the best solution for an Xbox-style controller. The reason I bring up the controls first is because I instantly felt the tightness of the controls in this game. I almost couldn’t believe that this was a demo build. The game does exactly what you want and is very easy to get use to, as this is a different-ish feeling game. With four abilities and a jump, there wasn’t much to learn or keep track of, and that helped getting into the fun.
Taken a few steps back, when you hit the start game button, there is a choice of two different playing characters for the demo and three difficulties to play with. There is a nice little summary of the character’s four abilities, as each character has different moves to have different play styles. There is also a hint on how to play each character, giving you a baseline if you have no clue on what to do. Honestly, I have only played the first of the two, commando, because I wanted to get a strong feel for the game and learn how to play the game before I started the other character. Understanding how the commando played, I assume that the same will go for the miner — you need to develop a play style for the character in order to progress. I rather enjoyed this with the commando, as it can be seen that the character can be played a few different ways. The best part is that the character select screen has about eight empty seats, which hopefully hints at the ability to play this game a substantial amount of ways.
Enough dawdling, on to the gameplay! The game gives each character four different abilities that all have different effects on the enemy. One of the abilities is a basic attack, basically your go-to move which has no cooldown. Other moves, like the Full Metal Jacket or Suppressive Fire have different properties but require a cooldown and therefore should be used sparingly or in certain situations. To top it off, there is a dodge move that will help you get out of bad situations or help you in the platforming aspect. The idea of the game– find the teleporter. Simple enough, right? However, the levels that are produced are a fair size, both vertically and horizontally. Enemies are randomly spawned throughout the level in a certain radius from where you are, ensuring there are always baddies for you to fight. The mass array for mobs is also surprising, another thing that really made this game feel complete. Everything from fat, strong hitting mobs to quick, nimble mobs are included in the game, along with mobs that are a different tier level than most of the others that increase the difficulty of the game instantly. The difference of mobs is very enjoyable, which is a great addition to the uniqueness they deliver. Also added to the list of baddies is the main level boss, which is randomly selected when the teleporter is triggered for use. Unfortunately, after the teleporter is activated, you have about ninety seconds of a mass amount of mobs of all different levels spawning around you and making your life hell as you wait for the teleporter to power up. Thankfully, once the ninety seconds is over, the spawning stops, and you must commence exterminating the stage of mobs, including the boss mob. You will spend a great amount of time trying to deal with getting rid of the mobs, but the boss will just make your life hell. Amazing fun for a game masochist such as myself.
Where the game really elevates its gameplay is the power-ups. No 8-bit action game is getting away without power-ups, and Risk of Rain have a ton of them. I have played this game for about a total of six hours now and I am fairly certain that I haven’t seen all of them. Simple power-ups such as a speed boost or increased health regeneration to crazy ideas such as making attacks explode or lighting the ground on fire as you walk by exist in the game and with fair balancing on the game, it makes the game centered around acquiring these power-ups in order to compete with the increasing strength of the mobs. This is done by either leveling up, which gives you a boost in max health and increased damage, or currency, which is acquired through killing mobs. Both currency and experience are dropped through killing mobs or opening canisters, which are randomly spawned in when the level is loaded. The money is spent on opening chests or interacting with relics(or what I assume to be relics) to acquire power-ups. These are also randomly spawned on the level template, making sure that looking for these chests are a priority in order to survive. This also adds a variance of different play styles, as the only goal given to use is to find the teleporter. Whether you decide to power up first or find the teleporter first is up to you, but both come with benefits or consequences. Why is this important? Because mobs get stronger as the time progresses. Even when you get to the next level, which include different mobs from the previous, they keep that same strength, making your play style also a race against the clock. Also, the beginning level is randomized, which is another way to keep you on edge. There are other things that also add to the gameplay, such as reusable items, but I don’t believe they have been fully explored in the current build I am playing.
A small article, I wrote this thing for a few reason, with the first being to get my writing juices going. The second reason is to attract attention to this title. I do believe that this game is worth being made, and I would love if the indie community would get behind it as well. Personally, I backed this game enough to get into the closed beta after the Kickstarter is finished I am interested on where this game is headed. I was a massive fan of Minecraft because of Mojang allowing people in on the early builds of the game to watch the game being built from the ground up. It made me feel like I directly contributed with the game, and it was an interesting experience even if it really didn’t. Nonetheless, I would pay for an opportunity of similar proportions, and I look forward to doing the same with this game. Lastly, as a massive fan of independent games because of the unique design and strong ideas, I feel like it is my duty to be a part of the community in some sort of way, whether it be a direct line to the people on which games to check out or to merely extend my thoughts on the game and to share it with the internet or people looking for fantastic indie games like myself.
Currently, Risk of Rain is doing their Kickstarter campaign now. On the Kickstarter, I suggest reading the summary of the game, watching the video, and downloading and playing the FREE DEMO that the Hopoo guys have provided. Make a decision on the game, and tell a friend or colleague to do the same if you enjoyed the game. If you don’t have the means to back it, the word of mouth go farther than you would expect and it doesn’t cost a dime.
Link to Kickstarter “Here”
To sum up in a few words, this is a fun, exciting game that seems to be complete, minus the few bugs. I cannot wait to see the final product.
Written By Samifish. Follow him on Twitter @1KSamifish