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09 November, 2016

Goat Punks Hands-On - "like competitive Donkey Kong, but with goats"

Four goats climb, one goat succeeds. In this multiplayer king-of-the-hill battleground, only the fleetest of foot can become the true mountain-goat king.

Goat Punks has to be one of the strangest party games I've played in recent memory. It's like competitive Donkey Kong, but with goats. I know that's an odd image, but stick with me, it'll all make sense.

Goat Punks is a splitscreen, competitive party game for four players. It has one simple goal: climb to the top of the mountain and stay there. It's the logical extreme of a "king-of-the-hill" game mode, boiled down to the bare essentials. And it works very well.

08 November, 2016

Regular Human Basketball - "A strange, over-the-top, bizarre little game"

Don't let the words "regular" and "human" fool you. This 5v5 game about monstrous robots lining up to shoot hoops is one of the more exciting and outlandish games I've played.

PAX is a hub of new ideas, new games and big tech innovations. But sometimes, PAX is also a perfect testing bed for outlandish prototypes. This is just where Regular Human Basketball enters the arena (woo, sports puns!). This is an experimental Game Jam concept from Powerhoof, the Melbourne-based developers of Crawl, which we highlighted as one of our top Steam Early Access titles.

What may not surprise you now that you've seen the image above, is that these really aren't ordinary humans, and what you're playing is only a strange facsimile of the game we call basketball. Really it's a competitive slugfest between two unwieldy titanic machines that want nothing more than to shoot hoops and crush humans.

The game is played with anywhere from two to ten players, and the demo I played was using eight classic SNES controllers. Each team has one giant robot and a hoop to shoot at, and there's an oversized basketball between them. The trouble is, moving the robot is as easy as spinning plates. Just like Overcooked or Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime, there are always more jobs to do than there are squishy humans to do them.

Each player controls one such rotund little homosapien, and once you jump inside your giant mech (without getting crushed by its legs, arms, wheels, body or the ball) you need to control the robot cooperatively. This means running from compartment to compartment around the creature and pressing buttons. These could tell it to move forward or backward, or control the limbs, fire the rockets or raise the body. They all have simple on/off states, so you can push forward and leave the robot to do its thing while you go raise the legs or fire the rockets. 

It's strange how having that many things to do and working together to man a lumbering machine can force people to play as a team. You might spend more time rambling incoherently than actually communicating or making clutch plays, but through a sheer force of wills, both robots did actually play basketball, and both robots did score points.

It's a strange, over-the-top, bizarre little game that makes me want to get ten friends together and shoot some mechanical hoops. And yes, you can jump into the opposing team's robot for a little impromptu sabotage.

Regular Human Basketball is publicly available for download here, and the developers are thinking of expanding it and releasing a full version if the community is interested. 

Nathanael Peacock

06 November, 2016

Played at PAX - Kieru - Fast-Paced Multiplayer Stealth

Played at PAX - Kieru

Imagine slinking through the shadows, katana in hand and sneakily assassinating other players without ever being seen. That’s pretty much what Kieru pushes you to do, hunt down your enemies without being seen before disappearing again. Only, it's multiplayer.

Kieru is a first-person ninja combat game that pits you against an opposing team of ninjas. It's fast and hectic, but the true style comes from the aesthetic. Imagine a modern Japanese garden, starkly coloured in black and white like a scene from Sin City.

This feeds back into the gameplay because each team of ninjas is invisible on their own colour. So black ninjas disappear completely into the shadows, while white ninjas fade into the light. It makes for a tense back and forth where you feel safe in your own area, but know you need to cross into enemy territory to make a kill.

Oh, and every successful strike leaves a red slash, and kill and explosion of bright red across the otherwise colourless world. It means kills are spectacular, and being wounded (quite literally) paints a target on your back.

The mode I played was a traditional team deathmatch scenario with two white ninjas and two black ninjas battling over a Japanese train station. You have your trusty katana, which can dole out quick slashes or a charged dash attack that becomes a special attack if you nail the timing. You also have a handy teleport ability that is great for offense and defense, as well as the ability to hurl a shuriken from range to damage distant foes.

It was stealthy, tense and at times terrifying to be hunting an invisible foe who was also hunting me. It made for brilliant moments like watching a team mate lose a quick duel only to notice the enemy was still dripping bright red blood all over the map, I followed him to a quiet place for an easy kill right near the end of the match. These fights are stunningly quick and usually over in an instant, before you need to reassess, hide and start the hunt again.

And the level design is wonderfully twisted, offering verticality and small spaces of safety in its black and white patterns. However, the environment shapes are all made of jaggered edges that cut into each other, meaning you can't go any great distance without exposing yourself to enemies. The idea of laying a human trap and baiting a foe out of cover certainly crossed my mind.

To find out more, check out the game here.

Nathanael Peacock

06 November, 2016

Played at PAX - A Township Tale - Best VR of Show

VR was huge at this year's PAX AUS, but the biggest players weren’t the AAA developers. Indie developers were all across the show floor showing off a tonne of innovative experiences, from strategy games to VR boxing. Of all the games I tried, A Township Tale was by far the most exciting, and the demo shown was just a proof of concept.

The pitch for A Township Tale goes something like this: imagine a VR world where multiple players work together to run a medieval village. So different players acting as miners, blacksmiths, builders, hunters and more combine their skills together. You'll work together to manage the town and support each others' goals, or mess with other players as you see fit. 

Unlike its inspiration, Minecraft, A Township Tale's aesthetic is cartoony and lush. Everything feels slightly larger than it needs to be, but in going with this stylistic choice, Australian developer Alta ensures the world  feels very clear and crisp on a VR headset.

A Township Tale is made by Sydney-based team for the HTC Vive, making full use of the headset, motion controls, headphones and a microphone to talk. When I first put on the headset I found myself standing on a small road with a sign pointing towards “the mines” or the “old castl.e” I pointed my gloved and cartoony hand towards the old castle and teleported down in a few short hops. The dilapidated structure was mostly crumbled stone walls around a grassy clearing.

I immediately spied a treasure chest and sauntered over to it.

It’s strange how doing something in VR can make it immediately feel exciting and new again. I opened the chest and with my right hand, saw it was full of coins and started to pull them out one by one with my left hand, throwing them into a nearby bucket.

I did that for almost all of my five-minute demo, it was utterly engrossing.

That is, before the multiplayer element kicked in an I heard someone behind me say, “what’s in the chest?” I turned around quickly and saw another player peering over my shoulder. “Nothing, it’s empty,” I replied, trying not to look at the bucket full of coins. He spotted them anyway and picked up a couple of the coins and started to juggle with them. I quickly joined in and before long we were throwing coins at each other and playing frisby with a nearby shield.

It’s these little interactions that make me think the future of VR isn’t as insular as we've been lead to believe. The potential for engaging, evolving stories built out of real human interactions is simply amazing.

When I came back in the afternoon for a second shot at A Township Tale, I found something completely different to fill my time with. This time I found a bow and quiver of arrows.

I quickly realised that I could strap the quiver to my belt and the bow across my back before setting off in search of targets. All I found was another player, and after exchanging a few words we set about making an impromptu game of dodge-arrow. We firied from behind rocks until one of us eventually got hit or we ran out of arrows.

What I didn’t realise until I got out of the game was that the other guy I was firing arrows at was actually set up across the other side of the convention centre at a completely different VR booth. It was a stunning moment of realisation.

To find out more about A Township Tale, head over to their website here.

Nathanael Peacock

If you are wondering who we are, we're primarily a digital magazine for the iPad focused on the coverage of indie video games. Run by the former editor of Game Informer, you'll find worldwide exclusives, but also an interactive media experience unlike any you have seen before. If you have an iPad, you should check out the free sample issue at the very least, or enjoy one of our other episodes as listed below.

Get Every Episode:
- Episode 1 - Includes The Making of République (*free sample issue*)
- Episode 2 - Includes The Making of Oceanhorn
- Episode 3 - Includes The Making of Monument Valley
- Episode 4 - Includes The Making of Last Inua
- Episode 5 - Includes The Making of World of Tanks Blitz
- Grab It Episodes 2-5 Bundle
- Episode 6 - Includes The Making of Magic the Gathering
- Episode 7 - Includes The Making of Tiny Troopers Alliance and Midnight Star
- Episode 8 - The PAX AUS edition
- Grab It Presents Nihilumbra - Classics Collection
- Grab It Presents Ultimate Indie Game Reviews Vol 1.

06 November, 2016

Played at PAX - Lost Castle - Castle Crashers' Sadistic Cousin

Played at PAX - Lost Castle

The PAX Rising Indie section of PAX Aus 2016 was chock-full of awesome innovations, new stories and some returning favourites. Here's a quick look at Lost Castle, a Chinese-developed side-scrolling hack 'n' slash just making its way to Australia.

Everyone remembers 2012’s Castle Crashers, a great little side-scrolling beat ’em’ up with a cool fantasy aesthetic. Well here is Castle Crashers' sadistic cousin.

Lost Castle was  was described to me as Castle Crashers meets Dark Souls and Streets of Rage. I feel like that’s a pretty great comparison.

17 October, 2016

Shadow Warrior 2 Review – A Fistful of Wang

With swords, demons, explosions and some really bad jokes, this latest stab at recreating a fast-paced 90's shooter makes all the right moves.

If you're looking for a brilliant, mildly offensive time-waster, this is probably it. It's not long after your first fire up Shadow Warrior 2 that you're up to your eyeballs in demon guts, explosive crabs and wang jokes. And it just gets better from there.

03 September, 2016

Overcooked Review – "One of the best modern couch co-op games this decade"

Overcooked is a classic co-op multiplayer game for a new generation of players.

Lately I’ve been feeling like there is a hole in my usual circulation of games. I feel like we’ve been missing a suite of great multiplayer party games that were so huge in the 2000s. Games like Pokémon Stadium, WarioWare and Mario Party. Thankfully Overcooked fills that whole perfectly.

Overcooked is the only game that has ever had me frantically cooking fish and chips on three moving trucks, driving down an icy road. And the first game to ever show me how to make soup on a pirate ship on the high seas. It is also the first game to ever force me into an argument over whether it's harder to make burgers or pizza.

Oh, and it has a dedicated "swear" button. Still not convinced?

06 March, 2016

Analysing The $2.8 billion Australian Games Industry

It's been a great year for the Australian games industry, but how large a part of that success is down to mobile versus traditional physical console sales?

The last 12 months has seen some hugely successful game releases, from The Witcher 3 and Call of Duty, to breakout indie successes like Undertale, Ori And The Blind Forest and Rocket League.

It's no surprise then that digital sales have been going well. But recent statistics released by Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) have shown that digital game sales in Australia have surpassed traditional sales by a wide margin. In fact, digital now equals about 56% of total game sales.

11 January, 2016

Helldivers Review - Highway to Multiplayer Hell

Helldivers by Arrowhead Game Studios was first released to PlayStation 3/4 and Vita in early 2015, but it has just exploded onto Steam and we look into why it's a must own for action fans.

Helldivers knows exactly what it is and exactly what it wants to be. It is an over the top, chaotic slugfest with aliens, robots and a tonne of explosives. The inspiration is clearly Starships Troopers. If you’ve never seen it, it is a classic sci-fi action flick about big guns and bigger bugs, I highly recommend it. Helldivers thrives on the same retro-futurist 80's vibe, with a tongue in cheek recruitment video that sets the stage.

In the distant future, the human race has spread out across the stars. From our new home of Super Earth, the Helldivers strike out against the alien races that threaten our livelihood and spread democracy across the cosmos.

In this case, democracy is code for bullets.

04 November, 2015

PAX Aus Diary: Forts Hands-On - Worms Meets Missile Command

Earthwork's indie game Forts for PC is hard to put down.

Forts sat in the centre of the indie pavilion at PAX Aus 2015; a PC game about strategy, subterfuge and out-thinking and out-planning your opponent. It feels like every game you used to play as a kid, like building pillow forts or castles in the yard, or playing dodgeball at school. Forts is being developed by Earthwork games, and this competitive multiplayer gem is hard to put down.

The build of Forts that I played was single player against the AI, but there is 8 player multiplayer and a single player campaign in development.

The aim of the game is to build your own fort out of wood and metal, harvest resources and then fire lasers missiles and bombs at the other player. It plays like Worms meets Missile Command, and I can see multiplayer matches getting hectic and complicated.

Also Read: The biggest indie games magazine ever created on iPad

The crux of the game is in building your fort: an accurate physics model means that the structure can tilt and lean like a palm tree in the wind. You view the map from the side and need to build your fort in triangles to keep it from toppling over. Placing weapons to wreak havoc and resource buildings to fund the havoc is as simple as clicking and placing in the open spaces of your fort.

Weapons range from snipers to missile volleys and lasers, all of which vary in price and effect. There are also defensive options, such as reinforced walls, sand bags and machine guns that can be used to shoot missiles out of the sky. I can see players easily developing favoured playstyles and rushing one weapon or another. I for one loved the missile launcher, but it's an endgame tech, so I was more open to defeat in the early game.

The physics of Forts makes a wonderful little balancing act (literally) as only the front facing rooms can house weapons without shooting your own structure, and that means going taller to add more guns. However, the taller structure is more prone to toppling like a house of cards, and taking your hard-earned weapons with it. To that end, the weapons that you can lob at your opponent's structure all do varying amounts of damage, with some peppering holes, some setting fire, and later ones blowing great chunks out of its side. The balance for the developers is in making sure that all of the weapons are fair as well as easy to use. The missile launcher, for instance, is balanced by the fact that it needs a sniper to paint a target on the enemy fort, or else it can't be fired.

Forts is being developed by a two man team, with a freelance sound designer working tirelessly in the wings. The game has been showcased at a number of smaller events in and around the team's hometown of Brisbane, but PAX Aus is easily the largest showing thus far. Artist Nick Smith said that the reception has been fantastic, with players finding new ways to win that the team hadn't come across yet. Programmer/Designer Tim Auld was frantically scribbling into an overstuffed notebook throughout the half hour that I spent with them - they really seemed to be soaking up the experience of having so many playtesters eager to try something new.

Eventually we would love to see an iPad version of Forts, as the controls just feel like they would flow well on a touchscreen. But for now, check out Forts at EarthWork Games website, which has test matches and development blogs to learn about the best strategies and failures.

The intended release date is between early and late 2016; Tim and Nick seemed to disagree on that.


Nathanael Peacock

05 November, 2015

PAX Aus Diary: Tiny Titans

The debut title from Terran Studios gets its first hands-on session.

Earlier in the year as part of our Global Game Jam coverage, we spoke about a new indie team named Terran Studios. I was pleased to see them at PAX Aus this year with their first commercial release.

In the corner of the indie pavilion, surrounded by a mob of parents and kids, was a colourful little booth with a roaring cartoon t-rex emblazoned on the side. The game was Tiny Titans, the first release by the fledgling developer.

Tiny Titans is simple and effective: a perfect example of how a developer can avoid getting bogged down trying to do everything and just stick with doing a few things very, very well. A mobile title currently available on Android, Tiny Titans tasks you with destroying a miniature city with your chosen titan by stomping, chomping and causing havoc wherever you go. Havoc is the thing that Tiny Titans does very well, you move your titan by tapping the screen, and the act of moving causes destruction. You stomp on cars, smash buildings and crush police who try to shoot you down. It really does give you a feeling of being a miniature Godzilla, so it's no wonder then that the first titan is a giant lizard.

The objectives are simple; get a high score, get some coins, unlock more monsters and cause more destruction. This is a game to be played in short bursts on the train or in-between meetings at work, a cathartic experience that lets you blow off some steam and unleash your inner beast for a few minutes. Each character has a special ability that augments the way you play, whether that is breathing fire or charging through buildings. These abilities are flashy, satisfying and cause a lot of destruction. To compliment this, the art style is cartoony and over the top - bright colours make the explosions look great and plumes of smoke erupt out of buildings when you crush them.

Terran Studios are relatively new to the indie scene and Tiny Titans is their first official release after the four developers graduated university last year. Lead developer Michael Breen told me how their intention was to make “something simple and easy to play”, that “any kid could pick up and have fun with, and any parent would be happy to download.” This is seen in the lack of in-game transactions or additional payments, the game is free and the only monetisation is in optional ads that can be played with a button after a round, or coins that can be purchased. Neither of these options feel forced on the player and the game is friendly for kids and their parents bank accounts.

The development team has been helped out over the past year with interns from major universities, and they are in talks to take on more students next year. Michael said that the goal was to fill in the knowledge gaps from their uni students, and help them to get their name on a released title to help them find jobs.

The game is currently available on Android in Australia, the UK, NZ and Canada, with iOS and other countries coming after this first wave of release.

Nathanael Peacock

17 October, 2015

Blood Bowl 2 Review - It's Bloody Good

Cyanide Studios fantasy sports sequel for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 is a whole different ball game.

Sports games play to a niche audience; those that are interested in sport and want to play with friends, but aren't out playing it themselves. Warhammer's games cater to another niche audience; strategy buffs who love learning a massive amount of rules and lore. The interactions and player options are staggering and very intimidating. So Blood Bowl 2 should be geared towards the smallest audience ever, somewhere between a sports nut and a tabletop gamer.

However, that couldn't be further from the truth. Blood Bowl 2 is exhilarating, tactical and very easy to play. If you've ever looked at a game of Rugby, American Football, Soccer or any other sport and thought, “this would be so much better without the referee getting in the way,” or “that guy is so much bigger, why doesn't he just squash the little guy and take the ball?” well Blood Bowl 2 is for you.

The world of Blood Bowl sits alongside the traditional Games Workshop Warhammer universe; it's not part of it. In this world, the centuries old conflict between Orcs, Elves, Humans, Chaos and all the other races is settled on the playing field rather than the battlefield.

Also Read: Grab It's Top 5 Steam Early Access Indie Games

24 September, 2015

Armello Review - Brilliantly Modernises the Board Game

Think back to the stories of your childhood - Farthing Wood, The Wind In The Willows, Jack Rabbit – and wonder if they were mixed with today's fascinations with the political intrigue and espionage of shows like Game Of Thrones. Somewhere in between those ideas sits Armello.

It’s been a great year for developers from downunder and the good times just keep on rolling. Armello is finally with us, and we’re happy to report it joins the likes of Hand of Fate, Framed and Expand as prime examples of the wonderfully creative indie games merging from small Australian studios. Armello does have a couple of issues that keep it from being truly awe-inspiring, but with the right group of friends it can be a magical experience.

It’s a beautifully designed and charmingly animated attempt to marry a fairy tale aesthetic with a story of corruption, deception and outright betrayal. The story of Armello centres on The King, a lion who has managed to unite the other clans (themed to animals) and forge an empire filled with moderate good will and friendship. It is in this careful balancing act that we see how quickly it can all come tumbling down. The sudden onset of Rot – a malicious black force of untold evil – in The King suddenly pits the other clans against the monarch and each other to secure the throne by any means necessary.

05 July, 2015

Ronin Review - Enjoyable and Frustrating

Can Ronin sneak out from behind Gunpoint's 2D stealth-based ninja strategy shadow and surprise throw it out a window.

Initially, Ronin reminded me of Gunpoint, the 2D, noir, sprite-based, stealth hacking game from 2013. Yet different people, with very different intentions, made these games. Ronin may also be 2D, sprite-based and feature noir leanings, but it focuses on assassinations and sneaky ninja antics, rather than spies and hacking. Where Gunpoint had you avoiding combat where possible and working in multiple layers with stealth and hacking, Ronin makes the combat the centre point and adds layers to it with larger levels, more enemies and a laundry list of ninja abilities including holograms, shuriken, teleports and grappling hooks.

I did struggle at first to differentiate my feelings for Gunpoint from my experience of Ronin. I loved Gunpoint, and somehow took the similarities in control schemes, jumping mechanics and aesthetic with some offense. That is until I played past the first level and first saw the over-the-top way that Yakuza thugs spurt blood like pixel piñatas. Ronin is actually a whole different beast. Because Gunpoint never made me laugh with evil genius glee when I sliced down that last suited Mafioso. And Gunpoint also never made me throw my keyboard to the floor in frustration after nineteen attempts at a room.

12 March, 2015

What It's Like Inside the Global Game Jam - Part 3

If you haven't already, be sure to check out Part 1, and Part 2.

The Aftermath.

The room is very different at the end. The clutter of computers, coffee cups and chip packets have all been cleared away, the sleeping people in corners have rolled home and into the safety of their own beds. In the corners of each room are the lonely computers and sleepy project managers lazily sipping coffee and showing the fruits of their labours.

The third and final day of Global Game Jam 2015 has come to an end, and this is the final scene.

03 March, 2015

Game Design Engines for Free - Is That Unreal?

Calling all game designers, graphic designers, animators and level designers. Unreal Engine 4 is now free to use for anyone!

As far back as Unreal Tournament in the 90s, the Unreal Engine has been used to create everything from blockbusters to indie titles. Most recently the engine has been showcased in titles as diverse as BioShock (now on iOS), Mortal Kombat X and the addictive iOS Infinity Blade trilogy. However, Unreal Engine 4 - the latest iteration in Epic Games’ ongoing middleware development - has been operating on a subscription basis per month, which has held back smaller development teams with limited incomes from delving into the new tech.

27 February, 2015

Bizarre! Taphobos is an Oculus Rift Game You Play in a Coffin


For many of us, games are about escapism. About stepping out of our ordinary lives of desks and reports, and into a world far different from our own. How then do we approach horror games? Where we are thrown into a world far darker and more insidious than our own. Far darker than late night worries. Far more claustrophobic than the morning commute.

Well for those of you who love that feeling of dread and confinement, welcome to Taphobos.

To play Taphobos all you will need is a PC, an Oculus Rift, two pairs of headphones and a microphone. Oh, and a full sized, wooden coffin. Yes, you read that right, forget the Powerglove or the Sega CD, tomorrow's gaming peripheral is a coffin.

In Taphobos you play one of two roles, either the person in the coffin or the person outside. As the person in the coffin, you wear the Oculus Rift. Even though the coffin itself is open and sitting in the real world; what you see is the inside of the sealed box, deep below the ground. Your only lifeline is a phone call with your partner outside. You then need to use clues hidden inside the coffin to direct your friend to find your burial site. All the while contending with depleting oxygen and battery life. I think it sounds horrifying, but that could be my will to live showing.

As the second person you play in a more traditional first-person setting, where you follow clues given by the buried player to explore around the above ground environment, trying to find where your friend has been buried before he runs out of oxygen or the phone call drops out.

Taphobos is of course in early development, having been conceived at a two day hackathon at the University of Nottington, and will be shown at EGX Rezzed in London next month. Taphobos plays on the fear of being buried alive, but intelligently also plays on the concept of survivor guilt and the feelings of anguish and worry when someone else is depending on you. This has been used as the basis for one of the lead designers' Masters thesis on uncomfortable gaming experiences.

Look for coffin peripherals in your local retail outlet shortly! In the interim, for a fantastic audio/horror experience that does away with normal sight, play the excellent Papa Sangre II, where Sean Bean narrates your through the afterlife.

Nathanael Peacock

17 February, 2015

What It's Like Inside the Global Game Jam - Part 2

This is the second part of this story - be sure to start at Part 1 if you haven't already. Part 3 is also out.

We be jammin'
Day two of Global Game Jam unfolds like a spot the difference puzzle. Admittedly, as a humble press attendee, I've been home, slept, showered and generally made myself presentable. That is the first difference. At a game jam all of the usual niceties like brushing teeth, combing hair and putting on pants tend to take a back seat to the task at hand. So there are a few out of place tufts of hair, the 5 o'clock shadow has become the 29 o'clock shadow, and pizza boxes are strewn in the most unusual of places - most likely thrown there as a makeshift frisby. One team made a miniature fort out of their used cans of Pepsi and Red Bull, just to prank their artist when he woke up. I should say that they built it around his slumbering head.

But day two is also when the games that rose out of the communal ooze of ideas are suddenly starting to take shape. The lighting has struck the generator and Frankenstein's monster is starting to come to life. 

05 February, 2015

What It's Like Inside the Global Game Jam - Part 1

Jammer's log... Part 1 - Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia. Part 2 is now live. So is Part 3.

It's quiet, too quiet. The auditorium slumbers in the darkness like a great beast, the many minds focused on one singular mission. To make games. In the distance, hungry hands tear ravenously into a packet of Doritos, the hiss of a can of Pepsi snaps the silence like a twig. The tension disappears into a haze of murmers and cheese powder and the projector flares into life. The keynotes begin…

This is the Global Game Jam.

09 January, 2015

Telltale Games: A Microsoft Story?

Over the last few years, Telltale Games has stepped out of the shadow of Monkey Island, and into the modern era with hits like The Wolf Among Us, Game Of Thrones and The Walking Dead. These titles have been thought provoking, evocative and, at times, poignantly sad. There testament to the skill and apparent ease with which the writers at Telltale approach dense and dangerous source material. Source material that for the most part other companies wouldn’t even approach for fear of enraging diehard fans. So it is with some trepidation and a little uncertainty that I’ve pondered the idea of a Telltale made, story driven Minecraft spinoff.

We announced this title and discussed it a little yesterday in this piece: Why is Microsoft Making Games for Sony Players. The announcement came over the holiday break through an 8-bit Minecraft-themed title by Mojang called Info Quest 2, where players answer questions and get given info about the new title in response. Apparently it won’t be as gritty and bloody as previous Telltale titles, which is a bit of a shame. I have always wanted to know what the inside of a creeper looks like, apart from whispy smoke and regret.

So the biggest two questions are; is this what we want from Minecraft? And is this what we want next from Telltale?

27 November, 2014

Back to Bed Review - Exploring Narcolepsy

I used to sleep walk, I'd wake up in the kitchen on the floor, or standing outside in the garden. Nowadays I sometimes have conversations with my girlfriend or the dogs in my sleep; the usual stuff really, kindly letting them know that I'm being chased by a duck with six legs. That sort of thing.

But Bob has an entirely unique set of issues, he can't sleep without falling off a roof or being pursued by clocks with legs.

Back To Bed is an exploration into the absurd. Bob sleepwalks, and you as his dog need to coerce him back to the safety of his pillows and sheets. Without the narcoleptic nincompoop sauntering from the edge of a building.

30 October, 2014

Forbidden Film Studios' Upcoming Cannibal Fever - A Zombie Game with Brains

The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) is always a smorgasbord of game announcements and new projects. When writing Grab It's PAX AUS companion app we stumbled upon Cannibal Fever, announced this year by Forbidden Film Studios. It’s an ambitious project by this small Victorian developer with a background in films. If you’re tired of the industry making cookie cutter zombie shooters, and want to see something with more substance, this could be for you. Cannibal Fever looks smart, tactical, multi-faceted and challenging.

The Kickstarter campaign has only just begun, working towards a $550,000 goal in 29 days.

Cannibal Fever is slated to be a fast-paced real-time-strategy game about leading a horde of zombies. The story involves an avant-garde marketing campaign for the latest zombie film Biohazard triggering the real zombie outbreak. Plunging the world into chaos, and the player into a writhing mess of undead shamblers. The player takes on the role of the leader of the zombies, or the leader of the surviving humans.

Rather than the usual RTS progression of collecting resources and building units, Cannibal Fever starts at the combat phase, in which you send units to capture buildings and spread the disease, or reinforce to defend, depending of course on your choice of faction. Michael Caroll - founder of Forbidden Film Studios - chatted to us about what seperates Cannibal Fever from the traditional RTS formula, citing Red Alert, Age of Empires and Z as his top influences: 

“No zombie is going to be gathering supplies or building structures, but we wanted to be able to control hordes of infected. The universe is diverse and is meant to be explored and experienced, not just played.” 

The Kickstarter campaign has some ambitious goals, but ones that use the studios background in filmmaking. A number of voice actors are already attached to the project including John DiMaggio, Jim Cummings, and Jamieson Price as well as other secret actors. Characters are also going to be entirely animated using motion capture technology, giving personality and realism to their movements. Finally - in the vein of Command and Conquer - the story is going to be told through live action cut scenes. We asked Michael Caroll about telling stories in this medium:

“During the years we have been operating we have gathered a great bunch of people from all aspects of our industry. I think that this is really important so that we can create the best product possible and push what is capable in gaming.”

Check out the rest of our interview and opinion in the Grab It PAX AUS episode out now on the App Store, and currently free. Also, head over to Kickstarter to have a look at the project.

Nathanael Peacock

Have you collected every Episode?
     - Episode 1 - Includes The Making of République (*free sample issue*)
     - Episode 2 - Includes The Making of Oceanhorn
     - Episode 3 - Includes The Making of Monument Valley
     - Episode 4 - Includes The Making of Last Inua
     - Episode 5 - Includes The Making of World of Tanks Blitz
     - Grab It Episodes 2-5 Bundle
     - Episode 6 - Includes The Making of Magic 2015 - Duels of the Planeswalkers
     - Episode 7 - Includes The Making of Tiny Troopers Alliance and Midnight Star
     - Episode 8 - The PAX MEGA Edition
     - Grab It Presents Nihilumbra - Classics Collection

23 September, 2014

Is Mojang Releasing Scrolls on iPad for Just $5 Wise?

Last week we reported on the enormous Mojang buyout by Microsoft, but it isn't the only interesting news to emerge from the popular studio. Mojang has also revealed that when it's collectible card battling game Scrolls comes to tablets, it will be dropping the price significantly from the current PC version. A post on the Scrolls website reasons that, “our current price of $21 isn't feasible for tablets... Free-to-play would be an option, but we’re not keen on the way that form of monetisation can affect gameplay.” That much makes sense.

16 September, 2014

First Flappy Bird, Now Minecraft – Success Claims Another Victim

Last week the internet was buzzing with the rumour that Microsoft was planning to buy Minecraft developer Mojang. Today both Microsoft and Mojang founder Markus 'Notch' Perrson have confirmed that the deal is going through for a whopping US$2.5 billion - even more than what was rumored last week.

In our previous article on this momentous announcement we surmised that Notch selling Minecraft could be a case of him biting off more than he could chew. In an impassioned blog post on, Notch wrote: “as soon as this deal is finalised, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.”

14 September, 2014

Humble Store End of Summer Sale – Indie games and Charity

The Humble store is having a sale! If you've never bought games from the Humble store, they follow the trend of online game stores just like Steam or, but with a big difference. A percentage of all sales on the Humble store goes to charities such as the Red Cross and Child's Play. They also have weekly Humble Bundles, a collection of games where you can pay what you want and decide what percentage goes to the developers, the store and the charities of your choice.

This End of Summer Sale runs from today until September 22, and games in this sale definitely worth adding to your collection include;
   - The Wolf Among Us
   - Kerbal Space Program
   - Psychonauts
   - Gone Home
   - Samurai Gunn

The PC version of Nihilumbra is also on this sale. Nihilumbra has been featured heavily in Grab it, and we released an entire app dedicated to the making of the game, filled with cutting edge digital magazine ideas that push the boundaries of what we can do in this space. This haunting puzzle platformer, and our making of app, should not be missed.

Grab our making of app here, and iPad gamers can also check out Nihilumbra and The Wolf Among Us.

Nathanael Peacock

11 September, 2014

What Microsoft Buying Minecraft Means for You

So Microsoft might be buying Minecraft, no joke. In fact, this is one industry news outlet Bloomberg had to say overnight; "[Marcus 'Notch' Persson] reached out to Microsoft a few months ago, based on a positive working relationship on Minecraft for Xbox. The two companies quickly agreed on a framework and approximate price and have been working out the details since, the person said. Persson will help out with the transition, though he is unlikely to remain beyond that. The software maker calculates it can boost Minecraft sales by expanding the number of game users through Microsoft’s position in video games and computers, and by expanding licensing for things like toys and movies.”

So what does that mean? How is it going to affect ordinary Minecraft players?

31 August, 2014

Darwinia and DEFCON Dev Bringing Prison Architect to iPads

Last week on Grab It, we released a video reviewing the best games available on Steam Early Access this month - you can watch it below. One of those games was the frustratingly addictive management game Prison Architect, by the developer behind Darwinia and DEFCON. Yesterday the guys at Introversion Software rounded out their monthly update video by announcing that they intend to bring Prison Architect to tablets. "Intend" isn't particularly definitive, but there is a link at the bottom of the page to the company's survey where they are probing the waters.

I have been playing Prison Architect since it hit Early Access, so I've never really considered the possibility of a portable version. But every now and then I suddenly want something I never knew I needed, like that feeling you get during the Steam Summer Sales or anytime apple announces a new iPhone. That feeling has come again with the unexpected bombshell of a Prison Architect game on tablets - I must have this game on my tablet.

So if, like me, you want to care for digital prisoners on the train like some homicidal Tamagotchi, let Introversion know and whet your appetite on the video below.

Nathanael Peacock (@ohthatpeacock)

27 August, 2014

Grab It's Top 5 Steam Early Access Indie Games

We might be focused on iOS here at Grab It – at least for the meantime – but the strength of indie games in our current marketplace is getting stronger and stronger across all formats. With it the list of Early Access games available on Steam keeps on growing just like it does on the App Store. However, Early Access requires a measure of trust and blind faith on the part of the player. So to help separate the best from the herd, we have made this video as a summary of some of the best games available now on Steam Early Access, and why you should check them out. 

They're all available now, and definitely worth a look. Oh, and if you have an iPad, be sure to check out an episode of Grab It, too, for your iOS indie gaming fix.

Writer and Presenter:
Nathanael Peacock

Have you collected every episode of Grab It?
    - Episode 1 - Includes The Making of République (*free sample issue)
    - Episode 2 - Includes The Making of Oceanhorn
    - Episode 3 - Includes The Making of Monument Valley (trailer below)
    - Episode 4 - Includes The Making of Last Inua
    - Episode 5 - Includes The Making of World of Tanks Blitz (trailer below)
    - Episode 6 - Includes The Making of Magic 2015 - Duels of the Planeswalkers (trailer below)
    - Grab It Presents Nihilumbra - Classics Collection


Latest Issue

Grab It iPad Magazine Indie Games Episode 8 out now