Devolver Digital hosted an event last night in São Paulo in order to show their new upcoming games to the local press.
Among these games was The Swords of Ditto, which just came out yesterday, so be sure to check out my review. It was really neat to get to play with fellow writers and help show some of them the ropes. The general consensus was that Ditto does a fantastic job setting itself apart from its influence, Zelda. Another tidbit that came out of playing through a big chunk of the game cooperatively is that it’s indeed chaotic and a whole lot fun, not to mention much more manageable to get further into it. One playthrough in particular almost got us to the final boss, but we ended up dropping it in favor of trying some of the other games being shown (and to let other guests play the darn thing since that was only one station for The Swords of Ditto).
Across from that setup, which was running on the second floor of the swanky bar club that Devolver rented and decked out for the event, was Ape Out, an incredibly violent and striking looking overhead action game, where you control an escaped gorilla as he looks for a way out of wherever he’s being kept, all the while defending himself from a horde of enemies zooming in on him. Unlike Hotline Miami, the closest and most obvious comparison that you could make to Ape Out, you can take a couple of shots before going down for good. It’s still a good idea not to, though, because the enemy variety rarely pulls their punches after you get hit even once.
I got to play the starting bits of the game and it felt great to rush about and take thugs down who were dumb enough to face an angry gorilla. But the main draw to Ape Out, outside of its fast-paced gameplay is definitely its presentation — simple, stark character shapes moving about contrasting backgrounds, with each one of your hits sounding off a note, sort of composing an eerie melody as you murder enemy after enemy. It’s a grisly, dirty, but surprisingly beautiful. I’ll be keeping an eye out for it when it comes out sometime later this year on PC.
Downstairs and facing the drink bar with the increasingly busy bartenders, we had a couple of other games to try out. First, deeper in the room was The Messenger, the first game to come out from Canadian developer Sabotage. Out of the gate, it looks like it’s deeply inspired by Ninja Gaiden, and after playing it, that definitely rings true. There are a few neat tricks that it pulls, though, outside of the same platforming style seen from the NES-era Tecmo games, such as the ability to change around some of the level layout by stepping through portals.
The catch, though, is that simply changing the structure is not enough to make progress. You have to figure out the order of portals you have to step through in order to get to the other side of the stage. While at that other “dimension”, your ninja dude gains the ability to glide around and reach platforms that are far away, like a gliding squirrel of death. Outside of that, it felt like a legit retro-inspired action game. Don’t count it off as yet another indie game pixelized visuals. It’s no wonder it was one of the darlings of Nintendo’s recent Nindies announcement. It’s also being released on PC.
The most bizarre out of the bunch was certainly Pikiniku, the only one of the games shown that I did not play myself, but rather chose to watch others interact with and try to figure out just what the hell it’s all about. Sectordub is the developer behind this one, and it was easily the most unique looking out of the bunch of games that I saw last night. For one, its protagonist manages to be extremely likeable even though it’s pretty much a round shape with long, tuby legs. And eyes, of course.
The main goal of the demo was repairing a bridge out in the middle of the woods, but the means to do that were vague at best. The closest thing I could draw a comparison with was Hokokun, but even that game had a certain structure that Pikiniku didn’t look like it had. Even so, it’s incredibly charming, with plenty of humor that played with the idea that they were only going on because of this bit of gameplay only serves as a demo. I didn’t really get an answer in regards to actually fixing the damn bridge, but the laughs that came out of reading the funny dialogue and the hijinx that ensued as the main character bobbed around was enough to put Pikiniku on my radar of future games to plop into my Switch. Like The Messenger, Pikiniku is part of Nintendo’s Nindies program and it’s also due to come out on PC later this year.
Devolver always has some delightful surprises in their sleeves every time they invite us to one of these things, and this year’s event was no different. All the games made for a great show. 2018 is looking like one hell of a year for indie games, top to bottom!