Pixelated Horror: Lone Survivor and The Last Door

In the past year I have been turned on to video games that are independently developed.

What is it that turns me on about indie games? Mainly it’s the fact that I find the games I am truly looking for coming from the indie guys.

I am not as old school as mario, but I am very attached to my days sucking the tit of the very first playstation.

As each generation of gaming comes to pass in the mainstream, I become less interested. This is because newer games stray farther away from what originally got me into gaming in the first place.

I am a big fan of survival horror, puzzle solving type games. Or games that immerse you into atmosphere in general.

I think that is why I found these games I am about to blog about so interesting. They borrow heavily from some classic horror games, while totally immersing you into the dark world in which they hail.

(Some Spoilers Ahead)

So first we talk about…

LONE SURVIVOR

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Lone Survivor is a 2D survival horror game developed by Jasper Byrne. It borrows really heavily from Silent Hill in a very non apologetic kind of way. And to that I say GOOD.  As far as I am concerned Konami and Silent Hill have been regurgitating the same old garbage since Team Silent left the house after Silent Hill 4. So,  playing this is almost like playing the Silent Hill I have been waiting for, for so many years. An ORIGINAL take, free of Pyramid Heads.

Even though it borrows from Silent Hill in atmosphere and mood, it still holds it’s own candle in many ways. The gameplay and dynamics are pretty damn original, and are true to the survival horror genre.

You must forage for food and eat regularly to keep up your health and vitality. You can combine food items to make a more energy efficient snack, and some items you can’t eat until you find another item needed in combination. Such as a can opener to open your canned goods.

Some other cool survivor horror elements include having to use your ammo and health rations sparingly. The bullet to monster ratio is very one sided, just like it should be in any good survival horror (Resident Evil take note…)

Oh yeah, and Lone Survivor is pretty fucking trippy too.

Most of the dialog is so bizarre that  it has you scratching your head.

Not to mention you can take different pills before you sleep, so that you can meet up with weird entities in dreamland who help you out by giving you different kinds of rations (depending on what pill you take) ect.

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Some other ways this game delivers the survival horror goods is how it uses location based puzzle solving, sending you back and forth between a series of locations in order to find different pieces to the puzzle. This immerses you into the game in a solid way, making you familiar with you surroundings. It even gives you a map (which will remind you of your first trip to the school house in Silent Hill).

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One more thing to touch on before I move on is the art direction. This game is pure pixelation. You can tell that  Jasper Byrne was gun ho about making this game a pixel fest, and it works extremely well.

Even though at first your brain is kind of like “Where the fuck is the definition?” you will be surprised with how well your noggin fills in the blank spaces. After playing for a few minutes, it wasn’t hard to really take in the entire atmosphere. This game probably would not have the same appeal if it wasn’t pixel art. It adds to that grainy raw atmosphere I crave in a horror game such as this.

And oh yeah, it has monsters in it.

I will leave you with the trailer.

Follow Lone Survivor on Facebook HERE

Visit the official website and play the demo or purchase the Director’s Cut HERE

Ok so, next on the pixel horror fest list

THE LAST DOOR

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Okay I just started playing this game, and boy oh boy am I excited about it. (Special thanks to that guy tooth_eye for suggesting this game)

The Last Door is a Point and Click Horror Adventure game.

First thing that excites me (horror elements aside) is the modern approach that the development team (Game Kitchen) took on the production of this game.
1. They used the crowd-sourcing site Kickstarter to partially finance it.
2. They are releasing it in episodes, which is awesome.

Because of this production’s nature (crowd-sourcing), you get to see a more intimate relationship between the fans and the producers.
From what I can tell, they even let either their beta testers, or project backers write some of the object descriptions. At this point I’m not sure which (beta or backers?).

So the production itself is extremely organic. They release an episode and get feedback which directly effects the production of their next episode.

Now let’s get into the game itself.

As I said earlier, The Last Door is a point and click horror adventure game. It is puzzle oriented. And just like Lone Survivor, it uses location based puzzle solving, sending you around the same locations until you have milked it for every mystery it has to offer.

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Speaking  of locations, the atmosphere is Gothic and Lovecraftian in nature. That fact alone is enough to make me wet.

This game is also uber pixelated, leaving very little definition to your character and his surroundings. But like I said before, your brain fills in the blanks beautifully, and you play through it just as easily as you would most high def games that currently run on the newest of graphic engines.

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This game is much more story oriented, which is something I enjoy. There is a solid plot unfolding as you get further into the game. It is revealed in both dialog and through notes and memoirs found throughout your locations. That is a classic survival horror move.

The story is of course full of mystery and horror, fans of Poe and Lovecraft will get their kicks.

Anyway, I am only into Episode Two (of Three) thus far. Only because I am a cheap bastard and cannot afford to donate to gain access to the third episode at the moment. But, as soon as I can I will, because this is something worth funding.

The first two episodes are free to play on their website.

Here is the trailer.

You can play the first episodes and donate to the cause HERE

And you can follow The Last Door On Facebook HERE.

Now I will say this, and this is in relation to both games mentioned in this post. The fact that both of the indie developers opted to use pixel art is significant.

It allows you to use your imagination, and what the game lacks in definition, your brain fills it with something usually more horrifying than any graphic can portray. Especially in dark areas.

Whatever, I am just trying to say that the pixel art works for these games more than it works against them. It is a style all on it’s own, and lately it is becoming more acceptable which is cool. I know I enjoy it. I also enjoyed it when I played the indie game Anodyne earlier this year as well, it worked to the same effect.

So, take note guys and gals. Support your underground and independent developers. They have ALOT to offer.

Technology has given us the gift of collaborating directly with those who produce media for our own enjoyment. Do not take that for granted. Help fund indie projects when you can spare the money. Especially if it’s something that you wouldn’t mind playing.

These guys are putting out games I WANT TO PLAY.

And on that note…

Tools of the Trade: Accessibility is my inner child’s best friend. ( #art )

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When I was a kid, I used to dream of making media. Be it comics, stories, movies, you name it. I wanted nothing more than to mimic all the wonderful pieces of media that I was surrounded by.

I would dream of having access to the tools used to create such awesome pieces of work. And I would try my hardest to make use of the tools that I did have access too.

Back then, in the early and mid 90’s, it was an old video camera, a home alone talk boy audio cassette recorder, and pen and paper.

Comic books was a big one for me. I always had my own comic “company”, and would draw violent comics all day. I was heavily inspired by my favorite series Spawn, and it’s creator Todd McFarlane. Usually I would get my younger brothers to make comics with me in our company, and once I even convinced a group of kids at school to join my comic company, in which I paid for their labors with a handful of pennies.

I just wanted to create, and I dreamed big. Really big. I day dreamed and reenacted  what my hollywood block buster movies were going to be like, and I planned and schemed my concepts for video games. Once, I mentally created a series of video games for over eight years, that had a total of nine different games in it’s saga.

And the entire time, from the age of five until I was a young adult, I just dreamed of what I would do with the proper tools to create such things.

As I grew older, things started to change.

The internet and computer technologies were progressing at rapid rates.

Now, in 2013, any tool I desire to create my art is easily accessible.

The computer has made most of this possible.

Recording and editing software of all kinds are within a few mouse clicks of reach.

Now a days, it’s like this. You wanna make a movie? You wanna make a comic? You want to make a video game? You want to write a book? You want to record a record?

THEN DO IT.

Some time’s I can see myself as a child, looking forward to all the things I have access to now. I can see the young and excited youth with sparkles in his eyes, drooling in excitement. Some times, it’s remembering the passion I had as a kid that keeps me going still today. I do it for him, I do it for me.

This passion is also what drives me to inspire and help others. That’s what this whole Tunnel to the Underground concept has always been about. I can almost see the inner child in all my fellow artists, just trying to create the things that give them inspiration.

One goal of mine with the Tunnel is to make sure people understand just how accessible the tools are. If you look toward the top of this blog, you will see a tab on the site directory that says FREE RESOURCES FOR ARTISTS. It is a slow going list, but I am trying to fill it up with free programs, open source programs, inspirational articles and videos, and anything else that can be used to further creativity.

Please, take a look at the list, and comment on this article if there is a resource you think should be added to the list.

I will end this article with a cool video that always gives me inspiration, from our good friend John Carpenter.

KEEP DIGGING THAT FUCKING TUNNEL EVERYONE. ❤

Creators of Anodyne announce new game: Even the Ocean.

This year I was introduced to a gem that goes by the name of Anodyne.
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Anodyne is an indie developed game that was introduced to me on the pirate bay, when it was being promo’d as a free download. After watching the trailer I downloaded this game immediately, and I have been in love with it ever since.

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The game is rich in atmosphere, and has great gameplay. It plays like a classic SNES Zelda game. It was hard to believe that the game was put together by a two man team. Two college students slaved on it for a year or more.

Since the game’s pirate bay promo, it has gone on to be green lit by Steam’s  Green Light for indie game developers, and it has crossed over to several platforms. It was a well deserved success story.

This is why I am psyched at the news that the duo is at it again with another game. They took to their facebook announced they were working on a game titled “Even the Ocean.” Further details were posted in their development blog. Here is the description:

An adventure, action-platforming-with-little-to-no-killing game set in both a sparsely human-settled dream world, and a present-day urban setting.
You are Aliph, a member of a repair team, balancing your internal energies and maintaining your town’s power sources, located in natural and constructed structures throughout the world – canyons, excavated caves, etc.

Aliph’s world is located within the reoccurring dream of Even, a woman whose life will be followed for a short period of time, in conjunction with Aliph’s adventure.

In Even the Ocean, the balancing of two energy types replaces a health bar for the exploration of  Aliph’s world – where Aliph is armed with nothing but a shield, whereas Even’s gameplay is more explicit-narrative-driven, and confined to areas around her home. The game is framed in a 2D, sidescrolling perspective.

It’s been hard to think of a precise comparison to other games, but we are trying to go for the flow-through-stages like Mega Man X, exploratory nature of Metroids (large platforming areas), FF-like world maps, even Maple Story in a sense there – but with a passive nature like Knytt – not really fighting, but moreso surviving.

It…sounds…AWESOME! Definitely looking forward to all of the above!

For those of you who have yet to check out the gold that is Anodyne you can do so by visiting THIS WEBSITE which features all the download options.

You can follow Anodyne on FACEBOOK HERE and you can follow Even the Ocean on FACEBOOK HERE.

And you can follow their Development Blog HERE.

We will be sure to keep you updated on further developments.