E3 2016 – Local Multiplayer Indie Game Round-up

Apart from seeing new videogames, E3 is a good place to get some local multiplayer action in. There’s always a lot on display, and with so many people around, it’s never a challenge to find opponents. I wasn’t able to sample much of the local multiplayer wares this year due to time constraints, but the few I got some time with were all fantastic.

Inversus
Inversus was a popular attraction over at the IndieCade booth. It’s a simple game of territory capture. Two teams of two, black and white, compete to cover the board in their team’s color. So the white team wants to make the board black, while the black team wants to make it white. You do this by firing lasers that flip tiles over either one at a time or several at once with a charged shot. The more tiles you capture, the more room you have to move, and thus the easier it is to corner and eliminate the opposing team. The catch is you have a limited number of shots, so you need to be careful not to expend all your ammo too quickly.

The game moves incredibly fast. Every match lasted no longer than a minute at most, with victory usually being secured within the first 10-20 seconds. That might have been because we were playing on a pretty simple stage – I can easily see how some of the more complex levels could make for longer matches – but the quick nature of the game was part of the fun.

Inversus will be released on PlayStation 4 and PC on August 16.

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Death Stair
Death Stair is definitely one of the goofier games I saw at the show. It’s a four-player game where three players try to ascend a staircase while the fourth tries to keep them from reaching the summit by throwing all manner of projectiles at them. Beach balls, dodgeballs, fire, ice, bricks, and so on make up your arsenal. Each has different properties that can be used in concert to make some truly deadly combos. Toss down some ice to slow your opponents down, for instance, then fire off a few waves of beach balls to hold them off for a while.

Though the level I played didn’t have the fire and ice in play, we still used similar techniques. It was a basic staircase with a few alcoves to hide in. We didn’t get to make much use of them, however, because the developer and I both were constantly shooting stuff at whoever was ascending. It felt like a miracle that either of us were able to get anywhere, since whenever we got hit, we’d go flying for a good long time. Even with only two players, Death Stair was a riot. A great accomplishment, as these kinds of game always feel a bit lesser when played with anything less four players. Can only imagine how much crazier it’d be if we’d had a couple extra people on hand.

Death Stair is coming out PC on August 16, and Xbox One early next year.

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Chambara
Stealth is hard concept to make a multiplayer game around, but Chambara makes it look easy. In it, two teams slink around environments drenched in their team’s respective color trying to take each other out. There’s plenty of colors to choose from, but in our case, it was black versus white, which made it easy to see our silhouettes. Each of us had three hit-points. Once we were attacked three times, we were out of the game for the rest of the match. Simple stuff, but surprisingly tense since we typically only caught glimpses of each other. Like Screencheat, you have to look at your opponent’s screens to get a sense of where they are.

It also has a lot of personality. Your characters are anthropomorphic birds, for one, and you can dress them in a variety of silly hats along with some equally ridiculous weapons. The entire premise of trying to assassinate each other becomes wonderfully absurd when you’re using rolled up newspapers to take each other down.

Chambara is out on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on July 22.

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