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A jam entry

GravityWellView game page »

A space shooter where you shoot sparingly while reflecting shots
Submitted by randomphantom with 10 hours, 57 minutes before the deadline

Results

CriteriaRankScore*Raw score
Overall#893.8063.806
Overall#963.8333.833
Aesthetics#974.1394.139
Theme#983.9443.944
Feel#1033.6673.667
Innovation#1723.4443.444

Ranked from 36 ratings. Score is adjusted from raw score by the median number of ratings per game in the jam.

How does your submission match the theme?
In this Downwell-inspired shooter, the twist is that

The mirror shield is used to reflect shots from enemies. Up and down arrow keys control movement and the mirror shield. (Left and right arrows do their normal thing)

Ammo is limited, so to restock you need to absorb a bullet by pointing your mirror shield away, however that will result in taking damage. Shooting exposes the player to danger as the mirror would need to regenerate.

Credits ("gems") dropped by destroying obstacles and enemies can be used to count to your high score or used to purchase items, and gives incentive to players to make a risky dash for it.

Other dual-purpose actions were inspired directly by Downwell such as Gem High and increase in max HP with full health.

The game is also riffing off elements of Downwell's visual style and certain aspects of gameplay such as the shop to upgrade items.

**NOTE** Please avoid playing this in Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer (they don't play well with PICO-8). Chrome and Firefox for the best experience!

Third-party resources
All made in PICO-8 game engine

Contributors
Solo effort

Source Code
https://www.lexaloffle.com/bbs/?tid=29672

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Comments

Difficult but EXCELLENT! 5stars! Congrats

I liked the way you handle dual purpose here. It feels a bit stiff though, I think partially because the enemy fire rate is too fast at the moment and/or their movement speed is just a bit fast. Tweaking the fire rate might help more though. I couldn't figure out how to absorb the bullets, (blocking only deflected them as far as i know) but overall, pretty cool idea.

Developer(+1)

Thanks for playing! At the moment to absorb the bullet you would need to take a hit ie point the shield away, but you'll sustain damage that way. Am thinking of changing this mechanic as its not very intuitive and seems to be annoying/un-fun. Tweaking the game to be easier as well.

(Edited 1 time)

Cool concept and fun game!  (If you stay on the game over screen once it gets to the warp counter it will decrease infinitely and the text will be layered over the "game over" text.)

I think the damage enemy ships do should be reduced considering that you want the player to purposely take damage to refill their ammo.

Developer

Realize the bug quite early on, heh (clearly not enough playtesting). Would need to rebalance the game, gonna come out with a revamped version to address these issues, thanks for feedback!

Great job on the game. Like some mentioned some mechanics aren't very clear at first, but it's fun anyway. It really has the a similar loop as downwell but it's nicely adapted. 

One thing to note, I was having sometime having trouble to notice the enemy shots. 

Developer

Yeah feel like I definitely need an in game tutorial on this one, and UI needs some rework. Noted on the enemy shot  and thanks for feedback!

This game is very much inspired by downwell in aesthetic and name and overall gameplay. However, i suck at games like these. I was also constantly looking for ammo drops and didn't realize you had to get hit by oncoming fire in order to reload. Personally, I hate that mechanic. I understand that it's a risk/reward mechanic here, gain ammo/lose health. However, I didn't find it very rewarding since most of the time when i would get hit I would just die. If the health bar was more 1 hit (from anything) = 1 dmg then that would of been better. However, the ticks on the health bar don't seem to mean anything. When you get hit by a small meteor you lose 3/4ths of your health bar and if you get hit by a bullet you lose almost half. Maybe it's just cause I suck at games like this, but Some balancing to the risk/reward system would  help this game go a long way. Thank you so much for making a game :D

Developer

Yeah I feel like I need to tone down the difficulty a bit, and many players are getting surprised by the damage dealt by the ships (=HP of the ship which starts at 3) and big meteors (4 damage and the hitbox is kind of unforgiving). small meteors deal 1 damage but hitting a few might be instant KO so am considering some invincibility frames. 

Think I need to distinguish between taking a bullet (which restocks ammo) and taking damage from ships/asteroids which do not restock ammo too. 

Another one of those cases where the dev makes a game thats too hard. Thanks for the feedback!

Well it's better than my game, it's too easy! haha

nice gameplay! i love the variety of the enemies' attack patterns.

one thing i would criticize is that it's quite hard to deflect bullets on to the enemy without being pixel perfect at where you position the mirror.

lovely game though

Developer (Edited 1 time) (+1)

It was  intentional (it's a circle shield, and you might need to get closer which adds some risk)

 I feel like making it easier to reflect would improve the gameplay though, as now pixel perfection is challenging to pull off, will be having a think about it, thanks for feedback! Looks like you made it to later levels which is very well done!

the enemy bullets sometime bounce diagonally even if they hit the straight part of the shield.

Developer

Couldn't quite draw a circle without some straight lines in pixel form but was intending it to be a circular shield

I really like the aesthetic, and the star effect is really cool!

took me a little while to figure out that you absorb bullets by taking damage, but I figured it out eventually!

The gameplay is really tight and good to control, and the balance between ammo and health makes it a challenge, I like it!

Developer

Thanks! realized that the ammo reloading wasn't too apparent. should have some form of ingame tutorial for that.

Great entry! From the name and screenshots I thought it was going to be a Downwell clone, but it was far from it and it was really fun! Very clever mechanics and really suits the theme of the jam

ohh man this game was so cool, i love the retro 8 bit graphics, and the game felt really good, awesome work 

Great gameplay and idea! It's also incredibly addictive. Balancing when to take hits and when to heal and attack is interesting. Random start weapon mixes things up too, but might diminish the value of purchase options at gravity well a little, if you start with a "good" one. 

Every once in a while, I stumble onto a game that fits perfectly with Pico-8, but that I wish I could play on Steam/PS4. This is one of those. Would be great to see it expanded/ported, but glad I got a chance to play it. Well done!

Developer

Thanks for the feedback and encouragement! I believe the random start weapon might have been a "bug/devcheat" (ie totally unintended - another one of those things that becomes a feature in game jams, lol!)

I recorded myself playing and commenting on your game, with a little sum-up at the end: https://youtu.be/3vd6DRANqfc

Developer(+1)

That was really, super detailed video! I am sincerely touched by the time and effort you put into playing and commenting (I don't think I went into that level for your game).

What was supremely cool was that you stumbled upon something that I hadn't even considered at all: letting enemies linger on the screen while you harvest credits - that was a nice emergent surprise :)

Also you discovered the bug/"game jam feature" of retaining past weapons - that was totally unintentional (forgot to reset some variables)! 

I guess the mechanic of taking a hit to restock ammo was really counter-intuitive so I should've emphasized on that more in-game (rather than rely on the help screen). The asteroid field is totally random so there might not be any open paths. The UI could be improved further as its hard to tell the HP vs the ammo with so many bars up on top. Agree that the bigger asteroids aren't very worth it - planning to increase the drops in the next version. Also agree that letting players shoot backwards and reversing the ship direction might be more intuitive although the convention of shooters is to have it always facing forward.

Noted the feedback on the start game button and having BGM. 

All in all, amazing video I LOVE IT

I'm happy you liked it! I wasn't planning on playing for so long, but what could I do? You made a good game! :D Cool that I discovered something new :)

I think it's good that you can't shoot backwards. That's a limitation that sparks your creativity, even though it can also be frustrating.

I think if the bullets bar was more like a list than a bar it would be much more intuitive, because I thought it was the shield (since the shield is also white) at first. If it looked like the bullets I would have probably understood it sooner.

Nice!

Really cool game! You certainly nabbed the Downwell aesthetic! The gameplay itself was actually rather interesting, although I found myself resorting solely on the shield. Getting hit means getting one step closer to death, and it didn't seem worth it to get one bullet that couldn't kill an enemy in one hit. Plus, the shield regenerates faster than the health! All in all, a pretty fun game!

Developer

Agree that the balancing is a bit off, am trying to figure out what's the best way to balance this (perhaps more starting ammo). Hopefully the shield requiring a higher accuracy combined with trickier enemies later on forces the player to rely on shooting as well. Thanks for playing!

This was really satisfying to play. Using the shield as a primary weapon and fire as a backup really switched things up. I must have played this for about a half hour before I moved on.

Developer

Thanks for playing!