It’s Global Game Jam season which means our site has been flooded with awesome content that talented devs were able to cobble together in less than a few days. This is common knowledge by now but it surprises me every time the sheet quality that people can come up with in a weekend. Consider this your first round of GGJ coverage.
I wasn’t originally planning on covering Curse of the Arrow. Something about the screenshots didn’t appeal to me. Somewhere in my mind I saw arrow+platforming and just assumed it would retread Towerfall’s ground. I was 100% wrong. After a few people on Twitter came out for Curse of the Arrow I finally gave the game a try and I’m glad I did.
Sure Curse of the Arrow bears some similarities to Towerfall with its platforming, choice of weapon, and pixel art but where Curse of the Arrow diverges is the pacing of its platforming and the exploration of the game’s titular weapon. Curse of the Arrow isn’t a multiplayer arrow-em-up but more of a slow burn puzzle platformer. Each level is small and asks you to think about the arrow in different ways. In some stages the arrow is used to hit far away switches and other times you have to use the arrow as a temporary platform.
Where Curse of the Arrow shines brightest is how restrained its design is. Curse of the Arrow is a game that knows precisely what it wants and everything works in devotion to that central concept. If nothing else there’s a lot from Curse of the Arrow’s design.
Ok, we’ve got a lot of Global Game Jam 2018 games on the site this week. Like a lot a lot. I haven’t gotten a chance to play every game submitted to the site (brave souls can try by checking out our Global Game Jam tag) but NUTS is an early favorite of mine.
The premise is simple: each night a squirrel leaves its den to hide a nut in a specific tree in the forest. You, as the player, have to set up your cameras to find out which tree has the squirrel’s treasure. It’s that simple. What comes next is a game of cat-and-mouse while you try to maximize the usefulness of your limited resources and scouring the footage from your cameras. Imagine a sort of real-time ISpy where you only get a small window into the world that you’re trying to peer through. NUTS isn’t a long game, which is fine. There’s enough here to enjoy and then get out before the limited mechanics overstay their welcome. NUTS is a great game to play for an hour in the afternoon.
The theme of this Global Game Jam was Transmission. When I read this my mind went immediately to disease but the developers behind Packets, Please got political and made a Papers, Please send up about Net Neutrality. If you’ve played Papers, Please then you’ll understand the core conceit of Packets, Please. You play as a low-level employee at a dystopian government organization tasked with blocking and throttling abstracted citizens’ internet connections because social commentary. Mechanically the game is pretty simple with only a few ways to interact with the citizenry and the political message never really changes after the first few minutes.
That said, Packets, Please has a crazy level of polish. The pixel art and UI are both fresh and interesting and the game’s plot goes places. I’d love to figure out what process the developers at Cosmic Adventure Squad used to cram more hours into their weekend to make a game that looks this good in a weekend.
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